Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Distressing Spirit from God

Saul had been made king of Israel. After only a couple of years, he disobeyed God's prophet and took matters into his own impatient hands. God declared that the kingdom would be taken from him, and Samuel the prophet anointed David who would be the next king. At the end of 1 Samuel 16, immediately after we hear that the Spirit of the Lord came upon David when he was anointed to be the next king, we hear that the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord came upon Saul. Lest we miss the point, it is said three times that this distressing spirit is from God.

What do we do with that when we consider depression and mental illness? Not only do we not say that depression may come from God, but we usually argue that it comes not from God but from Satan or the fact that there is trouble in the world.

But here, in Saul's case, the depression clearly came from God. Why?

To soothe Saul, his servants suggested a musician. They found David. And what did David do? He played the harp and sang psalms to Saul. At the start, before his impenitence grew greater, Saul loved David. He received comfort from the word of God that proceeded from David's lips and in his music. Saul had sinned. In His infinite love, God sent him the distressing spirit so that he would have a need to listen to one who could bring him the comfort of the gospel.

God does send distressing spirits. But He does not send them to punish. He does not send them to be cruel. He sends them so that we will have motivation to hear his word, so that we will be drawn to Him in face of our distress, so that we will find our joy and comfort in Christ alone and through faith in Him be saved.

And that's what happened initially for Saul; David's message of gospel brought comfort to the king and kept him in the faith for a while. And then there was that little incident with Goliath, and Saul became jealous of David. And then the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul again. God wanted Saul to need the sweet words which had previously comforted him. But when David played hymns and psalms for Saul, the king threw a spear at him and banished him from the court to the battlefield. After Saul got rid of the psalm-singer, it was pretty much all downhill from there, his sinful nature taking the upper hand.

This really ought to teach us something about depression and the medicine of God's Word.

Today's Laugh

An airliner was having engine trouble, and the pilot instructed the cabin crew to have the passengers take their seats and get prepared for an emergency landing.

A few minutes later, the pilot asked the flight attendants if everyone was buckled in and ready. "All set back here, Captain," came the reply, "except one lawyer who is still going around passing out business cards."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Change or Stability?

In the last chapter of More All -of-a-Kind Family, the family is preparing to leave their home, their extended family, their synagogue, their neighborhood, to move to a new neighborhood. On their last night at home, three of the girls are lying in bed quietly trying to hide their tears and distress, while another sister is hyped about the excitement of the move.

Charlotte's voice broke the stillness. "It'll seem funny living someplace else."

"Yes," agreed Gertie. "We've lived here our whole lives!"

"Well, it's about time we made a change," Henny said cheerfully. "Mama and Papa kept talking about it, but I honestly never thought we'd do it. I'm sure glad. I'm sort of tired of this old place. Doing the same old things and seeing the same old faces all the time."

Oh, thought Sarah, how could anybody ever grow tired of the things that were part of her? Knowing things and people so well made them dear to you. Taking on new ways and new friends, that was hard -- almost terrifying.

I know people who thrive on change and excitement. I don't understand, but I know and can accept that that's how they are. I expect those kind of folks can't understand the ones who find dearness in the "boring things" they know well and are used to. I wonder sometimes how many errors and ill motives are wrongly assumed to be in others when they differ from us greatly with regard to this personality trait.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Today's Laugh

Shamelessly stolen from Bekah because not all of you will see it:

Whatever you give a woman, she's going to multiply. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So if you give her any crap, you will receive a ton of s***.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


A four-minute video which captures some of why I love this place:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Taking the Book Along

Today some of us homeschoolers attended Henry V at APT. As Janelle and I were talking afterward, there were ideas and character-development and quotes we wanted to go back to and explore. But when we get home, do we remember what we wanted to look up? Do we bother to haul out the books or hunt on the internet, or do we just get to cooking supper?

I recalled to her how Pastor Wiest took along a copy of the play. One evening he and his wife took me and Gary and another couple out to "Merry Wives of Windsor." It wasn't a terribly good production, but we were with people we loved. Afterwards, Steve said we should go out and discuss the play. So, well after our bedtime, we headed to a diner for coffee and talk. He had his copy of the play, so he could look up exact quotes, refer back to them, or make theological points.

