I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon.
My doctor is a man.
My dentist is a man.
My hairdresser is a man.
Do you see what I see?
Professionally, I seem to trust men more than women! In our early days in Australia, I found it hard to find a hairdresser who cut my hair the way I liked. So voila! Enter Franko my gentle, Italian Barber. My family sought and found the perfect (Greek) doctor when we arrived and we’ve stuck with him. He’s excellent at what he does and also a caring Christian man. I used to be petrified in the dentist’s chair—but my expert Australian dentist made me feel safe, providing not only outstanding dental care but also treating me with kindness and respect. So in the last 18 years, I have been blissfully content with the services of all three.
A few weeks ago, intent on having my hair just right for our impending trip to Sri Lanka, I called to make an appointment. Alas, my 76 year old barber was sick and not at work. The next week it happened again … time was running out. Surfing the Internet and checking reviews, I was led to a salon not far from home. I was delighted to find that not only did I receive a chic haircut, the charming young lady who snipped my tresses made it a pleasant experience for me—chattering nineteen to the dozen and endearing herself to me.
Next, it was time to get myself a set of sparkling new teeth. Unfortunately, my dentist was away and unavailable before I left for Sri Lanka. How disappointing … but the receptionist added “Would you consider having someone else clean your teeth, just this once?” Why not? I booked in with the new young dentist at the practice. She cleaned my teeth beautifully so I can now zoom off to Sri Lanka with a cleaner, brighter, whiter smile.
Believe it or not, my doctor has also been away so I had to look for another professional to approve my fortnightly B12 injections. The person available was … yes, you guessed right – a woman. She was a good doctor and did the needful. And so it was, that in the last couple of weeks, I’ve changed habits of 18 years and have visited women professionals instead of men—all three of them. I’m pleased to report that I have enjoyed the experience.
Perhaps a new day is dawning?
I love new seasons don’t you? I’ve enjoyed the four seasons in Australia, (compared to only 2 in Sri Lanka) each with their own magical enchantment. I love Mondays—the start of the working week, pregnant with possibilities. Today is that not only the beginning of a week, it’s also the beginning of a new month. 38 years ago, when I had the thrill of leading a new friend to become a disciple of Jesus, she and I dubbed May as the Month of Miracles!
The month of May for me is also associated with a promise. Exactly 20 years ago, in May 1997, my little family prepared to step out on a Grand Adventure—packing our bags and leaving for foreign shores, first to Malaysia and next to this beautiful Land Down Under. God gave me a promise then. He went on to keep that promise time after time after time these 20 years. Life has often tossed numerous unpleasant surprises at us over the years, but what’s been far bigger and brighter is God’s faithfulness.
In a few days we zoom off to Sri Lanka, to catch up with my family—the Magnificent Seven and our Magnificent Spouses. It’s the first time all fourteen of us will spend a few weeks together in the one place, so excitement rises like the joyous boom of the surf as the tide comes in. One thing (among many) that our parents did right was making all 7 of us (and later all 14) close friends which is why our reunion is so special. My extended clan was intent on celebrating the 60th birthday of the youngest. Me! Little Old Me! (What? 60? When did THAT happen?)
So … Hooray! It’s a brand new season and I am very excited.
It is true that we have faced an abundance of challenges since we left Sri Lanka. But the love of God has been my resting place these last 20 years and He has walked with me everywhere, up the glorious mountain peaks and especially down the deep dark valleys, where His light has shone on my darkness. Best of all, through times of difficulty and pain, Jesus became Hiding Place, my Treasure, my All in all. I could not ask for more.
How are YOU today? Are circumstances obstructing your path or stealing your peace and joy? May you look up into the face of God in Jesus and snuggle under His wings. He loves you. He loves you. HE LOVES YOU. More than you can ever imagine. A New Season beckons. Let’s follow Him where He leads us. The promise He gave me 20 years ago is for you too.
You can count on it!
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged.” Deut. 31:8
A few months ago, I was out walking one evening when flashing lights appeared in my peripheral vision. Were they shooting stars whizzing across the right side of my face? I soon realised that my vision was impaired. A trip to the Optometrist next day confirmed my suspicions. My rambunctious (and also aging) right eye was having what’s called VPD or Vitreous Posterior Detachment! It was time to visit an eye specialist.
