The Lord is near to all who call on him,
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
Each week, my son diligently places our wheelie bins out on the kerb for collection. Recently he was sick with a nasty flu so I assured him that either his Dad or I would do the needful. My beloved, when he returned from work said he’d put them out after his Thursday night swim. The problem was that since we are both fast approaching 60, our memories are not what they used to be! Shan returned from his swim an hour later. We went to bed that night not giving another thought to our wheelie bins.
Next morning, I waved goodbye to my man, still with no memory of that must-be-done chore. It was not until close to 1 p.m. when I heard the pick-up truck rumbling down our road that I remembered. I leapt to action, adrenaline coursing my veins. It didn’t help though, that I’d injured my knee some weeks before and was limping. A recent decluttering of our home had filled our recycling bin to capacity. I HAD to get rid of it all. Fast. I moved like a baby caterpillar who was climbing Mount Everest … or rather descending Mount Everest in this instance.
Numerous attempts at getting that wheelie bin in motion proved fruitless—it was just too heavy for the likes of little me. But … I was determined. And so I tried. Again. And again. The truck passed our home and started to empty my neighbours’ bin. It was then that I finally managed to get it moving. Those who’ve been to our home know that our driveway is pretty steep. To push a heavy wheelie bin down a precipitous slope needs muscle. And the strength of an ox. Despite my chubby proportions, my strength is more akin to that of a rabbit! But I knew I HAD to do it. So I did. As I rolled the bin down our little hill it picked up speed. Oh no! I would soon be dragged downhill. Help!
Praying all the way, and with great difficulty, I inched the hefty bin down the slope. Our home is three houses from the end of our street, so I had a few minutes grace as the giant truck wheeled around the cul de sac picking up a couple more bins. I rushed across the street and placed our bin by the kerb just as the truck came racing by. Would it stop? I held my breath. It did. A big sigh of relief whooshed through my lips as the truck’s large electronic arms plucked my bin and emptied its contents. Thank you God!
But when the bin was placed back, it tipped over, sprawling ungracefully across the road. Should I pick it up? I hesitated. If I didn’t, the rear wheels of the large truck would crush its bright yellow lid. But if the truck started off at once, I could get hurt. I held up my hand hoping the driver could see it and stepped forward. I lifted the bin onto its feet, my heart in my mouth. The vehicle stayed put. Whew. I waved my thanks to the driver, very grateful. What a patient, kind man! I could have hugged him. After the truck moved away, I pushed my wheelie bin back up my steep driveway, my heart dancing with thanksgiving at the remarlable little miracle I’d been part of.
An impossible task made possible. Persevering against the odds is never easy. But the only way to live; or so I have discovered. After my first book was published 7 years ago, my hunt for an Australian publisher for my next book was a long, arduous journey. The harder I tried, the more rejections I received. Would I ever make it, I wondered. But God. But God worked it out. First … I had to keep hoping. To keep going. To keep on keeping on ... in spite of. Last year, a beautiful, kind and generous friend paid for me to attend our annual Writer's Conference, another miracle. There, God led me to show my manuscript to a publisher. And now ... all going well, my next book, ‘Dancing in the Rain’ is set be published in 2018. Hooray! A gift from God? Absolutely. When God is at the helm, perseverance pays rich dividends.
Sometimes I get weary. I am tempted to stop trying. But like the glowing embers of a fire which will never be snuffed out, there shines an eternal truth. There is always hope. There’s a Special Someone steering the vehicle of life, a gracious Driver who waits patiently for me, even when my life collapses. He gives me the time and space to pick myself up. He heals my broken heart. He helps me realise my God-inspired dreams. He will never leave me nor forsake me.
