Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday by the Sea

"O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life." ~ Psalm 42:6-8

We often speak of the waves of God's love and grace, of the goodness and mercy that wash over us. But it is likely that we, as believers, have also felt waves of uncertainty crash over us, as well. Consider what the author of Ecclesiastes ponders:
  • "There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 8:14)
We want to know why disasters happen. We want to know why one person seems to suffer so much more than someone else. We want to know why God causes us pain.

I am reminded of the viking Stoick in the movie How to Train Your Dragon. He wanted so desperately to find the dragons' nest--the place where all the dragons returned to with their food (the vikings' sheep, the fish, etc.). In his quest to find the dragons' nest, he lost many of the village's ships (and most likely many human lives, as well). He always got lost and turned around, and his missions failed. But still, he fixated on the goal of finding that nest.

Stoick didn't understand the dragons. He didn't know what he was getting into by trying to find the nest.

But his son, Hiccup, realized that the dragons are far different than what they had seemed. In fact, some of them made wonderful friends. And he eventually discovered the nest because only a dragon could find it.

When his son inadvertently shared this information, Stoick forced Hiccup's dragon to lead him to the nest--an island with a dragon larger and more dangerous than they could ever have imagined (the "queen" of the "hive"). It is only with the help of other dragons that they had any hope of victory.

Now, in regards to knowing why God does what He does, I am not saying that we can manipulate Him to help us find the answer. And I am not saying that the answer is horrible and dangerous.

What I am saying is that I think we often don't realize how completely incapable we are of discovering the answer. In our quest for it, we get lost and disoriented. Ecclesiastes 8:17 says:
  • "Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it."
From our earthly perspective, the answer seems like it really must be terrifying, more so than some gigantic dragon that can stomp ships, fly, and breathe fire. For how could such a loving God let us suffer in seemingly unnecessary ways?

But the truth is, that is just our perspective. I do not wish to seem callous and say that you should never ponder why God is allowing you to suffer and grieve. In fact, I believe with all my heart that we should speak honestly to God, as the authors of the Psalms did. We can tell Him how we perceive things to be; He cares and knows how much we are hurting. But realize that the "dragons" that seem so repulsive to you may not really be what they appear to be. Only God can see the whole lay of the land from His perspective far above. We are "earth-bound" and in no position to see how everything fits together.

Sometimes we get glimpses. Like riding on a dragon friend, we get an opportunity to fly above and look back, seeing just a small part of how God is working in our lives. Those moments--when we realize that a certain pain-filled path led us to an amazing place--are gentle reminders to our tender hearts that God does have a purpose. We can trust Him. He's the only One who can get us home, and He's the only One who can guide us through this journey and into the next.

So don't be overwhelmed by those waves. Day and night, may we pray and rest in His lovingkindness. May we remember that God does have a purpose. And therefore, we do have hope.

(Note: The movie picture is from IMDb.com.)

6 comments:

Kav said...

Beautifully said, Amber! Love the imagery.

Amber S. said...

Kav,

Thank you! :) I was inspired to write something specifically on this subject by a dear friend, and I just LOVE the movie How to Train Your Dragon!

And just as a special aside, the sermon at the church I went to today had to do with Ecclesiastes! :D How wonderful is that?

~Amber

Project Journal said...

Oh Amber,
Thank you for this. Once again you've got me crying tonight lol...I'm going to try and take your advice. Never seen How to Train Your Dragon, but maybe some day. Loved your analogy. You've got such a way with words, hun. Nice job.
Thanks for being my dragon friend,
Love you,
Hannah

Amber S. said...

Hannah,

You're more than welcome, my friend. :) I'm sorry I made you cry, but I hope that this post reminded you of God's comfort and love.

Thank you for your kind words, but truly I just hope that God can use this simple post to be an encouragement to others. He's the only One who can give us true perspective, as I was reminded in church today. :)

I love ya, girl, and I'm honored to be your friend!

~Amber

P.S. I highly recommend How to Train Your Dragon! It is an amazing movie! :D

Amanda said...

Oh my goodness!! How did I miss this?? I'm sorry, my friend, I don't know where my mind has been lately!

Amber, this was so beautiful and so timely. I cannot tell you how much I needed this incredible devotional and how the Lord used your words to minister to me. And I love that you tied it in with HTTYD - such a sweet movie :D You find the Lord in everything, my friend, and that is such a gift :) And the Scriptures you chose were so perfect. Thank you for once again sharing such inspiring, spirit-strengthening, faith-building thoughts with us :) You are such an encouragement!

Blessings,
Amanda

P.S.- You're on fire, girl! ;) I'm gonna try to email you tonight but if not then you'll be hearing from me tomorrow! Promise :)

Amber S. said...

Amanda,

Don't feel bad! I'm honored that you would want to go back and read my "Sunday by the Sea" post if you missed it. :) Thank you!

I'm so glad that God used this devotional to encourage you and perhaps uplift you. :) I have been listening to the HTTYD soundtrack a lot recently, so it was on my mind. Such a sweet movie, as you said!

Thank YOU for your encouraging words to me, and may the Lord bless you mightily, my friend!

~Amber

P.S. Awwww, thank you! I sent you a couple of e-mails yesterday--I hope you don't mind! No need to rush, although I am curious to hear your thoughts. ;) Thank you for being such a devoted and caring friend!