I was asked not to drive after my eye appointment because the consultant would put drops into my eye, making it unsafe to drive. Our weekly grocery delivery was due between 8 and 11 a.m. on the day of my doctor's appointment. I was sure I had ample time to catch my 11.30 a.m. bus. Alas … my usually prompt delivery chose the one day it HAD to be punctual, to play games with me! Several calls to the Supermarket and numerous exclamations later, I hurriedly opened the front door to the delivery guy, shoved most (yes, I missed the fish and Ice cream!) of the cold items into the fridge and freezer, then ran all the way to the bus stand.
That morning turned into a comedy of errors. As I reached the main road, a bus rumbled past. Oh no! Had I missed it? My beloved assured me that my bus was still on its way (thank you God for caring husbands and modern technology) and it did turn up. What a relief! I’d waited three whole months for my appointment, so another 3 months would have been a little too much! As we approached my bus halt, I got up from my seat and rang the bell. Imagine my surprise when the bus didn’t stop—it went all the way to the main halt instead. I had to clamber back onto the main road and walk a fair distance to reach my destination.
Despite my adventures of the morning, I was still considerably early for my appointment with about 30 minutes to spare. I’d planned to sit in the waiting room, chatting to my Papa God, with my prayer diary in hand and praise music in my ears. But my misadventures for the day were not over yet. The first inkling of a problem reared its head when the nurse asked me for my referral letter. Referral? What referral? (When I got home, I found a letter dated 3 months earlier, reposing serenely in my medical folder!) The receptionist was young, uncertain and inexperienced but rose to the occasion and phoned my optometrist. He was away so his referral would arrive a day too late. Sigh! She next called my GP and very thankfully he obliged. Soon it was faxed to the specialist rooms. It took all of 30 minutes for that fiasco! And … there was one more delay. The drops the receptionist had put into my eyes hadn’t worked so I had to go back to the waiting room, to wait a further 15 minutes for the drops to work. It was turning out to be an interesting day.
After my crazy morning … what else could go wrong? Nothing! Nothing at all. The moment I walked into the surgeon’s room, my day turned on its head. The eye specialist was a dapper small man—not wildly attractive in physical terms, but oh how he blessed me. He was friendly, professional, kind, polite and respectful. At the end of an instructive and helpful visit, he wished me all the best for my writing. When I thanked him for his care he said ‘Pleasure’ sounding as if he meant it. I came away from the appointment, a fountain filled and overflowing. For one thing, the doctor confirmed that all was OK with my eye. And that, after all, was my main concern—everything else was secondary and of little account.
As I walked back to the Plaza to do some shopping afterwards (bleary-eyed but very happy), I asked God to forgive me. He had sent me a teensy test that day but sad to say, I’d failed—miserably. I had been short and impatient with the supermarket over their delivery being late. I was irritated that things didn’t go my way. I didn’t trust God with any of what occurred. My attitude sucked. No, I wasn’t proud of myself. When I walked around the Plaza later, I could finally zoom outside of my petty little world. I thanked God for a happy outcome, grateful too for the kind caring doctor—what a difference he made!
The events of my day was a wake-up call to …
always choose joy.
Choosing joy doesn’t negate circumstances. Choosing joy doesn’t mean I don’t mourn my losses. Choosing joy doesn’t mean I do not suffer. Choosing joy simply means that I decide to trust God despite life’s circumstances. That I do not give into my own self-centredness. That I am forgiving and kind with others’ foibles. That I see the big picture. That I don’t let the mundane stuff of life get to me. That God is glorified through my life.
We have just been through the most significant weekend in the Christian Calendar. On Good Friday, darkness descended into our world. It seemed like the light was permanently snuffed out. But the Christian story reverberates with joy. Grieving may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. Satan may have plans to disrupt our world but we know He’s already been defeated. I don’t know what you are going through today. Perhaps there is sadness or grief, a sense of loneliness of emptiness? Perhaps life hurts too much? Choosing joy is not always easy to do. But for us followers of Jesus, if we refuse to choose joy, it’s like reading a story (we know has a grand ending) stopping every few pages to cry buckets of tears at the twists in the tale we encounter, forgetting to enjoy it’s narrative or to trust its Gifted Author!
Why choose joy? Because most of what bothers us is temporary. Because often tomorrow is a brighter day. Because seasons change but God’s love never does. Because one might as well be joyful rather than miserable. Because Jesus our Author is also the Author of JOY!
And don’t forget … He has promised to use all our circumstances for our good.
