The Israelites begged Moses to cover his face because they could not bear to gaze upon the glory of God, however pallidly it was reflected on Moses’ face. They feared a God they could not control, a God who could not be bought and bribed, a God who was real – who spoke, who commanded, who did things.
Imagine, each time they looked at Moses face, they were reminded of the holy reality of God. Fear, fear of punishment, fear of falling short, fear of God’s requirements cast a veil over their hearts. It filtered the words into their hearts. Fear filtered out the love of God. Separated from the character of God, divorced from the reality of His love, the law became drudgery, a heavy burden, an insurmountable obstacle to peace and rest.
How can one submit to that which one fears? How can one believe in the goodness of that which one fears? How can one listen when fear forms a wall? In Jeremiah’s time, fear had so hardened their hearts and blinded them, that the Israelites could not hear the love and concern that God was voicing through His true prophets. Fear made every message seem ugly and threatening. Fear made them deaf to the promises that were woven into every warning.
But in Christ the veil is removed. He came with the express purpose of exploding the myths and half-truths about God. He came to tear down the barriers of fear and lies that would keep us from running to God. He came to show us the Father heart of God, His tender affection towards us.
He did not come to set some impossible standards, but He came to show us the purity of the righteousness of God, the amazing ‘other’/holy quality of His love. Love full of wisdom, truth, patience, strength and full of justice.
He came to reveal the true glory of God – the character of God. Glory, not as we think of it in our petty human minds, where we associate glory with plaudits and shining lights. Jesus came to reveal the full dimensions of God’s love, righteousness, truth, justice, grace, mercy, power.
And He came to be the Way into the Father’s heart. No more hanging outside with bleating lambs, hoping the sacrifice is acceptable. He became the Lamb that was fully acceptable. No more downcast eyes and prostrate figures – John was lifted up and set on his feet, in the presence of the Holy God. True, the elders voluntarily fell down before the Throne, but they did that because they could find no words exalted enough or complete enough to express all that was in their hearts after they had experienced the beauty and glory of God.
The Door – stands open. Each day we can enter into His glorious Holy presence. Nay, more than that he has opened His heart to us to be our HOMES, to dwell in Him…
No more waiting for Moses, Samuel or Jeremiah to go between, to find out the will of the Lord. No! WE can enter and dwell in the Name of Jesus, to hear the voice of the Lord for ourselves. We can gaze upon His beauty, His holiness and be transformed by His love.
There is no fear in love,
but perfect love casts out fear,
because fear has torment.
He who fears has not been perfected in love.
We love Him because He first loved us.
1Jn 4:18-19 MKJV
Last week was a very eventful week. My daughter turned 21, and she graduated.
21 precious years of hugs, shared secrets, sticky hands, tickles and laughter…
21 glorious years of seeing God’s faithfulness and His mercies unfold day by day.
When my daughter was born, something went dreadfully wrong at the moment of her birth. The doctors could not find her heartbeat or detect movement for over twenty minutes. They told me they would do all that they could to save the child, but they wanted me to be prepared for a still-birth.
‘Still-birth? That couldn’t be? It couldn’t be happening to me… could it?’
Where does one go when all the help at hand expresses helplessness?
God. But why should God hear my cry? I had forgotten Him for years without number, wondered if He even existed.. My lifestyle certainly was way out of sync with what He would want for me.
Yet, didn’t He run to welcome the prodigal son? Didn’t He forgive David after he’d murdered Uriah and slept with Bathsheba? Didn’t David say that he’d rather trust himself to the hands of God than to the hands of man? What about the thief who hung on the cross, all he did was turn to Jesus and say ‘Lord, remember me…’?
I dragged my thoughts together to pray:
‘Lord, there is no reason at all why You should listen to me. I have lived a sinful life. There is nothing that I can bring You as an offering. All I can think of at this moment is that I’ve heard You are a compassionate God and that You are merciful. I know that as God You are the One who has the power to give life to my child. I’m asking You not to hold my sins against me, I am asking You to have mercy on this child that is to come into the world. Give this child life. Let this child be normal in every way. Lord, if You have heard and answered my prayer, would you give me a sign? Let the baby cry the moment it’s born ’
As I prayed I felt a deep peace enfold me, and this strong conviction took hold of me, that all was well, that my child would live.
Not long afterwards, my child was born. A girl. I could see her as the doctor held her up. Ashen and still.
‘Please God,’ my heart breathed, and even as my words were forming, she cried.
The neo-natal surgeon cried out, ‘Praise God!!! She lives!!!’
I held the precious bundle for a few seconds, before they rushed her off to the incubator.
Grace. I learnt about God’s grace that day. I deserved NOTHING, and yet, God chose to hear my prayer and He answered me so marvellously.
