Morning Dew ~ The Unrecognized Christ

John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not— John 1:26

The Presence of Christ Is Perpetual
It is almost a commonplace to say that the world does not know its greatest men. To be very near is often to be blinded. It is only afterwards, in quiet reflection, that the large outlines of greatness are detected. Yesterday and tomorrow may deceive us, and indeed they very often do, but (as Dora Greenwell says) the real deceiver is today. Now our blessed Lord is different from the greatest in that His presence is a perpetual presence. He is continually moving in the world through the acting’s of His gracious Spirit. And that is why such a text as we have chosen is not only true of days beside the Jordan, but is true always and to the end of time. There is an unrecognized Christ in every age. There is an unregarded Presence in all history. There is a spiritual Power moving in the world, though (like the wind) men know not whence it cometh. “There standeth one among you whom ye know not.”

The Unrecognizable in Our Civic Life
One thinks, for instance, of our civic life—of all that meets the eye in a great city. If an old Roman were to come back to earth and move through the streets of one of our great cities, he would feel at home with our bazaars and barracks: he would say, “We had all these in ancient Rome.” But show him the infirmary, the almshouse, the orphanage, the sick children’s hospital, and these he would never recognize. It was the spirit of Christ that reared the hospital. It was His hand of love that built the orphanage. And yet how seldom does that thought intrude into the minds of those who throng the streets. In every city of our modern world, as by the banks of Jordan long ago, “there standeth one among you whom ye know not.”

The Unrecognizable Ideals of Conduct
Again, think of our ideals of conduct and of the elements unrecognized in them. We might take a very simple illustration. When some poor, useless rascal has an accident and the doctor is summoned to his side, that doctor at once acts on the assumption that he must do everything in his power to save his life. Now why should he save it? Why should he preserve it? Would it not be better to let that rascal die? I want to know where the doctor got his thought that the sorriest life is infinitely precious. He certainly did not get it from his science nor from nature nor from evolution. The preservation of the rascal is the one thing evolution does not teach. When I see that doctor with his sleeves rolled up fighting desperately for a rascal’s life, I feel that there is the Christ unrecognized. He is the light of every man who cometh into the world. Whenever a man does anything true and tender, when the fireman enters the flames to save a child, when the common sailor flings himself overboard to rescue someone who is bent on suicide, “there standeth one among you whom ye know not.”

The Unrecognizable Ideals in Our Social Lives
Again, one thinks of the social unrest which is so much a feature of our life today. It is evident that the bad old times are gone. Then the poor were content to live in hovels; now they are not content. Then they were content with wretched wages; now they are not content. Then they were content that little children, untaught, should have their playground in the gutter; but such things are intolerable now. What lies at the back of that unrest? It is the dawning sense that the poorest and the humblest have equal rights with the richest in the land. And to discover where that sense originated—the infinite value of the bottom dog—is a matter that is worth consideration. It did not come from Satan; Satan has nothing to do with thoughts that liberate. It sprang from the heart of the Carpenter of Nazareth. Put the leaven in the meal and it ferments. Putthe Kingdom of Heaven in society, and like the loaf, it rises. When I see the heavings of the masses now, the fermentation, the sara indignatio, I feel that “there standeth one among you whom ye know not.”

The Unrecognizable Solver of Our World Problems
Lastly, take the problems of the world, for the world never had more agonizing problems. It seems to many of us as if the world were getting ready for the second and glorious coming of the Lord. National hatreds are not dead. National jealousies were never more bitter. National memories are rankling yet with the catastrophe of the Great War. It looks sometimes as if the only power abroad were that of the prince of the powers of the air—and then come soberer and wiser thoughts. What of the growing movements for disarmament?  Has the prince of the powers of the air begotten these? Someone is moving, though we recognize Him not. He does not strive nor cry nor lift up His voice in the streets. Evil is always clamorous and strident. He comes as the coming of the morning. So do I feel through all our great world problems, which sometimes chill the heart, that “there standeth one among you whom ye know not.”

