I scan the home and farm;
I scan my bank account and investments.
I see my wife and children dressed in finest fashions;
I see my workers smiling when they greet me at the door.
I smell the company dinners;
I smell the wine in private company.
I greet my neighbors in their also pleasant homes;
I greet my enemies from the security of my iron gate.
I think how God has blessed me;
I think how much more blessing I desire.
My heart yearns not faintly with longing;
My soul longs for more years to enjoy this world.
Till all is stripped away through heart attack;
Till my economy collapses beneath the wait of my greed.
My protection is breached!
My borders are unprotected!!
A heavy heart toils to find God among the ruins of disaster;
A heavy burdened back labors to lift my eyes beyond the horizon.
My children, home, lands and pleasant company are gone;
My wife wishes that I were gone as well.
How can a life so right
become so wronged?
I wrestle with the dirt,
as though digging my own grave.
I wrestle with my friends,
as though wrestling with my God.
I wrestle with the devil,
and find myself wrestling with myself.
Where has my love gone?
The simple love of children laughing;
The simple joys of cattle calving.
Where has my hope gone?
The simple hope of heaven yet to come;
The simple security of forgiveness won.
Where has my faith gone?
The simple faith in the Lord unmoved;
The simple humility of trusting Truth.
The Lord reveals Himself amid the storm;
He shows me that all that I thought was norm
Was merely what I’d seen
Yet hidden beyond my wildest dreams
I had not known the Maker of the stars;
I had not known the Designer of all my million parts.
“Lord, let me simply walk with you,
and though my path is marked with thorns
Let me speak in simple truths
and behold you sitting on Your Throne!”
I lift my eyes to see my friends gather round,
I lift my ears to hear with joy the sound of laughter once again.
The Lord has settled me alive in this broken world;
and though the swirls of life seem unsettled …
A broken heart proves plenty an offering in the plate that passes by.
Now I can taste once more His Presence at the table with my enemies.
My story & my song. – Mert Hershberger, remembering Job, in honor of all my loved ones.
February 17, 2017.
I want to trust that I am honest, but I too often break my word.
I want to trust , but when all is broken, I begin to hurt.
I want to trust, but when I hurt, I fear.
I want to trust, but when I fear, I feel alone.
I want to trust, but when I am alone, I lust for companionship.
I want to trust, but when I yearn for intimacy, I start to groan.
I want to trust, but when I groan, I start to whine.
I want to trust, but I come to the end of myself, I look beyond the dirt.
That’s where I stop, I trust in the One who left the earth:
I must simply admit that I am only Mert.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn:
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Perhaps you will disagree with the assertion in my title of this blog entry, but taken at face value, these words quoted above from Jesus’ sending of the 12 in Matthew 10 certainly do seem to agree with the title. The normal pattern of people on planet earth is to do other than what Jesus wants them to.
Oh, sure, people may be nice enough, they may participate in religious observances, even Christian religious observances, even often, but at their heart, people want to be comfortable in this world.
Jesus makes it clear: HE does NOT want you comfortable in this world. He wants you to find joy in the world to come. While the rage in Christian circles is to get people busy about their jobs, their careers, their families, their health, their ease and to enjoy this world and to share that joy in this world.
Jesus, being ever counter-cultural, calls us to get uncomfortable. “Leave your comfort zone,” is sometimes said to those going on short-term missions. However, we are to daily take up the cross and get uncomfortable for Jesus. We are no where in the Good News encouraged to be comfortable in the world. If you are comfortable in the world, you will be uncomfortable in eternity. That is a promise.
However, if you find your life right now uncomfortable, not just occasionally, but regularly, routinely, daily, you open up the way for the Kingdom of God. No longer is it about this world nor is it about you. Rather, it is about eternity. Your life is to be about God. 100%. Sold out, consumed with the vision of the Living Lord who guides and controls every moment of your life.
You are NOT your own. You belong to Jesus. You are no better than anyone else, but you do belong to Jesus. If you accept this as the mission for your life, you will have a reason to live and a reason to die. Jesus bought you with His life. Your life is now to be hidden with Christ in God. If you reject that, you reject hope, meaning, purpose, and a reason for living.
