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!
At the end of last year, my extended family in Australia, (4 couples, one 21 year old and one pet dog), spent 5 memorable days, 400 kilometers away from where my family live, in the picturesque little town of Mildura. It was a wonderfully happy time filled with lots of family togetherness, laughter, play, fun, yummy food, games galore, interesting hours of sightseeing and so much more. We returned home, fully refreshed and filled with the special joy that comes from spending meaningful days with much loved kith and kin.
The trip to Mildura from Adelaide was a 4 – 5 hour trip. What impressed me was that on our route to the little town, there were many stretches when the road ran perfectly straight. On our numerous treks of exploration in this beautiful continent Down Under, I’ve often held my breath when Shan did an overtaking act on the roads – when he had to move speedily to the wrong side of the road so we could overtake a slow moving vehicle, before we got back to our side of the road once again. Not that Shan is a bad driver. On the contrary, Shan is a very skilful driver and an expert behind the wheel. I take my wifely hat off to him. But having to briefly swing out onto the wrong side of the road (a necessity in order to overtake) somehow makes me very nervous.
On these wonderfully straight roads leading to Mildura though, I could relax. We could clearly see the road for miles and miles ahead, so I’d no doubt in my mind that we would safely overtake a slower vehicle with no danger whatsoever that another vehicle, traveling at lightning speed toward us, would suddenly emerge on our horizon
As I looked over some of our Mildura trip pictures recently, my eyes were drawn to the picture of the straight road, so I placed it as my desktop picture for the day. I gazed at it many times throughout that day and enjoyed looking at it. Straight roads are easy to maneuver aren’t they? You know what you get. You know what’s ahead of you. You know when a vehicle is approaching from miles away. No nasty surprises lurking around a bend.
As I thought about the beauty of the straight road, I also realised that with the lack of nasty surprises was also a distinct lack of adventure and thrill. Yes, the straight road seems a far safer and easier road to travel on. But then, aren’t roads with bends in them far more enchanting?
God’s gift to us is usually a road with many twists and turns. A road where His light is shed only for the next little while. Beyond that is His ken. Beyond that is God’s ‘Trust Me’ board. And we have to trust as we travel.
It may be easier to anticipate and easier to navigate a straight road through the bumpy terrain that life brings our way. But then, we’d also lose the wonderful surprise element and much of its joy. We would lose out on our happy surprises wouldn’t we?
Additionally, what would we learn of trusting God if we knew what was around the corner – or if there were no corner – only a straight long road ahead of us, boring and safe and known? That’s what kingdom living is all about – the thrill of the unknown – the joy of trusting an unknown future into the Known and Trusted Hands of a loving God.
And so – as I thought about it, I realised that I needed to keep dancing on the road, be it straight and wide or winding and narrow. Not a dance in the rain when the road ahead is straight and the path clearly visible. But instead a confident skip and a hop and a jump on a curvy road, even if I can’t see further than my nose. Because God assures me that He is leading me.
Let me dance my way through life, no matter what the road and no matter what the weather. I know whose hand I hold. And it is a sure Hand. It’s the same Hand that has guided my hand for close to four decades and has proved faithful not once but a zillion times over. He is more than worthy of my trust.
Let me trust Him!
I walked down our steep, sloped driveway. It was time for my evening walk. The rain had fallen earlier in the day. Now, I hoped that the grey sky hadn’t more showers to surprise me with. I preferred to walk in dry conditions if I could. Yes, I loved the sound of rain when I was safe and snug indoors. But if out walking – a beautiful sun swept evening suited me much better.
As I reached the road, I glanced at Mitsy. Mitsy is my car. My lovely little blue Mazda 121. I’d parked Mitsy at the kerb opposite my driveway when I’d returned from work that day.
What I noticed now was that there was a lovely dry patch neatly formed under Mitsy. It was very visible. Every where else, the ground was wet after the drizzle. But not so under Mitsy. Mitsy had covered the ground of course. As cars do. Somehow, I am not sure why… but to my eyes that day, it was kind of comforting to see that dry area under her.
If I’d been a cat, I may have crept under Mitsy when it rained, so I would not get wet. If I was an ant, a ladybug, a beetle or a caterpillar, I would have done the same. It looked a lovely cosy place, to be safe and dry from the incessant winter rains.
