I love my house. It was built in 1900 and has a wonderful wall of windows and an incredibly large front porch with outdoor furniture, reading materials, and a porch swing. My wonderful wife has worked very hard to make it a place that’s relaxing and inviting—not only to myself, but to others as well. Many days I sit on my front porch and watch the interesting cast of characters ride, run, walk, and drive by. Trust me, here in small town Plainville, Georgia, the people are anything but…plain.
I also love to watch all the animals that frequent my front lawn. We have a dog that belongs to our next-door neighbor, but spends the majority of her time sitting on my front lawn and front porch. She’s a small dog, but I don’t think she knows that because she’s got “big dog” attitude. It’s absolutely amazing to me that from a prone position she can disarm a fully grown man with her “M-m-m, a human for a snack” face.
People don’t bother us.
We also have two ginormous pecan trees that give my front lawn awesome shade—even during the hottest days of summer (and living in Georgia, the days are really hot for a lot of the year). And we have squirrels and birds that absolutely adore the nuts and worms in my front yard. I was watching them scamper around the other day, and they were staying busy. There were two squirrels and one robin going crazy in my front yard. The squirrels were insanely gathering nuts and what looked like twigs, and the robin was grabbing up tons of worms. I watched them silently, sitting still for about 20 to 30 minutes (which is a big deal for me). Then I realized something quite profound: these animals had food every day, but God wasn’t going to put it in their mouths for them while they sat in their squirrel-houses (or wherever they live) and nests. They had to get up and work for it. Every day they were required to do their part, and every day God was required to do His part. No matter what happened, rain or shine, those animals were in my front yard foraging for food—and they always found it.
In the Old Testament book of Lamentations the prophet Jeremiah expresses deep grief after witnessing the Babylonians totally wipe out Jerusalem. He wisely…laments:
I am a joke to everyone—no one ever stops making fun of me. God has turned my life sour. He made me eat gravel and rubbed me in the dirt. I cannot find peace or remember happiness. I tell myself, “I am finished! I can’t count on the Lord to do anything for me.” Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed. Then I remember something that fills me with hope. The Lord’s kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The Lord can always be trusted to show mercy each morning. Deep in my heart I say, “The Lord is all I need; I can depend on him!” The Lord is kind to everyone who trusts and obeys him. It is good to wait patiently for the Lord to save us. When we are young, it is good to struggle hard and to sit silently alone, if this is what the Lord intends. Being rubbed in the dirt can teach us a lesson; we can also learn from insults and hard knocks” (Contemporary English Version, 3:14-30).
The Father’s Fuel
Maybe you feel this way sometimes? I know I do. Life is hard. There’s a lot of stuff that you have to deal with that’s . . . well, hard. But isn’t it awesome to know that God never fails? His kindness, mercy, compassion, and grace are new every morning. It’s like every day God fills our souls with just enough of His Holy Spirit “fuel” to give us the power to do what we need to do.
Are you questioning God today? Are you depressed, anxious, or worried about something in your life? Do you feel like Jeremiah did when he said that God had made him eat gravel, or rubbed his face in the dirt? We live in a world that calls any type of natural disaster “an act of God,” but I promise: it’s not God who’s directly doing that to you, but you can be sure that God will always be there to wipe the gravel and the dirt off your face.
Maybe some of you have earthly fathers you’re not close to, or who have abandoned you, but I promise that God will never leave you. He will be with you until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). God is never farther than a prayer away. Sometimes the only way we’ll ever be able to truly know the light of God’s love is when we’re in total darkness. I’m not being mean, or wishing that you’ll have bad times in your life, but I can speak from personal experience that if you’re living in this world, bad times will come. The times I feel closest to God are the times I’ve felt furthest away from everybody else.
The Faithful Father
My favorite hymn is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” The words come from this passage of scripture in Lamentations. This hymn holds a special place in my heart. There have been entire days and nights when I would repeat these words to myself over and over. I repeated them, not because I didn’t believe them, but because I needed to be reminded of them in the midst of the stuff I was going through. I don’t know what you’re going through, but I want to end our time together by encouraging you with these timeless and unchanging words that reflect the heart and character of our timeless and unchanging God. The words of this song bring tears to my eyes because I know they reflect the heart of a God who hurts when you hurt, and who wants nothing more than to prove to you that His faithfulness is indeed great.
Here are the words of the first verse and the chorus: “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; as Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”
Thank you Father, that great is Thy faithfulness.