faith

Soul-Care from the Cave

Soul-Care from the Cave

David was no stranger to caves. But this cave was more than a place of shelter for a tired shepherd boy. It was a place where he would learn resilience- how to relate to God in times of deep loss and confusion. How to steady his feet on God's promises and forge ahead with hope. Here are some ways we can learn, like David, to practice soul-care in the cave:

Silence and the Coaching Session

Silence and the Coaching Session

In the natural world, the quietest places are often the deepest places...the deep sea, deep into the woods, a deep cavern. These can be frightening places to explore, involving a fair amount of risk and uncertainty. In the same way, navigating silence in the coaching conversation may feel risky and uncertain. However, as coach and client embrace silence, we allow God to take us deeper into those places of discovery.

The Payoff of Persistence

The Payoff of Persistence

A little more persistence could be just what we need to make steady progress toward our goals and dreams. Often, the assumption is that doing more and going faster are the answers. Persistence with payoff, however, must be grounded in the substance of restreflection, and a good dose of play from time to time.

Transition

Read: Jeremiah 23:23-24

Scripture Focus: Genesis 28:15-16

Big life change can often bring about a sense of confusion or feeling lost. When the familiar things in life are replaced by the unfamiliar, God can seem distant and unconcerned. That was certainly how I was feeling two years ago after moving to the bustling metropolis of Istanbul, a city of over 15 million people.

Me, my wife and our two children had moved into a small apartment in a bustling part of the city. It was at the crossroads of two busy streets. The traffic noise was like nothing I had ever experienced, and it seemed to be constant throughout the day and night.

The call to prayer rang out from several different mosques in our neighborhood. I was feeling a bit lost and distant from God. I was thousands of miles away from the spacious house I had been living in for the past seven years, complete with a large garden and fruit trees. Unfamiliar surroundings. New sights and sounds. I was beginning to wonder, “Lord did I hear you right? Are you really in this move?”

Just then I heard God’s whisper through the scriptures, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:23). I realized that He was encouraging me to trust Him with the change and uncertainty I was feeling. I could never escape his sight and his presence, even in this faraway and unfamiliar place. In fact, during the days and months that followed, His nearness became more real to me than it ever would have been if I had chosen to stay in my comfortable surroundings.

Thought for the Day: God is nearby in faraway places.

Prayer: Lord, help us to trust you with the uncertainties of transition. In lonely and uncomfortable surroundings, may you be our constant companion and ever present help.

Now Give Me This Mountain!

"Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said" (Joshua 14:12).

Forty-five years after laying eyes on his inheritance, Caleb confidently comes to Joshua with a request to make good on God's promise. God had promised something humanly impossible for Caleb and his descendants. Was Joshua secretly hoping that in his old age Caleb would have forgotten?  Not Caleb.  At 85 years of age, he was ready to lay hold of his promise.

What was happening during those 45 years in between? I imagine Caleb helping his brothers take possession of their inheritances, raising a family, and working the land.  As they wandered in the desert, He watched the original band of spies slowly die in their unbelief. Only he and Joshua were left.  I imagine Caleb with a habit of speaking to the mountain on a daily basis, a mountain he would some day claim as his own.  So, approaching Joshua with this request was simply a formality.  It was, in fact, already his.

Once Caleb got the go-ahead from Joshua, he still had the difficult task of driving out the inhabitants of the land.  There was a progression: Caleb spoke to the mountain and he trusted God.  And behind the scenes, God was lining things up until the day Caleb would go in and conquer.

I'm learning the trust God more these days. One of my  "mountains" has been establishing effective financial partnerships for our overseas work.  I've been speaking to this challenge in prayer frequently.  I need to pray and trust more.  I have 45 years of total life experience under my belt; Caleb had 40, then he waited 45 more years until he was 85. Then the real work began. Should I be encouraged?

Prayer: Lord, you know my heart.  You know how difficult it is for me to wait and to maintain perspective.  Remind me that every mountain I face is an opportunity to grow in trust and patience, and to sharpen my skills along the way.

 

Contagious Faith

There's something about faith when lived out with tenacity, boldness and sincerity.  It takes on a life of its own, influencing others in its wake.  That's how a legacy of faith gets passed down through the generations. Of Caleb, we're told that "he followed the Lord wholeheartedly." (Joshua 14:14).  That's impressive, especially when we understand the longevity of his wholehearted devotion. I love to imagine the impact this must have had on those around him. At one point, Caleb's own daughter approached him boldly with a request, "...Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs. (Joshua 15:19). She wasn't afraid, even in a man's world, to ask and believe for big things.  Could it be that she learned from watching her father all those years that God is hilariously generous - if only we will ask?

Caleb's nephew, Othniel, became the first judge of Israel. And he was himself a valiant warrior (see Judges 3:9).  I wonder if he too had been inspired by observing the faith of his uncle....

Prayer: Lord, shape in me a spirit like Caleb's, that I might wholeheartedly pursue You and the gifts You have for me.  And help me to pass down a heritage of bold and tenacious faith to those within my sphere of influence.

*From reflections in Joshua, chapters 14-15.

Baskets, Ropes and Strong Hands

We normally perceive the Apostle Paul as bold, courageous and somewhat independent. He was not one to let anything stand in his way, let alone some fellow Jews and an earthly king who were trying to take his life. I've often wondered about the placement and point of 2 Corinthians 11:33 which states, "In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands."  What's the significance, particularly in relationship to the rest of the chapter? At first glance this doesn't seem to match up with Paul's boast of weakness.  But let's have another look.

The truth is that Paul understood and acknowledged his weaknesses.  In fact, this is a striking picture of a man who had come to the end of his rope and needed a new one, a rope with a basket on one end and strong hands on the other.  He was "let down through a window in a basket."!

A basket, a rope and someone else's hands to grasp and lower Paul down to safety.  I imagine Paul curled up in a fetal position inside this basket.  By no means is this a visual picture of strength and courage! Visualize this man of faith in a basket and you begin to understand the interplay between courageous faith and times of weakness.  One could say that living out of a sense of weakness takes more courage compared to living out of a feelings of strength.

Prayer: Lord, today I feel weak and vulnerable.  I need a basket, a rope and some strong hands to carry me through my trial. Thanks for helping me and bringing me safely to the other side.