Blog

The Shortest Pencil

27/11/2018 22:00
A long long time ago at my very first Youth for Christ camp, I made a grand discovery. That cold bright April morning, I sat on the green grass, soaking in the beauty of distant hills and for the first time in my young life I reflected on God’s Word, being drawn into a place of wonder and delight. Soon, my sessions with God sprouted wings, soaring to dizzy heights. Those daily times with the Father have been the life-giving roots of my tree, the anchor beneath my ship and the wind that drives my sails.
 
What I do during my Quiet Time has changed over the years. I’ve rarely used devotionals, preferring to study something more meaty. For the first few decades of my walk with Jesus, I’d study a book of the Bible till I completed it, pouring over a small portion of it every day, using commentaries for passages that were difficult to understand. About twelve years ago, I decided I wanted more, so I turned to in-depth Bible studies. I’ve also studied non-fiction books that have stirred my soul, meditating on the Bible passages given in the book as well as on the author’s insights.
This year, as we began life in our dream home, God’s been calling me to many new ways of doing life with Him. For a start, He nudged me to get up earlier— so I’d spend time with Him before engaging with anyone else. I love it. The sunrises He’s lured me with have been first-rate motivation and I’ve basked in the sun as I’ve worshipped the Son. God now leads me to contemplate on different passages each day, to memorise His Word and to declare His promises over my life and the lives of those whom I pray for.
 
He’s also prompted me to buy a set of colour pencils. I’ve been filling up a little notebook, as I've contrived to understand the depth of God's love for me, colouring the words to bring out their meaning. I have created another booklet with pictures of the blessings He’s showered on me this year. There’s nothing like a burst of colour to open one’s heart to beauty, truth and goodness and the abundant life that God offers us.
I’ve called this new chapter of my family’s life, our ‘Green Season’, firstly due to the green carpets in our new home and next because green is the colour I use to symbolize good health. But most importantly, green for me is a colour of life, growth and wholeness. A few mornings ago, I pulled out my colour pencils for use during my Quiet Time. To my dismay, I found that my dark green pencil was very short—oh dear—it was half the size of the others—there’d soon be nothing left of it.
 
And then … realisation dawned on me slowly but surely—a bright beam that shone truth into my spirit. Of Course! When you and I are used for God’s kingdom, we too can become battle weary and our outward bodies might diminish. We may feel we have little to offer God and the world, because we are getting older or tired or are battling ill health. Like my little green pencil, we might even seem to shrink in the eyes of the world. Is that a bad thing? On the contrary, my little green pencil by its very being, tells a tale of a fruitful useful life. And the wonderful truth is that its existence still has both meaning and purpose in spite of its small size.
Today, if you feel ugly or useless, discarded or jaded, I’d like you remember my little green pencil. It will need to be replaced well before the other pencils, but It’s not because it was not as good as the others. Oh no! It’s because I needed it and used it more often than the rest. Have you worked hard for the kingdom and got singed in the process? The Refiner’s Fire may have purged the outer you but the inner YOU (the real you) sparkles and shines like a jewel in the sun. I can see it. The Master Refiner sees it. And He smiles at you.
 

Don’t forget … the outer is only a whisper of your inner life.

God sees your heart. And God, (dear friend), likes what He sees. 

He is pleased with you. Very pleased.

For the Lord does not see as man sees;

for man looks at the outward appearance,

but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

"Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 

so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold, 

which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise 

and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

1 Peter 1:6-7

 

The Day I Didn't Fall

15/11/2018 21:53
It was a busy morning. I enjoyed a coffee with a friend, then did my weekly grocery shopping. Afterwards, I scurried home as fast as I could to take my son for a blood test. We'd planned to catch a bus to the hospital, so we set off after a quick lunch. It was a pleasant day and a special joy to travel with my son. We walked to our halt and the bus arrived. I hopped on and validated my free senior’s bus pass then spotted my favourite seat and made a beeline for it, my son following me. The bus took off at once.
 
I held on tight, but all of a sudden, the vehicle lurched, my hands slipped from their grasp and I found myself flying in mid-air. “Euwww”!  The sound I made as I performed my circus act was a cross between a yelp and a screech. My ungainly body did a kind of twirl and the next moment, I found myself sitting slap bang on the step I’d been mounting. Surprisingly I now faced the front of the bus. 
How did that happen?
The driver (poor man), stopped the bus and came across to check on me. I felt foolish ... and my body hurt all over, but I assured him I was fine. Which I was. What a relief that the fall hadn’t been worse! My bones were all intact. Had a guardian angel placed his hand on me as I flew in the air, turned me around, then seated me on the step? Shaken but deeply thankful, I stood up and found myself a seat. You’ll be happy to hear that I got off the bus without incident. My son had his blood test completed in no time and we were back home safely within the hour. For the rest of the day, my muscles ached but otherwise I was in good shape.  
 
