Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice by Email

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Tragedy When Children Fail to Grow into Maturity






A lovely dove moans outside my window. I hear the whirr of happy children as they race home from the park on bicycles. A trail of voices drift in as neighbors catch up on life.

I look through the window panes speckled with dried-water spots and the brightness of the sun shines down on the white cast iron bench and reflects a blinding glare that stings my eyes. My eyes flit over to the shadow lying on the grass beside the overgrown pine bush.

The sounds I heard a moment ago have faded. The dove is silent and sparrows chirp to each other now. A gentle breeze slips in my open window and I feel it cool on my bare arms. A white puffy cloud sailed across the blue skies, swallowed the sun, chased the shadows away and dimmed the glare. 
The children have now clambered around the kitchen table and childish chatter fills the room as they gulp cold water and wait for grilled cheese.





It’s the dog days of summer, when days are savoured, not spent. When children hunt for toads and stare at insects and when times of boredom make way for creativity and inspiration. When we can linger longer in the afternoon shade or under bright stars blinking in the inky blackness.

We watched a cicada crawl across the grass after it burst out of its old shell last week. Sadness hung in the air as we witnessed the struggle it endured to unfurl its wings and when the wings failed to stretch open we knew there was no way it could live without those wings taking flight.

“Mom?”, my girl queried, “can I take this old skin and put it on the nature table?” And she ran in and cupped it like it was costly treasure, with great care, she set it with other little marvels we have found in this great world God has made: shells, fossils, bark, big-leaf maple leaves and fungi, nests, and feathers.

As children, the world is full of wonder to be discovered. When the time and opportunity is given, children will explore the wonders all around them. They will grow in knowledge and in appreciation of the living things that are in their own backyard.

Children have a natural curiosity about their world. They want to dig, search, discover, climb, reach for the next level, and soar. Children want to grow and learn. They want to know they are loved and love in return. Spread before them a banqueting table and they will come and joyously feast.





Jesus’ disciples asked him:
“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
And Jesus called and put a child in the centre of them. He turned their focus to a child. It was humility to which he drew their attention. To be a follower of Christ is to humble self and trust Christ. A child is willing to come and trust.

However, as Don Carson explains in volume two of For the Love of God:
“ . . . childlikeness is not childishness; simplicity is not simple-mindedness; humility is not servility.”
If the child failed to grow, like the cicada that couldn’t unfurl his wings and fly away, it would be a tragedy, a travesty. When we are given faith to believe, that is simply the beginning. Our faith is to grow and be strengthened.

Yes, we are to come to Christ as children, but we are to grow up into maturity in grace, knowledge, faith, love, hope.





Paul warned in his letter he wrote to the Christians in Ephesus:
“ . . . that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ . . . ”
And the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
And later in his letter, the writer urged:
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity . . . ”
These are the days we must dig deeper, look longingly, search diligently, rightly handling the Word of God.



Come child-like in humility and in wonder and grow up into maturity by growing in knowledge of God who is Creator and Lord of all.

We have a great feast to spread before us. We know we don’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Read His word. Meditate on His Word. Memorize it, chew it, savour it. Study it. Dig deeper and move on from elementary doctrine.



You will grow in love and in faith as you grow in knowledge of the Lord God. Let His Word be a lamp to guide your feet and light to your path in the midst of a dark world.

As it has been said, “Your heart can’t love what your mind doesn’t know.”

Know God. Come in humility, grow in grace. And your heart will want more of God and all His shining glory.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Resist Beginnings: Stay Steadfast in the Middle of the Story



“Resist beginnings.”

I read those two words in a book last week and I stopped short. It was the little book, “Follow the Lamb” that the poet, Horatius Bonar, wrote sometime in the middle of the Industrial Revolution. Back when the world was on a quest for radical change.

I think about these words now, when the world is again striving for radical advancement. A world that is full of proud, arrogant, heartless, and reckless people who are lovers of self, seeking individual freedom.

It is old advice and I’m not sure if that opinion would gain much popularity today. 



We love beginnings. We love to start new things. We want the next thing. We want it to be better, bigger. Beginnings are exciting and excitement is contagious. We think it is brave to begin. We think is it brilliant to begin. We want to build our Tower of Babel to reach the heavens.

We grow weary of the ordinary, day in and day out, modest routines of our lives and we want something brighter, more enticing, more thrilling.

We are willing to invest time, energy and resources into anything that will make life more captivating, more meaningful, more enticing.

But, in reaching for the next new thing, have we traded in something more valuable.



What if we were a people who shrewdly resist beginnings and simply remain faithful?

There is a way to move forward and progress has been good . . . in part. History has been a march of progress. But, it has cost us.

A wise man once said, there is nothing new under the sun, but we keep looking for something new. And then we are surprised when history repeats itself.

No new thing, no matter how great, is going to bring greater happiness. The created can’t bring eternal joy.

Change is necessary. Time and time again we need to make an about face and turn back and head in the right direction. Revolution means “a turn around”. Repentance means to have a change of mind and to turn from sin and return to God.

But, do we get so carried away with our cravings for new beginnings, we neglect to stay steadfast in the middle of the story?

Can’t you see it spread all over our lives? In our diets, our health kicks, our new years resolutions, our churches, our relationships, our politics, our social media. We are stuffing ourselves on beginnings and failing to thrive to the end.

How many things have we begun that now hang limp or are tucked away or have been destroyed by the lust of a new beginning?

Remaining faithful lacks the flare that a beginning delivers, but it is the soil where roots grow deep, grace is poured out, faith is strengthened, and where love will flourish. 




God had a plan before time began, before creation. Before the foundation of the world: God knew, God purposed, God loved us, God chose us.

God, who has no beginning, set all things in place. God, who has no end, sees that all things will happen according to His plan. God, who remains faithful, set His plan in motion and will bring is to pass to the praise of His glory.

God doesn’t need men and women to dream up exciting beginnings. He wants us to remain faithful. To continue, to press on, to persevere.

Straight after Paul told Timothy to “Fight the good fight of the faith”, he urged him to “. . . take hold of the eternal life to which you were called . . .

With our eyes fixed on the eternal, strength and courage come so we can rise above the struggles of this world. Hold tightly to the prize of eternal life: that is how you will remain faithful in this life to which you were called.

We need to remain faithful in the unseen things.



Splashy beginnings draw much excitement at the outset, but these embers burn out. It is the steady stoking of the fire that keeps the blaze burning.

Remaining faithful may never be popular. This world will go on looking or bigger and better beginnings to draw crowds, to reach new heights, to make progress, to go beyond our dreams, to find happiness and health and wisdom, and discover the unknown.

Remaining faithful may never be comfortable. This world looks out for self. It tells us, if it doesn’t feel good, get out, give up, do whatever you need to find your own self. Well, referring back to the little book I read last week, Bonar wrote:
“Denying self is the beginning, the middle, and the end of our course here, as followers of Christ.”
Remaining faithful may never be easy. It is a fight. A fight that needs determination, endurance, and every ounce of perseverance a soul could hope for.

And that is exactly what we have. Hope . . . Eternal hope.



We have been made to know God. We have been made to be in communion with God. Since the fall we have fallen short of His glory. God had a plan before creation to climb down into the world He spoke into existence to redeem us back to Himself.

He has not left us alone. He has remained faithful.

He has loved us and given us hope for a future.

With hope like that, we can say, 
Quiet down, soul.

Resist beginnings.

Remain faithful.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...