Daily Devotion for May 22, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
The beginning of this moving song is sung in Kituba, a language widely spoken in central Africa. The Kituba lyrics are (thankfully) translated onscreen, but we have supplied the English lyrics for It is Well with My Soul.
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
What ever my lot you have taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come,
Let this blessed assurance control;
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, with my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin not in part but the whole.
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul.
And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll.
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1876
Lyrics by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
Prayer of Thanks
Heavenly Father, I thank you for my life and everything you have bestowed upon me and upon all people, this day and every day. I thank you for the good and bad, the understanding of forgiveness, and your holy power, without which we would have nothing. I thank you this day for all your blessings, your gifts, your never ending love for us. Even though we all come short of the glory of God, I thank you for the sacrifice of your only son Jesus Christ for all our sins. You and only you know us Father and you know if our hearts are true. So once again, I thank you with all my heart and soul. In the name of Christ I pray,
O blessed Christ, my teacher, my savior, my God: You have commanded me to love others as myself. Yet it is so often easy to see the faults in others, for I see their outside and compare it against what is inside me. I have inflated my goodness and importance in my own mind, but have judged others for the smallest shortcoming, and I am filled by foolish pride.
I vow by this prayer that I will strive to follow your Word, to forgive all who have injured me, to turn loose the petty resentments and grudges that poison the world with hatred, and to overlook the faults of others; and I ask to be pardoned wherever I have done injury to my brothers and sisters, who are your beloved children even though they, like me, are sinners. And I vow, when I fall short of your commandment, to seek out and confess my wrongdoing. Forgive me, Holy Christ, and help me to ever amend my life; this I pray, with faith in the grace you have promised to the penitent sinner.
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Proverbs 16:31 (KJV)
if it be found in the way of righteousness.
The Three Visitors
The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre, while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way — now that you have come to your servant."
. . . [Abraham fixes a feast for the strange visitors.] . . .
"Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him.
"There, in the tent," he said.
Then he said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son."
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my husband is old, will I now have this pleasure?"
Then the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord ? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."
Notes on the Scripture
Of all the messages in this wonderful Bible story, the most inspirational is Sarah's pregnancy. Sarah was old at the time. Not only was she past childbearing age, but she had been infertile even in her youth. The idea of getting pregnant made her laugh; it was utterly absurd. She was resigned to living out her life in a strange land, wandering around with her peculiar husband and serving him. But not only did she did get pregnant, but the child she bore would be the father of Israel, the founder of Judaism.
As people get older, they tend to look backwards more and more, often with regret. We see the future less as a time filled with possibilities and potential. Our future seems shorter and shorter compared to our past, our powers seem to diminish, and the possibility of great achievement seems less and less likely. But here, we have the Bible telling us the opposite tale.
And not just the Bible, but also every era of history, tells us that there is no reason, other than a self-imposed restriction, that people can't reach their greatest achievement in old age — often in an entirely new field.
Michelangelo designed the dome of St. Peter's at age 83, in a time where the average lifespan was under 40. Oliver Cromwell was a marginal gentleman farmer with little military training when, inspired by his Puritan faith, he raised a troupe of cavalry at age 43. Grandma Moses, an unschooled farmer's wife, was in her mid-70's when arthritis forced her to give up her hobby of embroidery — so she started painting! Harlan Sanders' roadside restaurant was bypassed by I-75 when he was 65, so he started helping other people fry chicken.
Enough, then; we don't need a long list of late bloomers or those with new careers late in life. Age is clearly not an impediment to great works, even in a totally new field. We should not delude ourselves that we are incapable of something, solely because we are older than we used to be. Everyone is older than they used to be.
Contrary to popular mythology, you can learn a new language at any age. You can learn computer programming. You can reach a new level of achievement or success in a field in which you have practiced your entire life, or you can start working in a field completely unrelated to anything you have ever done. Those who tell you differently are wrong. It's never too late.