He Sees You When You’re Sleepin’…

He Sees You When You’re Sleepin’…
By Dr. Charles W. Page

Do you recall trying to sleep on Christmas Eve while waiting for Santa to come to town? The anticipation of Saint Nicolas and all his goodies was just too much—who could sleep? The lyrics of Santa Claus is Coming to Town taunted me. “He sees you when you’re sleeping—he knows when you’re awake…” I tossed and turned trying to fall asleep, fearful I’d miss out on Santa’s visit if he caught me awake. I never doubted Santa’s ability to be aware of my wakefulness.

Unfortunately, as adults, the issues that keep us awake during the Christmas season are more complicated than those we experienced as kids. Financial burdens, strained relationships, difficult decisions, brooding regrets and fretful thoughts race through our minds and hinder our rest.

There is someone who “sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake.” It’s not Santa Claus. The Bible reminds us, God’s eyes never close. Perhaps this truth can tuck us in for the night.

“He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)

We erroneously think that as we “turn in” that God somehow “turns off” or moves on to do more important things. But God doesn’t wait for us to wake up before He returns to work. God is just as active during our sleep—or sleeplessness. Believers can rest assured knowing God is awake guarding our lives.

What does God do as we slumber? Psalm 127:1-2 reminds us that God gives to those that He loves as they sleep. What does God give? Understanding God’s generous nature, one rendering would be that God gives to the believer whatever is needed at the time. God can give you wisdom and direction with decisions as you “sleep on it” overnight (Psalm 16:7, James 1:5). Maybe there is a financial need. The scriptures are filled with examples of how God provided for the physical needs of those He loved as they rested (I Kings 19:1-8; Exodus 16:1-8).

God’s gifts are good, perfect (James 1:17), eternal (Ephesians 1:3) and purposeful (Galatians 5:22-25). They do not require batteries, warranties and cannot be purchased in stores. But they are available 24/7/365—not limited to one night each year. God’s greatest gift did not arrive under a tree but on a tree (John 3:16). “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

It’s plain to see, God has our back as we sleep. Try this Christmas recipe for rest.

  1. Repent—in areas where we are aware of our transgressions. “A clean conscience makes a soft pillow.”
  2. Release—control of problems you’re facing and give them over to God.
  3. Relate—connect with God through prayer and meditation while in bed.
  4. Rest—allow God to do what you cannot do for yourself as you sleep.
  5. Receive—God’s unmerited forgiveness, grace and blessings while you sleep.

An English proverb reminds us, “As you make your bed so you must lie in it.” The truth of God’s Word helps us face our situations. Although we cannot change the failures of our past, we can rest with a clean conscience based on God’s gift of forgiveness. Our current circumstances may appear overwhelming, but God gives His presence and His guidance in our hour of need. Our future is secure and hopeful when God’s greatest gift—His Son—is kept in view. A life supported by a vibrant, healthy relationship with the Shepherd of Sleep makes the most comfortable mattress. In childlike faith learn to trust Him as you lie down to sleep and remember: “He sees you when you’re sleeping.”

Author Bio: Charles W. Page, M.D.

Dr. Charles W. Page is a sleep-deprived surgeon who completed medical school and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Page is currently a rural surgeon and has taken numerous medical mission trips to South America and the Middle East. He and his wife Joanna live in Texas with their five children. He is the author of Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective. You can find more information at surrenderedsleep.com.

~*~

Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective, by Dr. Charles W. Page

PUBLISHER: Camino Real Publishers
ISBN-10: 0983138109
ISBN-13: 978-0983138105
PRICE: Paperback: $14.95;  Ebook: $10.95

Available at:

Amazon

Surrendered Sleep

Stumbling Toward Heaven

One wouldn’t expect a book about cancer to be a laugh-out-loud read, but this one is. In Stumbling Toward Heaven: Cancer, Crashes and Questions, Mike Hamel takes us through his struggles with cancer, God, and the aftermath of his auto accident. This a true story told with unusual candor and brilliant insights, and it isn’t just a book for cancer patients.  If you or anyone you love have ever suffered a life altering catastrophe or struggled over questions of God’s will in your life, you will find this book a heart and soul stirring read.

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

Stumbling Toward Heaven: Cancer, Crashes and Questions

CreateSpace (March 24, 2011)

***Special thanks to Mike Hamel for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mike Hamel is the author of a dozen books and a cancer survivor who lives and writes in the shadow of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs.

Visit the author’s website.

 

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Stumbling Toward Heaven is about my struggle with cancer in particular and life in general. It describes in detail what the disease has done to my body and what life before and during treatment has done to my mind, which has never been very stable in the first place. It follows my physical and spiritual journey toward the Valley of the Shadow of Death and beyond. It’s written for everyone who has been impacted by life-threatening catastrophes.

This book is also meant for those who find themselves spiritually “off the reservation” as novelist and cancer survivor Kinky Friedman would say. For a long time I’ve been “out where the (church) buses don’t run”—another Kinkyism—and it’s surprising how many people have wandered out here for one reason or another.

On May 16th, TV News 5 (Colorado) ran a story about Mike. Click HERE to see the interview!

 

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (March 24, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1461005000
ISBN-13: 978-1461005001

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Good News, It’s Cancer!

July 2, 2008
“I have good news,” Dr. Dillon said, leaning forward on his elbows. “You have cancer. The biopsy shows the lump in your abdomen is Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and not an omental tumor as the initial scan suggested.”

