Synthesis of the Old Testament Historical Books

As stated in my previous post, this essay was the last assignment for one of my seminary classes. I share it in hopes that it blesses and teaches you.

In taking a satellite view of the historical books of the Old Testament— Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah—we find an overall ideological narrative of the faithfulness of God and the inability of the Israelites to faithfully follow the Law and the subsequent consequences. The main message that comes across the entire story is, obey God and God’s law and be blessed. The ideological narrative includes biographical narratives of the people, as well as some geographical narrative of the Promised Land.

Major Literary Structure: Climax

The major structural relationship across all of the aforementioned historical books is climax. The book of Joshua sets the stage of what is required from the people as they live in covenant with the Lord in the Promised Land with the following key verses:

  • Josh 1:7-8— The Lord speaking to Joshua after Moses had died, as Joshua was taking over leading the people into the Promised Land: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
  • Josh 23:6-8— Joshua speaking to the people at the end of his life, after they have experienced success in their expansion into and conquest of the Promised Land: “So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.”
  • Josh 24:14-16, 19-22—Joshua speaking to the people before he dies to renew their covenant with the Lord: “So fear the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods.”…Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, He will turn against you and destroy you, even though He has been so good to you.”But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”“You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the Lord.” “Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.”

And the covenant was renewed at Shechem before God. The die was cast. The people said they willingly and freely chose the Lord, recognizing that God was the one who cared for them. But they also knew their devotion was required in this covenant. Clearly, idolatry was a concern, as it is mentioned as a warning from the beginning. Of all the possible sins Joshua could have warned them not to commit, he identified the potential of them “abandoning the Lord and serving other gods.” So from the beginning of their covenantal relationship with the Lord, they are plainly warned their idolatry would lead to their destruction.

The book of Judges comes next and starts with a couple of victories. But the first chapter hints at the problems which follow as it states the Israelites failed to drive all the people from the land. And in one generation, the Israelites forgot their commitment to the Lord, obviously failing to do what the Lord said above in Josh 1:8. A recurrent pattern emerges at the beginning of the book of the people experiencing oppression as a result of their idolatry and crying out to God, and God sending them a judge or deliverer. The character of the judges and the people’s response to them progressively declined. By the end of the book, moral relativism is leading to outright abandonment of God. People seem to be making up their own religions and religious practices, installing their own personal priests, with no seeming thought to the Lord at all. The key passages are:

  •  Judg 2:10-15—“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done for Israel. The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. This made the Lord burn with anger against Israel, so He handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as He had warned. And the people were in great distress.”
  • Judg 17:6 and 21:25—“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

What was right in their eyes bore little no semblance to what the Lord required and the results were catasrophic, nearly wiping out the entire tribe of Benjamin (chs. 23-24).  They had thoroughly abandoned the Lord.

The eventual story of redemption in the book of Ruth sits as a bright spot between the awful ending of Judges and the bumpy beginning of Samuel. Boaz would have been of the generation mentioned above in Judges 2, yet he followed the law of kinsman-redeemer. But the other important thing to note in the book of Ruth compared to the larger narrative is contrast. As the nation of Israel is abandoning the Lord and suffering as a result, Ruth forsakes her family and gods in Moab and embraces and converts to the God of her mother-in-law, Naomi. A foreigner is faithful to the Lord while the Lord’s own people are not. She receives the blessing of redemption. She and Boaz become the great-grandparents of King David, as shown in the key passage:

  • Ruth 4:13-14, 17—“So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women of the town said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel’…The neighbor women said, ‘Now at last Naomi has a son again!’ And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.”

The narrative of the historical books continues with the books of Samuel. As a prophetic voice to the Israelites, Samuel effectively and faithfully leads them his entire life. His sons are not as faithful. So Samuel, against his will but with God’s guidance, introduces the institution of a monarchical government for Israel. The books on their own contain a recurrence of contrasts which continue throughout the books of Kings, as well, showing consequences of obedience and righteousness vs. evil and disobedience. The major contrasts are drawn between the major characters of King Saul and his successor, King David. Saul was disobedient to God’s instructions, David was obedient. When Saul was confronted with his sin, he made excuses. When David was confronted with his sin, he confessed and repented. Although contrasts are a strong structural relationship within the books of Samuel, in the larger historical book narrative, this contrast also speaks to the overall ideological theme of obey God and be successful and blessed or  disobey and face the Lord’s rejection. This is shown in these key passages of Samuel:

  • 1 Sam. 12:14-15— Samuel addressing the people as he readies to hand leadership of the nation over to Saul: “Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to His voice, and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God. But if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to Him, then His hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors.”
  • 1 Sam. 15:22-23— Samuel to King Saul as he confronts the king for his disobedience to God’s command: “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols (the CEB translates the last part as “arrogance is like the evil of idolatry,” (italics mine)). So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”

Under Saul, the nation continues in its march to destruction because of idolatry. It has a small reprieve under the leadership of King David, but the tide does not turn overall, as is seen in the next book.

In the books of Kings, David’s son, Solomon is successful as king by all worldly standards. The nation of Israel enjoys a time of immense prosperity under his leadership. He is able to build an ornate temple for God, as well as a fancy castle for himself. His territory expands. He is at peace with the nations around him and dignitaries from around the world seek his great wisdom. But eventually his power, fame, and riches introduce the religious syncretism back into the nation of Israel through his many foreign wives. He allows shrines to be built for worshipping their gods (1 Ki 11:8). When Solomon dies, the kingdom is quickly divided between his son, Rehoboam, who retains leadership over Judah in Jerusalem, and Jeroboam, who becomes the new leader of Israel in Shechem. Shechem points back to the place where Joshua first made the covenant between God and the people (Josh 24:25). The difference is that Jeroboam, while living there, in an effort to keep the people from returning to Jerusalem, builds shrines and establishes idols for the people to worship; and places them in Dan and Bethel (1 Ki 12:29). Early in Jeroboam’s reign, the Lord sends a man to prophesy destruction against this idolatrous shrine through Josiah. The fact that Josiah fulfills the prophecy exactly some 350+ years later (2 Ki 23:15-18) shows that regardless of the political changes and human activity throughout the books of Kings, God was still in ultimate control. His divine will wins out. 

