Be at Peace

Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
Proverbs 23:12

Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.
Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty you will be restored:
If you remove wickedness far from your tent and assign your nuggets to the dust,
your gold to Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
then the Almighty will be your gold,
the choicest silver for you.
Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.
You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
and you will fulfill your vows.
What you decide on will be done,
and light will shine on your ways.
When men are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’
then he will save the downcast.
He will deliver even one who is not innocent,
who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.
Job 22:21-30

I will be honest here and admit that I don’t completely understand the context of the passage of Job or how these two passages are related. I only know that I felt an urging to post both. For me, Job has always been a difficult book to understand. It’s like a tangled ball of yarn. Hopefully, with time,  patience and God’s guidance I will be able to unravel it all.

The one thing I hope I’m seeing right in the passage above is the idea of one who delights in Almighty God and prays to Him on behalf of the lost, that God will deliver them. Since only Jesus is innocent in all wrong doing and all the rest of us have “fallen short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23), the last part of Job 22 also seems to be a picture of Jesus’s sacrifice for us. “He will deliver even one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

Delight Yourself in the Lord

For the last year I’ve been struggling with my writing. Between life getting in the way and the loss of  my awesome critique partners due to their lives getting in the way of their writing, I’ve been floundering. Finding a new critique group has taken a few adjustments and getting used to. Their styles vary and are quite different from my former group. And when I attended the Called to Write conference back in March, one of the speakers dared ask if we were really called to write. Well, duh, I wouldn’t be doing it if I weren’t. I knew without a doubt that I had been called to write. But then he had to go and say that sometimes callings change. Ouch!

I’m sure I’ve written about all of this before. His words threw me for a loop. Had God changed my calling? Is that why I felt like a fish out of water in my search for a new critique group? Had God been telling me to put down my pen? The uncertainty put me in a funk. My conversations with God seemed one-sided. Me talking, me not hearing.

And then one night I decided to remove myself from the cluttering noise, put on my walking shoes and hit the pavement. It didn’t take long before I resigned myself to giving up my dream of writing. And no sooner I did, I began hearing.

Me: All right, God. If this is what you ask of me, I’ll give up my dream, even if it hurts.

God: Delight yourself in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart.

Me: But–

God: Delight yourself in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart.

Me: Okay

That conversation changed my focus from just writing to writing to glorify God. Actually, it changed my existence. My prayers have been that I will glorify God in all things (I know this isn’t always the case as I’m human, but I’m trying). I buckled down and covered each word and paragraph of my manuscript in prayer while I polished it to the best of my ability. I sent it off to a few critique partners, and wouldn’t you know it, life got in the way. Not just a little in the way but a non-stop in the way. One cp had even read my manuscript three times, critiqued it twice and each time something kept her from sending it back (like computer crash).

Anyway, a few weeks ago while I was holding a very minor pity party at not being able to attend this year’s American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference, I volunteered to be a part of their Forty Days of prayer. If I couldn’t go to the conference, I’d pray for those in attendance. The verse I was given, Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. I did not choose the verse, I was given the verse.

It was a soothing balm, especially while I waited patiently for perfect timing to get my critiques back. Finally, after weeks of God’s constant trust me chanting in my head, I called one of my cps, spoke with her about a few things, printed off my manuscript, packaged it up. The package sat on my table for a few days, waiting. During those few days one of my devotional times ended up with me once again reading Psalm 37:4. This time I saw something much different.

If I delight myself in the Lord, He will become my desire. Not all these other things like publishing books. Would I still like to see my book in print? Yeah. And if I receive a rejection I’m sure it will hurt for a little while. But it’s a learning experience and more importantly it has and will continue to deepen my relationship with the Lord. And just because He has been a constant voice and telling me He’ll give me the desires of my heart doesn’t mean that this particular manuscript will become published. I don’t know the plans He has for me, but I do know He knows the plans He has for me. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give me a hope and future (Jeremiah 29:11). That doesn’t mean that that hope and future are wrapped up in my writing success. No, that hope and future is wrapped up in my Savior.

May My Right Hand Wither

I have been thinking about all of this digging deeper and the whole idea of prayer, repentance, taking care of the poor and fasting. I’ve also been thinking about the forty days Jesus spent in the desert and the forty days Moses spent on the mountain and how those forty days tie into Lent.

As I began to pray over what I should blog about today, God very clearly told me to urge His church to pray for Jerusalem.

But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel. 2 Chronicles 6:6 (NIV

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” Psalm 122:6-7

Many of you know that the Hebrew word for peace is shalom, but do you know that the word shalom means nothing missing, nothing broken?

I love Psalms 137:5-6 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. (NIV) The Jewish Study Bible says, “let my right hand wither . . . if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory even at my happiest hour.”

On a side, according to the commentary in the JSB, the breaking of glass at the end of wedding ceremonies is to remember Jerusalem at their happiest moments.

The commentary also suggests that if the right hand is useless and the tongue sticks to the roof of the mouth, then it is near impossible to play music or sing praises.

Are the prayers for Jerusalem an Old Testament edict only? I don’t think so.

As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

There is that word peace again~nothing missing, nothing broken. But more importantly, this incident occurred right after the triumphal entry.

And Paul’s letter to the Romans says, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

During the preparation for this Easter season, please remember to pray for Jerusalem, especially with the escalation of violence in the Middle East.

How Majestic is Your Name, O Lord!

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

From the lips of your children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

Psalm 8