Lymphoma is good news indeed. The first time I’d seen the good doctor a few weeks earlier he’d said, “You have a nonspecific mass in your omentum.”

“I didn’t even know I had an omentum,” I replied.

“It’s a fatty covering in the abdomen.”

“How big is the mass?” (“Mass” sounds more benign that “tumor.”)

“About the diameter of a grapefruit,” he said, making a circle with thumbs and forefingers. “The nearby lymph nodes are also enlarged.”

Dr. Dillon had no idea how long the tumor had been growing. I got introduced to it in the spring of 2008. I was getting low-grade cramps after sitting at my computer all day, which I put down to poor posture. Then I woke up two nights in a row with abdominal pain I couldn’t blame on posture or indigestion. That’s when I first felt the hardness in my gut.

The cramps went away about the time I made an appointment with my family physician but the lump remained. I remember kneading my gut on the way to the doctor’s trying to rekindle the pain that had caused me to make the appointment in the first place. Turns out I didn’t have to worry about wasting the doctor’s time; he could feel the abnormality and wouldn’t buy my glib explanation that it was my abs of steel.

“It’s only hard on one side,” he pointed out.

“Okay,” I conceded, “How about ab of steel?”

“How about you get a CT scan,” he countered.

The scan revealed a mass large enough to warrant an immediate trip to a surgeon/oncologist, which is how I wound up at Dr. Dillon’s.

Larry Dillon is a personable man with salt-and-pepper hair, an open face and straightforward manner. During our first visit he had explained to my wife, Susan, and me that the normal course of treatment is a complete surgical resection of the omentum. Before we left he warned about doing research on the Internet because the information on solid omental tumors “will scare you silly.”

He got that right.

I had no problem finding authoritative articles on omental masses. I had hoped it was something Catholics attended during Lent, but no such luck. An article on eMedicine clinically stated that, “Patients with primary malignant tumors of the omentum have a median survival time of only six months. Only 10-20% of patients are alive two years after surgical excision.”1

The word that popped out at me was “survival,” a stark concept for a fifty-six-year-old who had seldom been sick and who had only been in a hospital as a visitor. Till now my closest brushes with mortality had been conducting funerals as a pastor. All that was about to change. Since then I’ve been in and out of hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices. I have gone from a high-energy to a high-maintenance lifestyle; from avoiding even aspirin to popping up to twenty pills a day and having lethal doses of toxic chemicals injected directly into my chest.
Scan This, Biopsy That

The transition from diagnosis (determining what’s wrong with a person), to prognosis (discerning how a disease will progress), is facilitated by a plethora of tests. It was a CT scan that sent me to Dr. Dillon. He in turn ordered a biopsy of the mass in my abdomen.

Computed Axial Tomography, aka CAT or CT scan, was invented in 1972 by a British engineer and a South African physicist, both of whom later received Nobel Prizes for their contributions to medicine and science. Tomos is Greek for “slice” and graphia means “without a knife.” The CT scan uses X-rays and computers to examine the body in 3-D, which sure beats exploratory surgery! It allows radiologists to see diseases and abnormalities that, in the past, could only be found by surgeons—or coroners. Thankfully, the procedure is painless, unless you count drinking the contrast solution, which tastes like banana-flavored chalk.

I reported to Memorial Hospital on June 26 for my tumor biopsy. I remember talking to a nurse named Tammy while on the examination table and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room an hour later. Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine and the skills of top-flight professionals, I can truly say the process was painless.

As I looked at my stomach after the biopsy, I noticed the “x” they made before the procedure was an inch below the actual cut. I pointed this out to Tammy, who explained that they’d marked me while I was holding my breath during the scan. Once I was under, I relaxed, hence the change in location. There went my hopes of a malpractice suit. Actually, I was impressed at how personable and professional the medical personnel have treated me) an observation that has held true throughout my treatment).

All I have to show for the biopsy the next day is a small bruise and a slight soreness. I feel pretty upbeat but I’m careful not to get too exuberant or else I’ll pay the price. To an extent, I believe Newton’s Third Law also applies to emotions: “For every feeling, there is an equal and opposite feeling.” Like other natural forces, emotions come finely balanced on a shifting fulcrum.

The hardest part of this ordeal so far has been telling family and friends and hearing the concern and tears in their voices. The possibility of a shortened life hasn’t registered on me yet. I’m not trying to suppress my feelings; they just haven’t gotten too worked up.

Obviously God has entered my thoughts but this crisis hasn’t suddenly cured my inability to pray. For a few years now I’ve suffered from the loss of a sense of God’s presence and shed my evangelical worldview. I’ve been adrift in a spiritual Sargasso Sea, which may have contributed to my getting sick. More on this later.

* * *

“Cancer is a word, not a sentence.”

—John Diamond

True Courage, by Steve Farrar

True Courage is a man’s book written by a man for men. Why then did I read it? Because it is about Daniel, and Daniel is one of my heroes. In truth, this is an excellent book. All of us, man or woman, have had our lives take unexpected turns. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” What happens when your plans don’t turn out the way you thought they would? How do you heal from the broken? In True Courage Steve Farrar can help you find those answers.

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

True Courage

David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Steve Farrar is the founder and chairman of Men’s LeadershipMinistries. He is a frequent speaker at men’s conferences throughout the country. Farrar has authored 16 books, including Point Man, Battle Ready, and God Built.

Visit the author’s website.

