Monday, July 30, 2018

Week Thirty - I Love Endings

Beside the Well
            I love ticking things off my to-do list, looking back over a project, analyzing where it could have improved, and where it all went well. There is nothing like getting to the end of a book and closing the back cover!  The sound of that gentle thud means something has completed.  It is finished.
            Tom and I sat the other day over a nice meal and looked back at our lives. Some things for us are finished. We are done raising kids!  We have watched ministries come and complete.  As we peered into the next chapters of our lives, we realized that just as the Lord had been with us in the past, he will be with us in the future.  We aren’t finished yet!  There is still more to do, but as we look forward, we take heart in the Lord’s promise. “He will perfect that which concerneth me” (Psalm 138:8).
            Later that evening my daughter, Sally, sent me this poem.

Do The Next Thing
From an old English parsonage,
Down by the sea,
There came in the twilight,
A message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend,
Deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me,
Teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours
The quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration-
Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment,
Let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity,
Guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows,
Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus,
Do it immediately;
Do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence,
Tracing His Hand,
Who placed it before thee with
Earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence,
Safe 'neath His wing,
Leave all resultings,
Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering)
Be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence,
The rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance
Be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness,
Praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee,
            So I guess I’ll keep ticking things off and doing the next thing until I get to the end!  He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ(Philippians 1:6).
Gail Gritts
Beside the Well

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Week Twenty-Nine - In the Pits

Beside the Well
            Dana Rongione, in her devotional Rise Up and Build, does a short study on the word pit.  Joseph was thrown into a pit, as was Jeremiah.  We were brought out of a horrible pit (Psalm 40:2).  Her fourth definition completely changes direction.  She writes: a pit is “any of the areas alongside an auto racecourse used for refueling and repairing the cars during a race.” (p 13)  A pit stop!
            Our Lord knows we need times of refueling and repair, so He draws us aside. But just like the driver who is grappling to get back to the race, we don’t want to stay long in that pit! 
            I remember watching a race where the driver ignored the pit people who were calling him in for fuel.  He was in first place with only a few laps to go.  He ignored their pleas and ran out of fuel before he could finish the race. Silly man!
            But we are no different.  We hear people telling us to slow down.  We know our body is telling us to rest.  Our mind keeps whirling and pushing to keep all the plates spinning, while our spirit cries out for respite.
            This pit stop has a purpose.  Without it, the racecar will run out of fuel or blow a tire.  So will we!
            God has designed us to need rest. When you look through Scripture you will find Jesus resting, the disciples resting, and rest portrayed as a blessing. Even God rested after six days of creation work.  Why do we think we can do without it?
            Rev. S Martin also taught on rest.  “There are times when he (the Christian) lies down on green pastures; but he lies down wearied; and he lies down that he may rise again a stronger man, to enter upon fiercer battles, and to do harder work.  We rest, not for resting’s sake, but for work’s sake. Work has exhausted us, and we cannot work on, and we rest that we may work again.” 
(p 127)
            Let me end by another quote from Dana Rongione.  “Perhaps you’re in a pit right now, glancing up at the high walls surrounding you and wondering if you’ll ever again see the light of day. You’re actually in a good position.  God is preparing you to finish the work He’s called you to do.  He has great plans for you, and this pit stop is just one way He’s enabling you to finish the race…keep in mind that it is not a destination but rather a rest stop along the way.”
            So, rest dear friend.  Let God repair and renew your energy.  Pit stops are a part of the race.
Gail Gritts
Beside the Well

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Week Twenty-Eight - Where Will Singing Take Me?