I remember a time, years ago when I had a different kind of tumble. I was 18 years old and due to sing a solo at a Youth For Christ Rally. How I loved those events when we knew God would work, bringing many young people to Himself. The day arrived and there I was on stage excited, ready to share my song with the world. Unfortunately the sound system didn’t work properly so I couldn’t hear myself sing. I did the best I could—but from the feedback I received afterwards, it had been a dismal performance! Several friends asked me what happened to my song. I had no idea. It was obvious that I’d failed miserably.
I felt small and ashamed and I wanted to hide. Perhaps I been too cocky? Perhaps God was humbling me? But did I fall from grace? I don't think so. I did sing the best I could in the circumstances—and in God’s reckoning—doing one’s best is more than enough. I checked the words of the song. Interesting! Right there in the second line appears a familiar word. It says that her hopes kept ‘tumbling down’ till she finally found what she needed—God’s love.
 
 
What had taken a tumble the day of my solo were my hopes and dreams of singing like a nightingale and touching hearts. I was humbled, but I’m glad God is still able to accomplish what He wants to even if I mess up. He can use anything, even my failures. I once listened to several testimonies of young people who were getting baptised. The polished word-perfect testimonies of most of them didn’t speak half as eloquently to me as a young girl who stammered and stuttered her way through her story. Her moving words touched my soul and brought tears to my eyes. I have never forgotten it.
Do you feel like a failure today? Let me encourage you. All God requires is that we love Him and obey Him. If the results of our obedience are not what we expect or hope for, it’s OK. Really. Really OK. God was able to transform the tumble of a sixty one year old lady and to help her face the right direction again. He was able to touch lives in spite of an 18 year old’s pride and failure. Indeed, in God’s economy disasters turn into successes when they are yielded to Him. I’m sure He has put out His Hand to catch you and has even turned you around to face the direction of where He’s leading you. I can tell!
 

So rise up with a smile and be joyful.

You are still the apple of His eye.

You are enough.

 All is well.
 

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 

though he may stumble, he will not fall, 

for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

 
 

“Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again. “Psalm 24:16

 
 

The Day I Threw a Tantrum

03/11/2018 18:17
Oct 31st 2018 will be tattooed into my brain as the day I threw a tantrum! Oops! Did I shock you? I’m sorry. I really am. I didn’t mean to throw a tantrum. But life happened. And well … I happened too. Let me start at the very beginning for as you know, it’s a very good place to start.
 
I was looking forward to my birthday. And let me assure you--I don’t often seek big celebrations. What I really like to do is to spend a quiet day at home, connecting with the many wonderful people in my life. My phone rings nonstop and Facebook bursts with good wishes. My email in box is full and my mobile keeps beeping text messages. It’s a joyful 24 hours where I am reminded of God’s amazing creations not only in nature's grandeur but even more in the unique people who inhabit our world. And by the way, that includes YOU who are reading this blog too—I hope you know that? Thank you for being here.
 
November weather in Adelaide is usually mild and cool, so I was shocked to discover that the weather outlook for Nov 1st was 37 degrees! Thirty Seven degrees? What? That could not be! It was! Every other day that week and the one after promised perfect weather, but for some reason Nov 1st was different. I was deeply disappointed so I sought God about it. He is a gracious Father and He knows how much I dislike the heat and that my body struggles to survive in it. But … it seemed like he had made up His mind to give me a sizzling hot day.
As if that wasn’t enough, my Internet began to play up, disconnecting from time to time all week long. And the day before D day was the grand finale. With a cruel jeer at my expense, it died on me. Just like that. No Internet! And tomorrow was my b’day. I promptly dialled the help-desk, spending hours on the phone with our Internet provider. I tried to be patient, as they shoved me from one support person to another. The end result? They could not help.
 
A technician would come two days later and that was that. What? "But TOMORROW is my birthday", I said. "I need the Internet TOMORROW!"  A lady on the other end of the phone-line added insult to injury through her platitudes and her indifference. I blew up. Yes, I threw a tantrum. I told her in no uncertain terms that I was very annoyed. I said that I was not happy with their service. My voice sounded loud and angry. I didn’t even say goodbye before I put the receiver down.
Afterwards … I knew I had blown it. I hadn’t acted Christlike under duress. “I’m so sorry Lord” I whispered. Too late. This little pressure cooker had erupted and its irate contents were scattered over that help desk far away. Call me selfish if you like. I was selfish. After all, that lady was only doing her job even if her customer skills were a bit wanting. My feathers had been ruffled and I had behaved badly. Not a good way to end my old year.
 
