We pray you have been blessed by this daily devotion. If you received it from a friend, you can see other devotions and studies by visiting our website at www.awordfortoday.org.
A WORD FOR TODAY, August 18, 2023
“Therefore we ought to pay greater attention to the things that were heard, lest perhaps we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation - which at the first having been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders, by various works of power and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will?” Hebrews 2:1-4, WEB
They say that everyone’s secret passion is watching those kitschy romance movies, although many will scoff because they are just formulaic repeats of the same story over and over again. The names may be changed. The setting is different. Sometimes there’s a cut kid or animal. There is always tension at the beginning, a spark of love, some ridiculous misunderstanding and conflict, and then a quick restoration of the relationship that leads to “the kiss.” Yes, sometimes the city girl goes to the country, or the country boy goes to the city. Sometimes high school sweethearts meet again. Sometimes meddling aunts or mothers try to make a love match. Those differences don’t change the basic outline of the story, they simply make it new.
So many will say that they won’t watch those movies because they can figure out what will happen in just seconds, that the format makes them boring. Yet aren’t all stories? I get bored with superhero movies because they are all the same in their own way. Horror films are all the same even while they are different. So many stories, at their core, are the same. They are different, with different people, places, and circumstances, but the basic plotline and the lessons learned are the same. Throughout all time, from the beginning until today, people have not changed, and neither have their stories. Different experts have different opinions about the number, but literary experts all agree that there are only a certain number of stories. Despite the number of books available, there are only about fifty plots. We just change the details to make the stories real to us.
What is really interesting is that you can find those same plots in the Bible and in the other ancient myths and legends from around the world. They have different characters that fit the culture of the people who hear the words. Take, for instance, the Native American Indian version of a Cinderella story, one that is not only a story of patience but also of honesty.
The story tells of a great warrior whose greatest gift was his ability to become invisible. His name was Strong Wind. All the maidens desired him, but he refused to marry any who were dishonest. Strong Wind had a sister who helped him test each maiden that came to marry him. The sister took the maidens to the shore when Strong Wind was due to come home in the evening. As he approached, his sister asked the maiden if she saw him. They all said yes, but when asked to describe something about his appearance, they could only guess. They were always wrong, and he knew they were lying.
At this time there lived a chief with three daughters. Their mother had died and the two older sisters were jealous of the youngest. They treated her cruelly, burning her face and putting her into rags for clothes. They told their father she did it herself. She did not complain, but patiently did her work with a gentle heart. The two older sisters sought Strong Wind but were found in their dishonesty. The chief s youngest daughter determined to find Strong Wind for herself. She tried to fix her ragged clothes and her face and then set off for the shore. She was ridiculed by her sisters and the others along the way, but Strong Wind’s sister had mercy and took her to seek her brother.
When it was time for Strong Wind to come home, his sister asked, “Do you see him?” The girl answered, “No.” Once again the sister asked if the girl could see her brother and this time she said, “Yes.” When Strong Wind’s sister asked her to describe him, she said, “His sled is drawn by a rainbow and his bow is the Milky Way.” Since she had been honest with the first answer, he made himself visible to her. They took the girl home, healed her wounds and cleaned her face and body. She was clothed in fine clothes and many rich ornaments. The fate of her two sisters was not so great. Since they had lied and had treated their sister with such cruelty, Strong Wind turned them into Aspen trees. Whenever he came to them, their leaves trembled, and they knew of his anger.
We are just like the maidens who could not see Strong Wind. We can’t see God, but we try to think we can get there on our own. We do good works, we say the right things, we go to the right places and claim our self-righteousness is enough to be the one who can see God. For the Jews, righteousness by obedience to the Law of Moses was the way to see God. Those who did not keep His commandments were not worthy of His grace. Unfortunately, there are none who are worthy because we are unable to keep His law.
For this reason, Jesus came to bridge the divide between God and His people. When we are honest and confess our sinfulness, Christ heals, cleanses, and robes us with the finest garment He has to give is His righteousness. We need to recognize our inability to see Him and honestly say that we have eyes that are blinded to the truth. With that confession, repentance, our eyes are open, and we can see Him as He is. If we continue in our old ways, claiming a righteousness that is not in Christ but through the Law, we will never know the salvation Christ gives through His Gospel. The young sister humbled herself before Strong Wind and he gave her the world. When we do the same before God, we are given eternal life and a place in His kingdom forever by His grace.
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org