The remainder of the books of kings are stories of contrasts between the kings who obeyed God (compared to David) and most who did not (compared to Jeroboam). The continual rejection of God and engagement in idolatry by Israel and Judah leads exactly to where God told them it would from the beginning. First Israel is conquered and taken into exile by Assyrians (2 Kings 17). Then, 131 years later, the kingdom of Judah falls at the hands of the Babylonians as the books of Kings comes to a close (2 Kings 25). The key passage for this section is the summary of the experience given once more:

  • 2 Kings 17:7-20—7 All this happened because the Israelites sinned against the Lord their God… They worshipped other gods. They followed the practices of the nations that the Lord had removed before the Israelites, as well as the practices that the Israelite kings had done. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that weren’t right. They built shrines in all their towns, from watchtowers to fortified cities. They set up sacred pillars and sacred poles on every high hill and beneath every green tree. At every shrine they burned incense, just as the nations did that the Lord sent into exile before them. They did evil things that made the Lord angry. They worshipped images about which the Lord had said, Don’t do such things! The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all the prophets and seers, telling them, ‘Turn from your evil ways. Keep My commandments and My regulations in agreement with the entire Instruction that I commanded your ancestors and sent through My servants the prophets.’ But they wouldn’t listen…They rejected His regulations and the covenant He had made with their ancestors, along with the warnings He had given them. They followed worthless images so that they too became worthless. And they imitated the neighboring nations that the Lord had forbidden them to imitate. They deserted all the commandments of the Lord their God. They made themselves two metal idols cast in the shape of calves and made a sacred pole. They bowed down to all the heavenly bodies. They served Baal. They burned their sons and daughters alive. They practiced divination and sought omens. They gave themselves over to doing what was evil in the Lord’s eyes and made Him angry. So the Lord was very angry at Israel. He removed them from His presence…So the Lord rejected all of Israel’s descendants. He punished them, and He handed them over to enemies who plundered them until He finally threw them out of His sight.”

The Lord delivered the nation of Israel from their bondage to Egypt. He took them into the desert for 40 years to train them and develop them into His special people. Joshua led them into the Promised Land with one warning: do not forsake God and worship the gods of the nations around them or they would be destroyed, as well. Generations came and went and the people (often led by their leaders) engaged in more and more idol worship, until they ultimately suffered the promised destruction, with most being removed from the land and sent into exile. God kept His promises. He blessed those who sought and obeyed Him. But He eventually brought the promised judgement upon the ones who disobeyed and abandoned Him.

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are rather anti-climatic after all of the above. But they are a reminder that God is a God of Redemption. He does not punish His people forever, and these two books are about picking up the pieces and rebuilding after being disciplined by God. This narrative is also a reminder that restarting is not easy. It would have been better to have not gotten off track to begin with. Yet God does give second chances. At the end of the time specified by God through the prophet, Jeremiah, the people are allowed to return from exile. In Ezra, They are prompted to rebuild the Lord’s temple by the king of Persia, and even blessed by his returning the articles that were taken out of the temple by Nebudchadnezzer. The temple takes some time to rebuild due to opposition from the people who were living in the land at the time; but it still gets done. Ezra returns and helps get the people on the right track in following God’s laws again. 

Nehemiah was tasked with rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Although authorized by King Artaxerxes, he, too, faced opposition. Nehemiah was a brave and godly leader, who sought the Lord, and withstood the opposition, and led the people to accomplish the task in record time. He also lead the rebuilding of the community in Jerusalem. Here again, Ezra read the Book of the Law before the people. The people responded obediently to the words by repenting and following what they said, and committing to following the law going forward. Nehemiah thereafter worked to keep the people on track.

In taking a satellite view of the historical books of the Old Testament— Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah—we find an overall ideological narrative of the faithfulness of God and the inability of the Israelites to faithfully follow the Law and the subsequent consequences. The main message that comes across the entire story is, obey God and God’s law and be blessed. The ideological narrative includes biographical narratives of the people, as well as some geographical narrative of the Promised Land.

Major Literary Structure: Climax

The major structural relationship across all of the aforementioned historical books is climax. The book of Joshua sets the stage of what is required from the people as they live in covenant with the Lord in the Promised Land with the following key verses:

  • Josh 1:7-8— The Lord speaking to Joshua after Moses had died, as Joshua was taking over leading the people into the Promised Land: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
  • Josh 23:6-8— Joshua speaking to the people at the end of his life, after they have experienced success in their expansion into and conquest of the Promised Land: “So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.”
  • Josh 24:14-16, 19-22—Joshua speaking to the people before he dies to renew their covenant with the Lord: “So fear the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods…Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, He will turn against you and destroy you, even though He has been so good to you.”But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”“You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the Lord.” “Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.”

And the covenant was renewed at Shechem before God. The die was cast. The people said they willingly and freely chose the Lord, recognizing that God was the one who cared for them. But they also knew their devotion was required in this covenant. Clearly, idolatry was a concern, as it is mentioned as a warning from the beginning. Of all the possible sins Joshua could have warned them not to commit, he identified the potential of them “abandoning the Lord and serving other gods.” So from the beginning of their covenantal relationship with the Lord, they are plainly warned their idolatry would lead to their destruction.

