I was cleaning up my cluttered in box today when I came across an old email which I’d deliberately left on my computer, because I knew I would need it one day. A day like today! The picture in the email didn’t need much explanation.
What a beautiful picture of togetherness! Of faithfulness. Of companionship. I wonder if you have a friend like that in your life? A friend who waits for you every day? A friend who walks beside you, either figuratively or liiterally? I hope you do. We all need such friends, don’t we? Much of the richness in my life has come through relationship. Mostly, through the joys of friendship.
And so today, I muse on the heart warming topic of FRIENDSHIP!
As I look back through the museum of my mind, I can picture many remarkable, special people who have walked into my life over the past 54 years –– some who’ve appeared, disappeared and then re-appeared at different times, others who have stayed for the long haul, a good number who have remained in my friendship circle after 30, 40 or even 50 years!
My beloved Mum has been a very special and unique friend over my entire lifetime. A lifetime is huge, isn’t it? And so I raise my glass to her, my most long standing friend and a very precious one. No one could ever take the special place she occupies in my heart. My husband is of course my best friend – we’re shared many years of an intimate friendship since we pledged our love to one another 27 years 10 months and 2 days ago. My sisters were my first confidantes and have been part of my life for as long as I remember, as very special, loving chums and faithful prayer partners. I have other unique friends who are close and who too, are very special.
What is it that makes a great friend? Here are a few of the top qualities I value in friends.
1. One who understands me and accepts me just as I am
2. One who’s empathetic and a good listener
3. One who’s non judgmental
4. One who laughs with me
5. One who’s there for me, always; specially when the chips are down.
Does any of that resonate with you? Perhaps your friendships needs are very different to mine? Or perhaps there are similarities? I don’t know. I do know that all of us need our friends. That without friendship, life would be difficult; and much of its joy would be lost. That I am deeply grateful for the many wonderful friends who have enriched my life in many magnificent ways.
I sometimes ask myself a few questions.
“How can I be a better wife today, Lord”? “How can I be a better Mum”? “A better daughter? A better sister? A better neighbour”?
Today then comes the question. “How can I be a better friend today?"
To one friend, it may be to offer a listening ear. To another practical help. To a third friend, to bless her by sharing my own story. To yet another it might even be giving her the space she needs and leaving her alone for awhile. Because you know, sometimes that too can be true friendship. To one some words of encouragement. To a hurting friend the knowledge that I care. To someone facing tough times, the reminder that I am there for her no matter what she faces, whenever she needs me; and that her wellbeing matters deeply to me.
I’ve just spent two interesting days learning a lot about mental health. I returned from the experience transformed. I now feel a deeper compassion for those who suffer with mental illness. I also feel a fresh sense of empowerment as I try to walk beside hurting people I meet on my journey.
I even understand myself a bit better. I feel glad about how I’ve coped in certain situations that were hard to handle. Most of all, I feel deeply thankful for those special people in my life who safe guarded my mental health when I went through traumatic events or through difficult seasons.
I was horrified to hear that there are 1 million suicides a year the world over. Every suicide is a sad and preventable waste of a human life which in God’s eyes (and mine) is very precious. The thought came to me that some of those who lost their lives may have not done so, if they had just one true friend – one non judgmental friend who listened to them.
I’ve been deeply blessed by many caring friends in my friendship circle who have been there for me when I have needed them. Some of them have helped me keep my sanity during those times when I had forgotten my music; when I couldn’t dance in the rain on my own. What kept me going then was their understanding, their support and their prayers. To know that they cared made all the difference. To know they were there for me helped me find the music and to dance again. They are special. I will always be grateful to them.
And then… I also have one Forever Friend who will always be there for me – 24/7 without a break, during all of my lifetime and beyond. His name is Jesus. Yes, Jesus is my forever friend – He has taught me the true meaning of the word ‘Friend’.
Today I thank God for every friend who has walked into my life. I praise God for those who have been there for me when my world turned gray. For those who have rejoiced with me through the good times. For those who have prayed for me. For those who have accepted me just the way I am. For those who constantly encourage me. For those who have left an indelible mark on my life. I praise God for each friend who has added richness and splendour into my life like a beautiful tapestry, created by God Himself.
“Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” Albert Camus
During the last few weeks, I’ve been enjoying my evening walks around our neighbourhood Oval a little more than usual. I love this cold weather. I feel invigorated when I walk around, wrapped in a layer of cool, fresh wintry air, enjoying the beauty of a refreshing wintry world. A world which includes rolling hills and misty mountains, the rippling sea and dancing sunshine, soft cotton clouds, bright stars and dappled moonlight, a world of beauty and order created by a loving Father.
The other day, I wrapped up extra well for my evening walk, because it seemed to be a cold evening. I wore a striped, dark blue long sleeved T shirt and an old, soft white jumper. Over them both, I put on as a 3rd layer; my trusty, light comfortable jacket - one which has seen the glow of many winters. At first, all was well. I was nice and snug. I felt just right! But as my body got heated up by my walking, I started to feel a tad uncomfortable. After a little while, I decided I was too uncomfortable, so much so, that I had to do something about it!
I was listening to praise music on my mp3 player which was tucked into my jacket pocket. My house keys and little torch were in the other pocket. Without removing any of them from where they were, and while still not missing a beat in my walking – I managed to remove my jacket (still attached to me by the wires of my mp3; its headphones stuck in my ears)! Rather an intricate maneuvering it was!
Next, still walking and still holding onto that jacket, I removed my jumper. Thankfully there were no passers by to watch my strange performance. Jumper removed, the next achievement I had to aspire to, was to tie the jumper around my waist. That done finally, I put my light jacket back on once again – very carefully, so as to not disturb my mp3 player. Ah! That was so much better. I’d been feeling too hot. Now? Now, I felt just right! Perfect!
And so I continued on my merry way with one striped long sleeved T shirt and one light and airy jacket. That was exactly what was needed that evening, to have me feeling cool and comfortable for the entire duration of the walk. The jumper had been redundant. Thankfully my waist could hold it. And so I walked on happily again, unencumbered and cool as a cucumber!
Sometimes we put on attire that we don’t need, don’t you think? I am talking of course about emotional clothing that we often wear – not realising how both unnecessary and uncomfortable they are to have on! And how they don’t do us any good!
The hurt that a friend inflicted on me sometimes pops into my head and my heart. I am tempted then to put on that hurt. I wear it for awhile as a garment. I think and ponder over it for awhile. Does it help me? No! It hinders my peace. What does God require that I do? Take it off, of course. Let it go. And so I remove it and toss it aside. And then – just as I enjoyed freedom minus my jumper – this time too, I feel refreshed and much more comfortable. Walking minus a layer of unnecessary emotional baggage is intensely freeing. How silly I was to wear it in the first place.
I put on worry and anxiety sometimes when a situation seems to demand it. Am I helped? Is God glorified through it? Of course not. And so…. I flick them off me too. And yes, I feel much better, cooler, lighter, happier.
There are other ‘layers of clothing’ that hinder my walk with God. Envy is an ugly shawl; pride a choking necklace, anger a heavy, winter coat. They do not become me. They hinder my walk and my talk. And so I know what I need to do. Take them off. Keep them off.
Sometimes I put on fear. Fear is not clothing I’d advocate for any season. It does no good – at any time, day or night. When I go to our Father – He removes that piece of garb from me and instead wraps around me, a tender trust in Him. The trust is all I need.
The clothes that befit me as a child of God are those that wear well and can be worn during every season. Love, compassion and kindness are robes that bring joy to my heart (and God's heart too). Gratitude, helpfulness and goodness are soft, relaxed clothing, which add special beauty to the wearer. Patience, gentleness and self control, are all very comfortable attire that makes one feel light and free. Empathy, faithfulness and mercy never wear out, no matter what the season.
Yes, so often I need to change my clothing. And I instantly feel better for it. My new clothes make me feel relaxed and comfortable. They enhance my mood and add a new spring into my step. Besides, whenever I want to dance in the rain, I put on a soft cloak of faith and my special shoes of hope which make my dancing so effortless and so easy to do.
How about you? Have you found the right clothing to wear today?
I love music and song; don’t you? God often speaks to the depths of my soul through music. Like a many-splendored rainbow on a perfect autumn’s day, like the way reading a good book gives my heart wings, like the warm, reviving smiles of those who are near and dear to me, like refreshing spring showers bringing freshness and vitality to my world…. music for me is one of God's rich, glorious, breathtaking creations!