God’s grand story has the best ending possible.
Are you up to it? Let’s choose JOY!
"Be Joyful Always." 1 Thess 5:16
I zoomed off the other day on a trip to the city. I reached my favourite bookshop and wandered from aisle to aisle checking books and buying gifts. The next hour disappeared in the blink of an eye. I had a cash gift to spend and a few ideas of books I could buy. God however had other ideas. I don’t usually buy devotionals—I prefer to have a longer time of Bible study with the Lord. That day though, before I began to browse the shelves, my eye caught Sarah Young’s devotional ‘Jesus Always’ and I had to have a peek.
Her life-giving words seeped into my heart, filling it with heavenly fire and holy longing. The cover declared ‘Embracing JOY in His presence’—I was hooked. 2017 is ‘My Year of Joy’, after all, so here it was—God’s gift to me to understand what that really meant. (Thank you God.) Another book sang out to me as I passed its shelf and I had to obey its summons -“Imagine Heaven’ by John Burke. The author shares near death experiences (NDE’s), and is passionate about LIFE after life. He assures his readers that his research with people who’ve experienced a trip beyond death reveals that the Bible’s accounts of heaven are accurate.
I have always been a lover of life but in the last year or two there has been a change within. My long hard battle with fibro fatigue and pain has quelled some of my passion for life so my gaze has shifted heaven-wards. For awhile, I wondered if it was a good thing. Further reflection revealed that it was not just a good thing but perhaps a God thing. True, life’s a precious gift from God and meant to be savoured and lived fully. But eternity is where we are headed, so preparing for LIFE beyond the grave is surely important.
I‘ve been dipping into books that talk of heaven. Two books which blessed me recently were ‘Glimpses of Heaven’ and ‘Further glimpses of heaven’ by Trudy Harris, RN. She shares how as a hospice nurse working in palliative care, she gave emotional, spiritual and practical support to countless dying people, young and old, during their last months, weeks and days on earth. God’s love and reality as they reached the end of life's journey was very real and very precious. ‘Josiah’s Fire’ by Tahni Cullen and Cheryl Ricker has drawn me closer to God through an amazing young boy’s remarkable insights into God’s heart and the reality of heaven.
You might agree with me that what’s important in heaven’s perspective is often very different to what seems to matters on earth. Perhaps the problem is that we human beings are often good at assigning value on things that don’t have lasting significance. The acquisition of wealth, building reputations rather than character, being super-busy, having a plethora of superficial connections while nursing fractured relationships with those closest to us… these are some of modern world’s foibles. So ... what’s life’s purpose? And what does a good life look like?
I pray that I will never be too heavenly minded for any earthly use! But my focus on LIFE after life should help me live better on earth, don’t you think? The world is an interesting place, with things to do and people to love. According to the author of Imagine Heaven two questions God asks us at the end of our lives are: "What did you do with your life?" and "How well have you loved others?"
When we consider Jesus' two main commandments, the second question is not at all surprising of course. And yet … how many of us live with love as our highest goal—not the gooey feeling of romantic love, but love as in wanting the best for others, often at cost to oneself. Today April 3rd is my beloved Mama’s (92nd) birthday. As I thank God for her life, I remember with joy that Mama found time to do the important things. She and my Dad spent their lives loving others. She always had time for the 36 members of her clan—her beloved Earle, her children and their life-partners, her grandchildren and their life partners and her great grandchildren. And that wasn’t all—a vast number of others too. Until the end of her life at age 89, Mama reached out in love and made time for people.
And so today I thank God for my beloved Mama as she celebrates her birthday in heaven. Following her example, I too desire to spend time doing important things, throwing out those that are inconsequential to life in eternity. Here are a few questions to ponder on today:
What’s Most Important?
1. Do I spend too much time on trivial pursuits? Aren’t there better ways to use my time?
2. Buying so much stuff! Can I take it all with me when I die?
3. How well do I care for those closest to me? How well do I reach out to my world?
4. Am I busy constructing my reputation? Shouldn’t I instead build character?
5. What am I called to? Impressing others or being faithful to His call?
6. To be right? Or to be kind? Which would please God more?
7. Should I build my career? Or use my gifts to care for God’s world?
8. Bitterness or Forgiveness? Which will I choose?
9. Working on projects with no lasting value? Or investing in a deep friendship with God?
10. Ticking all the items on my To-do-list or stopping to help someone in need?
11. Serving my own agenda? Or serving Him who has called me?
12. The world’s yardstick of success? Or pleasing the Father’s Heart?
Life is short and needs to be grasped with both hands.
