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Happy Father’s Day: Take a Break!

June 15, 2016

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” Galatians 4:6

Take a moment to thank your heavenly Father for the men in your life who are fathers–your father, husband, uncles, brothers, sons, nephews, and those special men who have stepped into one or more of those roles in your life.

This is especially for the fathers: To the extent you are able, take a breather on Father’s Day from running errands, chauffeur duties, fix-it duties and other routine chores. You might even want to pick up a copy of Eric Metaxas’ book, “7 Men,” about seven men who made a difference: George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles Colson. Metaxas notes that “’The Duke’ [John Wayne] is obviously not one of the seven men in this book but many men of my generation have thought of him as something of an icon of manhood and manliness . . . But why? . . . He was the good guy. He was always strong and tough but never a bully. . . So this is a book that doesn’t talk about manhood . . . but that shows it in the actual lives of great men.” (Metaxas (2013) 7 Men, Thomas Nelson, p.xiii-xiv). These men of faith were strong examples of manhood. Men of faith are not sissies—just look at the men in the Bible who were persecuted and/or martyred for their faith. Take a moment to think about your relationship with God and how your faith strengthens you in the eyes of your family and those around you.

This week’s psalm encourages us all to take a break to grow closer to God. The word selah appears 71 times in the psalms, including three times in Sunday’s psalm–Psalm 3. No one really knows exactly what the word means, though it has several interpretations. One possibility is that it is a musical mark or instruction in reading the text to indicate that there is to be a musical interlude, or pause. It is also translated as “pause, and think of that.” In her book, Selah: Your Moment to Stop, Think, and Step Into Your Future, Nancy Carmichael suggests that it’s a place to pause, to know God and to think about God’s purpose for your life: “It’s time to stop. To slow down, and take a deep breath. Pay attention to where we are before we proceed.” (Carmichael, Selah: Your Moment to Stop, Think, and Step Into Your Future (2004) Revell, p. 83).

Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth century French monk, learned to practice the presence of God by taking brief moments throughout the day: “When we are busied . . . we ought to cease for one brief moment, as often as we can, to worship God in the depth of our being, to taste Him though it be in passing, to touch Him as it were by stealth.” (Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God (1958) Spire, p.71). (Emphasis original).

Speaking in Jesus voice, Sarah Young counsels “Rest in Me, my child. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen . . . Train your mind to seek Me in every moment, every situation. Sometimes you can find Me in your surroundings: a lilting birdsong, a loved one’s smile, golden sunlight. At other times you must draw inward to find Me.” (Young, Jesus Calling (2004) Thomas Nelson, pp. 169, 35).

In Psalm 3, David asks us to pause and consider who we are and where God is leading us. This week’s Scripture texts[1] suggest that we pause to consider how God sustains, blesses and delivers us (Psalm 3:5, 8) when we are ready to be found by God (Isaiah 65:1), when we come to him in faith to be adopted by him as his heir (Galatians 3:26-4:7), and when we are willing to go forward with strength and purpose on the path he has chosen for us (Luke 8: 38).

The prophet Isaiah delivered a message to those who had not known the Lord: Stop people, I am here to help you! “The Lord said, ‘I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to answer my people’s prayers, but they did not pray. I was ready for them to find me, but they did not even try. The nation did not pray to me, even though I was always ready to answer, ‘Here I am; I will help you.’” Selah. Stop and think about it. God is there for everyone—even for unbelievers, if they will only turn to him in prayer. He is ready to answer our prayers.

In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul confirms that when we have faith in the Son, we are all God’s sons and heirs: “[F]or in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29). Selah. Stop and think about Paul’s words. His use of language is very deliberate; he calls calls us “all sons of God.” Not children, but sons. Daughters could not inherit. Slaves had few rights. He is very clear here: we are all sons—we are all equal heirs of Christ Jesus. Timothy Keller points out that “Similarly, the Bible describes all Christians together, including men, as the ‘bride of Christ’ (Revelation 21:2). God is evenhanded in his gender-specific metaphors. Men are part of his Son’s bride; women are part of His sons, His heirs.” (Keller, Galatians For You (2013) The Good Book Company, p. 90).

As we continue our pause (selah), to confirm our identity in Christ, and to follow God’s purpose for our lives, we note that Paul tells us that we “put on Christ” at our baptism (Galatians 3:27). Keller suggests that Paul is telling us that we have clothed ourselves in Christ, implying that our identity is in Christ; we are to “put on” his virtues, to imitate him and practice his presence. “When God looks at us, He sees us as his sons because He sees His Son.” (Keller, Galatians For You (2013) The Good Book Company, p. 90-91).

Finally, Jesus reveals our purpose in the gospel lesson: “Declare how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39). There are countless ways to accomplish this—as many ways as the many unique talents that God has given each of us.

Selah. Pause today to consider how God has gifted you, and take a moment to prayerfully consider how you might reach out to others to show them what God has done for you.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Fifth Sunday After Pentecost are Psalm 3; Isaiah 65:1-9; Galatians 3:23-4:7; Luke 8:26-39.

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