I may be old fashioned. My taste in music may not be yours. I confess I don’t always relish very modern music. Rock music’s not my favourite genre. I go for ‘musical music’ – the kind which boasts gentle melodies! I take pleasure in listening to voices in harmony. I love hearing soothing sounds in preference to loud jarring ones; bright happy tunes rather than unusual, discordant ones. So yes, I may be rather sedate and old fashioned in my taste.
But music is music – a language you and I can share even if our dialects may be a tad different? Making music’s always been for me a grand adventure. Many’s the time when music has had the ability to touch my heart as nothing else would. Many’s the occasion when I have come into God’s presence needing to feel His Hand upon me; to know His peace and His renewal. As I’ve sat still in worship; as I’ve listened and waited upon God; as I immersed myself in beautiful music – I’ve been transformed. I’ve been refreshed and revived and made whole again.
I have no doubt that you too can say the same? Yes, Music’s a common language, isn’t it?
Perhaps music will be the very special language of heaven?
When I was growing up, I enjoyed singing in the Ladies’ College choir for many years, performing joyfully in the ‘Chapel of the Hope of the world’. They were ‘good old days’. Gladsome times. Happy times. Our choir mistress was one who excelled at her job. She was a very strict disciplinarian and we were sometimes terrified of her. But she knew her music. No doubt about that. Singing in a choir she conducted was a fabulous experience.
There were a few occasions when we had to do something rather unusual. When there were particularly long notes to be held – and it was practically impossible to hold our breaths for that length of time – we were permitted to hold our breath in little groups. We practiced what’s called ‘staggered breathing’. A few of us would hold our breath at first – and a little while later – a few others would take over. And then – when they’d held it for a bit - a few others would take over. And so it went on. What a wonderful way to sing together as a choir. Breathing in this way allowed the music to continue on and on without a break.
The music was seamless – as if all of us kept singing effortlessly with no need to take a single breath as we sang. No one listening could tell. But it could not have been accomplished singly. We needed the whole choir to participate in order to do it. We needed each other. On our own – an impossible task. Collectively – not just made possible but also an enchanting melody that went on and on; blessed our listeners and glorified our Creator.
As I contemplate life today, I realise that I have a choice each day. To live for myself or to live for others. To sing a song alone – or to sing it with others. Perhaps there’s someone who is unable to hold her note and needs me to hold it for her?
Who’s note should I hold onto today?
God has created us to be a family. We are as a choir who sing together. When some of us can’t hold on to their notes – others need to take the note over till those who can’t can get their breath back.
Whose note should I hold onto today?
Sometimes, in this crazy old world, the music fades. Its sounds may even be stilled completely. But God has not left us alone. He has given other singers who take up our song, specially when our voices break; when our breath falters; when our music stops.
How do I hold onto someone else’s note?
By helping her up, when she falls down?
By praying for him, when he finds it hard to pray?
By believing on her behalf, when her faith is weak?
By empathising with him, as he goes through troubled times?
By listening to her without judgement, when her heart is broken?
By taking up his cause, when he’s too tired to go on?
By crying with her, when tears are all she’s got?
By being there for him, for as long as it takes?
As I face a new week – let me remember those whose songs need to be sung but who may find it hard to keep singing. There are some who may want me to hold their notes as they struggle through a rugged point in their journey - perhaps their music sheet has blown away in the wind? Let me take a deep breath then and hold onto their note for as long as needed - until they get their breath back. Until they find their music. Until the path widens for them. Until they are able to hold their note again.
Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand! And someone who will sing their song back to them when they have forgotten the music.
Whose note can I sing today?
This past week has been a difficult one. Last Tuesday, we heard some very tragic news. The son of dear friends had accidentally fallen to his death from a high cliff. What a terrible shock for his family and for all who knew him. It was too hard to take in. A 24 year old Christian boy in the prime of his life. His life snatched from him in a trice! Where was God in all of this? I grieved for his parents and for his brother. I grieved for a beautiful life cut short. I grieved for the way his parents lives had been changed so drastically in an instant. I wished I could undo what had occurred.