And … Eternity lasts forever.
How are you spending your time today? What do you consider most important?
“He has planted eternity in the human heart.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor 4:18
One day last year, I was listening to a new CD when one of the songs tiptoed into my heart and stayed there. It was a hymn by ‘George Matheson, ‘O Love that will not let me go”. I was deeply moved by it. George Matheson was only 20 when he went completely blind. His fiancé left him because she said she couldn’t face life with a blind man. What a cruel double blow it was, but he courageously went on to fulfil his calling.
Matheson lived with his sister. When she married 20 years later—it brought him to another big crisis. She had been his eyes. How could he manage without her? This defining moment led to his writing the hymn - in about five minutes. He says it was as if Someone dictated it. As I listened to the words, my tears flowed and I found myself sobbing—crying for the brave blind young man whose heart must have broken when his fiancé left him. For the middle aged pastor whose life reached crisis-point when his caregiver got married. And yet … Matheson’s life was a fruitful one as a pastor. He blessed countless people (myself included) through his ministry. My tears that day were also a work of the Holy Spirit as He spoke to me through the poignant words and music.
I’ve been reflecting on the mystery of healing from time to time, more so since my own battle with chronic illness has dragged on interminably. Why does God heal sometimes and not all the time? Didn't Jesus heal everyone who came to Him? So does the fault lie in us who are not healed? Is it a lack of faith as Christians often suggest? Jesus said He came to bring us abundant life. How does Cancer or Chronic fatigue or MS or Blindness or Quadriplegia provide life in all its fullness?
My journey as a believer has been greatly enriched by giants of the faith who have preceded us. Fanny Crosby was an American mission worker, poet, lyricist and composer who wrote over 9000 hymns. She was blind for most of her life. Was her life hampered by her blindness? Apparently not. Listen to what she wrote at the tender age of 8.
"Oh, what a happy child I am, although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be,
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't,
So weep or sigh because I'm blind, I cannot - nor I won't."
What a challenge for us who can see but who complain all too easily! Fanny Crosby lived a full life till the age of 95—hers was an inspiring testimony of what God can with a life totally yielded to Him.
Did she not have sufficient faith to receive healing?
Or did she radiate an abundant life in spite of her blindness?
Psalm 103 tells us that God heals all our diseases. What does it mean? If I’m not healed, it must be due to my sin? Or is it? The Bible instructs us to ask and receive—what happens when we ask but do not receive? The fault has to be mine. Or is it? If I know anything about this walk with God, it is that there is much that God does not reveal to us. After all, an essential ingredient of this faith journey is trust. If we had all the answers, would trust be needed? God doesn’t always remove all trials from us, does He? And what would our characters be like if God pampered us with easy, comfortable lives?
I’ve been blessed recently by an uplifting true story—‘The Untold Love Story of Joni and Ken Eareckson Tada. Joni has suffered more than most of us. She became a quadriplegic at the tender age of 17. After decades of living in a wheelchair, she went through a season of intolerable pain when she was tested more than she could bear. Then, as if she hadn’t suffered enough, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. How much could one person take? How unfair it seemed. And yet, Ken and Joni consider her cancer journey a gift from God. It had drawn them closer together and they found God’s love afresh through it. Their story inspires me.
But … questions remain. Perhaps your healing and mine are marked ‘Later’! Yes God desires wholeness for us. Yes, His death has won the battle. Yes, we can ask for healing and expect it. But in life's classroom, there's never enough space for short glib answers to be scribbled on God’s blackboard. We do know that God loves us. We do know that He is good and that He is always faithful. These three glorious truth can be our resting place as we struggle up the mountain of hope. We do know that often it’s in times of suffering that we can see His face more clearly (as we seek it) because tough times are usually treasures wrapped in ugly wrapping paper. We do know that we can ask boldly of a Father who loves to lavish good things upon us.
So how do we respond when life’s not the peaceful stroll in lush surroundings that we envisioned it to be? Like Joni and Ken Tada (and countless others) we can be a powerful witness to Him, as in our weakness, we choose to lean on Him, praise Him in the hallway and live a different kind of abundant life—one that brings glory to God in spite of our suffering.
Today if you feel discouraged, do keep holding onto Him. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have a Saviour who loves us. Satan’s plans are never permanent—God has a habit of using them to accomplish His own purposes. Jesus overturned the Enemy’s tables and transformed death into LIFE. One glad day He will surprise you. Your suffering will fade into insignificance as you marvel with joy how He worked it all out all for your eternal good.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"
2 Corinthians 12:9
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD,
'plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future'" Jeremiah 29:11
My son’s been using a stainless steel water bottle. He fills it each night, tucks it into his backpack and takes it with him to work. This sleek silver bottle is long and large and houses an ample supply of water—750 mls of it. It lasted a long time—but as it often happens, one day, it cracked. I soon bought him a replacement. The new bottle was identical to his previous one and Asela was very pleased. Unfortunately his new shiny acquistiion didn’t enjoy the same life span of its predecssor. The very next evening my son came to me, an apology etched across his face.
“I’m really sorry, Ammi, but my bottle broke today!”
“What? Already? But … it’s a brand new bottle, Asela!”
“I know. I really am sorry. I bent down to tie my shoelace and the bottle fell out of my bag. The lid broke. I can’t use it.”
I examined the bottle. Hmmm. It was just one of those unfortunate happenings. An accident. The bottle had no use, the way it was. “I know what I’ll do.” he said. “ I can fix the top of my old bottle onto my new one.” Voila! And so it was, that we fitted the old bottle top onto his brand new bottle. Did it work? Yes, it did. Perfectly.
Blaise Pascal was a French Mathematician, Physicist, Philosopher and Scientist who lived in the 17th century. Listen to what he said: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.” At the tender age of 16, I discovered that what Pascal said was true. I pondered then if life’s little round was all there was. Not that I lacked anything. I’d enjoyed a very happy childhood with parents who loved me dearly. Life was good. But … surely there was more?
What do you and I need to be complete? If I look inside my heart, I see a dark stain of sin within. And there is a space inside each of us which cries out to be filled. We need forgiveness. Hope. Renewal. We need a Saviour. The glad news is that a Saviour did come to show us the way back to God. His Name is Jesus. He lived a sinless life, but but He was put to death on a cross. On that rugged cross, sin was defeated once and for all time, and Jesus rose again to live forever. His death and resurrection cancelled the debt of all our sin.
What a gift - the undeserved goodness of God being lavished upon us. Jesus said ”I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. And here's a promise for all who come to Him in faith. John 1:12 tell us “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, to them gave he power to become children of God.”
Do you call yourself a child of God? If not, would you like to?
My son’s broken new bottle was almost complete ... but not quite. Without its top it could hold water. It even looked new and shiny but was ready to be thrown away. What a waste! Thankfully, the old bottle-top made it whole again. Is there something missing in your life? The Saviour of the World is waiting to connect with you. He longs to bring you into His Kingdom.
Will you step out in faith and reach out to Him today?
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Lately, our weather patterns have been a little different. South Australian summers are usually sunny and dry so the unexpected spattering of showers has been most welcome. The humidity was another matter—something I could have done without. I discovered that our wet clothes were not drying indoors as they would in the winter because the air was now soggy and damp. I thanked God for my dryer, transferred all the clammy clothes into it and set it whirring noisily.
Later, as I folded the dried clothes to put away, I discovered that (as usual) three socks had disappeared. I tracked down two of them quickly enough—they were still reposing inside the dryer. But where oh where was the third sock? I was sure its partner was lonely. One difficulty in having our dryer fixed above our washing machine is that it’s too high for me to reach into all sections of the dryer. I made a mental note to ask my husband to check the its large belly one more time.
Some hours later, I went into the laundry to fetch something, when my eye spied a blob of grey contrasting against the cream coloured heater. Oh, it was the sock. Hooray! That little fella was staying quietly on our stashed away heater, waiting patiently to be found. I connected it with its partner and placed them in my husband’s sock drawer. Mission accomplished.
Do I wait patiently? Not always. Not often. Not when I should. Patience has never been one of my strong points and has been very difficult to acquire. Now, after almost 60 years of life, I may be finally getting there. Perhaps that’s why God has given me many opportunities throughout my life of growing in the area of patience, because I was so slow to attain it.
I’m still waiting on a number of blessings. 12 years of chronic illness has made me more than aware that good health is something to be prized. So I continue to wait and hope for better health even as I take some positive steps towards achieving it. I’d love to publish a few more books—and am working towards that end too, after striving for many years without success. There are prayers for loved ones on my heart each day. There are prayers I’ve prayed for more than 25 years. When will God answer?
We all have our lists of hopes and dreams don’t we? As I look back on my recent past, I rejoice as I’ve reflect on how God has rewarded some of my waiting seasons. Many of His answers have far exceeded my expectations—blessings that fell into my open palms as I looked up to heaven, like large welcome drops of rain falling thick and fast on a dry and thirsty land. Blessings I did not deserve. Blessings that were like an extra gift on my birthday—unexpected and better than any I could have asked for.
Are you waiting for a special miracle? Don’t give up. God’s waiting room is a unique place where we learn many intricate lessons and where our characters are refined. I studied the life of King David last year. It was a surprise to realise that after he was anointed King, David had to wait for 15 challenging years to reach that status. One commentary says that it’s because often God tests us before He fulfils His promises to us. I think too that during those harsh waiting seasons, He also changes us to become whom we were created to be.
Let’s wait before Him with trust, hope and love shining in our eyes.
And let’s never forget—our God is a faithful God. Always!
“Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
The justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before Him.”
It was a bad fibro day. I couldn’t muster up enough energy for my evening walk. Again. Sigh! It was happening too often these days. In days of yore, I’d go walking 7 days a week. These days it’s often an achievement if I am able to walk one day a week.
Oh well … the good news was that although I felt weak, I had sufficient strength to potter around the garden. So I pulled out my garden shears and tackled a job I’d been putting off for months—pruning the overgrown creepers that hung down from the large grey rocks in our backyard. They crept along the ground in a number areas like wandering puppies sniffing a trail for crumbs. It felt good to cut off all those creeping (but not creepy) creepers. I fetched a bin to collect all the trimmings and then trundled off to empty my container.
After I tipped the clippings into our green bin, I opened the little side-gate to return to our back garden. I thought I’d keep it open because I knew I’d need to do a few more trips back and forth. On my way to dump the next lot of cut foliage into our green bin, I turned to walk along the side of our home when it happened. I stopped. I stared. I stared some more. Wow!
Beyond the gate, a shaft of dappled sunlight fell on dark green foliage lighting it and enhancing its beauty. A laughing tree danced to the breezes’ music. My heart quickened. It was the first time I’d walked that way with the gate open. So the sight and view was new. Enchanting. It now looked a different place altogether. How surprising it was that such a wee change could make such a huge difference. And how attractive the view as I stood there drinking it in.
I praised God then that His door is always open to us. Nothing mars the way. Jesus called Himself by seven unique names, and each one gave us a fresh glimpse of Him! The Light of the World. (John 8:12) The Bread of Life. (John 6:35) The Way, the Truth, the Life. (John 14:6) The Good Shepherd. (John 10:11) The Resurrection and the Life. (John 10:25-26) The Vine (John 15:5)
And the seventh?
“I am the Gate,” Jesus said. “Whoever enters through me will be saved.
He will come in and go out and find pasture”. (John 10:9)
Yes, we have free access to our Father through Jesus. Through Him, the sin that separated us from our Father in heaven was hurled far from us as the Gate swung wide open. So like a child skipping with glad excitement to her father’s room to be swooped onto her Daddy’s lap, you and I too can now run in boldly—to commune in intimacy with the Creator of the Universe.
Are you in need today? Seeking refuge? Or answers to life's conundrums? Are you desperate to quench your spiritual thirst? Why not approach our Father God in prayer. Nothing is too hard for Him. His door is wide open. Perhaps today is the day to experience the grace and the freedom God promises all who call on Him?
Will you come?
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honour me.” Psalm 50:15
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
In December 2016, a number of my extended family converged in Sydney. We arrived from America, England, Sri Lanka, Whyalla, Darwin, the Blue Mountains, Canberra and Adelaide. There were nineteen of us in total. My amazing brother Rohan and his equally amazing wife Swen showered us with warm hospitality in their beautiful home, ensuring we were pampered and well fed, gifting us with a time to remember. What a special Christmas day—filling 3 pews at church with 3 generations from 4 continents. We revelled in times of family togetherness, picnics, dinners, chatter, laughter, games and fun and the days flew by in a happy blur. We returned to Adelaide after Christmas with full hearts and joyful spirits.
And then, as the New Year dawned, we had the pleasure of having my big sis Ranmali, her husband and their younger son visit us. What joy! Adelaide gave them an especially warm welcome in 40 degree heat! Aaaarrrgh! Thankfully the heat quickly waned, allowing us the freedom to roam further afield, basking in the beauty around us. We filled many picnic baskets and enjoyed numerous meals under the blue South Australian skies. Once again, we were deeply blessed, packing our kaleidoscope of memories with more colour and beauty.
Last Friday, after that precious, long, busy busy month, I finally had time to quieten my soul. I’ve been looking for songs which brought me into God’s Presence, but finding the right music wasn’t easy. What a gift it was then, that when my sister and I visited my favourite book shop, I found just what my heart longed for. “Meditative Worship“ stated the cover and I knew my search had ended. A few days ago, I sat still as quiet worship songs ushered me into His Presence and I communed with my Creator, the Giver of all good things. Like a refreshing dip in a cool forest pool on a hot summer’s day, He renewed and transformed me from the inside out.
A verse quoted in a book I’m studying in my Quiet Time, (‘Satisfy my Thirsty Soul’ by Linda Dillow). grabbed me and spoke powerfully to me.
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4
What one thing would I choose this year as my main focus?
I enjoy spending time in a group of like-minded individuals—be it a large family gathering, an invigorating Christian Conference or a companionable evening with friends. I also revel in deep meaningful one on one conversations. Groups are great. Individuals matter. But the truth is that while good times with family and friends do satisfy me, other human beings (like me) are human. They (like me) have their limitations. They (like me) are not designed to be all things to all people. If ever I’ve contrived to fill the empty spaces in my life with others, God has gently emptied my hands in order to show me Whom I really need.
In his book “Renovation of the Heart” Dallas Willard writes: “The secret of all life-giving relationships with others lies in the fact that the primary other for us, whether we want it or not, is always God.” Willard expresses it so well. Jesus alone is sufficient to meet my deepest needs. He alone is able to be there for me all day, every day, for all of my lifetime. God alone knows the future and can guide me in the right path. And so … the best way to cultivate a meaningful relationship with anyone else is by first pursuing an intimate walk with God.
He is the blazing Sun around which we all must travel.
As I look ahead to 2017, I will decide to live with intention, joy and purpose. I will set myself goals to reach. I will plan on deepening my relationships. I will reach out to care for others. But FIRST ... I will seek God. I will spend time in His Presence. I will set aside the choicest portion of my day to gaze upon His beauty and to worship Him.
I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."
Psalm 27:4 - 5; 13 - 14
Will you join me?
I rushed to catch the 9.59 bus from the village but reached there a little too late. Oh well, the fault was mine. There was nothing to do but to wait for the next bus. I caught one going halfway to my destination and then, surprise surprise … hopped onto the very bus I had missed earlier. “All was well then?” you ask. No … not quite. You see, the bus that trundled off from the Village was empty. The same bus that left the Plaza was packed as tightly as a lady's handbag. It seemed as if every man, woman and child in the Adelaide’s Northern suburbs was intent on catching my bus that day. I had to stand all the way, not something I’d ever done on a trip to the city.
It was a bad fibro day and my body screamed in protest; weakness sighed in my bones. It was not the peaceful, ride I’d envisaged. So there I stood, swaying a little, clutching two poles tight, not sure if I’d survive the journey. But then … I looked out of the window and everything changed in an instant, like a candle lit by a single match. My heart was set alight by the beauty of the spring day and my view expanded. I saw gurgling rivulets bubbling on their way. Trees danced to nature’s music. Dappled sunlight fell through the trees and birds swooped from tree to tree. A moment of truth. In spite of intense physical discomfort, I was glad I was standing so I could drink deep of that thirst-quenching view.
My view of God has often been acquired through discomfort and pain rather than through sunshine and blue skies. Tough times, sickness, brokenness and tears have helped me experience and know His compassion and love, His kindness and beauty, His blessings and goodness in a way that the good times did not. Like a sad child quieted in her Daddy’s arms, I’ve been comforted at my Daddy God’s breast, over and over again.
It is true that we often wander around in the dark when tough times arrive, bewlidered as to where God is when we are hurting. But like a parent desires that his child to mature and reaches his full potential, God permits adversity in my life and grows me through each circumstance, if I but let Him. His promise has been that He would be with me through every storm. When difficult seasons have arrived, attempting to pull me down to a deep dark hole, His love has swooped down to lift me up like an Eagle carrying her baby to safety. And my view and knowledge of my Father has grown rapidly as I have glimpsed His heart of compassion, love and goodness.
Today, as I pen my first blog for a New Year, it’s the right time to reflect on God, my journey and His ways. If I had a choice between a life of ease but with no knowledge of God or a life of pain and suffering but one which woos me into a closer walk with Him, which would I choose? Life’s pathways are often filled with immense pain, dashed hopes and sun-less corridors. But the truth is that all things do work together for the good for those who love God. He will one day weave our life's threads into a beautiful masterpiece. It is only then that we will understand all that perplexes us now.
And so, at the dawning of 2017 may your view of God expand as He leads you into a brighter tomorrow. May His joy abound in your life. May His Presence be your resting place. May He lavish His grace upon you as He goes before you. He who promised us is always faithful!
May our view of our Good Good Father be enlarged. And when we gaze into His beloved eyes, may our sorrows slip off our shoulders like a cloak, as we thrill to His Presence and His Glory.
"You will show me the path of life;
in your presence is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forever more." Psalm 16:11
May 2017 be your best year yet!
A verse from a favourite Psalm grabbed me recently.
“He fulfills the desires of those who fear him.” Psalm 145:19.
But … what does it really mean? He’s fulfilled some of my desires, yes, but not all of them. My unanswered prayer list is long. And when I gaze at the suffering in the world today, the verse doesn’t always seem to match reality.
As I’ve pondered on its truth, I’ve made a few glad discoveries. Last year, while on holiday, we visited an enchanting lookout that afforded a brilliant view. Tall trees stood serene and still; green pastures stretched before us and the air tingled with the freshness of spring. I was awestruck. As we tucked happily into our picnic lunch, I wished I could spend all day enjoying its charm. It was my “Perfect Picnic Spot of All Time”.
Some months later, back home, I had to return home from a walk one day because I couldn’t cope with the heat. On my way back God reminded me of a path I’d traversed before. In fact, the track started right across the road from our home. The warmth of the sun’s rays didn’t bother me this time, because it was a was a tree-lined pathway, offering me ample shade. I frolicked down the slope and then up into a secluded spot. I stopped in my tracks and gazed in wonder. Wow! What a stunning discovery—almost as good as my perfect picnic spot. How could I have forgotten its existence?
It was God’s gift to me and came in time for my month long writer’s “retreat” seeking God’s heart on my calling. And so during the month of May this year, I’d often disappear down my new-found walking areas breathing deeply of the fresh air and delighting in God and His world. How He blessed me through it! I couldn’t get away to a retreat as my heart clamoured for—so in its place God had brought to me my own private retreat, one I could reach in minutes. What a loving Father!
He satisfies my desires.
Last year I found myself asking God to bring a new friend into my life. It was a strange and unusual request because I do have plenty of friends. The problem though is that most of my kindred spirit friends live in other cities and far flung countries, so I can’t have a cuppa and chat with them whenever I’d like. I wrote down this special request in my prayer diary and prayed over it often.
A few months ago, as I chatted to friends after church, I spotted a lady I’d not met before. Melissa and I connected right away. We talked … and we talked. Perhaps for an hour! God nudged me to gift her a copy of my book. And all the while I heard God whisper in my heart ‘Here’s the friend you asked for’. Just like that. Now, five months later I’m enjoying refreshing prayer times with my beautiful new friend. I’m loving ‘doing life’ with her. What an amazing blessing. What a gracious Father He is!
He satisfies my desires.
What then, are my deepest desires in life? Joy. Contentment. Peace. Wholeness. All of which is I’ve found in Jesus. Because of course, like a new born baby’s deepest need is to be connected to her mother, our deepest need is to connect with our Creator. The problem is that we often don’t know it and we look for fulfillment in all the wrong places.
God’s answers are often different to what we envisage. I ask God for joy and He throws me into deep water, making me cry out to Him—a desperate drowning woman gasping for air. And then … I find Him in all His fullness and in Him is the gift of JOY. I ask Him for hope and He points me to the cross. I ask Him for love and He strips the idols from my heart so I can discover the One Source of True Love.
May God warm your heart with His Presence today. And as you look ahead to a New Year, trusting the Giver of all good things, may He fulfill your deepest desires.
He satisfies your desires.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits …
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1,5