Thursday, April 10, 2008

Outcasts of Skagaray

I know that God regularly uses the Bible to talk to people, so it shouldn't surprise me when he speaks to me through it, but it always amazes me that He cares enough for me to take the time to do so. Monday night I was reading in Jeremiah when I came across this verse: When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord of Heaven's Armies. Jeremiah 15:16. I took note of the title Jeremiah gave to God, because it was one I'm not familiar with. After Jeremiah, I flipped to Psalms to do more nightly reading there. I read this verse: O Lord of Heaven's Armies, what joy for those who trust in you! Psalm 84:12. My internal antennae twitched with the mention of this title twice. I reread the verses, but couldn't really find a message from God in them, so I started my devotional readings. In Set My Heart on Fire by Catherine Martin, the author said this: You are a soldier in the army of the Lord. And then she quoted King David from 1 Samuel 17:47: The battle is the Lords! I wrote all of the passages in my journal and started reading the message. 1) God is the head of an army. 2) I'm a soldier in that army. 3) The battle belongs to him. I started praying for understanding.

Last night in my reading, still in Jeremiah, I read this: O Lord of Heaven's Armies, you test those who are righteous, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you. Jeremiah 20:12. I was less surprised this time, because it's obviously a term Jeremiah used in addressing God. But flipping to my Psamls, I found this: O Lord God of Heaven's Armies. Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O Lord? You are entirely faithful Psalm 89:8. Now if both Psalms 84 and 89 were written by the same writer, I could pass this off as coincidence. But 84 was written during the time of King Solomon or shortly after by the Sons of Korah, and 89 was written by Ethan, who served during David's reign.

I did some research on Bible Gateway last night and found that the phrase O Lord of Heaven's Armies is used 270 times in my translation of the Bible (NLT). Other versions of the phrase are O Lord God Almighty, O Lord God of hosts, and God of the Angel Armies. I'm still praying for wisdom, but it feels like there is a battle that I've been fighting for myself instead of turning it over to God. Maybe it's the pain, I just don't know yet.

Outcasts of Skagaray by Andrew Clarke is a fantastical twist on the warrior cultures of Sparta and Troy. Tarran lives in a world where strength is valued over everything. Weakness should be destroyed, and even the showing of pity is a weakness. In Tarran's heart, he knows that this is wrong, and when a clan leader expects him to kill a wounded bear cub to prove his strength, Tarran flees the community and starts a life outside of the clan. As he takes in others cast out of the tribe for their weakness, the elders of the clan come to fear him and what he represents. They worship a god of death and violence, and they expect that god to destroy any sacrilege. Tarran's continued existence is a threat to their own. Clarke's book is well written story about the goodness that lives inside of us that makes us human. Without ever mentioning God or Jesus, he incorporates Christian faith into the story that seems like a recreation of Jeremiah chapter 5. The story starts out a bit slow, but once Tarran starts to form his own family, the story picks up and soon becomes hard to put down.

Today's picture is of me with my Grandma & Grandpa Trever, two of my heroes and fellow soldiers in the Lord's army. Oh how I miss them!