Tim’s Daily Bread Devotional 3.11.21

By March 11, 2021Daily Bread

I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.

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

Today’s Scripture:

Psalm 139:1-18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
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.
15     My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end[a]—I am still with you.

Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today

In the Upper Room rotation of scriptures, some get repeated often.  Psalm 139 was the scripture of the day only a couple of weeks ago on February 26, 2021.  It was also the day’s scripture on July 6, September 15, and November 1, 2020.  Here is a repeat of the November 1, 2020 Daily Bread in case you missed it:

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.

There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Did Trouble Me“. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.

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:

FROM WITHIN

Praying for others is good for my soul.

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