The 1st of November dawned warm and grey like the weather forecast had predicted. No last minute change of heart on God’s part. But … our house was cool. Hooray! The air conditioner had done its magic through the night so I didn’t even need to have it on. Even more surprising, God had fixed the Internet for me. Wow! A miracle, no less! The technician who turned up the next day told me that there was old wiring and he replaced all of it. So yes, it was a miracle. I enjoyed a perfect birthday and was showered with good wishes all day. The connection remained as firm as a house built on the Rock. 
Wow God! Wow!
It was clear that my tantrums had been unnecessary! I felt as ashamed as a puppy who was tucking into his master’s dinner and was caught in the very act. But it was a great way to start a new year—eating humble pie. I do know that God always has my best interests at heart. I do know that He can be wholly trusted. And I’ve had plenty of evidence over the years to prove it. Sad to say, I don’t always live like I believed those truths. So today … my tail is tucked between my legs as I make my confession.
 
I am penitent for having let God down—I was a bad witness to Him and His love. I am a long way from the holiness I desire. But I am wiser. At the ripe old age of 61, I know that I’m still a work in progress. Alas, it’s when the chips are down that my real nature comes to the fore. And then, I saw again firsthand that seeming obstacles are never a problem to the great God of the Universe. He often tests me and refines me, only asking that I have faith in Him. Because it’s when earth’s provisions are limited that His manifold power can be displayed.
If only I had trusted Him! But you know …through His mercy and grace, I re-discover how great He is and how unworthy I am; how incredibly loving His forgiving heart and how much I need Him. So I stand corrected. And yet … deeply loved. God gave me far more than I deserved that day—as He does all year long. I had a wonderful birthday filled with the love of family and friends.
 
 
The day I threw a tantrum made me humbler and wiser, sadder but more grateful, in awe of Him who does all things well. The day I threw a tantrum made me more patient with others’ foibles and more dependent on His grace. The day I threw a tantrum I discovered that His love covers all my sins and that He will always come through for me, even when I fail Him.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us 

according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:8

 

 

If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 1 Tim 2:13

As a father has compassion on his children,  

so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:13

 

 

The Day my Plans got Cancelled

13/10/2018 19:59

I relish my trips to the city to catch up with friends. One day there was to be an added bonus—20% off all stock at my favourite bookshop! I rubbed my hands in glee as I anticipated another trip. Unfortunately, my friend got sick, so we had to postpone our time together. I didn't feel justfied in spending a day out just to attend a book-sale, so I regretfully decided to stay home. Never mind. It was a rainy day so perhaps it was just as well. Besides, I now had an unexpected gift of time. How exciting was that! 
 
“Lord, help me use my time wisely”, I prayed.
 
Confession time. I don’t always use my time as wisely as I could. I procrastinate. I dawdle. Sometimes a day passes with little done. Blame it on my health. When chronic fatigue and pain get the upper hand, my ability to do the simplest task is found wanting.
But that particular day was different. What a glorious day it was! I made lots of calls—I often avoid the phone, so that was an achievement. I spent hours writing my next blog, refined it, found pictures for it then posted it on my website. A deep sense of satisfaction seeped into my bones like a cup of delicious coffee that invigorated me. I wrote a number of emails which had been shelved for far too long. I spent time in prayer. I poured over my small group Bible study homework and completed it. I went for a walk. I did my laundry. I planned how I could help a friend in need. I was on a roll.
 
And so … the day my plans got cancelled turned out to be one of my most productive days. Isn’t that encouraging? Life often seems to be what occurs when we are planning something different. But …perhaps that’s a good thing? Of course it’s a good thing. For when God is at the helm, our cancelled plans morph from good plans into great plans and we get to do life His way. Many decades ago, when I sat for my Year 12 exams (twice over), I hoped to get into University. But my results were not good enough, and my hopes were dashed.
 
