Category Archives: Devotional

Mending Fences

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

A decorative fence around his yard did stand
with white pickets, each placed with care.
Crafted and painted and set neatly by hand.
At its beauty all  would stop and stare.

A neighborhood boy, now becoming a man,
still too young, though, to drive tons of steel,
lost control as he drove and destroyed the pen.
He now faced a result, dire and real.

Not a single straight board was standing erect,
all disjointed, dislodged or displaced.
As the master surveyed the wonderful mess,
his options did not start with grace.

He could have elected to act as a judge,
a sure penalty both swift and severe.
No one would blame him for acting as such
or for the justice of his handiwork, either.

“You must make repairs to this chaos you made
every slat put back where it belongs.
And I will be talking to your father today,
or to that man with a badge and a gun.”

He could have instead chosen mercy to bless,
grant an option to make it all right.
Give him a chance to pay for this mess,
and to fix it, if it takes all the night.

“You must make repairs, but I’ll help you, dear child,
and I’ll let you work off your debt.
If we work with great zeal, no one need be wise.
Come now, quickly, with a pep in your step!”

But the man did not choose to be merciful or just,
for a third option was available still.
His election of grace astounded this Puck
with a “miraculous” choice, if you will.

“Are you hurt? Are you scared? Don’t panic, young man.
I’m here and will make all things new.
I’ll take care of this problem with my own feet and hands,
and when I hurry, my paint dries before dew.

“I won’t make you pay, for you’re just a young lad,
and my resources are rich, vast and deep.
I’ll make everything new; the old will be past.
Go and rest and I’ll work as you sleep.

“In the morning you’ll awake and glance all around:
the fence and the yard both renewed.
Perhaps then we’ll walk and remember our bond
that was formed when I sacrificed for you.”

Grace is a gift, both extravagant and free;
undeserved joy and favor unmerited.
We deserve justice, and long so for mercy,
yet find that, in lieu, grace we’ve inherited.

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Hurry Up and Wait

Devotional as published on ChristianDevotions.us:

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.. Psalm 5:3

The arrival of a baby is such bittersweet anticipation. For almost thirty-seven weeks, my soon-to-be-born son was developing in his mother’s womb. The normal gestation period is forty weeks, but at this point, he could arrive at any time. We knew he would be here soon, but we didn’t know exactly when.

He was our third child, so while the beginning of the pregnancy was still very exciting, we were perhaps a little complacent. After all, it would be months before our little one would be here, so it almost didn’t seem real. The due date seemed an eternity away.

Month by month, though, the time flew by. Every day, our eagerness intensified. We could hardly wait to meet this new addition as he was introduced into our lives. The day that seemed so far away was suddenly upon us. Our expectation of our son’s arrival both lengthened and shortened the waiting period. It made time both speed by and drag.

Sometimes prayer can be that way. We bring our requests to God, expecting an immediate answer. Unfortunately, there is never a specific timetable. God promises to answer our prayers, but he does not say when. We should pray with expectation, though, anticipating his response, regardless of how long it takes. This can make things go by quickly and slowly, both at the same time.

What are you praying for? Are you eagerly awaiting an answer? Spend some time today thanking God for prayers that He’s already answered, and in advance for the prayers he’s going to answer in the future.

After all, we know he’s going to answer, we just don’t know when.

 


Olive Press

He holds me in place, gently yet firmly, knowing I won’t run.

I refuse to struggle against his grip – the ever-obedient son.

After all, Father knows best, even when I can’t make sense of it.

I just can’t help wondering, how will my suffering give anyone benefit?

As my hand brushes my skin, fear bumps swell in unison on my chest,

my face and heart involuntarily question the logic of my father’s request.


Why ask this of me? Why this? Why me? Why take what I might freely give?

Before my fears can grip me, rip me, I flip my tears away, or dam them where they live.


My adam’s apple’s swelling and getting harder to swallow.

But from Father’s eyes come peace, certainty, grace; my eyes follow.

Courage can mean a lot of things, but it does not mean fearless.

