Blog

Guarding my Heart

14/07/2016 13:29
Two years ago, I thought I'd lost everything. I was forced to leave a job and ministry that I was passionate about. What was God doing? Why did He call me to work for Him, then call me out of it? I grieved deeply for a few months, but as it often happens, my season of loss turned out into one of infinite riches. As I’ve rebuilt my life afterwards, I have been aware of God’s gentle nudge to grow deep strong roots into my inward spirit.
 

And so … the direction of my life has been changing.

  • From one of intense activity to that of seeking God more.
  • From one of busyness to that of contemplation and purpose.

  • From one of being ultra connected to that of being rooted in God.
It hasn’t been easy – this swim against the tide. And yet, I know that the main thing is to keep the main thing as the main thing. I've had to stop jogging through a rose garden and to turn my footsteps instead towards a wilderness. The rose garden beckoned because its flowers were colourful and fragrant, with velvet petals and bright new hues. But the roses would wilt in summer heat, while the cactus flowers would bloom for eternity.
 
The modern world with its umpteen connections and busy lifestyle continues to beckon me. I have to often say ‘No’ to many good things in search of what God requires of me. Saying ‘No’ to others is never easy. I don’t want to seem aloof and unfriendly. I want to be liked and appreciated. So there’s often been a tussle inside.
  • Is it OK to say ‘no’ to her Lord?

  • Was it wrong of me to guard my time with you, Jesus?
  • Is it selfish of me not to do as he asked, Father?

A few weeks ago, God answered my heart’s questions in a surprising way. A church member was giving away many of his books for free, so guess who piled her arms after church one day with a stack of Christian books? One of them was Gordon MacDonald’s book ‘Ordering your Private World’. It was like finding a nugget of gold in my backyard.
 
I’m presently reading it a second time and studying it during my Quiet time. I've lapped up his words eagerly like a thirsty puppy. It’s as if the author had heard of my struggle and had run swiftly to my aid. I now know that when I choose to say ‘No’ to many important pursuits that are ‘the done things’ in today’s world, I am guarding my heart and my inner world. The guilt I’d sometimes indulge in is not needed. No—I hadn’t been selfish. God was actually pleased with me. Choosing to guard my heart and time and space was a good thing and one He applauded.
I think of Jesus’ gentle rebuke to Martha as she complained to Him in Luke 10 verse 42. “Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” In our 21st century world today it’s very easy to be swamped by many demands on our time, and we often bustle around like Martha accomplishing a host of good things. The problem is that we are called to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, but we are often in pursuit of being conformed to the ways of the world. 
 
The pressure’s in doing rather than being,
in success not in becoming.
 
Is God calling you to furnish your centre with the solid core of His Presence? Perhaps this present season’s the one to begin deeper growth of your spirit? Perhaps now’s the time to make a change that will have eternal consequences. Perhaps today’s the day to say ‘No’ to something good to make room for something better.

“Above all, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

 

No Rain, No Rainbows

29/06/2016 15:36
After a very soggy squishy start, it was turning into a beautiful day. Rain clouds had blown away before lunchtime and the sun beamed down on the world. Parrots raced around screeching in joy; galah birds swooped down to nibble on the wet grass. I’d endured a tough week with fibro weariness, so hadn’t enjoyed my usual daily walks for many days. But the sunshine melted my misgivings. I knew I might feel worse if I went out walking that day. But how could I resist nature’s allure?
 
And so after lunch, I popped two Vitamin B12 tablets into my mouth for energy and started on my way. It was cold and brisk outside. I wore three layers for warmth and my sunnies to counteract the bright sunlight. Would I need a raincoat? Surely not? After a couple of laps around the Oval, I treated myself to walking down a magical track I’d lately re-discovered, replete with lush green grass, winding footpaths and inspiring views. I feasted my soul on the fresh enchanting world around me. I revelled in the sight of the shimmering leaves of the gum trees, which responded eagerly to the sun’s bright rays. Every few minutes, I stopped to take a few more pictures. I soaked in the beauty and praised my Creator.
But as I reached the summit of my walk, the sun disappeared. Oh no! Thick grey clouds were gathering fast. I should have worn my raincoat after all. Regretfully, I turned back and retraced my steps, praying that God would hold the shower off until I returned home. Too late—large live luminous raindrops spattered my blue jacket, splashing merrily on my nose. As I rushed down the footpath, a flash of colour greeted me. I looked up, and there it was. God’s gift to me. A rainbow. Wow God! Wow. Thank you God, I whispered.
 
