Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love Him.”
“The brightest crowns that are worn in heaven have been tried, and smelted, and polished, and glorified, through the furnace of tribulation.”
E. H. Chapin
Today’s Study Text:
“And Elisha said unto her (the widow), ‘What shall I do for thee?’’
“Anchored To The Infinite!”
“It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.”
The Message Bible
If God said to me, “What can I do for you,” what would my answer be?
What specific needs in my life should I go to my Father and ask Him to supply?
“Unless the prayer which you intend to offer to God is important and meaningful to you first, you will not be able to present it to the Lord.”
“So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”
The Message Bible
Ever since I happened upon a small book of poetry by Ruth Harms Calkins, I’ve been on a continuous search for other works penned by this Christian lady.
One of the specific elements of her poetry which I particularly enjoy is the way she pens a stanza which represents her thoughts and then she follows her own words with a stanza that reflects our heavenly Father’s gracious care. This technique is visible in the poem I want to share today, entitled, “One of the Two.”
Please help me
I’m encumbered with problems
Too heavy to handle.
Why should two of us
Carry the weight of your burden
When one of the two is Me?”
When I first read this simple poem, it took me a few moments to let the grandeur of the thought sink in. Oh yes, I’ve read the words of Jesus, who instructed His followers to, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11: 28-30, K.J.V.).
My problem, and quite possibly yours too, is that somewhere between the words “come” and “burden,” I skip over the essence of what a life with Jesus is all about. I miss the word “light’ or as the Greek notes, “Life with Me is easy to carry.”
How many times have you found yourself saying, “Life is a breeze. It’s so easy. I can carry everything all by myself?” I think that on this big globe we call planet earth, there are very few individuals who feel that they don’t have one burden at all to carry.
This is why I believe our heavenly Father, in His Word the Bible, has chosen to leave such a detailed record of the lives of individuals, real people like you and me, who struggled to carry the burdens of their every day life – the same way you and I exert the strain of the push and pull each day.
It is this reality, which helps us take a story like the one recorded in II Kings 4: 1-7, and look at it with the recognizable reality of what we may be facing ourselves.
Here in the Old Testament, at a time when God’s prophets were really His face, hands and feet – a human representative on earth of our Father in heaven – when the widowed mother came to Elisha, bearing the tremendous burden of having her children taken into slave labor, we find that Elisha said directly to this dear lady, “What shall I do for thee? Tell me” (II Kings 4: 2, K.J.V.). These words resonate in my heart today for there isn’t anyone among us, that I don’t believe for a minute, wouldn’t love to have their heavenly Father say, “What shall I do for thee. Tell me.” Elisha’s response to the widow’s need was an example of our Father’s response as well.
Here’s the problem though. And I am convinced I am not alone in my assessment of the words: “What shall I do for thee, tell me.” I think I’m afraid to directly ask in this way for fear my Father won’t give me what I want. Now, this may not be the challenge you face, but I struggle with the idea that quite possibly what I ask for, may not be given and then, what will happen to my faith? Will it disappear?
As I was asking God to give me a new vision of this story found in II Kings 4: 1-7, as I studied, I came upon a poem by Edwin Markham, famed American poet, which really turned a spotlight on asking and receiving and the faith we all need to keep hanging on to God’s hand no matter how desperate our situation appears. Edwin Markham wrote a great deal about American history and figures which affected life in this country. In his poem, “Anchored to The Infinite,” he tells of the “bridging” of Niagara’s gorge and I’ll just let you in on the fact – this process didn’t happen overnight.
Well, I’m going to let the poem do the teaching:
Anchored To The Infinite
“The builder who first bridged Niagara’s gorge,
Before he swung his cable, shore to shore,
Sent out across the gulf his venturing kite
Bearing a slender cord for unseen hands
To grasp upon the further cliff and draw
A greater cord and then a greater yet;
Till at last across the chasm swung
The cable – then the mighty bridge in air!
So we may send our little timid thought
Across the void, out to God’s reaching hands –
Send out our love and faith to thread the deep –
Thought after thought until the little cord
Has greatened to a chain no chance can break,
And we are anchored to the Infinite!”
As I read the last six lines of this poem, my mind went back to an experience I had over 36 years ago when all I was able to do was say to my heavenly Father “I need help.” Looking back, my need was so small in comparison with the challenges I have faced in the years since that time. But it was the answer to a small request which built a stronger cord, year-by-year, that helped me endure those times when greater faith was needed to help me hold fast to my Father’s hand and in turn, give my entire burden to my Father’s care or as Markham so eloquently penned, “until the little cord has greatened to a chain no chance can break, and we are anchored to the Infinite!”
In the gospel song, “My Anchor Holds,” by William Martin, he writes: “I can feel the anchor fast as I meet each sudden blast, and the cable, though unseen, bears the heavy strain between; through the storm I safely ride, till the turning of the tide.”
Today, when I reread the first few verses of II Kings 4, I was struck again by the words of this widowed mother, “thou knowest thy servant did fear the Lord.” This wasn’t just a reminder to Elisha that her husband was a God-fearing man, oh no! This was a statement of fact that what may have been at one time only a cord of faith in this home was now a strong cable of faith, and it was thicker than ever in the life of this mother who came with her need, “Please help me,” and she received a heavenly response, ”What will you have Me to do for you?”
The book of Hebrews so fantastically emboldens us: “Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners) that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in good time for every need, appropriate, well-timed help, coming just when we need it” (Hebrews 4: 16, Amplified Bible).
Today I encourage you to start building the cord into an unbreakable chain by asking for your Father’s help. Link yourself to the Infinite for you do not have to “carry your weight of your burden – when one of the two is Me.” (A reminder from your gracious heavenly Father!)
“I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk about, when I lie down, and when I rise up; and the answers are always coming.”
I face so many issues throughout my days,
Sometimes I feel so torn.
I look to You for so many things.
Please guide my path,
that I may have the wisdom
and skills to do my best.
Most of all I pray for faith.”
Mrs. Suzanne Chiles Buchan
“My (Paul) response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask Him to strengthen you by His Spirit – not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength – that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in. And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”
The Message BibleYour friend,
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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