total transformation

That’s what I’m going for – total transformation. But without a magic wand, I am finding this whole transforming thing to be a process rather than a flipping of a switch or a waving of said wand. A “process” takes time. Total transformation takes time. The total transformation I desire is taking longer than I would like. After all, it’s Advent and I am preparing to remember and to celebrate the arrival of the Christ Child here on earth some two thousand years ago. We celebrate this event every year so that we don’t forget God’s greatest gift to us, His only Son, Jesus. I never want to forget that God kept His promise and made a way for me, a sinful person, to be reconciled to Him, a Holy God.

Infinite is the chasm between sin and holiness. Infinite is God’s love for me and for you – a love so enduring, so merciful, so strong that it spans the chasm and allows me to walk across into newness of life, reconciled to my Heavenly Father forever. God’s infinite love took on human form in the person of Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. God entered into our world and lived with us for awhile, that’s the miracle I celebrate every Christmas – that He came!

So during these dreary days of December, I am attempting to decorate my house for the holiday. This is part of my Advent preparation. I clear away my accumulated clutter, making room for Christmas decorations, all the while wondering how and when so many extraneous things filled up the spaces and took over. It is time again to consciously make room to receive my Savior and my King. I don’t want lesser things to crowd Him out of my life. And so I use this Advent time to prepare to celebrate Jesus’s birth all over again.

Every decoration I unpack is a memory, starting with the Zambian Nativity Scene I set out in a space usually occupied by family pictures. I think about my time in Zambia and the people there as I arrange the figures of this special Nativity, while picturing people all over the world celebrating Jesus’s birth in one accord. Advent ushers in a time of unity and peace among believers all over the world. In many languages, in many nations, with all sorts of customs and traditions unique to them, people all over the world are preparing to once again remember and to once again celebrate the arrival of Immanuel, God with us. Such a thing had never happened before, nor will it happen again in this way.

As I prepare the way in my own life for the Christ Child to take His rightful place, I take comfort and joy in knowing others are on this Advent journey with me, remembering with wonder the miracle that took place some two thousand twenty years ago. My Advent journey continues, but the transformation is slow. I will need to do more than a decoration a day if I am to be ready in time! After all, I am preparing a way for the Lord.

“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ ” (Isaiah 40:4-5)

His glory will totally transform you and me and all who receive Him,

sincerely, Grace Day

the question Advent asks

This would appear to be obvious. The question that consumed the Israelites was, “When would God send the Messiah/Deliverer that He had long promised? The prophets were full of prophecies and predictions about when and where the Messiah would appear. Sounds eerily like today, doesn’t it? Our world today is obsessed with the second coming of Jesus. Predictions abound as to when this event will take place. But then that’s nothing new. In every era of human history since Jesus’s ascension into heaven, people have believed they were living in the end times and that Jesus’s return was imminent. So the question persists today – “When is Jesus coming back?” People want to know so that they can be prepared, I guess.

This would seem to be the logical question of Advent because when you are preparing for someone’s arrival, you want to know how much time you have left to get ready to receive them. You want to know when they will arrive. Regarding Jesus’s ETA, we are given an answer in God’s word, but it is not an answer that stops us from continuing to ask this same question again and again, to the exclusion of other, perhaps more important questions. Our answer is found in Matthew 24:36 –

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

We are told clearly that we cannot know when Jesus will return to earth. But perhaps this is not the all important question of Advent, even though it might seem so to us. Could it be that the true question of Advent was posed by Jesus Himself when He asked His disciples this –

“However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

That’s the true question of Advent – not, “when is Jesus coming?” but “will He find faith here when He arrives?” In other words, will Jesus find anyone faithful to Him when He returns? Will He find people watching, waiting, believing, preparing the way for His entrance, doing the work He entrusted to us to do until His return – (“go, make disciples of all nations”) – will He find us faithful? I take this question very personally. Will Jesus find me faithful?

As I prepare to remember and to celebrate God’s gift to humankind, I will let this question guide me through this Advent season. In the midst of decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking etc. I want to be found faithfully fulfilling the tasks God has given me to do for Him. As I celebrate now the first Advent of God’s presence here on earth, I am simultaneously preparing for the second Advent of His coming to earth, even though I don’t have any idea when that will be. It’s like this story Jesus told His disciples –

“It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” (Mark 13:34-37)

That’s what Advent requires of me – that I watch! I am to anxiously await and expectantly anticipate my Master’s return. Waiting for his return is not a time of idleness but of activity. In Jesus’s story each servant had an assigned task. I do too. I want to be found faithfully executing my God given tasks when Jesus does return. What a privilege that the Master would trust me to take care of His house and business while He is away. If I have let dust and clutter accumulate in His absence, I need to be cleaning and clearing space in readiness for His return. If weeds and brush have overgrown the path to His home, I need to prepare the way for Him to return.

Such are the duties of Advent. The wait for the Master’s return may grow long but I do not give up hope that He will come. I believe in spite of the circumstances that surround me and I prepare as if His appearance is imminent. Noah obeyed and built the ark even though he was surrounded by dry land. He stayed faithful even though his circumstances didn’t make sense. Advent requires faith – faith that the long expected Jesus will arrive when the time is right, just like He did the first time.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

God’s timing is always perfect. It seems much of Israel had grown weary with the wait and fallen asleep. Their lights had gone out and their hearts had grown cold. Maybe that’s why they were unable to recognize and to receive God’s Son when He finally arrived on that first Christmas. Maybe that’s why we remember and celebrate Jesus’s first Advent, so that we will be better prepared for His second one. Maybe it is so we learn the lessons of the first Advent which will remind us never to lose hope, but being steadfast in belief, to be always waiting, watching and preparing ourselves and our world for Jesus to enter in, just as the faithful servants in Jesus’s story were preparing for their master’s return, even though they did not know the day nor the hour.