 

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Best-selling author and Bible teacher, Steve Farrar, reminds us that the story of Daniel holds powerful truths for today. Everyone can recall as a young child having the courage to head out the door—whether it was to your first day of school, your first game in little league, or your piano lesson. Then life takes over and you lose your bravado, giving in to the fears of the world around you. In True Courage readers will discover a God who provides incredible courage in the midst of uncertainty, even through treacherous, evil days. He gives us the courage to face lions in their den—or an unexpected job loss, the diagnosis of a sick child, or the return of a debilitating cancer.

 

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781434768735
ISBN-13: 978-1434768735
ASIN: 1434768732

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Courage to Stay the Course

True Courage can throw you at first, because it’s counterintuitive.

In other words, it’s the opposite of what you might expect.

My best example? Getting into a pickup and backing up a trailer into the garage. No sweat, you say? What’s the big deal about backing a trailer into a garage? It’s no sweat until you try to pull it off. If you’ve never done it before, thirty seconds into it you’re sweating like a fire hydrant because that pickup and trailer are twisted like a pretzel—and you’re suddenly parked in the flowerbed with no clue how to get out.

Why it is so hard to back up a trailer? It’s counterintuitive, that’s why. If you want the trailer to go left, you don’t turn the wheel left. No, if you want to go left, you have to turn to the right. If you’re going forward and you want to turn left then you turn left—but not if you’re backing up. When you’re backing up, the rules change, and to get that trailer in the garage you have to go against the grain of what makes sense.

Okay, now let’s plow right into Daniel, who right out of the blocks, demonstrates that True Courage is … counterintuitive.

In Daniel 1, we find two events that reveal True Courage.

Also in Daniel 1, we discover three traits that are the basis of True Courage.

Two Events

The Crash

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god” (Dan. 1:1–2).

We can read this verse and blow right by it. But it is huge in biblical history, and it was huge for Daniel. When Nebuchadnezzar showed up at the gates of Jerusalem, it was the beginning of the end.

When I was a kid in school in the fifties, we used to have drills where we would duck under our desks in case of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. The Russian president, Khrushchev, had said he would bury us. So we got under our desks so that we would be protected from the Soviet nuclear missiles. That way Khrushchev couldn’t bury us, and our nation wouldn’t be crushed.

The prophet Jeremiah had told the nation that if they continued to rebel against the one true God and mock His Word, they would crash. And that’s exactly what happened. Nebuchadnezzar showed up in 605 BC, and everything changed.

It would have been easy for Daniel to imagine that his life was over. God’s judgment had arrived, and it was everyone’s worst nightmare. Another king from a more powerful nation was now calling the shots. He would leave a Jewish king in place, but only as a figurehead and puppet. For the little nation of Judah, the gig was up.

When the nation crashed, so did Daniel’s plan for his life. He was just a teenager, but teenagers have dreams, hopes, and wonderful ideas about what their lives will look like someday.

For Daniel, that someday—the someday of his boyhood dreams—would never come. All of those dreams died when the Babylonians smashed through Jerusalem’s gates. All the rules had changed, and nothing could ever look or feel the same again. Not ever.

Sometimes our worlds crash, and so do our dreams.

I have a friend who waved to his wife and daughter as they drove off for a short overnight trip. Two hours later he was in a helicopter, landing at the scene of a head-on collision that took his wife’s life and severely injured his daughter. When that truck crossed the center divider and crashed head-on into his wife’s car, my friend’s entire existence crashed. He held her lifeless body in his arms, and it was the end of everything—or so it seemed in that moment.

At some point every man’s life crashes, and it seems like life is over. It may be the death of a spouse or a child. It could be the death of a marriage. A man’s life can crash through a bankruptcy or because a teenager has run away from home. There are a thousand different events that can crash our lives. Sometimes the crash is the result of a bad decision, but it can just as easily be the result of simply living life.

When a man’s life crashes, it always kicks in cause and effect.

Sometimes, the results are devastating, and a man simply gives up, withdraws in defeat and despair, and checks out of life. In other words, the crash changes everything—permanently, and for the worse. At other times, a man will take a different course and keep moving forward, trusting God, though the path has all but disappeared in front of him.

That, my friend, is a counterintuitive response.

And that is the path of True Courage.

The Change

Some changes are exciting, propelling you into a new and positive life. But when the change is the direct result of a crash, it’s another matter altogether. Your life and your heart have been broken—and you’re wondering how in the world you will ever pick up the pieces. You’re in the middle of a transition, an unwanted change, and there’s no turning back. And when you find yourself in unwelcome change, you are suddenly dealing with new stuff in your gut—anxiety, perplexity, disorientation, crushing disappointment, or even sheer terror.

The road forks before you, and you find yourself walking where you have never walked before. You wake up one morning, and it seems like everything once so dear and familiar to you has been stripped away. You’re on alien turf and maybe wondering how in the world you got there—and what you’re going to do next. And then you remember the crash and realize that’s how you got there—but you still don’t have a clue what you’re going to do next. Here’s how the Bible describes the huge changes that crashed into the life of the young man named Daniel:

Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. (Dan. 1:3–7)

Daniel’s nation crashed, and so did his world. Almost overnight, he found himself swimming in unwanted change. He was taken from his family, friends, and home, and relocated to a foreign city, with a foreign culture, trying to pick up some basic phrases in a foreign language. And on top of that, he suddenly landed in a foreign university. That’s a lot of unwanted change—but that’s what happens when your world comes crashing down. Daniel was immediately enrolled in a three-year course of study at the University of Babylon. You might call it Daniel’s “education,” but then again, the word indoctrination might fall closer to the mark. So what has changed? It’s still true today. Indoctrination is still the primary work of secular universities, just as it was three thousand years ago in ancient Babylon.

