Broken Places, New Again

There’s a story behind me posting this video clip below. A couple of years ago, I was in a very discouraged place. A number of things had happened to our family in a short space of time that shattered much around us that we valued. I often felt that God was silent.

One night I was watching hymns on YouTube and came across this clip. Previously, I have found such strength in hymns and songs of faith, and that night was no different. The words of the song below were:

Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here
Come bow before Him now
With reverence and fear
In Him no sin is found
We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here

Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around
He burns with holy fire
With splendor He is crowned
How awesome is the sight
Our radiant King of light
Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around

Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal
To minister His grace
No work too hard for Him
In faith receive from Him
Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place

The singer, Aled Jones, in the early part of the video is standing in a restored church, but as the video goes along, suddenly it shows a clip of him in the same place, several years earlier, when that abbey was an abandoned shell. It was such a broken down place that the windows were shattered, the roof was open to the elements and the interior ruined. When the dove flies upward, you see the results of the restoration of that same abbey. The broken windows are whole again. The roof is repaired, the interior beautiful once again.

While watching this video that night, it was impressed strongly on my mind, “That’s you, Ingrid. You’re broken down with all that has happened and the pain you’ve gone through. But God’s presence within restores and rebuilds. Your “windows” may be shattered, God will make new and better ones. Your “roof” is in disrepair, God will put a better one on. The interior which lies in ruins will be restored. God will do it.”

Despite times where evidence looks to the contrary, that is God’s specialty—restoring what looks like total ruination in us. He does it His way, and in His time. We can’t tell Him how to do it. It’s His work. It takes time. Like all restoration projects, it is not accomplished overnight. But in quiet hope and patience, with faith in the master Architect and Chief Contractor, the work is accomplished in our souls.

So this video is special to me. I want to share it again here at the Hope Blog.

“…Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

 

He Knows Your Name

God calls the stars by their names, and He knows your name. We are not highly evolved slime, the result of random chance acting on matter. Where would the matter have come from anyway without someone to make it? We have a personal God who has stooped down to reveal Himself to His creation. These Psalms comfort us that while God is a God of holiness and justice, He is also a God of mercy and love. Unlike the capricious and terrifying pagan gods who must be appeased and who leave humans in an endless quest to somehow earn their own salvation, our God has revealed Himself to us in His Word. He tells us who He is and what He requires of us. He reaches down in love, because we cannot earn salvation by our own merit.

Whatever your heartache is today, whatever your need may be, God knows your name. God is near to humble and contrite hearts. He is near to those who seek Him in truth. God’s Word is truth.

He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. The LORD lifts up the meek: he casts the wicked down to the ground. Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God… ~ Psalm 137:3-7

O LORD, our Lord,
         How excellent is Your name in all the earth, 
         Who have set Your glory above the heavens! 

 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
         You have ordained strength, 
         Because of Your enemies, 
         That You may silence the enemy and the avenger. 

 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
         The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
 What is man that You are mindful of him,
         And the son of man that You visit him?
 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
         And You have crowned him with glory and honor. 

 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
         You have put all things under his feet,
 All sheep and oxen—
         Even the beasts of the field,
 The birds of the air,
         And the fish of the sea 
         That pass through the paths of the seas. 

 O LORD, our Lord,
         How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

~ Psalm 8

God’s Counsel in the Midst of Trouble

The eternal truth of God’s Word struck me again in reading this passage. It was true when the Psalmist wrote this, and it’s true today. I want to share the whole passage for those of us dealing with anger and who tend to “fret” about those who seem to harm others with impunity in this life. This is a passage that gives clear instructions NOT to “fret” over the seeming success of their schemes, but to trust and wait on God.

Psalm 37

A Psalm of David.

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.

9 For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

12 The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.

16 A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The LORD knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the LORD,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.

21 The wicked borrows and does not repay,
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.

27 Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
28 For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
And dwell in it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.

32 The wicked watches the righteous,
And seeks to slay him.
33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
Nor condemn him when he is judged.

34 Wait on the LORD,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.
36 Yet he passed away,[a] and behold, he was no more;
Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
The future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 37:36 Following Masoretic Text, Septuagint, and Targum; Syriac and Vulgate read I passed by.

The Beauty Makers

Karl Goldmark was one of 20 children born to an impoverished Jewish cantor in 1830 in Hungary. Someone handed the child a battered violin when he was still small, and history was made.

Margaret Sanger, founder of the international killing machine known as Planned Parenthood, once said that the most merciful thing you can do to a child from a big family is kill “it.” Think for a moment of all the beauty the world has lost because of that worldview. Karl Goldmark would have been just another murdered baby had his parents held that view.

Beauty comes from God. He is the source of all beauty. Satan can only kill, steal and destroy. God is the giver of life and all that is lovely, and even our ability to perceive what beauty is is the result of God’s image stamped on mankind.

God does not need our permission to show forth His glory. It often comes from unusual and unlikely places in this world. A poor boy in Hungary was bestowed with the precious gift of music, and the world is a richer place because of it.

Marie Avinov, the Soviet dissident and author of the book, Pilgrimage Through Hell, wrote of the nightmare of living through the Stalin purges and losing her husband to the vicious brutality of communism. There is a scene in that book that I will never forget.

She was on a train, a cattle car, on her way to Siberia for being the wife of one of the men randomly thrown into Stalin’s prisons. On board the cattle car to hell was an opera singer who had sung in the famous opera house in Moscow. Her crime was being an artist. Stalin viewed beauty as a dangerous thing because it pointed to God. The communists institutionalized ugly and evil instead and tried to shut down all artists as enemies of the state unless they agreed to create only propaganda.

Marie was so thirsty on the train she thought she would die, and she begged the guards for a small drink. They refused. Finally, the opera singer bargained with the guards to get her a drink and promised to sing a famous aria in exchange for water.

Marie told of that unbelievable juxtaposition of beauty that shone forth from the voice of the singer under the stars that night, as human beings who had committed no crime were hauled away like cattle to untold evil and suffering. Beauty against a backdrop of horror. God and Satan. Truth and lies. Beauty and abject ugliness. That is the human reality. Man rejects God and barbarism soon follows.

In a world of natural disasters, terrorism, and so much sorrow, beauty is a bursting forth of the eternal into our temporal lives. God knew how much we would need it.

If you have an artistic or musical child, encourage them in every way you can. They are carriers of truth whenever they create something of loveliness and they show forth God’s glory. These artists are a reminder to all who hear and see and watch what they create that God is real, and that no matter how hard evil tries to destroy what is good and lovely and true, God will prevail in the end.

Here is a clip of Karl Goldmark’s Violin Concerto, the second movement, which I find so exquisite. Turn your speakers up as the beginning is soft. One minute in, the voice of the violin comes in over the sound of the orchestra like a hymn rising before God. Let the music remind you of that little boy among his 19 siblings in a Hungarian village and how God graced us all because of him.