When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13A-14 NIV
First I want to give a big thank you to Alan of Devotional Treasures for inspiring me to get out of my funk. We’ve been dealing with a lot of serious health issues here with our two daughter-in-laws as some of you know. The one who was in the hospital with Covid is now home and gradually improving. The other is about to begin chemo for the same ovarian cancer that my wife battled through three years ago. Thanks for those of you who have prayed. I thought I would share today the encouragement God gave me while I was out for my walk yesterday.
Our lives seemed like a construction project that was being completed right on time; when these unexpected difficulties came and slapped a stop work order on our door. The inability to do a thing has been frustrating because it made me realize that in reality I am not in charge at all. It is easy to just blame the devil as some sort of evil building inspector, but God reminded me that His Holy Spirit in my heart is His guarantee that no matter how things look, everything is under His control. His guarantee is not really a down payment as a few translations render the word- because God has the resources to pay off our mortgage in full. Instead the Holy Spirit’s presence is like the deposit which we make on a home we wish to buy. That small amount of our money is our promise to the seller that we will pay their entire asking price once the lender runs our credit and sees that our finances are in order. The good news for us is that God is the buyer with the highest credit rating in the universe!
Now, think of your darkest moment. At the time when nothing has worked out, your plans have been frustrated and your world turned upside-down, God guarantees that we are still His. He has bought us, by paying the full price of our sins with the precious blood of Jesus. Now the title to our hearts belongs to Him. Though we face very real troubles in this life, God’s Holy Spirit has not nor will He ever abandon us. That tiny spark of His life in us is – that guarantee of our inheritance – is like the Spirit of God that overshadowed Mary. So be patient because just as Mary carried that spark for nine months inside her, trusting that God’s promise was true, so we can trust Him to keep His promise to us. He has promised that we are His and that He will finish the building project of our souls right on time and precisely according to His plan!
I was in one of my gloomiest slumps as I went to the nursing home yesterday. I minister at four different places and this particular one is one of those 5 star places that look more like a cruise ship than your typical long term care home. But other than some wonderful times of ministry in the memory care unit, the chapel services in the regular assisted living wing have been almost totally empty since Covid-19. The staff is stretched thin and some of the residents who used to attend have passed away. On top of that it has been hard to explain to the new activities director that we need staff to encourage and help the residents to come to church. The result has been that for the last several sessions the chapel meetings have been empty. Of course this has not been a complete loss as I simply did a u-turn and went in to sing for my friends in memory care (which is always fun!). But I already have scheduled meetings with them on other Sundays and I have kept hoping to restart church services with the rest of the facility.
So with dim hopes yesterday I just surrendered my frustrations to the Lord and accepted that if it was not His will for chapel services then I would leave that in His hands. So I arrived and logged in with the high tech equipment that reads my temp, recognizes my cell phone number and prints my name tag, expecting to find the meeting room vacant once more. But when the elevator door opened on the second floor and I peeked around the corner I was delightedly surprised by several faces looking my way as they heard the elevator opened! My feet suddenly felt as light as a feather and I excitedly walked down the hall, took our my guitar ready to begin with a fresh reminder that God is faithful and that His plan will work out in His own time and His own way. As He had done in the past, God allowed me to fall to my lowest point so I could learn again that only He knows best. My Bible reading this morning was in the book of Habakkuk. There I saw that my Old Testament brother reminded me a bit of myself. Of course he was facing life and death and I was not, but that gloom and doom surrounding most of the first three chapters seemed vaguely familiar. Then his book ends with a glorious Hebrew poem of praise that is like the sun breaking out of the clouds just before sunset. Its song showed me that I could rejoice even when the chapel sat empty and no one seemed to care, because in His own time God filled it again and taught me to walk on my high places!
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments
Written by Habakkuk copyright 629 BC
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:15 KJV
One of my favorite old time songs from church is “This Little Light of Mine. It reminds me of a night when our boys were small, and we lived in a tiny second floor apartment. One night my wife thought she heard a sound coming from the children’s room. Since our flashlight was buried somewhere in a kitchen drawer, she just carefully worked her way through the dark towards their door. I half woke up as she got out of bed, but when I heard her voice suddenly pierce the night with “Oh! Oh!” she had my undivided attention.
“What’s going on?” I shouted sitting bolt upright ready to rush to her rescue. By this time though the startled little scream had been replaced by peals of laughter. “You wouldn’t believe it!” Nancy said as she quickly slipped back into our bedroom. “I was in the right middle of the kitchen when a firefly lit up no more than an inch in front of by nose!” That tiny bug had everyone’s attention, not because of how impressive the candlepower of his light, but because he chose the darkest night to shine it.
With all the problems going on in the world around us we can easily get discouraged and feel like our little light won’t make much of a difference. But it just may be that God has called you to give just a little flash of His love to someone on the darkest night of their life!