The book of Judges comes next and starts with a couple of victories. But the first chapter hints at the problems which follow as it states the Israelites failed to drive all the people from the land. And in one generation, the Israelites forgot their commitment to the Lord, obviously failing to do what the Lord said above in Josh 1:8. A recurrent pattern emerges at the beginning of the book of the people experiencing oppression as a result of their idolatry and crying out to God, and God sending them a judge or deliverer. The character of the judges and the people’s response to them progressively declined. By the end of the book, moral relativism is leading to outright abandonment of God. People seem to be making up their own religions and religious practices, installing their own personal priests, with no seeming thought to the Lord at all. The key passages are:

  •  Judg 2:10-15—“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done for Israel. The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. This made the Lord burn with anger against Israel, so He handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as He had warned. And the people were in great distress.”
  • Judg 17:6 and 21:25—“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

What was right in their eyes bore little no semblance to what the Lord required and the results were catasrophic, nearly wiping out the entire tribe of Benjamin (chs. 23-24).  They had thoroughly abandoned the Lord.

The eventual story of redemption in the book of Ruth sits as a bright spot between the awful ending of Judges and the bumpy beginning of Samuel. Boaz would have been of the generation mentioned above in Judges 2, yet he followed the law of kinsman-redeemer. But the other important thing to note in the book of Ruth compared to the larger narrative is contrast. As the nation of Israel is abandoning the Lord and suffering as a result, Ruth forsakes her family and gods in Moab and embraces and converts to the God of her mother-in-law, Naomi. A foreigner is faithful to the Lord while the Lord’s own people are not. She receives the blessing of redemption. She and Boaz become the great-grandparents of King David, as shown in the key passage:

  • Ruth 4:13-14, 17—“So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women of the town said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel’…The neighbor women said, ‘Now at last Naomi has a son again!’ And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.”

The narrative of the historical books continues with the books of Samuel. As a prophetic voice to the Israelites, Samuel effectively and faithfully leads them his entire life. His sons are not as faithful. So Samuel, against his will but with God’s guidance, introduces the institution of a monarchical government for Israel. The books on their own contain a recurrence of contrasts which continue throughout the books of Kings, as well, showing consequences of obedience and righteousness vs. evil and disobedience. The major contrasts are drawn between the major characters of King Saul and his successor, King David. Saul was disobedient to God’s instructions, David was obedient. When Saul was confronted with his sin, he made excuses. When David was confronted with his sin, he confessed and repented. Although contrasts are a strong structural relationship within the books of Samuel, in the larger historical book narrative, this contrast also speaks to the overall ideological theme of obey God and be successful and blessed or  disobey and face the Lord’s rejection. This is shown in these key passages of Samuel:

  • 1 Sam. 12:14-15— Samuel addressing the people as he readies to hand leadership of the nation over to Saul: “Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to His voice, and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God. But if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to Him, then His hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors.”
  • 1 Sam. 15:22-23— Samuel to King Saul as he confronts the king for his disobedience to God’s command: “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols (the CEB translates the last part as “arrogance is like the evil of idolatry,” (italics mine)). So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”

Under Saul, the nation continues in its march to destruction because of idolatry. It has a small reprieve under the leadership of King David, but the tide does not turn overall, as is seen in the next book.

In the books of Kings, David’s son, Solomon is successful as king by all worldly standards. The nation of Israel enjoys a time of immense prosperity under his leadership. He is able to build an ornate temple for God, as well as a fancy castle for himself. His territory expands. He is at peace with the nations around him and dignitaries from around the world seek his great wisdom. But eventually his power, fame, and riches introduce the religious syncretism back into the nation of Israel through his many foreign wives. He allows shrines to be built for worshipping their gods (1 Ki 11:8). When Solomon dies, the kingdom is quickly divided between his son, Rehoboam, who retains leadership over Judah in Jerusalem, and Jeroboam, who becomes the new leader of Israel in Shechem. Shechem points back to the place where Joshua first made the covenant between God and the people (Josh 24:25). The difference is that Jeroboam, while living there, in an effort to keep the people from returning to Jerusalem, builds shrines and establishes idols for the people to worship; and places them in Dan and Bethel (1 Ki 12:29). Early in Jeroboam’s reign, the Lord sends a man to prophesy destruction against this idolatrous shrine through Josiah. The fact that Josiah fulfills the prophecy exactly some 350+ years later (2 Ki 23:15-18) shows that regardless of the political changes and human activity throughout the books of Kings, God was still in ultimate control. His divine will wins out. 

The remainder of the books of kings are stories of contrasts between the kings who obeyed God (compared to David) and most who did not (compared to Jeroboam). The continual rejection of God and engagement in idolatry by Israel and Judah leads exactly to where God told them it would from the beginning. First Israel is conquered and taken into exile by Assyrians (2 Kings 17). Then, 131 years later, the kingdom of Judah falls at the hands of the Babylonians as the books of Kings comes to a close (2 Kings 25). The key passage for this section is the summary of the experience given once more:

