Thursday, March 26, 2020

Emerging From Isolation

I was thinking about my parents and my growing up this morning. Church was not a part of our lives. It's not that my parents were in opposition or anything like that, but they early on had just simply drifted away.

When as kids we wanted to go with a friend that was fine, and they even encouraged it. As a teen when I became a Christian and started attending regularly they were in favor. But neither church or seeking after God in a daily relationship with Him was a part of their lives.

Then as my dad was approaching thirty years serving in the US Navy he was offered an opportunity to retire and go to work for a major engineering firm that was building a city in Saudi Arabia from the sewers up including a desalination plant and the whole works. So, he my mom and my two youngest sisters headed off to Saudi Arabia where my parents lived for ten years.

One thing about living there is that what they could have freely chosen to do in attending church here in the United States was something forbidden for them to do in Saudi Arabia. Amazingly enough, after returning to the States and settling in Grants Pass, Oregon going to church and growing in their relationship with God became something important to them.

In this time of being told what we cannot do, though for a different reason, I have been wondering what people will first choose to do when the restrictions are lifted.

Where are you in this life picture of my parents? Has there been a drift in your relationship with God? Maybe, you've not even stopped to think about Him, you, and what might happen if this pandemic was much worse and the death toll much higher.

Man has been separated from God for a long time, and its not because God went anywhere. In fact, He has spent the entirety of our time reaching into us and through His Son, Jesus Christ we have been given free admittance into a relationship with Him here and now and the certainty of His presence for eternity. This is real hope. The hope that doesn't fade away when the situation of the moment does or on the other side when things become so big that we are tempted to give up, crawl in a hole, and hide.

When I first learned about God in this way I had invited myself to church and the pastor was speaking on Psalm 139.

Here are the words of that psalm. Why don't you think about them for you, particularly in this context of our disease imposed isolation.

Psalm 139. "For the choir director. A Psalm of David. (1) O Lord, You have searched me and known me. (2) You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. (3) You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. (4) Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. (5) You have enclosed me behind and before,  And laid Your hand upon me. (6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

(7) Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (8) If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. (9) If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, (10) Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. (11) If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” (12) Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.

(13) For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. (14) I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. (15) My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; (16) Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

(17) How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (18) If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.

(19) O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed. (20) For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take Your name in vain. (21) Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? (22) I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.

(23) Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; (24) And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139, NASB95)

That was forty-six years ago, and this simple truth that I had heard years before made all of the difference in coming to Him.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NASB95)

[After making the post I was thinking about verses 19-22. Maybe we don't have enemies in this sense that are foremost in our minds and lives, but this season of the flu reminds us that there are always things that challenge us and from which we desire deliverance.]