But … it led to a unique season in my life. The four years I thought I’d spend at Uni I spent instead in the laboratory  of a Girl’s High School in the daytime as I studied to be a Laboratory Technician in the evenings. I thrived on it—both the studies and my first working environment. God brought me ministry opportunities in plenty as I made close friends among the school girls and shared the gospel with them. That chemistry lab became a hallowed place as one after another many teenagers found Jesus. My heart swells in gratitude to Him as I reflect on it now. After that four year stint, I studied Computer Programming and found employment. I loved my work and made more long lasting friendships. I even fell in love with a young man who was a computer whiz. The friendships I made during my girlhood have lasted to this day 40 plus years later and have added layer upon layer of richness to my life. How grateful I am to God for overwriting my plans with His wise ones.
 
Here in Australia, I sought employment but after several long years of seeming failure, God led me into the joy of becoming a Christian writer, In fact, can tell you story after story of how I sought one plan but God led me to another. Every time a dream goes pear shaped, I feel sad. At first. But you know what! It’s OK. Because God’s got this too. He does. So you and I can relax and enjoy the ride. When God closes a door it’s all it should be because we know He will soon open the right one, not the one we thought was the right one.
So if you are glancing back at a closed door wondering what that was all about, wonder no more. God’s got this. Really. Let’s look ahead with thanksgiving. He is, as I speak opening yet another door for you to walk through. It will be a grand adventure. I know it. So let’s join hands and follow His heart for us. He know what’s best. And we can trust Him.
 

"A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
    How then can anyone understand their own way?"

Proverbs 20:24

 
 

"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

 
 

The Mystery of the Disappearing Slipper

29/09/2018 21:53
My boys and I zoomed off on meandering roads last week in search of new horizons, enchanting vistas, rest and relaxation. We were not disappointed. What I love most about travelling at springtime is being able to view Nature’s incredible artshow where  the strokes of God’s paintbrush are vivid and visible. Rolling green hills, bright yellow carpets of canola rippling in the wind, winding roads that sang songs to us as we journeyed - these were some of the blessings we enjoyed. Fluffy cotton clouds smiled at us from the heavens. The sun shone warm on our skin. The road welcomed us and carried us effortlessly across the miles.
 
After a few hours, we arrived at our destination, (the pretty town of Clare), and soon settled in. Our little cabin was spotless, furnished with everything we needed ... except perhaps sufficient space to stretch our legs. Thankfully, it didn’t matter because we were located in spacious parklands that were filled with tall beautiful gum trees and plenty of walking areas. It even boasted a flora and fauna park right next door that included deer, sheep and emus. That evening, Shan and I went on a little exploration of our surrounds, revelling in and drinking in the interesting sights and sounds that assailed our senses.
At night we enjoyed a home cooked meal, relaxed with books, then turned in. As usual, I had to get up in the wee hours to use the washroom, so donned my soft striped slumbies on my cold chubby feet. I got back to bed afterwards and fell into a deep sleep. The next morning, I looked around for my footwear. One little slumbie looked up at me coyly, awaiting instructions, but its partner was missing in action. That’s strange! Had I accidentally kicked it under the bed? The bed was low, and there was very little space under it.
 
My husband and I did our best to find my wandering slipper. We moved our bed hither and thither in the tiny crowded space and peered under it from every angle. I even poked a broom under the bed trying to push out the hapless slumbie. But no! My slipper had mysteriously disappeared. We wondered then if a burglar had got in, so checked our wallets but thankfully nothing else was missing.
Finally, bewildered but determined to get to the bottom of the enigma, I began looking on TOP of the bed. Perhaps I’d accidentally got back into bed with it? I pulled the sheets and duvet but there was no sign of it. Strange. A second search coupled with a hefty dose of determination finally cracked it. There lay the disobedient slumbie – hiding in the crevices of my covering sheet. Hooray! At last. Problem solved. What a relief!
 
During my Quiet Time that very morning God led me to study a portion of the Proverbs which extolled the virtues of wisdom.

“If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:3-5

Wisdom has never fallen into my lap as I sat waiting for it. No, I had to run after it; I had to seek it out with all my heart, just as I hunted for my wandering slumbie that day. The good news is that acquiring wisdom isn’t dependent on how clever I am or how high my IQ. Wisdom is available to anyone and everyone who desires to have more of it. The only requirement is that we pursue it with all of our being like drowning men and women gasping for air. 
 
 
Are you looking for an answer to life’s challenges? Has the solution eluded you no matter what you did and where you looked? Jesus often spoke in parables, so it was only those who were serious about finding the truth who found it. Let’s seek God’s wisdom as if our lives depended on it. Next to seeking God Himself, the Word is a wonderful place to begin. Wise friends are helpful as are books, pastors, professionals, teachers or family. The best part is that the Author of wisdom is right beside us in our quest and we will find more of Him as a bonus. And He, after all is the key to the wisdom  that we seek.
 
 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Proverbs 9:10

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 

 
He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 

for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” 

Proverbs 2:6-8
 
 

What is your View of God?

14/09/2018 17:06
I often drive to a street nearby, park at the end of it, then wander down to one of my favourite places.Tall gum trees whisper secrets to each other. A bold breeze stirs. Gravel crunches under my sneakers as I walk towards my happy place. I stop, I breathe in the sights and sounds. The sun warms my skin. Ducks swim ahead, gliding effortlessly. I lift up my eyes to heaven and thank God for the wonder of His world. Peace surrounds me. All is well.
 
A few weeks ago, I strolled around the lake, finding with surprise that every spot afforded a different view. In one place, there was mud and shallow water, in another I saw ducks waddling by the water’s edge, and moving eagerly into the lake. In a different area was a vast expanse of blue, shimmering as the sun’s rays caused jewelled flashes that blinded my eyes. Another spot was hidden and offered a log for me to sit on. In yet another area there were countless trees blocking my view so I couldn’t see the water beyond. I even found a desolate spot where the trees were browned and dying and no grass grew—had there been a fire?
Amazing! The lake was just one place. But that one place had a myriad different faces.
 
As I gazed on each of those dissimilar views in turn, truth shone bright within me like the sun’s rays at break of dawn. How we perceive a person or place is dependent on our perspective. When life is good, it’s easy to believe in a loving God. But when life is challenging, the truth of who God is, is too often swallowed up by our negative experiences and emotions. 

 

Actually, I'd say that our view of God changes many times as we journey through life. 

But do we see Him as He really is?

This past week I went through a minor crisis of faith as my ongoing battle with fibromyalgia  reached a new high and my suffering became intense. Pain screamed in my ears so loudly that my perception of God was bruised by its strident tones. “Where are you God?” I pleaded. “I can’t bear this pain Lord. Please help me.” But God was silent and I was crushed. My view of His goodness, His compassion, His love and His power was distant due to my discomfort, like a large imposing wall which blocked the view of a flaming beautiful sunset.
 
God did not heal me. Neither did He respond. I cried for a long while, being sucked into a current of despair. I went to bed that night wrapped in a torn blanket of ragged emotions. Where was God? Why did He not respond to my cry for help when His Word promises He would?
The next morning God wooed me into my garden. As I sat down, cuppa in hand, He turned springtime’s button on. The world began to celebrate with bright splashes of colour and joyful tunes. Purple, orange, yellow and white blooms danced to the sound of the breezes. The sky was adorned with crisscross patterns made by white cotton clouds. I sat mesmerised, and His peace gently settled into my bones. It was then … that God finally spoke.

“He has made everything beautiful in His time." Ecclesiastes 3:11

 
 
A few moments later He spoke again. A second time. Soft. Distinct. Personal. 
 

"I make all things beautiful at the right time, Nushi. Didn't you know?"

 

I heard Him and looked around me. My garden, awoken from its wintry slumbers was ablaze with the truth, A creeper formally  bereft of leaves laughed at my surprise. “Look at me” it said. I did, fascinated. Tiny green leaves sprouted all over the once-dead creeper. Yes, God was making all things beautiful in His time and I was privy to His awesome secret. A butterfly darted from flower to flower, drunk in springtime joy. “Be like that butterfly.” God whispered to my heart. “Live. Trust. Be joyful. Because ... I make all things beautiful in My Time”.

So now … nothing has changed. But everything has

 

If I had not believed in God before, this experience would have turned me into a believer. Instantly. Because it was one of the happiest days of my life. Yes. My health is still a battle. Yes, pain still prods me often like a rude uninvited guest trying to have her way. God hasn’t healed me … yet. But as sure as the day follows night, I know with fresh assurance that His love for me is abundant. Abundant even in the midst of pain. Scripture tells me who He really is. Memories of His faithfulness echo that same truth in a voice louder and more powerful than my pain. 
 
When life is good (and I enjoy the beauty around me) I can trust Him completely.
But … even when trees obscure the view of the lake (and Him), I know it (and He) is there. When the ground is parched and the leaves are brown, I can still know His reality. Feelings might distort my vision. Circumstances might block my view. But the Truth remains. God is God, no matter what. Holy, compassionate, full of mercy, love, acting on my behalf, generous, majestic, powerful. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
 
When I walk around my lake I can choose what I focus on—the arid places or the lush green ones, the burnt grass that speak death or the rippling waters that speak life. I can focus on pain or feast on His goodness, concentrate on my feelings, or the truth of His Word, dwell on negative circumstances or the knowledge that He will work it all out for my good, think about my present trials or focus on Eternity which He promises to all who love Him.
What is your view of God? Has it been submerged under life’s hard places? Let me encourage your heart dear friend and lift you up. God hasn’t finished with me yet. He hasn’t finished with you either.
 