Today, dear friend, if you are struggling to reach your goals … please don’t give up. Keep pushing through. You are closer today to finding your answer than you were yesterday. You CAN make it—not in human strength alone but with the supernatural power, wisdom and leading of your Heavenly Father. When you reach out to hold His Hand, anything (and everything) becomes possible.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2
Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
When I first got behind the wheel, as a mature 50 year old, I trembled Could I do it? Would I actually be able to steer a car? I wasn’t sure. The young inexperienced instructor who tried to teach me was appalled. He said my steering was the worst he’d seen. Talk of encouraging a novice! Besides, he’d asked the impossible of me. He made me spin the car round and round a car park at high speed. As I steered wildly, I’d clung onto that wheel as if my life depended on it. Which it did. A gruelling way to begin my driving lessons!
Two years of instruction, a different (and thankfully competent) teacher, one accident, plenty of experience and finally … I received my driver’s licence. Whew! What a journey. Now, 7 years later, I have progressed a little and even enjoy driving on occasion. However, I still remain cautious when in the driver's seat. As I do my weekly shopping, I’ve been parking my car far from the shops, in a quieter area with less traffic. Recently though, my body has been protesting and coping less and less with exercise (due to chronic illness) so I had to park closer to the shops. The other day, I got as near as I could to the mall and parked my little Mazda between two cars. I noticed a large four wheel drive vehicle was on one side of me, obstructing my view. I would need to be careful when I reversed later to go home.
When I emerged an hour afterwards, there were four empty spots to the right of my vehicle and four empty spots to the left. What a pleasant surprise! Perhaps they had been warned about my driving? Bliss. I could now see clearly around me and reversing out of my spot was as easy as jumping into a clear blue lake on a warm summer’s day. Splash! I sped home with joy in my heart and the wind in my hair.
A Bible verse flashed into my mind. “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18. Other words from scripture waltzed right in as well, like frisky, happy puppies who energised me with their love of life.
The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One,
make the way of the righteous smooth.” Isaiah 26:7
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
My exit out of that car park that day couldn't have been easier.
A reminder that on life's journey too, He would clear the path before me.
Sometimes the future is uncertain. We don’t have much light. I’ve found (as no doubt you have too) that what’s required of me then is to trust Him as He leads me, one step at a time. Psalm 119:105 reminds me: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God often clears our path but not the whole expressway. Three years ago, I found myself in an unusual season of life. Much of what I’d worked towards in the preceding decade seemed to have disintegrated before my eyes.
Earlier that year, God had spoken to me distinctly through Isaiah 30:21 well before I needed its truth. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Psalm 32:8 confirmed it. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Now, months later, I knew why God had impressed the two verses on my heart.
Just like He told me, God led me that season, one day at a time, one footstep at a time, one hope realised at a time. He whispered each day what to do and where to go. He brought new experiences, new places and new people into my life. He shed light on the patch of road in front of me—no more. But … it was all I needed and forced me to trust Him completely. Out of a place of deep sadness and loss came the brightness of new beginnings and much blessing. I look back now with joy, knowing afresh through experience that trusting Him is always worth it. Life might bring unexpected losses and sad situations. But our faithful God is an expert at using those same losses and turning them into masterpieces of His love.
Are you sad and bewildered today? Is the road rough before you? Is there little light on your path? Fear not. He who leads you sees you, is with you and will never let you go. So cling tight to His Hand. Turn to Him and His Word - His light will shine on your path. One day at a time.
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.
The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day. Proverbs 4:18
I was scrolling through Facebook when a young friend’s comment stopped me in my tracks. She’d responded to my wishes with a ‘Thank you Uncle’. Uncle? Me? It was a first—the first and only time I’ve been called an uncle. And you know what? I’d rather remain an aunt. I’m glad I was born a woman. Not that I have anything against men, you understand. But … I’ve been a woman for almost 60 years and I love being one.
I remember the first time I was called an ‘aunt’. In Sri Lanka, the terms ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’ are used to address a person from an older generation (even if she or he is unrelated), as a sign of respect. I was closing our front gate when it occurred. A young pair of dark brown eyes from across the road fixed their gaze on me. “Why are you closing the gate, aunty?”
