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His Door is Always Open

02/02/2017 15:12
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

 
 

 

ONE THING

14/01/2017 13:01

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.
 

 

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. 

 

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?

 
 
 

A Better View

31/12/2016 13:19
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!

 
 
 

He will Satisfy Your Desires

09/12/2016 18:17
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

 
 

Your Perfect Shape

28/11/2016 17:46
A few times a week I have an egg for breakfast. First I poach it in the microwave. Next I mash it well. Then I mix in some salt and pepper. Finally I add bits of cheddar cheese to complete the delicious paste. Now, I’m ready to eat it. I spread the mixture on my rice cakes and enjoy every mouthful. Delicious. I've learnt a different way of saying grace during breakfast. Grace is before a meal, right? Not my newest kind of grace though. I thank God while I'm  munching away with relish. “THANK YOU God” I say to Him at the end of my meal. Constant thanksgiving creates sweet fellowship.
 
One day not long ago, one of my kitchen bowls broke into two as I was washing it. I found a replacement in the shops, but then …I had a strong impulse to buy a second bowl. A smaller one with a flat middle. I had no idea why I needed it, but the compulsion to buy it was very strong. Back home next day, I decided to try mashing my egg in my new flat bowl. To my satisfaction, I discovered that the process was much easier in the new bowl than in my former round-bottomed dish. It's obvious now that a fork can work far better on a flat surface, rather than a round one. 
 
Why then had I always mashed food in round containers? As I mash my egg these days I marvel at my lack of common sense for the 30 years. Shape matters, doesn’t it? And … if you don’t mind my asking, here’s a question for you.
 
What is your shape? And are you happy with it?
 
We human beings are a strange lot. Usually we hanker after things we don’t have. I've heard women with wavy hair say they wanted straight hair and those with straight hair long to have wavy locks. I've had thin people tell me they want to put on weight and well-filled people lament their size. I've done a lot of weeping and wailing over my own proportions of recent years—my ill health has caused my exercise to lessen dramatically with an equally dramatic packing on of kilos. Aaarrggh!
The truth is that God loves us just the way we are. Yes, we need to work on whatever needs to be changed. I need to keep plugging away at my health so I can get leaner and stronger. But if I think I am not good enough the way I am, I need to think again. God loves me just the way I am. Fat, thin, tall, short, dimpled, pimpled, plump, cute, not so cute, funny, bald, skinny, big, gigantic, itsy bitsy, drooping, long legged, short legged, muscled … God loves me, full stop. Not when I get leaner or when I put on some muscle. Nothing I can do can make Him love me more than He does right now. His love is unconditional. And will last forever.
 
Don’t forget that chubby arms create comforting hugs. Don’t forget that lean arms are often wiry and energetic. Don’t forget that true beauty is what’s inside and will spill out like a squeezed ripe mango dripping delicious juice. Don’t forget that it was God Himself who made you, unique, special and dearly loved. Don’t forget that if you are doing our best to live well under God’s direction, it's enough.
And more importantly, what’s the shape of your heart? Is it always open to allow God’s love to keep flowing in? Does its valve work perfectly so that His compassion can flow out of you to a hurting world? Take a long hard look at yourself today. Smile at that beautiful or handsome face in the mirror. Accept that youthful or aging body. Know with joy that it’s a container for the LIVING GOD. We are each the perfect shape for the Holy Spirit. After all, He made us. And God knows what He’s doing.
 

Go on ... be YOU!

You’re the perfect shape for God’s dwelling place.

 
 
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power
 is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

“So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, 

continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him 

strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and 

overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6

 
 
 

Enjoying the Journey

17/11/2016 18:24
Music and writing have been two major passions in my life. In the first half of my life I sang my way through every season. In the next half of my life however, it hasn’t been quite so obvious. But let me assure you … I'm still singing. As I've travelled on life's highway, the beauty of God’s Creation and His rich gift of music have helped me experience, know and connect deeply with God. 
How grateful I am!
 
