Are you there?

 

Todays Reading

I Samuel 9, Psalms 10

Have you ever been in a position in your life that you are asking God “Are you there?” It could be during a difficult examination; receiving some bad news; being at the bedside of a loved one; or the passing of a close relative. We all have at one time or another asked the question “God, are you there? God do you care?” The answer is hard to contemplate during these times because were are human and want to have the results instantaneously.

This week we will be starting the Lenten season of reflection and insight, and as we enter this season we seek a new and profound relationship with God. Some may sacrifice items or time to allow them to pursue Christ more. Some may commit to a particular practice as prayer, devotion, or mediation to connect. But during this time some of us will have immediate connection with God and others it may take some time. Through these time of intentional reflection or devotions God is present and He is continually mindful of us, his children. God is a father that is in tuned with His people and knows our desires, pains, and afflictions before we are aware of them. We may feel that He is distant, but He is actually right beside us in these most vulnerable times.

In my own experiences , I have asked the questions of “Are you there?” many times. The ones that I remember very vividly are: Exactly seven years ago this week, my son, Ollie was admitted to the hospital and my wife and I had no idea the pain and suffering he was experiencing. At six weeks old, Oliver had a 21-day stay at OSF in Peoria and we did not know what each day would entail. We as first time parents did not know if our son would survive each following day. “God, Are you there?”   Four years ago, on the day that my daughter, Ruby, was born and she was immediately placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) due to her having several conditions that were potentially life threating. My wife was not able to see my daughter until 12 hours after her birth. I went to the NICU with Ruby and held her hand the entire time. I prayed constantly “ God, Are you there?” Last year, my daughter Nadya, had an accident at a store and had several issues with consciousness and alertness.    I rushed her to the hospital and waited with her as she underwent test and exams to ensure that she did not have a concussion or seizures. As I wait, I ask “ Are you there?” Now as I reflect on these powerful and impactful times in my life, I can assure you that the last portion of the Psalm is true:

Psalms: 10-16-18

The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

 

In I Samuel, the 9th Chapter, we see that God knows the direction and the timing of all the things that are for His good. In this chapter each detail that is explained has been already set into motion by the Most High and we all have the ability to acknowledge and accept Him. He directs Saul to a certain region in response to one mission, but God has a different plan and purpose for him. Samuel has been given insight at the exact time and location that he will meet Saul. Then the meeting of the two allows each one to fulfill God’s purpose. God gives us the options and we have to ask for discernment to make the best decision.

So the question is “Are you there?”, the answer is “Yes, are you listening and are you aware of my presence?” Throughout the bible, the Spirit of God is present at all places and is now present of the believers. We now have to ask ourselves “ Are we ready to acknowledge Him?”

Have  a blessed week.

 

 

 

Rejoice, Repent, Relinquish

1 Samuel 2 & Psalms 3

In today’s readings we follow three attitudes and approaches to God from three different people (Hannah, the Sons of Eli, David). 1 Samuel outlines Hannah’s song of praise and then in contrast, the choices of the worthless sons of Eli.  Turning to Psalms we find David’s prayer of trust in God.

After years of praying and waiting, Hannah is blessed with a son, Samuel, and her response is one of genuine joy and gratitude. She declares in this prayer-song who the Lord is, what He has done, and what He will do.  His knowledge and judgement are perfect: He makes the feeble strong, feeds the hungry, brings babies to the barren, poor become rich, exalts the lowly, and protects His faithful. Her worship to the Lord with her words is a foreshadowing of Mary’s song in Luke 1, praising God for who He is and what He has done.

Meanwhile, Eli’s sons continue to disobey God and are called worthless men who do not know the Lord. One of the transgressions detailed is their taking advantage and dishonoring the sacrifices to God from the people. Eli rebukes his sons, and instead of responding with sorrow and repentance for their sin, they continue in a sinful lifestyle – even sleeping with servant women at the temple entrance. They demonstrate complete disregard for Eli’s admonishment, and most of all for God. They are arrogant in their positions as Eli’s sons and ‘servants of the priest’, and it is known among Israel.

Fast-forward to Psalm 3, David’s prayer-song to God of the events unfolding (that come later in 2 Samuel 15-16).  David’s son Absalom has created a conspiracy against David and has turned the people against him. As David flees from Jerusalem to the Jordan river, he cries out to the Lord. Verses 1 & 2 outline the reality of David’s situation and what he is up against – many, MANY enemies that are against him and almost taunting his faith and salvation. I love verse 3, the turning point in this song, beginning with “But YOU, Oh Lord…”, David’s hope and fear is in the Lord, not in man. He declares God’s protection, answering, and sustaining, even when he is surrounded. He turns it over to God and His trust is in Him alone.

These three scenarios leave us with examples of how we can respond to God.  Both Hannah and David declare WHO God is, what He has done, and what He will do.  One after experiencing a miracle and the other in a plea for protection and prayer of trust.  And finally, we have an example that leads to destruction: responding to God with continued sin and rebellion. I can’t read these accounts without examining my own response to God.

In times of blessings and miracles right in front of me, do I stop and praise God for His perfect provision and timing? What a beautiful example of rejoicing Hannah gives us! Whether it be something small that the world may brush off as coincidence, or something much bigger that is clearly divine, do I give God all the glory? Do I continually believe in WHO God is and WHAT He will do?

In times of Godly correction, can I soften my heart to repent or will I rebel even more? Maybe it’s a prompting from the Holy Spirit showing me my sin, a sister in Christ sharing a truth I need to hear, or a scripture speaking right to me.  I can look back at times when my response was much more like Eli’s worthless sons, rationalizing and justifying my actions, instead of turning to God with sorrow for my sin.

In times of desperation, like David, can I turn my fear into faith? Do I say ‘But YOU, Oh Lord…’ when faced with trials that seem unfair? Am I willing to believe that His judgement and justice is best?  David could have fought to stay in Jerusalem and clear his name, instead he chose to protect his followers and flee to keep them out of harm’s way. Can I praise Him in the midst of fear and heartache? Am I willing to let God fight my battles and relinquish the control I think I have?

Lord, you ARE the Almighty, King of all Kings. Your ways are far beyond my understanding. Thank you for showing me grace and patience as I repent for my sin and rebellion. Please give me the rejoicing heart of Hannah and the relinquishing trust of David. Amen.