Was she talking to me? She must have been 12 or 13 years old. I was perhaps 18 or 19, and didn’t feel that much older. What a shock! Did I look old? Some years later when I was a young mum it happened again. ‘Hello aunty’ said the strapping young man who was about to wed my cousin, a bright smile adorning his cheery face. Aunty? Surely not? Did I look like an aunt? He must have been only a few years younger than I!
Isn’t it interesting that we all have opinions about others, often incorrect. Sometimes I bask in people’s loving words. Occasionally though, their observations are a shock to my system. Is that how they view me, I think. Or … oh no – I’ve been totally misunderstood! I once spoke well of a man we both knew to a friend (let’s call her Sally). Sally however had a bad impression of him, so we had a whopping disgareement that day. What was worse, she began to attack my own character as well. She told me that she knew that I thought I was better than her spiritually. I gasped as if she’d thrown a bucket of icy cold water over me.
The truth was that such a thought had never occurred to me, because after all—there is no need to compare myself with others. We are all different and walking our own life journeys. I believed I’d been a good friend to her. I’d expected that my warm feelings towards her were being reciprocated. Sadly, our friendship of almost 10 years tottered over the brink of a crumbly wall and collapsed over the other side, a bit like humpty dumpty.
Though her assessment of me was a sad surprise, her view of me didn’t alter my own view of myself or my evaluation of the kind of friend I’d been. Perhaps it were her own insecurities which made her feel that way? I don’t know. I did know that we human beings are a complicated species. Who are you? Who am I? Are we a sum total of what others say of us? Or something else altogether? Psychologists tell us that our sense of self worth is usually formed in the early years of our lives by the significant people around us. As little people, we believe those who care for us. We carry that view of ourselves into adulthood and it often colours how we live our lives and even what we think about others.
Since I became a believer, I’ve taken as my identity that which Jesus came to bestow on every person in the world. I am a child of God, dearly loved by Him. Nothing I can do, can make Him love me more. Nothing I can do can make Him love me less. It has freed me—because His grace (His undeserved goodness) has changed my life.
The only Person who really knows who I am, is my Creator. He knows me better than I know myself. In spite of my murky insides, He still cherishes me. Amazing! He knit me together in my mother’s womb. Make no mistake—the same goes for you too.You are unique—and greatly loved by your Maker. You are more than a collection of arms and legs, teeth and ears, thoughts and feelings. You have a soul and a spirit which are of intrinsic worth. You are the only YOU in the world. And when linked to your Divine Architect, the sky’s the limit! Did you know that?
Perhaps today’s the day to take stock of your life. To accept yourself. But also to make a few changes. To see the reflection of your face in God’s eyes as you gaze up at Him. Perhaps today's the day you decide to do that special thing which God called you to. It’s never too late. And the right time might be now!
Here are five questions to get us started:
1. Who am I?
2. Do I like myself?
3. What makes me unique and special?
4. What gifts do I bring the world?
5. What is His heart for me this season?
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus
to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10
My beloved has been performing modern day miracles in our garden. He’s spent most of his spare time bringing our dead lawns back to life, pruning unwieldy bushes and transforming the great outdoors into a lush green habitation. He removed the curtains from our kitchen windows so we can feast on the beauty of our backyard whenever we walk into our kitchen. I love looking out through the large glass pane. In recent weeks, I’ve been watching something small and exquisite as it smiled sweetly at me from our backyard. It was a lone geranium clad in a baby pink dress, all ready for spring.
One straggly withered geranium hangs on the other side of the creeper, dejected and forlorn, spelling out in no uncertain terms how the harsh winter treated her. So how did this new bloom manage to prosper? I have no idea, but I’m very glad she did. Each time I look out and spot this lone pink geranium, my heart turns a joyful summersault and a fresh breeze of gratitude fans me. All around her is the deep green of winter, so Miss Geranium, in her rosy attire is striking, like a red rose on bed of snow. She adorns the creeper—alone but happy, small but graceful, insignificant but wearing a badge of honour.