He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Let's trust Him.

 

“He has also set eternity in the hearts of men."

Ecclesiastes 3:11

 
 

Are You Ready?

30/08/2018 16:58
Confession time—I often struggle with being on time, especially in the early mornings. The other day I was looking forward to catching up with a friend at my favourite bookshop in the city. I got up at 6.30—three whole hours before my 9.32 bus. I'd planned to leave by 9.25 giving me four minutes to get to the bus stop with a few minutes to spare. As I stuffed my mp3 player into my bag and got out my senior’s bus pass, I was sure I was making good time. However, a glance at my watch revealed otherwise. It was already 9.30. Oh no! Too late.
 
The next bus would  take another 15 minutes to arrive but I’d still be in time for my date. So … should I wait at home and leave six minutes before the bus as I’d usually do?  On reflection, I decided that it was better to leave immediately, and wait at the bus stand rather than at home, because I couldn’t risk missing the next bus as well. I enjoyed a walk along our lovely scenic pathway, breathing in the cool fresh morning air. There was no need to hurry because for once, I had plenty of time. The sun greeted me with a cheery hello as it splashed my face with its warmth. Birds chirped excitedly. Trees murmured their blessings as I passed by and winter’s green garb refreshed me. As I got close to the main road, I hesitated. Should I go for a little walk first? But something (or Someone?) made me change my mind.
What if I would miraculously catch that 9.32 bus after all? What if? I lengthened my stride. The first inkling that my miracle was on its way was when I spotted someone seated at my bus stop across the road. My heart thumped a little faster as my footsteps quickened. I reached the main road and looked to my left. Lo and behold … there it was—a large yellow bus moving purposefully  towards my halt. With a whoop of delight, I scampered across the road as fast as I could. Panting, I arrived at the bus stop …just in time. My miracle had occurred! Hooray!
 
The ride to the city was all it promised, with the bus track across gurgling streams and lush green foliage and my soul was richer for it. As I got closer to my destination, I picked up my phone and got busy sending a few urgent text messages. That done, I put my phone away, ready to get up to leave the bus. That’s when I got my second surprise of the morning. The road looked totally unfamiliar. Where was I? Had the bus taken a different route? Surely I hadn’t missed my halt?
I had! Panic rose within me like the rising tide. Breathe Anusha. Breathe! I called my husband at once, declaring I was well and truly lost. His soothing response calmed me at once. My wonderful man quickly told me where I was and how to get back. (Isn’t he amazing?) I had planned to be 15 minutes early. Now, I would be 10 minutes late! I texted my friend to let her know and walked hurriedly to my destination. I scurried into the café, breathless and full of apologies. But … my friend was nowhere to be seen. I called her but she didn’t pick up. Oh dear. I checked Facebook and discovered she’d tried calling me via Facebook but I don’t have FB Messenger on my phone, so I hadn’t heard it.
 
Ten minutes later, my friend turned up. She too had had a stressful time getting there, finding it hard to find a place to park her car. One digit in the mobile number I had for her was incorrect—which was why she didn’t pick up when I called or respond to my text messages. The interesting truth was that if I had got off at the right bus halt—I may have actually have given up waiting for her after 20 minutes and moved on, so my getting off at the wrong halt was actually a good thing. Another miracle really—that we both did meet up after the hassle we both had encountered in getting there. We had a refreshing time together and God warmed our hearts.
Sometimes, God has a miracle for me but I’m not looking for it so I miss it. Sometimes I am unaware that circumstances not going according to plan could be God working His purposes for my good. Sometimes I don’t listen to His voice and lose out on what to do and how to reach His best for my life.
 

Am I walking in the light so I would hear from God today?

Am I surrendered and ready for what He’s about to do?

Am I positioned for what God wants to work in and through my life today?

 
 
 
 “So then, just as you 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 2:6,7

 

 

Listening Matters

17/08/2018 16:03
It had been a long day and I was exhausted. I rested for a short while before I began to cook dinner, but my body still felt unspeakably weary. To distract myself from my body's screeches, I pulled out my mp3 player (which I told you about in my last blog) and was soon lost in “A Lifelong Love”, a non-fiction audio book by Gary Thomas, about building a great marriage. I’d really enjoyed it the first time. Now, God was challenging me to absorb its truths a second time. I thought it would be a good idea to take down the questions given at the end of each chapter to reflect on and learn from.
 