George Morrison

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Morning Dew ~ Behold My Hands

Behold My Hands

Luke 24:39

The Hand—A Symbol of the Active Life

The Bible is signally distinguished for this, that with a message from God it reaches the human heart, but not less remarkable is the attention which it directs to the human hands. In our Western speech, with its leaning toward abstraction, we speak of character and its outflow in conduct; but in the Eastern speech, which has always been pictorial, men spoke of the heart and its witness in the hands. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ….? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.” “If thy hand offend thee, cut it off.” “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” And Pilate, wishing to assert his innocence in a manner which the Jews could comprehend, did not cry, “My conduct is reproachless,” but in the presence of them all he washed his hands. That is the symbolism of the hand in Scripture. It is conduct incarnate, the sign of the active life. It is the organ through which is sketched, as on a screen, the thought that is singing or surging in the heart.

Behold My Hands

Now if that be true of every human hand, it will be very specially true of the hands of Christ. He is always saying to us “Behold My heart”: but in the same voice He says, “Behold My hands.” Could any meditation, then, be more appropriate for some quiet evening of communion on a Sabbath? Try to conceive that Christ is in your midst, that Christ on whose body and blood mystical you fed today. Try to conceive that He is standing there and saying to everyone of you, “Behold My hands.” What are these hands? What do they signify? We shall run through the Gospel story that we may see.

Hands of Brotherhood

Behold His hands, then, for they are hands of brotherhood. When Jesus came into Peter’s house, we read, He saw his wife’s mother sick of a fever. And what did He do? He put out His hand and touched her, and she arose and ministered to them. When He was in Bethsaida they brought a blind man to Him, beseeching Him that He would heal him. And what did He do? He took the blind man by the hand, and hand in hand they left the town together. And the world will never forget that scene at Nain, when Jesus met the sad procession to the grave, and moved with compassion He put forth His hand, and touched the bier. In all these cases, and in a hundred others, what men recognized in the touch was brotherhood. Here was no cold pity, no condescension, no distance of heart from heart. Christ came alongside of suffering and sorrow, brought Himself into living and actual touch with it; and the men who were standing by, and who saw it all, said, “Behold His hands, they are the hands of brotherhood.”  And always, where the Gospel is at work, it stretches out its hands in the same way. Is not this the glory of the Christian spirit that it pulsates with the sweet sense of brotherhood. The poet Crabee, talking about charity, says:

A common bounty may relieve distress,
But whom the vulgar succor they oppress.

But the Christian never lowers when he helps, for with everything he gives, he gives his hand. It is not the way of the Gospel to isolate itself, and to give cold advice and help as from a distance. It bears men’s burdens, understands their need, calls the poorest, brother, and the fallen, sister. Until men feel that the hands stretched out today are the very hands that touched the bier at Nain, and they know that the hands of Christ are hands of brotherhood.

Hands of Power

Again, behold His hands, for they are hands of power. When Jesus went back the second time to Nazareth, do you remember what the villagers said about Him? What they could not fathom was how this carpenter’s Son was endued with His unquestionable power. “What wisdom is this that is given Him,” they said, “that even such mighty works are wrought by His hands.” They had seen these hands busy at carpentering once, but now there was a power in their touch that baffled them. And then I turn to the Gospel of St. John, where our Savior Himself is speaking of His sheep; and He says, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Behold His hands, then, for they are hands of power; they are powerful to do and powerful to keep. There have never been hands on earth like those of Jesus, so mighty in action and in guardianship.
I read the other day in some book about China a remark that had been made by a young Chinese convert. He belonged to the literary class, and had studied Confucius, and the remark he made was something of this kind. He said, “The difference between Confucius and Christ is not so much a question of morality: for I find the golden rule in the sacred books of the East, and a great deal more that Jesus might have uttered; but the difference is that once I was told what to do, but left quite helpless and powerless to do it; but now with the ideal comes the power.” The hand of Confucius was a cold, dead hand; it had written the maxim—it could not inspire the man. There was no power in its touch to kindle the dark heart, to animate the will, to change the life. But in contact with Jesus it was very different—that was the meaning of this Chinese student—there was healing and there was power in His touch. What is the power that has abolished slavery? What is the power that has given us a free Scotland? What is the power that has changed ten million lives, inspired the missionary, and made the social worker? The power is the power of the touch of Jesus; it is the impress and the impact of His hand. Behold His hands, then, in the advance of Christendom. Behold His hands in the change of countless lives. Behold them in the new ideals of the multitude; in the graces and perseverance of the saint. They are not only hands of brotherhood, for their very touch has been an inspiration. Behold His hands, for they are hands of power.

