July 20, 2011

Not for Keeps

Listen to this sound reasoning. (I’m still reading in Judges)  Here the Ammonites are, itching to go to war against Israel to reclaim some lost territory, and Jephthah runs them through a short history lesson, reminding them of their defeat many years before and concluding with these words… “Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess.” (Judges 11:24) I like that! 

I’ve been thinking lately that contentment is the very safest place to be, contentment with whatever the Lord chooses to provide. After all, He knows me better than I know me. He loves me better too. He knows the desires of my heart when I’m not sure I even know what I want. And He’s committed to my best good all my days. What He gives me I’ll possess. And in truth, we have inherited a FORTUNE! We are of all people most fortunate:

And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making for yourself a name for great and awesome things, in driving out nations before your people whom you redeemed from Egypt? And you made your people Israel to be your people forever, and you, O LORD, became their God. I Chr.17:21,22
For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? Deut.4:7
The tricky part is when the possession is not ‘for keeps’. Few things are in this lifetime. We had a pastor years back who always reminded us to hold everything God gives in an open hand. Receive it with gratitude, enjoy it to the full, but don’t demand that it be yours for keeps. We are managers. God is the rightful owner. He would hold out his hand with an open palm to illustrate.

I’m holding out mine this morning… returning a gift I’ve enjoyed immensely for 8 years—a gift that has opened up my world to endless retreats and vistas, to unforgettable moments with God in His creation, enabling me to get beyond the self-conscious insecurity of being ‘out there’ alone and to enjoy the quiet-- listening for God’s still small voice and giving no thought to my ‘alone-ness’. What a gift. What a Gift-giver! His was more than the gift of a mere dog; in giving me Louie He has taken my heart on a journey to Himself with every trail we’ve walked together. This has been a sweet season of fellowship with the Giver Himself.

And now, I must trust Him for the next leg of my journey. Today is but a bend in the trail I cannot see beyond. But mine is the Good Shepherd—he never grows old or debilitated, never changes, never fails.

He is the God who sees. Jehovah-jireh, which I’ve always understood to mean God Provides, literally means “Jehovah SEES”. He ‘looks after’ what concerns me. He takes note of everything—whether Abraham about to sacrifice his only son,(Gen.22:14) or Ishmael’s mother-to-be banished to the desert, (Gen.16:13,14)…or little old me bereft of my hiking companion and feeling that my big wide world has suddenly become restricted territory, my most delightful freedom lost…

I am reminding myself today of God’s good Hand—

For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Ps.84:11

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Mt.7:11)
This is not talking about hiking companions but the ultimate Companion, the person of the Holy Spirit himself, mine for the asking, mine forever. How a dog’s death pales in comparison to the privilege of being in the care of such a One…

My God shall supply all Your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil.4:19) It’s not about my needs for my pleasure, but my needs for His service. What new direction does God intend to turn me. What’s beyond this bend in the trail? I can’t say; but His supply will be there.

Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Ps. 34:9,10 Well, that covers just about everything. What more could I want? Should I want more?

So…as I vacuum up last dog hairs, and collect my thoughts and all the dog things—the brush, the leash, the blanket, the memories…I will hope through the tears for good things yet to come, for new seasons, new growth, new trails with my Good Shepherd. And I will thank Him for all his good gifts--the forever ones and the ones that are so very sweet, but not for keeps. He is my Father. He knows what’s best.

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.” (Ps. 36:7-9)


“So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” (Gen.16:13)

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