And strangely enough, I don't think she's lonely!
Loneliness is a malady of our modern overly connected world. I'm blessed by a plethora of rich relationships so have much to be grateful for. However, it doesn’t mean I’ve never been lonely. Take for instance, my first long term visit into a foreign country. Thirty years ago, I accompanied my new husband to the enchanting city of Bath, England. Shan was off to study for a doctorate and as we both prepared to zoom off on a thrilling new adventure, I floated gaily on cloud 9. It was glamorous and exciting… at first.
But when we arrived at our small, drab, noisy, student studio flat in the height of a chilly winter, just 4 days days before Christmas – that’s when my bright beautiful bubble burst. Despite being with the man I loved, and being ready (or so I’d thought) for new experiences in brand new territory, loneliness seeped into my life, slowly and surely, like a dripping ceiling during a rainy winter might create a cold, wet, miserable home. For the next 18 months, I was terribly homesick. And often lonely.
Who among us has never felt isolated? Thankfully I rarely feel lonely these days. The older I’ve grown, the more I’ve thirsted for solitude and the happier I’ve become in my own company. The more I’ve relished God’s Presence too. These days loneliness takes other forms. It might stab me when people around me are different and I’m the only one marching to the beat of my Heavenly Drummer. It finds me when I don’t feel understood. Its cold finger might prod me when it’s difficult to share my journey with those around me. I’m sure most of us at different times have found ourselves in the sad damp cocoon of loneliness.
But not the Lone Pink Geranium.
Here’s what she said when I asked her:
1. Be YOU.
2. Be bold.
3. Be bright.
4. Be different.
5. Be colourful.
6. Hang in there.
7. Spring is coming.
8. Gaze at your Creator.
9. You can make it.
10. Defy the odds.
11. Cling to Hope
12. Life is short.
13. Be unique.
15. Be YOU!
So let’s learn a lesson from that lone pink geranium. Let’s be ourselves, bold and confident. Let’s make a statement. Be different when needed, especially when God calls us to it. Let’s learn to live to an Audience of One. Alone when we need to be … but never lonely. Because of course we have a God who champions our cause and is with us every step of the way.
Yes … BE YOU!
And reflect your Awesome Creator!
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your
Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
One morning last week as I was enjoying my Quiet Time, a verse from the Bible grabbed me.
“He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber.”
What a wonderful promise! It was comforting to know that our God never sleeps. But then … a friend's comment came to mind. I'd shared the same verse with her.
“He did let my husband’s foot slip you know!”
I was stunned. Stunned because what she said was true. Her husband had fallen off a roof many years ago and he’s been a paraplegic ever since. God did allow his foot to slip. My heart ached for her. So what does the verse mean then? It's obviously not meant to be taken literally. What hope do these promises offer us? Does God promise us any protection? Five friends’ feet slipped this year. Two sprained their ankles; one broke hers, one broke her leg in a compound fracture. The fifth was shaken and took a day to recover. They are all believers, able to claim the promises of scripture boldly.
But … God had let their feet slip.
God has allowed my feet to slip too both in literal and metaphorical ways. I’ve had one sprained ankle and several tumbles in my time. Due to feet that wobble, I’ve learnt to move with care and to look down (instead of up or around me) as I walk. There’ve also been instances in my life when in spite of my good intentions, I have wandered off metaphorical pathways. I’ve made silly blunders—far too many of them. I’ve had moments and seasons when I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
I came to the sobering realisation that I needed help in understanding that Psalm.
Meanwhile, I did know that God has always made good out of all the adversity I've faced in my life.
Here's what He has done for me when my feet have slipped:
Picture a mountain slope after rain. I climb slowly, breathing in the fresh cold air. After a little while I get distracted and that's when I get cocky. And pride comes before a fall. I find the sludge under my feet move. I gasp … too late. My foot slips off the pathway. I slide. Fast. I find myself rolling down at an alarming rate, the mud spattering about me. I shout to God. ‘Help me Father. Save me.” In that instant He is by my side. He smiles. Tenderly He reaches out and picks me up. He places me on His shoulders. He takes a short cut back up the track with long quick strides and with tender glances of grace.
