Claims and Cares

My portion is this wispy little brush stroke over here on the edge.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22 

Before I start, I want to tell you that I have been angry and grumbling a lot lately and not really knowing why. So, I asked God to show me. These verses and the quote by Lewis, I believe, are His answer.  

The Hebrew word translated “cares” here is yehab (יְהָב). This is the only place it is used in the Bible. Surprisingly, it doesn’t mean worries or anxiety, it means “what is given, a lot [as in a portion], a burden.” So, this verse could say, “cast what God has given you, your lot in life, back on Him and He will sustain you.” 

The word translated “sustain” is another amazing word. It is kul (כּוּל) and, at its root, it means “to keep in” to measure, contain. It means (be able to, or can) abide, bear, comprehend, feed, forbear, guide, nourish, be present, make provision, receive, sustain, provide sustenance. 

He sustains us; He provides sustenance. He knows and is able to bear my lot or portion. The problem comes when what He has given is not what I expected or feel entitled to. The Israelites following Moses out of Egypt felt they were being misused by God for this reason.  

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6 

“This manna” was not what they expected or felt entitled to or felt they were promised. C.S. Lewis put it very well in a fictional conversation between demons training to tempt and derail the faith of humans:

“Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered.” — Screwtape Letters, XXI, C.S. Lewis   

“The more claims on life.” Ooo, ow, ouch! That is really peeling off the hard scab on my heart to clean out the pus of sin. Like me, the grumbling Israelites in the desert felt they were being misused. They felt their claims and entitlement. “Moses, I thought this was supposed to be a better life than in Egypt. I thought this was supposed to be some great salvation! And here we are wandering around in the life-sucking heat with just this manna to eat!”  

My claims are not meat and fish and cucumbers and leeks. My claims are more based on my conception of a perfect life. I hear myself grumbling like them. “I don’t want this lot. This is not what I signed up for. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. If only I had never started out on this hard, hot, rocky desert journey, where all I have to eat is this manna!” 

But, oh, do you hear the hard slap in the Face of God? For who is the manna? 

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:26, 43-51 

And see, Jesus points here to another thing. God has a BIG plan. It is way bigger than my ability to comprehend, much bigger than my short time here on earth. He is always setting His face toward the Cross. He is always one-track focused on reconciling people to himself. He is always painting a huge canvas, writing this wonderful story, portraying the bread given for the life of the world.

Those people crossing the Red Sea and wandering in the desert, eating the manna provided there, were part of that canvas. And I’m seeing that in God’s amazing grace, my failures and wanderings and returnings are part of it too. My portion is this wispy little brush stroke over here on the edge. You can hardly see it close up. But when you stand back I hope, that in His strength and grace, it contributes my tiny portion to the salvation story picture. 

But it seems that my claims and assumptions blind me to my true portion, to what God is really like and what He is after. Like Adam and Eve I listen to the “what ifs.” Did God really say? What if He just doesn’t want you to have all you deserve? Like the man who was entrusted with the one bag of gold, I assume the worst of God.  

Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ Matthew 25:24-25 

Two bad assumptions about God: that God had given a bad lot, that God is “hard” and requiring more than the man was able to bear. That man received what he expected. But what did the master say to the two men who received gladly, and served with, the portion they were given? “Enter into the joy of your master.” 

I think this lot or portion we have been given is only a heavy burden if we resist it or try to carry it ourselves. We were never meant to carry it, but to cast it back on His broad shoulders.  

And I begin to see that if God contains my lot, then my lot is in God – that my lot is God. The manna from heaven. 

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 

Those who cling to their lives will give up true life. But those who let go of their lives for my sake and surrender it all to me will discover true life! (TPT) 

But here is the bread that comes down from heaven … 

Image, detail from painting by Jack Bair

Greatly Huge Love

Your abundant, excellent, multitudinous, greatly huge love …

But I pray to you, LORD,  

in the time of your favor (an acceptable time, your will, good pleasure, delight);  

in your great (abundant, excellent, multitudinous, greatly huge)  

love (goodness, mercy, pity, kindness, lovingkindness, merciful kindness),  

O God, answer me (respond, sing, shout, testify, announce)  

with your sure (firm, faithful, true, assured, right, certain, trustworthy)  

salvation (deliverance, rescue, safety, saving). Psalm 69:13 

****

Lord at the time acceptable to You,  

Your will be done 

your delight, your good pleasure,  

(for you love mercy) 

In your uncontainable love  

your abundant, excellent, multitudinous, greatly huge love 

(language cannot contain it) 

sing, you who are my Song!  

Shout, testify, announce to me 

your salvation that is sure,  

forever unchanging, 

trustworthy,  

certain,  

Faithful and True 

****

This is what the Lord says: 

“In the time of my favor I will answer you, 
    and in the day of salvation I will help you; 
I will keep you and will make you 
    to be a covenant for the people, 
to restore the land 
    and to reassign its desolate inheritances, 
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ 
    and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ 

“They will feed beside the roads 
    and find pasture on every barren hill. 
They will neither hunger nor thirst, 
    nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. 
He who has compassion on them will guide them 
    and lead them beside springs of water. Isaiah 49:8-10 

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2 (ESV)  

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. Revelation 19:11 

Lord, thank you for your greatly huge love!

Photo copyright by Derek Bair

Unchanging

Do you see how one-track God is?

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35 

The two phrases in this verse – “come on you” and “overshadow you” – tell an amazing story. 