Thank you for not answering my prayer, Lord. If the rain hadn’t arrived, the rainbow would not have made an appearance either. Thank you God for the rain. Sometimes I expect to get through life without any rough moments. But think how drab our world would be if there was no rain and no beauty that followed it.
No problems, no opportunities.

No tough times, no soul growth.

No rain, no rainbows.

 
I've found that every thorny season in my life has brought me a reward. Interestingly, each one’s different. A long, painful spell in my life brought me very close to God and for that I am forever grateful. My extended job hunt revealed zero results, but I acquired a marvelous prize—that of my becoming a writer. The precious gift I've received through my long battle with fibro, is empathy. I view the suffering of others with different eyes now, because suffering is suffering, no matter how it’s wrapped. Each harsh obstacle I encounter might first make me whine and sigh, (I’m ashamed to admit), but when I turn to God for help in humility and surrender, He transforms my pain into a unique blessing—one I would not have received, had my life been easier.
 
What’s a little rain?

I saw a Rainbow!

Thank you God for the rain.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-3

 
 

Don't take it for granted

15/06/2016 14:00
I remember the day so well. My right foot had been operated on and I’d been placed afterwards in an airy hospital room. Unfortunately, the painkillers I'd swallowed had only increased the throbbing pain in my foot to excruciating proportions. To distract myself from its discomfort, I sent a text to a friend. Immediately, I received a comforting response. We chatted a bit via more messages. As the familiar ping of another text’s arrival reached my ears, I heard a step in the hallway beyond and looked up. Hooray. There stood my beloved. He’d come to visit me during his lunch hour.
 
“Hey. Are you OK?”
“Yep” I said, “Look at my foot!”
Shan examined the interesting contraption that held my foot. He smiled in sympathy, kissed me, found a chair and sat down. It was good to see him and a blessed relief to be distracted from my PAIN. After a few minutes, I realised I’d forgotten to check the last text that had come in, so looked around for my phone. It wasn’t there. That’s strange. Shan stood up and checked my bed, the floor and its surrounds. No sign of it. He called me but there was no sound of my phone’s ring.
 
It was then that I had an inkling of its fate. Perhaps I’d set it down my lunch tray and it had been whisked off to the kitchen? Oh no! Shan rushed off to check and kept calling my number as he walked. Ten minutes later, I heard it—the musical tones of my phone. A stranger walked into my room. And yes, you guessed right. He had my phone. Yay! I breathed a sigh of relief. A lot of "what-ifs" had run through my mind before he arrived. 
 

What if the phone had been thrown away with the rest of the stuff

What if I never got it back? 

What if I lost all my contact numbers?

 
There are lots of what ifs in life too, if you stop to think about it. 

What if there was no God? 

What if I couldn’t see? 

What if I couldn’t walk?

 
I possess a myriad blessings in my life which I often take for granted. It’s when I’m in danger of losing them that I discover their true value. A quote by Marcus Aurelius changed my life this year: 
 

"Think of what you have rather than of what you lack. 

Of the things you have, select the best and then reflect 

how eagerly you would have sought them if you did not have them."

I've made a gratitude-building game of it. I frequently think of something I have, then imagine life without it. It’s made me aware how rich I am. Here’s a tiny smattering of what I’m talking about. My faith, joy, peace. The Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. My husband, my son, my home. God’s Word, my sight, my hearing. My hands, my feet, my strength. My guitar, my computer, my camera. Our garden, our bed, our neighbourhood. Caring friends, wholesome food, thirst quenching water. Love and laughter, music and song, books and writing. Do you get the message? I have everything I need and more.
 
Sometimes I forget how wealthy I am. I focus on what I don’t have and forget all that I do. 

What if everything I have today was taken away next week? 

What if the sun didn’t rise tomorrow? 

What if I woke up a different person? 

 
Today, let me savour God’s love. 
Let me look up with eyes of gratitude. 
Let me not take anything or anyone for granted.
 

Today (and always), let me be thankful.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,

for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:16-18

 

 

He Restores my Soul

03/06/2016 15:38
We welcomed the autumn showers when they finally reached Adelaide. A large bush in our front yard almost died when summer ended, but now had new life fed into its veins. The verdant autumn green around us was deeply refreshing compared to the stark summer brown. I bought myself a smart little raincoat to wear for my wet weather walks and my sneakers have been already wandering in muddy, squishy haunts.
 