As I was thinking, "Hmmm, maybe that's something we should do next year when we come to APT," I recalled that today is St Michael's, and it was six years ago today that Steve went into that hospice room. And then it was time to shut off my thoughts before the tears flowed, and divert the conversation back to something more Shakespeary and less memory-ish.

Unschooler Meets a Schedule

For twenty years of homeschooling, we looked at "school" as part of life. People read. People solve problems. People learn what they need to know. All those educational activities (the fun ones and the not-so-fun necessary ones too) just had to fit into real life. "School" was done during summer, during Christmas break, on weekends, in the evenings, just as frequently and easily and naturally as it was done during typical school-day hours.

Now Gary is working away from home during the days Monday through Friday. Now we are attending chapel each M-F morning that our congregation's academy is in session. Now the kids have schooled friends, and homeschooling friends who operate on a Sept-to-May, M-F, 8-3:00 calendar. Their free time affects our schedule. My youngest two students also need more help from me with their schoolwork, be it cracking the whip motivational encouragement or some hand-holding. So this year we are trying to be more schooly, more organized, more scheduled, etc.

I'm dyin' here.

What's really getting to me is the priorities. When there is a list of daily textbooky and workbooky school assignments, it seems that the checklist takes priority over real-life needs which are actually more important. I resent it when I feel naughty to work in the garden instead of grade a math lesson. I get cranky when I think that taking the car in for an oil change is detracting from history or logic class. Mowing and supper-prep should not be seen as "interferences" with schoolwork. I could never understand homeschool moms who didn't have time for a fieldtrip because they'd get "behind" in their schoolwork. But now, even though I know better, those illogical feelings have become my own thoughts.

Getting on a schedule and sticking to it presents its own struggles and benefits. But the part that is super-hard is how it messes with my mind, how it rearranges my whole view of what things in life are Most Important and need to be tackled as top priority each day.

And then, on top of that, I find that it almost gives us permission to unplug our brains on days the conventional schools aren't in session.

There must be a middle ground. Somewhere.

How does a person commit herself to a schedule intended to serve good ends, submitting to the schedule's demands when she doesn't feel like it, and yet not let the schedule become task-master, keeping it in its place as a mere servant to the goals?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jogging Again?

One day down. Only 160 or so to go.

I need to jog. Outdoors, not on a treadmill. When the sun is up, not before chapel or after Gary gets home. I jogged for four years, and I had more energy, more lung capacity, a better outlook on life, and didn't feel so chilled during the winter. A year ago I was forced to quit for health reasons. But now I'm looking at the impending arrival of winter and short days, with no garden or lawnmower enticing me away from the kitchen sink and the laundry room, and I'd best git to gittin' on reestablishing the jogging habit.

I seriously doubt my ability to keep at this. The time-crunch seems crunchier than ever. But now I've said it right out loud, in front of y'all, so maybe I'll keep at it (except Sundays and Thursdays) so that I don't have to hang my head in shame when asked how it's going.

Hey, at least I could keep going for the whole mile today. So even after the year off, I'm still in way better shape than I was five years ago!

a la Psalm 136

Oh, give thanks to the Lord,
for He is good,
and His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 136 is the one where the psalmist rehearses the history of Israel, with every phrase followed by the litany refrain: for His mercy endures forever. It is important to see that line not as a simple refrain, but as an explanation or elucidation on the words immediately preceding it.

But you know what? You can do that with the rest of the liturgy too. It's cool. Try it.

"Glory be to God on high ..."
for He is good,
and His mercy endures forever.

"This is the word of the Lord,"
for He is good,
and His mercy endures forever.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,"
for He is good,
and His mercy endures forever.

"and renew a right spirit within me,"
for He is good,
and His mercy endures forever.

"Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace,"
for He is good,
and His mercy endures forever.

"For mine eyes hath seen Thy salvation,"
for He is good,
and His mercy endures forever.

"which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people,"
for He is good,
and His mercy endures forever.

Think about it.