Over the past 6 months or more, I have been hearing daily of many in our friendship circle and beyond who are going through very difficult circumstances. It seems to me that hard times are on the increase, everywhere – the world over. Seven weeks ago, our family doctor and his son met with a terrible accident and are still in hospital. What a dreadful impact the accident made on their family. Their lives will never be the same. While I was in Sri Lanka a few weeks ago, we heard the terrible news of another similar incident where a 15 year old girl was crushed and was in the ICU struggling for her life. We prayed much for her. Two weeks later she died.
A dear friend has had ‘no life’ for many years now – thanks to many medical issues which never get sorted out, despite her undergoing several major operations. She’s in her forties. Far too young to have ‘no life’! How I wish I had a wand to wave over her and give her back her life! A close friend who’s a single Mum has been suddenly made redundant. How will she cope? My heart goes out to her and my prayers are with her. Many people I know are battling cancer – even little children. Too many hurting people. No answers. No glimmer of light in their darkness.
Several years ago, when going through very painful circumstances, God challenged me to take Proverbs 3:5 & 6 as two of my life verses. I realised then that it was futile to spend too much time on the question ‘Why?’. Instead it was better to concentrate on a different question ‘What now?’ I decided to ‘lean not on my own understanding’ as the verse told me to do. And so, when difficult circumstances blocked my way or were difficult to surmount, I went to God but without taking a ‘Why?’ question with me. I realised that my job was not to question why. It was instead, to put my hand into God’s Hand and to trust Him. It was one of the best decisions I have made.
Why do I say that? Because I have come to realise that God doesn’t always give us the answers to our heart’s cries. He doesn’t tell us why. He only tells us that He cares deeply for us, more than we an ever imagine. He knows about everything you and I go through. He understands our pain. He walks with us through the valleys. And our part is to trust Him.
But when I see friends and family and (even people I don’t know) going through deep, distressing seasons, my ‘why?’ surfaces. In my own life – it’s much easier. You see, after I’ve been through a tough season, I have found many good reasons for why things didn’t turn out the way I’d have liked. That makes trusting a lot easier the next around. When I encounter the next difficult season, I know that He will bring about good out of the bad; that no matter how awful it seems, He has it all under control.
I have seen God build my character out of brokenness; I have found Him bringing me closer to Him through my trials. When people have failed me, I have found my Treasure in Jesus. I have found eternal riches in the midst of pain. Yes, trusting God was enough.
But when others go through hard times, I need answers, because the picture then gets distorted. ‘Father God – I find it hard to understand. Help me understand’. And sometimes comes even the why question! ‘Why God! Why?’
As I journey through life there are times when I have no answers. Instead, I have a God to run to. My dance steps may slow down and even stop. I place myself in His tender Hands to carry me and He does the dancing then.
All I have is God. And the knowledge that He has been faithful in my life. And the promises from His word that He cares and is in control.
Sometimes there are no answers. Only tears. Brokenness. Pain. Questions. Sadness. Difficulty.
God is God. He has shown me that truth over and over again. As I have trusted Him with my own pain and sorrows, with my own heartaches and brokenness, I’ve seen Him come through for me time after time after time. And so, I can look again to Him on behalf of my hurting friends. And know with certainty born of His faithfulness in my own life – that the world and all who live in it are still safe in His loving and sovereign Hands. I wall grieve with those who grieve; I will bring them to God in prayer; I will ‘be there’ for them as far as I am able. And I will keep clinging onto my God who has always been faithful.
Sometimes all I have is God. And He is enough.
Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in a better land,
We’ll know the meaning of our tears
And then sometime we’ll understand.
So trust in God, through all thy days
Fear not, for He does hold thine Hand.
Though dark, thy way still sing and praise.
Sometime, sometime we’ll understand.
I would like to dedicate my blog this week to David Sanjiv Gulhasekaram (1987 - 2012),
who died far too young, but lived a vibrant life which touched many. He will always live
in the hearts of those who knew him and he rejoices now in the presence of Jesus.
When my son Asela was 2 years old, I began a support group for Mums of little children. We called it Mum and Me. It was a wonderful experience – filled with Mums and their little ‘Me’s! We Mums bonded very well. The kids got on like a house on fire. We learnt a lot. We thrived. Twenty years later, the many beautiful friendships we made through Mum and Me still stand. And so, ….. about 14 years after I started Mum and Me, when I began a different kind of support group in Australia, I had a definite idea in my mind what REFRESH should be like.
I expected a carbon copy of ‘Mum and Me’. I expected the Mums to flock in through our doors, thick and fast. I expected to soon have 4 ladies in our Planning and Prayer team. I decided we’d have questions ready for discussion each week. I was sure that a different lady would take over the Food Roster each week. I expected the group meetings to last 1 1/2 hours. I expected it to be easy to share spiritual things.
Right? Wrong. Completely wrong.
Nothing went the way I expected it to. Firstly, we had only 2 ladies in our Planning and Prayer team for the first 4 years. Since then, we’ve had 3—never 4! (Do you think God is laughing at me and my bright ideas? I suspect He is!) I discovered early on, that unlike at Mum and Me where we had had planned discussions on a definite topic each time we met (topics like Discipline, Feeding our kids, Teaching Manners and so on) - it was not needed at REFRESH.
Every Thursday, ladies would turn up with their own issues and their own needs. So our role was not to force a discussion down their throats. It was to listen to them and encourage them where they were at, at that particular point in time.
What of my perfect time duration of a 1 1/2 hour long meeting. I was wrong there too. REFRESH turned into a kind of café—where Mums came when they were free, some at 10, some at 10.30, some at 11, some turned up even at 11.30, the time we were supposed to be dispersing. So our meetings went on not just for 1 ½ hours but for twice that amount of time – 3 whole hours, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. And that was all right. I liked the fact that Mums wanted to stay on and chat. I liked it that there were different dynamics at play with us being a group of 5 or 6 Mums at times or just 2 and 3 Mums, while at other times it was just a one on one interaction which was also needed.
No—REFRESH was very different to what I envisaged. How naïve I had been! But you know what? I am so glad! For one thing – God has shown me He’s the boss of REFRESH. Apart from that….. I am never sure what God is up to! And of course, He is always up to something! Just this past week I was very busy advertising REFRESH in 5 different schools, distributing many flyers; praying daily that we would see at least one new face into REFRESH this week. We haven’t seen any new faces for awhile. I was determined, that by my hard work it would happen. Did it?
No, it didn’t! No, it didn’t.
(There’s God’s laughing at me again! I can almost hear it!)
But you know what? The meeting was even better than I expected so it didn’t matter that my hard work had not paid off in the way I expected. Last Thursday, 6 of us ‘oldies’ turned up. We came in one at a time which was great, since we could listen to each one in turn. At the end, the conversation even turned onto spiritual matters. A big ‘Wow’ on that one. That was definitely orchestrated by God. It was a wonderful surprise. We had our 3 hour meeting from 10—1 and I loved it. It was a very blessed time.
Yes, God was up to something. And it was all GOOD!
What about you today? Are you wondering what God is doing? Has He done something different to what you expected in your life? Are you wondering why He is leading you through that unexpected alley or pushing you up that rugged mountain slope? Do you think He’s made a mistake? Do you think you’d like to knock on heaven’s door and make a few suggestions to God as to how he should handle His Universe?
Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. All things work together! On their own they may not seem to do so. Brought together by a loving Father – they do. An intricate, beautiful pattern that only God can see with clarity. So you and I can relax. We can go with the flow—allowing ourselves to go where God leads us, certain that despite the difficult moments (and difficult days, weeks months and years) we might trudge through, it is finally going to be all right.
I laugh at myself now as I look back at REFRESH and remember all my grand plans. None of them worked out. But of course God’s plans always outshone mine. Every time. He knows what He is doing. And it is all good! And so I shall follow my God and let Him lead.
How refreshing it is, that His thoughts are not my thoughts and my thoughts not His. How very refreshing that His ways are not our ways; that His ways are always glorious.
“As for God His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him. It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” Psalm 18:30,32
10 days later…… April 22nd 2012
10 days since my last entry. Here I am in Sri Lanka, enjoying a precious, God-given time with Mum. Thank you, Father God; “Thank You”!
I have been here for 5 days and have 7 more beautiful days to look forward to. Today, I am concerned. My husband tells me that our son Asela is sick with a tummy ache since yesterday. Alarm bells ring. Is Asela developing an attack of Angioedema again?
This time I have learnt my lesson. To God first, then to others! And so I go to Him. I ask Him to undertake. I wait on Him. Then…. I write a few emails to my close family and friends, asking for prayer for Asela. I pray together for him with my dear sister, Sal.
