If You Had Only Known

Are you tracking destiny in this season of life?  Solidly connecting with the Lord each day of life?  Is his word and calling your primary guidance source?

I am asking myself questions like these this Lent.  A friend recommended a daily Lenten study that is drawing me into Jesus’ journey to the cross.  

Day 16 shadows Jesus’ emotions and actions following his “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem that we now mark as Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Luke captures Jesus’ sobering words as he processes on a colt into Jerusalem.

“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes.”  (Luke 19:42, NIV)

Then, a chilling prophecy about the fate of the holy city that would be fulfilled just 50 or so years later.

“The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19: 43-44, NIV)

The passage riveted me.  Whereas I generally read this as a modern observer of past history, not this time.

“If you … had only known what would bring you peace….”

You, as in me!  My first thought, “Do I know what brings me peace?”  

Peace from living up, syncing in my giftedness, purposeful, relationally strong, nurturing others in my life and who cross my path, in tune with my Lord, resisting temptation and keeping short accounts when I falter.

Some of that is going on but way too often I’m skidding right by the sweet spots.  Overly focused on myself, I am often disappointed, even angry, when things do not go my way. Instead of automatically taking my doubts and questions to the Lord, too often I cheat by soothing myself with escapism which only leaves me feeling guilty and crippled.  

I, I, I, me, me, me.  See the pattern?  Searching for peace where it cannot be found.

When I repent, doubt often lingers as I wonder how much longer the Lord will tolerate me. How long until his offer of peace is withdrawn, no longer available - “hidden from my eyes?”

Here is where regular reading, studying and meditating on Scripture pays off. One of many promise rises from my memory.

“persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:9, NIV)

My take is that Jesus’ frightening warning regards those who refuse his redemption invitation.  Many years ago, the Lord’s persistent pursuit of me FINALLY broke through my hard heartedness.  Now I pray for others to also let the Lord in. I believe the invitation extends through our mortal lifetimes.

So if not from God, the discouragement and fear comes from elsewhere.  Scripture instructs that its hold on us continues until we resolve to deploy the tools God puts into the hands of every believer - his word, obedience, and faith.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6: 11-12)

I love that about the Christian faith - lots of mind, body and soul engagement.  Nothing mamby pamby about it.

From Day 15 of the study: “Actions reveal beliefs because beliefs inspire actions.”  

To give myself over to sin is to reveal diminished belief in God.  Fortunately, God only sees me only through the lens of Jesus so while my grip on him may be feeble at times, his hold on me is not.

True peace in this life is ONLY found in the Lord.

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
— Isaiah 26:3, ESV

We trust and he holds  How very peaceful.



Lent study: “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole

First Answer

Boys D1 "stampede" at 400 meter mark. Nick is among the leaders on the right side.

Boys D1 "stampede" at 400 meter mark. Nick is among the leaders on the right side.

Last weekend, I went to the Michigan High School Athletic Association Lower Peninsula Cross Country State Championships to watch our nephew Nick run.  Runners qualify for the state meet by placing in the top 15 of their respective Regional Championship meets.

Eight races were held, four divisions of boys and girls.  The predicted inclement weather held off until the last two races of the day.  The worst weather arrived prior to the very last race that Nick ran, the boy’s Division 1 race that finally got underway 80 minutes past schedule after delays due to nearby lightning strikes.

I didn't Nick's expectations but I supposed they might include a personal best and earning top-30 all-state honors.  My prayer was for him to be content with his performance and, while you're at it Lord, all-state would also be nice.

I felt a little funny asking God to allow Nick top-30 placement among the 250 runners competing in his division. Nevertheless, Nick worked hard to become one of that state’s fastest runners this year so all-state was certainly within his reach. Even so, except for the 30 all-staters in each division, most runners that day would cherish simply having qualified and running in this prestigious event.

More than anything, I prayed for trust.  “Lord, that I accept whatever you grant for Nick, whether he is satisfied or dissatisfied with his performance, earns all-state honors or falls short.”

Selecting a first viewing position just past the 400-meter mark, I was grateful that my windbreaker/rain jacket kept me dry during on-again, off-again bouts of rain and thunder that set the start time back three times.  When the race finally got underway, I spotted Nick in the lead pack before I hustled back across the vast complex to stand near the final turn.  When the lead runners finally came into sight, Nick was still well-positioned and I shouted encouragement to him as he passed by on his way to the finish line.

As I casually strolled back toward the finishing area, excited spectators steamed past me to learn results and greet their favorite competitors.  Not sure then how Nick finished but trusting God for whatever was when I received God's first answer to my prayers for Nick - peace.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4: 5b-7, NLT)

The praying person IS God's first answer for every person or situation prayed about and for. When we pray for another, we abide with God, drawing ourselves and the person we pray for closer to God. 

The race results?  God worked that out as well, allowing Nick to earn all-state honors with a 17th place finish at 15:43.2.