And what of Mother? Will she still laugh, or in her mourning remain tearless?

I try not to dwell too long on the coming scene, on how I will die.

I try not to think too much of the altar of twigs, of where I will lie.

Or even consider the cords that may bind my hands and feet.

My father will surely make it quick – finished before my first bleat.

So I rest on one knee, where the sacrificial oil will flow,

hesitating slightly, in case mercy he decides to bestow.


My weak body caving to my spirit yet willing:

Father, if you will, take from me this cup of suffering.


Masterpiece

How would I paint suffering?

I’d choose a palette infused with browns and reds.

I’d squeeze onions to wet the watercolors,

warpaint under my eyes to battle with the canvas.

I’d paint with acrylics in an airtight closet

and one fifteen-watt incandescent bulb.

No smiling scratch-n-sniff.

No fruity tones.

No bouquets.

I’d lick the spongy tips to moisten them,

the venom of pepper-vinegar affixed to my tongue.

I’d whip bold, plucky, cutting strokes,

hurrying to finish and flip to the other side.

I’d not use paint at all, but spread gritty chalks on a new, black board,

screeching as they give themselves to the art.

I’d look away, toward the finished image of perfection,

the box-top of a jigsaw puzzle.

I’d finger-paint, boiling the colors to singe my fingertips,

adding blood to the red

and body to the brown.

Then I’d hammer nails in its hands and hang it high for all to see,

the beauty redeeming the pain.


Battle

there are armies of foes lined up to attack

marching in a rhythmic drone of dread

life’s warriors opposed to my chosen track

 

they’re towering before me with intimidating stares

wrestling my faith from my feeble grasp

each one worthy of the ensuing nightmares

 

their arrows and darts mean to wound and kill

the awareness of my inadequacy i cannot evade

so before His glory and power i am quietly still

 

i cry out to Him to fight on my behalf

to rescue me from these worries and ills

to comfort me with His rod and His staff

 

shoes of peace on my feet, His armor’s in place

with a belt of truth, and God’s righteousness on my back

the sword of His Spirit and a strong shield of faith

 

now prepared for this battle, i rest in His love

the shadow of his might overwhelms me with grace

and i quietly and expectantly await victory from above

 

Jesus Calling – Sarah Young – 8/18 – Anticipate coming face to face with impossibilities: situations totally beyond your ability to handle. This awareness of your inadequacy is not something you should try to evade. It is precisely where I want you — the best place to encounter Me in My Glory and Power. When you see armies of problems marching toward you, cry out to Me! Allow Me to fight for you. Watch Me working on your behalf, as you rest in the shadow of My Almighty Presence.

 

Armor of God – Ephesians 6:13-17 “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

 


Sixteen Shots

Romans 3:3-4 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

I’ve heard that character is who you are in the dark, when no one is watching. That’s a valid description in most scenarios, but I think character is also who you are when everyone is watching.

I flipped on SportsCenter recently, and one of the lead stories that day was that of Kevin Na, a PGA Tour professional. Fortunately for duffers everywhere, but quite unfortunately for him, Kevin had a really tough ninth hole at TPC San Antonio. After replaying the video to recount his strokes on this par four hole, he signed his card showing a sixteen. Yes. Sixteen.

Let that sink in a little. A professional golfer took a sixteen on a hole. He went from one under par to eleven over par in one hole. Pretty sure that’s a record of some sort…

In an interview afterwards, he said that one of his shots hit a branch and bounced back an hit him. As if getting hit with your own ball isn’t penalty enough, the rules call for a penalty stroke. Then, he swung one time and missed the ball altogether. Again, penalty stroke (though we hackers would probably call that a practice swing). He counted everything. Every. Single. Stroke.

There were three things that I noticed about that video clip that really stood out to me. First of all, standing in the woods and hitting through trees, the only person in the world that could know that the ball hit Kevin on a rebound is Kevin. Yet, he took the penalty, because those are the rules. Not only did that take courage, it was a significant show of integrity, of character.

