The Spigot

As my husband, Gary,  watched from a distance the way I served others, he often described it this way: “You get to help people, who’s cups are depleted or empty, place themselves under the spigot of God and His Word so that He can fill them, restore them, guide them and use them.” 

Through these bi-weekly posts, move your cup under the spigot of God to receive encouragement in life and truth from God’s Word to live the full life offered by Jesus (John 10:10).

Pickles

Recently, Gary and I visited a friend at his family’s cucumber farm in Puyallup, Washington. After walking through the farmstead filled with supplies for canning and seeing boxes of harvested cucumbers, we enjoyed the privilege of each making a jar of pickles.

We added several ingredients layer by layer into a large mason jar: grape leaf, dill, onion, garlic, spices, cucumbers, red peppers, jalapeños, chili peppers, vinegar and water. The cucumbers marinate in a brine mixture which preserves their freshness while deepening their flavor. After vigorously shaking the sealed jar, the cucumbers soak in the savory mixture for a month. The jar must be turned weekly so the spices don’t settle in one place, but flavor all the cucumbers. When the process is complete, we get a delicious jar of pickles to eat.

Just as the cucumbers soak in an array of vegetables and spices to be transformed into a pickle, we can soak in God’s Word to become transformed human vessels offering spicy interactions with those around us.

I wonder if I’m becoming a pickle? Do I soak in the brine of God’s Word? Do you? Am I preserved by the Scriptures? Do I offer deep flavor to those around me after soaking in Bible passages? Am I turning my jar weekly to make sure all areas of my life are influenced by God’s Word?

What does soaking in Scripture look like?

Have you ever read a Bible passage in the morning and by lunchtime you can’t remember what you read? At times, we might read God’s Word more like the newspaper or a recipe? Sometimes we read the Bible out of habit with little effect upon our being. Often, we approach Scripture for information. We study it, read commentaries on it, and dissect it; but do we really meditate or marinate in the Bible? God exhorts Joshua in Joshua 1:8: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

While there is a time for Bible study and scholarship, there is also a time to linger with the Bible. Reading God’s Word reflectively draws the mind and the heart together.

What would it look like to mull over Scripture; to ruminate on a single verse or even a short passage? When is the last time you wondered about God’s Word and its impact in your life?

As we meditate on passages from the Bible, our life is formed by God’s Word. In Psalm 119, the writer reminds the reader to meditate on God’s precepts, statutes, and decrees seven times. To God, meditating on His Word is imperative to a healthy soul.

In Colorado, we are closer to the sun and the air is dry. So, at times I like to turn my face toward the sun and just let the sunshine soak into my skin. Or, maybe you’ve watched rain slowly drip into the earth, soaking into the ground?

At Glenwood Springs, Colorado there are natural hot springs. Visitors arrive to this destination to soak. They would never dream of just dipping their toe into the water and leaving, they go to the Springs to soak, to ease their entire body into the hot water so the warmth completely surrounds them.

Likewise, soaking in Scripture is more than just dipping your toe into God’s Word, it is sinking in and letting Scripture surround you and absorb into your very being, your soul, just like a cucumber in the brine. The purpose is deep communion with Jesus.

Here are three ways to soak in Scripture and experience deep immersion with the Bible.

1 – Soak in Scripture by reading the same passage more than once. First read it slowly, listening to God’s Word. Then, as you read it a second time, reflect, listening for a word or phrase that sticks out to you. Sit with that word or phrase for a moment. Read the same passage a third time receiving from God. Wonder and pray about how that word or phrase connects deeply with your soul. Read it one last time, listening again and responding. Thank God for His presence and what He has shown you. Enjoy being in the presence of God.

2 – Soak by allowing your five senses to help you enter into the Scripture passage. As you read – notice what you hear and see in the scenario. Read it again, asking, what can you touch, taste and smell? Read it again, listening to the voices and noticing the people. Let God’s Word come alive by using your God given senses.

3 – Lastly, soak in God’s Word by imagining yourself in the scene. As you read it, ask who would you be? Why are you there? Read it through, imagining yourself as the different people in the passage. What is Jesus speaking to you? Read it wondering how God reveals Himself to you as well as what He reveals about yourself and creation through the text?

