Some days God just piles up the devotional readings for us. It started with this one:
Mark 11:1-11 ENTERING JERUSALEM
Writing for a Gentile audience, Mark mostly skipped over explaining the details of how Jesus was fulfilling one prophetic scripture after another. For example, he makes no comment on the timing of the arrival at Jerusalem in the week of Passover. Zechariah 9:9 foretells the arrival of the Messiah riding on a donkey. Mark describes the fact as if it is just a humble, colorful detail…
Mark notes that Jesus departed the city to stay overnight in Bethany, the home of his dear friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Mark does not bring up the extraordinary history with that household or how it foreshadowed what was about to unfold in Jesus’ own life. The stories that Mark had already written down were extraordinary enough on their own to grab the attention of his readers.
The choices Mark made are themselves a lesson for us as we give our own testimonies. We must find the details that are essential and most likely to earn the attention of our listeners. It is certain we will remember many details that were deeply meaningful to us in all our experiences with Jesus. But at different times, with different people, it may not be necessary to tell all those details. The Holy Spirit will do the work of conviction even with the briefest summaries that lift up and glorify the Name of Jesus.
I had begun that day staring back at myself in the bathroom mirror. I had been trying not to grit my teeth at how stroke-broken my body remains after two years and four months. I had been thinking how I needed to bite my tongue and not write another blog focusing on my own condition. People must inevitably get tired of the details that Melanie and I live with 24 hours a day. “At different times, with different people, it may not be necessary to tell all those details.” I wobbled down the hall to breakfast, thinking to myself, “This is the day the Lord has made… for His own purposes.”
Melanie read and played our morning menu of devotionals while I nibbled carefully at my food. I had read the one on Mark as part of my voice exercises. Now Melanie turned to the Pray As You Go web page.
Our desire to be in charge of our own lives is strong and surely, at least to some extent, a gift from God. However, does not God sometimes seem demanding? Where your heart is, there your treasure shall be! What price human freedom, if God always has the last say?
I worked at swallowing without choking. When I do choke and gag, I can tell Melanie tenses up. I hate doing that to her. But I’m very grateful she stays at the table with me, long after she has finished her breakfast. My breakfast usually takes an hour or longer.
Melanie went to John Piper’s Solid Joys web page.
Many of us need the reminder, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). It isn’t strange.
God seemed to have something He wanted me to hear this morning.
Melanie picked up a small booklet of daily readings we’ve been using this year by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz called Keeping God in the Small Stuff.
It is easy to see and hear God in the big events of life. But monumental or cataclysmic events don’t happen very often. If we expect to hear God only in the spectacular moments we will miss most of what He is trying to say to us.
Melanie had a new name to add to our prayer list. Most of the people on our prayer list are in worse shape than we are. This was another one like that.
A girl Melanie went to church and grade school with had sent a Facebook message. Melanie had posted a picture of the dresser next to our dining room table. It had held all my liquid food and medical supplies when Melanie was feeding me through the stomach tube. That tube was removed last month. Melanie wanted to sell the dresser now that it was no longer needed.
Nancy, her grade school friend in Michigan, saw the picture and wrote her.
“We started tube feeding two weeks ago,” she wrote. We learned her husband has been dealing with cancer. He is on oxygen and has a drip feed going from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. every day. Nancy has to give him insulin shots every four hours. Between times, she sleeps on the floor next to her husband’s recliner. Melanie had introduced them to each other. They’ve been married 50 years.
“Any advice?” Nancy asked.
That night Melanie spoke to her at length on the telephone. From the next room I heard her describing the bits and pieces of the lessons Melanie and I have learned the past two years of our journey. She encouraged Nancy to let her local church help. “People want to help. They just don’t know how unless you let them know.”
That morning when Melanie played the audio devotional from Our Daily Bread, the first words from the announcer were,
Never call it quits in pursuing Jesus.
Because he’s not done with us, or done with making the day yet. He’s still looking for help in the harvest. And He’s able to use us in our present condition.