Easter 2021:

“What could have been – Jesus called the Christ”

Matthew 27: 22-26

In our lives, have we dared to go places we never knew were there? Have we looked at the past in view of the future and does it seems like another world? Familiar, and yet so far away. To see ourselves now in light of ourselves back then looks like what could have been.

What could have been had we chosen another road, walked another path, said a certain word, taken a different stance.

I do not know if life as we know it, and as I see it, was supposed to be this way. I imagine a greater thing beyond what is in front of me, and yet it seems behind me, and yet it is all that I know.

Is there something more than what we have? Is there someone more than what we’ve known? Is there some place still left to go?

If we were supposed to be? Or to do with or for another would that be true in return? My restless Spirit is restless in some other self?

Were there dreams not pursued, were there dreams diminished, were there dreams unattained, for what could have been?

God gives people wide boundaries to choose and to live. He gives room to make decisions and follow our paths and to live our lives. Yet, does this mean we are living a life according to His will and desire? He allows so much. Though our choices may seem good for the moment they may not be good in the future, but we do not know until all is said and done.

Most people live in the moment and make decisions based on the present time, rather than the future in mind. Yes, some make decisions based on a future unknown to forsake a future present. To understand the deeper spiritual meaning in making decisions we must truly come to know the decisions God has made for our lives. Though our paths are written are we writing them? Human rationalization and “meant to be” are unconscious choices that we call faith.

So what could have been should have been and can no longer be. But can it no longer be?

Had we not gone our own way but waited for longer days, what could have been?

When we spoke out of fear rather than out of love, what could have been?

Instead of words untold than with actions shown, what could have been?

Rather than question only to settle for our own answers, what could have been?

To bless another in the moment than to not and lament it, what could have been?

And so it is…

“Pilate said to them “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let Him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying “Let Him be crucified!” and when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified.”

(Matthew 27: 22-26)

What could have been had God not sent His son to the world?

What could have been had Pilate released Jesus who is called Christ?

What could have been that Jesus who is called Christ not been crucified for our sins?

What could have been had Jesus called Christ not loved the entire world?

What could have been had Jesus called Christ not resurrected on the third day?

What could have been had Jesus called Christ not ascended to heaven?

What could have been had Jesus called Christ not imparted His Spirit to indwell followers of Him?

It is unimaginable to think what could have been. But what could have been for our lives is what is because Jesus Christ our Lord loves each of us so that we may have eternal life.

He rectifies and reconciles us from our choices and our paths and our lives. In Him all is found, restored, regained and redeemed.

He makes what could have been possible again to those who believe and follow Him.

He rose, He ascended, and He is making intersession for us at the right hand of the Father our God.

In Him, what could have been, was to be, and is to come again, forevermore.  

Copyright 2021. The Word in Motion.

Photocredit: At the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary. Dallas, Texas. 2011.

“Doubting or Believing: Come a little closer” Thomas the Disciple – John 20: 24-29

Over the course of my life I have experienced many challenges. Often, I was faced with whether or not to believe for a hopeful outcome. In many instances, I did not receive what I was hoping for, and other instances I did. Each challenge was a blueprint of its own demonstrating God’s unique way of bringing about a matter that never duplicated anything else before.

It was a day many years ago when my mother informed me that she had a terminal illness. Those words were so difficult to hear, but were even more difficult for her to say. The thought of this devastating illness taking her life was more than I could bear. She was my mother, and the only confidant in my life. There was no other woman as wise, genuine, and loving toward me than her. I have fond memories visiting my parent’s house on Sunday afternoons. I would join my mother in the backyard, underneath the patio cover with a glass of tea, and we would sit and talk for hours. I miss those days and even more so as the years have passed.

In time, she walked her final journey in life. I never knew another human being as brave as my mother. She did so with an unmistakable grace that most people did not recognize what she was going through.

While I hoped for a hopeful outcome, it was hard to believe. There were times when I doubted. Despite what I could not see, I still had to believe. What I came to realize was that in my mother’s journey was my own journey with God.

Whether doubting or believing, I had to come a little closer…to Him.

Such as the disciple Thomas…

“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

The other disciples therefore were saying to him, “we have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then He said to Thomas, “reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.”

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

(John 20: 24 – 29)

Prior to this event, the gospel writer John addresses the issue of unbelief and how it culminated in Jesus’s crucifixion. Jesus’s enemies did not believe that He was the Messiah. In addition, John addresses the disciples’ developing faith which leads to the moment between Jesus and the disciple Thomas.

In verse 25, the disciples were together exclaiming they had seen the risen Lord. Thomas was not with them when the resurrection took place. Upon hearing the other disciples, Thomas was not convinced. He was skeptical. He needed bodily proof of the resurrected Christ. He said… “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Thomas was unique in this matter because he had not witnessed the risen Christ. Much can be said of the disciples and the lessons Jesus taught them. Throughout the gospels the disciples had personal moments of diminished faith even as they walked among Christ and were witnesses to His miracles. Still, a resurrected Christ may be difficult to believe, particularly if it had not been seen. What must be understood is that the twelve disciples, including Thomas, represent the personally developing faith in all of our lives. It has to develop and grow based on our experiences and the lessons learned from our lives with God.

I can identify with Thomas. He was analytical and perhaps it was his nature to question, probe, and validate that which was before him. Particularly if one is accustomed to disappointment and rejection that clear and concise proof is needed. There is no doubt that Jesus’s death on the cross must have been painful and sorrowful to the disciples that were left behind. Then to hear that Christ resurrected from the dead had to be anything but believable. Thomas was not the type to readily accept information without verifying the source and the context. In this moment, Thomas needs convincing proofs in order to believe.

Verse 26 says after eight days Jesus appeared miraculously behind closed doors where the disciples had gathered, including Thomas. Upon declaring His peace to the disciples He turns His attention to Thomas.

In verse 27, Jesus says to Thomas“…reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.” Here our loving Savior shows compassion toward Thomas by meeting him in his unbelief. At this pivotal moment Thomas declares “My Lord and my God!” He believed.

Jesus says in verse 29 “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Jesus speaks of the blessings given to all of those who believe in Him and yet have not seen Him, ever, whether prior to His death or in the risen substance of His deity.

Much has been said about the disciple Thomas who has been known as “doubting Thomas.” As though asking questions, seeking clarity, or some kind of evidence is not the hallmark of being a follower of Christ. We all have had our moments of a certain unbelief, or inability to believe. Some challenges in life are more difficult than others and so it may result in a moment of unbelief. Unbelief may be as a result of disappointment, weariness, rejection, fear of failure, or years and years of waiting on God without indications otherwise.

When Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross we were not there. Yet, we believe. We as His followers believe He died on the cross, was resurrected and lives today as our Savior and Lord. Even so, for the most experienced followers of Christ there are moments in life when it may be difficult to believe.

During the years of my mother’s illness, I often felt I was carrying the burden of her life in mine. My believing in the risen Son of God to heal my mother was a load worth my carrying but there were times when it became too much. The heaviness of the emotional and spiritual burden weighed down my ability to believe, at times, that God had a better outcome. What I learned during that time was in order to minister to my mother’s needs I had to come to a higher source.

Though I believed, I had to believe more and come a little closer…

As I looked into the eyes of my God, I came to see His presence. In so doing, I came to see my reflection bathed within His eyes. I knew the journey had begun. Like a father looking into his child’s eyes knowing how precious and knowing she is mine.

As I walked toward my God, I came to feel His presence. In so doing, I came to sense I was closer. His presence radiated around me, and His Spirit felt more familiar. Like a close friend that is there even when they aren’t there.

As I stood in front of my God, I came to know His presence. In so doing, I came to know I was closer. His garment drenched with crimson stains became familiar as He adorned it upon me . Like a man that I loved He draped Himself around me for the long walk home.

As I reached out to touch my God and place my finger upon His hand I could see the gaping hole that pierced Him deeply. In so doing, I came to sense I was closer. The mark on His hand were like marks that penetrated my soul. Like a void that cannot be filled were that His mark became my scars always there and forever willed.

As I reached out with my hand to touch my God on His tender side, I could feel a hollowed wound so gaping wide. In so doing, I came to know I was closer. The wound on His side became His life for mine. Like my protector until the sweet bye and bye.

As I came a little closer to Him, I came to know, to understand, and to believe in the Son of God who is all things and is to come.

To believe in Him, I had to come a little closer, to know that what was in my hands ultimately rested in His pierced hands and the wounded side of Him.

And in my journey, all doubt was removed, and believing in Him. I knew then, my risen Savior whom I believed and settled in.

There is nothing wrong with doubting, or unbelief. In our human condition we all will be challenged with what we believe, how we believe, and in whom we believe. The disciple Thomas serves as our example of the human condition. Though doubt and unbelief may arise we must come a little closer toward Christ. We must seek the risen Christ so that we may believe.

In essence, Thomas had to come a little closer to the risen Christ not only to see, but ultimately to believe. It is during these times, Christ is inviting us to come closer to Him. As we come closer to Him we are able to see Him in all His glory as the risen Savior and Lord.

Copyright @ 2020. The Word in Motion

Photocredit: The author’s own.

“Motivated by Love: Do you love Me?” Peter the Disciple – John 21: 15-17

It was a time, some time ago. A time beheld, and a time untold. It was a time of another time. As though time would be no longer be mine. In it I could not have it. In it I could not behold it. Time was slipping from my hands. If only there be another chance, a second chance for a glory of its own. Time was in my soul as a story yet to unfold.

There came a gift, an offering from the heart. I remembered my past and thought of my present. I imagined a dream as though given the breath of the present time. Which path would I choose, and which path would God choose. I was filled with indecision with the decision I would soon make. A life I longed to see. A life I imagined that would be. I had been here before. Each side of my future and I in between.

As I sought my Lord and my God I heard the words, “do you love Me?”

I knew what this meant. I remembered the disciple Peter…

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love you. He said to him, Tend my lambs.

He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? He said to Him, Yes Lord; You know that I love You. He said to him, Shepherd My sheep.

He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You. Jesus said to him, Tend My sheep.”

(John 21: 15 – 17)

By the time Jesus and the disciple Peter had this conversation, Peter already had denied Christ three times (John 18: 17, 25, 27). Here, there was a dialogue representing a threefold commission that stood in contrast to the threefold denials previously made by Peter regarding Christ.

In verse 15, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him more than the disciples among them and Peter said “yes” and turned it back to Jesus by saying “you know that I love you.”

The tenderness of Christ in this dialogue is that He knew the denials were due to Peter’s weakness as a human being. Could we ever be so fortunate to get a second chance that God would give us a third chance? This was not a private conversation between Christ and the disciple Peter but it was open and transparent. Unknowing to Peter, it was more than just a lesson on love, but ultimately it would reveal Christ’s establishment of Peter the Apostle as the rock on which the Church would be established by the inferences to tending and shepherding His sheep.

Yes, God knows all things, everything. There is not one thought or action that is unbeknownst to Him or beyond His knowing. He knows the beginning from the end, and the end from the beginning. He knows you and me. We are His creation and so He is intimately aware of us, our inclinations, and nothing comes as a surprise to Him. Christ knew the answers before Peter responded. He did not ask because He did not know. He asked for Peter’s sake so that Peter would know and be reminded of his own self in light of his past.

I imagine through the exchange, by the third question, that Peter became grieved not only because of Jesus’s repetitive questioning, but perhaps thoughts of his past denials must have infiltrated his mind, hence his saying “You know all things.” Oh how those denials were painful and bitter for Peter to remember. His denials weren’t because he did not love Christ, or longed to follow Him and His ways. Absolutely Peter loved Christ! What this was about were the motivations of Peter’s love for Christ. Was it a dying devotion toward Christ that caused Him to deny Christ? Or was it frail humanness in Peter’s personhood that had yet to be sifted out by the humility of knowing, following, and laying down his life for Christ? When we are confronted with painful memories as a result of our decisions we become humble with the fact that we are just who we are, mere mortal, weak, and in need of the Christ to lead us in everything we do.

In the book “The Cost of Discipleship” author Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Peter was called to be the head of the Church, and ultimately gave his life for Christ and was martyred. With such reverence and love for Christ he asked to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die in the same position as did his Savior Christ on the cross.

There are many who profess to love Christ, but so few are those who truly live a life for the love of Christ. Be it that it may, only His chosen ones will be asked “do you love Me?”

There comes a time in the life of God’s chosen ones where He brings us to the edge of the spear, a challenge of a kind, a split in the road, when He tests our hearts. The greatest test of our heart is on the very thing we value. It could be many things. God only knows, and yes He knows.

At the end of his life, Peter did more than profess his love for Christ. He became an Apostle and laid down his life for His Savior so that the world would know and follow the Christ he had come to love so dearly. So when I heard the words “do you love Me?” I understood. In the end, I denied myself and the future I could have had in return for the future I yet do not know, but for the love I have for my Christ and Savior.

It is as though God is challenging us to get it right. Right for Him and therefore right for us. He wants what is right. He wants our hearts. We do not know what is on the other side of it when we choose Christ out of love for Him above anything else. Peter did not know he would become an Apostle to the witness of Christ and head of the Church. No matter how old you are, whether in your youthful age, or later in your wiser years, the test of love will come from God your Father.

Though we may believe we are motivated by love, above all it is God who is motivated by love to bring us to the place where we must be able to deny ourselves out of love for Him our Lord.

Copyright 2020 The Word in Motion.

Photocredit: The author’s own.

“Come to Me”

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew 11:28)


Photo credit: September 2020

Spring Creek Ranch at Jackson Hole, Wyoming

“The Creation”

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

(Genesis 1:1)


Photo credit in the public domain: “Blue Marble” (Earth)

Copyright @ 2020 The Word in Motion

“Deus Solus – God Alone: His Omnipotence – He is All-Powerful” – Psalm 139: 13 – 16

As I reflect on the opportunity given to me to have served a fellowship of believers in the study of God’s Word, I am amazed at the hand of God during that time. I witnessed our lives being changed for the better as well as how God molded me and grew my spirit in ways I could have never imagined. While teaching I had a deep sense of purpose that I was doing as God had ordained for me to do. Though there were many facets to my life I inherently knew that God was overseeing the entirety of my life, weaving and threading me through humanity by His sovereignty. Not only did I witness how God knew all things before, during, and after this experience, but that He was everywhere. As a result of His foreknowledge and everywhere-presence, He demonstrated to me that He is All-Powerful and sovereign over all.

What has been most inspiring to me is that He created me for His purpose. Not just one single purpose such as teaching or writing, but many purposes across the span of a lifetime. To say there is just but one sole purpose for each of us is quite frankly limiting the power of God and the need of humanity amidst the course of time. We are vessels of His creation and He leads us down many roads and paths under the auspices of a life. A precious life of a human being.

Throughout scripture, God clearly demonstrates His love for His created beings and thus human life.  Our lives are precious to God. His foreknowledge and everywhere-presence are part of His sovereign power over all creation. As such, God knew us before we were conceived and born into this world.

Do not let someone or some circumstance cause you to doubt the immensity of importance of your existence in this world, or the life you are caring for, or the life in your womb. It is not by coincidence, accident, or chance that you are here living today in this time in history. Over the course of years there have been moments when I questioned the sanctity of my own life due to painful circumstances, sorrowful memories, failures, and sufferings. Life itself seemed as if it were a prison I could not escape. Weary days upon days without end were enough to convince me all hope was gone and no purpose to live anymore. Many times I convinced myself the world with its vastness and innumerable inhabitants would be better without my presence occupying the air and the land and the sea. The emptiness of life was too daunting for me to hang in there and wait for better days. As God would have it though, a certain something would rescue the moment alleviating my destitute thoughts as a way of escape. Through it all, what is most evident to me is that God is all-powerful and sovereign over all things before life, during life, and after life.

As the psalmist David writes….

“For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.

Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

(Psalm 139: 13 – 16)

In verse 13, David marvels at God creating him in the womb of his mother, weaving as to knitting his form and his substance. This is a demonstration of God’s omnipotence that the life of David began in an embryonic state in his mother’s womb.

Next is verse 14 which is one of the most celebratory verses in all of Psalms, and those who believe in God that we (“I”) are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and our soul is thus acquainted by such works of Yahweh! Here David acknowledges Yahweh’s omnipotence so much that he praises and gives thanks to Him.

Verse 15 David says that his frame, or skeleton, was not hidden by God as God knows all. In the mystery of God, the secret depths of the womb, God has superintended fetal formation and development and only such sovereign power belongs to God alone.

Verse 16 the psalmist David declares that God sees everything before it comes into existence and therefore is pre-destined. Only an omnipotent, all-powerful God can do so as He is sovereign over all. In addition, David gives credit to God having accounted for David’s life before he was born, and that God ordained his days before there were no days.

This beautiful Psalm 139 is a testament of David’s life before God and before others. He lived his life both in solitude as a young boy and publicly as King of Israel. His testament of God’s omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence was clearly demonstrated in his life so much as he recorded it in Psalm 139 and is ever so important to us now. I am filled with awe and wonder how an old Hebrew Psalm from before the time of Christ can still be drawn upon for you and for me this time in history. The fact that God is all-powerful and sovereign gives me so much inner peace and joy to know He is all-knowing, ever present, and all-powerful in life’s daily occurrences. To this I am grateful that Deus Solus, God alone, is in the midst of our lives today and forevermore.

Photo credit: The author among students during an Internship at the Lay Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

Copyright 2020 The Word in Motion

“Deus Solus – God Alone: His Omnipresence – God is everywhere” Psalm 139: 7 – 12

During those many miles on the highway between Houston and Dallas I often thought of God and His presence. From dawn to dusk, and the deep darkness of midnight, I was always struck by the fact that though I could not see Him He could see me. His watchful eye and presence were with me everywhere each mile I drove.

When the days got lonely, and there were so many lonely days, He was with me in the midst. Watching me like a loving Father contemplating every move I would make, every thought in the deepest recesses of my mind, and the aches in the forgotten chambers of my heart. As much as I would have loved His virtual appearing before me, He was everywhere.

The two classes I taught were met with much anticipation for me. I saw how my students gave the utmost respect and grace to me each time we were together. They were filled with joy and with need. Joy to share God’s word with fellow believers and need for God’s insight as well. Each time class ended my heart sank as I left their presence only to drive 250 miles back to Houston, alone.

What I learned most of all was that God was everywhere. He was everywhere with me in the presence of my students, He was everywhere with me while I was teaching His word, and He was everywhere with me in the safe journey to and from home.

Today, our world has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. An invisible virus passing through humanity weaving a web displaying the interwoven world we live in. We have all been affected in some way or another and the longer it weaves we will all be affected even more so. 

As I look at the images and the onslaught of information and data presented I am reminded of all those who have suffered as a result. There has been much suffering, from the passing away of loved ones, sickness, loss of employment, postponements of events, restricted travel, the hindering of gatherings, and so much more. It is an isolation of desolation of sorts.

Still, God is everywhere.

As the Psalmist David writes…

“Where can I go from Thy Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend, Thou art there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Thy hand will lead me,
And Thy right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to Thee.” (Psalm 139: 7-12)

So now, we come to the life of David, from shepherd boy to King of all Israel. No greater figure in the Old Testament was as acquainted with solitude and isolation than David.  From his tending sheep, fleeing Saul in the desert wilderness, to King of Israel, forbidden sin with Bathsheba, and the loss of a child, David for the most part experienced aloneness with God.

In verse 7,  David asks “where can I go and where can I flee?” He was acknowledging that God is everywhere. There was no place David could be where God was not there already. We are never lost or alone from the sight of God. Yahweh is there, always.

In verse 8, David says he can ascend to heaven or lay in bed in Sheol and God is yet still there. God is in the ascension and the depths of the earth. Here David acknowledges that God is above and below in all the created world.

In verse 9, David gives a beautiful motif “wings of the dawn” as the upward rising sun from the east down to the remotest depths of the sea at sunset. Yahweh is everywhere and he cannot escape His presence.

In verse 10, David acknowledges that God is there by leading him and guiding him. Absolutely, God can be relied upon at all times.

In verses 11 – 12, David says that though darkness can be overwhelming and light will be as night as well, God sees it all. There are no contrasts with God. Dark and light are the same to God as neither can blind His sight from us. Thus, God is everywhere, is aware of everything, and is present regardless of our circumstances.

How wondrous God’s ever-presence meant to David. There was no doubt despite his life’s triumphs and tragedies David knew God was with him everywhere he walked, slept, dwelled, and battled, from tending sheep in the fields to the warrior King of Israel.

Over the years, I have known of one or two people that say “God is with you!” It seems to come when those persons are seemingly doing well and not minded by reality. Of course, He is there everywhere, though we cannot see or even feel Him. When I am ill, God is not taking my temperature, or bringing me a glass of water in the middle of the night, or bathing me when I am unable to do so. As I look deeper, God is there everywhere in the time it takes to heal, through a caregiver that meets my daily needs, through my physician that tends to my wounds, in the breath that I breathe, and in my prayers.

So now in the year 2020, I have seen God in the midst. He is everywhere. He is everywhere with us as we stay at home in a more settled down environment for once listening to the tranquility of silence that has not been heard in a long time. He is everywhere with us as we remain with our families and loved ones enjoying home-cooked meals at the dinner tables. He is everywhere with us during long walks in our neighborhoods and parks. He is everywhere with us as we take care of our elderly relatives. He is everywhere with you and me, protecting us from yet worse, by the generosity of neighbors and communities, and mostly by the heroic medical and healthcare workers treating those most at risk of losing their lives.

There is no place where we cannot go where He is not there already. Humankind is linear in the timeframe of reality and the world as we know it. God is not. He owns the complete sphere of time. God is omnipresent in the sense that He transcends all limitations of time and is everywhere present all around the world.

God is everywhere.

Photo credit by the author: The River Oaks – Houston.

Copyright @ 2020 The Word in Motion

“Deus Solus- God Alone: His Omniscience” Psalm 139: 1 – 6

Had I known…

There have been moments in my life had I known in advance my decisions would have been otherwise. Had I known, I would not have taken that route, driven that road, chosen that path, opened that door, made that choice, walked that particular way.
Why was crucial insight left out, unspoken, unrevealed, and in essence, silent? So I continued only to later find that had I known I would have continued another way.

We know and yet we do not know. We know enough, yet not enough. The more we know the more we do not know. There is more to knowing than we know. We can know what we need to know, but we are unable to know in full. If we could know in full we may not wish to know at all. The knowing belongs to the All-knowing One who knows all, above and beyond, all there is to know.

I do not think there is anything more difficult than to not know. Most of us approach each day with a general knowledge of what may transpire between arising from bed in the morning to laying down in the evening. For some, there is no such knowledge. A day cannot be defined enough to know anything about it. There is a significant struggle to know if there will be another day. Each moment is qualified by the unknown. With every shifting moment in life it seems that we shift along with it. There is no stability with which we can hold to during the undercurrents of the circumstances that have seemingly chosen us because they know us more than we would want to know.

Each time I got into my car to make the long arduous round trip to Dallas I thought within myself, “What will this journey bring?” I knew enough to know that when you’re in service to the Lord with whatever capacity He places you in trouble will surely lurk around the corner. The enemy is waiting for every opportunity to spoil God’s plan. Though I remembered the Holy Spirit’s words “you will be well”, I often reflected on it in the midst of that lonely journey. I clung to the Spirit. My thoughts knew no end and the utterances of my lips knew no friend as I felt alone. When I arrived home safely past midnight each time I was relieved. Another trip down, another to go. In my mind each trip proved itself worthy of the words that led it. Yet I still wondered. It was unknown to me but I was known to Him. Deus Solus. God alone.

As the Psalmist David writes…
“O LORD, Thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar.
Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, Thou dost know it all.
Thou has enclosed me behind and before, And laid thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.”

(Psalm 139: 1 – 6)

David faced many challenges in his life from the time he was a young shepherd boy to the era he reigned as King of Israel. As a shepherd boy and the youngest of his father’s sons, David did not possess the characteristics of a would-be King. The world views people through the lens of man rather than the lens of God. Even his own earthly father would not have chosen David to be King, but viewed his other sons as having the characteristics fitting for the royal role. When a son emulates his father it tends to garner favor more than the one that does not. David, in essence, was by-passed by his own father, overlooked, underestimated, and seemingly not possessing the potential gravitas his father saw in his other sons. In our society today, people choose their leaders in terms of charisma such as charm, smile, likability, oratory skill, or through certain relations, but when God is involved it is never the same as man.

In 1 Samuel 16: 7 God said to the prophet Samuel “…Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Seven of David’s brothers passed by the prophet Samuel in an effort to confirm God’s chosen future King. Obviously, in the eyes of David’s own father Jesse, David did not possess the necessary characteristics for the role of King as did all his older brothers. Samuel, who had orders from God, knew that none of Jesse’s sons were God’s chosen one, so he inquired of Jesse “Are these all the children?” (verse 11). Can you imagine what Samuel must have thought? “God, you ordered me to this task, all seven sons have passed in front of me, and yet not one of them is your chosen? Then who is?” Jesse responds to Samuel and says there is one more son but he is the youngest and is tending sheep. So there it is. Disqualified due to age and skill. Samuel replies “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here” (verse 11). Can you hear the exasperation in Samuel’s voice? He was determined to accomplish God’s request and to see with his very own eyes this young shepherd boy.

I imagine, as David heard his father’s voice in the distance to come over, he obeyed, carried his staff like the friend it had become, ran through the sheep-filled field toward the crowd of men that had gathered, slowed his pace to a steady walk, and made his entrance into the scene, and in verse 13 it says, “Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, Arise anoint him; for this is he.”

When I read the scripture I see that God made it a point to describe David’s outward appearance. I thought only man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart? God does look at the heart.

As I have gotten older through the years I have gained experience in life. Time and life are a forcing function to grow in many ways, such as, experience, wisdom, intellect, and above all the spirit. It has led me to see this: young David was ruddy, meaning a healthy looking tanned face from all the hours and days spent outdoors tending sheep. The sheep business is messy with all the dirt, mud, grass stains and filth it provides. It is not a glorifying position. It invites all manners of physical and mental challenges such as strength, humbleness, and patience. The outdoor nature of being a sheep herder perhaps added to the rugged-handsomeness of young David. I do not think he was a pretty, soft type of a boy protected from the elements as maybe all his older brothers which made them more suitable for man’s anointing. The filth of the field hid David’s outward and physical appearance, but not to God.

Often times, the youngest of the siblings get the most attention, are the most protected, as well as the spoiled baby of the brood. Not so with David. David was rugged, strong, and acquainted with aloneness. There is no doubt in my mind shepherding sheep grew David’s physical stature, appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors, sensitivity and patience for the wandering sheep, and humility to be assigned such a menial task all alone. Aloneness can be a great teacher. God was building character unbeknownst to David and to others. Strong character and pureness of heart are what God looks for in His chosen leader.

Yes, David was handsome, but all the more for it because his heart was after God’s heart. God was pleased with His fine young boy. I find it interesting that the youngest of Jesse’s sons was assigned as shepherd of the sheep, so much so, as Jesse thought of his sons as worthy of anointing, he forgot entirely about his youngest son. However, David was known to God, and God alone.

In time, David became God’s chosen as the first King of Israel. As the years progressed he experienced many things in life. He encountered great heroic victories as the warrior King as well as great personal failure. However, through it all, David came to know God deeply, but that God knew him ever more deeply was beyond that which he could imagine or comprehend.

Verse 1 which says “O Lord, Thou has searched me and known me” means it is a testament of God’s knowledge of David as God knows his inner-self.

In verse 2 it says “Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar.” God knows all of David’s moves, from his sitting to his rising and everything in between. God knows and understands David’s thoughts whether near or far away. There is no distance from God. He is ever present inside David’s thoughts.

Verse 3 states “Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.” Here, God knows all of David’s activities from lying down to his personal inclinations, leanings, preferences, motivations, and inwardness.

Verse 4 reads “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.” God not only has foreknowledge of David’s thoughts, He understands David’s thoughts from the standpoint He knows what drives his thoughts, such as reasons and formulations. Before a thought is complete He knows what will be said. No creature is hidden from God’s sight and as all things are open to Him all things are laid bare before Him, including the innermost thought. This proves that God is aware of all things and knows all things.

It says in verse 5 “Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, And laid Thy hand upon me.” Here, God has encased David as in a hedge of protection surrounding him entirely. Just as Jerusalem is surrounded by the mountains so does He surround and protect His people. Perhaps this reflection of David was based on his running away from Saul into the desert wilderness and that God’s hand was upon him offering protection every step of the way.

