Friday, April 5, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: What reading a prophet's journal taught me

Life Lessons Learned from Reading a Prophet’s Journal
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“The Lord God is my strength, my source of courage, my invincible army. He has made my feet steady and sure like hinds feet. And makes me walk forward with spiritual confidence on my high places of challenge and responsibility.”—Habakkuk 3:19 (AMP)

The first time that I went to Greece, I was a young sailor.

The ship that I was assigned to pulled into a remote port that was surrounded on three sides by mountains. As the other sailors and I awaited a bus to take us to town, we noticed animals moving down the steep and rocky mountainside.

They looked small, but realizing how far away from them that we were, we realized that they had to be pretty large animals. As we watched them confidently traverse the treacherous slope, we realized that they were mountain goats. They fearlessly trod down the mountain slope because they were sure footed by nature.

I remembered reading Habakkuk and later that evening, I reread this small prophetic book of the Old Testament. Habakkuk 3:19 is really the culmination of a dialogue that the prophet had with God. The little book is like a journal that the prophet wrote to remind himself and us that God still communes, converses and confides in us.

Habakkuk was a minor prophet, not because his message was petty, but because his prophetic testimony was short. He starts his journal by complaining to God about the state of affairs in which he currently lived. Apparently his social and spiritual environment was unsafe, violent, and unstable. Law enforcement was unreliable because even the people most inclined to righteous living were marginalized by the wicked.

He did not see the hand of God and wondered where God was and if His promises of deliverance were still valid. God responds with an assurance that the trajectory of His plans exceeded Habakkuk’s perceptivity, but they were sure to happen.

The prophet responds in Habakkuk 2:1 (ESV) with a second complaint that seems a bit flippant. He wrote, “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”

Is challenging God okay? Perhaps we’re saying, “God, I’m looking for you! What will you do?” Is that okay? I think so! In our journals, where we write our struggles, temptations, failures, successes and reflections, we can converse with God. He is eternal, yet contemporary. He was Emmanuel and His Name means, “God is with us”. The New Testament writer, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:19 says that our bodies are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. This means that He is with us through the whispers of our consciences and the spurring in our souls.

When Habakkuk recognized that God had not left nor forsaken him, his prose was converted from complaint to a trusting testimony. Habakkuk gave glory to God for being the source of his courage and strength. Knowing this, he became brave enough to face his challenges in life. We could learn Habakkuk’s story and share his prayer and praise report too!

Let’s Pray: Thank You, God, for blessing us with the favor of your plan and purpose in our lives. As we go through today, grant us the focus of Habakkuk, to lean forward with courage rather than looking around in fear. May our faith be reflected in our being and our deeds. Let us be your hands, eyes, ears, feet and heart to the world around us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Everlasting God” by William Murphy. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson is the Director Emeritus of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries for the North American Division. In this role, he was the friend, advocate and gatekeeper for the profession of chaplaincy among Adventist pastors.

His new mission is to specialize in personal and personnel development coaching.
He journeys with and guides clients, personal and corporate, as they define their goals and grow into their full potential.

His pastoral career began in the Allegheny East Conference where he was ordained.

Subsequently, he served in the Potomac Conference at the Sligo and Seabrook churches. His professional dream was to be a chaplain in the United States Navy. He got to live that dream and achieved the rank of Commander before retiring from Naval service in 2015 with 26 years of service.

Chaplain Anderson has earned four graduate degrees: He earned his Master of Divinity Degree was earned at the seminary at Andrews University. He earned a Master’s of Education from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in Sacred Theology from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C.

Chaplain Anderson and his wife Debra have been married for 41 years. They have two healthy, saved and well-adjusted adult children who picked good spouses and delivered four grandchildren.

Adventures through traveling, reading, praying, preaching, teaching and writing are the avenues of ministry and self-care that define his now and his destiny.

You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address,

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