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Drawing March 31, 2011
How do you reach contentment when troubles gimps your day? In the 12 chapters of A Still and Quiet Soul: Embracing Contentment, you'll learn the process for remaining content or re-learning contentment during feast or famine. You'll also read 12 true stories from people who struggled through different hardships and how God led them to a better place of contentment. Eight questions at the end of each chapter makes this a useful tool for an individual, Bible study group, Bible Study Book Club to dig deeper into Word of God. Contact me if you have questions, or read a description and early endorsements at http://www.cathymessecar.com/
Sometimes we wear a hair shirt, but we do not pair it with repentance. What do I mean? In the Bible, repentant people who grieved over their sins turned away from those sins. They renounced their offenses, and in their mournful state they sometimes chose to wear sackcloth and ashes. The outside messiness and discomfort of their bodies reflected the inward sorrow of their souls.
We can compare the biblical sackcloth to what we know as burlap bags. If you’ve ever toted a burlap bag filled with raw peanuts on your bare sweaty shoulder then you know the conflict between rough fibers and tender skin. They can rub raw spots on the point of contact in 10 minutes. You know it’s true. A single scratchy tag at the back of your shirt causes irritation within seconds. Imagine the depths of sorrow over a sin that would cause someone to put on a whole outfit of sackcloth.
Quite a few references in the rest of the Old Testament refer to repentance and the wearing of sackcloth. But as I referred to in the beginning of this column, sometimes we wear a hair shirt, but it’s not connected to repentance. When we whine about annoyances, that’s when we pull our hair shirts over our heads and let them stir us up to complaint rather than repentance.
Really? Do we need to tell others about what annoys us? Whatever happened to the idea of blessing someone’s day instead of adding to their burdens? Constant complainers soon find themselves alone at the coffee shop because most folks have their own list of stresses. I don’t know who first said this, but I suspect there’s a bit of truth to it: “Don't tell your troubles to other people—95% don't care and the other 5% are glad you have them.”
I watched a video clip from the Texas Reporter television show about a blind quilter in Waco, Texas. Middle aged Diane Rose lost her sight to glaucoma, so naturally she lost her abilities to do many previous things. One day she questioned God about what her new talents would be? She lifted her arms in sincere prayer and asked what she could do now that she was sightless. She said warmth filled her upraised arms, and she felt God leading her to know that her talent lay in her hands.
The next day, a woman asked if she knew how to quilt? She replied no and the woman offered to teach her. She’s now made over 500 quilts. A friend helps her with color selections, but she does all the work from start to finish through her hands and sense of feel.
Diane Rose does not own a hair shirt. She quotes Ronnie Millsap and says that her blindness is just an “inconvenience.” Her attitude is stellar. She refuses to accept her liability as disability. Need a good dose of encouragement? You may Google her name and watch her interview on YouTube.
When King Solomon completed building the temple in Jerusalem, he dedicated it in a passionate prayer. During which, he knelt and stretched his hands toward heaven. And in that prayer he mentions repentance many times and asked God to forgive the Israelites in the future when they did wrong, confessed, and turned back to God (Solomon’s prayer:1 Kings 8:22-66).
Our bodies are often referred to in the Bible as a tabernacle (tent) or temple in which God dwells. Most of us know which temptations we give in to the most. Think about repentance today, and ask for God’s will power, to withstand temptation, whether it’s whining, coveting, or hurting someone. In Solomon’s prayer he asked God to remember all his requests at all times. I like that. God hasn’t forgotten the prayers of our youth, or any prayer asking forgiveness, or any praises offered. This week, take off your hair shirt and replace it with a spring garment of praising God.
Index Card Scripture for Week Ten: “[M]ay these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night” (1 Kings 8:59).