As sweet as April in Seville [Day 20]

I am the LORD, who heals you.

—Exodus 15:26

I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.

—Hosea 14:4

The Hebrew verb for heal rapha) begins with resh . In Exodus 15, God is known as Jehovah Rapha. “I am the LORD that healeth thee.” The word for spirit ruwach) also begins with this letter. It is the same word we find in Psalm 51 when David pleads, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Ps. 51:11–12). The resh or rosh is also the head, ( ro’sh or roshe) as in Rosh Hashanah, which means the New Year or the head of the year.

Jesus was asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matt. 18:1). In response, he called a little child to stand among them.

Resh is an interesting little letter that seems to suspend between greatness and smallness. With a notable ambivalence, it means “head,” and yet it stands toward the back of the line. Like the presence of a hidden spiritual law.

Then Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3–4).

In the Gospel of Mark, there were those disputing over who was the greatest in the kingdom. Jesus sat down, called the twelve together, and said, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35 KJV).

At Day 20, we have these powerful elements working together: healing, headship, order, right standing in the kingdom. With these things in mind, say the following:

153 Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.

154 Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.

155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.

156 Your compassion is great, O LORD; preserve my life according to your laws.

157Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.

158 I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word.

159 See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your love.

160 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

Are We There Yet?

I am comforted that the writer of Psalm 119 is so thoroughly human. It may not have been David, but the psalmist is instructed by David and is certainly of the Davidic school of rhapsody. All the colorful and effervescent human elements combine for a music that maintains its usual high step, as poetry must, and yet it is primal, as something shared in all of us, that we are all equally capable of.

But the child asks, “Are we there yet?” She doesn’t know how to read the signs, nor does she understand that until we arrive at the ultimate destination, the journey is all there is. This is certainly true in a spiritual context. The child doesn’t think much of the journey. It is tedious and boring; she is running out of things to occupy her attention; the music is dull, and her brother is asleep.

Until we see Christ face to face, the journey is what we have.

Being holy is not like earning a badge. It develops. It grows within and around you. Holiness is cultivated as a way of life. It flowers. It comes to bloom. It matures with an inward nobility and at its own pace.

In our hunger for more, whatever sweetness we encounter along the way is like the first intimation of eternity. As Columbus said of his own paradise, “Los aires muy dulces, como en abril en Sevilla, qu’es plazer estar a ellos, tan olorosos son.” [The air was as sweet as April in Seville, so fragrant it was delicious to breathe.]

Eternity is quite generous. If you look close you will see it is already present with us. Eternity doesn’t wait. Waiting implies time, and eternity has nothing to do with time.

From time to time you lead me into an inward experience quite unlike any other, a sweetness beyond understanding.

—Augustine, The Confessions

This sweetness is what we are after. It is the prize. The martyrs knew this. The psalmists wrote with it warm on their lips.

Prayer for Day 20:

I am an excess of wind and whine, Lord. I have been self-serving my entire life. I am the head, and I am the tail. The greater part tail. Even some of my better intentions were fueled by my selfishness. Let the complaint in me die—the whine, the howl, the whimpering and needy little man. Breathe life into the neglected parts, the unfed and the unredeemed parts. Save me according to your great love. You are Holy. Holy. Holy.

In Christ, as sweet as April in Savile, amen.

10 Responses to “As sweet as April in Seville [Day 20]”

  1. Linda Wasson June 2, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    He is our healer, Jehovah Rapha, He heals from our innermost being. I believe many of our outward illnesses are caused by inward wounds. He has already healed us, by his stripes we are healed. Praise His name…Jesus

    Life is a journey, as we go along we stumble and falter and err but just knowing that these things are all meant to be, to mature us and teach us whatever we need to know and to grow us up in Him makes it worth the while. Our reward for overcoming is more of Him and we become more like Him, that certainly is the utlimate prize.
    Yes, the sweetness of His presence is what we are after and it is all worth the pain and agony. His Holiness is what I long for, His Holiness is what I need…as the song goes. We need His holiness to overcome. We cannot fathom his complete holiness, He is so pure, so righteous and holy that I feel like a worm before Him and must bow before Him and humble myself in awe of his Majesty and greatness. Oh that I may come to know Him in His fullness and be transformed into His likeness.

    Our lives will always have challenges and storms but “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, but about dancing in the rain.” This is how we overcome, just knowing He is there with us in the fire.

  2. Winsome June 2, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Preserve my life according to Your promise…
    Preserve my life according to Your Laws…
    Preserve my life, O LORD, according to Your love.