My blog today is a bit different. In fact, it's not even a blog. Instead I bring you music. I composed  this song six years ago to sing at the launch of my first book. It describes my life’s journey. God's been calling me to a new season of song, so perhaps this unusual blogpost might be the first of many. I hope you enjoy it (and as you scroll down, do make sure your speakers are on!)
 
Enjoying the Journey
1. Standing at the Station called Life,
The train came by and I got on.
It’s a long and winding journey, sometimes great; but so often not,
Problems, heartache, disappointment,
Sickness, Sadness, Failures, Troubles,
Is that all we’ve got? //
2. Riding on a Train called Life,
On a rail-road that stretches far ahead,
It’s a long and winding journey, but I met a special Guide.
He provided Strength and Courage,
Love and Goodness, Truth and Beauty,
Jesus is my Guide. //
So Thank you Lord, I’m enjoying the journey,
You’ve planned it all; You’ve provided all I need.
It’s one I can enjoy, all the way,
Not just when life is grand, but e’en through the darkest day.
Your love has saved me; Your grace has changed me,
And the One who knows the way, is leading me.
Your love has healed me, Your Grace has freed me,
And the One who knows the way, He's leading me.
3. I’ve found a map, it's God’s sure Word,
The Word’s a lamp that lights my way.
My journey’s long and winding, but He’s worked it out for me.
There are fellow pilgrims on my journey,
Giving help and strength and comfort,
What a glorious way. //

So Thank you Lord, I’m enjoying the journey,

You’ve planned it all; You’ve provided all I need,

It’s one I can enjoy, all the way,

Not just when life is grand, but e’en through the darkest day.

Your love has saved me; Your grace has changed me,

And the One who knows the way, He's leading me.

Your love has healed me, Your grace has freed me,

And the One who knows the way, He's leading me.

Wishing you God's love and light on your Journey.

May He also bless you with His Joy, His Peace and most of all His Presence.

 
 
 

Surprised by GOD

03/11/2016 17:27
Over the last five years, I've had the pleasure of attending an Aussie Christian Writers’ Conference each October. At the first four events I was thrilled to be a presenter as well, which enabled me to afford the trip. This year (as in past years), I eagerly sent in an expression of interest for 10 possible workshops I could present at conference. I prayed diligently over them daily, asking that God’s choice be picked. I was so excited. But my bright balloon of hope was soon pricked and deflated, when I heard back from the conference committee. Surprise surprise!  I wasn’t chosen to present this year. Really? That meant I couldn’t attend the conference. Was I sad? Yes. I was. Very.
 
That was when I received my first surprise. I’d spent the month of May at a personal writing retreat (at home) seeking God on my calling. During one week, I enjoyed a daily Google chat with a lovely writer friend from the US. Robyn grieved with me that I had not been chosen but the next day, she shared an unexpected insight. She told me that God wanted me to know that I was going for conference. Oh? She was all choked up. Robyn added that there was a purpose to my going but she didn’t know what it was. “Thank you” I said. My damp grey cocoon of sadness was transformed into a dainty lttle butterfly of anticipation. 
What was God up to?
 
I awoke next morning to my next surprise. A precious Aussie writer friend emailed me to tell me that she and her husband wanted to gift me the money for the conference. I was blown away! Gob smacked, shocked, joyful, amazed, dancing. Wow! How could I accept it? But God had laid it on their hearts, so it didn’t seem right to refuse. I humbly said ‘Thank you”. The rejection I’d felt over not being accepted as a speaker gurgled down the drain-hole, thanks to my beautiful friend’s generous offer. How grateful I was!
A few weeks later came my third surprise. My brother in Sydney heard of my trip, and he bought me my plane ticket. Yes, it gets better and better doesn't it? Not only that, my brother and sis in law warmly welcomed me to to their lovely spacious home before conference (and afterwards too if I wanted). Of course I said ‘Thank you” once again. Two weeks ago, I boarded my plane for an action packed thrilling six day holiday in Sydney, kissing good bye to my beloved husband who dropped me off at the airport, plying me with plenty of spending money, bless him. What an exhilarating time it was! Rohan Ayya and Swen Acca pampered me from start to end, seeing to my every whim, not allowing me to lift a finger, driving me hither and thither, feeding me scrumptious meals as we relaxed together. I connected with a few close Sri Lankan friends too and their loving kindness was lavished over me. How blessed I was!
 