Advent prepares the way for Jesus to be welcomed in once again, especially into those places where He has been previously crowded out, locked out, kicked out, overlooked, ridiculed and rejected. Advent opens the door so Jesus can enter in.

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)

lift them up! let Him in!

sincerely, Grace Day

always Advent

This morning it occurs to me that before Jesus’s birth, the Israelites were living in a perpetual season or state of Advent. Why? Because they had been promised a Messiah, a Deliverer, a Redeemer, someone who would come and rescue them from their enemies and oppressors. They did not know when God would send this Savior to them, so they should have been in a constant state of readiness to receive God’s gift to them whenever He should arrive. But as we read the story of Jesus’s birth and life, it is clear that people were not prepared to receive God’s promised gift of the Messiah. We read this about Jesus in John 1:10-11,

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”

Jesus did not receive the warm welcome one would expect a long-awaited Conqueror to receive. There was no pomp, no circumstance, no fanfare – well, no fanfare on earth – although the angels, the stars, all of heaven rejoiced loudly at Jesus’s birth (which the shepherds witnessed). But here on earth, people were not prepared for Jesus’s arrival. They were not watching and waiting for God’s Promised One. So Jesus and His parents ended up in a stable because there was no room for them in any of the people’s homes. The Israelites had lived in a permanent season of Advent and still missed the big event.

Oh, there were a few exceptions. Two, to be exact. Simeon and Anna did not miss the arrival of God’s life-saving, life giving gift of His Son. What made them different? Well, Simeon is described in this way,

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” (Luke 2:25-26)

And we read this about Anna,

“There was also a prophetess, Anna, . . . She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” (Luke 2:36-37)

What do I know about these two individuals from these descriptions? Simeon and Anna were actively watching, waiting and worshiping while they waited for Jesus to arrive. They hadn’t given up hope. They hadn’t stopped believing in God’s promise to send a Savior to them and to the world. Even after four hundred years of silence, they were eagerly expecting God’s miracle, so they spent their time preparing to receive the miracle when He came. Every day was Advent for Simeon and for Anna. They were watchful. They were ready. They received the baby Jesus with joy.

“Simeon took Him (Jesus) in his arms and praised God, saying: . . . ‘my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people,’ ” (Luke 2:28-31) and Anna’s response?

“Coming up to them (Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus) at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)

Seems like the appropriate response to this miraculous gift is praise, thanksgiving and rejoicing to God, the Giver of the gift of Advent, which is Jesus.

Interestingly enough, we, too are living in a time in which every day is a day in the season of Advent. We are living in inter-Adventmental times. (I know, I just made up that term – but it fits) We are living after the first Advent, Jesus’s birth as a baby into this world, but before the second Advent, which is Jesus’s promised return to earth to set everything right and establish His never-ending kingdom. I read Jesus’s words in Revelation 22:12,

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

I read in Mark 13:26-27 this –

“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”

Jesus’s return – something to look forward to for sure. But in the meantime, I need not be idle. Advent is filled with the activity of preparation for my Redeemer’s return. I need to prepare my heart –

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.” (Psalm 51:10 & 7-9)

Yes, I need to let God clean me up. I need to let God do His transforming work in me, making me ready to receive Him when He returns. I will take God up on the offer He made to me in Ezekiel 36:26 when He said –

“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

A heart of stone can’t receive God’s gift of Jesus, but a heart of flesh, tender and open, can. Ironically, I need God’s help to prepare for His return. I can’t clean myself up, but my Heavenly Father can help me prepare a way and a place for Him to enter in and to make His home with me. That is the goal of Advent – to be ready and able to receive Him each and every day of my life. After all, Jesus calls to me and to you, dear readers –

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Advent opens the door in anticipation of Jesus’s arrival –

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” (Psalm 24:7)

sincerely, Grace Day

the advent of Advent again

So soon? Tomorrow I will turn my calendar and know that the season of Advent has begun again for real. I shouldn’t be surprised by this. After all, my neighbors have had Christmas lights adorning their homes for at least a week now and channels such as Hallmark have been showing Christmas movies since Halloween, it seems to me. So I really have no excuse for feeling surprised that it is once again the “advent of Advent.” Wasn’t it just yesterday that I finally got all the Christmas decorations packed away? Or was that a lifetime ago? Both seem equally true to me.

Nevertheless, it is the Advent season once again. It is time for me to prepare all over again for “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event” as the dictionary definition of advent says. In this case, the notable person is Jesus Christ and the notable event is Jesus’s arrival here on earth as a human baby. The miracle of Advent is that the Creator of the Universe would take on our human form with all our limitations, weaknesses and frailties and deign to dwell with us for a period of time. This is a miracle worth remembering. This is a miracle worth celebrating. Advent is the time to do both, to remember and to celebrate what Jesus did for me and for you, too, dear readers. You see, Christ Jesus –

“Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Imagine it. Jesus left the perfection of heaven to enter into earth’s brokenness and to walk some painful miles in my shoes and in your shoes. Remembering that alone is reason enough to celebrate. Because Jesus was born here, lived here, died here and rose again here, conquering death once for all, you and I have an advocate in the heavenly realms pleading our case before the Father. Which means you and I have a reason to celebrate!

