During this time of Covid 19, I’ve experienced God’s presence more profoundly than I have in a long time. Despite all the suffering, that has touched my family as well, I’ve pressed in, and He has been there. He’s come to me in the night, has given me the book idea I’ve been asking Him for the last 18 months, and I’m seeing answers to prayer I’ve prayed a long time. Though I was leaning toward sharing what He has been teaching me, as we prayed together last week, I saw sorrow seeping through so many of your posts. Also, as I consider what is going on in our world with Covid, with rioting over injustice to blacks, and even with the sad diagnosis of pancreatic cancer of a man we have so come to love in Tim Keller, this is where I feel led to take us. We must truly learn to lament, with the help of psalms and Lamentations. And there is a new book that does the best job I’ve seen yet in helping us to do just that.
The book that won the book of the year at Christian Book Awards was by a new author. I got it right away, and indeed, it is powerful. Here it is:
Pastor Vroegop of Indianapolis is with The Gospel Coalition. I’d like you to get it right away. I realize it may take you more than a week to get it, but Amazon allows you to turn the pages through chapter 1, or you can download chapter 1 on your Kindle for free for next week. It’s half the price on kindle, but you, like me, may want a hard copy.
Here is a short clip from Pastor Vroegop:
One of the things he led his church into doing was to have services of lament for particular hurts. I’d like to try to do that together sometime during this journey through zoom. But that will be down the road.
So get your book and we’ll get started next week. One nice thing about this study is that if you miss a week, you won’t really be behind, for we are going to look at 4 different psalms and 5 different chapters from Lamentations.
This week I’m going to share with you how God has led me in writing, and one of the most powerful sermons I have listened to (ever) and ask you to listen as well. Selfishly, I’d love your input and prayers — and then next week we will launch Dark Clouds Deep Mercy. It will be sooo good.
Highlight from Last Week:
Your prayers, your honesty in your posts, the sadness seeping through, plus my own leading lined up to lead us into really learning how to lament. There are so many broken relationships, tough marriages and jobs, and just so much pain. God gives a way to deal with it, and we are going to learn to do it better than we have in the past. Thank You, Lord!
Our own “Laura-Dancer” leads women in dance for worship. She was remembering dancing to the song “Keep Your Lamps Burning.” This particular you-tube version uses pictures from the Harriet Tubman story of helping slaves escape. As Pastor Vroegop said above, the African Americans have suffered so much, they know how to lament, they know how to tell their souls this is not the end of the story. Here is what Laura posted:
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Will you journey with us through the lament this summer? (If so, order your book right away!)
Monday: Wrestling with God
During Covid 19, God has come to me and blessed me with His presence. It has been so sweet, and I’ve asked Him, “What is my part in this, if any, for I want this sweetness to continue.” He has been unveiling secrets. I’ve listened to so many sermons, but the most powerful one is this one, from Martyn Lloyd Jones on Wrestling with God, which I mentioned last week. I’d love you to listen sometime during this week and share your notes and thoughts. (Tim Keller has a great sermon on this, and is often easier to listen to, but he himself keeps quoting this sermon from Jones.)
3. Start listening to Jones and share your notes — then keep listening through the week, sharing notes as you go. Some of you will do it all at once, and some in parts.
Monday: Waiting and Listening
Perhaps He had to slow me down to get me to really listen: no speaking, no pickleball, no inviting people over, and no traveling. For those of us who slowed down, I think we have seen the value in that.
3. If that has been you, what will you do differently when this is over?
4. One of the first things Jones said that caused me to ponder is that how we are when we are
alone reveals how authentic our relationship is with God. Otherwise, we may simply be
carried along by the momentum of a movement or those around us. That spoke to me during
this time. What thoughts do you have on this?
Tuesday: First Light
I’ve been reading more, listening to more sermons, being still before Him more. I’ve been singing hymns and repenting more honestly. Then, He began to give me pictures in the night, that I thought might be a book idea. At first, it was stories I remembered about “naming” – parents who truly sought God in the naming of their children. I wrote a post about that when our grand-daughter Lily was born — a post that has gotten a lot of attention.
So I began to try to write a book about naming, but it seemed more like an article. Then I discovered, as He gave me more light, that naming was a part of the puzzle, but not the big picture!
4. Do you have any thoughts on the above — and do you have a naming story to tell?
Wednesday: More Light
Memorizing 1 John has taught me so much. (Only book I’ve memorized, unlike my friend Twila who has memorized 1/4 of the New Testament, it seems all I can do to keep from losing 1 John!) But one truth that drums through 1 John is that it is those who walk the light they have been given that get more light.
So, I kept praying about names, and asking Him for more light. I began to go over just the word “name” in Scripture. This passage became radioactive:
But now, this is what the LORD says –
He who created you, Jacob,
He who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
They will not sweep over you.
5. Last week we learned from George Muller to meditate on Scripture and then make it personal through prayer. That is how you make your soul “happy” in the Lord. Do it with the above.
Thursday: Big Picture
This made me think about how God knows our names, summons us by name. I looked at the seven He named before birth — but that didn’t seem to be it. And then! He drew my attention to seven (that number again) to whom He called out so urgently that He said their name twice. They are:
I began to study each of them, digging for gold, and am finding it. They all surrendered to God eventually and experienced His presence. But telling myself to surrender may not be helpful — I need to know what helped them to surrender. And I’m seeing it, with one building on another. I’m trying to appeal to a wider audience than just the kind of wonderful women that come on this blog — so am currently drawn to this song title. Of course, the song promises we get out of the shallow by finding the perfect soulmate, but that’s not the truth.
(Experiencing the Presence of God)
6. That’s all I’m going to tell you, but wonder if this, honestly, is a book that would intrigue
you? I would so appreciate your prayers for: wisdom in writing, for God to open a door if it is
to be, and for me to trust.
Friday: I Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me
7. Jacob’s cry is what we all should cry. Please share the rest of your comments from Martyn Lloyd Jones Sermon and how it applies to you.
Saturday: Pray for our Summer Study
8. Would you pray here for our summer study and that God will bring those He wants to come?
9. What is your take-a-way this week and why?