Hands of Tenderness

Then again, behold His hands, for they are hands of tenderness. Of all the exquisite pictures in the Gospel I think there is none more exquisite than the scene when “the mothers of Salem their children brought to Jesus.” With a mother’s instinct for a Man who was really good, they wished their children to be blessed by Him. And the disciples would have kept the children off: Christ was too busy with great affairs to heed an infant. They had never guessed yet that the kingdom of heaven was mirrored for Jesus in these childish eyes. Then Jesus drew the little children to Him, and blessed them; but He did more than that. It has sunk deep into the memories of the evangelists that in blessing them He laid His hand upon them. Do not spoil the act by making it sacerdotal. Do not imagine that He was communicating grace. It was an act of the sweetest and most natural tenderness, the gentle and caressing touch of love. When He laid His hand upon the infant’s head, He was laying it upon the mother’s heart. Do you think these mothers ever would forget it? Some of them would see that hand again. It would be pierced then, streaming with red blood, and they would say, “Look! that hand was once laid upon my child.” Behold His hands, then, they are hands of power; but the mothers could tell you that they were hands of tenderness.
Is not that one of the wonders of Christ’s touch—the union of power and gentleness that marks it? It is mighty to heal, mighty to raise the dead; but a bruised reed it will not break. Christ is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, so is He named in the Book of Revelation; but when John looked in heaven for the Lion, behold, in the midst of the throne a Lamb as it had been slain. Why is the Gospel so precious when the chair is empty and the grave is full? Can you tell me why in seasons of disappointment, in times of distress, anxiety, and sorrow, men find in the Bible their best and truest Comforter? It is not only because the hand of Jesus is powerful to console and to assuage; it is because when every other touch would pain, the touch of Jesus is exquisitely tender. Why are our Christian homes so full of gentle love, so different from the stern spirit of antiquity? There is only one answer, it is “Behold His hands”: it is the touch of Christ which has achieved it. In the tender and happy grace of Christian womanhood—behold His hands. In the kindness and care that is shown to the dumb creatures—behold His hands. The very dogs, says Dr. Laws of Livingstonia, the very dogs here feel the benefits of Christianity. His touch is mighty, then, mighty to heal and save—there are those who vouch for that. But the hand that was laid so gently on the children has never been withdrawn from humanity.

Hands of Suffering

Once more, behold His hands, for they were once disfigured. Their beauty was torn away from them with wounds. They were pierced with nails, and fastened to the cross, in the hour when Jesus Christ was crucified. I have often thought that the scribes and Pharisees must have had a twice-distilled pleasure when the hands were nailed. They would say “Behold these hands that once wrought such mighty deeds; they will never trouble or vex us anymore. Look at them ragged and torn, pierced through and through.” It was an exquisite morsel of revenge. These hands had played havoc with the priest’s hypocrisies: they had plaited the scourge and used it in the Temple. Look at them now on the cross—what hands in the world so powerless—their little day of authority is dead.
But the strange thing is that it is the hands which were pierced that have been the mightiest power in human history. Not the hands laid upon the blind man’s eyes, not the hands laid upon the children’s heads, have been so mighty in the world’s redemption as the hands that were marred and wounded on the cross. Is not that strange? There was a little maiden whose mother was very beautiful—she was very beautiful excepting her hands, and her hands were shrunken and shriveled and unsightly. For a long time, with the delicate reticence of girlhood, the little girl said nothing on the matter; but at last her curiosity overpowered her. “Mother,” she said, “I love your beautiful face, and I love your beautiful eyes and brow and neck; but I cannot love your hands, they are so ugly.” Then her mother told her the story of her hands. She said, “When you were an infant sleeping in your cradle, one night the cry of fire rang through the house. I rushed upstairs—the nursery was ablaze—but God led me right to the cradle and I saved you; but ever since then my hands have been like this.” The little girl was silent for a moment. Then she said “O mother, I still love your face: but I love your hands now. best of all. “Behold His hands, for they were pierced for us!

