Death cannot praise you…… the living man, he shall praise you, as I do this day; the father shall make known your truth to the children.Isa 38:18-19
King Hezekiah was no stranger to God’s works. His zeal for God had restored true worship in Judah, and God had delivered him from the king of Assyria with an extraordinary miracle. But when he was sick and near death, he must have felt unprepared and even filled with bitterness. In a little passage in Isaiah 38, he wrote down what was in his heart: “In the prime of my life, I shall go to the gates of Sheol”, he lamented, “I am deprived of the remainder of my years”.
When I was younger, one of my favorite poems was “Footprints in the Sand.” However, as I grew older, I heard criticisms against this poem, that it was misleading because God doesn’t carry us on our spiritual journey; we ourselves need to walk with His help, even through the difficult times. I have even heard of a similar poem vulgarly titled “Buttprints in the Sand,” which needless to say uses satire to prove this very point.
While I agree that our walk of faith is indeed a walk that requires our own efforts and resolve, I believe there is merit in the original poem, which at the end reveals that when there was only one set of footprints, it was not that God abandoned us, but that He carried us. Continue reading
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. (Daniel 6:10)
What was the first thing that Daniel did when heard the decree of King Darius ordering the death of any who petitions any god or man other than the king himself? He went home and prayed to God, thus disobeying the king’s decree. The Bible notes that he did this “as was his custom since early days”, indicating that this was not something new for Daniel to do. In fact, these thrice-daily prayers were his usual spiritual cultivation. And these prayers were so important to Daniel that he deemed them worth defying the king for, so important that they were worth dying for.
Recently, some brothers and sisters who had not come to church in a long time came back to attend service. I was both surprised and glad to see them again. When I told other members that they had returned, they also reacted with surprise and joy. However, our reactions made me realize one thing – in a sense, we were surprised because we were not expecting them to come back. In a sense, though we must have prayed for these lost sheep at one point in time, we were surprised because for a long time, we may have forgotten about them.
While preparing for a J1 class and looking through a closet of old textbooks and activity booklets, I noticed something unusual. A few of the activity books had names written on them, which was strange because we only kept blank versions of the activity books. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the activity book belonged to another sister who was around my age. And sure enough, behind her activity book sat my own J1 activity book – from 10 years ago.