As I reflected on the perfect cover that Mitsy had been to the ground below (and also to any ants or other creepy crawlies who’d benefit from her shelter), I also reflected on my Father God. He has always been my favourite cover – my favourite hiding place.
When I needed protection from life’s storms, He was there. When I needed comfort, He was there. When I needed a refuge, He was there. When I needed His wisdom, He was there. When I needed a safe place, He was there. Even now….whenever I need protection and comfort – I know I can run to Him. And be safe.
Yes, God is the perfect cover for every situation. The perfect place to be in all day, every day, all year long.
‘He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1,2
This past week was one where the rain fell steadily in my life. Sometimes it splashed lightly in little droplets that danced on the window pane of my heart. At other times it bucketed down in gushing storms that made my heart cry out in pain.
My dearly loved Mum was very ill. She was in the ICU in a hospital that was too far away for me to visit. I live in Australia. Mum lives in Sri Lanka. My regular daily communication with her via email was suddenly severed. The same day that she was transferred to the ICU, my son who’d also been sick needed to be taken to hospital. Trouble usually comes in twos and three’s doesn’t it?
Mum has been my one-woman cheering squad through all of my life and she has excelled at it. She’s been my favourite, regular, daily email correspondent over many many years. My special friend and confidante. Her all encompassing love has been unconditional. No one can replace the very special place she occupies in my heart. My Mum is unique and loved more than she would ever know.
I was glad I could be there for my son. That was a comfort. But I couldn’t be there for my Mum. I longed to go and visit my Mum. I longed to hold her hand and tell her how special she was to me. I longed to comfort her. I longed to ease her pain and discomfort. I longed to communicate with her. I longed to tell her how much I loved her.
But of course I could not do any of these things.
And so I did the next best thing. I turned to God and asked Him to take care of her. I asked my friends to pray. I communicated feverishly with my family who live all over the globe. I prayed she would get better. I was very grateful to my siblings near at hand who were doing so much for her.
On the Monday morning, I hopped on the 8.30 bus to the City. My plan was to take my son his breakfast, spend time with him and to bring him back home. The O bahn ride is always one I enjoy. An ordinary bus travelling on an extraordinary rail – zooming through very pretty countryside at the rate of 100 kmph. I love it.
Did my heartache that morning prevent me from enjoying the ride? Surprising as it may sound, the answer is ‘No’! In actual fact, the ride brought balm to my soul. I put on the headphones of mp3 player and listened to praise music as I travelled. I talked to God. I prayed for the needs of my family and friends. I prayed for my Mum and my son, both who needed extra prayer.
Around me, the world looked fresh and beautiful on that cool autumn morning. We travelled through many sun dappled groves where Gum trees waved their beautiful green branches and a lively creek gurgled it’s way downstream. I caught many glimpses of amazing beauty around me. I couldn’t help but drink it all in and worship my Creator in gratitude. And God spoke to me.
‘I have created all of this, Anusha. You can entrust your Mum into MY Hands’, He seemed to say. It felt like a foretaste and a brief glimpse of heaven as I worshipped. A breathtaking moment of realisation. A gift from God to me that day. And so I knew, that no matter what happened – I could trust God with Mum’s future and her life.
As a child of God I have a hope that shines brightly through the darkest night, that grabs my heart and keeps it secure through the fiercest storm. I know that when I reach the end of life’s journey, I will step into something even better. Life with God. And that’s not all. I am assured that on the other side of the grave, I would also meet my loved ones who know Him. Death is not the end. It is a doorway to something far better. Something far better than I could ever imagine.
And so that day, God reached down and comforted me. He assured me of His best for my precious Mum. He told me He was in control. He told me I could trust Him. Once again, I learnt to keep dancing in the rain even through the storm. Yes, the rain fell all week. But I glimpsed a beautiful rainbow which dazzled and beckoned at me from the far end of the storm. My heart quickened. My soul was dipped in the beauty and freshness of hope. My prayers were answered.
My dance was one of unceasing praise to my Amazing God.
And unceasing prayers (of thanksgiving and hope) for my Beloved Mum!