  • 2 Kings 17:7-20—7 All this happened because the Israelites sinned against the Lord their God… They worshipped other gods. They followed the practices of the nations that the Lord had removed before the Israelites, as well as the practices that the Israelite kings had done. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that weren’t right. They built shrines in all their towns, from watchtowers to fortified cities. They set up sacred pillars and sacred poles on every high hill and beneath every green tree. At every shrine they burned incense, just as the nations did that the Lord sent into exile before them. They did evil things that made the Lord angry. They worshipped images about which the Lord had said, Don’t do such things! The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all the prophets and seers, telling them, ‘Turn from your evil ways. Keep My commandments and My regulations in agreement with the entire Instruction that I commanded your ancestors and sent through My servants the prophets.’ But they wouldn’t listen…They rejected His regulations and the covenant He had made with their ancestors, along with the warnings He had given them. They followed worthless images so that they too became worthless. And they imitated the neighboring nations that the Lord had forbidden them to imitate. They deserted all the commandments of the Lord their God. They made themselves two metal idols cast in the shape of calves and made a sacred pole. They bowed down to all the heavenly bodies. They served Baal. They burned their sons and daughters alive. They practiced divination and sought omens. They gave themselves over to doing what was evil in the Lord’s eyes and made Him angry. So the Lord was very angry at Israel. He removed them from His presence…So the Lord rejected all of Israel’s descendants. He punished them, and He handed them over to enemies who plundered them until He finally threw them out of His sight.”

The Lord delivered the nation of Israel from their bondage to Egypt. He took them into the desert for 40 years to train them and develop them into His special people. Joshua led them into the Promised Land with one warning: do not forsake God and worship the gods of the nations around them or they would be destroyed, as well. Generations came and went and the people (often led by their leaders) engaged in more and more idol worship, until they ultimately suffered the promised destruction, with most being removed from the land and sent into exile. God kept His promises. He blessed those who sought and obeyed Him. But He eventually brought the promised judgement upon the ones who disobeyed and abandoned Him.

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are rather anti-climatic after all of the above. But they are a reminder that God is a God of Redemption. He does not punish His people forever, and these two books are about picking up the pieces and rebuilding after being disciplined by God. This narrative is also a reminder that restarting is not easy. It would have been better to have not gotten off track to begin with. Yet God does give second chances. At the end of the time specified by God through the prophet, Jeremiah, the people are allowed to return from exile. In Ezra, They are prompted to rebuild the Lord’s temple by the king of Persia, and even blessed by his returning the articles that were taken out of the temple by Nebudchadnezzer. The temple takes some time to rebuild due to opposition from the people who were living in the land at the time; but it still gets done. Ezra returns and helps get the people on the right track in following God’s laws again. 

Nehemiah was tasked with rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Although authorized by King Artaxerxes, he, too, faced opposition. Nehemiah was a brave and godly leader, who sought the Lord, and withstood the opposition, and led the people to accomplish the task in record time. He also lead the rebuilding of the community in Jerusalem. Here again, Ezra read the Book of the Law before the people. The people responded obediently to the words by repenting and following what they said, and committing to following the law going forward. Nehemiah thereafter worked to keep the people on track.

The narratives of the historical books can teach us the importance of obeying God, of seeking and following God’s law for our benefit, and of the dangers of idolatry. It is entirely possible and likely that the negative cycle started again after the death of Nehemiah, for the people were already trying to slip up while he was alive, causing him to respond rather harshly (Neh 13). There is really nothing new under the sun, as Solomon noted (Ecc 1:9). God knew the people would backslide and rebel. God expected it, planned for it, and prophesied what the people should do when they found themselves being disciplined. He knew they would forget. That is why another take-away from these stories is regular reading of the Word of God. On the few occasions the people heard the Book of the Law read after a period of time of it being forgotten, their response was surprisingly one of repentance rather than dismissal. Moses told the Israelites to regularly read the Instruction Scroll and to keep it before them (Dt 31:10-13). The Lord told Joshua to focus on it, remember and recite constantly (Josh 1:8). King Josiah was the first to hear the words of the Instruction Scroll after a period of time when it was hidden, and he tore his clothes and responded in repentance and led Judah to repent and renew their covenant with God (2 Ki 22-23). Ezra, a priest and scribe of the Instruction scroll, “determined to study and perform the Lord’s Instruction, and to teach law and justice in Israel” (Ez. 7:10) after his return to Jerusalem. He then read the Instruction scroll out loud to the returned exiles (Neh 8) and had it explained to them, leading them in recommitment to their covenant with God so they could avoid future problems. Regular reading of and study/meditation on God’s Word helps to keep people focused on God and God’s precepts, and to hopefully help them avoid God’s discipline. Let us study God’s word and learn the lessons that are taught within it.

Works Cited

Holy Bible, Common English Bible (CEB), 2011. www.biblegateway.com, Accessed December 13, 2019.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Carol Stream IL, Tyndale House, 2015, www.biblegateway.com, Accessed December 14, 2019.

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What is Required

This past semester, I had the privilege of studying the Old Testament “historical books” in a new-to-me, in-depth way. It was difficult, but extremely fascinating. I learned so much! I encourage such study for everyone.

The last assignment was to write an essay to basically sum up the main message(s) of all those books in a nutshell. Writing this essay really challenged me, but the result has stuck with me, leaving me to continue to chew on these main points:

That last part sounds weird, doesn’t it? We don’t often think about what idolatry looks like in our culture. However, I would challenge us all to really consider it because the consequences are rather dire. I could be wrong, but it appears that idolatry is pretty much anything that causes us to turn away from God. We were created to worship, to devote our lives to something or someone. So this morning, consider the following questions:

What or who is the object of your devotion?

What do you give your life to?

If the ultimate answer to the above is not God, are you aware of the consequences of that decision?

If the ultimate answer to the above is God, have you studied His word to find out what HE thinks that devotion looks like, not just what you think or what the culture around you thinks that means?