Hands of Reassurance

Lastly, behold His hands for they are hands of reassurance. After Jesus was risen from the dead, the disciples gathered together and Thomas was with them. And Jesus appeared standing in their midst, and said to them “Peace be with you.” We all know how Thomas had doubted Him. He had said, “except I see in His hand the print of the nails.” Nothing would satisfy or convince that realist except the print of the nail upon the palm. And Jesus said to him, “Thomas, behold My hand; is not that the hand that was nailed upon the tree?”—which, when hearing and seeing, Thomas falls before Him crying “My Lord and my God.” I ask you ever to remember, then, that the hand of Christ is a reassuring hand. When we are tempted to doubt if He still lives and reigns, to us as to Thomas He says, “Behold My hands.” Much may be dark to us and much may be inexplicable; we may not fathom the mysteries of grace. We know not where Jesus is, nor can we behold Him; but like Thomas we can behold His hands. In a thousand deeds and in a thousand lives there is the unmistakable touch of the Redeemer. Does not that reassure us and kindle our faith again? Does it not inspire our hope and nerve our faint endeavor? It is the risen Savior saying, “Behold My hands”; it is our answering cry “My Lord and My God.”

George Morrison

Morning Dew – Eternity in the Heart

Ecclesiastes 3:11

~ He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. ~

“Beautiful in his time – God’s works are well done; there are order, harmony, and beauty in them all. Even the caterpillar is a finished beauty in all the changes through which it passes, when its structure is properly examined, and the ends kept in view in which each change is to issue. Nothing of this kind can be said of the works of man. The most finished works of art are bungling jobs, when compared with the meanest operation of nature.

He hath set the world in their heart – העולם  haolam, that hidden time – the period beyond the present, – Eternity.

The proper translation of this clause is the following: “Also that eternity hath he placed in their heart, without which man could not find out the work which God hath made from the commencement to the end.” God has deeply rooted the idea of eternity in every human heart; and every considerate man sees, that all the operations of God refer to that endless duration.  And it is only in eternity that man will be able to discover what God has designed by the various works he has formed.”     Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Walking a health scare with my heart early this summer, I find my thoughts now often turn to eternity and the “what’s beyond” the existence of today.  Often, when I have to reach for the little white pill that keeps my heart steady, I think of things above and beyond life here on this earth and I rest easy knowing that eternity was rooted in my heart.  I no longer think of the what I call “scarys”.  The what if I don’t wake up in the morning or what if I have a heart attack and no one is here or no one knows.  I rest in the belief that Christ created a way to eternity for me and I have chosen that way.  And I thank God that He rooted eternity in my heart.

Morning Dew ~ Pray Your Tears

Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears,
it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling the secret
of who you are, but more often than not of the mystery of where you have come from and are summoning you to where you should go next.”

Frederick Buechner

Most of us know what it feels like to cry.  Whether we are crying gentle teardrops that simply slide down our cheek or great gulping sobs that wrack our whole body in the agony of the pain we are feeling at that given moment; we know what it feels like to cry.  Some, hoping to hide these great emotional tides, fight with every ounce of strength they have to withhold and hide their tears while others, at the other extreme end of the spectrum, choose to release those tears in self-pity and a cry for sympathy and attention.  There is a middle to that spectrum.

Pray.  Pray your tears. 

Biblically, tears are an essential expression of brokenness. They are God’s provision for cleansing us of the unbrokenness that hinders and sometimes destroys our spiritual, mental and physical health and well being.

“Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure” (Psalm 80:5).

