holy spirit come again….like a gentle summer rain,
falling softly from a mellow sky….cooling pastures parched and dry,
holy spirit come again….like a gentle summer rain.
In today’s reading, chapters 26-31, the prophet Jeremiah is writing his experiences of God revealing a word to him and commanding him to go and tell the nation of Israel. He didn’t have a easy job. It was rough. For speaking the truth, God’s Word, the people and priests wanted to stone him. And they would have if the princes of the people wouldn’t have intervened. Citing the cases of prophets in the past who prophesied to a audience who righteously responded, they spared him. Only it didn’t do much good. In Jeremiah’s case, lip service was paid and no true repentance was shown. In chapter 29 in verse 11, is that familiar verse “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. I knew this verse. However today I saw it differently. In context, God was telling the people of Israel that the destruction of their land and people wasn’t fully completed, that there was more coming. In this context, comes verse 11. Wow, the confidence that this verse gives. And it wasn’t just for them…it’s for us!! Hoy mismo!!! We can relax. God’s got the controls. And He is saying, “trust me. I’m looking ahead at the future while I’m directing your life right now. It’s all cool”. Just that fact….it takes some time to comprehend the full truth of that. Further, He spoke to the captivity in Babylon and told them, paraphrasing, “you might as well get comfortable and settle in for the long haul. Buy houses and land, discover a medium of happiness and find husbands and wives for you children. It’s gonna’ be awhile till restoration comes but don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.”.
I discovered something that I didn’t know was in the Old Testament. In chapter 31, there’s a beautiful image of the prodigal son. God promises that there is no way that He will ignore a child of His that truly repents and turns back to Him with a sincere heart. It is a beautiful glimpse of the Father heart of God. Later in the chapter, He speaks of a day that is coming when all people will know of the Lord; that knowledge of the Divine and Holy will be universal. So far that day hasn’t arrived. And until that day, it is the duty of us Christians to make an effort to bring that day about.
Being gone from one’s home locale does funny thing to you. Things happen about which you only hear of. A example of this is hearing of your church’s membership having grown in your absence and you haven’t even met the newest members. Other things happen that one will only confront when one get’s back. To me, it still seems surreal that someone I considered a friend is no longer here on this earth. It’s something I know; something I’ve heard about it but the reality hasn’t hit. Weddings have taken place and yet I still remember those friends as how they were in their free years. Other friends move on with life (like it’s expected that they should) but one forgets how much fun can be had with those that one knows best.
These kids pictured here ponied up the money and flew down here over 2 months ago for a 2 week visit. Wow, talk about memories and no pressure to be someone else! This group I’ve known almost forever. 5 out of the 7 that visited I can remember being in my church from way back. We’ve grown up in the same group. In church life, we’ve been there through all the memories, all the activities, all the stunts that have happened, all the workings together to make the social life of the youth group hum. By no means is this all of my youth group. There’s one or two persons not here that I would also include in this but in my mind, these here are the core group–my people. As great as this visit and trip was (believe me, it was epic!), it was also bittersweet with the knowledge of a certain fact. We’ve talked about it and we all know it and it’s this fact. Life changes. There is no guarantee that we, this group here, will be together like this within even the space of a year. So, while it lasted, we enjoyed this time to the fullest. While we had the time together, we celebrated ____ us. So to a great youth group, the only one I’ve ever known, thanks for it all.
You’ve experienced it, I know you have. That moment when you run across something and you don’t fully get “it”. Could be the significance of a brilliant statement. Or a Biblical truth that we read whether in public or private worship. (Today, I’m thinking of the latter) And even though we don’t know exactly what it’ll mean for us personally, we recognize it’s golden promise and we thank God. Isaiah 30:21 has just that kind of a promise, especially to a young missionary who is looking for some measure of direction.
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21 (KJV)
The KJV has the idea of hearing the voice telling us which direction that we should go in whether to the right or to the left. But another version, the God’s Word, says this….,
You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 (GW)
I like both ideas. Both are referring to two ways of living and maybe to two different types of personalities. The first needs to know what it is that they are supposed to do before they get to a certain point in time. Or they need the certainty that the next step that they are pondering is what God wants them to do before the actually do it. And this assurance of God’s blessing is desirable and in some cases, needful. But what do you do when that certainty isn’t there? When the assurance you seek is not forthcoming?
The 2nd type of person follows what he or she thinks is the way and what they should do. And for them, their confirmation comes as they go. They are looking for and are receiving signs and confirmations as they live, as they work and as they minister in the thing and place that they “feel” they should be. I think it’s a feeling. After all, if there is no direct leading and peace about one particular choice, what is it that this group of people have to go on? Isn’t it a feeling? The hunch that this one particular way is slightly more ideal even if the differences are subtle and/or non-existent? Isn’t that feeling?
Currently, we here at the clinic have been discussing how to determine God’s will. Three of us are leaving in the next half year, myself included. Others are thinking about when to write in their termination notices. It makes for good discussions as well as mental stimulation, as evidenced by this post. Any comments, post ‘em following this post. Any thoughts, blog them yourself and send me the link.
Paysandu, or Pah-shan-du as the locals call it, will always be in my memory. Or more specifically, the San Cirilo Lodge, run by Black River Outfitters, which is set in the gently rolling hills around Paysadu, has memories from a dove hunt of a lifetime. Ah, the setting! The head says that we are in a South American country but a look at the fields of agriculture makes one think of the western United States. Instead of the cowboy, there’s the occasional gaucho to add to that feeling.
The staff at San Cirilo treated us royally. In all aspects, we had service. The setting is quaint and it feels like you’re the only person around for miles. But a 30 minute drive brings you to wing shooting heaven and that’s why we came. We came to shoot doves and shoot we did! From all angles, at all speeds, the action never stopped. We counted over 240 doves a minute in flight just in our vicinity. ACTION….DEFINED!! Now, I’m sorry if this doesn’t get you going. Obviously, then, you aren’t into wing shooting. But for those that are, Cordoba in Argentina and Northern Uruguay are places of dreams. And I’ve been blessed to have spent the past 2 days here, living that dream. It’s been great. My shoulder is sore but it’s the type of pain that I will gladly bear. Work comes too fast but the memories will always be there.
And so, farewell, to a dream-come-true. So long, to a place that has a piece of my heart.
To those who know where I’m currently at…..it’s been a blast, literally!! Never seen so many doves, so many shot opportunities, so much fun. A online forecast had us getting rain today but so far not a sight of it. Blue skies and 80+ degrees is currently the weather. Beats a all day rain in Paraguay by a long shot and 30 degrees with snow in Ohio by miles!! Anyway, lunch is on in a little bit and after siestas, it’s out for more doves.