My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have rescued.
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Words of Grace For Today
The purpose of life has been proposed as many different things, and even said so often to be different for each person.
Yet, scripture and the saints often agree that the purpose of life is the same for us all, and that it is simple: give God praise with great joy.
The challenge is that life is often boring, overwhelmingly challenging, and unbearably painful, sometimes all at once. In order to be joyful and give God praise in the midst of all that takes … well it takes more than we have to give it often seems.
Only by the Holy Spirit enabling us can we endure all the boring, overwhelmingly challenging, and unbearably painful times of life, and still know at the beginning, end, and in the midst of each day to give God thanks for everything in life, and life itself.
For that we are created. For that God deals graciously with us. For that is simple, though seldom easy.
Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old.
But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Words of Grace For Today
Jason sat a huge bit bewildered as he remembered the last seven days. How could life change so fast in so many ways? How was he going to go forward and towards what? It all started with the fire that burned his house down.
But that can only be explained, he realized, if you start before that. His life had progressed pretty much according to plan, with a few unforeseen changes that only improved on things for him. Stacey was one of those changes. Then to understand how that change was so good, he remembered how Robin had played him and broke up with him and disappeared just a week before their planned wedding. That was hard to take at the time, though it was for the best he realized within a few weeks. His career as an engineer had just taken off. Robin had taken so much of his time, high-maintenance as she was, and she really loved the prospect of his money more than she loved him.
After those few terrible weeks he buckled down at work and within a year had established himself as one of just a few experts in the world in the then emerging field of solar power. A number of companies sought him out for his advice on how to produce their products so that he and no more than a handful of others pretty much determined how fast their design of products came to dominate the field. It was exciting, rewarding, and challenging. With all that the rewards were tremendous, not only financially but the respect others showed him and the awards given to him. His most treasured were the two doctorates he received after he wrote the textbook on solar power design. That was as much a doctoral theses as any could be. The doctorates were honorary, but he’d earned them, one in electrical engineering and one in computer sciences.
He’d travelled the world more weeks of the year than not for his work back then. On one trip he’d met Stacey, working for an NGO in Tanzania. They’d fallen in love and gotten married three months later after he’d returned to Tanzania ten times, supposedly to follow up on work projects, but it was actually to spend time with Stacey. He’d moved to Dar es Salaam, where she was based for a year. Then they moved back to Athabasca, north of Edmonton in Canada, where Stacey was from. They’d built a home, had four children, all as bright as their parents. Jason cut back on his travelling to one trip each month at most, then to one every two to three months. The field of solar power had developed fast. Now the challenge was to find the resources to build the panels, and to design hardware and software up to the increasing demands for electricity from them.
Their oldest child had been 7, the youngest 2. The fire had taken them and left Stacey in a coma with brain damage so bad that when she woke up she was hardly there, unable to talk or move on her own. The doctors recommended taking her off life-support. Jason finally agreed and Stacey died the rest of the way within minutes.
Now, seven days later, he was empty. He had money enough to not ever work again. So he quit. He moped about, lost. A friend, Fred, came by to see him about his own solar panel project for his camper. It was something so small Jason had never even thought about that kind of a project. When he had nothing to offer Fred asked him if he would take a day trip with him. Fred could always get Jason to agree to anything, but this time he said no. Fred just ignored that and told him he’d pick him up at 7 the next morning. Dress to be outside in the cold, he’d said.
Jason made the mistake of asking where they were going. Fred just said it was to look at a solar panel project at a hermitage, but mostly to see the hermit. He was a mystic.
So hours later Jason sat there and wondered like he had not had occasion to for decades at how one could be a mystic, and how others would not understand it at all. Fred could not have known that Jason’s confirmation pastor all those years ago had told him he was a mystic, that he saw God more clearly present than anyone else around.
Jason wholeheartedly thought: Restore me to yourself, O Lord, that I may be restored; renew my days as of old.
But he also knew he had done nothing to deserve to be saved. He’d ignored God for so many years. He certainly was ready to be saved now. Being this empty and lost was not to be alive.
That changed when Jason walked the last half mile into the hermitage. The expectation of it being holy, the peace all around, and even Fred’s sudden loss for words, impacted Jason like nothing had since he’d fallen in love with Stacey. The visit with the hermit was anticlimactic. Jason, as they left, asked if he could come back a few times in the next few months. God had started the transformation of a lost soul into a saint, a renewed mystic, and a servant of people desperate for life abundant.
Those Days of Golden Light, Shine Already in Our Hearts, by Faith Alone.
Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.
1 John 2:8
Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
Words of Grace For Today
We try so hard in life to succeed. And there are all sorts of ideas about how to succeed.
One of my favourites* is “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. *though I cannot recommend the man to whom it is attributed – Charles R. Swindoll
Reba McEntire gives us: “To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.”
Pele the soccer star offered: “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
Colin Powell put it plainly, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
Winston Churchill pointed out that it is always a process: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Out in left field: John Barrow said, “Music is 10% exhilaration and 90% utter disappointment.”
But what really counts in life is Faith
How can we succeed at faith?
Can we ever succeed at faith?
No, because Faith is not something we can do or succeed at.
Faith is a gift, a precious gift, that God gives us. It is the gift that sees us through the dark days of life that are so many and brings us to the days when the bright light of God’s Kingdom shines bright all around.
On those days we can Break forth together into singing, … for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed us all.