I know You are here


To and From  Hamner

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

Today the Daily Bible Verse I got in my mailbox consisted of the verse quoted above, from probably one of the most famous of all Psalms.

Dave Whitehead reminds us how we have all known places of despair and subsequently how we can find comfort in his presence. For me what jumped out was the wording of the first part of this verse.

It does not say “I will fear no evil if/when your are with me”; it clearly states “for you are with me.” It is the certainty with which David speaks to us about God‘s presence. We all may go through times of spiritual dryness, cry out to God but it seems almost as if He is not there.

Our natural inclination may well be to give into this feeling and subsequently rely on our own strength and cope with the anxieties and stress that follows. David shows us a different way: there is no doubt in his mind that God is with him. And thus he walks through the valley of death boldly, sure of God’s presence.

I can’t but keep wondering. If I was a sure as David, that God was present all the time, what would that valley of death really look like? Would it still be as desolate and scary if we were absolutely sure, like David seemed to be that God was right there by our side? I think that it would actually light of the place substantially and as Christians we’d be enabled to walk boldly into those places/situations we so easily like to avoid because they seem dark and desolate and actually be the salt and light.

Weaned from arrogance: Psalm 131


I love reading the Psalms, and the other day I was particularly captivated by Psalm 131, the depth of its humble simplicity and the actual challenge it poses for us in modern day life, for my life in any event. 

Psalm 131

A song of ascents. Of David.

1 My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

As a father I remember well how babies cry. Upon that cry it is comforted by giving it the breast or a bottle, a change of diaper, or just by being held close.

What attracted me so much about this Psalm I guess is the spiritual change that has taken place within David. What you quickly learn as a parent is that a  weaned child leaves the initiative with the parents. It stops crying and is at peace in the knowledge or trust that it will be fed at the right time again. David became weaned like a child with its mother, calm and content, at peace.

As a result, he is no longer concerned with matters too “wonderful” or as other translations read ” too great” for him. I understand that as being occupied with matters that are actually not his concern at all, to big to take care of by himself or that are out of his hands.

We too could consider, and I am, that perhaps we should allow God to wean us from our natural arrogance that leads us to think that we are in control, that leads us to look for answers to problems that are not ours to solve, that leads us to think that we can take care of everything on our own strength. It is in this leaving the initiative with God, actually becoming childlike again (loving, dependent, and trusting, open to the world and new learning and understanding) that I found myself opened up to actually receive and learn beyond what I could ever have done myself with my needs taken care of and in a state of peace and calmness I had not known before. That is, come to think of it quite something considering the challenging circumstances here in Christchurch, New Zealand (another 5.5 aftershock the other day).

In the Lord’s prayer we ask God to give us our daily bread and that is what it comes down to I guess. Instead of trying on our own strength for more and more (our wants instead of needs), let God take care of or needs. I sounds simple and straightforward but I have found it to be one of the greatest challenges ever.
We we live in a society and world that makes us believe that we are in the center of the universe, that we are in control and that through our own efforts we can take care of our own needs, that we are in fact little gods. Such a frame of mind will result eventually in pride and arrogance making us believe that we have the answer to anything, can solve anything and need none other than ourselves to take care of our needs and wants. In fact we are made to believe that we can be our own idols that if we follow the path of the next self-help guru, we can be little gods ourselves. I know because I have been there and my journey to Christianity (back home) is filled with examples of it.

This change (like David) has been part of my journey, of becoming a Christian in the first place and in the past years poses a challenge on a daily basis still. It took me some time to realize that I was working things the wrong way around. It all  is not about my agenda and my purpose for God but the other way around: His agenda and purpose for me, trusting that He probably knows better. From the moment of this realization and my (as good and as bad as I could) acting upon it things started to change and for the better. It is in this humble and dependent approach that I have found the answers to many of the questions I could not find the answer to myself, it is in this state of meekness that I have found myself stronger and most of all at peace in the knowledge that I am being looked after and it is in this state of trust that I have heard and found my calling. I may not have understood it at times, I may not have seen the logic of what was coming but I trusted and things have been changing for the better every day. That does not mean a life without challenges but it did mean being better equipped for and protected against what life is throwing at us, physically and spiritually.

I have not been disappointed and have been looked after better than I could ever have done myself with all my needs taken care of. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you give it an honest try.

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Photo Journal: His Eye is on the Sparrow (Again) and Psalm 84


Last year I wrote a post in relation to this beautiful hymn after a sparrow was kind enough to make it possible for me to take a relatively close up pic. On or most recent walk in Hagley Park, I noticed, while feeding both ducks and eels that there was this little tree along the waterfront of the Avon River that seemed to almost be like a gathering place for the sparrow. Overhanging branches made it possible to hide under there, yet at the same time they could warm up in the sun on the top of the little tree sheltered from the wind by the surrounding higher trees.

