Tag Archives: Care

Rest

Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord.
Leviticus 25:2 (NRSV)

When you grow up in Iowa, you gain an appreciation for the earth. There are close to 90,000 farm operations in our state and 30.5 million acres of Iowa land is dedicated to agriculture. But the importance of the land goes much deeper than the sheer market value of its produce. The land is a part of people’s heritage. It gets into their souls and becomes a part of who they are.

I find it fascinating that in the ancient Hebrew law God’s principle of rest was extended beyond human beings to the land. Rest is not just something human’s need. It’s something woven into the fabric of creation. Living things need rest. Humans need rest. Animals need rest. Plants need rest. The land needs rest.

I am reminded this morning that when God created Adam and Eve, the task given to them was agriculture. They were caretakers of the Garden. When cast out of the Garden, it was clear from God’s words to Adam that agriculture would continue to be at the core of humanity’s existence. There is a natural connection between humanity and creation that God wove into our DNA. I have never been a farmer and my family has never farmed, but when you live in Iowa you get the connection. The land requires care taking. A part of taking care of living things is making sure there is sufficient rest.

Work hard today. Then rest well.

 

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Don’t Worry, It’s on the List

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 56

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.
Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

Lists. My life is full of lists. Wendy is the Queen of the Lists. Her royal highness manages the Vander Well realm via a series of lists. There is the white board calendar list which used to list our daughters schedules, but now lists our evening meals for the week. There is the kitchen grocery list that is updated any time you use the last of something in the kitchen. There is the Playhouse list of what needs to go to the lake. The other day I was asked to print the rehearsal list for the theatre. I have a work list, a honey-do list, and a list of people to call. I have a list of chapters we’ve covered on this chapter-a-day journey. There’s a list of DVDs we own, a “must see” movie list, and a list of movies in our queue. My computer holds mailing lists, show lists, and cast lists.

This post is beginning to feel like Dr. Seuss.

Big list. Little list. List, list, list.
How many lists must I insist
on managing all that life persists
to throw my way as I exist?

In the days when David wrote the lyric of today’s psalm, kings and rulers in authority were known to be keepers of lists and records. Because the written word was rare and reserved almost exclusively for rulers, it was a big deal for Kings to have anything that was written down read to them. Sometimes, if the king had a bout of insomnia for example, he would ask his servants to read from the records, chronicles and lists. In doing so, he would sometimes run across an item on the list on which he would act. There are at least two very clear references of God using circumstances like this to fulfill His purposes in the old stories:

In the story of Esther: “That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.” (the chapter-a-day entries for this chapter from 2009 and from 2012)

In the story of Josiah: “Then Shaphan the secretary informed [King Josiah], ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.” (the chapter-a-day entry for this chapter)

When David’s lyrics refer to his tears being stored up and his troubles recorded, the image he is creating is that of his lament being written on God’s royal record. It is chronicled and will not be forgotten by God who sits on the throne. God sees. God knows. It will not be forgotten. It’s written on the list.

We all go through periods of life when we feel alone. Our troubles seem so huge. Our prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back. We wonder if God is listening. We question whether God even cares.

Today, I’m reminded that God says the number of my days is already accounted for in His records. My name is recorded in His book. Even the decreasing number of hairs on my head is on a list somewhere in heaven’s royal archive. Certainly, I am not abandoned despite the intensity of my feelings to the contrary. My troubles are not forgotten. My cares are known.

 

Chapter-a-Day 1 Peter 5

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Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

The other night we were visiting with friends at their house. One of their children was angry over a host of childish issues and, while we were there, he decided to run away from home in anger. Wendy and I love this child and have watched him grow up. He’s like a member of our own family. It was interesting for us to watch him stew in his own misery convinced that nobody cared for the injustice of his life. We commended his parents later for not overreacting to his very public act of packing in front of guests. I especially appreciated when his mother lovingly reminded him to grab his pillow and a sleeping bag because he’d probably need it sleeping out in the cold that night.

I love 1 Peter 5:7 for it’s direct simplicity. I have leaned on this verse countless times, reminding myself of it over and over and over again as I’ve gone through particularly difficult stretches of life’s journey. There are so many times in life when we feel alone and isolated in whatever situation we find ourselves. “Life is unfair. Life is unjust. God doesn’t care. In fact, maybe there’s no God at all if this is the way life is!”

1 Peter 5:7 is an antidote for moments of personal crisis. I have found two distinct encouragements in the verse. First, I need to act to cast my cares and worries on God. This requires me not to keep my destructive thoughts and emotions to myself but to take them to God. I have talked to God, I have screamed at God, I have whispered desperate prayers, and I have wept before God like a baby. The act of physically and audibly getting your cares out is cathartic and healing.

The unburdening of soul through conversation with God makes room for the second part of 1 Peter 5:7, which is the important reminder that God cares. I believe this to be true, though there have been very specific moments along the journey that I’ve seriously questioned it. A petulant child even in an adult body, I have more than once fussed at Father God about His injustice and uncaring attitude as I spiritually packed my bag to run away.

After giving his parents and guests a good dose of teen-aged attitude coupled with the silent treatment while having a snack for the road, our young friend must have thought better of his decision to run away. Without saying a word he headed to bed rather than the front door. Someday he will look back and realize how silly it was allowing a momentary feeling of injustice to let him feel so uncared for when the larger truth of the matter was he was raised in a loving home with two parents who care for him more deeply than he could imagine.

And so this runaway has found the same to be true with Father God. Once I unburden my soul and get out my anger, fear, anxiety and pain I am ready for a dose of truth; God loved me so much that He sacrificed His Son for me. He cares for me and loves me more deeply than I can possibly imagine despite my refusal to see it in the moment.

Today, as I write this post, I am able to see it clearly and am grateful for all the times Father God has smiled quietly to Himself as He lovingly reminded me not to forget my pillow and my sleeping bag

Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 45

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“These are the words of God, the God of Israel, to you, Baruch.” Jeremiah 45:2 (MSG)

The world’s problems seems so huge. It’s easy to feel small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Buck up, Baruch.

Today’s little chapter stands as testimony to Jesus’ words, which would be uttered some 500 years after Jeremiah dictated his prophecies to Baruch. In the midst of the vastness of the universe and the epic scale of the world’s issues, God still cares intimately for each lowly individual, each hair on your head, every sparrow that falls, along with every grain of sand.

God cares for you.

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Chapter-a-Day Psalm 147

Celebrity visit. He heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and assigns each a name. Psalm 147:3-4 (MSG)

Many years ago I was at a Minnesota Vikings game in Minneapolis. It was back when star wide receiver, Randy Moss, played for the Vikings. I remember watching him catch a touchdown pass. On the side of the field was a severely handicapped boy in a wheelchair. After running, leaping and making a spectacular catch, the famous player ran immediately to the boy who, in this life, would never know the joy of running, leaping and catching a football. Moss bowed down and gave him the football.

I am always glad to see when celebrities and big name athletes take the time to make the day of children who are sick or soldiers serving their country far from home. I was reminded of it when I read the third and fourth verses of Psalm 147 and was struck by the contrast. The God of the universe who creates the stars and names each one still has time, love and energy to heal the broken hearted and bandage their wounds.

It's quite common to feel lost and alone in this crazy world. How comforting to know that the all-powerful God of creation, whose exhaustive presence knows each star by name, also cares for me so much that he intimately knows each hair on my head.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and kawetijoru

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