Urgent prayer note: Just as I was about to post this, my husband's co-worker R. was rushed to the hospital with heart attack symptoms. God knows his name, and I know you and how generous you are with your prayers. Please join me in lifting this man and his family to God?
I am Yahweh your God,
who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Psalm 81:10, HCSB
My new acquaintance, Thomas Traherne (1637-1674), relates a tale of an unhappy king in his work Centuries of Meditations:
To what end do men gather riches, but to multiply more? Do they not, like Pyrrhus the King of Epire, add house to house and lands to lands that they may get it all? It is storied of that prince, that having conceived a purpose to invade Italy, he sent for Cineas, a philosopher and the King's friend, to whom he communicated his design and desired his counsel.
Cineas asked him to what purpose he invaded Italy?
He said, "To conquer it."
"And what will you do when you have conquered it?"
"Go into France," said the King, "and conquer that."
"And what will you do when you have conquered France?"
"And what then?" said the philosopher.
"I perceive," said Cineas, "you mean to conquer all the world. What will you do when you have conquered all?"
"Why then," said the King, "we will return and enjoy ourselves at quiet in our own land."
"So you may now," said the philosopher, "without all this ado."
Yet could he not divert him till he was ruined by the Romans.
Thus men get one hundred pound a year that they may get another, and having two covet eight, and there is no end of all their labor because the desire of their soul is insatiable. Like Alexander the Great they must have all, and when they have got it all, be quiet. And may they not do all this before they begin? Nay it would be well, if they could be quiet.
But if after all, they shall be like the stars that are seated on high but have no rest, what gain they more, but labor for their trouble? It was wittily feigned that that young man sat down and cried for more worlds to conquer (Waking Up in Heaven, 13-14).Every life has its aching emptiness. Some of the soul holes last all the life long. Some shift and change like soap bubbles. The question the Christian believer must answer is what he or she will do with the emptiness? Will we chase after worlds to conquer and thus attain the contentment we crave? Perhaps world domination does not capture your fancy (as it does not mine). Will I pursue a bigger house, a faster car, a smaller smartphone, a wardrobe update, or a stack of new books and thus satisfy my empty places?
That hasn't worked for me. Has it worked for you?
My Bible study homework on James 1:17 last week offered an alternative. One or the exercises asked that we divide our lives in four equal sections. Considering one section at a time, we were to list God's good and perfect gifts to us during those years. What at first seemed daunting proved a source of joy and gratitude for the different gifts and circumstances the Lord has chosen for me and for the role they each played in forming (for better or worse) the person I am today.
What began as a mental exercise so I could get through the day's questions became an offering of thanksgiving, an act of worshiping the Father of lights who perfectly and generously gives all good gifts, even the ones I wish at the time came with a return receipt.
The emptiness in my soul will never be filled by earthly pursuits. Made in the image of God, no matter how broken that image may be, we can only be filled and "quiet" in Him. "Open your mouth wide," He says, "and I will fill it." It does not say "fill it with ___________," but simply "fill it."
My true hope of quiet contentment lies not in appetite, acquisitions, or accomplishments, but in being full of Him as I worship, trust, and surrender my will for His.
And so, I keep counting His kind and gracious gifts (#2844-64):
~free access to the throne of grace without fear
~God's constancy in a world of change
~promise of a day when all desire will be fulfilled by Him who is our chief delight
~strength for a week's laundry
~more real mail!
~God's protection and presence while Allen traveled for a family need
~hunger and thirst for God's Word and prayer
~the beautiful polyphony of birds singing this morning
~the flowering quince (I think) in a neighbor's yard
~stems and leaves of daffodils rising hopeful above the cropped grass
~the color green
~a message perfectly suited to my heart at Bible study Wednesday
~ability to attend the first three of eight sessions
~crossing paths with two of the women outside of class
~a good eye exam
~flowers from my beloved, inside and outside the house
Ebony's favorite Superbowl commercial and close second, although the second link won't make sense unless you have first seen it's predecessor the Darth Vader kid commercial (It is not my intention to endorse in any way the companies and products represented in these commercials. We don't actually own either one. We do, however, endorse clean humor when we encounter it.)
~the nineteen years God gave with my grandmother, who taught me to crochet and sew, who modeled for me the benefits of a well-worn hymnal and a piano, and who was one of my closest friends until her passing on a rainy February morning over two decades ago
sharing today with Ann and Laura's communities: