Something so simple can be such a blessing!

"I Care So I Run" for children around the globe with Team World Vision.
“I Care So I Run” for children around the globe with Team World Vision.

I’m training for the New York City Marathon. My “Long Run” this past week was 14 miles. In the brutal heat of August in South Texas. When the sun comes up and it’s 90+ degrees before you know it.

About Mile 12 I’m running up a long hill. For those of you in San Antonio, it’s New Braunfels Avenue, up from Austin Highway into Alamo Heights. It doesn’t seem like much of a hill when you are driving a car…

Anyway, I’m a hot, sweaty mess as the cadence of my feet pound out eleven-minute-miles. Up ahead I see an older guy mowing his lawn. He stops mowing and disappears into the garage. He reappears right as I’m approaching his driveway. In his hand is a single bottle of water, which I initially assumed he has gotten for himself. And then, with a big smile on his face, he reaches out and hands it to me! “Looks like you need this!” he says.

I told him he was a blessing. And truly he was! You see, I carry water on my belt. And I was rationing my water for the last two miles. I really didn’t need the water. But let me tell you… his water was COLD! Refreshing. It was extra, so I could drink some and then pour some down the back of my neck. Oooh, it was invigorating! It was a luxury. It was a true blessing!

And then I turned my thoughts to World Vision and their efforts in Africa. The water the kids walk 6 miles for each day is like the water on my belt. But then, when the local water committees team with World Vision to bring a water system to the village, that’s a luxury. It’s an abundant blessing!

I’m reminded of the words of Jesus to the woman at the well in John 4:14: ” whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The image I see when I hear the phrase “welling up” is a waterfall. An abundant flow of God’s love that rushes in us to refresh us, then out of us to refresh others.

Like a cold bottle of water from a total stranger. A blessing.

And when we run for kids — for World Vision’s Clean Water or Child Protection programs — that’s what we get to do! We’re blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12). And when you partner with those who are running, you are that blessing too! Thank you!

Running with joy,
-rich

 

*If you’d like to help children around the globe, go to teamworldvision.org/NYC and make a donation today! Thank you! *

God’s Promise to Simeon

Simeon perhaps? God promised that he would see Messiah before he died. And he did!
The Old Man by Annu from trekearth.com. Simeon perhaps? God promised that he would see Messiah before he died. And he did!

Throughout Advent, let’s look at the people of the story of Christ’s birth. This week: Simeon. Here is my take on a possible first person narrative from Luke 2.

I have tried to live a devout life. My parents were good Jews. They brought me up in the traditions of the Temple.  We lived along the Coast of the Great Sea. Three times each year, my parents brought the whole family to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feasts.

I married and had my own family and repeated the same traditions. We also came up to Jerusalem three times each year.  We celebrated Pesach, the Passover, in the Spring… Shavuot, Pentecost, in the summer… and Yom Kippur and Sukkoth each fall. These are special times for all of Israel, but especially for us devout Jews. It’s a time to remember how Jehovah delivered His people from the bondage of Egypt, how He gave us His Law and how He cared for us during our wanderings, before we entered the Promised Land.

Since my wife died I’ve decided just to stay here in Jerusalem.  It’s easier on this old body of mine. I spend my days near the Temple. God is present in my life every moment.  I pray. I sing. I do odd jobs for the priests. I pray for people who come by. I enjoy Jehovah’s presence in my life. I can sense His Spirit. It is real. He has blessed me more than I’ll ever begin to be able to tell you.

