Sunday, Oct 13th 2013 – 5.12 p.m.
A kaleidoscope of events, happenings, thrills and spills. Four glorious days spent in the beautiful city of Brisbane, connecting with amazing people, immersed in writing, learning, loving, praying, talking, pondering, listening. And now.....here I sit at a net kiosk at the airport as I await my flight back home. The sound of noisy conversation, bags being wheeled, announcements being made, penetrate my thoughts. I glance at the clock ticking on my computer screen. 11 minutes and 47 seconds left of 20 minutes of borrowed time. An array of ideas grabbed my mind during the past 4 days. Which of them should I choose? Which of them does God want me to choose?
Monday, 14 October 2013 – 1.21 p.m.
Today I ask ‘Lord, my head is full of a number of possible blogs. What should I write about today?”
The Lord’s response. ‘Tell them the story of the dead cockroach’.
And so, here it is. I shall call it........ The Reminder
The Riverglenn conference centre was an ideal choice of venue – beautifully laid out - hardworking friendly staff, air conditioned rooms, delicious food. A spacious, comfortable room and ensuite. What luxury! Around 70 of us were in conference for 2 action packed days. It was an exciting time. On my 3rd evening in Brisbane, my gorgeous friend Aruni and her husband took me to their beautiful home. I was thoroughly spoilt by all Aruni’s labours of love on my behalf. I enjoyed her delicious meals – ate too much, tis true – and was deeply refreshed by God’s love through her love and care. It was the perfect ending to a perfect 4 days away.
Thank you Aruni.
Those 4 days will not be forgotten; imprinted in my mind like a bright colourful stained glass window that grabbed me the moment I set my eyes on it. But somewhere inside all of that splendour and joy, learning and stretching, connectedness, prayer and praise was also a dead cockroach.
My room at Riverglenn was all it was meant to be. A safe haven for me to rest at night. A unique space to practice my talks in; a place to enjoy moments of quiet amidst days of frenzied activity. On my first evening as I unpacked I was startled to see a large dead cockroach in my room. I hate cockroaches. This little guy was no exception. I was about to throw him out, when I stopped short. Because, you see… he was a good reminder. Each time my eyes alighted on him I imbibed fresh hope through the sight of an unsightly cockroach. Hope? Yes. You got that right. Hope!
That dead cockroach taught me that even during the seemingly perfect seasons in life (like this conference)– there will also be situations, people, circumstances that are far from endearing (like that cockroach)! What the dead cockroach taught me was that God was in control. That there was hope. What would be worse that finding a dead cockroach in my room? Finding a live one! God showed me that He might permit a cockroach or two to occasionally cross my path - yes, He will allow situations which are hard for me to handle. But the glorious truth is that I need not fear them. A dead cockroach will not harm me. What God permits will never harm me either. I am protected, wrapped in His tender care. I am safe; a baby bird secure in its loving mother's nest.
A theme that ran through the Caleb conference was HOPE. All of us Christian writers, no matter what genre we write - strive to offer hope through our writing. We believe that through Jesus there is always hope, even amidst the darkest times. Do you have ugly 'cockroaches' running around in your life? Illness? Difficult people? Distressing circumstances? Jesus came to bring us hope. To dispel the darkness. Nothing – no nothing can harm you when you live within the boundaries of His love.
And so we can rejoice through our difficulties and praise God through our toughest seasons.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:3,4,6,7
Are you weary as you battle a difficult season? Do not lose hope. Jesus has already won the war. Peter reminds us that as followers of Jesus, we have a sure and certain hope. We can look forward to the future with confidence because Satan and evil will one day be completely destroyed.
On this mountain, the Lord almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wines. On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.” Isaiah 25:6-8