Saturday, March 23, 2013

Into Thy Hands

Perhaps it's a prayer you heard as a child, one which was recited at bedtime.  Imagine a child in his pajamas, kneeling beside his bed, eyes closed, head bowed and enunciating the prayer with a precious childlike voice.  There are several versions of it listed on the Internet, but a simple version reads:

"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen"

Such innocence and beauty is revealed as the little one says his bedtime prayer and rests peacefully in the arms of the Heavenly Father.  Afterwards, the glow of the moon penetrates the bedroom window as a divine nightlight.  The child is safe and secure in his bed.  No worries.  No concerns.  Simply warmth and happiness in God's presence.

I heard a pastor say that Jesus also uttered a bedtime prayer in the most unusual of places...the cross.  After the unspeakable horrors and agony of being crucified, Luke 23:46 records, "And, Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.'  And having said this, He breathed His last."

Where did Jesus learn the phrase, "Into Thy hands I commit my spirit"?  Psalms 31:5.  Apparently, the Jews said this phrase before they went to sleep at night.  It was their version of "now I lay me down to sleep."  Again, no worries, no concerns.  They slept peacefully in the arms of the Almighty.

How fitting for Jesus to use this phrase on the cross.  The crucifixion was complete.  His sacrifice for mankind had been accomplished.  There would be no more mental or physical agony for Him.  It was finished!!  Hence, He could commit His spirit to the Father in this divine act.  As the little child who sleeps upon his bed, Jesus could now rest in the Father's hand.

We, too, can rest in the Father's hand at the end of the day, or even at the end of life.  Resting in Him, trusting in Him, that whatever happens, He is watching over us.  Such peace.  Such joy.

Perhaps, our bedtime prayer should be:

"Father, thank you for bringing me through another day. Even though there may have been trials and difficulties, I can rest completely in You.   In your presence is fullness of joy.  So, as I go to sleep, into Thy hands, I commit my spirit.  Amen."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Under Construction

It just never seems to end....the construction at the hospital where I work.  There is a certain work site I pass ever day walking from the parking lot to my floor.  As a matter of fact, it seems like the construction workers have been laboring on that site for years.  I would estimate this project has been in effect for at least three to four years.  Amazing!  It seems like part of the building is constructed, then it is torn down.  The street was excavated at one time, then it was filled in.  Of course, being an outsider to construction, I really have no clue to what the workers are doing.  I have no sense of the time to completion, a fairly limited understanding of the finished product.  To me, the construction looks chaotic (as do most construction sites).  There must by some rhyme or reason to what the work crew is doing, although I'm having a hard time seeing it.  Yet, it is easy to wonder if the builders really know what they are doing.

Sometimes it is tempting to wonder if God knows what He is doing.  Obviously, there are some problems we bring upon ourselves due to poor choices.  On the other hand, some things appear for no apparent reason.  You know, things like sickness, financial difficulties, marital or familial discord, etc. We are brought to our knees as we wonder, "Why?"  "Why did this happen?"  "Why at this time?"  "Why in my life, of all people?"

Yet, a powerful scripture comes to mind from Isaiah 45:9.  It states succinctly:

"Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’
Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?"

God also spoke to Job with some rather strong words in Job 38:4-7.  God said:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
“On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

Hence, in the broad spectrum of the universe, I may have difficulty seeing the "big picture" of life.  But I must continually submit myself to the Master Potter to accomplish His purposes.  Ultimately, in time, the finished product of my life, although chaotic at times, will be glorious. 

I talk more at length about the Master Potter's work in dealing with my life while I was fighting bladder cancer in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer".  It is available on Amazon and Kindle and can be accessed at:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Value of Trials

Although I'm not very good at it, I enjoy playing golf from time to time.  My father and I play at a local public course.  Although it's not a very fancy course, it is plenty challenging for me due to one reason.....the creek.  This blasted creek is a continuous hazard on the course as it meanders in play on several holes.  It slithers in and out of holes like a snake and it is noticeable throughout the course.  By my count, this creek comes into play in nine out of the eighteen holes if we played the regular or white tees.  As a result, it is rare (and I mean rare) that I finish a round without having to retrieve at least one golf ball out of the creek.  Just like the tree would snatch up Charlie Brown's kite in the "Peanuts" comic strip, this aqueous monster gobbles up my golf balls on a regular basis and wreaks havoc on my score.

As a matter of fact, if the creek were nonexistent, I would probably shoot a fairly good score on the course.  There would be no worries about errant shots landing in the drink.  Yet, come to think of it, playing would not be quite as much fun or rewarding.  You see, when I do have a good round and somehow avoid this watery grave, I am ecstatic as I come to realize how I have beaten the challenge.  The watery menace has been reduced to a trickle.  It did its best to humble me, to destroy me, but yet my limited golfing ability and my simple Spalding clubs overcame it.  Take that, you aqueous monster!

Of course, life is like that also.  If we didn't have tribulations or trials, life would be relatively easy...and perhaps a little boring.  Yet, when we overcome tribulations, there is a great sense of accomplishment, an ecstasy that we did it, we overcame, we were victorious. 

The Bible in several places talks of the value of trials and tribulations.  Romans 5:3-5 says that "...tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint...".  James 1:4 says that trials make us "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  So, the struggles, the tears, the disappointments, ultimately have the benefit of developing our character and conforming us to the image of Christ.  No wonder the Bible says earlier in James 1:2, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials."

I may still end up in the creek a time or two the next time I play golf.  But, the times I do get over it unscathed, just like overcoming tribulations in life, will make me extremely happy.