Before long we have reached further up the summit—far above where I’d been walking. That’s what God does. He doesn’t always keep me from harm or sin but when I slip, He comes to my help. He changes it from a permanent slip into a temporary one. He puts me back on track, even further up the path in life than I’d been before my fall.
I decided to do a bit of research on this verse. The commentaries I checked threw light on my darkness and I finally understood. They shared that our spiritual standing will never be offset by anything the world throws at us. So that’s it. What a wonderful promise—even better than its literal meaning. After all, spiritual truths unlike worldly ones last for eternity. Expounders of the Word reminded me that we are grounded in truth and covered by grace. So we can boldly refute all the lies the Enemy whispers in our ears. How heart warming to know that any harm we encounter is short-lived. Our eternal joy and eternal hope will never be dislodged from under our feet.
The glad truth is that the foundation we stand on as followers of Jesus is not our good works or our decent moral lives, No, the Rock we stand on is Jesus. Pain and failure are part of this world and God does not always remove its dangers. But no matter what the difficulty, we are safe when walk with Him. God’s Hand keeps us stready. His truth is immovable. His infinite goodness and power will be a rock under our feet. We might occasionally slip and slide and sway but once we become His, we are His forever.
Has your foot slipped lately? Don’t be afraid. It’s not as bad as you might believe. His grace is but a prayer away. Turn to Him in repentence and trust. He will pick you up. You will rise up and stand firm. You are safe in His care.
All is well.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121: 1- 8 (NIV)
For several months last year, I kept planning a dinner party which never happened. I’d connected with a few newcomers to Adelaide and hoped to give them a warm welcome. The problem was that I was either too busy or too sick to bring my plans to fruition. And so the weeks passed by; guilt tugging at my heart like a bull terrier nipping my ankles. If only my health was better! But then ... out of the blues, a brilliant idea popped into my little head.
Rather than cook for a crowd, why not simply order the food? Of course it would be nicer if I cooked a scrumptious meal for my visitors, but since my body wasn’t cooperating, this was a happy alternative. Even if my body didn’t do well on the day, I could still cope with the work involved. Why didn’t think of it before? I suggested it to my beloved and he agreed. We decided to order lamprais for the occasion. Lamprais? What are lamprais you ask.
A lamprais is a special Sri Lankan delicacy, very popular and much enjoyed. It’s a packet containing a variety of different yummy food. On the bed of rice-cooked-in-stock sit lots of mouth-watering accompaniments—a delectable chicken, beef or pork curry, a hot spicy sambal, a sweet but hot onion sambal, delicious cutlets (small round crumbed finger foods, usually made with fish), a white vegetable cooked in coconut milk and golden brown deep fried aubergines. The food is wrapped in a banana leaf. Yum! The advantage of getting individual packets is that washing up is minimal.
The dinner was a success. No, I didn’t make them gasp in admiration at my fancy cooking! But I hope I made them feel loved and cared for which was more important. I did create a chocolate Gateaux for dessert and was glad when they tucked in with relish. I learnt an important lesson that evening, that if I but stop a moment to think outside the box, there are plenty of different ways of doing life. Even if plan A goes off the radar, I still have plenty of great alternatives ... especially If my life goals do not include keeping up with the Jones’ or impressing people.
Perfection may be a the ideal but waiting for perfection is rarely desirable. If I waited till I was well enough to have my new friends over, the day may never have dawned. Settling for what’s possible is better than having good intentions which will not materialise. Compromise is not always a bad thing is it? If I wait till my child is mature enough before I enjoy him, I will lose the thrill of his growing up years.