But there was this one time, it was about 25 years ago… during the Feast of Tabernacles when we all come up to remember the roamings of our ancestors through the dessert… we set up small tents called Sukkah’s to live in for the week. And we gather for a festive time of remembering.  It was during the worship celebration at the Temple; the high priest had just returned back from the Kidron Brook with a vessel of water from Siloam’s Pool to pour out on the altar. In the frenzy of the crowd shouting “Hosanna!” I heard the voice of Jehovah.  He spoke to me as I am I speaking to you now.  All the noise of the crowd went silent And He said: “Simeon. You will not die before you see my Chosen One, the Messiah, in Whom I will deliver all of Israel. From Him will come streams of Living Water, not just a pitcher of water. And He will be poured out for the redemption of all of Israel.” In the midst of this great worship service, I was stunned! Living water?  Poured out? The Messiah? Yes, we know He will come some day. But in my lifetime? How wonderful that day will be!  Will it be as Joel has promised? Will the prophesies come true?  Will Elijah truly come again before Messiah?

I am an old man now and I have dreamed dreams of His coming again. I’ve spent the rest of my life watching, waiting, wondering… who could it be? I look deep into the eyes of every man who passes by. Will he be like Moses or more like Joshua? He must be a young adult, at least, and Jehovah is shaping Him into our powerful King and Messiah. Every time I see Herod speak before the crowds I look around and ask myself: could he be a Jewish officer in Herod’s castle waiting to be revealed? What mighty legion of soldiers does he lead?  Or maybe he is a governor, or a synagogue ruler by this point in his life?

Some have said he will come from the Galilee. Ha! There’s nothing but farmers and fishermen up there!

Whoever he is, I know I will recognize him in the blink of an eye. He will be as strong as David when he routed the Philistines! He will be as wise as David’s son Solomon.  He will rule our people with power in one hand and grace and love in the other. He will deliver us from the oppressors, be it Rome or Egypt, once and for all. Isaiah says he will come to heal the brokenhearted. And those who mourn in Zion? They will rejoice!

Ah, look. There is a peasant couple with a young baby. They always want a blessing, these new parents. I must go into the Temple.  Funny, the priest is quite capable. But he always asks me. “Simeon. Come bless this new child,” he says.  “They rather have the old man bless the child than the priest.”

So, I will go.  And I will keep looking.

I wonder if they are of the tribe of Judah?  Maybe the father is someone special?

(c) 2103. Rich Ronald.

Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Jacob

A devotional look at eleven Biblical dads and what we can learn from them.

We are all blessed, not so we can hang on to the blessing but, rather, so that we may bless others.

Jacob is the third father of the Patriarchs of the Faith. Remember Rebekah, the wife of Isaac? The Word says that Rebekah had twins as a result of the fervent prayer of her husband. The first born was Esau, but the second, who was born at the same time was Jacob…which means “heel” because he was grabbing on to the heel of his older brother as they were born.

Twice Jacob does what he must in order to gain the edge over his brother. Esau was a wilderness man. He loved hunting and the outdoors. Jacob not so much. But all his growing up years Jacob was jealous of the birthright of his older brother.  Genesis 25 tells the story.  One day Esau came in from the field and saw that Jacob was cooking stew.  The hunter asked for some and Jacob would only give him something to eat if Esau would give Jacob his birthright as a first born.  Esau shrugged off the importance of being the first born, and because he was very hungry, gave away his rights.  Some have suggested that Jacob stole the birthright or tricked him.  That was the first step in getting what he wanted.

Later, with their father old and blind and dying, Jacob tricked his father into giving his blessing, something that was deeply significant in the Ancient Days.  Isaac indeed blessed his sons… but gave the blessing of the first born, to the second born, and the blessing of the second born to the first born. And there was nothing Esau could do about it, because earlier he had given away his birthright for a bowl of soup. And, so there is a parallel in this generation similar to that of the generation of Isaac and his half brother Ishmael.

The blessing Jacob receives:

Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,

And of the fatness of the earth,

And an abundance of grain and new wine; 

May peoples serve you,

And nations bow down to you;

Be master of your brothers,

And may your mother’s sons bow down to you.

Cursed be those who curse you,

And blessed be those who bless you.”

                        Genesis 27:28-29 (NIV)

Continue reading “Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Jacob”