What a chirpy group of birds they were and again I started to sing because I became happy just seeing this seemingly happy bunch of birds.

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Psalm 84:3

In this Psalm we read how David almost envies these little birds.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

Almost as by nature sparrows provide for themselves habitats in houses and buildings similarly to other birds in the woods or open country.  And David, uses the fact that the Temple was no exception to express how much he really loves God. While these little insignificant little birds live right there in the presence of God, he is living in a palace away from there, and it almost seems like he’d give it up just like that just so he could be there in the place where God lives.

And in seeing them again that day I realize how much of an example they are to us: seemingly happy, not waiting for God to offer them a place in His house but just doing it AS BY NATURE, living life day by day. We can learn a lot from this little sparrow.

His eye is on the sparrow

The lyrics to this beautiful song again:

Why should I feel discouraged / Why should the shadows come / Why should my heart feel lonely / And long for heaven and home / When Jesus is my portion / A constant friend is He / His eye is on the sparrow / And I know He watches over me / His eye is on the sparrow / And I know He watches me /

I sing because I’m happy / I sing because I’m free / His eye is on the sparrow / And I know He watches me (He watches me) / His eye is on the sparrow / And I know He watches / I know He watches / I know He watches me/

Do you get it, the song starts of with a lot of “why should I’s” . It is so amazing to get to the key point of the matter: by faith we are saved and more, when you realize that when Jesus died for our sins, he left with the promise of the Holy Spirit, and with Him living in us, we do no longer need to worry. We will never be worthy but Jesus paid the ransom so that we can be reconciled with our Creator, n0t because we deserve it (as we never will) but because of His will and His grace. It was never about us , it was all about Him. Not about what we can do so He may look after us, how we can deserve to be His children, it was already taken care off.

Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions or faith in Christ. I have no right really to speak on such a difficult question, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. A serious moral effort is the only thing that will bring you to the point where you throw up the sponge. Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair at that point: and out of that Faith in Him good actions must inevitably come. (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity).

The Law, and adherence thereto cannot be our ticket, it is the promise, the fruit, that will come from the God’s Spirit  living in us and we listening to it, our comforter, our guidance so we may be lead from glory to glory, as chirpy as those sparrows.

Be Still: Psalm 46


A quiet moment at the waterfront

Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)

What an amazingly comforting verse this is. Read the whole Psalm and we are looking at the most incredible comforting word. The Psalm as a whole encourages us to place all our hope and trust in God, in His power and providence.  In our busy lifestyles of today, in a society that places us the individual in the center of the universe, where temptation is ever present, where economies and politics fail us, this verse is often easier said than done.

It is very easy to wonder whether God is still able to keep up with our fast paced, rapidly changing world and lifestyles. Well God is very capable of keeping up but are we able to be still?

It is very easy to call Him our Protector, our Comforter, our Father but just imagine this: what if your child called you all this but never got to spend any time with you. I know as a parent that I long for the special time with each of my sons, that I love our family time. I hate to think what it would feel like if time and time again my boys would say, sorry I don’t have time for you.

God wants a relationship with His creation not just collectively but individually, and because of that He gave His only begotten Son, who died on the cross for all of us, not just collectively but each of us individually. How do you think He’d feel when time and time again He’s being told ” sorry not now, I am too busy for you, I have other more pressing things on my mind right now, can’t you see I am trying to get ahead of things, do you have any idea what kind of trouble I am in right now, look Dad, my job is on the line, how am I going to pay for the mortgage, what will other think of me when I am jobless, come on guve me a break, don’t call me I’ll call you.”

In all this, I now realize we are actually shortchanging ourselves. It is in the “being still” that we remember His past, so that we can have faith in our now and future, I know I can. It is in the being still that I realize that I am not in control: He is! It is in this realization, that His history, also on an individual basis should be enough reason to trust Him with my here, now and future that I find the peace. Perhaps it may help some to turn the phrase around: know that I am God and be still.

Being still thus comes not from taking a break from our busy life styles, but from knowing who God is; from remembering what He has done, what realizing what He is doing in our lives right now, and from trusting our Father in whatever  He will do in our lives. Realize and embrace that God is totally in control, and will do everything He has purposed and promised to do! Then enjoy God’s peace!

Prayer

Great and glorious Father God, you are truly amazing. When I stop and think what you have done, what you are doing I find myself at peace, no matter what life is bringing on my path. Life may get hectic, challenging, my circumstances may be great of sorrowful but in all this I remember know that you are God. Write your truth on my heart, and in my mind and keep it right there so that I may indeed be still.