What do I hear God say? "Trust me, Anusha. Wait upon me. I care. I am in control'.
He knows. He cares. He has always been faithful.
I know He will continue to be faithful.
I lay my burden down.
I trust Him.
April 30th - Adelaide – Back home and at my desk…..
18 days since my first journal entry of 12th April. I think back and remember vividly, the worry, the fear, the uncertainty, the stress, the panic, the brokenness I’d experienced that day, on the 12th of April 2012. It was very very hard then, to know what I should do - to choose between being there for Mum or being there for my husband and my son. I wanted to ‘be there for all 3 of them! Could I?
Today, I returned home after 12 beautiful days with my Mum. Days filled with long, lovely meals and long, beautiful ‘heart to heart’ conversations – lots of love and laughter and tender moments. A perfect 12 days. Even the sadness of saying ‘Goodbye’ could not erase the joy we’d shared.
Mum has been there for me, supporting me and cheering me on through all of my life. As an adult I have enjoyed a close and enduring relationship with her. Not just as her daughter. But also as a close and cherished friend. The 12 days I spent with her were a colossal surprise gift, wrapped in bows of blessedness, placed in my grateful hands by a bountiful Father (and also a very generous brother)! A gift given for Mum and myself to take pleasure in, made all the more special because it was not one we expected to enjoy.
What of my son? Did he stay well during my trip? Oh yes, he did. Oh yes, he did! There were a few alarming moments when he did get sick; when Shan and I wondered if he would get sicker. But God was faithful as He promised. And kept him safe in His care.
I am very grateful to my husband who was an exceptional Dad as always. Shan did an amazing job of looking after our son and kept the home fires burning warmly, despite the busy life he leads with both work and study. Thank you God for Shan.
As I look back, I am filled with joy. When I went to God 18 days ago, the Lord led me. He blessed me with His wisdom. He laid a carpet of gladness for me to walk on. He filled my cup to the brim. He also blessed me with close family and friends who faithfully prayed for us. And then…..He answered those prayers.
Once again, my God was faithful.
I will praise Him today. I will offer Him my thanks. I will continue to trust Him as I look to my future. I will continue to dance in the rain and the storm, knowing that the rains He brings into my life are those that bring growth and life, rich blessing and fresh evidence of His grace – even as the earth that’s rained upon, becomes green and fertile; lush, abundant and beautiful.
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known. Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make rough places smooth.
For I am the Lord your God; the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”
Isaiah 42:16, 43
Thursday, April 12th 2012 (12 noon)
I sit here staring at the computer screen, my mind darting in many different directions. I desperately need God’s guidance. I’ve packed my bags to leave for Sri Lanka; and am scheduled to leave in a couple of days. The purpose of my visit? To spend time with my dearly loved Mum who’s been very ill. At 87, I don’t know how much time she has left on this earth. I so desire to spend at least a few more precious days with her before she goes home to God.
My dilemma? My dearly loved son also has been very sick. Asela needs me. My husband needs me too as we care together for our son. In my earthly wisdom I don’t have a clue as to what I should do. Should I should go now to spend time with Mum? Or go later when my son’s illness is stabilised? But then.....would that be too late to spend time with Mum?
A few hours ago, I sought to connect with a few close Christian family and friends to ask for their prayers. But not one of the 6 people I wrote to responded. Perhaps they were busy.
In my desperate state, I badly need a soft shoulder to lean on, but have none. A hundred panicky thoughts race through my mind in the blink of an eye. It feels like being pelted by ice cold hailstones, while Ialready shivering in winter rains. What do I do? I have no idea. No idea whatsoever!. But wait….! I do know Someone who does have the answer. And so I come to Him with an open mind and a willing heart.
“Lord, show me the way I should take. I lift up my soul to you.”
I plead with Him. “I don’t know what to do, Lord. But you do.”
I pick up the Word and start reading.
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known. Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make rough places smooth. Isaiah 42:16.
At last I have understood. I smile with God in understanding. He speaks through His word: “Look to me alone, Anusha. I am your wisdom and strength. Trust me wholeheartedly. Don’t look to others. Look only to me. I will guide you in your darkness.”