If you think that I overstate the case, note that something had to occur before Daniel could move into the dorm. They first stripped him of his name—which was step one in stripping him of his faith. One commentator writes, “Daniel and his friends received genuine heathen names in exchange for their own significant names, which were associated with that of the true God.”1

The Babylonian conquerors wanted to swallow these young people whole—mind, body, and soul—completely estranging them from their old home and their relationship with the God of Israel.

Daniel in Hebrew means “God is my Judge.” It was changed to Belteshazzar, which means “whom Bel favors.” Daniel’s friends also went through the same drill. Hananiah means “God is gracious.” He became known as Shadrach, which means “illumined by Shad [a sun god].” Mishael means “who is like God? God is great.” They tagged him with Meshach, which means “who is like Shach [a love goddess].” Finally, Azariah means “God is my helper,” but the tenured university faculty came up with Abednego, which means “the servant of Nego [a fire god].”2

Daniel found himself in a Babylonian university system that was a place of tremendous pressure and competition. At the end of the three years, each of the young men brought over from Judah were to stand before the king for the biggest final exam of their young lives. What’s more, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t bring their books, CliffsNotes, laptops, or iPhones to the exam. This is how Scripture records that moment after the university had dubbed Daniel and his friends with new names:

Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.

Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. (Dan. 1:8–21)

In Daniel 1:3, Daniel was a teenager. By the time we reach verse 21, he’s somewhere around ninety years of age. Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC. Verses 3–21 give us a very short bio of Daniel’s career in Babylon. He started in the Babylonian university, was promoted like a rocket, and served in the highest reaches of power for at least seventy years.

In the early years at that godless university, God prepared Daniel and his sidekicks to serve as royal advisors to the king of Babylon. In addition, God gave Daniel a stunning gift: the ability to interpret dreams and visions. He was truly one of a kind. He and his friends who stood for the Lord had a place of remarkable influence because their advice, counsel, and wisdom were ten times better than anyone who had ever graduated from the University of Babylon.

At the risk of their very lives, these young men honored God by refusing to violate their consciences, and the Lord honored their faithfulness. Daniel went on to keep his high place of honor for seventy years. For the rest of his life he would live and work in the corridors of power and luxury, politics, and intrigue. The king and the palace were to be his sphere for the rest of his days.

Now how in the world did he do that?

Three Traits

How did this young man maintain his balance on such treacherous turf? And did he manage to keep that balance for the seventy years of his life there?

As I have read and reread the account of Daniel’s life, three traits continually come to the surface: humility, trust, and hope.

They don’t show up just once or twice. Throughout his life they are woven into the fabric of his character and decision making. They are a key part of Daniel’s True Courage. That may not seem obvious at first glance—what does humility, trust, and hope have to do with True Courage? The answer is all three are counterintuitive. They all run against the grain of what we would expect in Daniel.

It hit me one day that those three traits in Daniel’s life are captured in one of the shortest psalms in the Bible: Psalm 131. Interestingly enough, it’s one of the psalms of the ascent—psalms that the men of Judah would sing as they would make their way up the mountain to Jerusalem three times a year. God commanded all of the men to come during these times. But Daniel was never able to do that in his entire life. The nation was in captivity, and the feasts were on hold.

But the traits of Psalm 131 weren’t on hold in his life.

He lived them out every day and in so doing demonstrated True Courage.

He actually lived out that psalm’s truths in a sometimes seductive, always tyrannical environment. And he did it for seventy years.

It was C. H. Spurgeon who commented that Psalm 131 is one of the shortest psalms to read … and one of the longest to learn.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. (Ps. 131:1–3)

Did you catch the three essential traits in this psalm? Verse 1 speaks of the trait of humility. Verse 2 focuses on trust, and verse 3 speaks of a great hope. It’s safe to say that Daniel consistently exhibited these traits throughout his life.

Essential Trait 1: Humility

If you’re out looking for an example of humility, you probably shouldn’t start with the NFL—and particularly with wide receivers. Wide receivers, generally speaking, are known for their arrogant touchdown dances. There are notable exceptions, but arrogance could be tattooed quite naturally on most of them.

It seems like whenever these guys just happen to catch a pass in the end zone, they suddenly start pounding their chests and strutting around like a peacock. Now what’s ironic is that the guy probably dropped the last four balls that were thrown his way. But this one he caught because it went through his hands and lodged in his face mask. So now he’s running around like he just did something important. What he did was catch a football. He’s paid (actually overpaid) to catch footballs.

The wide receiver who catches a touchdown pass and then offers a sacrifice to the god of self in the end zone has forgotten a few things. He has forgotten that the touchdown was actually a team effort. There was a quarterback who had the guts to stand in the pocket and get sandwiched by six hundred pounds of blitzing wild men. There are also the anonymous offensive linemen who do the work in the trenches that nobody sees or appreciates. They get stepped on, kicked in the groin, and blinded by a thumb in the eyes. And that’s just during pregame warm-ups! Arrogance is getting full of yourself real quick and losing all perspective concerning your accomplishments.