Oh, you will say, I am my own god. I define my own purpose.
Really? What happens when you die? All your efforts to define yourself will fall flat and you will be cast into hell. IF YOU define your purpose and YOU define your life and YOU define your destiny, the moment you get sick, the moment you die, your meaning is challenged and then extinguished.
However, because Jesus proved that meaning is not coterminous with one’s natural life by rising up out of the grave of His own accord, those who hide themselves in Jesus and accept Jesus Christ as the definition of their purpose suddenly have a life beyond this world.
Even if your own family members reject and crucify you and beat you and spit on you and persecute you, you will have meaning. God redeems your suffering if you let Him. However, you must look to Jesus Christ the righteous Suffering Servant when you are suffering if your suffering is to have meaning.
Notice, I do not merely say that you will feel good. There are many who feel good though they are ultimately going to be cast into hell. The wrapper on a fine chocolate may look and appear gorgeous, but the moment the chocolate is consumed and enjoyed and the chocolate reaches its fulfilment and the wrapper is cast aside into the trash, discarded, it is JUNK. People do not go to the candy store to buy wrappers, they go to buy confections. The wrapper is merely a transportation device for getting the goods from the factory to your home into your body so your heart will rejoice.
Likewise, our comforts in this body and in this world are merely means to an end. If we ever look at them as an end, we will be disappointed.
Yes, despise this world. Do not love it. Do not pursue a high place in the system of the present world. Your throne satan will be cast down and you will come to nothing.
Rather, if you want an enduring life, seek a low place. Seek humility. Seek poverty. Seek abandonment in the arms of the infinite Creator. You are not infinite. Anything you create has limits on how satisfying it can be. But if you look to God to create satisfaction in your heart, you will find it. Though the final peace waits many days and though you see not a glimpse of joy in this world, do not be discouraged: there is a resurrection.
Rejoice in the world to come.
Peace to all who heed these words.
A couple days ago, I was encouraged by something a brother in Israel-Palestine said:
How do your people lament?
The Great Lakes Initiative Leadership Institute in partnership with Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation invited me to Kampala, Uganda, to share what we at Musalaha have learned about reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian context. More than 150 African leaders from countries surrounding Lake Victoria attended this conference and for some of them it was the first time meeting a Palestinian Christian. An interesting aspect of this was their perception of all Arabs as being Muslim. It was also intriguing for me to understand how these African leaders are grappling with the issues of land and how they found several articles in the book The Land Cries Out relevant to their contexts. Other than being encouraged by how relevant our Curriculum of Reconciliation was to their local situations, I was also challenged by what they shared.
After a session on the prophet Jeremiah, we sat down to eat. One of the leaders and his wife asked me how our people lament. This question struck me, it is not something that I think about often, but I knew exactly what she meant. This is something that we have not done adequately or addressed enough in our society. We grieve when there is tragedy or great loss, but we don’t ask ourselves how we lament over the fact that there is no peace in our land, a hardness of heart among our peoples, and an unwillingness to reconcile.
Reflecting on the life of the prophet Jeremiah, several thoughts come to mind, especially as someone laboring for reconciliation. We become discouraged when a portion of the body of the Messiah doesn’t see the essential importance of reconciliation. It is like during the times of Jeremiah with people not heeding the warnings and looking to stand the tests of time. How many times do we see the hardening of hearts, embracing a victim mentality, and blaming the other without self-examination and repentance? We are living the consequences of a lack of reconciliation. It is a high price our society is paying for the enmity and hostility that we have towards each other.
Our African brothers and sisters have much to teach us about lamentation in light of the major genocides some of them have experienced. Lamenting for our people and having the willingness to change the course is something that we have not invested much in.
Prophets who suffered personal difficulty for the discredit of their work, also had to suffer for the grief and consequences their society brought on itself for not taking their warnings seriously. Taking a stand and lamenting comes at a high price. We want to remain in our comfort zones, be fearful of change, and have doubts of what will happen in the future.
