Important announcement: No Blind Faith devotionals will be published for the next two weeks, March 20 and March 27. This is the first time in seven years that devotionals will not appear for two consecutive weeks. Only once before has a week not had a devotional published, and that was due to an Internet outage. This brief sabbatical is due to our travels, uncertainty of Wi-Fi connection availability en route, and spending time with the likes of Michelangelo’s David rather than writing. (Potential burglars take note: our older son will be at home, so you do not have an extended window of opportunity to break in!)
We will be travelling to places we have not been before. Visiting sites where early Christians met in catacombs for worship, or became targets for gladiators’ blood sport, or where Paul and Peter and others proclaimed the gospel of Christ at the cost of martyrdom surely will produce profound impressions. Walking the grounds of the compound where my father was held as a POW in 1944-45will be a sobering honor. Spending time with my brother where he serves our country’s State Department abroad will be a joy. Meeting people whose experience of the world differs from our own is enlightening.
A favorite Psalm keeps coming to mind as we pack the suitcases and review our itinerary hoping that we have taken care of everything we can anticipate. David apparently was somewhat overcome with remorse and guilt when he wrote the compelling words of Psalm 139. David may have longed for a place to escape from God’s righteous judgment for his sin – adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah at David’s command prominently known among them. But what David may have initially expressed in a sense of desperation (he finds nowhere to escape from God!) turns out to be for us a faithful assurance of God’s constant presence and inescapable grace. David’s testimony reminds us that whatever the circumstances and wherever we go, God is always present there before we arrive and is constantly with us to support us by his love and grace. These are the words that sustain me with hope as we travel literally across the globe and by inference along each day of life’s journey in spirit:
You have looked deep into my heart, Lord, and you know all about me. 2 You know when I am resting or when I am working, and from heaven you discover my thoughts. 3 You notice everything I do and everywhere I go. 4 Before I even speak a word, you know what I will say, 5 and with your powerful arm you protect me from every side. 6 I can’t understand all of this! Such wonderful knowledge is far above me. 7 Where could I go to escape from your Spirit or from your sight? 8 If I were to climb up to the highest heavens, you would be there. If I were to dig down to the world of the dead you would also be there. 9 Suppose I had wings like the dawning day and flew across the ocean. 10 Even then your powerful arm would guide and protect me. 11 Or suppose I said, “I’ll hide in the dark until night comes to cover me over.” 12 But you see in the dark because daylight and dark are all the same to you. (Psalm 139:1-12 CEV)
Day or night, Central Daylight Time (CDT) or Central European Time (CET – 7 hours ahead of home), driving down the street in Huntsville, Alabama or floating in a gondola in Venice, Italy, God assuredly was there before me and his presence sustains me whenever I show up. And God knows my response to the wonder of it all and my prayers for the marvels of his creation as they come to my mind. Wherever you find yourself in coming days, God is there already and is forever the one working for your good no matter what you encounter. Our task continually is to recognize God wherever we are and to immerse ourselves in the abundant grace God supplies regardless of where that may be.
Blind Faith devotionals will resume April 3. By then Spring will be fully engaged and in resplendent bloom. I will begin sorting out the stories to tell from our travels. (I’ll spare you the slide show!) Leading to that day I will remember you in my prayers. I will miss the time each week that I think especially about you and pray for you, and I’ll miss the responses I treasure receiving from you. Paul’s words to followers of Jesus who read his letters will be on my mind as I think about you who read these weekly writings: “For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I am very happy because you are living as you should and because of your strong faith in Christ.” (Colossians 2:5 NLT)
Keep us in your prayers as we travel. I will pray for you as we worship at St. Peter’s Square and throughout our journey. I’ll meet you back here April 3!
God’s blessings –
J. Edward Culpepper