My Dear Friend,
I pray that today’s devotional will encourage you to reflect on the fact that we’ve come this far by faith, and by faith, we will make it the rest of the way! I hope that we can all see each other very soon. Until then, please never doubt that you are loved and you are missed.
Love in Christ Jesus,
Psalm 77:1-11: “I cried out to God for help…When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted…I thought about the former days…my spirit asked: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will He never show His favor again? Has His unfailing love vanished forever? Has His promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has He in anger withheld His compassion?” Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out His right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.” (NIV)*
“Reflecting on the Good Old Days”
The psalmist was feeling alone and distressed. In seeking the Lord’s help, he thought about the former days. Recently, I have been thinking about the “former days” of church, and how wonderful they were for me.
I have been thinking about Sunday school. Sunday school was where I, along with others my age, would soak up the Biblical knowledge of our spiritual giant of a Sunday school teacher. Now 92 years of age, she is still “on fire for God.” I can call her at any time with a prayer concern, and sometimes before I can get the full prayer request across my lips, she has already begun praying – out loud. She’s gotten the most essential part and there is no time to waste!
I have been thinking about the many years of Sunday night worship services. These evening “evangelistic services” were my favorite. They began with “Singspiration,” a time for much more congregational singing than in the morning service. Then came all the “specials” – solos, duets, trios, quartets, and even instrumentals, when all the musicians would play and the congregation could not help but join in with their “ten-stringed instruments,” i.e., their hands. Also, Sunday night was when anointed preachers would “preach your socks off.” We left these services on a supernatural high.
I have been thinking about family church camps. Families, young and old, would stay for a whole week in cabins with no electricity and only Coleman lanterns for light. The old wooden tabernacle where we all gathered to worship did in fact have electricity to power the lights and musical instruments, but it almost didn’t need it. The “electric” that one experienced was the power of the Holy Spirit in the awesome nightly services. Each year, a preacher was invited to be the “camp speaker” for the entire week. One pastor from the U.K. was so dynamic, (so filled with the Holy Spirit!) that he could have you shedding tears one minute and laughing joyfully the next. People literally lined up at the campground’s only payphone (this was before people had “devices” to distract from what God was doing) to call family and friends, insisting, “You must come and hear this!” As the week progressed, people were driving from all over the state just to hear him preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. The pavilion-like tabernacle was already packed, but because the sides were open, people sitting in lawn chairs far beyond the structure could still hear him.
I have been thinking about all the awesome services we’ve had here in our own church. And due to the sad reality that we have not been allowed to gather to worship at all lately, I have been longing for those days as never before.
In today’s Scripture, the psalmist was also longing for such days of God’s touch, wondering if they would ever return. He prayed, even holding his hands up to God through the night, groaning until his spirit grew faint (v. 3).
But please note:
At first, the psalmist is preoccupied – indeed self-occupied – with everything that is currently wrong. Suddenly at verse 10, it dawns on him that he needs to switch gears. He declares, “Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out His right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.”” He ceases from this dejected self-occupation and instead, becomes occupied with God Himself and all the ways that God had “stretched out His hand” in the past.
When I think of all the wonderful things that God has done for me – how He taught me in Sunday school classes, touched me in Sunday night evangelistic services, and forever transformed me at summer church camps, it gives me the strength to keep my hands tirelessly raised high in praise to Him.
God’s hand will move again! In the meantime, I can’t help but sing the old gospel hymn, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!”
May you take time to recall “the good old days” when God taught, touched, and transformed you! And if you have not yet experienced His touch, let that be your prayer, and please don’t hesitate to ask me to pray for it with you.
* Capital letters added for personal pronouns referring to God.