Now I’m NOT saying we all have to follow all of the Old Testament Law. Of course, I’m not saying not to, either (I know, double negative). The New Testament tells us we are not made righteous by the Law (see Galatians 2). We are made righteous through faith in Christ Jesus. And through faith we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey God. But we still need to know what that entails. And we learn that by studying God’s Word…Old AND New Testament. Jesus had some stuff to say about what we should focus on:

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33, NLT)

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40, NIV).

I’m going to post my essay in a different post. Originally I was going to give it a short introduction and include it here. But, as you can see, this post is long enough.

Thanks for reading my ramblings! Merry Christmas!

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What’s It Worth To You?

It’s the beginning of March! Spring is around the corner and is even showing up in some places. How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? “Well Tammy, why would you bring up something like that?!? The past is the past and we will just leave those there, ok?”

We all have habits and choices needing adjustment elimination. There is something about a new year, a changing season, even a new week, which makes us feel hopeful for new behaviors and outcomes. They offer us endless opportunities to press the restart button.

This Wednesday (March 6) the season of Lent begins. For the 6 weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter/Resurrection Sunday, many Christians will engage in some type of intentional habit changing activity in an effort to focus more on God, to confess and repent of sinful, destructive behaviors and attitudes, to be more loving, and maybe be more “Christ-like.” Some people give up all, or some specific, food (fasting); some give up television, social media or secular radio; some make the same promises they did for their New Year’s resolutions. Yet giving something up is only the first step. Something else, something holy, needs to fill the void left in our day: perhaps we spend the time in prayer, read Scripture, and/or serve in a volunteer capacity in some way.

What should you do? What does God require? Where do we start? I think I can help you with the answer to these questions through a story with which you may already be familiar.

Zacchaeus in a tree being called by Jesus.

Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town.  There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man[a came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:1-10 NLT

So basically one of the most despised people of this community wanted to get a look at this Jesus person everyone was making such a fuss over. There is no indication in the narrative that Zacchaeus called out to Jesus or that anyone introduced Zacchaeus to Jesus in anyway. Yet here we have Jesus calling out to Zacchaeus BY NAME. Not only that, Jesus invites Himself into Zacchaeus’ personal space. In this religious culture where “holy” people do not go into, interact with, or touch “unclean” places, people, or things, Jesus—God Incarnate— specifically enters the home of the worst of the worst. The only other conversation between Jesus and Zacchaeus the author thought was notable enough to include was Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus and Jesus’ subsequent promise. Without any apparent prompting or commands or requests for Zacchaeus to repent or anything, he takes it upon himself to change certain things about his life in the presence of the Lord. He looked at his life and all he had acquired and realized none of it was more valuable than salvation. He was compelled to make things right.

What do you think would happen if Jesus suddenly showed up in your house? Is there anything you have or do which you would suddenly want to get rid of or make right? Having Jesus sit in our home, seeing how we live, would remove all our pretenses. Suddenly, like Zacchaeus, we would see our excuses and justifications for what they really are. Suddenly we would realize that having popularity, approval, possessions, and being the master of our destiny pales in comparison to the salvation which Jesus holds.

Maybe I’m being naive. But something tells me that if we really seek the presence of Jesus this Lenten season, we already know what we need to do differently, what we need to subtract from and what we need to add to our lives. Fasting gives us an opportunity to be really intentional about seeking the presence of God above all other distractions. Let us make seeking the presence of Jesus our focus this Lenten season.

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One Month In…

Mom & Me at our Women’s ReTREAT
She is my inspiration!

A month ago I started the Keto diet as a test to address my auto-immune issues. As I said in my previous post, I want to keep you updated on my personal experience to help determine if this is just the latest fad, or if the claims are legitimate.

My results thus far continue to be encouraging. In the past 30 days:

  • I have lost almost 15 pounds, putting me at my lowest weight in over 2 years. (I had lost the initial 4lbs. of water weight I always lose when getting back on track the week before starting this.) Honestly, even when I have been extremely well-behaved in previous diets, I don’t remember losing 15 pounds in a month. Gaining it seems to come that easy, not losing it…
  • My energy levels have increased to the point that I am exercising nearly every day because I WANT to!
  • I’ve doubled my average daily steps and entered a StepBet. This has been a very encouraging app!
  • My mind is much clearer and my memory is much better. Note: After watching the previously mentioned docuseries (available again this weekend), I have been adding MCT oil daily, which is supposed to be brain food. It definitely seems to help.
  • My mood is more positive. (This could be due to diet AND exercise, since exercise is the best anti-depressant. You know when you’re feeling bad, getting motivated to exercise is a problem.)
  • My face is NOT clearing up, but it’s probably because I’m still drinking coffee…
  • My joint aches ARE gone.
  • I have not been experiencing any sugar cravings. Full disclosure: I did have some birthday cake for my birthday. But my tastebuds have definitely changed. The cake was too sweet!
  • My fatigue has lifted. I did not know how fatigued I was feeling until that feeling was gone. You’ve probably heard the metaphor of the frog in the kettle. If you suddenly put a frog in hot water, he will jump out. But if you start him in cold water and gradually increase the temperature, he will not recognize the gradual temperature change and will stay in the water until he is cooked. That was what the onset of fatigue had been like for me. But the lifting of it was so sudden it was very noticeable.
  • We are saving money because we aren’t eating out as much! Of course, the “down-side” of this is more effort in meal preparation. But since the meals are healthier, I don’t think of the lack of convenience as too much of a downer.
This can be a positive or negative cycle

During the past month I have been out to dinner several times, gone on a Women’s Retreat, and had a major birthday. So there were significant occasions to “cheat.” I was able to stay on course and wasn’t derailed by the slice of birthday cake. I feel so great, I have enthusiastically gotten several of my family members on board with this lifestyle.