A month later I met the neo-natal surgeon who had attended my daughter at her birth. He was thrilled with her progress, but he cautioned me, ‘You are not out of the woods. Your daughter did not receive oxygen for 20mins when her heart was not beating. That is a long time. There will be an inevitable impact. Her physical reflexes seem to be ok. She most probably will be a slow learner and she will definitely be stunted in height.’
Again I felt that amazing deep peace and conviction flood my heart that all was well, and I replied, ‘My God does not do things in half measures. I believe that she is completely well, and she will be tall.’
The surgeon looked pityingly at me, but he let it go.
I wish I could meet him now.
My daughter graduated with a double major in psychology and anthropology, and she’s taller than me, and is taller than most of her friends.
Grace. Amazing grace that does not do anything in half measures. Amazing grace that responds to the broken, helpless cry of a sinner. Amazing grace that is willing to forgive my doubts, backsliding and neglect.
Grace. I’ve been reading through Jeremiah, and beneath the prophecies and indictments, one can hear very clearly our loving Father God’s heart – His longing to pour out grace and healing the moment His people turn back to Him.
Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus,
Praise His Name!
Lyrics: Haldor Lillenas
being rich in mercy,
because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ…
so that in the coming ages
he might show
the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us
in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:4-7 ESV
Writing and dreaming
Weaving and screening
Tower of Babel
Is it enough that I speak that which I can understand myself
Does it make sense to speak when no one else can?
Caught in a bubble that will not burst
Why do words mean what they mean?
Would thoughts matter if words don’t?
In the beginning was the Word
And the Word was with God
And the Word was God.
Slicing through the static and chaos of colliding waves
Came the pure, true words
‘Let there be…’
Light shone out of darkness,
Life came forth out of nothing,
A breath-filled fistful of clay
Took shape, moved, thought his first thought
Uttered his first word.
I wonder what his first word was…
My daughter’s first meaningful word was ‘Dada’
An imperious command
For her dad to stop in his tracks
And turn to her.
Did Adam cry out ‘Dada?’
Did God stop and smile and whisper,
‘Yes, that’s good!’
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. Ps 33:6
The stone’s been rolled over the tomb
Spices weighed out
Crushed with oil to make ointments
Silently bottled and stoppered
Hearts lightened as hands found work
The disciples wait, numb, heavy hearted
Fearing the knock on the door
Wanting to pick up the pieces
but they didn’t fit together at all
Memories lashed tearing strips of their souls
And thorns of shame accused them
Autumn had withered their fig leaves
leaving them unable to meet each other’s gaze.
A day of rest
The word mocked them
I’ll give you rest’
But He was laid in a tomb
There was no hand to lighten their pain
As I tried to think about what the disciples and the women followers of Jesus did on that night when Jesus was laid in the tomb, and the long Sabbath day they had to wait through, I became overwhelmed by heaviness and the pain of all who stood at dead-ends.
Jobs lost, relationships ended, loved ones laid in the grave… the blank wall and formless future meets their gaze. Bewildered, wondering why it was happening to them. How could there be a full stop, a shut door, when this is not how they had seen the road ahead?
Thankfully we stand on the other side of the Resurrection. Jesus is no longer in the tomb. But He is risen and sitting at the right hand of God the Father, with all power, all authority to fulfil every promise that God has ever made. He is the Word made Flesh.
So consider this promise that God made in Isaiah:
For Jehovah shall comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places;
and He will make her wilderness like Eden,
and her desert like the garden of Jehovah.
Joy and gladness shall be found in it,
thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
Isa 51:3 MKJV
Why are you cast down O my soul?
Why do you crouch in fear?
Why are you crushed by worry?
Hope thou in God.
When you cannot feel the ground beneath your feet,
And the waters swirl and tug at you,
He holds your head above the waters so you are not overwhelmed.
Why do you lie in the dust O my soul?
You are not abandoned!
You are not cut off!
Listen to the whisper of the Lover of your soul,
‘Arise my love, arise
The winter is past.’
Autumn fig leaves have turned to mulch.
In dark unseen places,
His unquenchable incorruptible life is stirring.
Hope thou in God
For He is the light of your countenance
And the sunshine of His love
Causes you to live again
I came across this blogpost quite by chance. It made me stop and reconsider a lot of situations. I will let the blog speak for itself, as Bruce Buchanan says it so much better than I can.
As I am approaching the end of my chemo regimen [one infusion remaining! (September 5-7)], my wife mentioned that we should pray that this last treatment is successful at wiping out any remaining cancer cells that may have survived the first eleven treatments (in other words, any tough, chemo-resistant cells). It made me realize that while I have been dealing with the side effects of chemo, I have unconsciously transitioned into thinking of the chemo as my “enemy” because of the unpleasant side effects. After Patty’s comment, I was reminded that chemo is not an “enemy,” it is a “friend,” a tool being used against the real enemy: cancer.
