I guess what you notice in the Bible can change according to what is going on in your life at any given moment. I remember a time when I was very aware of the joy of he Lord and found myself at a ministers’ fraternal where one of my ministerial brethren remarked to us how he had been reading the Psalms and how full of mourning and lament they were. I had to stifle a nervous inappropriate laugh because I had been reading Psalms too at the same time and what I was noticing was how full of joy they were! So, what we are living through can influence what the Holy Spirit brings to our attention.
Well, I noticed something yesterday that I know I have read many times before but never noticed. In the book of Ezra we read of a serious breach of God’s law. Ezra the scribe has gathered all the people before him and telling them what must be done in order to show repentance. In Chapter 9 verse 9 we read this of that gathering: “They were trembling both because of the seriousness of the matter …and because it was raining.” If it was not such a serious moment that last phrase is almost a bit Monty Python-esque. Once that thought had entered my head I almost found I had to quench a nervous inappropriate laugh yet again as I imagined a thin and bedraggled spokesman of the people nervously speaking to the fiery Ezra, saying in the words of verse 13, “This isn’t something that can be done in a day or two…. and this is the rainy season so we cannot stay out here much longer.”
The interesting thing is though, that this was not dismissed as an illegitimate thought in the face of the serious business with God that had to be done. There is something in me that expects Ezra to say, “Stay in the rain, you rebels and law-breakers. How dare you even notice the rain when you have done what you have done!” As I write that I remember reading accounts of people standing in the rain in times of Revival to listen to the Word of God, or lying face down in ditches full of snow, afraid to move because of the presence of God and the conviction of their own sinfulness. There are times when that is a right response. However, in this instance in the book of Ezra, the simple fact that it was very wet was taken into consideration.
I noticed that and I am glad I did because of my own story of the last few years. I am growing to appreciate more and more Almighty God’s regard for humanness in both its capabilities and its vulnerabilities. In fact in many ways I am more tough on myself because of human realities than God is. He regards my struggle with health issues, my struggle to come to terms with change with great tenderness: of that I am a hundred percent sure. I get frustrated with myself, and am quite liable to speak harshly to myself in contrast to God’s incredible kindness to me. My attitude to me does not always help me progress through this time of transition.
So then, a question for you to think about with me today. Do you need to be kinder to your humanness? Do you need to give up unwarranted self criticism or condemnation? I am so grateful for three folk who helped me onwards in that very journey today; they inpsired this blog (thank you A, M and L.). Without their words to me, you would not be reading these words. They all gave me life giving thoughts to think about. Through God helping them to help me I hope this blog might be God helping me to help you.
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In relation to your mention about a response to reading the Book of Psalms.
When I became a Christian and for a good while afterwards anytime I read through Psalm 1 my eyes were always focused on the bad and not the good part of the Psalm.
One kindly person advised me of the reality that the good part actually was where I was in God!
But, I had to read and take that part like medication for a while until I truly accepted that truth.
It was just where I was and my outlook on life that caused me to look at the Psalm in that way!
I will now say that the Psalms are like a mirror, or magnifying glass on the depth of where we are at that point in time!
The Holy Spirit can unleash joy in us. However, He can also unlock places where we have hidden away from the view of the world for whatever reason and release the tears, tension and pain.