There are two ways we can depart from humility. The first is arrogance, and it’s also been known to show up in individuals who are not wide receivers. (Frankly, you can be an incredibly arrogant person at a fast-food counter. I’ve met some of them.) Verse 1 is a description of balanced humility. The psalmist says that his heart is not lifted up. He’s not saying that his heart has never been lifted up, but rather that he’s trying to keep his heart in check. In other words, David is doing a little self-assessment here. He’s checking out his heart, as Solomon advised in Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

The psalmist then makes sure his eyes aren’t raised too high so that they’re not too lofty. In other words, he’s careful of putting all of his energy into reaching the next level—whatever that may be. “There is nothing wrong with the desire to do well,” wrote D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “as long as it does not master us. We must not be governed by ambition.”3

The writer knows that it is God who grants promotion (Ps. 75), and He knows best when we are ready for the higher place. Until then, we should mind our assigned posts—and ourselves.

Humility doesn’t try to understand things that are beyond comprehension. Humility understands that some answers to hard questions will remain secret (Deut. 29:29). And that’s okay.

The second way we can wander away from humility is when we get into self-condemnation and self-loathing. We do something stupid that we promised ourselves we would never do again—and then because of our disappointment, we start telling ourselves we’re worthless. We’ve all done stupid things—and then done them again and again.

Speaking for myself, I’ve got enough hours in “stupid” to get a PhD. I actually have enough hours in “stupid” to teach “stupid” at a graduate level. And if we have really screwed up and done something that has horrible consequences—not only for us but also for the people we love—we start riding ourselves and telling ourselves that it would be better for them if we weren’t even alive.

Whenever a believer commits suicide, you must suspect that there was demonic oppression involved, which led to self-condemnation and self-loathing. That’s the work of Satan. The Bible doesn’t

call him the “accuser of the brethren” for nothing.

So what is humility and how do we find its balance that keeps us from arrogance on one hand and self-condemnation on the other? C. J. Mahaney hit the nail on the head when he stated, “Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” 4 Romans 12:3–8 really brings it into focus:

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

I see three principles here that helped Daniel keep his balance with humility and that I believe will help us do the same.

• Know who you are

• Know what God has given to you

• Stay in your sphere

How to Keep Your Balance

Know Who You Are

The plumb line on humility is this: Don’t think too highly of yourself—and don’t think too lowly, either.

I like the way J. B. Phillips paraphrased Romans 12:3:

As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.

This passage directs us to use sober or sound judgment (or “a sane estimate”) in knowing who you are. If you’re an average singer, don’t plan on cutting a CD and taking a worldwide tour. You may like music, and your brother-in-law might think you’re pretty good at karaoke, but if you’re average or even a little above average, chances are you’re not going to make it in New York or Nashville.

Know What God Has Given You

You don’t have all of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:3–8. You’re part of the body of Christ, and He has distributed gifts to each of us. Some have more gifts than others—but everyone has a gift.

We often meet someone whom we respect and admire and think, I wish I could be like him, or maybe, I wish I had his personality. But you can’t be like him, and you don’t have his personality. That individual may have gifts you don’t have, but don’t waste your time—and your life—moping around because you don’t have certain gifts. When you do that, your heart is getting proud, your eyes are getting lofty, and you’re not thinking straight. What are the gifts God has given to you? Don’t depreciate them, and don’t

despise them. And don’t imagine that they’re not important—to God and to others.

Years ago I was up early on a Sunday morning and discovered we were out of something—salt, sugar, Ovaltine—I honestly can’t remember what it was. It was too many years ago. But here’s what I do remember. I found what I was looking for on the top shelf of the pantry, and when I reached up to grab it, I knocked over a glass jar of sweet pickles that immediately yielded to the law of gravity and fell

seven feet where it landed on my unprotected pinkie toe.

I’d never given much thought to my pinkie toe and its ministry in my life until that moment. But for the next three or four months I had trouble thinking about anything else. When that pickle-assaulted pinkie toe was broken, it messed up my entire life. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t think. I just wanted that little toe to heal up and get back to its assigned post.

Stay in Your Sphere

You’ve been given gifts. Stay with them. Develop them, work hard, and do your work to the glory of God. Colossians 3:23–24 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (NASB).

All work is valuable, and even the Babylonian heathens knew this when they took over Jerusalem and brought back the first round of exiles. In Jeremiah 29:1–2, the prophet makes reference to the people who were taken in the second wave from Judah to Babylon in 597 BC:

These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem.

Daniel and his buddies were members of the educated royal family and had already been taken and enrolled in the University of Babylon (Dan. 1:1–7). But in the second wave, the Babylonians brought back additional members of the royal family, some government bureaucrats, and, watch this—craftsmen and metal workers.

You can understand their bringing in the government guys and the queen, but why would they single out craftsmen and metal workers? It was because they were valuable. Guys who are gifted with their hands, who can work with wood or metal, are critical. Try to build an army without craftsmen and metal workers. Those are the guys who build the chariots and the siege ramps and supply the infantry with swords and armor.

If you’re gifted with your hands—if you’re a finish carpenter or an excellent craftsman—don’t waste your time wishing you could be a preacher or a prime minister. That’s not your calling, and it’s not your sphere. Work with that wood, excel with that needle and thread, and do it to the glory of God!

On the other hand, Daniel, who was gifted with the wisdom and knowledge to lead a government, should not have been shoeing horses and working around a forge. That is honorable and critical work, but Daniel wasn’t called or gifted in that area. He needed to stay in his sphere. He wasn’t to think too highly or too lowly of himself. Instead, he correctly assessed his own gifts and then got after it with what God had given him.

