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.

My heart or His voice?


The other day I stumbled upon this quote:

If there ever was one concept that would never steer you wrong, it would be: “Follow Your Heart” True, at times following your heart may seem reckless and may result in some embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. However, following your heart is not about being comfortable and not about getting approval. It’s about achieving all your dreams and fantasies. It’s about finding and living in your life’s passion. It’s about truly feeling alive and courageous.
Source: http://www.wakundama.com/FollowTheHeart.html

Yet the Bible says amongst others :

“The heart is deceitful above all things ,and desperately wicked: who can know it ?” Jeremiah 17:12

“He that trusts in his own heart is a FOOL : but whosoever walks wisely, he shall be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26

“Just follow your heart, follow where your heart leads you, trust your gut.”
It seems almost like common wisdom and it is what we are taught so very often. And in all fairness, I have probably lived most of my life like this.  Some will try to make it more convincing and make the heart the place in your body associated with “love”. And hey, the Golden Rule will probably indicate that love  (and compassion) are worthy pursuits.  Is it not amazing how such a common place wisdom seems to be set aside when you read the Bible.

Yet, it is when we see what Jesus said that things start to fall in place:

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22 NIV

When we are made to believe that we should follow our heart it is from a New Age, Law of Attraction type of perspective that still places us as individuals in the center of the universe.

People who follow their heart’s desire are the most successful. When you follow your heart’s desire, it is not a matter of whether you will have it, it is only a matter of time. You will always have what you want when you follow your heart’s desire. When you follow your true heart’s desires, you will live a life where everything you ever wanted will be available to you, and you will be loving every minute of it as you’re on the path towards them. Your true heart’s desires will also inspire you to take the right action whenever it will serve to bring the fulfillment of your desires….
Our emotions are what activates the law of attraction. Your heart’s desire creates the most powerful emotions that you can experience and therefore has the most emotional and magnetic attracting power, which can overcome any and all obstacles to make it a reality. When your heart’s desire is driving you, nothing or no one is able to stop you.When your heart and mind is set on something, you will never give up. You will do whatever it takes to achieve it.
http://www.mindreality.com/you-can-always-get-what-your-heart-desires-most

But that changes dramatically when your heart is focused on something else: on God. Yet in all fairness, very often our hearts (my heart) are not focused on God, on the Godly but on the very carnal, hence the warning. I find myself often wondering and waiting as a result: Is this what I want for God or what God wants for me and if all fails, is it actually what I want for me. I guess more than once it is the last but not least. Things started to change when I got a grasp of
Psalm 37: 4:

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

As I delight myself in the Lord, He give me His desires. He creates and places within my  heart new and holy desires. And with that  I begin to delight in the things that He delights in. I start to want what He wants. Following him becomes a joy. Some will say effortless, but for me it is more than once a harsh reality check. I try to set of my heart against His voice. And in all fairness they often do not match, but hey I am a new and learning Christian as if this really makes a difference.  But God has His own word on it:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6

I guess for me the most important message in this proverb is to let Him direct my paths. More than once His paths do not make immediate sense to me. But then again those occasions where I  managed to get of get of my high horse I have found that He knows better. It is too easy almost to ignore that gentle voice  directing you in directions you actually do not want to go. But as said time and time He appears to be the better lead to follow.  It is in that realization, that following your heart is dangerous – unless your heart and God’s  heart are aligned perfectly – that I (you will) find myself (yourself) staying on course for the better. It is when my hearts desires are no longer mine but God’s desires for me pressed upon my heart, and me (trying hard to be) being ready to follow up on that that things work out for the better.

So what are you going to follow? Your own heart or His voice?

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: This is the day the Lord Has Made


Psalm 118:24 tells us

24 This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

That feeling creeps up on me when I see a beautiful sunrise or sunset both in a prospective or retrospective sense. In the gallery below some of the special views Ben and I enjoyed watching the sunrise over the see in Golden Bay. It is amazing, I felt like a child in awe. At my ‘old’ age I saw the sunrise over the sea for the first time. The explosion of color, light, but also sound and smell as nature wakes up, mind blowing. And to share it with my oldest son absolutely fantastic. And like we are instructed in Psalm 118:24, we rejoiced in this day the Lord had made and the day was a blessed one before it even started  for real.

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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.