It was sizzling merrily on the stove. I went to my kitchen and opened the lid. I stirred the minced beef curry, peering in to check how it was doing. It didn’t look right. So I looked again.
It’s colour wasn’t quite dark enough, I decided. Perhaps the curry powder wasn’t sufficient! I opened my jar of roasted curry powder and using a teaspoon, added a little more.
I next opened my tin of dark roasted curry powder and spooned a little of that too. And then for good measure, I put in a spoonful of chillie powder in.
I stirred the minced beef briskly. This time, it looked a rich, dark brown mixture; a delicous aroma wafting up my nostrils. Mmmm! That smelt good! And it looked....just right! I left it to cook for a little while more and then turned off the flame.
When God looks at me, I think He sees what I could become. So he pours a bit of hardship on me – or else, He allows trials and storms to happen. He lets me experience life and difficulty and tough times. All because He loves me.
He knows far better than I do about what’s best for me. While the curry powders of life rain on me, I look at Him puzzled and unhappy.
“Why God?’ I ask Him. ‘Why me, God?”
But He the Master, knows what’s best. And when He looks the next time, perhaps the melting pot of life’s circumstances would have changed me to become even more beautiful in His eyes.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6,7
It’s for my good, isn’t it?
Let me cherish the trials…. while He changes me!
“I look forward to popping in, to learn many new dance steps from you.” Those were words that my friend Lilani wrote in my guest book in response to my blog last week. (Thank you Lilani!) Her words kick-started my brain into a new train of thought.
I know that I’d probably learn many dance steps of life from her. In fact, I’d learn more steps from all of you out there! Life is an adventure in learning isn’t it? We can glean much wisdom from many others who walk with us – those who’ve gone before, those who travel by our side, to us, even those who follow behind.
I thought about how much I loved to dance. When I was a teenager I’d danced merrily at many teenage parties and thrived on it. When I became a Christian at the age of 16 – I stopped dancing for awhile. Instead, I looked forward to the day when I would dance with my husband – at home – at weddings – wherever. I was in for a surprise. My beloved husband wasn’t into dancing. And so, for many years, we didn’t dance at all – (not counting the little jigs I did in my home when in an cheery mood)!
Till November 29th 2003. On that beautiful day, Shan and I attended my niece Dil’s wedding in the very picturesque setting of the Blue Mountains. The wedding included dancing. An exuberant unknown lady in an exuberant party mood, pulled my reluctant husband to his feet. I grabbed my chance. I danced with Shan! And we greatly enjoyed it. Since then – we have been dancing. Not very often. But often enough. And much to my dear husband’s surprise, it’s been great fun!
This past week, I’ve been pondering on the dance steps in life that I’ve been learning over the years. Reaching middle age may not seem attractive to the young. But you know what – I’ve discovered that with increased age comes increased wisdom. (Well – perhaps a little more wisdom?) Maneuvering ones way through life is not always easy, is it? But experience and age bring new inner strength and also more of the skills needed to make dancing possible and easier to do, especially in wet weather. I am so glad I stand where I do today, having learnt a few new dance steps along the way. Being on the right side of 50, is a great place to be – despite a body which is no longer youthful and feet that ache when I dance!
Here are some of the dance steps I’ve learnt:
1. Yield myself totally to God
2. Trust in Him implicitly. When I’m perplexed – keep trusting.
3. Expect great things from a great God
4. Practice Gratitude
5. Do what He asks me to do. Be obedient!
6. Be blameless and pure as far as possible
7. Forgive! Forgive! Forgive!
8 Learn Discipline. Learn patience!
9. Smile Often. Laugh at myself.
10 Look for the good in others
11. Pray often.
12. Fill my days with thanksgiving and praise
Learning the dance steps needed to get through my rainy days does take effort. But you know what? We are not alone. In the Holy Spirit, we have a Teacher. In Jesus we have a Friend. In the Word, we have instruction.
Keep dancing my friend. Beyond the rain is waiting ……………….….
a beautiful rainbow that shines brightly… just for you!
I stared at it. What a lovely surprise! A few months ago, the bush had been dead. A small, shrivelled up brown mass of twigs, after a hot dry Summer.
And here it was, just a few months later, not only green and luxuriant, but flowering as well.