“Therefore, since I have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let me hold firmly to the faith I profess. For I do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with my weaknesses, but I have one who has been tempted in every way, just as I am – yet was without sin. Let me then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that I may receive mercy and find grace to help me in my time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

You and I have a reason to celebrate! But if we don’t remember, we won’t know what or why we celebrate. Advent asks me to make time to remember – to clear my calendar of the mundane, and instead to focus on the greatest miracle of all time – that point in human history when God Himself became flesh and lived among us for a time. God’s prophecies were all fulfilled, His promises to mankind to send a Savior, all were kept on the night of Jesus’s birth. This is something we dare not forget. Jesus’s birth is something for us to remember and to celebrate. It is the reason for Advent. Advent is the time for us individually and collectively to once again “prepare the way of the Lord.”

Which means I guess it’s time I put away my pumpkins and get out some Christmas decor. “The way of the Lord” may have become overgrown from disuse since the last time people actively sought and prepared for His presence. But it is time once again to clear out the clutter, prepare a place and ask the King of Glory to enter in – to enter into my life, my heart and my home. Maybe Advent is about making the rough places smooth, bringing light into the places that have grown dark, throwing open the door and inviting the lowly Christ child into my life all over again.

Advent is a journey and it is time for my Advent journey to begin. It will be a journey unique to me as your journey will be to you. Mary and Joseph had their Advent adventure which ended in a stable with a baby in a manger. The shepherds had their own Advent journey, which ended at the same place. The Advent journey of the Wise Men lasted longer and ended in a different destination but the object of their quest was the same as that of every Advent journey ever undertaken – an audience with the Christ Child. And that encounter the Wise Men did receive. They were able to present Jesus with their gifts and worship Him before returning to their homelands.

The desired outcome of my Advent journey? The same as those who have gone before me. To come face to face with Jesus, fall face down at His feet, and give Him the true worship that is His due. Advent – a much needed time for me to prepare to receive the miraculous, undeserved gift of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)

King of glory, baby in the manger, Christ on the cross, Leaver of the empty tomb, Conqueror of death, Lord of all life – may You find the way prepared and enter in!

sincerely, Grace Day

thank who???

It’s here again – that one day of the year set aside for us to pause long enough to give thanks. For many of us, this requires a total shift of focus and attention from what we don’t have (and think we should) to notice all the things that we do have (and don’t necessarily deserve). The transition from entitlement to gratitude can be a tough if not impossible one in today’s culture. We take so much for granted that we haven’t yet mastered the art of gratitude. We are so busy striving for more, more, more, that we never take the time to be truly grateful for all the blessings we already enjoy every day. At least I know I am too often guilty of not truly appreciating all that I have been given. I think the old hymn’s advice to “count your blessings, name them one by one” is an excellent way to begin the journey from entitlement to gratitude.

The words of an old poem come to mind now – “Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two eyes, (feet, ears) the world is mine. . . . With feet to take me where I’d go, with eyes to see the sunset’s glow, with ears to hear what I should know: I’m blessed indeed, the world is mine; oh, God, forgive me when I whine.”

These words certainly put things in perspective, don’t they? At least they do for me. But there is another important aspect to this Thanksgiving holiday which is often overlooked nowadays. And that is the all important question, “to whom are we giving thanks?” Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863, which established Thanksgiving as a national holiday, answers this question clearly. It states in part, “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.”

Judging from Lincoln’s words in this address, people then had the same problem with gratitude that we do today. We too are “prone to forget the Source from which our bounties come” and because we so “constantly enjoy” so many blessings we tend to take them for granted. We too are in danger of being “habitually insensitive” to God’s constant watch care over us. We start to take the credit that belongs to God alone for each and every good thing in our lives. We forget that –

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

Every good thing is a gift from God. Lincoln made this clear in his Thanksgiving proclamation stating, “I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” Lincoln recognized Almighty God as the source from whom all blessings flow. Indeed,

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” (Psalm 24:1)

Truthfully, one day out of the year isn’t sufficient to change my attitude or my heart. Thanksgiving needs to be the way that I live, not a one day of the year holiday. God’s word tells me to –

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your (my) vows to the Most High” (Psalm 50:14) and to –

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1) I am told to –

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:4-5)

Even in the middle of the pain and suffering I experience living in this broken world, I still have so much to be thankful for because of God’s goodness in general and to me specifically. Psalm 103:1-6 says it this way,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.”

That’s quite a list right there of things to be thankful for, sins forgiven, diseases healed, a life redeemed from the pit and filled with love and compassion, renewed youth, righteousness and justice. These are all gifts that only God can give and my thanks rightly goes to Him alone. Thanksgiving has been from the very beginning, a day to give thanks where it is rightly due, to God Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation concludes with these words, which are just as applicable today as they were then during the Civil War. Lincoln asked the people on Thanksgiving Day to –

“fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.”

That sounds like something we would all do well to pray to God tomorrow as we celebrate Thanksgiving Day by giving thanks where thanks is due – solely to God who has loved us with an everlasting love. It is God who is our Provider – to Him be all thanks, honor and glory.