Despite these hardships, we can learn from Jeremiah’s lesson of a future and a hope as demonstrated in his teaching about the New Covenant in chapter 31 and his act of buying a field in Jeremiah 32. We have a God who is constantly working through our history and his grace is new every day. We are excited that this hope was demonstrated in the recent successful events of Musalaha.
By Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D
Some thoughts came to mind after reading this:
In Jeremiah’s writing Lamentations: He insists in the middle of the book that God’s mercies are new every morning. Towards the end of the book, Jeremiah says, “The Lord’s anointed, our very life breath, was caught in their traps. We thought that under his shadow we would live among the nations.” (Lamentations 4:20 NIV) In other words, the Lord’s Messiah, the Spirit of our face, was caught in their dungeons. … This is a messianic prophecy of Jesus & His crucifixion. Indeed, the Jews thought that He would be their protector among the nations, their strong king who would defeat the nations. Instead, there was an apparent defeat when Jesus marched to the Golgotha, to Calvary, to the place of the skull. Jesus came not to kill his enemies, but to be handed over by and killed by his enemies. Indeed, we were all those enemies.
We have met the enemy, and it is us. It is not some other nation. The enemy is not some pagan land or lord. We ourselves are the enemies of God.
Later, in Zechariah, again there is the mention of this enmity. It is an enmity which was first mentioned in Genesis 3:15 when the Lord prophesied that the seed of woman would crush underfoot the seed of the serpent after much hostility. This Seed of woman, this Seed of Abraham, this Seed of David would choke out the weeds of the world because greater is HE who is among us than the one who is in the world. The particular lament in Zechariah 12:10ff is this, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.”
What do we see here? We see Jesus high and lifted up, all men (and women) of every family are being drawn to him, just as Jesus Himself prophesied in the Good News according to John. The seed fell and died and was buried. Then there sprung up a fount of mourning at Pentecost as those who had been in the crowds at Passover mourned at what they had done to their Lord: they had rejected Him, they had sought to trample Him underfoot and let the birds snatch him. But God is greater! Fifty days later, a jubilee of days later there was released in Zion great mourning as the Spirit was poured out and languages of many nations were spoken and Jews, Cretans, and Arabs from one end of the inhabited world to the other, gathered, heard the Word, and believed on the Lord Jesus, were baptized and repented. We know at least a remnant of 3,000 believed that day. More later. …
We cannot detail all the spread of the Good News in the New Testament accounts of the early church. However, this theme of Lamentation gets picked up again in Revelation 1:4-8 John writes, “to the seven churches in Asia: grace to you and peace from the one who is and the one who was and the one who is coming, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To the one who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power forever and ever
Behold, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even every one who pierced him,
and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, the one who is and the one who was and the one who is coming, the All-Powerful.” (LEB)
Here it is not only Israel that will mourn, but all families of the earth. The very ones who would be blessed through Abraham’s seed. When people see, hear, and perceive Jesus, they will mourn, abandoning sin, and clinging unto the Savior. We all killed Jesus. It was because of our sins, the sins of all nations, that Jesus bled and died upon the cross. Your sins & my sins put Him there, as the Lord suffered on our behalf. Twice the Lord is called the one who was, is, and is coming. God is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever, even Jesus our King, the All-Mighty. Revelation is essentially the story of how this prophecy is fulfilled: how God brings about morning and some degree (however slight) of repentance among the nations.
This repentance is accompanied by mourning and lamentation at what our sins have done to the Lord.
So what does this have to do with Salim’s words from Musalaha. Musalaha is all about reconciliation. Indeed, this is what Christian Ministry is all about: Reconciliation to God and reconciliation to one another. In another word: Love.