Thankfully I have a very supportive hubby who does almost all of our meal planning and preparation. He has also gotten on board with this lifestyle and is losing weight. He has experienced one negative consequence which I want to warn you about. He replaced sugar and carbs with meat, specifically BACON. This elevated the uric acid levels in his blood giving him the worst case of gout he’s ever experienced. It’s been excruciating for him! Moral of the story: Keto does NOT equal “eat all the meat you want.” Moderation is key. The truth is, with the Keto lifestyle I eat much LESS food overall and stay full a lot longer. I eat less food because I get the dense calories from healthy (read “saturated”) fats. Vegetables just don’t have a lot of calories. Some people even do a vegetarian/vegan Keto lifestyle!

The experiment continues. School (and the accompanying stress and sedentary work) has just started back. There will be travel and another birthday celebration coming up. We will see if the results continue. In the meantime, I want to share with you a YouTube channel that was shared with me and has REALLY helped me get started on this program in a simple, understandable way. Start with the short video below and let me know what you think!

©2019 HumphriesTC All Rights Reserved

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M.S., Keto,

and my non-linear “Getting Healthy” journey

A lot has happened to me personally since I last posted here. That’s how life is, right? Here’s some highlights:

  • I’m over half-way through seminary! (WHOO-HOO!)
  • The hubby and I have become “empty-nesters” (turns out we were the ones making the mess in the house, not the kids).
  • I have gained all the weight back I lost in 2011-2012 (since that time I have lost and gained the same pounds over and over at the top end of the scale).
  • My exercise regimen had become “not so regular.”
  • I was diagnosed with rosacea (the acne kind), and found out that a LOT of foods I eat, the activities I enjoy, and stress, trigger it. Do you see the problem here? Do I enjoy my coffee and chocolate, and de-stress by gardening? Or do I have a clear face? Choices, choices…
  • I took an unexpected but fun trip to Washington D.C. to see my youngest son, who was living there at the time. What a blast! Now he’s in Colorado. A trip out there would be AWESOME!
  • We’ve done a fair amount of traveling for school and have really enjoyed it!
  • Oh! And last September (2018), I was diagnosed with M.S. (multiple sclerosis). I have (thankfully just) one lesion on the myelin sheath that protects the nerves on my spinal cord, interrupting nerve impulses to other parts of my body. The joke is, my immune system is so ready to fight, it’ll fight me if there’s nothing else to do. (I didn’t say it was a funny joke…)
At the Lincoln Memorial with the Handsome Boy

The M.S. diagnosis threw me for a loop. I may share that story in another post. But right now I want to share some of what I have learned since my diagnosis. Turns out my thyroiditis, rosacea, and multiple sclerosis are all auto-immune related issues. I have been doing a fair amount of praying and researching about them and my treatment options. In the midst of this, a friend of mine directed me to a docu-series hosted by Montel Williams, who was also diagnosed with M.S. It is a 9-part series, and at the time only the first episode was available. But it was enough to shock me and peak my interest. It’s called The Real Skinny on Fat, by Naomi Whittel and Montel Williams.

The entire series came out this week and I have watched it all. Some of it is repetitive. But most all of it is MIND-BLOWING! If what is presented is true, our culture has been duped for the last 60 years about diet and weight-loss; and it has profoundly and negatively impacted our health. I have checked some of their claimed statistics on the CDC and National Institute of Health (NIH) websites, and they line-up (showing correlation, but not necessarily causation). I am convinced enough that I have changed my eating habits to test the theory, and the results thus far have been VERY encouraging. And here’s the thing… the diet doesn’t cost anything! We didn’t have to buy any additional supplements, or books, or resources. We just had to cut out sugar (and artificial sweeteners), wheat/grains, and “vegetable” oils. But we get to eat the good, yummy fats (butter, coconut and olive oil, avocado, heavy cream, etc). And I am feeling GREAT! My Keto-diet experiment will continue, and I will update as I go. But I wanted to share the link to the docu-series now because, according to them, it is only available this weekend (January 25-27) starting at 9pm tonight (Friday, January 25). I strongly encourage you to watch it. It could revolutionize the health of our community! Click here to begin watching… and happy viewing!

P.S. The makers of the docu-series are hoping to sell the videos and some other info. It’s not required to view this weekend. I haven’t bought any of it yet. I’m still debating the idea in my mind because years of dieting has left me skeptical of fads… and still carrying a lot of extra weight. If I find out it’s all a bunch of hogwash, I’ll let you know that, also.

© 2019 HumphriesTC All Rights Reserved

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Natural Disasters: A Community in Crisis

I want to acknowledge the co-authors of this work from my seminary class: Nathan Fields, Nicole Taylor and Beth White. It is my hope that in sharing what we learned this past Spring, more people will prepare to be effective workers with communities in crisis.

In light of the horrific impact Hurricane Harvey is wreaking in the United States, in addition to the horrible flooding in other parts of the world, I thought I would share parts of a research paper my small group presented to our Pastoral Crisis Intervention class this past Spring. Statistically we are seeing more and more natural disasters. “Since the 1980s there has been roughly a 400% increase in natural disasters” worldwide (Aten, 13). Even insurance companies call natural disasters “acts of God,” acknowledging the power of such events as beyond human control. By learning from previous disasters, we can take steps to prepare for future natural disasters and be ready to help.

