Streams in the Desert
Dec 1st - Devil's Burden
The Lord made them secure, in fulfillment of all he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could resist them.—Josh 21:44 NET
For the Lord takes delight in his people; he exalts the oppressed by delivering them.—Ps 149:4 NET
An eminent Christian worker tells of his mother who was a very anxious and troubled Christian. He would talk with her by the hour trying to convince her of the sinfulness of fretting, but to no avail. She was like the old lady who once said she had suffered so much, especially from the troubles that never came.
But one morning the mother came down to breakfast wreathed in smiles. He asked her what had happened, and she told him that in the night she had a dream.
She was walking along a highway with a great crowd of people who seemed so tired and burdened. They were nearly all carrying little black bundles, and she noticed that there were numerous repulsive looking beings which she thought were demons dropping these black bundles for the people to pick up and carry.
Like the rest, she too had her needless load, and was weighed down with the devil’s bundles. Looking up, after a while, she saw a Man with a bright and loving face, passing hither and thither through the crowd, and comforting the people.
At last He came near her, and she saw that it was her Saviour. She looked up and told Him how tired she was, and He smiled sadly and said:
“My dear child, I did not give you these loads; you have no need of them. They are the devil’s burdens and they are wearing out your life. Just drop them; refuse to touch them with one of your fingers and you will find the path easy and you will be as if borne on eagle’s wings.”
He touched her hand, and lo, peace and joy thrilled her frame and, flinging down her burden, she was about to throw herself at His feet in joyful thanksgiving, when suddenly she awoke and found that all her cares were gone. From that day to the close of her life she was the most cheerful and happy member of the household.
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.
Scripture He Gave to Me
"O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20 For they speak against You wickedly;
Your enemies take Your name in vain.[c]
21 Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Comments: what He was saying and what I thought
He was also telling me to stop worrying - in a kind and loving way - to give my worries to Him, lean on Him and trust Him to take care of me, and that He was always with me, surrounding me lovingly, kind of like in the devotional. I wasn't really sure why He would say this either, because I didn't feel as if I was worrying - but I felt as if He told me, that I was so used to worrying, I didn't even realize I was doing it and didn't realize I was carrying these other burdens with me. I suspect He's right. I was worrying a lot about not being efficient today (something I hate - I'm ALWAYS worrying about that), and about my student evals, and the car, and John, but mostly, not being efficient. It was a very circular worrying - I saw what He meant, when He pointed it out. He wants me to rest and relax, it seems, and not worry about anything, but just have fun with Him in the day, and He'll help me with stuff, as I need it. He's taking care of me. That's what I felt from Him today.
I don't know why, but I didn't expect Him to say these things. Not sure what I was expecting. I didn't realize I was worrying and stuff. I feel much better, actually - relaxed and happier. The Lord is really amazing, when He does this kind of thing. I'm continually amazed by Him. I pray that everyone gives their worries to the Lord, like that. It's so freeing. He says He'll show me fun stuff in my reading today. I haven't seen Marika yet. But I don't mind. I'm just going to have a fun day with the Lord and we'll see what happens! John's doing RP tonight.
Appendix: Themes of Hope vs Despair
Marika came later than usual, but I wasn't worried about it - she had slept in some. She asked me if I was getting John any presents. I said I hadn't decided yet, but I usually got him a book every year for sure - we liked reading a lot of SF/fantasy. She said she only liked realistic books and only ones that were REALLY good. She didn't read much. It seems she enjoys the classics, especially ones that deal with despair. Her favorite book is Madame Bovary.
I knew that the protagonist was an anti-hero in that novel - an unlikeable person - but that's it. She said basically yes, and described it to me - apparently - the author of said book was challenged to write a book in which only ordinary things happened, but somehow, still make it interesting. She described it to me - I didn't know the plot - it was so horrifying - I felt sick even listening to the description. She thoroughly convinced me not to read it.
It's about a lady in the country who reads romance novels and has this romantic view of how life should be and marries a mediocre doctor, but married life doesn't live up to her expectations. She hates her life more and more and grows to hate her husband more and more, but he really, really loves her. And she has an affair with a rich guy, but that doesn't satisfy her either. Life turns out not to be like she imagined. It just isn't really like that. And in the end, she kills herself. And she has a romantic notion of how she'll die, peacefully, slipping away, but she takes arsenic, and gets horribly sick and dies in miserable pain and agony, so that, even her romantic notion of death is ruined. The End. [...]
That makes me so miserably sad. What a wasted life! So many people live that out. But it doesn't have to be like that. It's a perfect example of a life without hope, without the Lord. But there's so much more! There's not only life and hope, there's JOY, DREAMS, bigger and better than we can think up, that really EXIST! One doesn't HAVE to live life in despair. Yes, that's what happens if you look to stuff around you to satisfy you - hope, life and purpose can't be found in those things. But the Lord provides SO much riches of everything good - hope, life, joy, dreams, purpose and love. When I hear stories like this, I feel like, I want to die - I'd rather die - than watch anyone do that to themselves and live like that.
Good points about the book
Even though I dislike the book, it does have some good points. Apparently, Marika says it's extremely well-written and in regards to its prose, is said to be "perfect." No word is out of place. I can believe that. I've read other books written in that period and it's like eating a gourmet desert. I'd kill to write like that. I think it takes a lifetime of practice first.
My least favorite book of all time: Frankenstein; Marika thinks she'd like it
The book I hated the most that I ever read is Frankenstein. It's a miserable book - and short - which is probably the only reason I finished it. I read it for Oxford's science fiction class. I kept thinking it would get better, but it did NOT. This smart person who LOVES science gets obsessed and tries to create a living being. He does and abandons him - the creature escapes - I can't remember. But all the creature wants is to be loved. And he tries to relate to a village family and thinks they might love him, but when they see him, they hate him because he's scary and so ugly.
So then, he loses all hope and all he wants is to get revenge on the doctor/scientist who made him. So he hunts him down and kills every one of his family members and everyone he ever loved one by one until there's no one left and chases him into Antarctica, where an exploring expedition finds him. He dies, as he tells them his story. Then, the monster kills himself on the ice. The End. Lovely. Marika perked up and said oh yes - she should read that. *sigh*
I cannot even describe how much I disliked the story and wished I'd never read it. It made me thoroughly ill. These kinds of stories are ones that have themes antithesis to who and what the Lord is. And really, they do not represent Truth. Because hope is real. And life is real. I want to write the reverse some day. Stories that end in hope.
Marika asked later, how I could so easily maintain a positive outlook, because that was challenging for her. I said, I was just excited about science; I'm not sure if I consciously try to be positive. But truthfully, it's only because I know the Lord and He gives everything meaning in my life and takes care of me. That's basically what I said. Without the Lord, there is no hope or meaning. Read Ecclesiastes, attributed to King Solomon, and one of my favorite books written about the subject.
Everything is meaningless, when you try to base your happiness and purpose upon it. Everything. Even science. And people. No person can bear the weight of someone's need for meaning and happiness. But, when one's happiness and meaning is based in the Lord - when He becomes my Source - He fills everything ELSE with so much color, life, meaning, love and happiness!
The Lord likened abiding in Him to being a branch connected to the heart and sap of a tree (John 15). Apart from Him, we are like dried up sticks that can do nothing and good only for kindling. But with Him, anything is possible and we are so full of life. It's what the Lord wants for all people. To give us life (John 10). The enemy tries to convince people that's a false hope. Nope - it's real! It's wonderful. The Lord is the reason for everything good in my life.