So every time I reached the end of a chapter, I'd wipe my hands dry and scuttle off to my den to type out the discovery questions being shared. The first three times all was hunky dory, but as I pressed play after typing the fourth lot of questions, there was a problem. No voice boomed in my ears, no teaching sounded, sharing another helpful aspect of what constituted a perfect marriage. Hmmm. I cranked the volume up. Loud. Still nothing. Oh dear. Was it broken? I stood up dismayed. 
 
It was then I made my big discovery.
I’d forgotten to put the ear buds into my ears. Oops! I chuckled … then laughed out loud. What a relief that my mp3 player wasn’t broken after all. I went back to cooking and listening to Gary Thomas’ wise words. Later, I wondered how many times I was guilty of not putting on my listening ears in order to pay attention to family and friends.
 
I usually love listening to others. In fact, I think it’s one of my God given callings in life—to listen to people, to really listen—to help them feel better about themselves and about life as they share. Most of the time, I hope I do it well. But … there have been occasions when I have failed. I have sometimes tuned out of my son's lengthy babblings when he was little and he was a nonstop chatterbox. There are times when I have been struggling with an issue or battling ill-health and my concentration has not been all it should be as I listened to others.
Listening matters. Doesn’t it? I feel blessed when someone (often my beloved) listens to me with understanding, giving me his full attention. I feel heard.  I feel validated. I feel loved. But even now—at 60 years of age, when you’d think I’d be an expert at it with all the practice I’ve had (for over six decades of paying attention to others), listening well is still something I need to work on.
 
 
I read a story about a lad, (let’s call him Frank), who prayed every day that God help him get a Bible. The shops in his country didn’t stock them so he needed Divine Intervention. Nothing happened ... at first. For days. For weeks. For months. Didn’t God hear his prayer? Actually, God had instructed a believer to take a Bible to Frank. Sadly, this man hadn’t obeyed God for a long while. So Frank was kept waiting! And waiting ... and waiting! It made me realise that if God asks me to care for someone and I don’t obey, the job may not get done. Sometimes God might not have a plan B! Scary isn’t it?
 
How often do I listen to someone half-heartedly with my mind on my own concerns? How often do I listen instead with all my heart, spirit and mind in order to bless and serve? How often do I remember to put on those listening ears when God desires to commune to me? How often do I open His Word and listen intently to what He seeks to share with me?
Does listening matter? Absolutely. Let me love well by listening well. Let me listen to my spouse today. To my child. To my friend. To my neighbour. To the stranger on the street who desires to connect with me. To the person in need. To God Himself. Let me listen with my heart in order to hear, obey, bless and build God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
 

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21

 “My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen closely to my words … 

for they are life to those who find them.” Proverbs 4:20, 22

 

Be Still

03/08/2018 16:10
Many years ago, when I longed for extra spiritual nourishment, a wise friend suggested I buy an mp3 player so I'd be able to listen to sermons and audio books with ease. My first response was that I hated sticking anything into my ears! But … on further reflection, I realised I could buy headphones which covered my ears rather than ear buds that went inside them. A few weeks later, my beloved gave me the perfect gift for our wedding anniversary—a lovely little mp3 player. I was thrilled. And oh the sustenance and joy I’ve received through it!
 
Best of all, mindless chores don’t bore me any longer—as my hands get busy with a task, my soul feasts on scrumptious spiritual delicacies. I love it. A few weeks ago, I was shocked to witness the sudden demise of my wonderful mp3 player. A search on the internet revealed that mp3s are not fashionable any more—phones seem to have replaced them. I was desperate to get another. What to do?
 
My son had an extra Creative Zen I could use. Hooray! Problem solved. I immediately downloaded audio books and CD’s into it and have been enjoying it to my heart’s content. My new player is similar to what I owned before, but while my old player came on instantly,  I had to keep pressing the ‘on’ button many times in this one in order to turn it on. One day, after I pressed the on switch, I got busy with another task for a few moments. What a surprise to find that my player did come on soon enough without my aiding the process. So apparently, all that extra pressing was completely unnecessary! Fancy that! I only needed a little patience!
In this digital age, we often demand quick responses and don’t like to be kept waiting. You and I have forgotten what it is to be still. What does it mean to be still before God in prayer? Does it mean that I only pray once about a need and then leave it to God? In Luke 18, though, Jesus tells His disciples a parable of a widow who kept coming to a judge till he finally gave in—a story about persevering in prayer. In my own experience too I have discovered that God asks me to keep pressing on in prayer for needs of the world and the needs of my family.
 
