Weekly Devotions – July 20-24

Friday Devotion with Kim Wu

A good word today from Kim Wu:

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”  Author Edward Abbey penned these words, and they speak to us both about the difficulty of the path through the wilderness, as well as the rewards we can receive along the way.

Our life is a journey, and the way isn’t always easy or clear.  There are many paths we can choose to take along the way, but God has a path He wants us to take with Him.  Sometimes the path he has us walking upon takes us through the wilderness, and we don’t know why we’re there or where we’re going.  That’s why we have to walk this path by faith, holding onto the truth that God is lovingly present with us even when life doesn’t make sense.

As we walk on the path through the wilderness, our field of vision is limited.  Twists and turns along the way keep us from seeing beyond the next few steps, but God is beside us, leading us by our right hands.  And because God is everywhere, He’s also up ahead of us on the path; His radiant glory shining brightly into the dark recesses of the wilderness, illuminating the way forward for us.

On this path, we develop trust and dependence on God, as we discover that He is enough even though the way is hard.  As Rob Renfroe writes in “A Way Through the Wilderness”, maturity requires suffering.   “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.”  (Ecc 7:3)   Sharing in Christ’s suffering builds intimacy with Jesus and gives us access to His power.   As we mature, we learn the difference between needs and wants, we remain obedient to God’s will, and we intentionally seek God’s presence.

And then we have those moments on the path when we round the bend, and are afforded a view unlike any other.  Our trip through the wilderness has taken us to places and heights we never would have thought possible.  We are able to look back at the path we’ve taken with gratitude, appreciating its difficulty and the faithfulness of God on the journey.  And we understand why the psalmist says ”I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.”

Sometimes the harder and higher the climb on the trail, the better the view.  Peter, James, and John climbed a mountain with Jesus, where He was transfigured before them.  “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.”  But they had to climb the mountain to see it.  Are you ready and willing to climb the mountains on your path?   The next line in Edward Abbey’s quote is “May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”  What a glorious view that would be.

Thursday Devotion with Pastor Marti

Rest and Work

“God saw everything that he had made and indeed, it was very good.”  - Genesis 1:31a

Scripture Focus: Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Have you noticed that the world is looking different these days? I have been sitting on my front porch more in the past few weeks, months, however long it has been. (I can’t remember which day it is anymore without looking at a calendar. Time has a whole new meaning these days. Anyway...) Sitting on my porch I have noticed that the air seems fresher...the sky bluer... the clouds whiter... the earth seems renewed in some ways due to the reduction of people driving cars everywhere. I have also noticed that even though I am experiencing anxiety due to the unknown of the COVID pandemic, amidst the concern over protest... racism... violence... I am still finding rest. My days have shifted. I’m not in my car as much. I’m on the computer Zooming for meetings, yet I am still finding rest... a slower pace.

I love the creation stories (yes there are two different stories- that’s for another time) for a number of reasons. In the Genesis 1 creation story I love that God looks at everything created and sees that “it was very good.” At each day of the creation we have a refrain...

“And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and morning, the ... day.”

God creates, reviews his creation, calls it good, calls it a day. Do we do that? Maybe for some things but more times than I want to admit, I do my work, analyze it, think it might be good, try to call it a day but then rehash it in my mind, work on it some more, call it good enough. God did not create us to live like this. God called the creation to be co-creators in partnership with God. God tells the birds, the fish, the animals on the land, the humans to be fruitful and multiply. God says of the plants that they each have seeds so they can create more. If our work is in partnership with God then we too can create, review, call it good and call it a day.

The second thing I really love about the creation story in Genesis 1 is actually found in Genesis 2: 2... “And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested from all the work that he had done.” God rested! Isn’t that great? God set the example for us. We need rest. We are not meant to work 24/7. God looked at all his work, called it very good and rested.

I need this reminder to rest. My work may be, okay, not so great, very good, good, or even good enough but I still need to rest. I need to rest to renew myself so that I can complete the work God is calling me too. If I don’t rest, I will become irritated, resentful and unproductive. I can’t do good work if I’m not my best self.

Tuesday Announcements with Pastor Marti

Monday Devotion with Kim Wu

A good word today from Kim Wu:

For fifty long years, while working to help the poorest of the poor in India, Mother Teresa experienced a deep sense of God’s absence in her life.  In her personal writings, she noted:  “Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me?  …the one You have thrown away as unwanted – unloved.  I call, I cling, I want – and there is no One to answer.  The darkness is so dark – and I am alone.”

Mother Teresa found it especially confusing and difficult that she entered this wilderness period just as she began doing the work she felt God was calling her to do.  Yet she persisted, living and working among the poor, while establishing homes for orphans and those who were sick and dying.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity, which by the end of her life was operating 610 missions in 123 countries.

‘Where are you, God?  Am I all alone?’ are questions we also ask when we are in the wilderness.  It is in these times that we must cling to what we know to be true.  God is always with us; we are never alone.  That deep longing for God we are feeling is actually the presence of God in our lives.  He is at work in us and through us.

During her period of darkness, Mother Teresa began to appreciate this as a time of full surrender to God and as “a part, a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness & pain on earth.” As we share in Jesus’ sufferings, we “who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  (2 Cor 3:18)

In Mother Teresa’s darkness, she reflected the light of Christ to others.  She understood this as a vital part of her calling while in the wilderness, and in 1962 wrote, “If I ever become a saint – I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’  I will continually be absent from heaven – to light the light of those in darkness on earth.”

How are we persevering in our wilderness?  And even while in the midst of darkness ourselves, how are we spreading hope and radiating God’s light and love in the world?  The twelfth chapter of Romans describes our sacrificial call to love.  “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. “

Lord, we remember your promise to be with us in the wilderness.  You are the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.  Help us to be faithful on our journey, and light the way for others.  Amen.

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