Tim’s Daily Bread Devotional 7.6.21

By July 6, 2021Daily Bread

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 139:7-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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.

Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today

Psalm 139 echoes what the people of God learned in the wilderness.  In Exodus 17, the Israelites have been in the wilderness for several weeks and the people don’t have enough water.  They begin to be afraid that they and their cattle will all die of thirst in the wilderness.  The people are so thirsty they even begin to wish that they were back in Egypt, even though they were slaves.

What the people of God don’t realize in their thirsty state, however, is that the water they most desperately need is the living water of faith that God provides.

Out of their fear and their longing, they ask a question that gets to the heart of what is going on spiritually for them:  “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Have you asked that question or some variation of it?  Is God with me?  Where is God in all of this?

Now what they had trouble seeing is the good news that we recite in the affirmation of faith of the United Church of Canada:  God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.  They had trouble seeing that there are blessings to be had even in the wilderness times and that the wilderness experiences can make us stronger and help us determine what is most important.

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.

That is what resurrection is about:  out of darkness, God brings light; out of chaos, God brings order; out of wilderness wandering, God brings strength and faith; out of dead ends, God brings new beginnings; and even out of death, God brings resurrection, new life.

God is present even in our wilderness experiences.

What was sorely missing for the people of God in the Sinai Desert was more than water, it was trust.  It is as precious as water.  It is living water that sustains us and encourages us and gives us hope and strength in even the direst circumstances.  Look in the dictionary for the word “faith.” The primary definition for faith is reliance or trust.

Jean Francois Gavelet, who went by the stage name Charles Blondin, was the first person to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls.  He walked a 3-inch, 1,100-ft. hemp rope 160 feet above the falls.  On his crossing, which he achieved using a long balancing pole, Blondin executed a daring backwards somersault. Then, he crossed blindfolded; then, pushing a wheelbarrow; then, on stilts; then, in the dark with Roman candles flaring from his pole tips; and he even sat down halfway on one crossing to make and eat an omelette! A little over a year after his first crossing, he even made a crossing carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on his back.

Now, there were many thousands of people who, if asked whether they believed Blondin could cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope, would give a resounding “Yes!”  However, ask how many would climb onto his back for the trip and the only one answering yes would be his manager, Harry Colcord.

Here’s the point:  others believed, but only Harry Colcord had faith—he trusted with all his heart.

Christian tradition has, throughout the ages, “consistently affirmed that God is both transcendent and immanent.”  The transcendence of God refers to God’s “going beyond” the universe, God’s otherness, God as more than the universe.  God’s immanence, on the other hand, refers to God’s presence in everything or nearness to everything.  The immanence of God means that God dwells within and everything is within God.  It means the omnipresence of God.

This understanding of God is called panentheism—not to be confused with pantheism.  Pantheism is the belief that God is everything and everything is God.  That is NOT what we’re talking about.  Rather, we are talking about panentheism.  This is the belief that God is both more than the universe and at the same time everywhere present in the universe.  God is not a being “out there” somewhere.  The Greek root words of the word point to its meaning:  pan means “everything,” en means “in,” and theos means “God.”  The word thus means “Everything is in God.”  God is “right here,” even though God is MORE than “right here.”  God is not to be identified with the sum total of all things, as in pantheism, but God is more than everything, even as God is present everywhere.  God is all around us and within us, and we are within God.

Acts 17:28 puts it this way:  “In God we live and move and have our being.”

Is the Lord among us or not?  The answer to that question we ask in the wilderness is always a resounding YES—in the greatest times, in the tragic times, in the times of peace, in the times of turmoil, in the times when our direction seems very clear, in the times when our direction is fuzzy, in the times when our lives are full of relationships and friends, and in the times when we feel lonely.

The answer is always, “Yes, God is with us.” Thanks be to God.

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. 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


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