The Story Isn’t Over Yet

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

One of the things I enjoy about my Apple Watch is the connection I have with others who also use an Apple Watch. For instance, I get notified when my wife has finished a workout, and one of the pre-set replies I could choose is, “I’ve got questions!” That’s a funny way of me saying, “How did you complete that workout?!” 

In Psalm 75 and Psalm 76, Asaph tells us how God will deal with the wicked. But then Psalm 77 begins with Asaph using words like, “My soul refused to be comforted, my spirit is overwhelmed,” and then he launches into the tough questions like: “How long is this going to last? Has God forgotten me? Have I fallen out of favor with God? Has His mercy dried up? Can God keep what He has promised? Is God angry with me?” When I read all this, I feel like saying, “Asaph, I’ve got questions!” 

Yet, these complaints of Asaph ring true to real life. Like when a friend called me last week and started our conversation by asking, “Why can’t things just go easy for me?”

Here’s the simple answer: The Story isn’t over yet. We are in a battle, and the enemy of our soul is still trying to take us out, or at least shut us up. 

In Psalm 77, Asaph tells his story to Jeduthun (a Levite worship leader whose name means praising) in four chapters, with a Selah for each of the breaks between the chapters. 

Chapter 1—Distress (vv. 1-3)

The word distress means confronted by an adversary. Ever been there? Every follower of God has been, so Asaph invites us to Selah: pause to contemplate things like (a) Is this distress causing me to reevaluate the foundation on which I stand? (b) What is it God is shaking in my life? When God shakes things up, it is to cause us to remember and muse about the ONLY sure foundation that can withstand any storm (see Matthew 7:24-27). 

Chapter 2—Questioning (vv. 4-9) 

Notice the words Asaph uses: thought, remembered, mused, inquired. He is asking those tough questions, but he is asking them in a way that he can carefully consider the answers. That means he is really taking a Selah pause with each question. I think he has come to this conclusion: “Aren’t all these really just rhetorical questions? And isn’t the answer to all of them a resounding ‘NO!’?” If you aren’t sure the answer to all of these questions is no, please read Romans 8:31-39.

Chapter 3—Recalling (vv. 10-15) 

Notice the continuation of the words: thought, remember, meditate, consider. He also asks another question in v. 13 which he then answers in the next two verses. His call to Selah here is another pause to reflect: “Has God lost His power? Has He changed His mind?” And once again the answer is a loud and clear, “NO!” (see Isaiah 59:1; Hebrews 13:8) 

One of the important takeaways from this stanza of Psalm 77 is this: Looking back in gratitude at what God has done allows me to look forward in hope to what He is still going to do. My remembering what God has done in the past leads to: 

  1. Release from the darkness 
  2. Renewed praise 
  3. Recovered strength 
  4. Refocused outlook 

Chapter 4—Hope (vv. 16-20) 

Asaph says, “Look what God did! And since He is the same today as He was yesterday, guess what He’s still able to do!” We know this because the Bible says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20). 

Remember I said earlier that God isn’t done telling His story yet? God isn’t done yet, He knows His Story, and His Story is still being told. But He’s also already told us how His story will end (see Revelation 21:4-6). And the end of His story is really just the beginning of the Real Story! 

C.S. Lewis said it this way in the closing words of The Last Battle:

“And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page; now at last they were beginning Chapter 1 of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.” 

When you find yourself saying, “I’ve got questions: How long is this going to last,” Selah to remember that the Story isn’t over yet. The Storyteller knows how it ends, and He promises us: But what of that? For I consider that the sufferings of this present time—this present life—are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! (Romans 8:18 AMP)

If you have missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the complete list by clicking here.

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The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. Lewis (book review)

The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. LewisC.S. Lewis wrote the first books I fell in love with as a kid, and he continues to be my “go to” author as an adult. One of the things which makes Lewis so widely read and appreciated is the variety of genres in which he wrote. This is the subject of an insightful book by Jerry Root and Mark Neal—The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. Lewis.

Lewis wrote satire, poetry, literary criticism, autobiography, apologetic, children’s literature, and science fiction, to name just a few of the genres. Scholars who study his works point to seventeen literary genres in which he was adept. The fact that he could write so eloquently in this many genres is amazing, but what’s even more amazing, say Root and Neal, is that he could stick to one genre, even when it would be so tempting to shift to another mid-book.

