Dear Porch Lights Friends,
The season of staying home, building fires and cozying in has given us much time to reflect and reminisce about past and busier times when we could be together. This morning a cherished memory came to my mind that I would like to share with you.
Growing up in a small town church, I was privileged and honored to be part of a congregation home to many great men of character, valor, and honor. Among their ranks were soldiers returning from WWII and Korea, expert rocket scientists, shipyard workers, country farm men, merchants, school superintendents, watermen and doctors. When these men joined voices in worship, my spirit responded. I will forever remember one Sunday morning when the pastor led the congregation in singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” These men, hardened by war, difficulties and life, belted with conviction and vigor words that seemed to come from a deep place in their hearts. Attesting to their personal experiences with God and their accomplished knowledge of the Word, the Bible, these men drew the congregation into a fuller and richer understanding of God.
I often think back to those days and am filled with assurance that our God’s faithfulness is great, His mercies are new every morning. In these present days of uncertainty, distance from family and friends, and sheltering in place, when we cannot gather in church or at Porch Lights’ events, our God is great. I stand on His promises and the blessings these men passed on to the next generation, especially the blessing of learning to love the Word of God.
The men of my church taught us the value of spending time alone with the Lord and intense study of the Bible. They had hidden God’s Word in their hearts and it could not be taken from them. It had nourished their souls and given them instruction and discernment and understanding. They had read the promises of God and seen His faithfulness in the stories of old, of Moses, Daniel, Joseph and more that mirrored their own lives. These men knew His Word is alive and that “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, Great is His Faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23.
I desired this faith and instruction and wisdom of my fathers for myself. I wanted to know that the Lord is great and powerful and Lord of all, and that with all His attributes he even cares and understands the things that are on my heart.
Getting into the Word and using it as a tool, as a prayer guide, as a way to lean in close to God comforts, encourages, strengthens, and makes me secure. I love my private quiet time in the mornings where I can read His word, be still, and listen. I ask Him to unleash a mighty outpouring of His wonderful Holy Spirit to show me just what He wants me to learn this day so I can fully understand, think, reflect, and pray and open my eyes that I might see wondrous things. His word is truly a love letter to us. Through it we see His generosity, goodness, provision, and Him as the source of all good and perfect things. I know He wants to be close to me, to us. This is His greatest desire. And it is in quietness and stillness and reading His Word that God speaks, He does whisper our name.
One of my favorite bible readings to study His Word is “The Bible in One Year” series. It can come to your email or on the website app each morning. Even though I have been through many years of these readings, I am still amazed that the Word is alive and living and changes for the current needs. I still say, “When did you put that in there, Lord?” “How did He know what I needed this very day?”
For me, the mornings are a lovely time, as the sun awakes the world with beautiful colors and a new breath and new gifts. “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies…How priceless is Your unfailing love!” Psalm 36:5.
Actually, any time of day is the perfect time for personal study and prayer. I love the story of Susanna Wesley who had 19 children. Susanna adhered to a daily method of Bible reading and prayer. All the family knew that when Susanna lifted her apron over her head, she was having her private alone prayer time with God and all knew not to disturb. Whether it is behind our apron skirt or with our arms in the sink, it’s a good time to draw near to God. And a good time to tuck His Word into our hearts.
Group Bible studies feed our need for connection… It is an intentional time set aside with others in the community to explore and learn wondrous things. To share and study with friends is edifying and brings multiplied blessings and ideas.
As G.K. Chesterton said, “The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solution of man.”
My brother tells the story of a sailing and camping expedition with our church youth group. One evening walking back to camp he noticed a light on in one of the trip leader’s tents. The shadow of a praying man kneeling by his camping cot reflected on the tent wall. That picture will always be in my heart. He was one of the hymn singing churchmen. I hope to be in his angel chorus singing old hymns one day and taking his guidance to have daily Bible reading. May the faith legacy of these great men go down to all our generations.
At Christmas, like many families, we could not be with our entire family… our next generations. FaceTime and Zoom had to make do. But God was gracious and His mercies are real. We were given more than we ever could have expected or imagined. We received a very special Christmas gift. Our son’s New York family had prepared a concert for the family gathered in Virginia. Our daughter-in-law, a concert pianist, and our son, a classical guitarist, and our talented grandson performed live from their living room the hymn and Bible inspired, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” As Bill and I stood listening and weeping before the screen with our daughters and son-in-law, all we could say was, truly,
“Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changes not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be…
Summer and Winter and Springtime and Harvest,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.”
With love, and prayers for you to find time to get into and be blessed by the Word,
For the Porch Lights Team
Here are some links to bible studies:
The Bible in One Year by Nicky Gumbel
Help! My Bible is Alive by Nicole Unice
Praying the Scriptures for Your Children series by Jodie Berndt