This made me begin to think about the “tools” God uses in my life. I generally greet unwelcome intrusions into my copacetic routines as “enemies” to “my peace.” They mess me up. They make me uncomfortable. They are irritating. They are…
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6 days before the Passover. The Great Sabbath. A day which begins a period of being set apart to prepare hearts to celebrate the Feast of Passover and the Day of Atonement. At Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem, at the house of Martha and her siblings, a feast takes place.
Lazarus, out of the grave, now a tourist attraction, target of desperate, foolish plots to kill him, intent on telling his story…
Martha, happily serving, making sure all the guests were fed and taken care of…
Outside around the house there were throngs of people hoping to get a glimpse of Lazarus or Jesus…
Various groups of Pharisees and leaders watched uneasily, wondering where all this was going to end, trying to take back the reins of control, Jesus had to die; there was no other way to stem this tide…
Jesus’ disciples, confused and unsure by all His talk of dying, convinced He had a last minute trick up His sleeve, wondering what role each had to play in the coming Kingdom…
Judas, the observer, wondering how it would all profit him…
Mary, the worshipper had eyes only for the King. There, by the tomb, as Lazarus walked out wrapped in the shroud, she had seen Jesus the Lord of Life, and she saw with painful clarity, the corruption, unbelief and death that was in her heart.
How often she had sat at the feet of Jesus, believed Him to be the Son of God, but when the stone was rolled over the tomb, all she could think was “Jesus, You don’t care! You used us. Where are You when we need You? If You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Lazarus, whom they thought was maggoty and decaying, walked out of the grave. In that blinding moment of truth, she saw before her the Creator, the I AM, El-Shaddai, the source, the origin of Life, the Master and Keeper of the Universe standing before her, his glory sheathed in human form.
She knew He’d heard her thoughts, just as clearly as if she’d spoken aloud. The accusations she’d hurled at Him, the hardness and resistance in her heart. Jesus saw all, and yet, He had compassion, He did not deny Mary and Martha their unspoken half-believing request.
(Mary kneeling at Jesus’ feet) Lord and giver of Life, forgive me, for I was blind
I thought I knew You,
I see now that eternity is not enough to discover all that You are.
In You I begin to see the heart of the Father Almighty.
You said that You did only what You saw the Father in heaven doing,
When You wept at the grave and were groaning, were You echoing the Father’s heart?
(pouring the oil on His feet) You are the GladTiding-bearer,
crossing mountains and valleys with ease.
How beautiful are Your feet, scarred and calloused as they are,
For You have brought news of the end of the war between God and Man
Proclaiming peace, publishing salvation,
Declaring in every action, ‘Our God reigns!’
His Kingdom’s come!
(wiping His feet with her hair) I have seen the goodness of the LORD,
Pass before me, right before my eyes!
All that I am, all that I have, has worth and meaning
Only as I surrender it all to You in worship and reverence.
Spikenard may fill the house with its glory,
But Your glory fills all the earth.
As I have bowed in worship, and surrendered my glory to You,
I am covered with the fragrance of the oil that I poured out on You.
I see in this moment, but dimly, that I was created to carry Your glory,
To be in Your image, and shine forth the goodness of God.
May I now go forth in Your Name, Lord, to proclaim,
‘Our God reigns! His Kingdom’s come!’
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever.
They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Rev 4:9-11 ESV
Worship begins when the ‘light-bulb’ goes off, illuminating and expanding for us the understanding of who God is, and showing us who we are in the light of His Glory. For Mary it was a magnified understanding of who Jesus is as the Son of God, as the Resurrection and the Life. For the twenty-four elders, it is the increasing understanding of the Holiness of God, that leads them to lay down their achievements/crowns/rewards and bow in worship.
When we bow down in worship with our understanding and our spirit, we rise up carrying away the song and perfume of heaven with us, wherever we go.
Rich, golden, whispering grain
Holding within them the promise of
Hunger appeased with satisfying bread.
Yet the joy of overflowing harvest
Unless a grain of wheat falls in the ground and dies
For in the husk, it abides alone.
No greater love can there be than this,
Than One lay down His life for His friends.
See, the towel and the water bowl?
I call you My dearest friends:
There is no road I will not travel
To buy your free pardon
To set you free from the lifeless sod.
The Seed has been sown in the grave
And from Him we reap
A rich bountiful harvest
Of the treasures of God’s abundant grace.
And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16
and so is his free gift to so many people through the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.
… how much greater is the result of what was done by the one man, Jesus Christ! All who receive God’s abundant grace and are freely put right with him will rule in life through Christ.
Rom 5:15-17 GNB