Tim’s Daily Bread Devotional 11.1.20

By November 2, 2020Daily Bread

Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.

I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”

Today’s Scripture:

Psalm 139

The Inescapable God

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.

Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today

In the affirmation of faith we most often recite in worship, we end with these words:  God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.

Even in the times of illness, the time when an accident has left us weakened or broken, even in those times that harm us and hurt us, God is present and God can bring good out of the worst of circumstances.  In this time of pandemic, God is with us.  This Psalm celebrates that.

But, take a closer look at Psalm 139 and you wonder whether the author wants to flee from the nearness of God.  Was the psalmist doing his dead level best to flee God, but found it impossible?  Wherever he went and whatever he did, there God was.

Note the sentence in verse 5:  “You surround me—front and back.”  The Hebrew verb “surround” can have the sense of “besiege” or “confine,” as well as “protect.”  The psalmist acknowledges being fully known and therefore fully vulnerable.  Do you sense the mixed feelings?

Jesus’s parables of the prodigal son, the lost sheep and the lost coin in the gospel of Luke are parables about our God who constantly seeks us, even when we are unaware and even when we purposely flee from God.

The Hound of Heaven.  Perhaps no one has captured that sense of being pursued by God than Francis Thompson in his 1909 poem “The Hound of Heaven.”

I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

Up vistaed hopes I sped;

And shot, precipitated,

Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

But with unhurrying chase,

And unperturbèd pace,

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

`Which way would we rather have God—far off or near?  If we’re honest, that depends.  Sometimes we want God on our own terms.  We want the comfort, but not the challenge.  Another way to put it is that God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

I think about Susan Werner’s song “Did Trouble Me”:

 

When I closed my eyes so I would not see,

My Lord did trouble me.

When I let things stand that should not be,

My Lord did trouble me.

When I held my head too high too proud,

My Lord did trouble me.

When I raised my voice too little, too loud,

My Lord did trouble me.

 

Did trouble me

With a word or a sign,

With the ringing of the bell in the back of my mind.

Did trouble me,

Did stir my soul,

For to make me human, to make me whole.

 

When I slept too long, slept too deep,

My Lord did trouble me.

Put a worrisome vision into my sleep,

My Lord did trouble me.

When I held myself away and apart,

My Lord did trouble me.

And the tears of my brother did move my heart,

My Lord did trouble me.

 

Did trouble me

With a word or a sign,

With the ringing of the bell in the back of my mind.

Did trouble me,

Did stir my soul,

For to make me human, to make me whole.

 

In the greatest times, in the tragic times, and in the times of peace and in the times of turmoil and the times when our direction seems very clear and in the times when our direction is fuzzy, the times when our lives are full of relationships and friends, and the times when we feel lonely.  Yes, God is with us to trouble our souls when we are complacent and when we let things stand that should not be.  God is near to stir our souls; to make us human, to make us whole.

God is with us. We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.

Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.

I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!

Grace and Peace,


Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor

Here’s more about this passage of scripture via Upper Room devotionals:

WONDERFULLY MADE

I am a beautiful creation of God.

read more

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