“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’” Job 37:5-6 (NIV)
For a season in my life, I tried desperately to be a professional, buttoned-up, organized-type person. I wore slacks, for heaven’s sake. I white-knuckled a schedule and a set of responsibilities that felt like wearing someone else’s too-tight shoes. I’m amazed, when I look back now, how long it took me to realize I was playing a part, acting like someone different from the way God made me to be.
I’m messy and loud, a hugger and a crier. I like stories and meals and have absolutely no sense of routine. It was a gift to finally admit that I wasn’t made for that job, despite how much I wanted to be.
What would it look like for you to admit today what you are and are not made for?
I love today’s key verse, and I love the freedom and grace that flood through me when I read it.
So God says to the snow, “Fall on the earth.” That’s it. Just do one thing. Just fall. And then He says to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour.” Essentially, He’s saying: Just do the thing I’ve actually created you to do. You’re rain … so rain. You’re snow … so snow.
I love the simplicity of that, the tremendous weight it takes off my shoulders. God’s asking me to be the thing He’s already created me to be. And He’s asking you to be the thing He’s already created you to be.
He doesn’t tell the snow to thaw and become rain, or the rain to freeze itself into snow. He says, essentially: Do your thing. Do the thing you love to do, what you’ve been created to do.
So many of us twist ourselves up in knots trying desperately to be something or someone else. Trying to fulfill some endless list of qualities and capabilities that we think will make us feel loved or safe or happy. That’s an exhausting way to live, and I know because I’ve done it.
What is God asking you do to? What is the thing God created you to be?
What do you do with the ease and lightness of falling snow? Many of us, if we’re honest, have wandered far from those things. We’ve gotten wrapped up in what someone else wanted us to be, what we thought would keep us happy and safe and gain us approval.
I’m finding there’s tremendous value in traveling back to our essential selves, the loves and skills and passions God planted inside us long ago.
When I look at my life, I see the threads of passion and identity I’ve carried through my whole life: Books and reading, people and connection, food and the table. These are things I’ve always loved, and they continue to bring me great joy and fulfillment.
Think about your adolescent self, your child self, the “you” you’ve always been. God imprinted a sacred, beautiful collection of passions and capacities right onto your heart: What do you love? What does your passion bubble over for?
Much of adulthood is peeling off the layers of expectation and pressure, and protecting those precious things that lie beneath. We live in a culture that tries to define what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a success, what it means to live a valuable life.
But those definitions require us to live on a treadmill, both literally and figuratively, always hustling to fit in, to be thin enough and young enough and sparkly enough, for our homes to be large and spotless, our children well-mannered and clean-faced, our dreams orderly and profitable. But that’s not life. That’s not where the fullness of joy and meaning are found.
The snow is only meant, created, commanded to fall. The rain only meant, created, commanded to pour down. You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are — weird and wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely.
What do you need to leave behind, in order to recover that essential self that God created? What do you need to walk away from, in order to reclaim those unique parts God designed for His purposes?
the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen … He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. Job 1:1-3 NIV
For most Christians, we go through life with a sense that we know God. After all, we’ve read God’s Word; we’ve walked with Him and have had experiences with Him. But do we really know God? What happens when the bottom falls out? What happens when everything you’ve known God to be in your life is turned upside down and you are left dazed and pondering the very essence of your relationship with Him and who He really is?
Job was a blessed man of God. He was upright, rich in many ways, and was described as the greatest man among all the people in the east. Job wanted for nothing and he was abundantly blessed by God. He benefited from God’s protection. Even Satan recognized Job’s status as favored by God.
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the works of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. Job 1:9-10 NLT
Job knew God as this unfaltering life source; faithful to uphold the stature of the blameless, abundant in blessings, and a consistent shield. This is how Job knew God. Do you think maybe Job was too comfortable in this way of life? I would imagine Brother Job was much like we are today. We have a system (if you will), a way of doing things, and we have always done it this way. We tend to place God in the constraints of our own systematic living; whether it is the way we do church, our family and relationships, work etc. We come to know God in a particular way in those areas and expect that this is just the way it is. And yes, God is unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; but we come to know our God in different ways because of His sovereignty and permissive will.