The conference was packed with gifted writers and speakers, helpful sessions to learn from, good food to digest, prayer times to relish, beautiful surrounds to enjoy, ministry opportunities to bless, fellowship that invigorated, new friendships and a whole lot more. But my final surprise, when it arrived could have knocked me over with hummingbird's feather.
Why had God taken me to conference?
  1. Was it to minister to others at conference, as I love to do?

Yes, but not the main reason.

  1. Was it so I could support my writer friends?

Yes, but not the main reason 

  1. Was it so I could finally get a few of my books published?  

Perhaps, but not the main reason.

  1. Was it to learn from all the brilliant writers and speakers?

Yes, but not the main reason.

  1. Was it so I would find inspiration for my writing life?

Yes, but not the main reason.

 
On the last day of conference, I spent a refreshing time with God in a restful chapel outdoors designed by Him under a canopy of trees. He led me to study Psalm 1—a passage that’s always been close to my heart. 

 

“Blessed is the man (or woman) whose delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

 
 
Of course. The Book of books. Thank you God for the reminder of which BOOK at conference was most important. It was then that God revealed to me why He had brought me there. In the blink of an eye I knew. Simple. He brought me there to meet with Him. I was amazed. And awed. He filled me with great joy as I shed copious tears in His Presence. The great God of the Universe desired to spend time with me. How was that possible? With me? Insignificant little me? Wow! Thank you Father.
 
Of course I knew He could do that anywhere, any time. But this was a special tryst! You see, I’d been longing for a retreat with Him all year. I’d had two so far, one in May and one in August, for my writing life and my life’s journey. But they had been different - in between carrying on with life’s trivial round. This then, was a unique gift from our Father. And what a gift it was. As I met with Him, He filled my cup and my joy overflowed. Jesus was enough for me. Jesus is enough for me. Always.
 
A bit later that Sunday morning, He confirmed it as I worshipped with the rest of the group in a stirring service of celebration. I sat with a writer friend from New Zealand, sharing a hand fan (because it was hot)! As Catherine and I praised Him together, we discovered God ministering afresh to our hearts. And for the first time during  communion, I felt I really understood what it was about. I wept quietly—joyful tears of course, orchestrated by the Holy Spirit as we worshipped our God in wonder and awe and delight. I returned from conference with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face, a river of God’s joy bubbling within. What a gift! 

Intimacy with Jesus. I couldn’t ask for more.

 
How are you doing today? Is there something missing in your life? 

Jesus knows you. He loves you. He wants to meet with you too. Come to Him. Just as you are.

Let's trust Him. Let's meet with Him. Let's remain with Him.

‘But blessed is the man (or woman) who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 16:7- 8

 

 

When Life Flings Things

14/10/2016 17:39
Recently, my husband enjoyed a week of holidays.  We spent three happy days away, sipping Nature’s rich spring wine. The morning after we got home, I made Shan’s cup of coffee and went looking for him. He was seated at his computer. Unfortunately the coffee didn’t quite make it. I tripped over a loose wire and the mug, hot coffee and I went spinning in the air. I landed with an ungainly thud, banging my knee and bruising it, while my tender feet took a beating. The coffee was splattered all over our light carpet and Shan’s special mug rolled away, miraculously intact. My good man's eyebrows shot up in surprise at this unusual display of wifely affection.
 
My beloved came up trumps. Really. Amazing man. (No wonder I married him!) I lay there for many long minutes, groaning and moaning in pain. Shan empathised with me paying no attention to the fact that he’d been splattered with sticky hot coffee himself. He gave me a hand up when I was ready. He briskly attended to the coffee stains on the carpet and fixed himself another drink. I give him 100 out of 100 for his response to me that day. What a man! Later, I said in jest that I’d come near his desk, said ‘Here’s your coffee’ and flung it at him! We both had a hearty laugh together over it.
Have you flung anything at anyone lately? What was their response? Life has an uncomfortable habit of throwing sticky things at us doesn’t it? Few of us go through life unscathed. Talk of sad surprises and they rain down on us thick and fast, especially when we least expect it. I remember a season I once went through when I l was bereft of many treasures close to my heart, all within a short space of 10 months. And then, three people close to me passed away with little warning. To complete my grief filled season with flourish, my fibro battle raged extra fiercely. ‘What next, Lord?’ I asked.
 