Lewis was fond of talking about the time he felt his imagination had been “baptized.” That is to say, when he was aware of the power of using imagination to open others’ minds to new worlds and ideas. Those who have read the Narnia books or the space trilogy books know how imaginative Lewis’ writing can be. But what Root and Neal point out is that this amazing imagination was on full display in all of the different genres in which Lewis wrote.

The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. Lewis would be a great pre-read the next time you are going to read something from C.S. Lewis. Each chapter in this book zeros-in on a particular Lewis book, so reading that chapter prior to reading the corresponding C.S. Lewis book will prime your mind to spot the brilliant imagination that was on display in every book he wrote.

I am an Abingdon Press book reviewer.

Links & Quotes

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“You cannot secure the life of the church by any particular system. History shows that churches have prospered, as well as failed, under different systems. The fact is that forms of government have very little to do with the vital principle of the church. The reason why the church of God exists is not her ecclesiastical regulations, her organization, her formularies, her ministers, or her creeds, but the presence of the Lord in the midst of her; and while Christ lives, and Christ reigns, and stands and feeds His church, she is safe; but if He were once gone, it would be with her as it is with you and me when the Spirit of God has departed from us; we are weak as other men, and she would be quite as powerless.” ―Charles Spurgeon

“For this is what it means to be a king [or any leader]: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.” —King Lune in C.S. Lewis’ A Horse And His Boy

Another Bible study help from the great folks at The Overview Bible Project: a cool look at the book of Jude.

[VIDEO] The amazing story of Lizzie Velasquez―

Links & Quotes

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These are links to articles and quotes I found interesting today.

I love C.S. Lewis’ interaction with children: “As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world? Think it over and let me know your answer! Reepicheep in your coloured picture has just the right perky, cheeky expression. I love real mice. There are lots in my rooms in College but I have never set a trap. When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, ‘Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.’”

[VIDEO] Sarah Palin has a wonderful Dr. Seuss-like poem for Washington, D.C. insiders.

Frank Viola gets it right in Christianeze Revisited.

I love this reminder from Max Lucado’s book Grace: “Muhammad does not indwell Muslims. Buddha does not inhabit Buddhists. Influence? Instruct? Yes. But occupy? No!” You can read my review of Grace by clicking here.

Did you hear about the pastor who died from a rattlesnake bite while handling one during a church service? Check out What’s With The Snakes?

“Oh! my brethren, it were well if this commendation, so forced from the lips of enemies, could also be compelled by our own example. If we could live like Peter and John; if our lives were ‘living epistles of God, known and read of all men;’ if, whenever we were seen, men would take knowledge of us, that we had been with Jesus, it would be a happy thing for this world, and a blessed thing for us.” —Charles Spurgeon

Helpful post for parents, coaches, and teachers from Dr. Tim Elmore: What’s Trending In Kids Today

Un-Dragoned

I love the scene in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader where Eustace is changed back from a dragon into a boy. Not changed back into the same person, because he was surely different from that point on.

Eustace was desperate to be un-dragoned, but despite his best efforts, he couldn’t do it himself. He had to let Aslan do it for him. Eustace said,

Then the lion said, “You will have to let me undress you.” I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it.

Have you ever been where Eustace was? So desperate to lose something dragon-like in your life, but unable to do it yourself?

The problem for many of us comes after we pray to God for help. We pray, and God shows up. But after He shows up, we want to tell Him how He should take care of us, instead of just letting Him do His work. Listen: if I could have done it on my own, I wouldn’t have called on God. Once I’m desperate enough to cry out for His help, why do I then still want to be in control?!?

God is so gracious to us! After we’ve been undressed from our dragon-like state, He covers us in clothes He Himself has fashioned for us. Eustace explained,

“After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me–“

“Dressed you. With his paws?”

“Well, I don’t exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes.”

Don’t let any dragon-ness in your life keep you from everything God has for you. And don’t try to un-dragon yourself (because, honestly, you can’t do it!). Let our gentle God un-dragon you, and then dress you in new clothes He’s made just for you.

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