The problem with hiking in rain is that the crevices of my shoe soles are soon filled with mud, grass and lots of gooey stuff. Cleaning them becomes a thankless chore. Some weeks ago, when I noticed that my sneaker bottoms were encased in dirt, I decided to walk in them a few more times before I cleaned them. There was no point in doing it too soon since the very next walk would bring the messy stuff right back in. Finally … a week of dry weather arrived. It was time to clean my shoes.
I returned home after a happy ramble one day, and undid my sneakers. I turned them upside down to have a look, expecting to see more grime. What a surprise it was to find that the soles were clean. A miracle? Well, not exactly. It wasn’t that a shoe goblin had come at night and cleaned them while I was asleep. No, the answer was pretty simple. As I walked, the dried dirt and sand and mud must have fallen off my shoes, just as it had previously clung to the soles when wet. Voila. An unsoiled pair of shoe soles again—and I hadn’t needed to lift one finger to get them clean. I liked that. I liked that a lot.
 
Sometimes it happens in my spiritual walk as well. There was a season when life had been hectic and frenzied. I’d been too busy to spend sufficient time with God and I was burnt out and spent. As I walked into church one Sunday morning, I breathed a prayer in desperate longing: “Lord, please renew me. I need you so.” As we sang to God that day, I did something I’d never done before—I raised my hands in worship. These days, I do it all the time, but that Sunday many years ago, with my staid Methodist upbringing, it was something very hard to do. Could I raise my hands? Would people stare at me? I knew I had to obey. As I lifted my hands in total surrender, the Presence of the Lord enveloped me and His love rained upon me. He revived the wilted flower that I was. I walked out of the church that day, invigorated and joy-filled like a once thirsty, lifeless branch, now transformed and green and glowing, after  the winter rains.
There are seasons when my soul collects dirt and grime. Fear, anger, impatience. Envy, guilt, shame. Despair, unforgiveness, pride. But when I linger in God’s presence, the damp dirt is dried as the winds of the Holy Spirit blow through me, and all the yucky stuff falls off my spirit. What a blessing it is to be set free again. 
 
Are you in need of refreshment today? Come into His presence with an open heart. He will do the rest. May we then, restored and whole again, go forward with joy to serve His world.

 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:1, 2

 

 

God's got it covered

12/05/2016 15:40
Some weeks ago, I drove off to the village on my weekly shopping expedition. I parked my vehicle and got down. But as I slid my car keys into my bag, I couldn't feel my house keys where they usually reside. So I double checked. No sign of them. I knew I had to find them fast. If I’d dropped them, someone could pick them up. Besides, I’d need them to get myself indoors eventually. I drove home at once. Yellow-gold autumn leaves fluttered in the air, tossed around by playful breezes, decorating the surrounds with a crunchy golden carpet. I jumped on the leaves, enjoying the delicious sound they made in protest. Then, I hunted around for my keys.
 
One pink heart key ring and two shiny keys winked at me from under the leaves. Yay! I was one happy girl as I drove back to the village. “Well done” said my beloved when I told him about it that evening. You’d have thought the incident would have taught me to be more careful with my keys, but alas not. A week or two later I was about to lock our front door at night, before going to bed, but I couldn’t find my keys. (Sounds familiar?)

After hunting for them without success, I grabbed a torch and walked out into the cold night air. God was gracious to me. As soon as I reached the road, the torchlight uncovered two silvery keys, nestling comfortably on the fallen autumn leaves. What a relief! I used to keep my keys in a section of my bag closed via a vertical zip. Vertical? That’s right. Unsuitable? Definitely. If I forgot to zip it up, the keys would easily fall out. It was time to look for a safer place for them. Eventually, I did find the perfect spot—a secret pocket in my bag.

 

Sometimes I place my life’s keys in an unwise compartment and my foolishly held world falls apart. Why don't I hand over my troubles to God instead - His wings are the safest Hiding Place I know. A few days ago, I opened my bag’s secret pocket to retrieve my house keys. Oh no! I’d done it again. Panic. Consternation Where were they? I finally found them. I’d accidentally placed them in their former comparment.

