Sunrise Prayer

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So many mornings, Lord, I have been seated in other parts of my house, looking down at my phone or my Kindle or my Bible study homework (not that these are bad things), but have failed to look up, to look east, to see the sunrise from the front room in our house, a room that isn’t used very much. But, this morning, I can’t believe the beauty I’ve been missing by not looking up. By not seeing out, not watching the brightness appear over the water gradually into full on sunshine and a new day. The front room. That beautiful morning glow.

Psalm 121:1,2 says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Four years ago, I wondered what life would be like after an intense 22-year ministry career. I wondered how I would spend my time. Really Your time given to me. I wondered how having time to really study Your Word would transform my life… because the Gospel does change everything. Every relationship, every perspective, every motive, every yearning, every dream.

And then this year, I met King David in Your Word, and I saw how he inquired of you often, and when he didn’t, he went wildly astray. I felt You calling me to be part of something that I never would have naturally sought. I felt You pull gently at my heart. I heard You tell me to break with my patterns, my routines, my natural inclination to find closure. Break with my obsession to finish what I’ve started, no mid-year upheavals allowed.

You brought me into something You were doing in my town. You helped me connect the past with the future. You pulled back the veil and let me see how You were preparing me. The last hurdle was waiting on You and Your timing, and it certainly wasn’t at all like 40 years in the desert…

It was an inquiring process that unfolded with regular prayer meetings and faithful women and men who were praying for the last 4-5 years. You included me. You gave me a new vision. You tended the garden of our hopes and dreams, and spurred us on. We inquired a lot. Then you answered, just like You answered David. It was a circle around.

II Samuel 5:19-23 says, “So David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will You hand them over to me?’ The Lord answered, ‘Go, for I will surely hand the Philistines over to you.’ So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, ‘As waters break out, the Lord has broken out against my enemies before me.’ So that place is called Baal Perazim. The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off. Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the Lord, and He answered, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam trees.’ ”

In the last two weeks, You showed me personally that waiting is never idling. Waiting is never wasted in Your kingdom. You were in the midst of this, encouraging me with purposeful waiting activities and special blessings that I would only have a small window of time to receive and enjoy before my next assignment. Your answers are strategic.

In this waiting period, one particular gift was a special friend. My special friend whose son married my daughter 15 years ago. I would never have anticipated a bond with her that has taught me so much about Your faithfulness. Psalm 40:5 says, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders You have done. The things You planned for us no one can recount to You; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”

Now the sun in the front window is fully up. It’s Sunday at 7:29 a.m. My friend and I share more than our children and grandchildren. We share Christ, and two transformed hearts that can only exist by the Lord’s hand of grace. And, for a brief two weeks, we got to be in the same Bible Study Fellowship class, sitting together, talking together, and mostly being grateful for our divine journey because of Jesus Christ.

Lord, how could I not be grateful for this amazing two weeks before You unfold the next mystery of Your purposes in my town, the next assignment, which You are now doing? The front room is full of bright sunlight now. I almost need sunglasses to be able to continue looking up. I am reminded of the need to lift up my eyes to the hills often. Help me to remember this always. Thank You for letting me be part of the sunrise of something You are doing in my community for Your glory.

Amen.

 

 

The Shepherd Approach

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Coach Edgar Randall. A really good man recently passed away. And, now I join many in reflecting. I have had the great privilege of knowing Coach for 25 or so years. Known to many as beloved Coach Randall, he loved the Lord Jesus Christ and faithfully lived out the picture of a godly servant leader who invested himself in the lives of others to share the gospel of grace and to bring glory to God. He radiated the Good Shepherd in everything he did!

There is an account of God’s servant leader David in I and II Samuel. You will see that Coach Randall was much like David. I especially love II Samuel 7:8,9 which says, “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Almighty says: I took you from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth.’ ”

Similarly, God took Edgar as a young athlete in Williamsburg to become a servant in the Kingdom of God and to bring godly influence to many many people. A community celebrated well his life on Friday, February 1st. Although Coach Randall had many earthly claims to fame, he is mostly highly regarded because of his servant leadership qualities: kindness, encouragement, faithfulness, excellence, joy (tremendous joy!), godly counsel, helpfulness, availability, generosity, love, friendship, care, concern, and love. He was all about serving God cheerfully and pouring out his life for others.

If you study the life of David, you will draw some similarities. If you study the life of Jesus, you will see even more similarities. Micah 5:2 ” ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.’ ” Matthew 2:5,6 ” ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem , in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”

These scriptures picture the Shepherd King – Jesus Christ. So many parallels can be shown in studying the life of David, the man after God’s own heart, and the life of our Messiah. Godly leadership is characterized by shepherding. Ruling and shepherding are not necessarily antithetical. They are an influential mixture of leading and loving. Much like the life roles played by Coach Randall.

Coach Randall’s style was influential shepherding. He was a gentle giant who nurtured young students and athletes to aspire to things of eternal value. Excellence in athletics was certainly one of those high values. His manner was always engaging. He was very approachable and inviting. But, he also had a great vision for students and held them to a high standard. They knew they were loved! They knew they had to work hard. They knew he would teach them to always take the high road of honesty, integrity, and compassion. They knew it was all because Coach Randall loved Jesus and did everything because of Christ’s call on his life to serve others.

John 10:14-15 ” ‘I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep.’ ”

This was Coach Randall’s legacy – the shepherd approach. He laid down his life in service to His Lord.