Monday, November 19, 2007

Forty Days

It's almost Thanksgiving and we are in the crush of the holiday season. With our calendars filled to the brim, we will somehow cram more than the usual amount of festivities into every 24 hours. There will be shopping and cooking, gift wrapping and visiting. All with the usual work and school schedules wedged in between.

There will be countdowns to Christmas, last minute gift buying and Top 20 lists for the year. Who is your favorite movie star? How about the best song of the year? What's the 10 best ways to prepare turkey leftovers? Not to mention the multiple renditions of the song, 12 days of Christmas!

I realized today that it is almost 40 days until 2008. And I got to thinking...A time period of 40 days was pretty important throughout the Bible.

Noah was in a rainstorm that lasted 40 days and 40 nights. Moses went up on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments from God for 40 days and 40 nights. When the Israelites sinned against God, Moses appealed to God on his face for 40 days-so they would not be destroyed. The spies took 40 days to check out the Promised Land. For 40 days Goliath taunted the army of Israel, before David vanquished him. Elijah traveled after one angelic meal for 40 days and nights to the mountain of God and God revealed himself in a still small voice. Jonah warned Nineveh that it would be destroyed by God in 40 days if they did not repent. Christ was tempted for 40 days by satan in the wilderness before He began His ministry. And finally, after the resurrection, Christ appeared and spoke to many people for 40 days before He ascended to heaven.

So in the midst of all the holiday clamor, I ask that you set aside 40 minutes a day for God--it can be early morning, lunchtime or late at night. I am a firm believer that when you give God time, He seems to stop time and your day goes more smoothly!

You may find yourself in the midst of a storm right now, it will wane. You might find this short time an amazing time of growth, and find yourself journaling. You may find forgiveness and abounding love from God who only wants you to forgive yourself. It might be that someone is taunting you for your faith, pray for them for 40 days and see how quickly they quiet. You may have a journey of faith that you are starting, begin with the bread of Life--Christ's words every morning. It will sustain you for the trip. Listen to Him as He brings up things you need to repent from. You may be facing a lot of temptation these next 40 days in the form of food, spending or covetousness. God knows that and wants to release you from it.

As you shut off the noises during your quiet time these next forty days, listen as Christ speaks to you with His scripture, His people and His presence in your life.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving {And} His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. Ps 100:4

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ah Sleep

I like the quiet at night when everyone is asleep. There is a gentleness outside as people crawl into their beds to rest from the day. If I step outside with the dogs, I can hear the nocturnal animals waking up for their part of the day. Rabbits call to each other to look out for the dogs. An owl screeches like a patrol car, rounding up a vermin snack. An armadillo shuffles through the leaves in search of worms and grubs. Back by the pond a group of frogs start their do-wop serenade. Finally a battalion of mosquitoes chases me inside; their tiny engines whining in my ears.

Life goes on while you sleep. People work night-shifts, get up with colicky babies and click away on the internet. Eventually even they will sleep. Humans will die from lack of sleep. Their bodies cannot take the stress; the brain must debrief the day in your dreams. You have to rest sometime.

But God, He does not rest. His day is like a thousand years, his thousand years like a day. (2 Peter 3:8) He watches over all. He is with the sick trying to rest in a busy hospital. He comforts the little one trembling from the monster in the closet. He sees the man on the Internet, coaxing a young wayward teen to meet and sets a trap for him. He is with the soldier on his watch, scanning the horizon for movement. And He is with me as I pray for my family.

He is never too busy for the smallest problem. If God takes care of even the smallest of animals, why would He not care about your rest? (Matt 10:29-31)

He is never caught napping unawares. (Psalms 121:3) He is the parent in the other room, guarding the house as His children sleep. And I wonder, would you dare to trust Him with your rest? You ask Him to win the lotto, to protect your kids and heal a critically ill friend. Why not ask Him for simple rest? Do you think it's too mundane a request? Do you think He's too busy with wars and criminals? No, God created sleep for His children. Sometimes that's the only time He can get you to listen to Him. And you wonder why some of your best ideas come in your dreams! (Job 33:14-18)

Tonight, before you close your eyes, ask Him to be by your side as you chase sleep. Then take a few deep breaths, be still, and know that He is God. (Psalms 46:10)

But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying to the LORD with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.
Psalm 3:3-5