Staying in your sphere doesn’t mean that you don’t improve yourself—you do. So take some classes and get the credentials you need to succeed in your sphere. That may mean that you need a college degree—but then again, you may not need a college degree if you’re going to repair cars or make crowns in a dental lab. But whatever your sphere is, work hard, show up on time, better yourself, do quality work, and God will see to your advancement. But don’t try to be something that you’re not!

Right off the top, I’m reminded of a king in the Old Testament who refused to stay in his sphere: Uzziah, king of Judah.

Uzziah started strong. He was one of the most productive kings that Judah ever had. His vast accomplishments are listed in 2 Chronicles 26:14. And then we read these words:

In Jerusalem he made engines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.

But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor, and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.” Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him. And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the king’s household, governing the people of the land. (2 Chron. 26:15–21)

What haunting words: “He was marvelously helped, till he was strong.”

When he became strong, he grew proud and lost his humility. And it led to his destruction. He refused to stay in his sphere and decided that he would go ahead and do the work that was only to be done by the priest. When he lost his humility, he refused to stay in his sphere—and he was disciplined as a leper for the rest of his days. Then he was forced to stay in his sphere—in a separate house, excluded from the house of the Lord.

Daniel was humble enough to stay in his sphere.

And God favored his life and work for the next seventy years.

Essential Trait 2: Trust

The second essential trait is trust in God, and it’s something that takes years to learn. We fight it from the time we are born as Psalm 131:2 describes: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

In the days of the Old Testament, children often weren’t weaned until the age of three or four. And when the day of weaning came, the little ones fought against it with everything within them. The mother’s breast was the place of security, comfort, affection, and nourishment. But a child must get on with life, and so the time of weaning comes.

Weaning is the first great disappointment of life.

No matter what our age, however, God is continually weaning us from places or positions where we have found comfort, peace, security, nourishment, or affirmation. Sometimes we fight with everything we have to maintain those places of safety, comfort, and security—especially if it involves our income stream.

The mother’s milk is the source of provision, and no child wants to lose it. The sudden loss of a secure and consistent income scares us and makes us worry about our future. A job loss brings anxiety as we suddenly have to calibrate how we’ll buy groceries and pay the mortgage. When we lose a job or we lose our health—we’re being weaned, and it isn’t pleasant. And so we are forced into the place of trust.

Elijah the prophet confronted King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, telling them that because of their Baal worship and their belief that Baal controlled the rain, it would not rain until God’s drought would run its course (1 Kings 17). It turned out to be a three-and-half-year drought. Immediately Elijah became number one on Israel’s mostwanted list. God, however, led him to a strange and unfamiliar refuge east of the Jordan, hiding him by a brook called Cherith.

Elijah had suddenly been weaned off his home, his income, and his security. Now he was in a secluded place where the economic outlook wasn’t good. Without much time to adapt, he found himself having to trust God to give him the daily essentials of life. He had no IRAs to cash in or gold to get him through the crisis. As far as I know, Old Testament prophets didn’t get a pension from the government or have 401(k) accounts.

But he had the Lord, and He is always enough.

During Elijah’s time of exile, he’d had fresh water from the bubbling brook, and each morning God would send the ravens with his brunch—and then they would return that evening with dinner. He had no reserves and no savings. He had to trust God—literally—to give him this day his daily bread. And God strangely chose to use the ravens—which are notorious for neglecting to feed their own young. But they never forgot Elijah. This wasn’t meals on wheels; it was dinner on the fly!

After awhile he began to feel comfortable and secure. He was adjusting nicely to his new circumstances. And then one morning the brook went dry.

Once again he was in crisis. He was being weaned off the familiar and the secure. His source of provision suddenly dried up, and now he was going to have to trust God all over again.

Then the word of the LORD came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:8–16)

So Elijah must have been thinking that this widow up in Zarephath had a foundation from the life-insurance money her husband had left. But when he arrived, he found out that she was in worse shape than he was. He asked her for a blueberry waffle, and she replied that she was going to make one for her and her boy, and then they were going to die. But she agreed to feed Elijah first—and then a convoy of large trucks immediately began to pull up in front of her house with thousands of gallons of Crisco oil and one-hundred-pound sacks of Gold Medal flour. She quickly hired workers to construct large warehouses to hold her great surplus of flour and vegetable oil.

No, that’s not quite how it happened, is it?

In fact, she just kept working out of the same jar of flour and the same jug of oil. She would reach in and dip out a cup of oil, and when she did, the level never dropped—and it was the same with the flour.

She didn’t have a three-year supply down in the root cellar. There never was a surplus—God just made sure that she always had enough to get by. And when that happens, you are forced to trust Him on a daily basis. When you get down to it, that’s not a bad way to live. It keeps us connected with our Provider and mindful that we can’t take a step or a breath without Him.

And that leads to the next essential trait.

Essential Trait 3: Hope

Over the last year I have come to a startling realization.

It’s simply this: The greatest blessings of my life have all come out of my greatest disappointments. I won’t bore you with the details, but every time I thought I was done or found myself fighting off some crushing setback—God brought along a blessing far greater than I could have asked for or imagined. Those disappointments have been a series of weanings. I had to be weaned off what I wanted and what I had prescribed for my own life. Eventually I would quit fighting the loss of what I wanted to happen and simply trust that He knew what was best. And that has always proven to be the case.

That’s how it worked for Daniel. He was humbled when his nation was taken over by Babylon, and no doubt he had to be weaned off his family and friends who were back in Jerusalem. Through it all, however, he learned to hope in the God of Israel who never slumbers or sleeps.