The passage ends with verse 6 saying “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” God’s knowledge of David, and all of humankind, is incomprehensible. The omniscience of God is beyond time and space. I wonder if David thought of the beautiful blue sky above and the expanse of it while tending sheep in the field as a young boy. Certainly, as much time David spent alone in the great outdoors he must have marveled at the creation all around him, such that one day he would reflect on his memories of it when writing this magnificent Psalm.

Over the course of the fall and winter I drove a 500 mile roundtrip from Houston to Dallas on a weekly basis and by the time the internship was completed I logged an estimated 10,000 miles. Each time, my mind was heavy in thought as I pondered the class I would teach, my students, my notes, as well as my life in general. I was so alone. Often I was driving at sunset and late into the evening. I remember the many times I drove with my sunroof open only to see the expanse of the great Texas sky and on the clearest of evenings the twinkling of the stars high above me. I loved it. Oh how vast God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. While I never knew what would await me on those journeys, I took solace knowing that God knew.

All I know is that You, my God, know. You’ve always known. You will always know and there has never been a time in which You have not known. Your omniscience is yours alone. You know the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning. Nothing in life, or in our mind and heart are hidden from You. You know all things before they come into being. You and You alone know all things and there is no other. Deus Solus. God alone.


Photocredit: The author in the classroom at Dallas Theological Seminary

Copyright 2019 The Word in Motion.


“Deus Solus – God Alone: “An Introduction” Psalm 139: 1 – 16

It was a summer years ago. I arrived home on a hot August afternoon and sitting inside the cool of my car in the parking lot. Feeling overwhelmed, my mind raced as through a maze as I looked through the front window of my car. The strangeness of it all. I reflected as to the heavy load I continually carried on a daily basis. A load with a road of its own. Leading me without a sense of direction. I am always, constantly, alone. No one else. All by myself. “When will it cease?” I asked God. Will the day ever come, or will I be overcome by it? My soul longed for a taste of rest but if for only a moment. Dear Lord God, “How long must I go on like this?” The pressure of the load of life deepened the path I walked. Where else must I step?

I had just registered for my internship at Dallas Theological Seminary. It would require that I drive twenty roundtrips from Houston to Dallas in a one day period for twenty weeks over the upcoming academic year in order to teach classes to the public. I was overwhelmed by the pressure of an additional commitment to an already thin-stretched life. Most days I felt as a walking skeleton. My body hollowed out from the constant pressures that would eat away at my internality. I had no more of me to give. A heart merely for passing blood through my veins ensuring that I would yet live another day. No matter the weightiness of the load the bow never seemed to break, a welcoming sign for yet more. For several years my life was burdened with a full-time demanding career, taking two classes a week at the Houston campus, and being a care-giver to my widowed father. The thought of adding weekly travel to my schedule was more than time would allow, much less the physical demands it would place upon me.

Tactically, I measured out not only the financial cost and my responsibilities, but the time factor involved with taking these day-trips. It meant I would arrive home in Houston after midnight. Being safety conscious I recognized the susceptibility of the dangers on the road that could await me. As I inhaled and took in the breath of this burden something happened. I felt a strong presence of the Spirit of the Lord. And something like a wind rushed through me on the inside, followed by something of a shield that wrapped around me with the strength of peace. Tears filled my eyes and fell like rain drops down a flower’s petals. Then words came to me. The Spirit of the Lord saying, “you will be well.”

By the end of the spring semester, I completed all twenty trips, on-schedule, and arriving home safely each time. Despite experiencing fatigue, hunger, illness, unforeseen degradation of my car’s tires, near miss collisions, being run off my lane twice in two minutes, eighteen wheelers unexpectedly shredding steel-belted tires like bullets shooting my way, deer dodging vehicles as though as children on pogo-sticks at dusk, and harassment on the road by a convoy of cars, I was well.

But there is one God. Only God. There is no other and no one else. God alone.

You, God, only You.

“O LORD, Thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar.
Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, Thou dost know it all.
Thou has enclosed me behind and before, And laid thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Thy hand will lead
me, And thy right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee. For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” 
(Psalm 139: 1-16)


Photo credit: The author driving to Dallas.

Copyright 2018 The Word in Motion