I wonder if time passes as quickly for you as it does for me? When I was a child, I recall how long summers were. They were tastes of forever, with trips to the beach, hikes at Sleeping Giant “mountain,” and long evenings curled up with a Nancy Drew or Bobbsey Twins mystery. Then, suddenly, I’d be shocked by a trip to the store to pick up school supplies. Like an unexpected slap, the long forever of summer became an unwelcome eternity of grade school classes, homework, and projects.
As the years have passed, I’ve realized that the older I get, the faster time seems to flow. I thought I had just finished my last blog post … and suddenly I realized that I’ve passed my six-month post-operative knee replacement check-up, and it’s now almost May!
Consumed by living
It seems like every day has been consumed by living. After my knee replacement, getting back into the routine was just plain hard work. Every day had its own schedule, including getting enough rest. It wasn’t just getting back into a routine that was so hard, it was the renewed awareness of what was going on around me, in the lives of my friends, and the current events in Israel and around the world.
Keeping up with everything was overwhelming and still is at times. I am sure many of you know what I mean. Friends make surprising decisions that can have eternal consequences; you learn that a respected acquaintance has succumbed to COVID; then the ongoing unsettled schedules, where plans are made – government regulations permitting. Just listening to the tales of my friends’ travels has been enough to put me off from flying any time soon. Then, just when you think things are finally quieting down – though that too is an illusion – war breaks out between Russia and Ukraine.
The days pass and merge into an ongoing routine that take up all of my energy. Every day has been interspersed with tears and prayers, asking God to show Himself to the world like in the days of Nebuchadnezzar.
Islands of fellowship
I am thankful for the Islands of Fellowship that I enjoy on Friday evenings at the Chinese Church and Saturday mornings with my Hebrew-speaking congregation. For a few moments, as we sing the songs together, listen to an encouraging word together, and greet one another afterward, I’m reminded that I am not the only one feeling the stress of these times. It’s just as hard for others. We are all affected by what is happening in the world around us. But those islands are tiny specks in our week, and as we part ways, we each have to set off in different directions as we dive back into the business of living.
Then there are the days of grace
Then a day of grace comes. I hope you too experience days like this. They are the days that sometimes we planned, and that sometimes surprise us. They start as a typical day but progress. Suddenly, time seems to slow down as something catches our attention, drawing every sense and thought outward and upward. Maybe it starts with an oddly shaped cloud or a dark shade of green on a previously unnoticed leaf. Sometimes it’s the laughter at a silly joke or the realization, that there is life outside of … in my case, Haifa!
That is the day I had recently. It was a wonderful day spent in the north with some friends. We drove up to the Golan Heights, discovered a renovated Chorazim park, and headed further into the Golan to go to Gamla. However, Gamla was open by reservation only. Now where would go? I started to drive towards Tiberias and we ended up in Magdala, lunch on the Sea of Galilee, and an evening at the Hot Springs museum in Tiberias. How we arrived at each place led us into an amazing time of real fellowship and joy in the Lord. For me, the grace was additionally tangible – my knee did not hurt like it had a few days before, and I was able to enjoy ALL the walking and handle ALL the stairs in front of me, and my very stressed gastrointestinal system did not bother me once the entire trip. That, in combination with being with friends from early in the morning until evening, a shared meal, and all of us enjoying the same beauty, encouragement, and each other made for a day that felt like a week – for all of us.
Our day of grace ended with all of us giving thanks to God for His love, mercy, and grace in guiding us, leading us, blessing us, and lifting the heaviness of life around us. We could just enjoy our Savior, His creation, and His blessings.
Strengthened by grace
Whatever they look like, days of grace give us the strength to go on (Hebrews 13:9). Just as our bodies need (healthy) food to be strengthened, so our souls need to be strengthened by God, and one of the ways He does this is by grace. He strengthens us through unmerited favor – grace!
All of us need to be strengthened by God’s unmerited favor. It surrounds us in so many ways. It is there to be received with every breath. But I’m guessing that some of you find life a bit overwhelming at times, like me. It can be health issues, spiritual battles within and without, the ache of our hearts for loved ones who are rejecting Jesus, the burden to intercede as we become aware of the horrors in the world around us, or the awful grief of loss when someone unexpectedly dies. All these situations cause us to grieve in one way or another at the loss, the blindness, the pain, the senselessness of lost lives, and more. And everything in this world is designed to get us so focused on these things that we lose sight of God’s glory, His wonderful promises, and His life within us.
Grace gives perspective
Pondering these things, I’m reminded of my longing for God to act as in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. I realize that although Nebuchadnezzar saw many acts of God with his own eyes, none of them saved him. What saved him was God’s unmerited favor. Nebuchadnezzar had gone mad, but he awoke from his madness one day and repented (Daniel 4:34-37).
I realize that this is what the kingdoms of this world need to awaken from their madness and humble themselves. Then, and only then, will God’s unmerited favor touch them. This realization gives me perspective as I embark on a new week and a return to everyday life. Am I still grieved by what is going on in the world? Yes – but I am encouraged to trust that His grace is reaching those willing to awaken to their true condition.
We all need to be strengthened by grace
I do not know what kind of day of grace you need, but I do know we all need days of grace. As I close, I pray that you will be strengthened by the unmerited favor – the grace – found in Jesus our Messiah. May you be blessed with a soul-nourishing day of grace to give strength for the battles you face.