An Inescapable God 

SUNDAY, July 30
Ninth Sunday After Pentecost
Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24

If we did not know that God is abounding with grace and mercy, this passage might terrify us. An inescapable God is no comfort if he is a tyrant or a sadist. This psalm can only give us comfort if we bring to it the understanding that God is love and that Love gives all because it needs nothing. 

Anything but this kind of love would turn this psalm into a horror. The prayer at the end (vv. 23-24) would be absurdly foolish to pray if God were vengeful, needy, or petty like we are. There is wickedness within me. How disgusting and self-focused are the thoughts that pass through my mind each day. Who could I trust with the ugly truth of who I really am? Only God who is love and mercy can look at the rotting flesh that is my heart and still work for my good. 

Merciful God, you search me and know me, and still you love me. Thank you. AMEN.


An Inescapable Connection

MONDAY, July 31
Genesis 28:10-22

It is a feature of our modern age that we find this story to be so strange. The tremors of the Enlightenment still shake our ability to believe that this universe is in any way connected to something beyond itself. We float adrift in a vast ocean of emptiness pockmarked by the occasional light but utterly bereft of life. Or so our modern imagination tells us. 

If I had this dream today, I would struggle to believe that it contained a real promise. If my friend had it, it would seem even less credible. I am a skeptic—but I want to believe this world is connected to God. I want to believe that all the beauty, truth, and goodness I experience here are mere shadows of God’s beauty, truth, and goodness. I want to see stairways to heaven, not just in dreams but in my waking hours as well. 

God of beauty, give me eyes to see the shadows of your light that pervade this world. AMEN.

An Inescapable Command

TUESDAY, August 1
Isaiah 44:6-8

In this passage we are told not to fear—one of the most common commands in the Bible. And for good reason. Fear is all around us. We are constantly bombarded with messages of fear. You will encounter them today, from the media, from the internet, from your coworkers, even from your family. You may even defend your fear by calling it responsibility. But still God commands us, “Do not fear.” 

Fear is a powerful tool. It is a tool of control. Ultimately, fear is slavery. This is what the insecure gods of this world seek: power, control, manipulation. Fear is an effective means to these ends. But God is not like those gods. His power and authority are absolute. God has no need for your fear. He has no need to manipulate you or control you because he is in control and he loves you sacrificially.

God of love, take my fears and fill my heart with gratitude for your goodness all around me. AMEN.


An Inescapable Death

Romans 8:12-17

It is noteworthy that Paul’s antidote to death is death. Live by the flesh and you will die. But if you want to live, you must put to death the deeds of the body. Either way, plan on dying. Fight against it or ignore it, but death is inescapable. Paul learned this from Jesus, whose antidote to living in fear is choosing death. “Take up your cross,” he said. Put to death your selfish desires. Put to death your selfish ambitions.

This is not easy. Our selfishness goes deeper than we know, or want to know, so this is a lifetime of work. But it is the habit, the practice that is important. Practice dying, so that you might live. You won’t always get it right. You’ll never get it perfect. But the path to true freedom and abundant life always passes through death. 

Gracious God, teach me today to die to those things that feel like life to me but which really bring me death. AMEN.

An Inescapable Hope

THURSDAY, August 3
Romans 8:18-25

“Life’s a bummer, then you die,” or so my mother taught me. I never found that phrase to be depressing. Somehow I knew that what comes after this life will be better than whatever I endure here. I haven’t endured much. I haven’t been tortured, beaten, or imprisoned. I haven’t lost loved ones to the murderous rage of those in power, been wrongly accused, or violated by a corrupt system. Paul, like Jesus, faced all these things. Yet he considered them incomparable to the glory of heaven. 

Can you believe that? When you look back on all that you have been through—the sadness, trauma, longing, and wounds that are too deep to name—can you believe that it doesn’t compare to the glory to come? This isn’t a soft and fuzzy kind of hope. This is hard-earned, a hope born out of pain, doubt, and humility, and rooted in the God who conquered death.

Almighty God, give me a hope greater than all my sufferings. AMEN.


An Inescapable Invitation

FRIDAY, August 4
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

For years when I preached on this parable, I said that we are the soil, but I only focused on the last three types. But I missed something. Today I notice the first soil and I am bothered. Can the soil help it if it has been beaten down by the heavy steps of men and women? Should we be surprised that this hardened and compacted soil can’t easily accept the seed that was sown upon it? Could it have stopped the birds from eating the seed? 

Could it be that some people have been so beaten down by this world that the gospel we offer them will never sink beneath the hardened surface of their hearts? Maybe even people so beaten down by the church? I think this parable points us to the mystery of God’s work in this world. It calls us to compassion and mercy, regardless of the yield. 

God of goodness and mercy, thank you that you hold the keys to salvation and I don’t. AMEN.

An Inescapable Celebration 

SATURDAY, August 5
Isaiah 55:10-13

I studied physics, so I have a decent scientific understanding of how the world works. That means I read the metaphors in this passage as, well, metaphors. They indicate universal joviality and that’s it, right? Maybe. When Jesus said that if the crowd didn’t celebrate his triumphal entry into Jerusalem the stones would, was he being metaphorical as well?
maybe just hyperbolic? 

What if he really meant it?

Does nature celebrate the presence of God the way children celebrate a parent coming home? Is Ezekiel’s wild and wonderful vision of God simply a cacophony of nature reveling in the presence of her maker? Is it possible that this world is far more alive than our modern prejudices allow? These are not questions that science can answer. We must look beyond science to our theology and metaphysics. Perhaps the ancient writers of the Bible saw some truth about the world that we are blind to. 

God, open my eyes to see your presence all around me. AMEN.




  • Tyler Johnson

    I am a jack of all trades and a master of one—traditional tae kwon do. I was once an engineer at NASA and then I was a pastor for a while. I currently reside in Kansas with my family and a lizard. I grew up in and am ordained in the Covenant Church, and I currently work for a concrete manufacturer. My wife is awesome. My kids are crazy, and we enjoy adventures in nature. I love to read, especially C.S. Lewis, and I am writing a book exploring the connection between God and light and what it tells us about the world we live in. It’s full of theology, metaphysics, and math, so it is sure to be a bestseller.

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