"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion--to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified." - Isaiah 61:1-3
The year was 1980. Reports of a severe famine that had struck many regions in Africa were starting to surface in news outlets around the world. The ghastly images of poor, starving families were shocking to the public eye to say the least.
Missionaries Dick and Jane (pictured above) were faithfully serving to the best of their abilities at their mission base in Kenya, when folks started to arrive on-foot from neighboring regions and countries. Skeletal-framed and desperately hungry, the people were mere ghosts of what they ought to be.
Under the intense July sun, a man of skin-and-bones carrying a frighteningly thin little boy (pictured right) came meagerly walking into their mission site. "Take my son and make him live," the man pleaded.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9
Oh, how I long to live a single day without worry! How I long to take a single step without anxiety creeping along behind me!
Can you relate to the sentiment? The concept of being content in Christ Jesus, fully trusting in the sovereignty of God, has been brought to my attention several times in the last week or two. Generally, I take that kind of repetition to be more than mere coincidence. I think the Lord has been not-so-subtly reminding me of something:
"The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!" - Psalm 93:3-4
It's already been over 2 months since the torrential downpours began in the crowded country of India. More than 400 people were killed, and over a 1.8 million displaced. Most recent estimates project damages to be in the billions of dollars.
"For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,' we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." - 2 Peter 1:16-21
Do you ever wake up feeling like someone else other than yourself, like maybe you're still dreaming or you're just faking how you feel day-in and day-out?
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8
South Sudan: a land of intense conflict, refugee crises, and little resources. Ever since gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, the country has been experiencing turmoil, often at the expense of the innocent. Hunger pangs run deeply and fear is a familiar friend. A much-too-often story told.
But, even in the midst of such darkness, there is hope.
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...to comfort all who mourn...to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning." - Isaiah 63:1-3
What happens when your house burns to the ground? How would you feel, losing everything? What would it be like looking at the ashes of what used to be while pondering who could possibly help sweep them up?
"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" - 1 John 5:4-5
It's a new year.
Clean slate. New journal-entries, and unknown experiences. New opportunities, and unforgettable mistakes. A world of possibilities, both good and bad. Blessings and curses.