I do that sometimes with life’s difficulties too—forget and grab them back from God after having given them over to Him. Silly me. As I was writing this blog, a piece of bad news, sailed indoors, landed on my head and knocked me out cold. Ouch. What a huge disappointment! After shedding a few tears… I remembered! Of course. God’s got it covered. Isn’t it just like Him? He loves to give me practical lessons in what I write about, so that my story would ring authentic in your ears.
 

Is there something in your life which is out of control? Has a place of security become unsafe and wobbly after all? Please don’t forget. God’s got this one too.

 

Yes. God’s got it covered.

Let’s trust Him.

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3,4

 

 

The Best is Yet to Be

28/04/2016 17:02
I love travelling on the O bahn—a bus in Adelaide which travels at 100 kmph on special rails. A few months ago, I sped off to the city, feasting my eyes en route on the lush green foliage, the dappled sunlight as it fell through the trees and the gurgling stream that ran by. I breathed in the the view of the rising mountains, the blue green reservoir as it sparkled in the morning sun, the chattering birds flying against the azure sky. But as I drank of nature’s bounty that day, I knew my pleasure wouldn't end when my journey was over. There was much to look forward to at my destination. I met up with friends for lunch and we had a great time together. It was an experience I cherished.
 
Last year, when going through an arduous journey with ill health, I struggled to keep up my usual passion for life. To even consider living to an old age, battling daily pain and fatigue as I did then, seemed too difficult. My eyes which till then had been fixed on earth’s fleeting joys were fast turning towards the life hereafter. I longed for a new body in a way I'd not done before. I yearned for our Christian hope—LIFE after life, where God reigns and where disease and suffering are no more.
Thankfully, a few months later I enjoyed better health and began to have a few good days at last. Hooray! But deep within, I knew that something within had changed forever. I was ready for heaven’s shores in a way I’d never been before. In days past, I’d think it was preposterous that the world would carry on after I died. (Does that sound vain?) But now … a life-switch had been turned on, flooding me with new longings. I could say ‘Come Lord Jesus, come’ and really really mean it. I reflected on the change in me. Was it wrong for me to feel this way? Was I ungrateful to God for the life He had given me? What was God’s take on it?
 
A short while later, I received my answer. I've been studying Rick Warren's ‘Purpose Driven Life’ this year with my Bible study group and I've relished the experience. A sentence from his book jumped out and thumped me hard. The author wrote that God often allows difficulties in our lives so that we don’t get too comfortable on earth. I saw very clearly then, as if I'd put on a new pair of (much needed) reading glasses, and the words on the page were finally legible. (Thank you Rick.) Yes. That’s what had occurred last year. My spiritual eyes were being opened at last to spiritual realities. And no – I wasn’t dishonouring God by thinking this way after all. It was in fact, a God-thing.

My journey to the city on the O bahn, delighting in the beauty around had brought me much contentment. But the real thrill that day lay at my destination. That’s where I got to meet my friends. That was where my body was fed. That was where I rested. I had arrived. Life’s like that too, isn’t it? We can partake of life’s thrills and spills and enjoy it (or sometimes struggle through it as I did), but the final destination we are headed for will be glorious; well beyond our imaginings.

 
Are you going through a tough season? Is heartache, loss, pain or suffering your portion? Do not despair—you who are in Christ, are not home yet. The deepest joys are yet to be, in the presence of The One who made you and loves you with an eternal love. Today, as you walk through your forest of darkness and pain, lift your eyes to the light of the sun; the brilliance of God’s truth. 

The best is yet to be.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:3,4

 

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Cor 2:9

 

 

When your heart is broken

14/04/2016 15:24
We spent a few happy days away last year, in the picturesque town of Mildura. I brought back a little momento from there but it wasn’t a souvenir; neither was it an ornament for my mantlepiece. The keepsake I bought in Mildura resides in my kitchen and I use it every day. Have I piqued your curiosity sufficiently? 

Here’s what it looks like:

Yes, my keepsake is a little bottle of Olive oil. What made it unique was its dimensions. Petite. Just right for my ‘little’ hands. I'd not seen one so small before, not in Adelaide nor anywhere else, and I've continued to use it. I find its cute size is just right for my fingers, much like I enjoy the petite steering wheel in my “baby car” compared to the big steering wheel in what I call Shan’s ‘Daddy car’. When the oil runs out, I buy a large bottle of Olive oil which I use to fill up the little one. "Small" suits me well.
 