    Preserve me and heal me, O LORD; may I not merely exist, but truly life. Live life to the full, abundant and rich. This is my prayer today.

  3. Allison Boyd June 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Preserve my life according to your promise, according to your laws, according to your love. The psalmist is a model for me in seeking life on God’s terms – only this particular life, as if any other manner of life, life preserved by any other means, wouldn’t be worth preserving.

  4. Kim June 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    As He preserves my life, I will persevere.

  5. Marian Sue Daley June 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    The Psalmist was constantly comparing himself as just a human to how majestic and mighty God was. He acknowledges that over and over and is admitting his weaknesses.. He just desired God’s only will, love and protection. The further that we drift from the truth and God, the more blind we become,though our human resoning and our mind often attempts to convince us we are fine. God describes the gulf that exists between our thoughts and His by saying.. Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord v9 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.. Who can preserve us.. We know only one ( God/Jesus Christ) and so did the Psalmist.May we be preserved from ourselves, from enemies, from the world and to be in full agreement to what God wills for us.. Ps. 18:6 In my distress I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help.. From his temple he heard my voice, my cry came before him into his ears..He has been there for me all of my life and I am so very thankful…

  6. Nikki L'Hommedieu June 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Wow, this is so beautiful! I did not realize that this wasn’t written by David, silly me. I’ve been battling advanced cancer and Psalm 119:77 has been one of my memory verses for healing. Thank you again for drawing me deeper into Psalm 119, it has forever been my favorite (and contains my life verse, Psalm 119:114). Bless you.;)

  7. Michael Brown June 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    “I am an excess of wind and whine, Lord. I have been self-serving my entire life. I am the head, and I am the tail. The greater part tail. Even some of my better intentions were fueled by my selfishness. Let the complaint in me die—the whine, the howl, the whimpering and needy little man. Breathe life into the neglected parts, the unfed and the unredeemed parts. Save me according to your great love. You are Holy. Holy. Holy.”

    Woah…

    Stepping through doorways in ourselves is a beautiful thing. Must be rather endearing to God.~

    Would be so nice to have a little Life breathed into the neglected, the unfed, and unspoken places in us, bewildering us all.
    God smiling at all our intentions to be someone to Life, and to Him…

    More interesting than unfortunate that God doesn’t seem to save us from ourselves, from others, and from rather fateful circumstance.

    Compels one to re-assess what we understand about having this Experience of a Lifetime. Most appearing unaware of what to really expect of God. Beyond what we’ve been told, by those we lean on to understand Him. Taught in so much darkness draped in Light. Having made us vulnerable to expect personal fulfillments and ‘victorious’ success, and not a tumble across a lifetime of measured heartache and distrought, that would be the silver thorns in our sides. Appointed over so many days (years) of our lives… Moving prayer D.

  8. Kelly Reed June 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    “Awake , O north wind, and come, wind of the south; make my garden breathe out fragrance, let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!” Amen.
    Song of Sol 4:16

  9. Sam Scales June 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    How I relate to your prayer…..”I am an excess of wind and whine, Lord”. Thank You for that real prayer, because that certainly gave voice to my inner struggle. So many times I feel like that little girl asking the Lord “Are we there yet? How much longer? I’m bored with the tedious. I want to move on!” He must get really tired of it!

    In a way I had to chuckle at the first sentence of today’s reading: ‘Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.’
    I told the Lord “what I perceive as my suffering is nothing in comparison to so many who are in pain due to illness, have lost their minds because of illness, are afraid because they are imprisoned for their faith, or are ill because of hunger….” Yet that struggle between flesh and willing spirit can get wearysome. One can imagine the pain and suffering David felt after his decision with Bathsheba….
    Even in all this, he never forgot God’s law, even in that he knew he needed to repent and even after all that he knew he could still go to the Father. He could still say, ‘look upon my suffering’.

    With confidence he could proclaim: ‘Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.’ He knew the character of God.

    He did not count himself to be among the wicked, because when he sinned he sought out the Lord, he sought out God’s decrees. And he knew, he KNEW that the Lord’s compassion is great and he could call upon Him to preserve his life. Preserve him to walk uprightly and be called a man after God’s own heart.

    There is nothing sweeter than the aroma of forgiveness and salvation! Thank You Lord for Your longsuffering and patience!

  10. Wallyce June 5, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    Until we see Christ face to face, the journey is what we have.

    May I joy in the journey versus whine in the wait…

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