The years have taught me the best rejoinder to such times. Sitting at Jesus’ feet, shedding tears in His Presence and reading His word brought me healing then as He'd done many times before. He soothed me, refreshed me and led me to a spacious place where I am in today. So my period of loss gave way to a season of much gain and blessing. And you know, I've discovered over the years that when something bad happens, the why question doesn’t take me anywhere productive. God does not promise to explain why He allows bad stuff to happen to us. He does assure us though, that He would be with us through those times. So ‘What now, Lord?” is a better question to ask because that question always has an answer.
It would be great if we discovered God’s grace through a life of ease, wouldn’t it? But if my walk with God has taught me anything, it’s that jewels sparkle in the mud and slime which life flings at us. The one sure way of drawing closer to God’s heart is to experience difficulty, loss, tears and pain. Nothing brings us closer to Him more than hardship and trouble. Take my word for it. I've been there, and I've found many sparkling gems.
 
I’m grateful to my beloved for showing me the how I should act when life flings things at me. There are many ways of reacting. I could shake my fist and try to get even. I could mope and sulk. I could whine and pine. Or like my amazing husband, I could respond with compassion and love. I could be quick to do whatever is needed with patience and a bright smile.
 
Has life flung something unpleasant at you lately? I pray that God would comfort you, take you by the hand and lead you into a bright new spacious place of His choosing. May His light shine on your darkness, His love warm you and His arms be around you today.

‘The righteous cry out and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18

 
 
 

Are You Hedged In?

29/09/2016 17:24
Recently, I made a trip to the city. I enjoy my O bahn rides at this time of year, with gurgling streams, verdant foliage and tall gum trees waving merrily at me as I pass by. My favourite bus seat is on a higher level to where we get in—I like watching the world from the elevated stance. That particular day, I drove to our local shopping centre and parked my car, then wandered over to the bus stand. Soon my bus arrived so I hopped in quickly, and selected my favourite seat.
 
I pulled out my Bible and mp3 player and settled down to a time of inspiring worship and praise. At first, all went well. People got in at each halt, but there was plenty of room, since it was an extra long vehicle. I kept one eye open in case it got crowded and I needed to move over and make room for another. Thankfully the bus was sparsely filled. I noticed a lady who walked passed me and found a seat further on. About 10 minutes later, however, she sprang back to where I was, pushed me hard and sat down. It was a surprise, especially since there were plenty of other empty seats in the bus. I moved as close to the window as possible, but she pressed hard against me.
I sighed. Not comfortable! Oh well, I shall have to make the most of it, I said to myself, vainly trying to feel at ease again. Many minutes later, I wasn’t making much progress. I felt like a squashed little koala in an elephant’s enclosure. No amount of wriggling or positive thinking helped. Worship and prayer was impossible, so I gathered my things, smiled at the lady, said ‘Excuse me please’, then vacated my place. I think she was thrilled to have the seat all to herself. 
 
Right at the last seat of the vehicle I discovered the perfect perch for me. It was uncrowded, with plenty of breathing space. With a sigh of relief, I settled myself down, put on my music and opened my prayer diary. The view from my new seat was better than before. I enjoyed the latter half of journey much more than the first half and I knew I was in a spacious place. (And by the way, on my return journey, I was able to sit in my favourite seat all the way home - a bonus gift from the Lord.)
There are moments in our lives when we are hedged in. I remember a time when life speeded out of control. I was hedged in, in an uncomfortable place, surrounded by those who didn’t have my best interests at heart. I do believe in sticking it out when times get rough. I do believe in loyalty and faithfulness. I do believe in persevering through difficulty. However, in this instance, it was clear what God required of me.
 