If I wait till my spouse is perfect before I offer him a compliment, I will lose many opportunities of building him and growing our relationship. If I wait till my life has it all together in order to rejoice in all I have, I will wait forever. If I don’t delight in small every day moments because suffering’s interwoven with the good, I will lose out on life’s many pleasures. If I wait till I have good health in order to be happy, I might have to wait till I reach heaven. If I wait till my life is all ironed out to perfection, I will not enjoy the journey. If I delay my laughter till life is hunky dory, I’d miss all the fun. If I cherish only the good times, I will miss many special moments.
Is there something you are frustrated about because it’s not happening the way you hoped? Perhaps there’s a different way of doing it? Is there someone who annoys you because of his foibles? What are his virtues—I’m sure he has many. Have your plans gone awry and made you discouraged? Perhaps you could try Plan D or E instead? Are you waiting for the perfect partner or the perfect job? Maybe what you already have is worth celebrating?
Perfection will be ours to enjoy in heaven. Meanwhile let’s ask God to show us the way when our plans are thwarted. He knows the road ahead and He is our Father.
"Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright, for the gracious,
compassionate and righteous man. " Psalm 112:4
"For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:6
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor 9:8
My battle with ill health often makes me selfish. Don’t get me wrong. I do love to make others happy. I do try to reach out to others to care for them. I do desire to jump on the band-wagon of life to whirl and twirl with the best of them. But my battle which chronic fatigue means that I need to pace myself out—all the time. If I spend one short hour walking around the shops, it means that I can’t do much the next day. If I spend a few hours on a bus ride to the city and back, my body creaks and groans for days to come. If I have a busy spell in life, I have to pay for it in pain and fatigue for a long time. It also means I sometimes hold back from helping a friend simply because I know I will pay heavily for it.
Take last week for instance. I’d planned to visit a special friend who was in hospital. She had few visitors so I was very keen to be there for her, but my body crashed in extreme fatigue and pain, so I couldn’t dream of going out. Today, exactly a week later, and feeling a bit better, I was determined to visit her.
I found that my friend had now been moved to a Nursing Home. Oh! I had to figure out how to get there. It wasn’t a difficult trip by any means. I confess with shame that even after close to seven years of driving, steering a car safely amdist traffic is still a challenge for me, especially to a new destination. I pored over google maps and managed to get the route worked out. Then, taking a deep breath and whispering a prayer for help, I pressed the accelerator and sped off in my little blue car. God was good. The right turn I had trembled over was super easy because the roads were clear. Hooray! The traffic was light all the way. Yay! I did make a wrong turn ... and did a U turn to get back on track. Finally, I found the right road. But then I hit a snag. I wandered around trying to find Unit 413. There wasn’t one. I turned my car back and asked a passer by for help.
Once inside, I did quite well … but where oh where was room 413? Yes, you guessed it. I had to ask someone. I reached the right room at last. My gorgeous 94 year old friend smiled and held my hands when she saw me. She was feeling nervous and disoriented in a new place – naturally, so I was glad I made it. Her son and daughter in law were grateful that I’d come. When I explained why I couldn’t come earlier—her daughter in law’s response blessed me. She too suffers from chronic illness so she fully understood.
On my way out, I got entangled in my merry-go-round routine once again. I walked in circles inside the Nursing home, getting further and further away from the entrance—trying different exit signs till I finally stopped to ask someone how to get out. Whew. My drive back home posed no problems as I breathed a prayer all the way home. When I turned into our road, I thanked God for a safe drive and a good visit. Ah! But what a lot it took out of me!
My friend’s daughter in law blessed me by understanding why I couldn’t come more often. If she realised that the drive was also a challenge, she might have been surprised but all the more sympathetic. My struggles reminded me that different things are difficult for different people. Most people wouldn’t find driving a challenge. But maybe something else is. There might be someone who's had a hard life, so even smiling is hard work. Another might find being in crowds overwhelming. Another might find keeping good relationships trying. Each of us have our own hangups, our own personalities and our own weaknesses, don’t we?
