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Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Is There a Safe Place?

posted by Ruth Graham

The debate about Syria continues. Obamacare seems to have many flaws that will cost our citizens dearly. The President’s foreign policy – simply isn’t. A convicted man hangs himself in his prison cell. Gas prices are on the rise because of the uncertainty in the Middle East. Workers attempt to force Walmart to unionize. The brutality of the Syrian rebels is staggering. There is a threat of nuclear retaliation if Syria is attacked. The unemployment rate climbs. No one wants to take responsibility for anything. A mayoral candidate in our largest city is dismayingly shameless about his aberrant behavior.

Is there a safe place? It would appear not. We are a global community. Each of us is affected by what happens elsewhere – no matter how far away.

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Recently I attended a funeral for a man who was 104 years old. He was a marvelous singer in his long life and as they wheeled his casket into the service they played a recording of him singing, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus”. It was a lovely and emotional few moments. But the truth was profound. The only safe place we have that is certain is in Jesus. It is a secure place – for all of time and eternity.

The Psalmist refers to the shadow of His wings over and over: “Hide me in the shadow of Thy wings.” (Ps. 17:8) “The children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings.” (Ps. 36:7) And one of my favorites is Psalm 57:1: “And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge, until the destruction passes by.” Destruction is all around us. The scriptures tell us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1)

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God is our refuge, strong tower, shield, defender, deliverer, hope,  invincible, strength, mighty, protector, peace, victor, savior, redeemer, powerful, keeper… That sounds like a safe place to dwell. We cannot do all that for ourselves – we can depend on Him to be there for us in the darkest days. It is safe with Him.

Do bad things happen to those who trust God? Did He let them down? Somethimes it appears so. But we only see things from our perspective, not God’s. We live in a double reality – we know our pain and loss but we also know His love and care. It is good to throw our cares (fears, anxieties, pain, loss) on Him because He cares for us. Totally. Eternally.

 

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When the Promises Fade

posted by Ruth Graham

God told Abraham at a time when he was way too old to have kids that he was, in fact , going to have a son and, through that son Abraham would be the father of many nations. That was certainly big news! Bodacious news! Ridiculous….and in human terms, impossible. But with God all things are possible.

However, God took His own sweet time fulfilling that promise. He apparently wasn’t in a hurry as we humans tend to be. God took so long (over 10 years) fulfilling the promise that Abraham and Sarah decided to help God out! (Don’t we love to do that?) They leaned on their own wisdom – and at Sarah’s suggestion, Abraham had sex with Sarah’s servant and a baby resulted. But it was not the child of the covenant – the one promised. The child was the product of human wisdom and impatience. (How often have we done much the same? Disappointed by our expectations of how God ought to act on our behalf. Our expectations fit our thinking, not God’s.)

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The story is a rich one. This family is the root of both Christianity and Islam.

I am not making a commentary on Islam. That is not my purpose today…

I want to think about God’s promises and our repsonse.

We are told Abraham believed God – it was counted as righteousness for him. (Genesis 15:6) Later in Romans (4:20) we are told Abraham “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” God promised and Abrahma believed. That was the God-pleasing response.  So then why did he take Sarah’s suggestion to “fix it”? We could suggest that old Abraham might have wanted sex with a younger woman. Or perhaps he was tired of Sarah’s nagging. We don’t know those details…we can only surmise. And it can be a slippery slope…but these people were humans just like us. They had expectations God would fulfill His promise to them which was right to do – but on their timetable. They put God in a box. When He didn’t fit their expectations they got antsy then they  took matters in their own hands. They acted in haste. (Now, I will admit 1o years is a long time.) They didn’t trust God implicitly. (God would put Abraham to the test later.)

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I enjoy using my imagination with the biblical characters. Abraham and Sarah were old – too old for kids.  They had given up. This promise triggerd long forgotten longings for a child, an heir. Being practical and efficient and careful they had made legal arrangements for another, Eliezer, to be Abraham’s heir. Now God changed the trajectory of their lives. Now the hope and longing for a child  was front and center. Can you imagine the joy! But years went by…over 10 years! Had it been a cruel joke? Was God toying with Abraham? (Do we somethimes feel that way?)

We must learn the bottom line is that God is trustworthy. He will do what He says He will do – even if we don’t understand and it looks impossible. Even if we have to wait. Circumstances, time, friends, family can create doubt in us. But God remains true.

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Do we even know God’s promises? He has told us He has given us “great and precious promises” (Jeremiah 33:3) Do we know what they are?  Do we even talk with God about our longings? Do we think He cares? Do we go about our days not aware of God’s activity in our lives? Have we given up on what we believed was a promise years ago? Has it faded into the distant past because of time or neglect or weariness or questions? Have we lost hope? Is their a tremor in our heart? Do we doubt God is able?