That’s our story too, as we go through life. We are humbled by some crushing setback, great failure, or defeat. We find ourselves getting weaned off something that we dearly love and want to hold on to. Through the humiliations and weanings, however, we learn that God will never abandon us. He may not give us what we want, but He always gives us what we need. And what He gives is always infinitely better than we could have ever thought or imagined— and that in turn builds our hope when the next hard and difficult time comes ripping and ramming into our lives like a runaway bulldozer.

The bottom line is this: Daniel’s hope was completely in God.

That’s it. That’s the Christian life.

Do you find yourself in a humiliating defeat? Are you being weaned off something that you are trying to hold on to?

Let it go. Submit yourself to Him and to His plan for your life. That’s what Daniel did. Trust him with everything. You will find that it’s the safest and most secure place in the entire world.

Stay in your sphere—and trust the God who isn’t bound by spheres.

In the process, you’ll find True Courage.

“We are all imprisoned by facts: I was born, I exist.”

Luigi Pirandello

 

Blessed: Living a Grateful Life

How much tea can one pour from a pot without refilling it? No matter the capacity of the container, sooner or later it will empty of it is not replenished.  The same can be said of the compassion of women.  As wives, mothers, friends and community members women often work selflessly and tirelessly to meet the needs of others while neglecting their own need to be nurtured.

Ellen Michaud has focused her life on celebrating and supporting strong women who support others.   Her latest book, Blessed: Living a Grateful Life, Michaud invites her readers to explore and enjoy the everyday blessings that surround us.  Replenishing our own reservoirs of strength needn’t take weeks or days or even hours.  A few moments spent here and there truly noticing and appreciating our family, friends, community, and environment can fulfill us in ways no vacation ever can.

Each chapter in Blessed is a story unto itself complete with refreshment for our souls and lessons on embracing our blessings.  Each reading is a two to three page vacation from our own daily stress.  I have enjoyed these readings every morning either with or in place of my daily devotional.

About the Book:
Sometimes we just need to stop for a moment and absorb the quiet moments in the world around us–to take a deep breath and appreciate the things in life that make us thankful and bring us joy. In this heartfelt collection of her online columns from Diane, the flagship magazine of the Curves women’s fitness center organization, author Ellen Michaud reminds us of the everyday blessings that surround us, but we all tend to overlook.

Entries include:

  • Summer in a Jar: On a 200-acre farm known for its Jersey cows and prizewinning cheese, two women harvest a cornucopia of produce that looks like it came from the Garden of Eden. Although the visit was intended to pick up ingredients for “one of the finest salsas in the near world,” the end result is a view of a fertile valley, the rich smell of vegetables freshly tugged from the earth that speaks to the soul, and the natural rhythm of friendly conversation.
  • The Teapot: During a snowy winter storm, the author pulls her great- grandmother’s worn silver teapot down from a shelf. As she polishes the teapot’s tarnished surface, she contemplates its long journey over an ocean and through the generations. As she discovers engraved hallmarks that lead to a deeper understanding of its 200-year history, her appreciation for the women who traveled with it grows.
  • Welcome Home: As an Airbus 321 begins its descent toward the coastal lights of Los Angeles International Airport, the pilot makes an overhead announcement that stills the restless and rustling passengers. What follows are moments of contemplation about the sacrifices of soldiers and, how regardless of one’s politics, there is still a shared sense of love and respect for those who fight for our freedom.
  • The Courage to Change: After a lifetime of self-built barriers, the author’s 88-year-old aunt overcomes discouraging memories and years of grief to prove that it’s never too late to open yourself to new experiences, take risks, and start over.
Ellen & Meggie -- photo by Peter Chin

Ellen & Meggie photo by Peter Chin

About the Author:
Ellen Michaud is an award-winning author and editor who lives high in the mountains of Vermont. Her work focuses on women’s stories, and has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal, Health Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Men’s Health, Readers’ Digest Magazine, and Prevention Magazine, where she was the editor-at-large for six years. Today she not only writes for these and other media, she is also an online columnist at MyCurves.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Ruby Mansuri of FSB Associates.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

More Than a Devotional

Thirty-One Days of Drawing Near to God: Resting Securely in His Delight, by Ruth Myers is more than a daily devotional.  Through her own life experiences as a missionary, Myers invites us to see God at work in the world and in our on lives.  Using scripture, anecdotes, personal reflection and prayer, Myers teaches us just how intimate our relationship with God can be.  This is a 31 day reflective journey straight to the heart of God.

About The Book:

Draw near…

He’ll answer your deepest longings.

Do you enjoy the soul-satisfying intimacy with God you were created for? In this heartfelt devotional, beloved author Ruth Myers invites you to a personal, daily encounter with your first, last, and best love.

Each brief but deeply satisfying reading explores the riches of God’s passion for you and your true identity as one in whom He delights. As you engage your heart with His, you’ll discover anew the joy of hearing Him speak to you individually, tenderly, in life-changing ways that will root you firmly in relationship with Him.

Experience lavish love, astounding mercy—and an intimacy more satisfying than you’d ever imagined possible. Draw near to God, and He’ll draw near to you.

Read an Excerpt:

When I was ten, God (and my mother) used a famous verse about His love to give me my first conscious experience of it. Four years earlier I had gone forward in an evangelistic meeting. The pastor had talked with me about the gospel and I prayed. Soon I was baptized and became a church member. But later on, all I could remember was my baptism.I knew about the cross of Christ and about His resurrection, but I remembered no personal contact with God.