The next time you open your Bible, soak in the Scriptures. By the power of the Holy Spirit, use your God-given imagination to allow His Word to come alive. Notice what stands out to you. Talk to God about it. Receive from Him.

You can soak by yourself, with your kids, friends, spouse, small group, and even your church community. Linger with God, soak in His Word and enjoy deeper communion with Him.

It takes time for a cucumber soaking in brine and spices to become a pickle. In the same way, as we soak in Scripture, God transforms and preserves us, adding flavor to our lives, and bringing depth to our journey with Him.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Psalm 119:47-48
For I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.

Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lordand who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers..

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Alice Fryling. The Art of Spiritual Listening: Responding to God’s Voice Amid the Noise of Life Colorado Springs, CO. 2003.

Jan Johnson. Meeting God in Scripture. Downer’s Grove, IL. 2016.

Clouds

On a recent airline flight, I gazed through the window pane and marveled at the variety of clouds suspended in the air. As far as my eye could see, clouds floated about. Some appeared large and round, while others resembled a package of cotton balls. I wondered at their beauty. Later in the flight, the clouds shifted to thin layers; whispy and airy. Noticing the clouds from above represented a different view than I usually have.

With my feet upon the earth, the shape and texture of clouds pops against the backdrop of the deep blue sky. This is my perspective most of the time, but only if I am looking at them. Did you know there is a “Cloud Appreciation Society”? Members practice the art of noticing clouds and their unique and magnificent shapes, colors, and locations.

If we aren’t careful, we might miss seeing the clouds. If our focus remains fixed on the details before us, we fail to see what floats above. When was the last time you noticed the clouds?

Just like noticing the clouds above you, are you aware of the people around you? Do you see the people who cross your path, live in your home, or serve in the same workplace? 

The story of Hagar in Genesis 16 presents a poignant story of being noticed. She fled her home with a broken heart. Anguish and pain filled her soul as she wondered if anyone noticed or cared about her existence. The angel of the LORD noticed Hagar. He asked her questions and provided space for authentic sharing. Words of encouragement, direction, and hope flowed from the angel toward Hagar. Although mistreated and displaced, God had a plan for Hagar and the child she carried. Hagar realized the gift she received from God: He noticed her. She gave God a special name, “You are the God who sees me.” (Genesis 16:6-13)

Soak in that truth for a moment – God sees you! He notices you and the details of your life. What a gift!

Pause for another moment – How have you experienced “The God who sees”? Recall how it felt to be seen, to be noticed. 

Ponder another question – Would you be described as one who notices and sees the people in your path? 

In what ways can we cultivate attentiveness to not only the clouds in the sky, but more importantly the people around us?

  • It’s hard to notice others with your eyes glued to a mobile phone, computer, or the TV. Maybe it’s time to resist the electronics-tether and pay attention to the created image-bearers God presents before you. 
  • It’s hard to notice others when we begin work early, stay late, and focus on a multitude of tasks simultaneously. Perhaps, it’s necessary to develop more balanced work rhythms. 
  • It’s hard to notice others when we are consumed with self. Could it be that by practicing humility and serving others the attitude of the apostle John develops: “I must decrease, He must increase”? 
  • It’s hard to notice others when we live life on turbo speed. To be conscientious we need to slow down, embrace margin, and value people over projects and plans.

To notice clouds, we just need to look up. The same is true for people. To see them and not just look through them, we need to open our eyes. But how do we do this?

Set your agenda aside and engage with the heart of the person in front of you with open questions. Like the angel of the LORD, ask thoughtful and meaningful questions and await a response, even if it is slow in coming. Instead of insisting on your own perspective, allow vulnerability and honesty about the issues of life. Just as Hagar opened up, provide a trustworthy and safe space to receive and share. Then, offer support, a kind word, prayer, words of wisdom, and most of all the loving care of God. 

We get to follow God’s example of seeing others, noticing them, and being aware of their presence.

The next time your spouse walks in the door, notice each other, stop your activity and give focused attention. Notice. When your kids run through the house, smile and play along with them. Notice. If your neighbor drops by, pour a glass of tea and talk about the day. Notice. Pay attention to the downcast face of a family member, friend, or even stranger, and offer the gift of presence. Notice. Move beyond superficial and shallow questions with your co-worker; speak of God’s movement, tender conviction, and faithful character. Notice. When at the grocery store, look the cashier and bagger in the eye and offer a word of gratitude. Notice. 
 

