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How sweet and aweful is this place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

Author: Isaac Watts, c. 1707

UM1On Saturday September 6th my Alma Mater the University of Michigan Wolverines fell to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  “Fell” is unfortunately a euphemism.  Going into the game sports analysts would tell you the teams were evenly matched.  Some sportscasters, like Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit, even picked UM to win the game.  I believed either team could pull off the victory, though it would likely be a close game.  Well, we were wrong.

I gathered a few friends to watch the game.  Snacks were out.  Drinks were poured.  Anticipation for another great rivalry game was building.  After all, this would be the last time in the foreseeable future that UM-Notre Dame would play.  Finally the game began.  As each quarter of the game rolled by, I sunk deeper and deeper into my recliner.  I said fewer and fewer words to my friends and yelled more and more angry words at the television.  3 interceptions.  1 fumble.  2 missed field goals.  No red zone opportunities.  Say what?

31 points for Notre Dame.  Big ol’ Goose Egg for UM. You’ve got to be kidding me.

I woke up Sunday morning and started to prepare for church.  Took a shower.  Brushed my teeth.  Ironed my pants.  Ate cereal.  And all the while I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Because my team lost a big game.

That sinking feeling in my stomach wasn’t due to the 750 thousand abortions that have occurred in the United States this year.

I wasn’t chewing my Honey Nut Cheerios in silence because I was grieved over a recent cancer diagnosis of a sweet 3 year old girl in our congregation.

I wasn’t down because 98% of residents on the South Shore of Boston don’t attend a gospel preaching church.

I wasn’t feeling blue because of the ISIS attacks on Christians in northern Iraq.

I wasn’t bummed about the reality of sex trafficking in my own state, let alone in other parts of the US and world.

I wasn’t disappointed because I hadn’t served my wife as I should, or treated a friend poorly, or missed an opportunity to share the gospel with a neighbor.

No, I was shaken up because a bunch of unpredictable 18-22 year olds at my old school couldn’t pull off a sports victory.

God wants us to have that sinking feeling in our stomachs.  He wants us to feel the pains and pangs of this sinful world.  He wants us to feel deeply the injustices and atrocities that rattle our lives.  He wants us to experience godly disappointment and anguish over people who are lost to sin.  When we feel these things, we long for Christ more.  We long for the new earth more.  We share the gospel more.  We pray more.  We love more.

Somewhere on life’s long list of disappointments – far, far, far down on the list – is the University of Michigan Football team’s loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on September 6th, 2014.  In view of the divine grand scheme of life, it shouldn’t feel like a big loss.  It should feel more like a mosquito bite or paper cut.  Just a little annoying.

May our disappointments always be shaped by the reality of a sin-warped world, the horrors of hell, the holiness of God, the hope of salvation in Christ, and the beauty of life on the new earth.

 

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Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

Author: Bernard of Clairvaux, c. 1150

Anvil_72dpiWhen God wants to drill a man
And thrill a man
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part

When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him
And with mighty blows converts him
Into shapes and forms of clay
Which only God can understand.

How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes
How He uses whom He chooses
And with mighty power infuses him
With every act induces him
To try His splendor out –
God knows what He’s about.

Author unknown

As Ray Ortlund Jr. says, “stay on the anvil.”