Call it a miracle! It really was one. I’d meant to cut if off, because it had looked dead. What a good thing that I hadn’t! I now had the pleasure of enjoying it’s loveliness.
The resurrected bush, taught me the value of not giving up. It’s so easy to think that my prayers are of no use when years of praying seems to have yielded no results. It’s tempting to feel that hoping is useless when all my efforts have brought are more pain and frustration!
When the going gets too tough to weather, It seems that the logical thing to do is to give up.
But … no, what would life be without hope! Often the best results arrive at the end of a worst case situation. Without the cross, there would have been no resurrection, would there? And without the resurrection, we would have no cause for faith. Or for joy! Or for hope!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13
Don’t stay there. Grab on to your hope…. it is worth it!
There I was – 26 years old and unmarried; possibly an old maid for the rest of my life! I’d never had a boy friend. Not that there were no contenders. But the young men who were interested in me were not those I had any interest in. The two or three men whom I’d fallen in love with over the years, didn’t seem to be interested in me!
I’ve always been a romantic at heart. At the age of 19, I’d believed in fairy tale endings. My parents had a very happy marriage. And so …… I looked forward to the day when I could begin my own fairy tale ending in life. I told God one day “Lord – there seems no one on my horizon. You will have to manufacture a man for me.”! I heaved a great big sigh! And wrote a few sad poems in my poetry book!
Life is often clever at surprising us don't you think? Sometimes those surprises are not ones we want or like. But on this day – on the 4th of August 1984, a truly amazing and wonderful surprise dropped into my unsuspecting lap. My friend of 4 years, Shan – told me that he’d been interested in me for awhile. My response? Surprise! “Really?” I’d never considered him in that way before. We were good friends – no more. I didn’t think there was a future for us. Or was there?
And you know what? As I thought about it….. something very strange occured. I began to feel positive about it – just like that. As I pondered, my positive feelings increased. As the days passed – God spoke to me clearly. I had a very strong conviction that Shan was the the God ordained husband for me. And I fell deeply in love!
Thinking back, I realise what a miracle it was how it had occured! Three other eligible Christian friends had approached me with their interest awhile before – but I hadn’t felt this way then. I simply said 'No'! But now, just in 4 short days – I was certain that Shan was the one for me. He was gentle, he was kind. He was tall, he was handsome. He had a lovely dimple on his right cheek when he smiled. He and I were both Christians, involved in Christian ministry together. We both liked animals, specially dogs. We both loved books. Yes, we had similar interests. And yes, I believed he was God’s person for me. And so I said a resounding ‘Yes’. And my fairy tale ending began.
It’s 28 years later now – and I look back with joy. Yes, my finding my life’s partner was indeed a reason to dance and still is. Two years ago, I found another reason to dance. God answered my 2nd big childhood dream. On the 10th of July 2010, my first book, ‘Enjoying the Journey’ was published by Back to the Bible in Sri Lanka. I became a published Author. Its book launch was another big epoch moment in my life. Another wonderful beginning. Another reason to dance.
Today I begin my blogging adventures, ‘Dancing in the Rain’. I’d like to begin by sharing my big reason to dance in the rain. I’ve already mentioned two reasons why I’ve been dancing through life. But those dances were dances in the sunshine.
What I would like to share through my blog is something even better. Not just the dancing in sunshine when all is well, although that too. But the dancing when the rain falls heavy on my shoulders; when I get wet – when the thunder shrieks loudly and when lightning strikes! It’s not easy during such rainy seasons to smile and to dance. But dance I will.
My big reason to dance in the rain happened 38 years ago. The Person behind it was JESUS. He became my all in all. He opened life in ways I had not experienced before. What has He done for me? Everything. Yes, everything! He turned rainy days into rainbows. He turned sadness into meaning. He changed me from the inside out and gave me a new song to sing. He helped me overcome my stormy days. And replaced them with hope. The anticipation of wonderful things to come!
And so today, I dance. Not just a dance that occures when the sun shines. But one that happens no matter what the weather. Here’s hoping that you too will join me as I dance in the rain. Life is short – and so… it’s time we enjoyed it to the full, before the curtain falls.And life’s dance is over.
I have a reason to dance! His name is Jesus!
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