“The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:13-16)

thankful for each and every one of my Heavenly Father’s good and perfect gifts,

sincerely, Grace Day

looking for God

Job was – looking for God that is. And Job was not having much success. In fact, listen to what Job said at one point –

“But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.” (Job 23:8-9)

Ever feel like that? Ever find yourself searching desperately for God and yet God seems to elude you no matter which way you turn? That describes Job’s experience as we see in the words above from Job chapter twenty-three. Job wanted a face to face with God. Job had a bone to pick with God and he wanted some answers. Everything Job owned had been taken from him, including his health. Job’s suffering was intense and he wanted to ask God why he was suffering in such an extreme way. Job felt he had done nothing to deserve his current circumstances. He blamed God and demanded that God explain Himself. Job said to his three friends –

“But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God.” (Job 13:3)

Only problem was, as we just read, Job was having trouble finding God so he could have that all important chat and plead his case. Job felt that he didn’t deserve the suffering that had come into his life. Job was asking the age old question of God, “why?” or more specifically, “why me?” But God was not only silent, He couldn’t be found. Or so Job thought.

There are times I, like Job, find myself searching for God. I can’t find Him, I can’t see Him, I can’t feel Him, I can’t hear Him. He has abandoned me. Or so I think. In these times of asking “where is God,” I come to realize it is I who have moved, I who have changed direction and focus, perhaps in pursuit of something or someone other than God. Then I look up and realize I have lost my way during the pursuit that took me away from God and now I wonder where God is. Fortunately, God said this in Jeremiah 29:13-14,

” ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’ ”

Job had such faith in God that even when he couldn’t find God, Job knew that God could find him. Indeed, Job acknowledged that God had never lost him for even a moment, but knew exactly where he was and saw everything that was happening to him. Immediately after announcing to his friends that he couldn’t find God, Job said these words –

“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He (God) has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

I find these words of Job’s a bit surprising considering he has lost everything and is feeling unjustly treated and totally abandoned by God. And yet, bottom line – Job still believes God is watching over him and will bring him through his suffering to a good end. After all, “coming forth as gold” is something good. It actually foreshadows something Peter says in the New Testament when he talks about suffering saying –

“though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6-9)

No question that Job’s faith was being tested. But Job didn’t abandon his faith in God, even when he felt abandoned by God. Job had to rely on a God he couldn’t see, hear, feel or find at the moment. Even so, Job said of God –

“Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him;” (Job 13:15) and Job said –

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

Faith in the midst of suffering. Hope when circumstances seem hopeless. That’s what Job had. Although Job thought God to be silent during his time of suffering, Elihu, a fourth friend of Job, pointed out to Job that this was not actually the case. Elihu said this to Job –

“Why do you complain to Him that He answers none of man’s words? For God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it.” (Job 33:13-14)

A good reminder to me when I am suffering. God is not silent – He is speaking to me and to anyone who will listen. The question is – am I listening? C.S. Lewis says, “God whispers in our pleasure and shouts in our pain.” But I think it is in my pain that I have the most difficulty hearing Him. Maybe God is shouting but just maybe I am shouting too – too loudly to hear Him above my cries of complaint or distress or my demands to know why. I forget to “be still and know that He is God.”

When I am still I am better able to hear His voice. I can even hear His songs in the night, which Elihu spoke of in Job 35:10 when he said –

“But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night.”

Where is God in my suffering? The same place He was in Job’s trials, in Daniel’s lions’ den, in the trial by fire of Daniel’s three friends, in the Israelites’ journey through the desert, in Paul’s imprisonment – in all suffering – God is present. Job couldn’t find Him, see Him, feel Him or hear Him – but that doesn’t mean God wasn’t there. He has already said He will never leave us nor forsake us. I need to remember that truth.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:17-18)

Job had lost everything. He was brokenhearted and he was crushed in spirit, but God was close to him -closer than Job even realized at the time. The Lord heard Job and delivered him from all his troubles. Job believed that God would rescue and restore him, despite what he was experiencing in his current circumstances. I think Job would have identified with these words of King David written in the midst of his suffering,

“I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)

I am making those words my own –

sincerely, Grace Day

eight billion books

Everybody has a story – unique, compelling, surprising, sometimes heart wrenching, often inspiring – our stories run the gamete from tragedy to triumph. Our stories are full of mystery, drama, romance, conflict, struggle, learning, loss, growth and gain. There are approximately eight billion stories currently being written. Some stories are further along than others. Although some stories are nearing their conclusion, there is still time for that last minute plot twist, yielding the surprise ending. After all, it’s not where you start but where you end up that matters most. Other stories are just beginning. Not even the first chapter has been finished yet.

I was reminded again this past weekend just how profound and diverse and surprising each of our stories truly are. Ever hear the expression “You can’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, that is most certainly true with people as well as actual books. I listened as many people shared parts of their stories at our conference and every time, I heard a story I never would have expected nor predicted from the particular person sharing her story. The only One who is never surprised is our Creator because He doesn’t judge us by our “covers” to begin with. He never has. He reminded Samuel of this fact in 1 Samuel 16:7 –

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ”

If only I could learn to do that – look beyond a person’s appearance or “cover” and listen to their story which will involve learning to “read between the lines” as well as just taking the time to get to know their story even though it is still being written as is my own story. (if you are reading this, then your story is still being written too, it is not over yet) Each of us is a work (or manuscript) in progress, our stories are still being written. You may not think of your life as a best seller in the making, but comparing ourselves to books is not new. Consider when we say of someone – “he/she’s a walking encyclopedia?” or “his/her life is an open book?”