We are reminded of the man who came to Jesus and said, “Judge between me & my brother: decide who will get the inheritance.” Musalaha works betweens the brothers who are sons of Abraham: Jews and Arabs-who occupy the strip of land between the “great sea” and the “dead sea” between the river in the North and the River of Egypt. Today these two brothers fight among themselves about who should “inherit” the Land. I am sure that Abraham would want them to get along. Even more, Jesus steps above and beyond the conflict over land and says that this is not why he came. He came to reconcile the brothers in the land not to divide it between them. The sword that Jesus brings is His word which pierces our hearts when we hear how we have pierced His Heart with our fighting and wrangling and malice. Jesus cuts through out façade of pride and prejudice. He cuts across all cultural and social boundaries. You are either for Him or against Him. Then, when you have decided to follow Him, He gathers you in to His fold.
Oh, how we should mourn those who are outside of the flock of God!! How we should cry for those who are homeless, not only with regard to a roof, but have no eternal dwelling yet! How we must lament those who are not clothed with Christ! How we should weep and wail over those who are blind to the mercy and glory of God. Many have been baptized with water, some claim to be baptized with fire and the Spirit, a few are severely baptized with blood, but what is needed in this hour is a baptism of tears. Oh that we would be plunged into weeping, never to emerge, until souls are saved and lives are changed. Until there is peace in Jerusalem, no more a modern sodom, but a Heavenly City.
Because Musalaha has the same mission as we have, I encourage you to help them out if you want to see peace in the middle east.
PRAY that peoples will mourn over their alienation from God even though they live in the land of promise.
PRAY that nations will mourn over their assault on the throne of God by claiming rights of life and death of the unborn and the poor.
CONFESS the times you have been bitter or resentful in your heart. CONFESS the times you have clung to anything, any property, and object, any cherished relationship more than you cherished Jesus. PRAY that Jesus would be exalted in your land and in your relationships in the earth, just as you want Jesus honored in your relationship with God.
Now I will speak to another group of readers: those who are set on being hostile towards God, the haters of God. Do you really think you can cling even to your tomb forever? Tombs are transitory places, more transitory than your own body, for as soon as you die, you may well be forgotten and never praised or admired again. You say, “This is why I want to be cremated!” Do you think that this will burn away the impurity of your sins? Do you think by hiding your flesh in earthly flames you can hide from the coming wrath of God? Do not hate God, turn, and run to His arms. Now He is not eager to crush you but is wanting to embrace you if you will but turn back like a wandering child who comes home to his or her father. God will not hold you off in the pig sty … he wants you to come to Him. Do you think you are too defiled and that you love your sin too much? You will love the Lord even more as you get acquainted with Him. He will extend His Hand and lift you up though you are weary and fallen in the mud.
The Father is searching for his separated sons and daughters. He wants a reunion. Not merely in the land of Canaan, in the coming New Heavens and New Earth, where there will be no more crying or mourning or sickness or death or pain. Then, the piercing will have passed. The comfort will be complete. Those who have faith will be forgiven.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, you will find a lot of judgment, but the real purpose of the book is to bless.
Like a surgeon doing open heart surgery, Jesus in Revelation opens your heart to see how willing you are to be changed by His message. If you submit to His work, you get a new heart and the nations are purified in God’s presence.
So let’s march through these blessings to see how we can be blessed (Holman Christian Standard Bible used throughout):
1. Revelation 1:3 “The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep by obeying what is written in it are blessed, because the time is near!”
This verse actually has 2 blessings, a double blessing, for the readers/hearers/obeyers of the Prophecy of Jesus. Jesus could come at any time he wants. Right in the intro, Jesus wants his people to realize that. Sure, he’s been gone a while, but he is working on a big city as the Architect and Builder and Carpenter from Nazareth who is God. Whenever God gives a double blessing, it means that that person is a leader in the house and a special heir. Do you want to inherit a blessing from the Lord? Do you want to bless others? Then you need to pay attention to the Bible, and Revelation especially. To understand Revelation requires that you read through the Whole Bible and grasp the message of the Holy Faith. It is not for simpletons, but for those who come as obedient children, ready to do the will of the Father in the world.
2. Revelation 14:13 I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”
The context of this is that some serious judgment has already passed. The Lord’s work has built up some momentum. A harvest is coming in the next few verses. Some think the Harvest is of judgment, some think the Harvest speaks only of evangelism. The reality is that God’s evangelical Harvest often best takes place in times of severe judgement.