Secondly, they showed him walking with his caddie toward the green (finally), and he was jovially laughing. He was fourteen strokes into a par four hole, and he was smiling and joking. “Not sure, but I think I’m somewhere between ten and fifteen,” he said to his caddie. There are duffers everywhere that would be breaking expensive clubs over one knee if they were “somewhere between ten and fifteen” on one hole, especially if they were miraculously one under par heading into that hole.

The last thing that really stood out to me was Kevin’s score on the back nine… a 33. That’s three under par for the back nine, those same nine holes that immediately followed his sixteen shot wonder. What an incredible show of fortitude!

We’ve all faced difficulties and trials, times when it would be easy to fold under the pressure. How we endure those difficulties speaks volumes about our character, and about the eternal hope we have. And that same confident hope allows us to regroup after a trial and “swing our club” once again.

Next time I’m tempted to use a “foot-wedge” from the woods, I hope I remember Kevin Na, and have the character he had when everyone was watching.

Grace and peace,

Delton

(This was sent as an eDevotion by my home church in Florida. You can subscribe to receive daily devotionals from Church @ The Springs by clicking here.)


an answered prayer

The pain of a miscarriage is a deep wound indeed.

While God has spared my wife and me that agony, we have walked beside others who have endured this unwelcome journey. I wrote a poem, actually two poems, for a friend (I’ll call him Charles) after he told us his story. Today’s post is a little unusual for me, as I believe art should stand on its own merit, but I hope you’ll indulge my digression into the backstory of this particular piece.

After years of trying, including fertility drugs and other treatments, Charles and Susan had nearly given up hope. On the eve of her follow-up appointment, Susan took two pregnancy tests with expectation; both were negative. She went to sleep fitfully, weeping and burdened. Later that night, Charles came to bed after working late into the evening. He laid his hand gently on her stomach and began to pray a passionate, emotional, and heartfelt prayer. His eyes and heart fatigued from battle, he drifted off to sleep.

The next day, Susan went to her scheduled doctor’s appointment as planned. She later called Charles somberly and whispered that they needed to talk. On his way home, he prepared for another sob session in the arms of his bride. Instead, he was warmly greeted with surprise news: Based on a blood test, Susan was most definitely pregnant!

 

her wet face is dry now

pain is still fresh

seeking

trying

emotions are spent

 

deepest desires

fall on deaf ears

hurting

crying

can’t find the tears

 

God i’m still asking

i want you to hear

trying so hard now

to face all my fears

passion inside me

as i humbly draw near

facing

flowing

loving

i just want you to hear

 

a touch and a prayer

i long to cry out

knowing

sighing

my pain i lay down

 

my words are a whisper

deep longings are known

laughing

smiling

your faithfulness shown

 

I wish I could say that was the end of the story. Unfortunately, a few days later, my dear friend shared the disappointing news that Susan had an early miscarriage. My heart broke for them. I can scarce imagine the darkness of the pain after such elating news only a few days prior.

 

a bitter disappointment

is like gall on the tongue

an answered prayer

retracted as quickly

gone before hope had begun

 

burning in my throat

after heaving sob on sobs

in deep fatigue

is this hollow pit

in my ears my heartbeat throbs

 

a celebration cut short

with tears of deep ache

our countless joy

is joy no more

i quiver an uncontrollable shake

 

but hope hangs on daintily

like chalk on the sidewalk after rain

the faded image of joy

a distant hope almost seen

a longing that sees through my pain

 

It’s unusual for me to share the inspiration for my writing, but I thought it was important for you to know the backstory so you could pray effectively. So, will you join me in praying for our friends? Feel free to pray for them by name… (I’m sure that God can transliterate “Charles” and “Susan” into their real names.) I’m deeply moved by their heart for God and their desire to bring a new life to this world, so I desperately intercede on their behalf. We know we have eternal hope in Christ, but Charles and Susan are weary from battle, and need to be lifted up before our Maker, to be restored, to be renewed, and, hopefully, someday, to be blessed with children.

 

Grace and peace,

Delton