Do you, dear reader, like me, ever wonder how and when your story will end? The future is full of blank pages, waiting for us to write on them, the words and deeds, the thoughts and feelings that will fill those pages with what will become our unique story. How many pages are left for each of us to fill? Some “books” are much shorter than others. Some “books” end unexpectedly, prematurely it would seem – leaving the reader stunned and the story seemingly unfinished. I don’t even know how long my own “book” will end up being. But there is an Author who does know. I read in Psalm 139:16 this –

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

God’s story is the larger narrative into which each and every one of our individual stories fit. His Book of Life contains them all. My story derives its meaning and its purpose from being a part of God’s larger, eternal story. It’s a story He’s been writing ever since He put Adam and Eve in the garden and gave them dominion over it. A lot of stories have been written since that time. We read many of them in the Bible, in biographies, autobiographies and in history books. But for every story that we are still reading today, there are countless other stories that are also a part of God’s grand narrative, that we haven’t had the opportunity to read yet. Someday we will meet and be able to read all the books that have ever been written, those we never had a chance to meet here on earth, either due to geography or to the time in history during which their story was written. All of our stories fall somewhere between Genisis and Revelation. (all of us currently writing our stories like to think we are closer to Revelation than to Genesis but only God, the Author of all our stories, knows how far the end is from the beginning)

Nevertheless, the stories being written now are eerily similar to the stories we already know of those who have gone before us. Our stories contain elements common to us all – our struggle for survival, our quest to find meaning, our search for identity, our battles with evil and adversity, our pursuit of truth, our longing for true love and our desire for redemption and eternal life. Solomon was right when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Still each of our stories is unique to us. That’s why I don’t want to make assumptions and “judge a book by its cover” without taking the time to open it up and find out what’s on the inside. I am always surprised and often delighted at what I find when I take the time to look beyond the cover of anyone I meet and learn their story. Even though, like mine, their story is still being written, there is much we can share and learn from each other as we are works in progress.

So what is my story? What do I want it to be? drama? romance? mystery? comedy? an action thriller? sci-fi? a Greek tragedy? a tale of triumphing over adversity? a story that has many plot twists and turns? a story of heartache and loss? a story that ends in victory or in defeat? Truth is, of the almost eight billion stories currently being written, not that many will become famous biographies, not that many will be turned into movies. But that does not mean that my story and your stories, dear readers, are not important. In God’s eternal kingdom, each and every one of our stories are not just important, they are essential because our “books” are the chapters that make the story God has been writing since Genesis complete. It is truly an epic tale that God is telling.

But God is up to the task. The One who knows every hair on every head, saves all our tears and calls each and every star by name, can certainly keep track of not just the eight billion books currently being written, but all those books already written and those that will be written in the future. Nothing is too hard for Him. He is the omnipresent, all knowing, infallible Author. He never sleeps nor slumbers, so nothing gets by Him. God is the Author of it all. In Acts 3:15 I read what Peter preached to a crowd of people saying –

“You killed the Author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” Then in Hebrews 12:2 I read,

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and perfecter of our faith,”

God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone tablets which He gave to Moses. He also said in Hebrews 8:10 –

“I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.”

God is the Author of life, of our faith, of both the old and the new covenants, of the Ten Commandments and of His laws which He writes on our hearts. (hearts which are often just as stony as the original tablets) He is the Author of the Bible and He is the Author of each and every individual story. I want Him to write my story too. Only problem is, sometimes I become dissatisfied with the way my story is going. I start believing I can do a better job writing my own story, so I grab the pen from God’s hand, in an attempt to gain control over my own script. I guess I get to thinking that I will write a better story for myself than my Heavenly Father will, even though He’s the One who has all wisdom and knowledge.

Every day I have to decide, who is going to write my story today, myself or my Heavenly Father? Who will have control of the pen? Will I follow His script or attempt to write my own?

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

Abraham followed God without question and so did Peter. Peter walked away from his largest catch of fish ever and followed Jesus. It was an unexpected plot twist in that fisherman’s life, but Peter trusted Jesus and followed Him from that day forward, allowing God to author his story from that point on. God changed the script of Peter’s life that day, just as He changed Abraham’s story when He asked Abraham to leave his home and follow where God would lead. And then there’s Saul, turned into Paul. Saul was the author of his own story until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. From that point on, Paul let Jesus write his story and make it a part of the larger story God is writing for all mankind.

That’s what I want. I may be just one of eight billion books currently being written, but I want my Heavenly Father writing my story because I trust Him to write a better story for me than I could write for myself. To this end I will –

“Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding; in all my ways I will acknowledge Him, (including giving Him the pen) and He will direct my paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I want God to write my story so that it will fit perfectly with all the other stories He is authoring. He alone can weave all our “books” into His one grander, larger narrative that He has been writing since time began. He can fit all our stories together, making them each a part of His eternal story. My story has meaning and purpose because it is written by God as a part of His eternal story. My story finds its place of belonging as a part of God’s larger narrative.

I don’t know till I turn the page what God has in store for me next. (that’s walking by faith) But with God, every day is an adventure, making my story a real “page turner.” I will trust God to fill in the blank pages of my future and rest in His promise –

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)

trusting Him to write a better book of my life,

sincerely, Grace Day

day to day and door to door

Her story is compelling. I sat captivated as she recounted the events that have brought her to where she is today, which is speaking to a women’s prayer group as a candidate for public office. It has been a long journey for her and her family. She has come a long way, literally leaving her homeland behind, eventually making this country her own. So now I find myself spending my day to day going door to door. The last time I went door to door, I was in grade school selling Girl Scout cookies. Being a well-known commodity, those cookies practically sold themselves. People were always glad to see me.