 “In each tear is distilled something of eternity, something of love and compassion and tenderness, all things that originate in heaven and come to earth as a sacrament to the soul, if only I am willing to take and to eat. The closest communion with God comes, I believe, through the sacrament of tears. Just as grapes are crushed to make wine and grain to make bread, so the elements of this sacrament come from the crushing experiences of life.  So much is distilled in our tears, not the least of which is wisdom in living life. From my own tears I have learned that if you follow your tears, you will find your heart. If you find your heart, you will find what is dear to God, and if you find what is dear to God you will find the answer to how you should live your life.”            Ken Gire – Windows of the Soul

Many Hebrew words for grieving, weeping and lamentation actually mean “to distill”, which means to “separate and change from one substance to another”. This word beautifully describes God’s renewing work in the midst of our tears.   In the life long metamorphosis of our souls, God is continually transforming us from the sin-marred image of Adam into the glorious image of Christ. The tears we pour out at the feet of Jesus, both joyful and sad, are the distillation of God’s eternal work in our lives.

Tears are the language of the soul. When they are turned toward God, they are never wasted nor shed in vain. Though often shunned by man they are treasured by God. Psalm 56:8 says that God keeps our tears in a bottle and writes each one in His book.

God considers our precious tears an offering. Exodus 22:29 urges that we not “delay to offer the first of [our] ripe fruits, and of [our] liquors . . . “.

The primary meaning of the Hebrew word for “liquors” is “tears”. And we should not delay the offering of them! They are put into His bottle and are written in His book. I can almost see the fingers of God lovingly caressing each line in that weighty tome as He ponders our every offering and sacrifice of brokenness—love letters straight from our heart to His. Just let your heart ponder this for a moment. Our tears are treasures in heaven, for they represent our every moment of surrender to Him.

~Pray Your Tears~

Morning Dew – Dew of God’s Grace

I will be as the dew unto Israel.

Hosea 14:5

 Scholars tell us that the kind of moisture that is meant in these words about the dew is not what we call dew, of which, as a matter of fact, there falls little or none at the season of the year referred to in this text, in Palestine, but that the word really means the heavy night-clouds that come upon the wings of the south-west wind, to diffuse moisture and freshness over the parched plains in the very height and fierceness of summer. The metaphor of “the dew” becomes more beautiful and striking if we note that, in the previous chapter, where the prophet was in his threatening mood, he predicts that “an east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness” – the burning sirocco, with death upon its wings – ” and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up.” We have, then, to imagine the land gasping and parched, the hot air having, as with an invisible tongue of flame, licked streams and pools dry, and having shrunken fountains and springs. Then, all at once, there comes down upon the baking ground, and the faded, drooping flowers that lie languid and prostrate on the ground in the darkness, borne on the wings of the wind, from the depths of the great unfathomed sea, an unseen moisture. You cannot call it rain, so gently does it diffuse itself; it is but like a mist, but it brings life and freshness; and everything is changed. The dew, or the night mist, as it might more properly be rendered, was evidently a good deal in Hosea’s mind; you may remember that he uses the image again in a remarkably different aspect, where he speaks of men’s goodness as being like a morning cloud and the early dew that passes away. The natural object which yields the emblem was all inadequate to set forth the Divine gift which is compared to it, because as soon as the sun has risen, with burning heat, it scatters the beneficent clouds, and the “sunbeams like swords” threaten to slay the tender green shoots. But this mist from God, that comes down to water the earth, is never dried up. It is not transient. It may be ours, and live in our hearts.

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When doubt or fear strike us, this beautiful dew; this unseen moisture brings life to things dry, parched and grasping for a breath of life.  How faithful is our God…………………

Unknown Song of Journey

There is within this woman a song.  A simple song. Waiting. Like that coiled spring hoping to release its haunting melody to the world.  A song of life; a song of love;  a song of journey.