When people are distraught over Hurricane Sandy, the real work is not the re-installation of heat and electricity, but the reconnecting of people to the grace of the Lord Jesus. Plug into the Lord and you will be warm within. Even if you die, your work will carry on. How does that happen? Replication and multiplication. When we seek first the Kingdom of God & His Righteousness and lay down our lives for it, the storms of the world are nothing. Hell holds no terror for the saint who is safe in the Savior. We can rest at night if we rest in the Lord.
3. Revelation 16:15 “Look, I am coming like a thief. The one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame is blessed.”
Laodiceans were naked and unalert. Much of the church today is unalert and unprepared for the Lord’s return. Do you want the Lord to come while you are having an adulterous affair or sodomizing or fornicating with someone? I sure hope not. The thought should be putrid to your thoughts. I think of the paparazzi. Do you want the eyes of the world to glare at your sins on the last day? Then guard your robe of righteousness by repenting of & confessing your sin immediately. Actually, while we are on the topic, flee from sin! Avoid tempting situations. Guard yourself. Take precautions. Be accountable. Don’t ruin your life. Be pure. It is interesting: Jesus who was anointed by a sinful woman and spent time with single and sinful women often, even alone at times in the record of Scripture, NEVER SINNED. There are #NoShortcuts. Don’t compromise. Don’t be paranoid and isolationist, but be honest with yourself and don’t think you are somehow immune to temptation. Be humble & pure and you will be safe as a new penny in a vault with one Banker.
4. Revelation 19:9 Then he said to me, “Write: Those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb are blessed!”* He also said to me, “These words of God are true.” [*literal Greek rendering]
So there will be a marriage between the Lord Jesus & His people one day. We will celebrate the most profound, intimate union ever. To clarify any misconceptions, this is not going to be like a Chinese Buffet, where everybody loads their platees up with all the finest meat dishes to get the most out of their price paid. No, Jesus paid the price. He clothes the attendees with His own Righteousness. He satisfies our longings. There will not be 72 virgins for every valiant martyr! There will be one Lord for all: Jesus. And He is for all as well as over all. You can take it as a 100% verified fact that you will be happy when you realize you have been invited to celebrate with Jesus. Imagine: seeing God, touching God, tasting His goodness, smelling the aroma of His favor! God is good all the time, and there will be a time when we will always be aware of God’s goodness.
5. Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.
This is a specific blessing, hence the word “one.” This is for those who not only believe, but also keep the word. This is the theme throughout Revelation. Not just input into the person, but an output of love and life from the person. When Light begins to shine from a person’s life, then death is defeated in them. They will one day worship and govern with Christ Jesus, Messiah and Lord. This will last for 1,000 years. Now some will debate whether or not that is a literal period of time. More important than that is that this is the first resurrection. If you are a doubter and don’t want any share in the first resurrection, then you can be part of the second (and last) resurrection. – The first is to life. The second is to death. Personally, God is in charge of making people live 1,000 years if that is His will. However, I want life, so I would like to be part of the holy resurrection of the faithful that will happen first. I want to be a leader, not a loser. You lead by following Jesus closely. You don’t lead by reading books and blogs on leadership and making strategic plans and executing goals and making lots of money and being persuasive. There are not seven habits of leaders nor is there a new book you can compose or compare to make you an effective leader before God. You must simply make it your habit to worship God now and govern your life according to the Word of God. You may never be popular now. You may be a secret saint known only by those who despise you. But if you are faithful, if you follow Jesus, you will lead.