What a wonderful world it would be if everyone was accepting and gracious about each others’ foibles. It’s so easy to judge someone without knowing their full story. I’m glad I wasn’t judged today. May I be full of grace and understanding towards anyone who needs 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.” Collosians 3:12-14
A few weeks ago, I rushed off for a blood test. I hadn’t had my usual Quiet Time with God before I left, so I was eager to return for my appointment with the King. Once home, I was ready for my second cuppa for the day, this time with my Special Friend. I took out the unique cup and saucer I keep for such occasions. I made a steaming cuppa and placed it on the little table in our family room. I pulled back a chair for Jesus, then sat with Him, sipping my delicious, soothing cup of tea and chatting with Him, heart to heart. Mmmm. The tea refreshed me and His company revived me.
A few minutes later I glanced down and my eyebrows shot up. Oh no! The saucer had a piece chipped off and it’s exquisite beauty was marred. Sigh. But I knew what to do. I turned the chipped part away from me, then placed the cup back on it so it would hide the blemish. I smiled. Who would think it was flawed? The cup covered the broken part of the saucer. It now looked perfect!
Jesus through His death and resurrection, covers my sin, making me perfect in His sight. Isn’t that amazing? It sounds pretty unfair to me, but that’s exactly what He does. That day, I was struggling with guilt. I’d realised that I should have spoken words to enlighten a friend, but hadn’t been able to muster up the courage to do so. It was a bad choice made in a difficult moment which now weighed heavy on my shoulders. But … as I gazed at my cup and saucer, God warmed my heart with His grace and the weighty cloak of guilt fell off.
There are words I should speak but don’t. There are other words I don’t mean to say but I do. There are times my actions don’t match up to my convictions. Sometimes I let Him down. Too often I am selfish and want my own way. But … when I realise what I’d done or not done and repent of my sin, Jesus hears me. He covers me. He spreads His arms around me. He shields me with His feathers and holds me close, like an eagle with her young. The chipped saucer looked perfect from where I sat and through that picture Jesus whispered into my heart that yes, I might be a tarnished vessel, marred and scarred, but each time I repent of my sin—He covers my cracks and ugliness.
Perhaps you are in a difficult place today? Did you say something you now regret? Or perhaps you did something you wished you had not done? Don’t forget He died for you. He who calls us is always faithful. The instant we turn to Him in repentance, His forgiveness flows like a river to wash over our iniquities. As far as the East is from the West, so far does He remove our sins from us. What grace. What freedom. What joy.
Christ in me is my hope of glory!
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.
But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—
Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours
but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,
in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Well, we are back after 3 exciting weeks away. It was a wonderful, wonderful time, so thank you to all who wished us well and prayed for us. A huge thanks too to those who lavished their love on us. As I reflect now on our holiday, my heart bursts with gratitude to our Father God for keeping us safe and well throughout and showering us with blessings. We tasted gracious Sri Lankan hospitality, lots of scrumptious spicy food and breathed in the exquisite beauty of our land. We were able to connect with many dear people, revelling in love and laughter, making fresh memories and taking plenty of pictures to keep those moments alive.
It was the very first time in 12 visits to Sri Lanka though that I didn’t find time for shopping. I had to conserve my scarce energy supplies, so I used it for enjoying people instead. I did visit my publisher’s bookshop to buy a carton of my books to ship back home so was then able to buy a few small gifts to give friends back home. In earlier visits, I’d buy souvenirs of Sri Lanka for Aussie friends. This time I brought back souvenirs of God’s love. Perhaps it’s an indication of how God’s been wooing my heart in the last little while.
Among the gifts were key tags with verses on them. I took one for myself because God’s special message to me was on it. I looked around for keys to fit on my new special key-tag, but oops, there were none. The thing is that I already have two sets of key-rings—one with our house-keys and the other with my car keys, so my new key-tag was totally unnecessary. No! I take that back. It was needed. I promptly attached my invisible God-key to it and popped into in my bag.
A God-key? What is that? And what does it do, you ask.
It opens doors of course.