My weakness? To run to family and friends rather than to the Source of all wisdom. To seek human help first and God’s help second. Does that work? It might or it might not. Is it what’s required? Of course not! God alone knows what I need to do. No one else has the wisdom and foresight He has. And so my first source of action should be to be to run to Him for help. He will supply my need. He will comfort me. He will direct me. Others are important, yes and a source of much blessing. But my first course of action must be to seek Him.
And so…I smile with God. I lay my heavy burden down. I reach out to hold God’s Hand. I look up, and catch His light in my darkness.
I will trust Him. I will follow His lead. I will lean on Him alone.
He is always faithful.
PS Several hours later.... all my friends had responded. I was glad they hadn't written back at once, because God was able to speak to me through their silence. Now that I had aknowledged and looked to God for His help as He required of me, it was all right to be comforted in their loving concern and prayers. Once my priorities were right - He sent me others who could walk the road with me.
Thank you God.
And thank you God for my caring friends who faithfully prayed for me.
I am presently in warm, sunny (and sometimes rainy) Sri Lanka. It’s April 2012. The weather at hand is exactly the weather which a Colombo April often promises. Warm, muggy, sticky. Hot! Too hot! When I move around the house, I feel the sweat trickle down my unsuspecting back! I so enjoy sitting under a fan doing nothing!. I love having a cold shower. Walking a few steps on the main road makes me feel I am covered in a cloak of warmth.
"Heat" and I are definitely not friends. Never have been. But you know – even hot weather such as this does have its compensations. I can dress happily in shorts and a light blouse with just rubber thongs on my feet. We can sit out in the garden for a chat. Cold showers don’t turn me into a block of ice. Yes, warm weather has its compensations. As I reflect on the warmth – I contrast it with the cold. And think back to our last Winter in Adelaide…!.
The month is June. A cold winter’s day. I wake up – pad my way to the bathroom and wash my face. I weigh myself for the day. 131.8 pounds! (Sigh.) Off to the bedroom to put on some clothes.
In previous winters, I usually threw over my thick winter dressing gown and went to the kitchen to get breakfast for my family. But this year is different. I decide that I prefer being fully dressed when pottering around the kitchen, instead of being adorned in my thick, uncomfortable, scratchy, winter dressing gown.
So this year I do it different. As I wake up and shower, I change into my comfortable home clothes. Usually that means a pair of pants, a T shirt and a thick pullover to start off (usually replaced by a thinner cardigan as I get warmed up). On my feet, I put on a pair of socks. Then slide my feet quickly into the battered and old but very comfy cloth shoes which I wear around the house each winter.
This morning I don my clothes cheerfully, shivering a little since the house feels cold. My underwear feels lovely and soft. So does my T shirt. And yes, my trousers too. Finally, I put on my socks. I am surprised! They also feel extra soft and comfortable on my feet. Never mind that I was wearing my oldest pair which felt scratchy in the summer.
I like the feel of soft clothes, don’t you?
I smile as I realise why all my clothes feel so beautifully soft. It’s the winter-time drying of clothes that has done it. No sun. No heat. Only a mild warmth to dry my clothes this Winter. When clothes dry in the summer sun, they often dry quickly. But the sun sucking up the wetness leaves them scratchy and ‘hard’. But when clothes dry slower in the winter sun, their softness remains.
There are things to delight in during winter aren't there? But you know… winter often has a bad name. Most people would vote ‘Yes’ for ‘summer’ and ‘No’ for winter. I vote different. Not just because my clothes are extra soft today. More so because I know that every season is needed. If life were summer all year long, I bet many folks would tire of it.
Yes, there is rain – lots of it during an Adelaide winter. Yes, the skies are mostly overcast. Yes, it is often cold and wet and sometimes miserable.
But then… think of the wonderful things about winter. Winter times are fresh and cold and invigorating. The grey skies of winter make me appreciate the sunshine even more, when it comes. I love sleeping in winter – cuddling a lovely, warm husband. That is such a special pleasure! And it’s fun to anticipate the beautiful days of spring – because of course there is always great fun in anticipation.
Wintry days in life may be sometimes hard. They may be cold, wet and miserable.
But… dare I say it? Winter days are good days. Winter days have their own enchantment.
So wait… don’t discard them. Don’t frown at the wintry days in your life. Life’s wintry days have their uses. A time of waiting and watching for happier days? A time of enjoying the softness of God’s care? Of enjoying the invigoration that the cold brings into our lives?
