Summer is here – literally. It arrived at today 1:16 pm eastern time, which was 6:16 pm here in Scotland. I really did not realize that we were already this late in June, but that is one of the pitfalls of being on vacation. Sometimes you don’t even remember what day it is. We were on a tender going ashore last Saturday when a woman next to us was asked by her husband what day it was – she answered “Wednesday”. Nobody around her laughed, because they didn’t know what day it was either! I was once again reminded of how we should live our lives with intent; and not fall prey to our surroundings and the lack of structure in our lives. It was an important lesson – one that I have to keep learning time after time. Because my default is to go with the flow and not worry about too much structure when I am on vacation.
We have though, met several interesting couples on the cruise so far. One of them, a couple from Michigan, invited us to an informal Bible study that occurs on our full days at sea – like today. So, in the spirit of living with intent, and trying to avoid too much random behavior in my life, last night I made a commitment to myself to attend at 9:00 am this morning. Admittedly, I wanted to re-think my decision when the alarm went off, but I really wanted to honor my commitment, so I got ready and headed up to deck 16, where the on-board chapel is located.
I was greeted by approximately 15 Christians sitting in a circle, with their Bibles. I had met several couples on the cruise, and was introduced by one of them as someone who had attended seminary. We decided to go around the room and talk about, and read, our favorite passages of Scripture. Several people spoke up, but one kindly man in particular really caught my attention.
He was an elderly man from Wales. And he started talking about the Lord’s prayer. You know the one – “Our Father, who art in heaven – hallowed be thy name…..
And the gentleman said that he always wondered by the line “And lead us not into temptation” was a part of the prayer – because God Himself, after having been tempted in the wilderness, must certainly know that man would fail, as a fallen race, a severe temptation. So he decided to investigate the verse in his native Welsh language, and found that the word in the Welsh is really “testing”; not “temptation”. In other words, according to his native language, the gentleman shared that God would not tempt us, as He would know we would fail, but that God will sometimes “test” us with the purpose of strengthening our resolve to walk in His will. And this testing was meant as a loving gesture to help us firm up our commitment to the Lord.
This evening, I did a search in the Greek – as least as much as I could do with my limited materials onboard, and the Greek supports the idea of “testing”; in fact, the definition says, ” to try to learn the nature or character of someone or something by submitting such to thorough and extensive testing — ‘to test, to examine, to put to the test.” In other words, sometimes God puts us to the test to develop our character.
And for me, it seems that I am being “tested” a little on this trip – to make sure that I stay committed in my focus on God. And, in fact, there have been a few meals when Janet and I have not said grace – and that’s a little embarrassing to admit. Sad, but true. I think that is one reason I was so committed to go to the study this morning. After several people talked about their favorite verses, the man from Wales asked if anyone minded if he read one of the Psalms. Of course, we encouraged him to do so – and he read Psalm 116 to us. What a blessing. To hear a man who has walked with God for many decades, reading in a booming Welsh voice that sent shivers down your spine. And with such emotion and commitment on his part.
While I wondered why the man loved the Psalm so much, I only needed to hear him read the first two verses:
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
Space does not permit me to print the rest of the Psalm here, but suffice it to say that everyone was blessed to hear this elderly man, who had walked with the Lord for almost three quarters of a century, read the entire Psalm in his thick Welsh accent. It was an incredible experience. And when the study ended, he got up with his cane, and gracefully walked out of the room. I never did learn his name.
My encouragement tonight is twofold. First, please take the time to read Psalm 116, as its not that long, and then, more important, take a little time to re-commit yourself to the Lord. Because not only does God love us, but as Christians, we should love the Lord as well. And we should never hesitate to call on the name of the Lord. So my prayer this evening is a simple one – that you will call on the Lord to sustain you. The Lord knows that we can’t do this on our own – and as His adopted sons and daughters, we have His ear always. And don’t just call on Him once – but call on Him as long as you live. He’s waiting to hear from you right now……