Today my door to door is drastically different from my childhood door to door experience. How much of that is the passage of time and how much is the difference in product or purpose, is hard to say. Much has changed, most notably doorbells. I am discovering that almost everyone now has one of those newfangled, high-tech doorbells that light up and play a tune. But they do much more than that. There are video doorbells that record the person on the porch and connect to the homeowners’ phones. Recently, when I rang a neighbor’s doorbell, they spoke to me even though they were not at home, instructing me where to leave the item I was delivering to them. I wonder if I appeared foolish to passersby, having an out loud conversation with a closed door and no one in sight? Didn’t they realize I was conversing with the doorbell? (like that’s less foolish looking)

Anyway, things have changed in the door to door world. There are more “beware of dog” signs, more “no trespassing” signs and more home security signs, alerting visitors that this house is monitored by a home security system. One house I walk by on my regular walking route announces out loud as I approach, “You are now being recorded” even though I have not left the sidewalk and will not do so as I walk past. (I wonder what it would say if I left the sidewalk and stepped on their grass? – I have never done such a thing, so I don’t know the answer to this very basic question) But I digress –

There is a reason I have reentered the door to door world after all this time. I am campaigning for the candidate whose story I heard recently. This would appear to be a futile, impossible effort for her, as her opponent has held this seat for the past fourteen years. However, this immigrant, now citizen, believes in the American dream because she has lived the Communist nightmare before coming here. If she can persevere, I figure I can too. And so I have begun knocking on doors on her behalf, the most uncomfortable of all things to do, especially when one is not bearing cookies. I do feel like I’m bearing good news though – that voters have a choice, a chance for change, someone new who loves the country who gave freedom and opportunity to her and her family – namely this country.

And so I go day to day, door to door, on her behalf. I never know what awaits me on the other side of each door, but I knock anyway (or ring the high-tech doorbell) and wait while wondering what each encounter will bring. Will I be met with friendliness, skepticism, interest, curiosity, apathy, indifference, hostility, openness, receptivity, concern, questions, or coldness – responses run the gamut where politics are involved. Sometimes I am shut out, other times, I’m actually invited in. Life is full of unexpected surprises. (ok – that was redundant – a surprise by definition is unexpected – if it was expected then it wouldn’t be a surprise, now would it?)

Today is one of those perfect fall afternoons, having some of the warmth of summer with all of the colors of fall. Many people are out, so I don’t have to ring as many doorbells. Still, I think some Thin Mints would go a long way toward helping the conversation along. It’s awkward because what am I selling? a product? a person? Since in this case, the product is a person, the issue is especially confusing. What am I saying? offering? promising? – vote for this person and your life will get better? Really? Is that even possible? Politicians make us promises all the time. I think that is the definition of campaigning – making promises in order to get people to vote for you. Unfortunately, politicians are notorious for broken promises. Doesn’t matter the party affiliation – more promises are broken than are kept.

So what am I peddling door to door day to day? Hope? Possibility? The chance that a newcomer might do something different and change things for the better? I think so. Even after all the disappointments, we want to believe that the things that are wrong can be righted, that things can change for the better in the lives of average citizens with fair laws and just leadership. We do not give up hope. Every election is another chance, a fresh start. (or more of the same, if we keep electing the same people) But even as I campaign for this new to politics, immigrant candidate, I know that this is not where my ultimate, true hope lies. We can never put the unbearable burden of our hopes and dreams on another human being. None of us can bear up under that weight of the expectations of others. At some point we will disappoint others and we will be disappointed by others ourselves. It is inevitable as we are only human.

Nevertheless, I need to be able to hope in something or someone or life becomes meaningless. Proverbs 13:12 says,

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Lamentations 3:21-23 reminds me of this,

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

That’s where my true hope lies – not in another person, be it politician or pastor, but in my Heavenly Father. I can put my hope in Him because He is faithful, that is His character. Paul wrote to Timothy these words,

“if we are faithless, He (God) will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13) I have this assurance from His word –

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

That’s why I can confidently put my hope in my Heavenly Father, because He is faithful and will not disappoint. Hebrews 10:23 says I can –

“hold unswervingly to the hope I profess, for He who promised is faithful.”

So even as I go door to door peddling a portion of hope for our country by participating in the democratic process, I am keenly aware that my true, and your true, dear readers, ultimate hope for today and for all our tomorrows, lies with our Heavenly Father alone. I can trust Him. You can trust Him, too. He is faithful.

“I wait in hope for the Lord; He is my help and my shield. In Him my heart rejoices, for I trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love rest upon me, O Lord, even as I put my hope in You.” (Psalm 33:20-22)

sincerely, Grace Day

banished to the berm

This is something I never thought I’d hear myself say, but now “berm” has become part of my current vocabulary as I unexpectedly experienced “life on the berm” this past weekend. I shared this new experience with my two sisters, which made being banished quite tolerable, enjoyable actually, if I am honest about my brief experience of “living on the berm.” It wasn’t that bad, although it was totally unforeseen. We had no idea that we were going to be “bermed.” Therefore, we were not properly prepared mentally or physically for the experience. Had we known we might have brought a blanket and binoculars, and I would say maybe dressed differently, except in this case, we were all properly attired for the berm, even without being forewarned of the experience that awaited us.