Now I look back with joy from the place of abundance that God led me into, at the time. I was a bird set free to fly in the open sky, delighting in God’s leading and gracious provision. There are seasons when God asks me to stay where I am in order to grow stronger. At other times, He asks me to leave my cage and to break free. 
What do you face today? Is He asking you to stay where you are and to persevere in your trial? Or is He asking you to move on to greener pastures and so to write a new chapter of your life? My prayer for you is that whether you stay or move, you will discover your own spacious place—where your heart will soar joyfully on the wings of an eagle.
 

"May our Lord Jesus Chist himself and God our Father, who loved us 

and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 

encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." 

 
2 Thessalonians 2:16,17

 

 

Hot, Cold or Lukewarm?

15/09/2016 11:47
It was time for a break. We packed our bags, loaded the car and zoomed off, out on the open road. Nature was dressed in her gorgeous springtime attire, the weather was fresh and bracing. I love travelling at this time of year. The green pastures and rolling hills of the Land Down Under never fail to beckon me, soothe me and refresh me. We found sunshine and clouds, friendly winds and cool breezes, meandering country roads and enchanting places.
 
Carefree lambs frolicked on their soft green playgrounds and sheep grazed contentedly. Jersey cows dotted the landscape—a picturesque black against the lime green grass. We reached our seaside destination and settled into a cosy beautiful cabin. I was fascinated by a large tame peacock that strutted around as if he owned the property. He hopped often onto our deck to peer inside, while his harem—four or five pea-hens, sat around lazily on the verandah of the cabin next to ours. Later that day, we explored the beach, sinking our feet into soft white sand; admiring the green cliffs which contrasted beautifully against the grey-blue sea, as the ocean sang to us sweet songs of joy.
Everything about our little cabin was just right or so it seemed. We liked its cream walls and panelled wooden floors. The kitchen was well fitted and well stocked. Our bedroom was larger than usual with full length mirrors, warm lights and a comfortable bed. But when I entered the spacious bathroom for my bedtime shower, I made my big discovery. The seemingly perfect cabin had one major flaw.

 

I turned on the taps—the water flow was meager ...  but that was only the beginning. Making sure the shower temperature was just right (as you do), I stepped under it. All was well for … 3 seconds. But then all at once, the water turned icy cold. Ouch!  Hurriedly, I fiddled with the taps, luring it back to more tolerable temperatures. But that again lasted for only … umm … 5 seconds. This time it spewed hot water. Oh no! I had to jump out of the way to escape the scalding water. I was forced to keep tinkering with the taps in order to have a decent shower. A very quick one too and I was glad to emerge unscathed.

It wasn’t a perfect cabin after all but no, I’m not grumbling. We did have a marvelous time away and returned home rejuvenated. And you know, my shower-time adventures were a timely reminder to check my own spiritual gauge. I’m often passionate about my faith and do aspire to be piping HOT all the time. But when my fibro battle rages and I suffer debilitating fatigue and pain, my walk with God tapers into meltdown mode. Praising Him and feeling thankful is very challenging at such times. So sad to say, my spiritual climate does seem to vacillate, just like those shower temperatures at Aldinga Bay.
 
A question bothers me. I’m able to cling to God and find His comfort when times are difficult and when in emotional pain. How is it then that I struggle to keep an equal level of fervour when physical suffering plagues me? Surely, my spiritual life should not be dependent on my physical state? It needs to be the other way around, don’t you think? My walk with God should drive my life through every sphere and every season.
The Apostle John’s vision on the island of Patmos included an admonition from Jesus to the church at Laodicea.  “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth….. Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline”. Hard words, but ones I need to take heed of. Several years ago, God convicted me that 99% of allegiance to Him was not enough. He wanted all of me and asked for total surrender. I found then that it was the only way I would experience the abundance of the life He offers. 
 

But the glorious truth is that God is God and God is good. 

Give Him your heart and you find He will heap His riches on you, 

grace upon grace and in full measure. You can never outgive Him.

 
Are you hot, cold or lukewarm today?

Perhaps it’s time to adjust your spiritual temperature?

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12

 
 
 
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