So, go outside, take a walk, look up and notice the clouds. Wonder about their airy design. And, look around you, someone is just waiting to be seen not only by the God of the universe, but by you. Notice.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Exodus 3:16
“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.

1 John 4:20
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Mike Mason. Practicing the Presence of People: How We Learn to Love. Colorado Springs, CO. 1999.

Kaylee Andrade. The God Who Sees: Trusting God in the Midst of the Desert. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

August 6-9 – Seattle, WA
Kurios Gospel Forum. Fan the Flame of Your Soul.

Scraps

Among the many delights of planning a wedding is selecting flowers that reflect the bride’s tone and theme. I enjoyed the gift of joining both Emily, Sammy’s fiancé, and Sophie, my daughter, when they each met with their florist. Flowers of different shapes, smells, and stature filled buckets as Emily and Sophie dreamed and played with ideas to reflect the vision for their weddings.

As Sophie and the florist began to create floral possibilities, the florist shared an interesting story about scraps.

Several years ago, the florist attended a local design show. During a session, several florists took the platform one by one. They chose from several containers flowers and greenery, cutting and snipping the myriad of floral stems to craft a unique and beautiful bouquet. As they worked trimming stems, removing unnecessary foliage and collecting just the right blend of shape, size and color hue, scraps accumulated on the floor. These discarded pieces scattered and layered upon the platform.

Scraps

The final floral designer approached the stage. Reknown for his extravagant designs, the observers looked forward to what he might create from the beautiful array of colorful and unique stems. However, instead of moving toward the canisters holding the flowers and greenery, he bent to pick up pieces from the scraps dropped across the floor. With ease, he collected, arranged, collected again and rearranged. In the end, his handiwork brought awe to the audience. He then shared that this bouquet created from scraps would sell for $300 in his store. The encouragement and challenge to the onlookers was to notice what is deemed waste; to pay attention to what is cut away and tossed to the floor. There is beauty in the garbage, in the scraps.

Scraps – leftovers, crumbs, remnants, bits and pieces, waste, pieces

Leaving our floral visit, I found myself struck by this story about scraps.

  • I remembered the story of how Boaz left scraps in the field for Ruth to gather, providing sustenance for her and her mother in law (see Ruth 2).
  • The Food TV show, Chopped, comes to mind. On occasion the mystery basket is composed of leftovers which the contestants then use to create an integrated and delicious main dish.
  • The humorous outtakes from movies often land on the cutting room floor, yet their inclusion in the final edits bring a smile to those watching through to the end.
  • Paul records his life journey in 2 Corinthians 11 and 12, boasting about the scraps in his life that became part of preparing him for and validating the ministry God designed for him.

Scraps

God is the Master Designer and He makes beautiful things from the scraps in our life; the things we’d like to cut off and cut out. We would like to forget about these scraps. Yet carefully and artistically, God gathers our experiences, the hardships, and delights within our lives and forms them into a colorful expression of His glory and redemptive movement.

Reflect for a moment over the past week – do you notice the scraps lying on the floor of your life? In what ways are you trying to just ‘forget them’ or ‘move on’?

Scraps might look like:

  • Friction in a relationship
  • Being “let go” from a job you love
  • A nagging cold
  • An unexpected bill
  • Dropping a freshly baked dessert on the floor
  • Being late for work
  • Discord with a coworker
  • A whinny friend or family member
  • Being called for jury duty
  • Car trouble
  • Disarray from stormy weather
  • Politically charged conversations
  • A burnt meal
  • Delayed travel

What would it look like to ask God to redeem the scraps from this past week? From your whole life?

Often we look for purpose when we encounter pain, understanding with our unique experiences and comfort when faced with chaos. During these moments God might feel close or far away.

Regardless of whether we see the beautiful bouquet God is making from the scraps in our lives, He is present and purposeful and does not waste anything.

In the letter to the Romans, we are reminded of our Scrap Saving Savior: “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:27-28).

Can you thank God for the scraps from this past week? From your life?

Maybe consider praying something like this: God, honestly I don’t like the scraps in my life. They often bring pain, disruptions, confusion, and sorrow. By the Holy Spirit, help me trust you with all of my life. Thank you for being a triune God of beauty and redemption. You are Good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The song Beautiful Things by Gungor plays in my head: “All around, Hope is springing up from this old ground, Out of chaos life is being found, in you. You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust, You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us.”

