the need for self-understanding

…we are dust.

Psalm 103:14b

It is important for us to understand ourselves. Weaknesses. What helps us, what doesn’t. Strengths, too. To find where we excel as well as what helps us be resilient in the inevitable drama and trauma of life. To find our gifts, what we enjoy doing, what comes more or less natural to us, as well as what doesn’t.

Scripture tells us we’re dust. And that to dust we’ll return. But in and through God become human in Christ we receive the hope in the form of a promise of resurrection from a mortal into an immortal existence. And we’re taken up into a great family, God our Parent, Christ our Brother, the Spirit our love breath.

I really get tired of certain aspects of myself which are not what I believe God intends in the long run. Especially challenging to me is my propensity to worry about this and that and something else, everything else. I manage this much better than in the past. I realize that it’s important how I carry myself, not to be fake, but in faith looking to God to help me do better, trust in God, cast the burden on God, and experience some release from this. And that is happening more for which I’m thankful, but I’m still beset with a tendency to worry. Scripture addresses that. Though that helps I simply realize that this is a weakness that is part of who I am.

Thankfully we find that God accepts us completely just as we are. That should be the reason we can do the same. God helps us in the midst of our weaknesses, indeed the Lord’s strength somehow becomes evident in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12).   If God loves this dust made in God’s image, then we need to, too. Love each other, even ourselves. Know ourselves, and that the God who knows us completely through and through, completely accepts and loves us.

In and through Jesus.

finding home

Like a bird that flees its nest
    is anyone who flees from home.

Proverbs 27:8

From an old song comes the well worn saying: “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” We feel at home at home, for sure. It’s an escape, and more than that, it’s our abode. It’s where we’re acclimated into hopefully a place where we can rest. Of course to both build and maintain a home requires work. But home ought to be above all a place we can leisurely enjoy.

God made us for home. In a sense, humans were made to be at home in fellowship with God, in Jesus taken into the communion of the Triune God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But God made humans also to be earthly dwellers in communion with each other. And even to have a relationship with animals, I’m thinking of pets. This is why the biblical promise of heaven coming down to earth and becoming one with it when Jesus returns is so appropriate. God will come to earth to dwell with his people. In the meantime, God lives with us in Jesus as Emmanuel (God-with-us).

So our true home is right where we live on earth, renewed in Jesus, and in God in and through Jesus. Both.

So we are at a loss, and lost when we stray from either. Especially basic for us is to find our home in God, but we are earthlings, made from the dust of the earth, so that this wonderful world in the end renewed in the new creation at the resurrection in and through Jesus is also our home. We can’t get too much of either, as we now live in the world to be renewed when God makes all things new through Jesus.

“This world is not my home,” refers to the world system, which like Babel of old (Genesis 11) is estranged from, and in opposition to God. So that this life is not our final home. We are strangers here, pilgrims on a journey, looking for a better, heavenly country (Hebrews 11).

We pray for those who have strayed from their true home, that they would find it in God. And we long to be more and more at rest in that, as well. While we fulfill our calling to work and be stewards of this good earth God has entrusted to us. Knowing that our work someday won’t end, though the toilsome labor due to the curse imposed on it will. At Jesus’s return.



embracing the hard places

With a here we go again attitutde, we can shortchange the changes God wants to make in our lives. There are problems, places, and let’s admit it, people, who at times along with us can be challenging, disappointing, and downright irritating. And it doesn’t help when we might be tired, and a bit battered and bruised from what life has brought our way to begin with. While it is true that we as humans are made in no less than the image of God, it is also true that we are dust.

In all of this, of course, we need grace. We need to wait on God so to speak, even in the midst of the flow of life. We should have a sense of expectation in waiting on God to work everything out according to his purpose for us and for others, as well as just his purpose in general, in Jesus. That takes both time and faith. We need to hold on, as it were.

And by faith, we should learn to embrace the hard places with outstretched arms as a kind of sign of the cross as part of a cruciform, cross-shaped life. We do this, not because we want to, or because that is the place we would ever go, but because we do want to follow Jesus in all of life, the one who taught us a good number of hard sayings and teachings (see Matthew 5-7, and read the rest of the gospel accounts: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

Of course we will and do fail along the way. We have forgiveness already in terms of salvation, but we do need to continue to confess our sins to God, and when appropriate at times to others, and walk in the light God gives us to maintain fellowship and communion with God and with each other through Jesus’s blood cleansing us from all sin (1 John).

Embracing the hard places is most certainly an act of faith. We do so believing that good will come out of it from God, as well as to avoid the evil and the problems which come out of our refusal to accept such things. A part of the maturing process which is ours together in Jesus.

so tired

I have been thinking of and praying for a neighbor of my childhood who is nearing the end of his earthly journey, surrounded by loving family and friends, soon to meet the Savior face to face to hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…” I didn’t know these neighbors all that well, they were a bit of a way from us, through one neighbor across a dangerous enough (in my mind) country highway. I knew this man as a burly strong guy with a wonderful smile, I can still see that smile. His daughter says he was a prayer warrior.

It dawns on me that life simply won’t continue on as it has without some change. I’m amazed at the strength and stamina I have. My wife has helped me eat healthy (mostly vegan, she’s basically 100% vegan). It is one thing to live longer, as Americans and much of the first world countries do, but it’s quite another thing to live at least most all of that time in good health. We would all like to live well right up to our final day, be taken home so to speak in our sleep.

I suppose I’ve prayed many prayers in my lifetime which are similar, but perhaps far and away the one prayer I’ve said the most to God, even often at the start of a new day, and even more so, at the end especially of a work day is something like, “Lord, I’m so tired.” God gives us strength to carry on. I have to get outside in a short time to shovel several inches of heavy (if cleaning my car yesterday is indicative) snow, a significant amount, perhaps up to an hour’s worth, more or less. And then off to work, where yesterday just to keep on top of a job that was unsteady I had to be aggressive and quick as a cat (ha) to keep the job going okay and do what had to be done. Today to finish that job.

In the midst of all of this, though we are dust, and to dust we will return, the Lord gives us strength to carry on. As I get older, I wonder more and more where that strength will come from. And needed wisdom too, for that matter. I know where that comes from, but I speak existentially, from the perspective of simply being tired: physically tired, and tired in other ways as well.

My former neighbor, Mr. Hilty has amazingly reached the end of the wonderful strength he had, a truly loving man as I’m reading and remembering. Like him, unless the Lord returns before that, I will return to dust (What about cremation? That’s another subject on the fringes of my mind off and on, lately.) I hope with him to hear the words from our Savior, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I am so utterly undeserving, but by his grace he forgives and gives us a new heart, even in beginning to be like his own heart. And so I have a bit of hope, that direction.

Until then, I carry on with the strength God gives. Acknowledging my own weakness and sin, and knowing that when the strength God gives me is withdrawn, I will be taken up into his arms so to speak, wonderful when some sense of that is experienced in this life. And with Mr. Hilty, we will be in fellowship together before the Lord forever, never again to pray anything like the prayer, “Lord, I’m so tired.”