And I didn’t know where I would go if I died. This worried me. So whenever our pastor began preaching on hell, I’d slip out of the service, pretending I needed to go to the rest room.

One night my mother, sensing that something was troubling me, asked me about it. I didn’t really want to tell her about the struggle in my heart, for she thought I was a real Christian. But I admitted my fear concerning my eternal destiny.

In reply Mother did something so simple. She quoted a verse I’d known for as long as I could remember. But as she
spoke, the truth dawned in my heart and I believed: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That night I believed in Christ as my Savior,
and my fear and guilt rolled away. That night, for the first time I remember, I felt God’s love. All this happened in an
instant as Mother quoted John 3:16 (KJV). When she finished, I bowed my head and thanked the Lord that He had
given me eternal life.

“I’LL DO ANYTHING”

When I entered my teenage years, I didn’t know any Christian young people who, as far as I could tell, were really living the Christian life. I had one friend a few years older who loved the Lord, but she seemed rather old-maidish and I didn’t want to be like her. So I decided I wouldn’t follow the Lord closely.

Behind this decision were wrong ideas about God. I didn’t believe He wanted what was best for me. I was afraid that if I gave Him the controls, He would make me do things I didn’t want to do and I’d miss the best in life. In this time of rebellion I tried everything I dared, though sometimes the Holy Spirit blocked me. And I became more and more miserable.

Finally at age sixteen I agreed to attend a Christian conference. There I saw young people on fire for the Lord, and I received a lot of solid Bible teaching. One night I went outside under the trees and prayed, “Lord, I’ll do anything You want me to—even be a missionary,” which was the very worst thing I could think of.

During the next few years God began to deepen my appreciation for His love through “The Love of God,” a song made famous by George Beverly Shea. This song describes God’s love as “greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.” If the skies were a scroll and the oceans filled with ink, the song says, and if every stalk on earth were a writing quill, we still could never write in full this love God has for us. The skies could not contain it. The oceans of ink would run dry.

Singing those words I truly felt the love of God. I knew that He understands, that He cares, that He is compassionate. I needed this knowledge then, and I still need it every day. But I had not yet learned to let my roots go down deep into His love so that it was a constant influence in my life. I felt His love primarily when I was singing about it with others, but not when I was alone or when things went wrong.

As the Lord worked within me, my desires for the future gradually made a U-turn. I found I wanted to become a missionary after all, and I began preparing for this. A favorite verse became Psalm 84:11: “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (NKJV). As I followed God, I was discovering He knew better than I did how to
satisfy me. Life was getting better, though not necessarily easier.

MAJOR PURSUIT

After I was graduated from high school, I set out for Northwestern Bible School and College in Minneapolis. There
the Lord did more new things in my heart. I’d been having daily devotions since I was sixteen. Often it was the last
thing I did at night, and I could hardly hold my eyes open. Nevertheless, I congratulated myself for being such a good
Christian.

Then the Lord began speaking: “Ruth, that’s not the point at all. I want you to come to My Word because you
want to know Me.” The lesson was reinforced for me by the hymn “Break Thou the Bread of Life” in the lines that say,
“Beyond the sacred page I seek thee, Lord; my spirit pants for thee, O Living Word.” I still wanted Him to teach me the principles I should know from the Bible, but I began going to Him more often with the prayer, “Lord, most of all I want to know You.” Since that request is in line with God’s will for His children, He answered it just as He promised in
1 John 5:14-15.

There was one fellow in school who, more than anyone else, seemed set upon knowing the Lord, and I greatly admired him. Stan had plenty of work and study responsibilities, and between those and his pursuit of the Lord, he didn’t have time for dating. Being a little beyond my reach made him all the more desirable. I learned that one of Stan’s favorite Scripture passages was from Philippians 3. I began to pray over it—and to cry over it, for I was learning that I had to get my heart needs met in my relationship with Jesus Christ and not anywhere else. The passage soon became a favorite of mine as well. Verses 8 and 10 in the Amplified Bible (condensed a bit) read,

I count everything as loss compared to the priceless
privilege—the surpassing worth and supreme advantage—
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.… For His
sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be
mere rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.…
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know
Him—that I may progressively become more deeply
and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and
recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His
Person] more strongly and more clearly.

Nothing else meant anything to Paul compared to the priceless privilege of knowing this vastly wonderful Person he had met. Back then I didn’t have the Amplified version but I did have Philippians 3:10 in the King James: “That I
may know him.” I began to hear God say, “Ruth, this must be your major pursuit.” He used circumstances to drive me
to my knees and to begin praying along this line. And, as a young single woman, I discovered that the Lord could and
did meet my deepest longing if I let Him be my first love.

My younger sister Mary eventually joined me at Northwestern, and we found a poem, the source of which is unknown,
that we often reflected on and used in prayer:

Purge me, Lord, of my follies; an empty cup let me be,
Waiting only Thy blessing, hungry only for Thee.
Can even the Lord pour blessing into a cup that is full?
Put treasure into a locked hand, be He ever so bountiful?
Empty me, Lord, and make me hungry only for Thee.
Only Thy bread once tasted can ever satisfy me.

Excerpted from Thirty-One Days of Drawing Near to God by Ruth Myers. Copyright © 2011 by Ruth Myers. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

About the Author:

RUTH MYERS and her husband, Warren, are on staff with the Navigators and have served as missionaries in Singapore for many years. In addition to her one-to-one ministry, Ruth is a popular conference speaker. She and Warren have co-authored numerous books, including 31 Days of Praise.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”