These are good questions to ask oursleves. God has not changed. God cares about our repsonse to His promises. Will we believe?  Will we doubt and try to fulfill them our way in our time? Will we rebel and go our own way? Will we refuse to believe?

The Bible is full of God’s promises to His people. Read it and find them. Claim them for yourself and believe He is able.

 

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Fix It

posted by Ruth Graham

 

I was away from home tending to my youngest daughter who was in the hospital last week. The doctors discovered she has an aortic aneurysm. We were taken off guard – it was a shock to us – especially her.  Her biggest fear was that she would not live to see “her babies” grow up. She has 4 children – two of them quite young and one of them with special needs. This puts a huge strain on their nerves,  peace of mind, finances – the economy being what it is…. A lot going is on in her life. She is a remarkably strong, young woman.

 

At the same time she was in the hospital, her youngest son had surgery on his head at another hospital. It was not serious surgery but when a little guy is on a ventilator and feeding tube, it is all serious. He is a resilient boy – I have lost count of his surgeries and procedures. We pray that he will outgrow these issues someday – sooner rather than later…

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But I learned that I never quit being a mother. The kids are grown with children of their own but their needs weigh heavily on my heart. I want to figure out how I can ”fix it”. What can I do to help…but I want to do more than help – I want to make it all go away.

 

I know I cannot fix everything or make the hard stuff to go away. And it would not be wise.  We grow strong in the struggle. – they do too.

 

It takes discipline for me to quit trying.  My job is to pray. Be loving and helpful when I can be. Be available as I can be. Advice can be given when asked for… But my role is a supportive one. I had to laugh at myself when I was visiting her in the hospital room and the doctors came in – I was tempted to butt in to ask questions or tell what I knew of the situation. But that is not my role.  I am no longer the “next of kin” – her husband is. Unfortunately, during those days his role was also “breadwinner” so he was not available to her as they both would have liked.

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For those of you who have children, you know what I am talking about. We want our children to be “healthy, wealthy and wise”. We want their lives to be trouble free. But that is unrealistic and they would not mature fully or grow to be strong. They would not learn how to trust God. Their prayer life would be undeveloped. They would not experience the depths of His grace.

 

Does the pain and heartache hurt? You betcha. Are you tempted to quit? Undoubtedly. God wanted us to have a perfect life. He created us perfectly, breathed life into us, provided the companionship of a mate and all the animals, and placed us in a perfectly beautiful environment. That was His original plan… We blew it! You know the story…

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We have been struggling with the affects of that for millennia. We nor our children live  perfect lives and never will. But God was not content to leave it that way…He wanted to “fix it”. He sent His only son, Jesus, to come in human form to experience life as we do. Can you imagine the Almighty Creator being a created one? He subjected Himself to the laws of the universe He himself created. Amazing.

 

He did that to “fix it” for us.  He made a way for us to have a life with Him for eternity. No, it isn’t perfect here and now – it will be one day and until then we can have His Spirit living in us. We can have a peace that passes our understanding, when things go terribly wrong.  We can have joy in the midst of pain and heartache.

 

He has made a way.

 

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Safe in the church??

posted by Ruth Graham

Speaking of “safe places”…Would you put the fish bowl down on the floor in front of a cat? Would you put a martini in front of an alcoholic?

The Catholic Church has been plagued with scandals of sexual abuse. Young boys have been sexually abused by priests for years. It has nearly torn the Church in two.  It has left the young men confused, scared and living in the shadows – for years. They were horrible crimes against these young people by the ones they were taught to trust. The priests were in a place to teac impressionable minds about the ways and nature of God. Their trust was betrayed.

And now the Pope says he is willing for those with homosexual tendencies to in serve in the priesthood. Does that make sense to you?

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He says he isn’t the “one to judge”. He is in a place of authority – he should be, maybe not judging, but discerning what is wise. The whole of catholicism looks to him to have good judgment.  Putting homosexual-oriented men in the priesthood seems very foolish and dangerous to me.

I am not saying that every homosexual priest is a predetor of young men. But it is putting temtpation in the way.

And I understand he is saying men with homosexual tendencies but are celebate and living in purity, should be able to serve. Putting them in the priesthod would seem to me to be very difficult on the men. Like having an alcoholic tend bar. Why do it? Why not allow priests to marry women? (I know the ones with homosexual tendecnies would not want to marry a woman so it doesn’t solve that issue.)

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This will have to be handled with great care and wisdom – strict parameters put in place. Something the Catholic Church in recent history has not done well.

I am not being critical of the Church – far from it. But this seems very foolish. Has the agressive homosexual agenda reached into the Vatican? I pray not. Are we letting our culture define our values?

 

 

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