My winter clothes were far better than my summer clothes. Far far softer.
Lessons learnt in the wintry days of life are also soft and sure – from my Master’s own beautiful Hands!
It had been a very pleasant half an hour. I’d been on my evening walk around the Oval. I was wending my way back home when I saw it. It looked like a star, but it was moving. It kept moving closer to the moon – the beautiful, polished, silvery, football-shaped moon that was smiling brightly down at me. The twinkling lights of the aeroplane drew very close to the moon and then started moving away.
I was fascinated! As my feet trod home-wards, I kept my eyes on it. But suddenly something very strange occurred. I could suddenly see from the corner of my eyes that the moon was receding. The moon seemed to be moving away from the plane.
No! It was just how it seemed to me. That’s all it was. Just like the ground and the trees seem to move when I sit inside a plane that’s begun to taxi around the runway of the airport; that's how the moon 'moved'! A moving object seems to be still and the still object seems to be moving at times! An illusion.
And so I realised, that although it looked as if the moon was racing across the sky, it really wasn’t. Although it seemed as if the moon was racing away from the aeroplane, in actual fact it wasn't! Yes, the moon does move all the time, just as the earth does. However, what was happening now was different. In relation to the moving aeroplane, the moon was stationary. But looks are deceptive sometimes, aren’t they? As clearly shown in this instance!
The truth was that it was the plane was moving away from the moon!
A distortion of facts. An error in my vision.
I reflected then that it was just as it was with God and myself. God and us! God and humankind.
Sometimes, when cirucmstances go askew, it’s easy to feel that God has moved away! Where is God then? Is He around? Does He care? Has He moved away? Is He asleep? Should I wake Him up?
But of course, the truth is far grander than that. God never ever moves away from me. If there is one thing I am sure of today, it is that God is. And that He is who He says He is. A God of compasion. A God of love. A God of tender mercy. And Grace. He never move aways from me. He never moves away from you. He is always there! Yes. Always!
It is I who move away from Him. I do it with my indifference. I do it with my pride. Or my self focus. I do it with my doubt. And my ill will towards others. I do it when I forget to look at the whole picture. And see only part of His story. When I gaze at the wrong speck in the sky!
No – God never ever moves away from me.
He is even closer than I realise.
Sometimes I do things in auto pilot. Don’t you?
Take this morning for instance. I found I’d placed an empty cheese container on top of the microwave – the spot where I often place items for recycling. But surely there was still some cheese left inside? I knew there was. How then was it was it that the box was lying empty on top of my microwave?
It was a puzzle. Had I thrown the cheese away by mistake? A cursory glance inside the bin proved otherwise. It took me several hours to solve the mystery. I finally found the missing cheese in an empty flora box inside the fridge.
I’d hidden the cheese in a flora container. Hiding it is one way of ensuring that the cheese would still be available when I needed it. I was planning to make a Macaroni cheese later in the week. If I didn’t hide it, perhaps the fridge goblins may have snapped it up? You know whom I mean! (Yes, the other members of my family! Sh… don’t tell!)
“So that’s where the cheese was!”, I thought to myself with relief.
There was this time when my friend asked for a cup of coffee. But what did I do? I’d put in a tea bag into her mug instead. Why a tea bag when I knew she only drinks coffee? I have no idea!
There are times when I’ve locked my front door before stepping out. A few moments later, I’ve wondered if I’d locked it or not! Did I lock it? Or did I not? Hmmm! Know what I mean?
Wouldn’t it be lovely if all our ‘auto pilot’ moments were special ones that blessed others?
I’d like in my auto pilot moments, to give away something precious to someone who needed it. Or to be patient when someone behaves badly. I’d like it if in those moments, if God’s love would shine through my eyes.
We have just been celebrating the most important day in History. Easter. The time of new birth! The season of HOPE! Of forgiveness. Of re-creation. Love that redeemed. Love that sacrificed His life. Love that gave His all so that you and I might live.
Oh that in our intentional moments and in our auto pilot moments, this same love would win every time. Oh that the Agape love which made Easter possible would always take centre stage in our lives!
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. James 2:8
Lord, let me reflect you when I am aware of being yours!
Let me reflect you all the time!