Here, we must make a clarification. Many christians today are old covenant christians. They want all the blessings now. They want to be the head now (not the tail). They want to prosper now (not face debt and poverty). They pray only for temporal blessings. They love money, health, wealth, prosperity and comfort. They avoid persecution at all costs. They never speak up for Jesus, but for blessings. They claim to be blessed. And if you looked at their situations, you would see why. But the Bible is clear: the wicked prosper now. The wicked are comfortable now. The wicked are in power now. The saints are waiting for a more distant day. Oh, I fear for many leaders who impose old covenant elementary principles upon their people but do not point to the Principal of Peace. They will be disturbed on this last day. They lead now and will lose later. They love high places. They love to be prominent. They love positions of power. Woe to them!! They lead others into sin and go headlong into hell. The make deals with the devil and will have no place in God’s court. May God be gracious to me and keep me from being puffed up in pride, but walk low in love at all times. May we inherit this blessing. The Bride of Christ is rejected by the world and betrothed to the Heavenly King. The Beloved of the Lord is hated by the world. May I find my place with her so that with her I may be glorified as one of God’s chosen people.
6. Revelation 22:7 “Look, I am coming quickly! The one who keeps the prophetic words of this book is blessed.”
I will give you a picture. I never know when I need access to the Bible, so I try to keep a small copy of the Word with me at all times. I try to hide God’s word in my heart, because I may need a verse to encourage a struggling soul. We cannot predict when we will need the prophetic word. BUT, if we guard the words of prophecy with our life, our life will overflow with prophetic words. Our lips will not tell lies, rather our hearts will be a library of love and devotion to the Lord. This is not just for preachers and professionals, this is for all saints. This is for you. God is speaking to you! This is your job. This is the 6th or 7th blessing, depending on how you count. It is man’s task to guard the Word and it is a perfect aim in life: to obey the prophecy of Scripture. This completes our work: to obey the Word of God with faith. Period.
7. Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
Ah, so here we rest: clean and complete. Right at the throne of God. This is where the first Sabbath fell short: they did not eat of the tree of life. They chose knowledge. The Word of God is not about Knowledge, it is about obedience. It is life. The Lord speaks … We live. Jesus died on the tree. We live by participating in that cross, that rugged tree. Denying self and entering into the community of the redeemed, from every nation, tribe, language, people, and kingdom. People will stream from every direction. But they will head to Jesus. People will have labored in many different fields, but there is One who is our Rest, our Cleansing, our Hope. Come however you may, but when you approach the presence of God and the people of God, clean up your life. Do it now. Do it today! Don’t waste years on drink and drugs, lusts and pride, greed and your own needs. Jesus will meet your needs if you bring them to Him. He will satisfy you. Come. Come! COME!!
8. Revelation 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen
While this does not literally have the word blessing in it, it is actually the substance of all the other blessings: The aim of the revelation is for Jesus Himself to be with the saints, the holy ones, those who are set apart for God’s purposes. So the question is: are you set aside for God’s purposes? Are you a saint? What is your core identity? Will you endure the endearing Word of God long enough to realize that the “harsh” words are there so you can truly receive the good Word with a sincere heart? I have focused on the “sweet” words in Revelation here. Let me encourage you to read through the whole book soon.
As we approach the end of the calendar, try reading through the end of the Bible (Revelation/the Apocalypse) and hang in there. Try seeing what the end of the world holds. History will come to a close one day, it would be a good idea to read ahead to the end. Claim your blessing by reading and applying to yourself the Word of God. I’ve done this at least once a year now for quite a few years. I’ve never been disappointed by the Lord.
I hope you find comfort in the words of Life.
I remember distinctly the day I was called a flake. My niece smiled kindly and happily as she said, “Mert, you’re a flake.”
I didn’t know whether to feel blessed by a child or to feel insulted, yet she seemed so sweet. I asked her, “What do you mean by flake? That means different things. What kind of flake?”
She paused and thought long and hard for a four year old. Then she said, ever so sweetly, “A snowflake.”
“Why a snowflake?” I asked.
“Because you’re clean!” she exclaimed.
I was blessed indeed and felt so unworthy of her pronouncement.
As I reflect on the unique mission & calling God has given me and what my niece said, I believe that her pronouncement also reveals something about our common faith. My mind drifts to Psalm 133:
See how good and delightful
For brothers to dwell together as one.
Like the precious oil upon the head
Descending on the beard;
The beard of Aaron,–
Which descended unto his robe:
Like the dew of Hermon which descended
upon the mountains of Zion,–
For there YHWH commanded the blessing:
Life for all time.