I have begun to realize there is another world within my Bible that belongs to the depths of my heart.  This is ONLY THE BEGINNING of the journey.  The sharing of this journey is not created by your request but by my realizing one should walk the path set before them not of their own desires, nor that of someone else,  but of His desire.  This comes from a beautiful understanding of what, when, how and why I was created.  It grabs ahold of me in places that I didn’t know existed and have so deeply buried beneath a world of survival.  It isn’t flowery; it isn’t mushy; it isn’t always a sound of incredible beauty.   Sometimes in the smush of the chord there is an unintentional beauty, yes; nonetheless, it carries itself with determination and revelation. It isn’t full of huge epiphanies or a self proclaiming greater wisdom. It just seems to flow out of an everlasting fountain of life.

It is, by its very own nature, a song of the journey of a woman who walks on a path that sheds no light beyond that of the lamp at her feet.  The last note is unknown. The crescendos rise and fall.  I pray there is no thing in me that would dare to look at others along the path and pat myself on the back. I pray that I do not have or present any preconceived notion that I know all, am all or can be all during the high note trills. I pray that I find and hold onto “humble” in the low rumbles.  For so many of us, it is the internal that needs the darkness dredged up and sent to the pits of hell.   It is not what is presented on the outside.  for me at this moment the journey is a cleansing and refreshing of the whole of me.  Just me.  You are involved in this journey insofar as you choose to follow along or simply hold my hand along the way.

A while back at the handing over of some of my husband’s family heirlooms from his grandmother there was found, of all things she had kept, a newspaper article highlighting my high school exploits.  This article was yellowed and fragile, which tells you this was many, many years ago.  Simply won’t admit how many……  The point is, I was reminded that the essence of who I am is not what is different today.  What is different is how I see that, what form it has taken in me and what impact it is now having on my life. What is different is Him.  What is different is that I can’t and won’t be defined by another’s strengths or weaknesses.  I am my own in Christ Jesus.

Well, some of that earlier sounded pretty nasty didn’t it?  Forgive me. Unintended heartache is never pretty but the truth is – God is sovereign and His truth reigns supreme.  He sees beyond the definition of who you think I should be or for that matter, who you think you should be.  I am not defined by anything other than what He places before me and within me.  He has given me a song. A song of my identity in Him.  I am created woman, yet without Him; without His Son on the Cross I am nothing. And He loves me.  Out of His sovereignty comes this breath taking, undefinable love that consumes the whole of my being.

He has given me a song to sing.  It has no lilting melody nor driving bass.  It has no rhyme nor reason to the placement of the notes.  Yet it is a song.  The chords ring true to the beauty of His sound, not mine.  Some days I ride the wave and hang on for dear life as the beat is hammered out like a banging tom tom. Other days I rest nestled in the poignant silence of simply listening.  It is like staring out the window at a gentle rain and knowing there is a sound but you can’t hear it.  You just know the sound is there.

The whole of the song will come…….one note at a time.

I am coiled like that spring: awaiting its release.

The Dark Chamber

Man’s mystery eludes all

Clouds and darkness round about Him

An enigma to friend and foe

Mystery to his own soul

The good and evil lie within

Lying in wait for its moment

 

Unfathomable agony of the wrestle

Knowing that we know

A surface shadow

Of the soul that dwells alone

Alienation its desire

In paradise seeks its prey

 

In every heart a chamber

Darkness, hidden in shadows

Behind a silvery lake

That lies sleeping amidst beauty

Yet when drained exposes

Ugly ooze and filthy mud

 

All manner of abominations

Creeping like slime

Passionate desire, endless moaning

Waves none but yeasty foam amid broken weeds

Do you see what is done in the dark

Outside the flame of the light

 

The dark chamber

Drained off to the bottom layer

Exposed to the light

Rooted out to the very depth

A sea that cannot rest

Oh the turbulence and waves

 

A heart becoming translucent and still

A land-locked lake of no wind nor tempest

A surface of mirrored calm

The clear shining of unclouded blue

The perpetual light of a risen sun

Freedom for an unsurrendered soul

 

No longer the dark chamber

Sin wrested from its grasp

No shadow lies in waiting

The deep cried out to deep

Redemption fioods the cavern

A cross of blood to keep

 

A love that has no answer

His ways are not to know

A God that reigns forever

Aflame with burning light

No darkness found around Him

Light found amidst the night

Sovereign – Lord and Master

      His only name