Psalm 37:3 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.”
Ezekiel 37:14 ” ‘I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken and I have done it,’ declares the Lord.”
My own land is basically eastern Virginia, but I sometimes extend that to include Kill Devil Hills, NC. The beach is close enough to feel like it is a part of my home territory. I claim it. I love to share a small beach cottage with five of my dear friends twice a year. I’ve mentioned these girlfriends before. In a post on April 11, 2016 (“Creativity Unleashed”), I introduced them.
Our recent trip reminded me of our “Mary-likeness.” I am thinking of the wedding in Cana during which Jesus performed his first miracle – turning the water into wine. And not because of the wine miracle, but because of the way Mary knew enough to place all matters of concern at the feet of Jesus, even if misunderstanding God’s timing on things. The six of us have put many situations at the feet of Jesus, and still do. We have trusted Him in crises and we have enjoyed spiritually safe pasture. Dwelling in Christ has been the key.
While working a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, we banded together to do it in one day (crazy idea, but got it done). Just like we banded together to pray for one grandson recovering from surgery for a brain tumor. While playing the Phase 10 card game, we happily contemplated luck versus strategies. We gave up on luck and strategy, but laughed a lot. We have acknowledged that neither luck nor strategies have pushed our lives forward in Christ. He has probably laughed at our crazy human plans. Only Christ has pushed us forward. Only God has put His Spirit in us. Only God’s Sovereignty has caused our lives to unfold in His grace. Not by any kind of luck or human effort.
We always do joyful things. Sometimes we joyfully sit and talk. Sometimes we silently read or sleep on the beach. Also, great enjoyment comes from the great food we share – oatmeal cookies, M&M’s, ABC cake, tuna salad, lots of coffee, lasagna (or something Italian), and breakfast casserole. This isn’t the half of it. I’m not kidding.
But, our favorite moments are when we share devotionals with each meal for which we are individually responsible. At our recent retreat, we spent some time on Ephesians 2 as it references believers as God’s masterpieces – His workmanship. There is a uniqueness that comes with our individual geographical locations – a blooming where we have been planted. Most of us are blooming in eastern Virginia, one in Tennessee, and one getting ready to do some blooming in Louisiana for two months. We were reminded that God does immeasurably more through us than we can think or imagine. Because He put His Spirit in us.
We have stories. Each of us. In our shared “Mary-likeness,” we have regularly renewed our faith and friendship at the beach land, and when the wedding wine of life seems to be running out (which is often), we have learned to trust Jesus like Mary did. We have moved beyond the miracles that pointed to Him, to just Him. Our hope became bigger. The good times and Kodak moments come and go. But, our perpetual reality is that Jesus has entrusted Himself to us.
We know and live these verses. John 2:23-25 “Now while He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name. But, Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man.” By God’s grace, we moved beyond knowing the gospel and participating in all the trappings of worship. It became real. We got to know Jesus Himself. And He knew what was really in our hearts.
Years ago, we participated together in Master Life (a 13-week discipleship training course) at a local church. It forever changed our lives. We stopped going through the motions of belief, and instead, God put His Spirit in us and settled us in His land. We were transformed. It was a turning point that has kept us connected for over 25 years. While the beach trips are more recent, the fellowship of shared faith that we experience is a longer term gift. We call the Outer Banks at Mile Post 7.5 “our beach.” It’s really not, of course. Only a reminder…
We really dwell in God’s land. We know the Lord has spoken. And we know He has done it.