Now there are all kinds of “berms” in life, so perhaps at this point some clarification of the situation would suffice to explain the particular “berm experience” I shared with my sisters only two days ago. With time, memories do tend to dim, to fade, to be forgotten altogether or to need fact checking, or they tend to take the opposite trajectory, becoming embellished tales over time, while in the immediate aftermath of the experience, the retelling is the truest.

So let me tell you about being banished to the berm, while it is still fresh in my mind and memory. Now, I do not recall “the berm” being a part of our long laid plans for this special sisters’ weekend and there is a good reason for that – it was never included in our plans. Berm isn’t even a word I’ve had occasion to use in recent memory as I navigate my everyday life – until berm became the word of the weekend due to circumstances beyond our control – circumstances that originated from a mistake, a human mistake, simple human error. And then the dominos fell.

We arrived at the football stadium early so as not to miss seeing the cheerleaders’ entrance prior to the Big 12 Conference football game. Why was this so important? Because we were there to see our niece/daughter cheer for the Baylor Bears. And as family members of a cheerleader, we believed our tickets to be in a special section of the football stadium, one in which other family members had been seated for previous games.

So imagine our surprise when we picked up our tickets outside the gate and discovered they were tickets for the “berm.” Now a “berm” can take different forms as in the berm on the side of the road or the berm along the beach, usually a flat strip of land although another definition of berm says “a mound or wall of earth or sand a landscaped berm” – our berm was the latter. We were definitely on a mound in that there was a slope but we were not at the beach – no sand. Our berm was the proverbial grassy knoll, but very family friendly because in order to bring anything into the stadium or into the berm, it had to be carried in a clear plastic bag.

So our grassy knoll, our berm, was safe. (it was not of the JFK genre) It was safe, but we were sidelined (pun intended) for this college football game. Ironically, the stands along the sides of the field provide the better view of the game, so in this case being literally sidelined would be a good thing. But we berm dwellers were metaphorically sidelined, which in football means the end zone – an interesting, if not sought after place from which to view the game, let me tell you.

We had been bermed, and we made the best of it. The weather was perfect. It was a lovely fall day, warm and sunny, so we didn’t have to worry about rain making our grassy knoll wet and muddy. We had shade and we were close to concessions and restrooms. Full disclosure though, I did just mention that our bermdom was a safe place and this is true enough. The exceptions to this occurred when extra points or field goals were being kicked in our direction. The nets went up in preparation each time, of course, but every time the football found its way over the safety net and into the hands of one of the many delighted bermmite Bear fans, eagerly vying for position so that they might be the one to catch the football that the safety net had failed to intercept.

This was as entertaining as the game itself. Our fellow bermmitians were as considerate as they were enthusiastic in their cheering on of the Bears, so Bermdom turned out to be a pretty good place in which to spend a Saturday afternoon. It was like being on a picnic, except not being forewarned, we hadn’t brought a blanket. But the grass cushioned the ground sufficiently enough that it didn’t really matter. Binoculars, however, would have come in handy. It is a big stadium and the cheerleaders are stationed in front of the fans in the stands – not those of us cheering from the berm – a.k.a. – the grassy knoll beyond the End Zone.

We wanted to keep tabs on the cheerleaders and watch them do their precision stunts and routines. As they rotated around the arena, my niece’s group was in front of the stands closest to the berm end of the field for some of the game and we could see her being lifted high in the air, along with others, as the crowd cheered. Keeping track of her from the berm was a challenge, as was watching the actual football game from the perspective provided by the berm.

And I have to say, the game does look different from the berm. Perspective or viewpoint makes a huge difference in our understanding of what is taking place right before our eyes. That turns out to be true of watching football from the berm as well. You don’t see the plays opening up like you do with a full field view the higher sideline stands provide. You don’t see the whole picture as the play unfolds when you are watching from the berm. We would see the end result when the down and yards were announced and we could turn around and watch replays on the big screen behind us. (a perfect example of hind sight being twenty-twenty)

Our experience was defined by the limited perspective afforded us from our position as citizens of the bermdom. We also discovered very quickly that there were no open borders between the berm and the rest of the stadium. Our tickets provided us access to the berm only. We had no access to any part of the stadium. We could see the people in the stands, hear them cheering, watch them wildly waving their towels – we could watch the marching band and hear its music, we could hear all the announcements, we could witness it all – the fireworks, the flyover, the football players running onto the field – we just could not enter into any aspect of the game through the stadium – for this game we were banished to the berm exclusively.

Do you ever feel like this in life, dear readers? Feel like you have been relegated to the sidelines, while you watch everyone else play, participate and pass by? Perhaps that is more of a berm of the highway experience, but also true of the berm of life. It is easy to feel you have been overlooked or banished to the berm, the sidelines of everyday life. You came to participate, but your ticket is to the berm instead of the main venue. You can watch but you are denied access, just like my sisters and I were denied access to the “big” venue – we had to watch from the “little” vantage point of the berm – located at the end of the End Zone. (the next “zone” after that is the parking lot)

How glad I am that in my Heavenly Father’s kingdom I am not banished to the berm of life. In fact Jesus said,

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) And that full life includes an all access pass to my Creator, who is available twenty-four/seven to receive me.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

“Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” (Psalm 95:2)

God has not banished me to the berm, a berm with no access nor admittance into His presence. Instead, God has made a way for me to enter into His presence and live my life there. I read in John 14:6,