One day some weeks ago, I was dismayed to discover that the plastic piece on the top of the bottle was broken. Oh dear! Now, I had to be extra careful when I tipped the bottle, in case too much oil flowed out. A trifle annoying. To my relief, my hand quickly got used to holding the bottle at exactly the right angle.
There’ve been times in my life when I've found that something far more signficant was broken—like my heart. (Have you experienced that?) I recall seasons when the pain was unbearable. I thought then that I’d never recover, a ship’s masts that has been torn by cruel winds, or a beautiful cutglass vase smashed into smithereens. During those seasons, I've clung onto God for dear life, just making it through one day at a time and one moment at a time. Wouldn’t it be simple if we could experience God’s grace through a life of ease rather than through our seasons of suffering?
 
The truth though is that the painful seasons are the times I’ve experienced God’s love in fullest measure. Times when I’ve discovered for a fact that a loving God did exist and that He cared for me. That no matter what happened, Jesus was sufficient and always would be. It was during such a time that Jesus became my Treasure. One day last week I realised with surprise that it was actually a good thing that the plastic top of my little bottle was broken. You see, it made pouring oil from the larger bottle into the little one much easier. Nothing obstructed its flow anymore.
It’s the same when I've nursed a broken heart. The cracks in my heart have permitted God’s love to seep in. How blessed it’s been to experience His joy in the middle of difficult circumstances, His love when the world has turned its back on me, His peace when the storm clouds darkened, and His Presence when I sorely needed it, the balm of soothing oil that healed my broken heart.
 
CS Lewis reminds us of this truth. Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Has God shouted out to you lately? What did He say? I pray that His love will flood your broken heart today and that His peace will permeate each crack. Soon you will be a stunning masterpiece of God’s grace and beauty. And our God of awe and majesty and holiness will be glorified through your life.
 
"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him." Psalm 91:15,16
 
 
 

 

The Best Response to Stress

29/03/2016 22:10
A few weeks ago, I decided to make a quick trip to the city to spend a 20% off discount voucher at my favourite bookstore. Living with fibromyalgia means I need to be extremely wise in how I spend my scant energy resources. I’d usually not even consider a trip to the city on my grocery shopping day. But being a little stronger since my B12 injections began last year, I thought I’d risk it.
 
I soon realised what would make it even more do-able. I could drive to the village, park there, take the O bahn to the city, return to the village and then do my shopping. There are more buses to the village than to my home, so it sounded a great idea to make it one long trip rather than two separate ones. On Monday morning, I woke up feeling rested. Not too much pain or fatigue. Thank you God. I took off two hours later than planned, at 10.30 a.m. Never mind. I would make it.
I parked in the village, picked up my handbag and got out of my car. Before leaving home, I’d removed my bus pass from my purse and had lodged it in an outer section of my bag, to make it easy for me to access it. But when I looked where it should have been, I couldn’t find it. Oh dear. I checked all the  compartments of my capacious bag, muttering a few prayers under my breath—but it wasn’t there. I checked the car seats—not a sign of it. I opened the car boot and peered inside my collection of empty shopping bags. No, not there either. Sigh. I would have to buy a ticket after all. Very annoying!
 
I trundled off to the bus stand, hot and agitated, but was glad to see a bus was ready for take off. As I reached, waving my hands vigorously, willing the driver to wait for me, the bus took off. Not my lucky day apparently. I walked all the way back to my car and decided that I may as well go back home to hunt for my bus card. It had to be there. Once home, I checked every room methodically, even the bathroom! No bus pass anywhere. Grrr! I phoned my son—perhaps he’d taken mine accidentally. Nope.
 
I’d wasted one full hour in the pursuit of my prized metro card. My stress was fast rising, like a swelling river after torrential rains. What I’d imagined would be a blissful day; riding on the O bahn listening to praise music was turning instead into a very frustrating one. Sigh! But then, as I got into my car, I realised what I needed to do. To stop giving into my frustration. To flip my mind’s channel to a more peaceful one. So at once I made the choice to be happy. I told myself to be thankful that I hadn’t lost something more important, like a credit card or my house keys. It was just a bus pass after all, with only about 10 dollars credit on it. No problem. All the way to the village this time, I sang praise songs to Jesus.
I thanked Him for His goodness. I thanked Him that life was beautiful—that I had the energy to go to the shops and to even take a trip to the city. As I parked the car again, I asked God for His help. “Lord, it would be lovely to find that bus pass even now. Please help me. If I don’t find it, that’s OK too.” Immediately, I was led to the boot of my car. I opened it and I took out the shopping bags one by one. And yes, there was my bus pass nestling inside one of them. Hooray! I found it.
 