Our research specifically looked at the role of the Pastoral care-giver. Pastoral care-givers function as spiritual leaders in our communities and, as such, should participate in trainings provided through organizations like Red Cross, Salvation Army, UMCOR and other denominational organizations, and federal and state emergency management agencies in order to mobilize congregations to care for those in our communities in the event of a natural disaster. Preparation for the pastoral care-giver should be physical, mental, spiritual and relational, for you will draw on all of these things in the moment of crisis. Yet it will not be enough; for natural disasters are all about chaos.

In natural disasters, the event is a crisis in and of itself, as well as a precipitating event for future crises through the recovery phases that follow. There are generally four recognized phases to disaster response: Heroic, Honeymoon, Disillusionment, and Reconstruction.

In the Heroic Phase the pastoral caregiver has to consider several points of focus:

  • the congregation members who are affected
  • community members who may be looking to the church for needed services such as shelter, food, clothing, emotional and spiritual support
  • First responders, other crisis workers, and pastors who may need the ministry resources of your church and your spiritual presence (Lindsey).

We have an advantage when caring for those within our congregation. We have often known these individuals and their families over a period of time, and are familiar with their personalities, gifts, and struggles.

Throughout the time of crisis in the community, there are a couple of things the pastor will keep at the forefront of her/his mind. Emotions run high and chaos is the rule during the Heroic phase. This phase can last from hours to days or even longer. If the church is serving as a shelter, the pastor’s presence is necessary there and not immediately at the hospital or on the scene; although s/he may also be needed in those places as the crisis unfolds. The pastor will be surrounded by needs in a natural disaster and may feel torn in a million different directions, never feeling s/he is doing enough. It is important to remember that the pastor’s primary role is the ministry of calm presence. By being present, the pastor can symbolize God’s compassionate presence in the midst of chaos.

The pastoral caregiver must be prayerful in response to the individual. This is a vulnerable time. One may offer to pray, or ask the individual if they would like to pray; but should not force a compliant response. “In the moment of crisis, many who are suffering desire an advocate who will plead their case before God, and in the prayer, they find comfort and assurance that God hears their plea” (Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Chaplain Training Manual, 11). However the attention of the pastoral caregiver should show no evidence of discrimination. Care recipients may or may not share the caregiver’s religion, race, politics or any other view the caregiver holds. Yet the pastor must be sensitive and respectful of these differences and beliefs as they administer care. The pastoral caregiver should also note any immediate physical needs of the care recipient and make the connections for those needed resources. In a natural disaster, the pastoral caregiver involved in the ministry of presence attends to whatever needs are presented in whatever ways s/he is qualified to give. For instance, since pastors are generally not medical professionals, they would not perform medical procedures beyond basic first aid for a disaster victim. However, they could hold the victim’s hand and bring compassionate comfort, listening to the victim, offering words of support as needed while the medical professionals are attending to them.

Phase 2, the Honeymoon Phase, begins to develop as the Heroic Phase ends. Depending on the crisis, it can last from days to months. Disaster agencies recognize a “rule of 10” for recovery phases. If the Heroic Phase lasts three days, the Honeymoon Phase can last 3 weeks, the Disillusionment Phase three months, and the Reconstruction Phase three years. This is not a hard and fast rule, but does give a predictable timeline for recovery efforts. During the Honeymoon phase, there tends to be a strong sense of community as people share the bond of surviving. Relief agencies and volunteers may start flooding in. If the community is not prepared, this can cause a “secondary disaster” as the community is overwhelmed with the generosity, and does not know how to disburse or organize it while coping with all the other issues with which they are dealing (Lindsey).

One of the key pastoral care and counseling issues during the Honeymoon Phase would be for the pastor to help the community navigate the help that arrives. Allison Lindsey, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries for the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, has recently been involved in the different recovery phases of several natural disasters in the South Georgia area. She stresses that “the event belongs to the community. The outside agencies and volunteers that come or send their resources come alongside the community members.” The pastoral caregiver, as a community leader, spiritual guide, counselor, and resource, can serve as a liaison between the incoming resources and the needs of the congregation and community.

Another pastoral care and counseling issue to consider during phase 2 and beyond is the emotional and mental care of children, teens, and mentally disabled. As adults are busy with the clean-up and immediate recovery efforts and stress, sometimes the young are overlooked. They may have special fears and specific difficulties processing their experience that adults may not recognize. The Honeymoon Phase is an ideal time for the pastoral caregiver to make sure resources are available to help young people process their experience.

“Inevitably, reality sets in. Governments put conditions on the assistance they will give, insurance companies find reasons not to pay out on survivors’ once greatest asset — their home — and the media and some helping agencies go home” (“Common Stages of Disaster Recovery”). The Honeymoon phase gradually slides into Phase 3, the Disillusionment Phase. As recovery drags on and resources are harder to obtain, frustrations, anger and despair increases. The sense of community which was once so strong in the previous phases dissipate as individuals begin to focus on their own needs and rebuilding their own lives (Kanel, 200). The pastoral caregiver faces unique challenges during the Disillusionment Phase as s/he sees more personal crises develop. This is a good time to start the cycle of the ABC Crisis Counseling approach again, checking on the survivors and assessing the needs. It is not certain that everyone will receive the help they need. People fall through the cracks of the system and can be left waiting for help that may never come. It is important to remember that socio-economic barriers exist for those who are lower income, undereducated, and/or of minority races. Often in natural disasters, immigrant communities can be affected even more prominently because they may not be fluent in the language or possess necessary documentation in secure locations (i.e. bank safety deposit box). This causes additional strife in a community which already has difficulty trusting the governmental agencies that may be offering assistance (Lindsey).

