Will God Answer all our Questions? – Exodus 4:10-12

Have you heard someone say that they’d like to ask God a few questions? Like why he allows war, children being traumatized, cities burning, or Alzheimer’s?

Let’s say I’m 90 when I die. I enter heaven with a pencil stuck behind my ear, gripping my cane. In my other hand is a long checklist. I shuffle toward the throne of grace ready to get some answers.

No, that doesn’t work. Let’s get rid of the cane because the book of Revelation says God makes all things new.

So I drop the cane and stroll toward God on new strong, confident legs. I mentally cross off two of my questions but there are more. Yes, I realize I’m no longer 90, but I want to understand a few things about my time on earth anyway.

Then it hits me that I’m also not dead.

I have to stop here. Being not dead is more than I can handle, especially when I look up to see my Lord and my God reaching toward my cheeks to rub the tears off. And I can’t explain the tears because the list in my hands is distracting me.

No, that can’t be right. By this point the list would be soaked by my weeping and I wouldn’t care.

I’ve been studying the book of Exodus this month, and it has made me wonder where the idea that God must account for himself came from. He is God and he’s got a lot more going on in his mind than I could comprehend. And he doesn’t have to say anything.

No one’s going to be marching up to his throne for explanations.

When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him to set the Hebrews free, Moses didn’t like God’s plan. He wanted the assignment to go to someone else. What follows is an example of God choosing to respond directly.

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:10-12 ESV).

[There are two things that stand out in your story, Moses. First, if you are slow of speech and tongue, God is already aware of it. He made your mouth so he knows if your slowness is by his design or if you’re stalling. Second, he’s with you. You’ll be fine.]

Here’s another scenario about asking God questions.

Instead of toting a list to God in heaven I imagine myself a hungry teen crossing the threshold into the kitchen hollering what’s for dinner Mom. Her tiny kitchen changes to a high school gym-sized banquet hall with dozens of tables loaded with beautiful, delicious foods of all kinds, (I’m vegan but you can imagine all kinds of meats if you want) fruits, vegetables, desserts. Not all cheap stuff, either. I stall, leaning against the doorpost. Am I going to say hey, Mom, what’s for dinner? No. With a spread like this I’m confident there’s no need to ask.

Let’s eat!

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

A Snapshot of Gratefulness – Philippians 4:6-7

I played outside with my family this week. My husband, sons, and grandson shot basketballs in a game of PIG while two other grandchildren sped by on their bikes, launching themselves off the ramp. The youngest sat in the grass.

A couple of times I stopped the ball from escaping, kicking it back into the game. I also offered a lot of verbal support, withdrawing from the ruckus since my chronic pain insists I live more gently. That’s when I remembered that the day our third son, Seth, was born, we thought he might never play with the family.

There’d been concerns during labor. A specialist was called in. Jerry held my hand as I clung to peace by quoting from Psalm 121 between contractions.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth . . . The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life” (Psalm 121:1-2 and 7 ESV).

The hospital tests hadn’t provided answers. One concern was his color, which they described as ashen. He was lethargic. They decided to keep him another day for observation, and I went home with an empty baby carrier. I imagined all sorts of devastating news I might hear the next day–he had a disease, a birth defect, or he was dying.

We left him overnight but decided that was enough. Seth needed to know his family surrounded him and loved him. His two older brothers needed to pat his head and whisper their secrets. He belonged at home.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).

Now he plays with his nephews in the street, the tall, strong father of a teenager. He’s home. No wonder I rejoice in the Lord who heard my prayers and answered them in ways more beautiful than I could imagine.

These times are precious. We don’t know the length of our days, but He Who Watches Over Us keeps us. As we move toward the end of our days let’s remember to be ever thankful for God’s kindness to us. That he heard our prayers, that he hears us still, and he will see us home.

The completeness, the joy I can’t contain, the certainty of God’s promises – can you even imagine the awesomeness of standing near my son as he shoots baskets with his dad, his brother, and his nephews, when so close is the memory of the time we didn’t know if we’d get to see him grow up?