I was one happy girl as I boarded the bus to the city. I had missed yet another bus but it didn’t matter. A faster bus arrived soon after. I got to the city in record time, made my purchases and went back to the village for my shopping. I was exhausted by the end of it, but I’d achieved what I’d hoped for and was still alive to tell the tale. I sifted the events of the morning that night as I went to bed. I knew the exact moment when my pear shaped morning had been transformed into a cracker of a day.
Before I'd started praising God, I hadn’t been in the right frame of mind to listen to Him. Even if He did speak to me, my mind had been too filled with noise to hear Him. But once I’d quieted myself in praise and worship, a miracle took place inside of me. And then I heard His still small voice. Life can often be difficult. But you know what? My attitude to the problem is more important than the problem itself. What’s the best response to stress, I wonder? Ah! No need to wonder. I know. Praise, thanksgiving and resting in Him are the order of the day. Every day. Every. Single. Day.

 

Why don’t I do that more often?

 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess 5:16-18

 
 

 

Seeing the BIG PICTURE

17/03/2016 21:24
The 18th of March has been a significant day on my calendar as far back as I remember—it was Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary. Today, 70 years since March 18th 1946, my parents are celebrating LIFE in their heavenly mansion and I’m so glad they are together again. Their offspring are dotted around the globe—all 35 of us! We comprise 14 children (including 7 spouses), 16 grandchildren (including 5 spouses) and 5 great grandchildren. We live in America (New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington), Australia (Sydney, Blue Mountains, Adelaide, Darwin and Whyalla), England (London) and of course Sri Lanka (Colombo and Kandy). My parents may have physically left the world but we remember them with thanksgiving every day and their legacy lives on.
 

Here’s a quick look back at 7 decades:

70 years ago: Mum and Dad were married.

60 years ago: I was a twinkle in my Mum’s eye, being conceived shortly after.

50 years ago: I was a carefree 8 year old growing up in sunny Sri Lanka.

40 years ago: I was an 18 year old, just out of school, tasting the big wide world.

30 years ago: I was 28, starting a new chapter of life, with my new husband.

20 years ago: I was 38, bringing up a lively 6 year old in the Land of my birth.

10 years ago: I was 48, raising a teenager in this beautiful Land Down Under

Today:  I’m 58 years young, enjoying life under the umbrella of God's goodness and care.
 

The years seem to have disappeared in a flash. It seems just the other day when …

  1. I was a child, just starting this exciting journey we call life
  2. I was found by God and life exploded in joy and purpose

  3. I spent 12 exciting years in Youth For Christ, thriving in its ministry
  4. Prince Charming whisked me away to live happily ever after

  5. I became a Mum. Oh happy day.
  6. We arrived in this lovely Land Down under

  7. I was called of God to become a writer.
The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that life’s journey is made up of many different seasons. 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Eccl 3:1. 

Some of those seasons are exciting, others are downright miserable. But you know what? As I look back now, I can view the big picture at last instead of the small baby screen I've zoomed on during the different stages of my life.
 
There’s a great thrill in achieving one’s dreams, in finding with relief that one has made it through the storms of life and reached safe harbour. When my son was little, helping him navigate life was far from easy. But we did it one day at a time. Likewise, I believe we built our marriage, not overnight but just one day at a time. It’s not that challenges didn’t abound. They sure did— in fact, often trials and tough times rained on us, thick and fast, unrelenting. But as I look back, I realise that those difficulties created deeper satisfaction and deeper joy. If life was all too easy, there would be no sense of achievement, would there?
Are you in the midst of a squally season? If so, please do hang in there. 
Although it may feel like it would last forever, this too shall pass.
And here’s a little exercise that might help you:
 

1.      Think of a time when God brought you through a tough time.

a.       Recall the relief you experienced and revel in it.
b.      Give thanks to Him for bringing you through.

2.      Bring to mind special people in your life who’ve blessed you.

a.       Celebrate them. Write a letter to appreciate one of them.

3.      Ponder on this blessed season, lent, and what it is all about.

a.       Kneel at the cross and adore your Saviour.

4.      And finally … zoom out of today.

 
 
Now, picture your life in five, ten or twenty years time, as you hope it will be. Aim at getting there with God’s help. Stay in that happy place for awhile. Once your heart’s been blessed and saturated with hope, return to your daily walk, renewed in the knowledge that He who cares for you, will never leave you nor forsake you.
 