Notice the scraps in life and trust God’s handiwork and creativity to design a masterpiece of His redeeming love. He is your Scrap-Saving Savior who loves you deeply!

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Romans 11:36 
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Colossians 1:17
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Job 19:25
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on earth.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested music videos.

Gungor. Beautiful Things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyPBtExE4W0

Kristene DiMarco & Bethel Music. It Is Well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNqo4Un2uZI

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

July 15-17 – Concord, CA
I get to visit and assist my parents as my dad had open heart surgery on June 7.

 

July 20-25 – Washington, DC
Traveling to the ECFA headquarters to record a 5 minute video for their upcoming Governance Forums, as well as share in two podcasts. Additionally, Gary and I will welcome Gary’s Global Trust Partners staff from around the world for staff training and development.

Teem

Recently, while serving in the Philippines, Gary and I enjoyed an excursion to the Palawan region where we experienced the beauty of the El Nido islands. Have you ever seen a travel magazine or poster on a billboard with a picture showing grass huts overlooking turquoise blue water? El Nido looks like that picture. It is a real place and the water actually is as stunningly blue as the picture portrays.

The water surrounding these islands reflects the expanded version of the crayon box with every possible variation of blue and green. When looking into the water, the view is clear, allowing your gaze to travel deep below the surface. Diving into this brilliantly colored water reveals creativity, creation, and creatures carrying on in this underwater context.

Teem

“How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things both large and small.” Psalm 104:24, 25

Gary and I entered the water world of the South China Sea and snorkeled with God’s aquatic creatures teeming below the surface. We witnessed bright blue fish, parrot fish (because they are as colorful as a parrot), orange, yellow, white and black fish, little Nemo fish and fluorescent purple tiny fish. Gary spotted a sting ray sitting on the floor of its ocean home; we were thankful to not disturb him. Sea anemones swayed with the water current and bright corals, rocks and seaweed decorated the diverse landscape beneath the surface. The sea teems with creatures beyond number.

The waters are alive with the creativity of our Creator. While kayaking in the “Big Lagoon” the gentle motion of a sea turtle greeted us. This little fellow swam alongside us gliding through his watery home, coming to the surface for infrequent breaths. His movement mesmerized us and gladdened our hearts as God allowed this encounter with one of his creation. The residents of El Nido demonstrate great care for the islands and the waters that surround them. Only kayaking is allowed in the Big Lagoon so as to preserve and protect the habitat below the surface. The external world impacts the health of life beneath. Plastics are not used on any of the islands and intentional preservation occurs so that the life teeming below the surface remains untainted, pure, and beautiful. Just as we care for God’s creation in the outer world, the one above the water, caring for the inner world of God’s handiwork is just as important and necessary.

Teem

As human beings, we live with both an outer and inner world. The external is seen by most: your physical characteristics, patterns of living, manner of speech, personality, and relationships. The internal, however, is below the surface – the state of your soul, thoughts, motivations, and passions. Most time throughout the day focuses on caring for the outside: the meals we prepare, the clothes we wear, how we socialize, the ways we exercise, and how we work and play. While caring for the exterior is important, how does caring for that which lies beneath the obvious manifest itself in your life?

Do you care for what teems below the surface of your outer world?

Just as the El Nido residents endeavor to preserve and protect the habitat under the surface of the sea, so too must followers of Christ intentionally care for the inner aspects of our being.

What are ways to give attention to the life teeming within your soul? How can we keep our inner world untainted, pure and beautiful?

Jesus offers new life to those who follow Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Consequently, the life teeming below is redeemed by Him and made holy by Him. The Apostle Paul exhorts the church in Corinth to take every thought captive. This means holding the thoughts offered by the external world and determining if they should be permitted into the inner world, below the surface. After we hold these thoughts, we must either reject them, or make sure they are obedient to the ways of Jesus Christ. As Jesus’ disciples, we get to take authority over the messages that endeavor to dive below the surface into our hearts. When we allow unfiltered, ungodly thoughts into our soul, pollution occurs, tainting and inhibiting the transforming work of Christ.

Paul offers direction to combat worry within his closing exhortation to the church in Philippi. Yet, his message doesn’t need to stop with the issue of anxiety. His words offer care for the hidden world within – the filter to protect our soul from pollution, damage, and emptiness.

“Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8.)

Be intentional about what seeks to dive into your soul. Let these be the filter into your soul:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it noble?
  • Is it right?
  • Is it pure?
  • Is it lovely?
  • Is it admirable?
  • Is it excellent?
  • Is it praiseworthy?

What kind of life teems within your soul? Notice the ways the outer world impacts your inner world. Care for the beautiful colorful creative soul God has given you by attentively preserving and protecting yourself from the influences of the world that seek to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came to give you abundant life.

Live fully alive with Him by attending to the subterranean of your soul!

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Proverbs 20:5
The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Gordon MacDonald. Ordering Your Private World. Nashville, TN. 2012.

Tommy Newberry. The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life. Carol Stream, IL. 2007.

Broad

The park across the street from our neighborhood is getting a makeover. A new entrance, an expanded playground, and bigger sidewalks comprise much of the work in process. My favorite renovation thus far is the path. I walk the same pathway every day, both in the morning and in the evening, Not only does Joy (our 11 year old GSP) enjoy this necessary outdoor exercise but this walking routine also allows Gary and I, and sometimes Sophie, margin for prayer and to share about our days.

Until now the sidewalk width through the park has been only three feet. Walking side by side with a dog proves challenging. Recently, Sophie exclaimed, “Stop walking me into the grass.” :–) The path feels narrow, even skinny, and with more than one person walking simultaneously, we tend to bump each other off the concrete walkway and into the grass.

So, the first change to the park involved widening the path. The construction workers expanded a portion of the sidewalk to the width of five feet. This provides more room so that walking alongside each other is possible and more enjoyable. The path is now broad; it has been enlarged.

Broad

David proclaimed in Psalm 18:36 that God provided “a broad path for his feet so [his] ankles did not give way.” David declared God’s goodness, thanking Him for the bigger path. God broadened David’s path so his journey experienced support.

David’s use of “broad” in this Psalm is different from Jesus’ use of “wide” in Matthew 7:13. David referred to this enlarged space as a gift from God, not a distraction away from God as Jesus pointed out in His sermon. The broad path seems to connect with the Christian life. Sophie “falling” off the path and the times I too have been bumped from the sidewalk came to mind. I wondered how the spacious path offered support to David in the Psalms and the ways a broadened path today offers support for our spiritual journey.

Broad

God intends the spiritual journey to occur in community. We need other people and other people need us. Through these relationships we learn more of who God is and who He invites us to be. Because of the wider sidewalk, Gary, Sophie, and I now walk side by side, supporting each other through life. We journey together. The broad path provides space for us to stroll in tandem. Our shared community is stronger during the walk because we accompany one another shoulder to shoulder.

Have you noticed the ways God has enlarged the path before you, offering support and drawing you closer to Himself? In what ways do your interactions with other people spur your spiritual growth?

Think about your daily path.

Are you walking the broad path with others? Is there room for others to join you? Who could you invite to accompany you in the spiritual journey? Seek out companions.

Interestingly, the park renovations across the street do not include broadening all of the sidewalks throughout the open space. A section of the path remains narrow.

What is provocative, is the reality that both broad and narrow pathways stimulate our growth with Jesus Christ. The narrow pathway reminds me of walking with Jesus side by side, communing with Him. There truly isn’t room for anyone else. As we submit to Jesus, we realize that He saves, sustains, and steers the path before us. Time on the narrow path with Jesus is imperative to our spiritual growth.

In what ways do you ensure you walk the narrow path with Jesus as your companion? Perhaps intentionally incorporate silence, meditating on Scripture, worship, and daily reflection into your spiritual practices.

We need both broad and narrow paths in our lives. The narrow path reminds us to keep in step with Jesus, moving through life with Him by our side. On this skinny way we listen, receive and follow God through the movement of the Holy Spirit. The broad path, on the other hand, prompts connection with others; offering support and strength through community. Journeying with Jesus and others transpires upon both the broad and narrow path.

Take note of the path upon which you walk.

Savor the narrow sidewalks in life, embracing space to commune directly with Jesus through life-giving rhythms. Delight in the broad pathways, welcoming spiritual community through accountability and encouragement in the daily journey of life.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

2 Samuel 22:37
You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

Hebrews 10:24-25
 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community. San Francisco, CA. 2009.