Beside The Well
          Remember when I shared that my Bible makes me laugh out loud sometimes?  Well, let me pick up a bit from there!  Psalm 59 ends with David singing aloud of God’s mercies in the morning.  As I read on in Psalms, I came to many chapters that were wholly given to praise, especially chapters 95-100.  But when I got to Psalm 101, I began to see the effect of singing and praise.  Have a look at this:
            Psalm 101:1 – I will sing…I will sing.  The psalmist knows there is power in song.
            Psalm 101:2 – I will behave myself wisely and direct my house aright.
            Psalm 101:3 – I will not look at evil things and have no friendship with evil people.
            Psalm 101:4 – I will tolerate no pigheadedness in my companions or myself. (The Bible                                                               uses the word forwardness, but being pigheaded creates an unforgettable image!).
            Psalm 101:5 – I will not gossip, be proud, or boastful.
            Psalm 101:6 – I will seek good companions and healthy relationships.
            Psalm 101:7 – I will not make friends of deceivers or liars.
            Psalm 101:8 – I will cut off all wicked influences from my life.
            As a young Christian, I noticed “I will behave myself wisely…I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (Psalm 101:2,3). Placing these alongside 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (abstain from all appearance of evil), I determined to make a wholesome home my goal.  No questionable magazines, radio stations, music or TV shows were allowed.  Matter of fact, we went a few years with no TV at all.
            Instead, we listened to Christian music, played together, and enjoyed friends and church activities.  We had more time to visit family, help on the farm, go camping, and enjoy life. 
            Today, some 30+ years later, I can see the real benefits of my choice and how by that one decision, the whole of my life has been affected.  My life has a gentle calmness. My marriage is secure. My children knew a loving, supportive family environment. My home was and is a peaceful haven, and God’s hand is upon my life. I can see that my companions are good people, and I have learned to discern character, including my own.
            As I looked at this list in Psalm 101, I began to think of it as a beautiful thing coming from David—a man after God’s own heart, but it only took a moment to start remembering David’s failings.  Why would God record this?  Why? When He knows that we, like David, will also fail?
            Then, I thought.  Praise and singing lift our spirits; taking us from the drudgery and yuckiness of this world, and places our hearts in the heavenlies.  From there, we see a glimpse of the beauty of holiness, and for a moment, our sights are set above this world, and our hearts taste a sample of heaven creating spiritual reflection and spawning a deeper commitment to God. No doubt, this is what David experienced.  He, like us, are given a measure of determination to do better, to be better, as we praise God through song.
            We are faced with the challenge that some things must change.  Maybe it is our companions, possibly our activities, but wherever the Spirit brings conviction, for that moment we are committed to deeper sanctification—to clean up our lives just a little more, or maybe, to take a stronger stand against anything that would hinder our relationship with a holy God.
            I challenge you to sing or listen to songs of praise, and then read this short chapter with an open heart allowing the Spirit of God to call your attention to any changes you need to make.  Steps closer to His holiness are always the right direction.
Gail Gritts
Beside the Well

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Week Twenty-Seven - Keep Your Head

Beside The Well 
           There’s a commercial on English television that references a poem by Rudyard Kipling.  It begins, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…You’ll be a Man my son!”  The idea of keeping your head means to stay calm in the face of difficulty and to maintain your composure.
            In a world full of fear and uncertainty, it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain unruffled and self-controlled.  The news is depressing and tends to heighten our anxiety. Opinions are flying about without discretion oblivious to the consequences.  Our history is being re-written to appease the persuasion of the few and it seems good men have stuck their heads in the sand.
            I was reading the response of one young woman, fully educated and self-sufficient, who was so moved by the world around her that she could find no resting place for her heart and mind.  She was beginning to even fear her commute to work for the chaos around her and she lives in a “safe” country.
            I sat listening to missionaries working in difficult, unsafe circumstances and saw the concern in their eyes, as they knew they would soon be returning to the field.
            Then, I stopped and considered a few things.  Wars and times of unrest are written on every page of history.  Today’s news is purposely miserable because that sells more papers.  Loudmouthed people have always been among us trying to force their will on the masses. There have been worse times in history than today, and there will probably be awful times yet to come.  So what are we to do?  Hide behind our doors?  Become nervous wrecks?  Lose our heads?
            I had to rope in my emotions and take a deep breath.  Finally, I came to the assurance that fear is not the answer. We have a promise of quiet rest amid the storms of politics, wars, and earthly situations. 
            John 16:33 “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  I John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
            We need to keep our head; not in the sand, but in the Man!  I love the way L.B. Cowman puts it in Streams in the Desert, “You can trust the Man that died for you.”
            Psalm 3:3 “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.”
Gail Gritts
Beside the Well