It’s only a breath of time, me standing with the life of my family swirling around me. For this moment I am grateful.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Stay the Course, Telling the Heart of the Story – 1 Kings 13:15-32

What should I do if someone disagrees with the path I’ve chosen? I know what God wants me to do: Love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, strength, and love my neighbor as myself. One way I express this love is in my writing. Love is his command, writing is my response. But what if a person I trust directs me a different way?

While reading 1 Kings 13 this week I contemplated the part that two prophets played in the story. One, a man of God from Judah, and the other an older prophet. The older prophet disputed what God told the man of God to do. He lied, claiming God told him to instruct the man of God to change his course. The man of God believed the lie and disobeyed God’s command, which led to his death.

Isn’t the older prophet responsible?

What bothers me is that the older prophet’s part in the man of God’s downfall isn’t addressed. Not one word–even though the older prophet confronts the sin that he enabled. Did he carry no guilt for his part in his fellow prophet’s downfall?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know whatever God does is just. I can certainly trust him.

Sticking with my story

My takeaway is that I need to stay on course. The writer of 1 Kings 13 focused on the man of God’s path, not the old prophet’s. If there’s another story to tell, it will come in a different chapter, from another writer, or at another time.

I’m to plow ahead in obedience, even if someone more experienced attempts to direct my path differently. Managing my response to the distraction of dissenting voices is a huge part of living. It’s good to listen to the opinions of those we trust, but I need to be careful to only let God change my course.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Confession and Prayer Brings Healing – James 5:13-16

Until a few months ago some of my cousins had been out of touch with each other for decades. When two of them recently moved to Lane County, we arranged to meet at the Camas Country Mill and Bakery. It didn’t take us long to find ourselves delighted with all things old, the ancient schoolhouse with its furnishings and our childhood tales.

As we reconnected, the teasing and silliness escalated until it bordered on being ridiculous. Should people our age act like they’re still thirteen?

I sipped my tea and chased chickpeas around my salad plate until I spotted names, dates, and initials carved on a weathered wall not far from our table. This fascinated me because the boards had been salvaged from the building’s exterior. Diners now enjoy their meal while examining evidence of former students’ vandalism. I traced one date with my finger: 1900.

We were told a few names belong to people, or their descendants, still living in the area.

How would I like my misdeeds put on display for a hundred years, my name listed with those who have damaged public property? I realize they were probably young children, someone else may have been the culprit, or that it may now be considered art or an entertaining story. Still . . .

I don’t like the thought of someone judging me while chewing their sandwich, but maybe bringing my failures into the open is a good thing. Perhaps removing the façade and revealing underlying scars is healthy.

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:13-16 ESV).

Maybe in the future our descendants will get a good laugh about our misadventures. Hopefully, there will be a lot to admire, too. Like our honesty.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Just Keep Swimming – Colossians 2:6-10

There’s a lot of meaning in what the forgetful little fish, Dory, says. In the Disney movie, Finding Nemo, she pulls her friend along by encouraging him to not worry so much and “just keep swimming.”

What helps you when you’re stuck in an “I don’t know what to do” place?

It seems I’m there more often than not. When I’m suffering, concerned about the future, worried about my family–just basically carrying the weight of living in this world, how can I renew my hope that things will get better?

That’s when it’s time to press on in him.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:6-10 NIV).

To break it down:

  1. Receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
  2. Continue to live in him.
  3. Be rooted, built up, strengthened, and overflowing with gratitude.
  4. Guard myself against ways of thinking that promote dependence on anything or anyone other than Christ. He carries all that God is, and in him I find all I need.

Unlike Dory, who doesn’t know where she’s going, I have a promised destination. And I know I can’t go wrong when I’m directing my thoughts to him, moving towards him instead of away. More than floundering in a vast ocean, I’m traveling with the One, as my grandchildren say, is Boss of Everything.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis