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Archive for the ‘Patience’ Category

I’ll Be Back

Really.  I will.

But for now… Look at this cool picture my 13 year old daughter took in New York!

wonder

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He may delay because it would not be safe to give us at once what we ask: we are not ready for it. To give ere we could truly receive, would be to destroy the very heart and hope of prayer, to cease to be our Father. The delay itself may work to bring us nearer to our help, to increase the desire, perfect the prayer, and ripen the receptive condition. ~ George MacDonald

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

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We have to learn to commit not only the future but also the past to the Lord. ~Daniel Fuller, The Unity of the Bible, p. 286.

The intentions of Providence commonly do not appear till a great while after the event, perhaps many years after. The sentences in the book of providence are sometimes long, and you must read a great way before you can apprehend the sense of them. ~Matthew Henry

Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him. ~Oswald Chambers

Sometimes providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backward. ~John Flavel

Why believe the devil instead of believing God? Rise up and realize the truth about yourself – that all the past has gone, and you are one with Christ, and all your sins have been blotted out once and for ever. O let us remember that it is sin to doubt God’s Word. It is sin to allow the past, which God has dealt with, to rob us of our joy and our usefulness in the present and in the future.  ~Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression – Its Causes and its Cures, p.76

Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him. ~Oswald Chambers

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

~William Cowper, Light Shining Out of Darkness

Only if we trust God to turn past calamities into future comfort can we look with gratitude for all things. ~John Piper, Future Grace, p. 49

Without retrospect, no real prospect is possible. ~H. Richard Niebuhr

Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength. ~C.H. Spurgeon


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Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) was, without a doubt, one of the leading Christian thinkers of the 20th century.  He wrote and lectured extensively on Christianity and culture, and modeled compassion even as he challenged a wide range of people to consider the reasonableness of the claims of Christ in every area of life.   

But early in his ministry, Schaeffer went through a time of profound doubt.  He was deeply disturbed by the conflict he saw in the church – the lack of love he saw manifested in the body of Christ. When Schaeffer realized the vastness of the contradiction  (what he called “the lack of reality, the lack of seeing the results the Bible talks about”) apparent in both others and himself, he grappled for a time with a spiritual crisis that sent him back to examine the very foundations of his belief.  He reread the bible and wrestled through the fundamentals of the Christian message for many months. 

What are we to make of such a spiritual crisis in such a great man of faith? 

I sometimes have to remind myself of the long list of faithful men and women who’ve gone through times of spiritual depression and crisis.  Schaeffer isn’t the only one who went through times of profound doubt.  Men like Horatius Bonar, John Newton, Charles Spurgeon, and Hudson Taylor (the list goes on and on!) also wrestled with darkness and despair at different times. 

And yet, ultimately we know these names because God used these people so significantly for his kingdom.  As I acknowledge my own times of doubt, I can’t simply be comforted by being in good company; I also must learn  what the darkness ultimately produced in the lives of these saints.   

Schaeffer reread his bible and found the answers there that moved him back to a place of trust and faith.  The lack of love he saw in the church both sent him into despair and sent him toward a solution.  After his time of wrestling, he and Edith went on to form L’Abri, where people were embraced with dignity and compassion because of their worthiness as God’s image bearers.  Does God allow darkness in our souls to clarify our path when we see it afresh in the light of his mercy?   

Schaeffer went digging in scripture for the truth, even as he encountered the deepest doubts. May God grant me the mercy to do the same: to be hungry for truth even when I’m struggling to trust.     

“Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;
       may your love and your truth always protect me.”  Psalm 40:11

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“Most men need patience to die, but a saint who understands what death admits him to should rather need patience to live. I think he should often look out and listen on a deathbed for his Lord’s coming; and when he receives the news of his approaching change he should say, ‘The voice of my beloved! behold, He cometh leaping over the mountains, skipping upon the hills’ (Song of Solomon 2:8).”  JOHN FLAVEL

I came across this quote today and it seemed timely because, thought I don’t mean to be alarming, I realized that I’ve moved, somewhere in the last year or so, from fearing death to rather looking forward to it.  I’m hoping that’s not an oddity, but some sort of maturity.  Maybe it’s not the happiest thought with which to start the new blog – or maybe it is, depending on your perspective. 

 

But actually it’s not the implication about dying that caught my eye.  The “patience to live” bit reached out to grab me: that’s what I might need to be praying for: patience to live.  Not to exist, with dull resignation, but to really live.

 

The contours of my life are rather more like the Appalachians than the Alps.  My crises are more common than I usually allow myself to confess.  And yet, I’m in the midst of the “repeated experimental proof of the Lord’s power and goodness to save” that John Newton said we must go through a thousand times as we struggle for assurance.  Maybe everyone doesn’t have to go through that: maybe its just me and John.   None-the-less, here I am. 

 

In the midst of my thousand wrestling matches, there are things that matter to me: art, music, books, community, creational goodness in all its forms… There are lots of things to be explored here: few of them as introspective as the topic of this first post.  But, it seemed good to start where I am, with who I am.   And now on with the experimental proof. 

 

On, with patience.

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