Will You Choose to Hear the Bells?

Last night after an amazing First Wednesday worship service, Greg and Jackie Stewart sent this to me from their devotional (Glimpses of God’s Grace, Donahue):

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was no stranger to the sufferings of war. During the Civil War near the Christmas of 1863, he found out that his son had been injured in battle. How could he bear being so far away from his son on Christmas Day when he desperately wanted to be at his side to help and comfort him?

In spite of his despair, Christmas bells penetrated his sorrow and made him aware of God’s gracious love–a love that could be with him and his son at the same time. As he listened to the chimes, he penned the words to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

No matter how many wars are fought, no matter how many battles are lost or won, God is near, helping, comforting and guiding those who trust Him. There is no limit to His powerful healing and grace. There is no measure to his love. Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned during such troubled times is that Jesus truly is our Lord of lords, our Prince of Peace.

So I have a new tradition (started it about 5 years ago actually). Every Christmas I google this Youtube video. Yesterday, in the middle of a hectic day, I stopped to listen to the bells. Since 2010, almost 49 million others have done the same! Maybe it will bring peace in the midst of your chaos.

The Rock

I have struggled to picture being “in Christ.” For years I have believed it theologically–but I couldn’t wrap my conceptual brain around it. Then Life Group happened last week. One of the members of our group talked about being “held” by God, picturing herself in his arms. An Old Testament image and an old song immediately came to mind. I have to share. First, the Old Testament image.

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4 ESV)

I’ve been to Israel and seen massive mountains full of rock caves. Below is a picture of a cave just north of the Dead Sea. img_1668

If God is the Rock, then I can run into Him and be safe. As a matter of fact, I am “in Him.” When storms come, I’m in the Rock. When winds howl, rains descend, the sun scorches, the hail falls, I’m in the Rock. Jesus is the Rock! I am in Him. This is unspeakable comfort.

Moses, in one of his final speeches before his death doesn’t stop there. Listen to how he describes the Rock wooing Israel:

“He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the LORD alone guided him, no foreign god was with him. He made him ride on the high places of the land, and he ate the produce of the field, and he suckled him with honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock. Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock, with fat of lambs, rams of Bashan and goats, with the very finest of the wheat— and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape. (Deuteronomy 32:10-14 ESV)

If you are in Christ, you are “found, encircled, cared for, kept, fluttered over, caught, borne up and guided.”

Now the old song. I sang this growing up. Make it your trusting prayer today.

God All Sufficient

From The Valley of Vision (a book of Puritan prayers):godisable

O Lord of grace,

The world is before me this day, and I am weak and fearful, but I look to you for strength;

If I venture forth alone I stumble and fall, but on the Beloved’s arms I am firm as the eternal hills;

If left to the treachery of my heart I shall shame your name, but if enlightened, guided, upheld by your Spirit, I shall bring you glory.

Be thou my arm to support, my strength to stand, my light to see, my feet to run, my shield to protect, my sword to repel, my sun to warm.

To enrich me will not diminish your fullness; all your lovingkindness is in your Son. I bring him to you in the arms of faith. I urge his saving Name as the One who died for me. I plead his blood to pay my debts of wrong.

Accept his worthiness for my unworthiness, his sinlessness for my transgressions, his purity for my uncleanness, his sincerity for my guile, his truth for my deceits, his meekness for my pride, his constancy for my backslidings, his love for my enmity, his fullness for my emptiness, his faithfulness for my treachery, his obedience for my lawlessness, his glory for my shame, his devotedness for my waywardness, his holy life for my unchaste ways, his righteousness for my dead works, his death for my life.