Mount Hermon is a place where it snows, and where there is also dew that settles on other hills due to the coolness of the heights and the condensation. Each individually unique bit of precipitation on Mount Hermon joins others to prepare the way for the whole land to be blessed with dew.
Likewise, the Lord gets his due throughout the earth when we as God’s people join together in the heights and compact together to settle in the place God appointed at the time he has set. Our common faith works together as each part plays a unique part of intercession and waiting before the Lord.
Wikipedia has a fine photo of Hermon with snow on it. As you can see, the sight is imposing and impacts a large area around.
Ultimately though, we must realize that our source is not the mountain. We must look beyond the mountain to the Lord God Almighty who put the mountain in place, sends the snow, and sends the dew upon the land. Look to Him, and your needs will be supplied and the land will be watered.
In the Gospels, it may have been Mount Hermon where Jesus went up to be transfigured. It would have shown his sovereignty over the place where false gods were regarded as reigning by the pagans. Pagans would have built shrines in the area to honor non-gods. Jesus claimed sovereignty by being transfigured there and being whiter than the snow and giving the disciples an idea of the changes that would take place in their lives as He would accomplish His reign in & through them. Mount Hermon was at the Northern border of the Land of Promise.
In Christianity, Mount Hermon speaks of the edge of our life where transformation & transfiguration takes place. We reach the edges of the promises. We seek the Lord. We follow Him to the ends of the earth on a mission for the Kingdom. To be with Him wherever we are going. And suddenly we find He is more and greater than we would ever expect. Our faith in the Messiah which we share in common with Moses and the Prophets is brilliant, yet not the work of human genius. Humans cannot make a soul as radiant as Jesus.
We would love to memorialize the presence of the Lord. But God does not want to merely form a memory, He wants to send us on a mission to new places with new graces, rooted in a common faith, each bearing a unique, meltable mission.
You see, when you melt the snow of Mount Hermon, it melts into one pool of water. We enter in one way, and leave transformed. Our unique mission converges on the edges of the land. At the edge of the presence of God’s people in the world, we find that there is often the most unity among the saints. We work together when we see not our distinctiveness, but how our little drop of love can be joined in the clouds of glory to exalt the Lord of Glory!
You see, love is the greatest, most enduring thing. The mountains will be leveled. One day, people will no longer ski down Hermon’s slopes. But the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.
I heard him in his room at noon, at night
Asking God for wisdom, grace and light.
Unrelenting passion filled his heart,
Trusting God would answer from the start.
Praying hard: he sought, he groaned, he sighed . . .
That’s how I’d describe the man who cried.
I saw him kneeling early in the morn
Calling out for sinners he had warned.
Simple words of power touched his lips,
Wetted eyes released their salty drips.
Bowing at the throne while others slept . . .
That’s how I’d describe the man who wept.
I heard his voice beside the young man’s grave
Telling friends about the Lord who saves.
Hugging those who mourned, his soul could hear
Every sadness, quiver, sigh, and tear.
Hurting when folks hurt; he sympathized . . .
That’s how I’d describe the man who agonized.
I saw him in the garden full of praise
Singing psalms with arms and hands upraised.
God had answered his request at last:
Fruit had come, so he would break the fast.
Thanking God just like a little boy . . .
That’s how I’d describe the man of joy.
Why do you humuliate me like a slave girl,
who cannot run from her master?
I am a man of God, and should be honored as such,
And yet you drag me through the shame of the world.
Lord, wed me to yourself and let me see your face,
But do not let me be disgraced.
Tear not the veil too quickly when I turn to you,
Lest I blush in your splendid glory.
And yet, my heart pounds and my mind races rapturously
when you capture me
in your strong arm.
I want to be held,
only loose enough that I might wriggle free.
Take me not away too quickly,
draw me near to you and come quickly.
But let me hold my dignity …
Oh, I have nothing of my own, I’d trade it all to be with you again,
Do not leave me yet,
hold me fast, lest I must fast, and be torn deep within.