James Bryan Smith. The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love. Downers Grove, IL. 2010.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

June 12-25  – Manila, Philippines
Traveling with Gary and speaking to various groups and organizations on Soul Care for Boards, Ministry Staff and Senior Leaders.

Leviathan

Have you read the book of Job lately? Using The Daily Walk Bible, along with a group of friends, I am reading through the Bible from beginning to end in 2019. Every Thursday morning my friends and I gather to talk about underlined verses, intriguing questions, and awe filled moments with God, and we just finished the book of Job.

The story of Job resonates with each of us.

Job and his companions struggle with the ways of God and man for 37 chapters, and then in chapter 38, God breaks the silence and speaks directly to Job. From that point on, the last four chapters of this inspired, authentic book feature the magnificence of God’s created world, the grace of God, and the humble place of man in comparison.

I marvel as I read God’s description of Leviathan: an incredible animal that cannot be contained. God tells of this imposing sea creature for 34 verses, even declaring that all attempts to subdue it result in defeat. Imagine this creature described in Job 41.

“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form.

Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth?

Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.

Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth,

Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.

When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it. A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance.

Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair.

Nothing on earth is its equal—a creature without fear. It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud” (verses 12-34).

Leviathan

Perhaps like me, you found yourself imagining the Lock Ness Monster from the movie The Water Horse? Maybe you pictured the fierce dragon, Smaug, from The Hobbit? Or, your mind pictures dinosaurs, whose bones you have seen in a museum? Regardless, this created-being featured in the Bible lived in the water and commanded the attention of all. Its formidable presence summoned devastation, dismay, and destruction.

Why does God give such specific detail to an animal He created? What is the purpose of God’s words as He addresses Job in the midst of his suffering?

At first glance, it seems odd that God goes to such lengths to catalog the greatness of this animal. Yet, God makes his point to Job when He announces the reality that no matter the impressiveness nor significance of the Leviathan, God is greater!

God proclaims: “No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” Everything belongs to God. What an incredible reminder and truth for us today!

What are the Leviathans in your life?

Consider those giant intimidating and alarming situations that carry the potential to devastate, destroy and discourage. Maybe you feel like you are swimming in a tank of Leviathans?! You may have tried to subdue or control them; yet, they continue to overwhelm and discourage you. Only God can overcome these circumstances and their impact upon you.

  • Job transitions
  • A stagnant marriage
  • Confusing questions
  • Launching a new organization
  • Broken relationships
  • Financial turmoil
  • Rebellious children
  • Distracted friendships
  • Demanding co-workers
  • Delayed travel
  • Health crisis

Just as God uses the mighty nature of Leviathan to alert Job to the reality that nothing is too big for Him, so too can we read these verses and remember that whatever we face is within the control of God.

Everything belongs to God. We may not understand like Job, but like Job we can announce, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (see Job 42:2).

Job’s response to the greatness of God, which overshadowed the Leviathan, is humility. Job noted that his knowledge of God was challenged by his experience of God; this eventually led him to a deeper respect and honor for God and His ways. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…my ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (see Job 42:3,5). In the end, we see God’s grace cover Job with increased trust by restoring relationships and bestowing blessing (see Job 42:7-17).

How do you respond to the Leviathan contexts in your life?

Do you allow any dissonance between your knowledge and experience of God to lead you to greater respect and honor of God?

Before rushing into your next commitment, take a moment to ponder with God the Leviathans in your life? Be attentive to the circumstances that evoke fear, defeat, confusion, anxiety, and anger.

Let’s follow Job’s example by humbly confessing our finite nature and depend upon the manifold grace of God.

Pray with me:     God, you are awesome and above all things. Forgive me for doubting your presence and power when I face daunting situations that look like Leviathans. I recognize that everything under heaven belongs to you. Help me see You and trust your ways. You are good! I love you, Amen.

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 9:10
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Jerry Bridges.  Trusting God. Colorado Springs, CO. 2017.

Brennan Manning.  Ruthless Trust.  San Francisco. 2009.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

June 12-25  – Manila, Philippines
Traveling with Gary and speaking to various groups and organizations on Soul Care for Boards, Ministry Staff and Senior Leaders.