What then does it mean to ‘Be still’ as we come before Him? Perhaps it means that we remember that only God can make a difference to the situation we are praying about. When I am still before Him, I acknowledge His Lordship; I give Him total freedom to bestow His answer in His way and His time. It’s not my pressing the ‘God button a dozen times that summons God’s help. No—He is working on my behalf even before I cry out to Him. He is always in control, even if evidence seems to point to the contrary. All my efforts won’t make His answers arrive faster. But when I pray in dependence on Him, with thanksgiving, my trust in Him grows and deepens. Perhaps what God expects of me is to pray once about it—then, to thank Him often in faith for His answers that will arrive at His appointed time. After all, prayer is more about developing a love relationship with God more than anything else.
The book of James reminds us that our well made plans often will go awry unless they are  part of God’s purpose for us. Perhaps being still means coming to Him first—before I make my plans—so  that I can hear Him and follow His lead. Perhaps being still is allowing God to have His God-hat on? Perhaps being still is knowing that without His Presence in my life I can do nothing of value or significance. Perhaps being still is learning an inward stillness or finding a peace that nothing could destroy?
 
 
Is God calling you to ‘Be still’ today?

Are you up to the challenge?

“Be still before the Lord  and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:4

 

 

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

 
 
 

My Neighbour's Tree

14/07/2018 21:06
My beloved and I are enjoying this new season of our lives, in a home that’s just right for us. It’s set amidst a maze of meandering walking trails and lush foliage, with views of distant hills which eagerly beckon us. We delight in our little garden, its flat driveway and the picturesque views that surround us. We drink in the sunrises and moonrises from our kitchen window with a song in our hearts. Thank you God for blessing us far more than we deserve.
 
Walking the length of our home umpteen times a day keeps my feet moving and the blood in my veins pumping.  In this larger home I get far more exercise than I did before, just by performing my routine chores. I’m glad because I need to lose weight so perhaps having extra work is actually an answer to prayer? I think my health is better for it too. My trusty broom has a greater space now to dance in—with my help of course. But … have you noticed, that like prickly thorns on a rosebush, blessings sometimes arrive with a challenge or two attached? I discovered one such snag at the start of autumn. Our front yard boasts no tree but our neighbour’s garden does—a large lovely maple tree that stands tall. Its leaves scatter each autumn creating a crunchy carpet at its base.
Unfortunately our driveway is in line with my neighbour’s tree. It means that when the autumn breezes tug at its leaves, the dead leaves come rushing down to take residence on our squeaky clean driveway. So each morning when I step outdoors to wave goodbye to my man, I find leaves strewn over it—like large sized brown confetti adorning the path of a bridal couple. It means my garden broom receives a turn to compete with my house broom. As I sweep the leaves, I’d often give a few disdainful glances at THE tree—sighing over the leaves still present, wishing I could stop their arrival in my little patch.
 
One day as I swept the leaves, I stopped. I looked. And then … it dawned on me. Instead of being annoyed by the extra work the tree gave me, I decided I should simply enjoy it. Immediately there was a shift. I began to look at it with new eyes as if I had put on a new pair of glasses.

And that made all the difference.

 
The beautiful maple tree soon gave me immense pleasure as I gazed upon its loveliness. 
 
There are moments in all our lives when our ‘neighbours’ annoy us in different ways. Relationships are complex. Stuff happens. People irritate me. Their actions might make me growl. Misunderstandings occur. But … there’s a moment of decision if I seek it. I can choose to look with eyes of grace at my neighbour and her tree. With eyes of love. To accept the bad with the good. To see beyond the difficulties into something wholesome. Even beautiful! After all, my neighbour probably needs to do the same with me!
 
Is there a “neighbour” in your life who causes you angst? What would God ask you to do today? Forgive him? Accept her faults? See the good amidst the bad? Is your “neighbour’s tree” shedding untidy leaves on your life today? Do you sigh and mope when it occurs, just as I did? Perhaps the way forward may be through acceptance of him, with the good, the bad and the ugly? The grace of God is available to us every moment of every day. Would you extend it to your neighbour? Would I?

Come on. Let’s do it.

 

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves 

with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each 

other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds 

them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:11-14

 

 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 >>