Disaster response agencies recognize a “ten percent rule for unmet needs”: of the people affected by the natural disaster, about ten percent will not qualify for available aid resources. So if 6000 people were displaced from a natural disaster, 600 will not qualify for any assistance (Lindsey). This is where the church can step in and help. By knowing the needs of the congregation and community, the pastor can place those needs before the congregation and other connectional ministries. This empowers the congregation and others in connectional ministries to be in mission at these points of need. The disaster survivor’s input is necessary here, also. The pastor and helpers must not assume what the needs are. The disaster survivors should help determine their preferred outcome (Lindsey).

The final phase is the Reconstruction Phase. At this point, the community gradually assumes responsibility for the rebuilding of their lives and establishing a new norm (Kanel, 200). This is long-term recovery. Rarely does life fall back into place quickly after a disaster. Often the long term effects change the dynamics of the entire community. Over time, a strong presence of church community can minister to needs of encouragement and care. The church can respond as a place of refuge and understanding, comfort and support.

The pastoral care and counseling issues in the Reconstruction Phase are similar to the previous phase. In all of the recovery phases, community support groups are an important resource. The support groups help community members navigate the various assistance applications, provide continuity and encouragement, and also enable the community to network their available resources. The church as a facility can provide locations for these groups to meet. The church as a body can provide the structure to sustain the groups.

Those in communities affected by natural disasters are in an extended crisis which will last for many years beyond the disaster itself and the initial physical and emotional recovery. It may be instinctual for a Christian relief group that comes with aid to attempt to proselytize those to whom they give aid, but “disaster relief is considered outreach, not evangelism” (Lindsey). It is essential to keep in mind that these individuals are in the midst of a crisis and are thus in a vulnerable state in which they may feel pressured to convert, or feel as if they must convert in order to receive the much needed aid. No matter whether it is truly forced or only perceived to be so, the result is the same, and coercion plays no part in the fullness of the Gospel. Our Savior loves us. He gives us the free will to choose whether or not His love is unrequited; but His love remains regardless of what we decide. In the same way, we are to give relief, support, hope, and love to those outside the Church who are experiencing and recovering from natural disasters without any pressure, or even expectation, they will join the Church. In these moments we will find that to love without pressure, to give without expectation, is a gospel preached at all times, even without speaking.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Although no amount of training can completely prepare you for the trauma of a natural disaster, and each disaster scenario is completely unique, preparation is a key piece to moving through the recovery process of a natural disaster. Relief agencies such as UMCOR, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief offer training classes and curriculum for clergy and laity. Local and state government agencies offer emergency assessments to determine what physical resources your church has to offer. The relationships and resources the church holds are essential pieces in both the preparation for and recovery from a natural disaster.

 

Works Cited

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In the Eye of the Storm

To say it’s been an emotionally “stormy” few weeks would be an understatement. Our extended family had originally planned to be on a beach trip celebrating our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary this week. Parents, siblings, grandkids of all ages, it’s quite the group and we have lots of fun. That was the plan. Then the storm broke in.

Mom and Dad were already in Florida babysitting the youngest grands (the “Littles”). They are the cutest! At the end of that time (on a Sunday), Dad ended up in the hospital with a rogue ear infection which had become bacterial meningitis and mastoiditis. Who knew that could happen? It did not look good: ICU, induced coma, ventilator, the “works.” Doctors were not too optimistic. Family came down. Prayer requests went out. Hundreds responded. God heard. Miraculously, by Wednesday of that week, he came off the ventilator and was coherent, recognized everyone, responded to commands, could talk and swallow. Even the doctors were astonished. It was NOT the outcome they had expected. The nurses and other care-givers were so loving and gracious. Dad was thanking everyone, praising God, witnessing to the doctors. We were celebrating and contemplating the next steps. Looking back, it was an eye in the storm.

By Friday, the storm started raging again. Dad started having some breathing problems. They got worse fast. That night the attending physician made the call to put him back on the ventilator (that’s a long story in itself.) It was a long night with more prayer requests sent out. By the next morning things were looking better and they took him back off the vent. When he woke up this time, though, he was a bit more serious. The trauma had affected him. On Sunday he seemed stable and on the mend. It was still “raining” and “cloudy,” but surely the sun was shining and clear skies were on the horizon. We said our good-byes and several of us headed back home to Georgia.

The week progressed and at some point he was moved out of ICU to a “step down floor.” Clouds were starting to clear. Plans were made again. However, this storm apparently had another “eye.” Or maybe it was another storm, I don’t know. But by Sunday the clouds were rolling in again. You know how storms are. You see a few clouds and don’t think anything of it. You sense a change in atmosphere, but dismiss it. Then all of a sudden the winds kick up, the lightening strikes and the thunder rolls. On Monday of this week, Dad was moved back to ICU. Doctors weren’t sure what was going on. Thankfully they recognized he would be best treated by his medical professionals at home, so they put in orders to have him transferred (what we were originally told the insurance company wouldn’t allow). Now he’s back in Georgia under the care and supervision of his specialty doctors. We are cautiously optimistic.

I haven’t listened to contemporary Christian radio in at least a week. But for some reason this morning, the song “In the Eye of the Storm” was queued in my subconscious. I was singing what little I could remember of it as I walked into work. I went into the Ministry Center for the juice of consciousness (coffee), and there was a group in there getting ready for River of Life. They had the radio playing on the same. exact. song. God had cued my subconscious and then poked my consciousness on the shoulder. I had to go look it up and see the lyrics. It turns out to be the perfect reminder for today. God knew that. He is our Anchor, no matter the storm.

I link it here for you because maybe your skies are cloudy. Maybe the wind is knocking you around. His love surrounds you in the eye of the storm. Be blessed!

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