Quicken Me!

Revive me, make me alive, nourish me up, save me!

“This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” Psalm 119:50

“Thou, which has showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.” Psalm 71:20

Looks to me like:

  1. God orchestrates my trouble
  2. God quickens me in the midst of trouble
  3. Today’s quickening is my hope for the ultimate quickening – the “Get up outa that grave!” quickening

Timothy Keller says, “The Psalmist trusts God’s sovereign wisdom and love, even when he has sent bitter trouble into his life. He knows that in the end everything that happens is for the ultimate purpose of restoring our life – by deepening the love, wisdom, and joy of our spiritual life and by eventually resurrecting our bodies in the new world, wiped clean of all death and darkness (Romans 8:18-25).”

Take a Deep Breath of Remember

Question: How often shall I cry out to my God, “Revive me, make me alive, nourish me up, save me?”

Answer: With every breath.

Jonathan Edwards proposed the simple act of breathing represents “how the spiritual life is constantly maintained by the Spirit of God entering into the soul:”

“The natural life is continually supported by the breath that enters into the vitals, by which is represented how the spiritual life is constantly maintained by the Spirit of God entering into the soul. And therefore one is used as a type of the other in the Scripture, as particularly in Ezekiel 37:9-10, ‘Prophecy unto the wind, prophecy son of man, and say unto the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army’, together with vs, 13-14, ‘And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall have put my spirit in you, and you shall live.’ John 20:22, ‘He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.’”

Breech Birth

If you’re born backwards, you’re gonna die. Your umbilical cord will rip prematurely cutting off your oxygen supply and you will gasp. That gasp will rapidly introduce your lungs to amniotic fluid and you will soon drown. You have no choice in the matter. That’s what being dead in your sins does to a fella like me, like you maybe.

But hold on. That doesn’t have to be the end of the story.

Follow me to the barn. It’s 2 AM. I’ve managed to stumble out of bed, slip on my Muck boots, and make the short traverse to rouse the cattle for yet another milking. On the way, I stop and cast a farm-boy gaze skyward. Typically, I’d witness stunning constellations. Tonight, thick clouds block the view, but it doesn’t matter. I still see them in my mind’s eye. I remember what’s hidden. I feel the same shudder of being in a big story.

Seconds after entering the loafing shed where cows are resting and ruminating, another shudder rattles through my soul at the bellow of a Holstein in labor. Startle, fear, and care-juices slam into my bloodstream despite the fact that birthing is a nearly everyday experience at the Barnyard of Heaven. I divert my routine and search out the source of the ruckus. Two feet protrude from the birth canal of the obviously distressed heifer. Two shiny, white feet facing skyward. The calf is coming breech.

Take a deep breath of remember with me as we ponder the suddenly appropriate phrase, “The Word of God is quick…” Quick suggests the meaning revive. This calf will die. But there’s a chance we can rescue or revive it from the otherwise condition of drowning. Are you up for the task?

Hand me that bovine obstetrician chain. OK, the chain is securely affixed to the calf’s hind feet. Now, you and I attach two handles to the chain, and pull. Pull with all our might. The calf jerks one leg back inside signaling it’s alive. It is disturbed by our delivery technique, oblivious to its plight. We keep pulling, timing our efforts with the rhythms of the cow’s contractions. We pull slow and steady, at first, until the hips emerge. That’s when the clock starts ticking. That’s the point where the umbilical cord tears away and the calf sucks up a gallon or so of amniotic fluid and drowns.

We double our pulling efforts with urgency; sweat dripping, muscle straining, grunt-punctuated urgency.

As the calf’s limp, 80-pound body bursts out onto the concrete floor, I grab the hind legs and thrust them up in the air and shake its body hoping gravity will force some of the fluid to roll back out of its lungs. Meanwhile, you have found a 6-inch piece of straw to make stabs up it’s nostril. The adrenaline pumping through your veins makes your hands shaky, but the technique works to stimulate the gasp. To gasp is to revive. You quickened what was dead but now lays in the straw, ribs extending, relaxing, rhythmically breathing; a newborn, eyelid-blinking Holstein calf. Nice work!

The Word of God is Quick

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

So, I think I am reading God’s Word? Perhaps, instead, the Word is reading me.

So, I think I’m trying to wrap my arms around the text in search of God? Perhaps the Word, yep, God Himself, is penetrating my depths searching out me.

As this Word, this God, pierces me and searches me, what will He find? When He turns the lights on in the basement of my soul, what will He discover? When he searches me bone-deep and analyzes the marrow, what will He now know? As He discerns the thoughts and intents of my heart, I wonder at the thoughts and intents of His heart. Why would His goodness and mercy pursue me all the days of my life?

Here’s a few things I’d like for Him to discover:

 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Philippians 3:9-11

There it is. The power of His resurrection. The resurrection of the dead. The ultimate quickening!

 

2 thoughts on “Quicken Me!

  1. This article is a three-course dinner – and I’m stuffed!

    There’s a lot of powerful thoughts going on in this piece that challenge/change traditional thinking… I think the modern educated phrase is “paradigm shift”.

    Anyway, let me just say for now, you had me in the “Breech Birth” section! I was on the edge of my seat – and I think I had forgotten to breathe – until you brought us to the end and all is ok and “everyone” could breathe (again). Awesome work, Ron – you had me yanked out of my warm chair and sweating beside you in that cold barn!

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