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ”

and the really good news is this – Jesus said,

“whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)

Jesus will never banish me nor you, dear readers, to the berm. We don’t have to live life on the outside looking in. Jesus invites us in. When we accept that invitation we can say along with King David,

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

thank You, Lord, that You offer access and redemption to all – the overlooked, the outcast, even the bermed

sincerely, Grace Day

sovereign surveillance

Ever feel like someone’s looking over your shoulder or maybe watching your every move? We hear a lot these days about spying and cyber stalking and all kinds of espionage involving surveillance. There’s big tech keeping track of us, there are drones and those new doorbells that record everything and even our own cell phones track our movements and hold all our private communications with others via text or email on them. Security cameras are everywhere we go now – businesses, schools, parking lots, etc. All this surveillance is meant to keep us safe. It is for our own good.

However, there is a difference between being “watched” and being “watched over.” The former implies an element of spying or stalking, of something sinister and unwelcome. But the latter carries with it a sense of being cared for and protected. Being “watched” implies danger, being “watched over” implies safety. I find comfort in these words from Psalm 121 –

“The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:5-8)

I guess it depends on who is doing the “watching” whether it is a positive or a negative experience. I don’t mind my Creator watching over me, but I’m not so sure I want my government or anyone in positions of power and authority watching me. Why? Well, I know my Heavenly Father’s motives. I can read them in Jeremiah 29:11 –

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”

That’s reassuring. So is knowing this –

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

Another translation says, “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” The point is – God is all light with no shadow, no darkness in Him. He does not have a dark side like human beings do ever since sin entered into the garden. I can trust my Heavenly Father. Not so much my government or big tech or media. They don’t really seem to have my best interests at heart. I’m not convinced they care about me personally. How could they? To them I am just a data point, a number on a graph, a potential source of income, a faceless entity to be marketed to and manipulated in order to achieve their desired outcomes often at my expense – not a unique and very real person. They don’t actually know me or care about me.

But they do collect a lot of information about me and other individuals. (in order to better serve me, they say) Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok for example keep quite a bit of personal information about the people who use their services as do companies we do business with and the IRS. Maybe that’s the difference, though. They know about me, but they don’t actually know me personally. To them I am merely an entity to be categorized, controlled and managed. I am the number of boxes they can check in describing me – age, sex, education, income level, skin color, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, occupation, where I live, where I shop, what I buy, – they can know all these things about me, without actually, really knowing me.

Not so with my Heavenly Father. His Sovereign surveillance is superior to man’s attempts at surveillance in every way. Consider this –

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

And unlike human surveillance, God’s motives are pure. God keeps watch over us to help us, not to harm us. His surveillance of us is deeply personal because we are His creation, the work of His hands.

“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and not we ourselves. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:3)

And as our Shepherd, God watches over us with perfect surveillance. He never misses a beat. Nothing escapes Him. Even with all the billions of people, I never have to worry that I am invisible or unknown to my Heavenly Father. I mean, if He can keep track of zillions and trillions of stars, I think He can keep tabs on me. Isaiah had this to say about God and the stars –

“He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)

No stars are unknown, unnamed nor missing! Neither are any of the human beings (including you and I, dear readers) whom He created in His own image. If you have any doubt, just look what it says in Matthew –

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

God’s perfect surveillance, His perfect watchcare, extends to knowing each star by name and knowing when each and every sparrow falls. His knowledge of you and me is just as detailed, actually even more so. Consider this –

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:30-31) and this concerning God’s surveilling care –

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, O Lord.” (Psalm 139:1-4)

The One who calls each star by name certainly knows my name too. And Psalm 139 tells me He also knows all my ways and all my words. (spoken and unspoken) My Heavenly Father does not lose track of me. In this chaotic, ever changing world, He always knows where I am and what I need. Even when I feel alone and forgotten like Job did, I can know with certainty the same thing Job knew when He felt God had abandoned him, which led Job to speak these words –

“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

Job knew God had not forgotten nor lost track of him, and furthermore Job had faith that God was going to take care of him, even in his troubles and then bring him “forth as gold.” That sounds like “plans to prosper him and not to harm him, plans to give him hope and a future,” doesn’t it?

Something else that makes God’s Sovereign surveillance superior to man’s is discovered in Psalm 121 –

“He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)

Because God is an Omniscient God, (meaning all knowing) I can rest in God’s loving surveillance, trusting that He does know “the way that I take” and “He won’t let my foot slip.” He also never sleeps – meaning He never takes a break, therefore nothing gets by Him. He knows it all. My Heavenly Father knows my deepest, darkest secrets and yet He loves and forgives me anyway. This is unlike the human surveillance of big tech, media or government who, as we witness daily, use anything they can find against whomever they wish to discredit, defame or destroy. How glad I am to read in Psalm 103:10-14 that God –

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”

God is Sovereign over all. His surveillance is perfect and good, just like His character. I can trust Him. In fact Jude 24 says that –

“He is able to keep me from falling and to present me before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy -”

Thank You, Lord, that Your Sovereign surveillance so lovingly provides for me and protects me at all times. Though I fear man’s surveillance used for evil purposes, I rejoice in Your watchcare over me at all times.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)

The surveillance of the Good Shepherd always protects me, always provides for me, ensuring that I arrive safely at my destination – to dwell with Him forever.

grateful for His sovereign surveillance every day,

sincerely, Grace Day