A Letter from Pastor Anita: Faithful Love

Because of the Lord’s faithful love (hesed) we are not consumed, For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Last week we had the privilege of gathering our family in a home on the shores of Mountaintop Lake in the Poconos.  The house was nothing to rave about, but the setting was spectacular… a long dock on a quiet lake, the shores dotted infrequently by homes, the lake warm enough to swim, the inlets and passageways tempting a daily exploration, the boats powered by pedals and paddles instead of motors leaving the setting quiet and undisturbed.  We enjoyed the dock by day and played games at night.  Dinnertime conversation was never organized or peaceful with topics that ranged from politics to fishing (though the biggest fish we caught was about 3 inches long).  For a group of adults with high demand jobs, it was a joy to have a week when our biggest challenges were a 2000-piece puzzle of Times Square and the game Pandemic (which we never won).  And all the while our granddaughters brought joy.  At the end of every family vacation, we take a moment to share our ‘best’ of the week.  There were so many precious family moments that we all struggled to come up with just one ‘best’.  

But I must admit that one of my ‘best’ moments happened each morning before the family would wake.  I would go down to the dock just after 5am to watch God’s artwork unfold. Imagine the deep royal blue of the sky just before dawn… the last of the stars… a sliver of moon… the bold light of Saturn.  And then the sun would begin to transform the sky with streaks of color.  Each morning, it was as if God were painting a new masterpiece… sometimes blues and yellows, sometimes streaks of pink and orange, twice the sky seemed to catch fire with deep reds and a wisp of purple. And then slowly the sky would lighten, the colors would fade, the sun would peak out over the stand of trees, and the day would begin again.  I was amazed at the variety of sunrises… each one unique.  Every morning was a new experience.  But even with all that newness, one thing remained constant- the sun always rose!  The day after we left the lake it rained.  I would imagine that no one sat on the dock that morning to watch the sunrise.  The vibrant colors were exchanged for grey storm clouds, the gentle breeze now blowing raindrops across the lake.  Once more the sunrise offered a unique moment- perhaps not the most pleasant moment.  But even so, the sun still rose to warm the earth.

I found in that ebb and flow of change and consistency a parable for our lives these days.  It seems that every day our reality is changing.  Think about the simple act of shopping… do you shop like you did a year ago?  Can you even find the items you used to buy?  Yesterday, the news reported that UNC Chapel Hill, the main campus for the University of North Carolina, has now gone virtual.  Just two weeks ago, they welcomed students onto their campus and already the virus is spreading at an alarming rate, moving the administration of the school to shut dorms and close classrooms.  CB schools that had planned to open, now will be virtual until… At the beginning of the summer, we thought the viral spread had quieted, that life could get back to ‘normal’, but now we see the cases surging across the country again.  We hope for a vaccine and a cure, but news of these medical breakthroughs is different every day and with every news source.  It is hard to know what to believe.  And all the while, our city streets ring with protests about realities that most of us seldom notice. Some of us secretly fear the change these protests might bring.  Our world looks so different than it did a year ago.  Change breeds an air of uncertainty that leaves many of us stressed and unsure.  Yet, there is one Truth that never changes:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
I love God’s Word that comes to us through the book of Lamentations.  There we find the writer describing the unchanging nature of God with the Hebrew word hesed- translated as “faithful love”.  We hear that description of faithfulness echoed again and again across the pages of scripture.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love (hesed) endures forever.  (Psalm 107:1)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Think of the words of one of the old hymn standards- Leaning on the Everlasting Arms:
What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
God’s unchanging nature, God’s faithful love for His creation offers us a safe and secure refuge even in a rapidly changing world.  This simple truth is the key to finding peace in the midst of uncertainty.  Take a moment today to notice God’s hesed in your life.  Every heartbeat, every breath you take, every glimpse of God’s artwork, every touch of love- each is a stroke of God’s paintbrush.  Perhaps today God will use you to bring a vibrant stroke of color into the life of another.  Know the strength of His arms around you.  Trust His love that never fails even when we do.  Seek His refuge.  Breathe in His presence.  May we be a people that declares: “Great is Thy faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:23)

With you, leaning on those everlasting Arms,
Anita
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