The phrase “come on you” is the Greek word epercomai (ἐπέρχομαι) which means to come upon, come to, arrive, come on. But more than just arriving, what comes upon “comes and leaves its appropriate, inevitable effects that build on the particular coming. (Note the prefix epi, showing the action as the ‘epi-center’ of what happens.)”i 

“Overshadow you” is the word episkiazó (ἐπισκιάζω) which means overshadow, envelop, to cast a shadow on, and leave “a natural (apt) result.” The word is “used in the NT of God’s over-shadowing presence – which always brings His boulē-plan to pass.” God’s boulḗ is “God’s immutable will for physical circumstances.” 

God’s coming causes something to happen! His coming upon and overshadowing of Mary was the epicenter of a history-splitting event, an inevitable effect, the natural result of the Most High God touching His creation and bringing His plan and purpose to pass. And the writer of Hebrews says that this plan and purpose of God is unchanging. 

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose (boulḗ) very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. Hebrews 6:17 

When God overshadows something or someone His unchangeable, immutable, unalterable purpose is accomplished. This overshadowing, purposeful, building Presence calls to mind Genesis. In the beginning God overshadowed, hovered over, the world to accomplish this purpose. 

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2 

What was God’s original plan and purpose? To have relationship; to have sons and daughters to communicate Himself to and to love. And so, He created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. They were unfaithful to Him and rejected Him. But His purpose remained unchanged. So just as God hovered over the earth in the beginning and created the first Adam, he hovered over Mary to create the last Adam, Jesus Christ Son of God, who would bring God’s boulē-plan to pass. 

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 1 Corinthians 15:45 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:7-10 

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:38-40 (ESV) 

“The Lord was never a passive or unconcerned God; rather, He was always actively intervening, even invading the affairs of men. His incarnation as one of us is the most spectacular example of the Lord’s lovesick and purposeful involvement in the earthly realm.” — Jill Shannon, A Prophetic Calendar 

Do you see how one-track God is? His purpose has always been to love us and to be loved back. And if we cooperate by turning towards Him, with even the feeblest opening of our hearts, He is there. When we crawl under the shadow of His wings, and let God overshadow us; when we hide ourselves in and cling to Him, then we put ourselves at the epicenter of His life-giving and creating and redeeming power. We allow Him to complete His passionate purpose in our lives. And nothing can come between us and God’s passionate, one-track, love and purpose for us. No matter the circumstance. No matter the storm. No matter the attack of the enemy. No matter even our own rebellious, struggling, wavering hearts – for even a faintly burning wick he will not snuff out (Isaiah 42: 3). God will fulfill His purpose for us. 

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. Psalm 57:1-2 (ESV) 

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV) 

So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! Romans 8:38-39 (The Passion Translation) 

iAll definitions from HELPS Word-studies, Discovery Bible (2021), and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. 

Image copyright by Derek Bair

It is Done!

This is an invitation to participate in creation, the bringing of His Kingdom and perfect, loving will to earth. 

[Jesus] said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Revelation 21:6 

What a wonderful proclamation: It is done! How we look forward to hearing it! “It is done” makes me think of Jesus on the cross saying, “It is finished!”  

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30  

That great redemptive work that he came to do, accomplished. The Lamb of God slain for the salvation of the world. But when I looked closer, I found that the two phrases – “it is finished” and “it is done” – mean two different, and very wonderful things.  

When Jesus proclaims, “It is finished,” the Greek word is teleó. It means to bring to an end, complete, fulfill, consummate. Jesus had fulfilled the will of the Father that he had come to do. Only Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, could finish the work on the Cross. 

The root of this word (tel-) means “reaching the end (aim). It is well-illustrated with the old pirate’s telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).”i  It is like the completion of a spiritual journey, the unfolding of a telescope. The coming into focus of God’s perfect will. 

And that is wonderful. That is amazing grace! But, “it is done” means something, at least for me, absolutely astonishing. The Greek word is ginomai. The Strong’s Concordance definition is “to come into being, to happen, to become.” Properly, it means “to emerge, become, transitioning from one point (realm, condition) to another.”ii 

According to Marvin R. Vincent, gínomai “means to come into being/manifestation implying motion, movement, or growth” (at 2 Pet 1:4). Thus it is used for God’s actions as emerging from eternity and becoming (showing themselves) in time (physical space).”iii 

Jesus finished the work he came to do so that the new heaven and new earth could emerge. We could transition from this place of continual warfare and anguish and tears, to that place where all tears will be wiped away. That is breathtaking as it is. But now, if you want your mind completely blown, look at some other times that Jesus used this word. 

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done (ginomai) just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. Matthew 8:13  

Do you see that! Amazing, amazing grace! Jesus says that through faith the centurion participates in this transitioning, this becoming, this emerging from eternity of the works of God into this time/space realm. When we believe. When we pray in faith. 

When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done (ginomai) to you”; and their sight was restored. Matthew 9:28-30 

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done (ginomai) for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:28 (ESV) 

And Jesus taught us to pray this way – for the manifestation of God’s Kingdom and will to emerge from eternity and become in time and physical space. 

Your kingdom come, your will be done (ginomai), on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 (ESV) 

This is not just a liturgical prayer to be repeated by rote. This is an invitation to participate in creation, the bringing of His Kingdom and perfect, loving will to earth. 

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done (ginomai) for them by my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19 

Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done (ginomai).” Matthew 21:21 

Does this give you faith to pray? Does this crystalize in your mind the why of praying – the importance of praying? It does for me. 

… if you have faith and do not doubt … it will be done [it will be, it will come into being, it will emerge]. 

… as it is written, “I have made you [Abraham] the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told … Romans 4:17-18 (ESV)  

And God said … and there was … (Genesis 1) 

iHELPS Word-studies, Bible Hub 

iiibid.

iiiVincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament

Image by Linda Tanner, The Butterfly is Gone https://flic.kr/p/piUExS  

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