Psalm 42:1-11 is the Scripture passage Pastor Rick Warren (saddleback.com) used recently in his new series, “Rethinking Your Life,” saying, “we can’t change our feelings but we can change our thoughts.” I am “down in the dumps” today but I’m seeking His face. I’m looking up to Him. And on the way up I’m seeing people (at 7 am, pre- sunrise) going about their daily business in the dim light, pushing carts, collecting trash, sweeping roads, washing the windows in the elite stores....
A work truck or two. A well-dressed man walking. A lame woman exercising her dog. And on the way up I’m seeing a glorious sunrise and a mountain ridge. Its highest peak looks for all the world like God twisted it between His powerful thumb and index finger, as if to say, “There, little mountain, you are finished!”
And I read Psalm 42 as Pastor Rick suggested.
“A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I’m thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, “Will I ever make it— arrive and drink in God’s presence?” I’m on a diet of tears— tears for breakfast, tears for supper. All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, “Where is this God of yours?”
These are the things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life. I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd, right out in front, Leading them all, eager to arrive and worship, Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving— celebrating, all of us, God’s feast! Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. Then GOD promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer.
Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, “Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?” They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, Taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?”
Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.”
Psalm 42:1-11 MSG
Truly, today was a day for pondering my fears and thoughts about Islam, Muslims, and God’s people. It has become quite clear to me we are all God’s people, created in His image. Looking over my photos of bread, a basic for all cultures, I realize all people, regardless of professed religion, or none, are God’s people.
As we traversed the Medina with Jalel we were gifted a large wheel of fragrant, warm bread. As naturally as we were born, Jalel, Bob and I communally tore off morsels of this delightful source of nourishment with our fingers, and satisfied our hunger as we walked along the narrow and fascinating alleyways. Eventually we came to the oldest synagogue in Tétouan, perhaps in all Morocco.
The old rabbi and I shared our fears about God’s people falling away from worship of Him. He posed beside the oven where he himself prepares the unleavened bread for his small community of believers. It was a day of communion. Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” (John 6:48) He was very present. “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
Vesper approaches the Rock of Gibraltar. What a thrill! The water is alive and active with dolphins who seem to sense our excitement as they accompany us toward the very foundation of the ancient and famous rock. We are in waters shared by Spain and a self-ruled British colony and Sovereign territory, that both claim possession; whose hills are overrun with as many Macaques monkeys as tourists.
History vibrantly records that this narrow peninsula has changed hands with siege after military siege by the Moors, Spanish, French and British. And in this wild place where there is tension between nations, nature imitates with currents from two seas that meet and mix, and winds and waves that are rarely still, and a sky that produces magical brushstrokes like the turning of a kaleidoscope.
But strangely, the rock is a symbol of stability. It sits, unmoving, regal, upon its mossy throne of ages past, a “type” of the real Rock upon which our faith resides; unmoving, regal, the “Ancient of Days,” (Daniel 7:9, 13, 22) the “Rock of Israel,” (Genesis 49:24) and Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3).
What better way to welcome the new year and relaunch my Vesper Blog than sharing a new christening photo (shared by recent Christian friends Harry and Marlies Zuur from the Netherlands.) A young man has just followed Jesus’ example in baptism by going under the water, signifying death to the old self, and rising from the water with his fresh new identity in Jesus Christ.
The Living Water Feature (Inspirations on Vesper) seeks to inspire readers to seek this Living water which fills so completely we thirst no more.* You are invited to come aboard the Vesper Blog which is simply about a boat with a crew of two who depend upon the leading of God’s Holy Spirit and wish to share their adventures with you.
”Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”” John 4:13-14 NIV
This is a picture of our “trail” out of Cadiz, Spain to find our rental car to return to Vesper the day after Christmas. It is an eerily beautiful contrast to earlier in the day, but I remember feeling the starkness. It was a clean street, pavement so shiny it threatened slippery, white bags piled neatly along the borders and only a stray dog or two. Lonely. Among us a feeling of unsettledness.
We had had an unsatisfying meal in what had promised to be the ideal restaurant. The Spanish were geared for fiesta after the siesta and the streets almost impassable even on foot. The noise level was a perfect “10.” We had had hopes to find solace in the beauty and art of the famous Cadiz Cathedral. The Cathedral was closed. But that’s behind. History. Praise God who “makes all things new.”
The new year brings hope of new things. We know those lonely, unsatisfying, tense “Cadiz -confusion” days are still lurking, but in Christ we are new creations daily, with new hope and promise. “Old things have passed away.” The plan is to make a mental dumping of old things; old tensions, old opinions, old habits and CLAIM this promise that in Christ - today - we are truly new creations! We are fresh creations; pure, bright, healthy, intelligent, active, capable, grateful, lovable creations! (We may have to claim this again tomorrow 😂.) But for today, the last day of 2018, we rejoice, we choose to rejoice.
Dear Jesus, Help us to believe that we are new creations in You and act accordingly. May Your Presence be strong all around us, supportive and protective, leading, loving, and... rejoicing! May we love others as You love us. In Your name. Amen.
Vesper was christened in California where our sea adventure began. From the beginning, the blessing of Christian friendship extended across oceans with the honor of having Tim and Joyce Juan present. Tim is President of the Nordhavn factory in Taiwan that made Vesper.
Vesper carries inside her their gifts of a rare and cherished yellow rosewood cross and the plaque engraved with Jude 24-25.“Glory be to Him who can keep you from falling and bring you safe to His glorious presence, innocent and happy. To God, the only God, who saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord, be the glory, majesty, authority and power, which He had before time began, now and forever.” Amen.
“Holy Spirit guide us.”
Kathy Valleau came to faith in her late 30’s. In 2009 she and her husband Bob formed Boathouse Ministries and bought the church now called “The Chapel On The Pond.”