God is still God and always will be. His goodness will permeate every chapter of our lives. 

His love is eternal. His faithfulness abounds to all generations.

 

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow.

God will take care of your tomorrow too.

Live one day at a time.” Matthew 6:34 (TLB)

 

 

Missing the Obvious

02/03/2016 13:06
Recently, I found a photo sent a few years ago by my friend Jeff. Jeff’s a wise, compassionate pastor, who’s blessed me and my loved ones through his ministry. He is also many other things—a gifted photographer for one. This picture had been taken during a pastor’s retreat on the Murray River. Scenes of water always invigorate me, so the picture grabbed my heart. Jeff must have clicked it at twilight because of the soft colours it portrayed. I loved its cool shades. I loved seeing the trees and the skies mirrored in the water. I placed it as my desk-top-photo-of-the-day and then got busy with this and that.
 
A bit later, when I came back to my computer, Jeff’s exquisite picture called out me. It was only then I realised that I’d not noticed something—glaringly obvious now—a little crescent moon drawn skillfully by God’s fine art pencil in a picturesque evening sky. That tiny slice of moon completed a perfect picture. How could I have missed it? I dipped my soul in the picture’s loveliness and continued to enjoy it throughout that day. 
Thank you Jeff. Great photography!
There are times I miss glaringly obvious revelations. Many decades ago, when I was young and innocent and waiting for Mr. Right, I remember looking around me and praying “Lord, please manufacture a man for me. There is no one around”. Did God answer my prayer? Of course. Well ... not exactly. He simply opened my eyes to an amazing man I hadn’t ‘noticed’ before. Shan had been a good friend for four years. In the blink of an eye, God whispered into my heart that here he was—my Mr. Right. How could I have not realised it? Now, 32 years later, I thank God every day for my awesome husband and rejoice in our journey through life together.
In my battle against fibromyalgia, I've leant on John 10:10 as I claimed healing. ‘Lord, this intense pain and fatigue are too hard to cope with and are not the abundant life you promised. Please heal me Jesus, so I can serve you better.” One day last year, as I prayed desperately for healing, two verses from scripture bopped me on the head. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The knowledge of the Holy one is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10, 11). The latter verse struck me forcefully and I read it over and over again. But … what exactly did it mean in my particular context of fibromyalgia?
 
As I continued to suffer with fibro symptoms over the next few months, I also battled deep discouragement. “O Lord, I can’t go on anymore,” I whispered. And then it all came to a head.  I found that what God required of me was total surrender of my illness. To worship Him in my struggle – not only if it came to an end. And so, I made a battle plan. My bad fibro days now became a unique training ground for “praise in spite of”. It was a schooling in trusting Jesus and in embracing those tough times through His strength.
What a difference it made! I still do experience bad fibro days, but life has improved dramatically. You see, I don’t battle discouragement any longer. I understand at last what God was saying through that verse.
That understanding God and who He is was the key to my battle.
That God’s ways are often different to ours. That He doesn’t always answer prayers the way I’d like. That He is more interested in my character than in handing out a life of ease. That I can ask Him for healing but not insist on it on my own terms. Because healing will come in His time not mine, in His way and not in mine. He is God, not I.
 
How did I miss the obvious? Perhaps because God’s answers are not always obvious. His ways have often to be sought out like a fossicker scouring the desert in 40 degree heat for gold (ask my friend Jeff—he’ll tell you!) Didn’t Jesus often hide God’s truth in parables so that its real meaning had to be diligently sought after, in order to be understood?
O Lord, help me discover your hidden treasures on life’s journey.
  • It’s not always obvious that God showers His love during my tough seasons …

Oh but He does.

  • It’s not always evident that God is in control of the world …

Oh but He is.

  • It’s not always clear that God can solve every problem I face …

Oh but He will

  • It’s not always apparent that our Enemy is a defeated foe …

Oh, but he is

  • It’s not always obvious that God is with me through my trials …

Oh but He is! Oh yes, He is.

 

“Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom, all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Everything we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by the way of Jesus Christ. That why we have this saying, “If you are going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”” 1 Cor 1:25, 31 (MSG)

 

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God, not from us. For our light and mometary troubles are achieving for us, an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  1 Cor 4: 17

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

 
 
 
<< 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 >>