It is when you lose your job after 20 years laboring for the same company or when you are diagnosed with a rare form of cancer yet you have been active and healthy most your life. It is when you are forced to go through circumstances that you did not see coming and were not prepared for, situations that devastate your life and rattle your faith that you begin to see God and you begin to truly know Him through unlikely experiences.
God doesn’t always reveal himself in the manner in which we desire. A quote from the Devotion My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers will better put it in perspective: “At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not.” God allowed for Satan to completely devastate Job’s life. We always tend to think, how awful for poor Job that he had to go through such turmoil. And yes, God restored Job and blessed him with double. At the heart of the matter, I believe God was most concerned about Job’s relationship with Him. What an awesome revelation. Because of this trial, Job can now know God on a more intimate level, as Father, healer, redeemer, peace, joy, and strength. God knows us better than we know ourselves.
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139: 1-2 NIV
I believe God wants us to know Him better. As we come to know Him in these life lessons it will better equip and enable us to become more like Him.
“He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.” – Revelation 1:7 NASB
In the days before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples that He would return at a time when “all the tribes of the earth” would see Him “coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Then, when He ascended into Heaven, the disciples watched as “a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).
In the revelation Jesus gave John in keeping with those promises, Jesus said He would come again “with the clouds.” More than a prophecy, this was a declaration of the attitude that needed to shape their lives.
In John’s time, as in ours, we can be tempted to look down, to focus on concerns about earthly things and issues we face. Faced with these thoughts, we can find ourselves discouraged and without hope.
But the Bible tells us that we need to look up instead. This was the message Jesus proclaimed as He talked about His Second Coming. Yes, there will be troubles in the world. But as Jesus said, we need to remember, “When all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28 NLT).
No matter what is going on in your life, don’t be dominated by fear or worry. Remember, you serve a risen Savior. He is reigning even now. And He is coming again – of that, you can be certain. “So it is to be” (v. 7).
The peculiar sleep of the beloved
By: Charles Spurgeon
“So he giveth his beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 4
It is God who steeps the mind in drowsiness, and bids us slumber, that our bodies may be refreshed, so that for tomorrow’s toil we may rise reinvigorated and strengthened. O my friends, how thankful should we be for sleep. Sleep is the best physician that I know of. Sleep has healed more pains of wearied bones than the most eminent physicians upon earth. It is the best medicine; the choicest thing of all the names which are written in all the lists of pharmacy. There is nothing like sleep! What a mercy it is that it belongs alike to all! God does not make sleep the boon of the rich man, he does not give it merely to the noble, or the rich, so that they can keep it as a peculiar luxury for themselves; but he bestows it upon all. Yes, if there is a difference, the sleep of the labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much. He who toils, sleeps all the sounder for his toil. While luxurious effeminacy cannot rest, tossing itself from side to side upon a bed of soft down, the hard-working labourer, with his strong and powerful limbs, worn out and tired, throws himself upon his hard couch and sleeps; and waking, thanks God that he has been refreshed. You know not, my friends, how much you owe to God, that he gives you rest at night. If you had sleepless nights, you would then value the blessing. If for weeks you lay tossing on your weary bed, you then would thank God for this favour. But as it is the gift of God, it is a gift most precious, one that cannot be valued until it is taken away; yea, even then we cannot appreciate it as we ought.
Streams in the Desert – March 3
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him (Mark 9:26).
Evil never surrenders its hold without a sore fight. We never pass into any spiritual inheritance through the delightful exercises of a picnic, but always through the grim contentions of the battle field. It is so in the secret realm of the soul. Every faculty which wins its spiritual freedom does so at the price of blood. Apollyon is not put to flight by a courteous request; he straddles across the full breadth of the way, and our progress has to be registered in blood and tears. This we must remember or we shall add to all the other burdens of life the gall of misinterpretation. We are not “born again” into soft and protected nurseries, but in the open country where we suck strength from the very terror of the tempest. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
–Dr. J. H. Jowett
Faith of our Fathers! living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious word.
Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to Thee till death!
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them, could die for Thee!