Monthly Archives: August 2020

Static and Interference

My son told me recently of a Zoom meeting he had attended where the host was connecting from another country and had an unstable internet connection. She would freeze but the rest of the meeting could continue. This led to a lot of frustration and the meeting outcome was not successful.

Those of us in the older generation remember radio static. If you tried to tune a radio to AM stations there was a very narrow band of clarity amidst a sea of static with signals from two different broadcasting stations sometimes being received at the same time. The signals relied on a transmitter where they originated and a receiver, which had to be tuned in to the correct frequency. Radio transmissions between aircraft or ships relied on the same principle.

Fortunately, our communication with God, prayer, does not suffer from these limitations. However there are things that can interfere with our prayers.

In Psalm 66 David says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

In other words, un-confessed sin that we clutch to ourselves can cause a barrier to our communication with God from the transmitting end. Our signal is not transmitted clearly.

Interference at the receiving end is more often the problem. God’s messages are clear but we are not tuned in to the right frequency. We are tuned in to the world’s frequency or that of our own little kingdoms.

There are certain practices that can help tune our spiritual receivers. One is scripture reading. Reading through a Psalm can focus our attention on God. Nature can be another great help in tuning our receivers. It is but a short step from being overwhelmed by the grandeur of the creation around us to turning our hearts to the Creator. Being mindful, or aware is still another helpful practice. I wrote a post about it recently.

In actual fact, God is very near to each of us. He is as close to us as our breath. He longs to communicate with us.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth. (Psalm145:18 NIV) God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘for in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:27,28a NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, please tune my heart to Your frequency, open my eyes and ears to Your messages. Thank you. Amen.

Wind Chimes and Rainbows

A wind chime hangs outside my kitchen window. In the centre a ball is suspended from a string which continues to a plastic teardrop shaped like cut crystal. Around the main string hang three metal tubes of different lengths. When the wind blows, the ball moves and tings on the sides of the tubes, making the chiming noise. At a certain time of day the teardrop catches the sunlight and scatters it into rainbows which come through my kitchen window and dance around the counter top.

The wind chime has no motor or energy source of its own. All it has to do to make magic is just to be itself and allow itself to be moved by the wind. If it decided to take control and hold its strings rigid like wires, it would not work.

Wind and sun are around us all the time but it takes this simple contraption to draw our attention to them.

Jesus said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8)

We are like that wind chime. All we have to do is to be what God created us to be and hold ourselves open to His Spirit. He does the work. His breath blows into us and His light shines through us and we can bring joy to the world and glory to our creator. When we decide to take control and do things our own way, we fall short of the magic for which we were created.

God is around us all the time but I, for one, am not usually aware of Him. Perhaps we all need to try to cultivate more mindfulness. In this way we can become more truly ourselves and bring glory to God. A time of quiet, of bible reading, of contemplation, can help us to cultivate this awareness. I am working through a book called “Taste and See” by Margaret Silf and am finding it helpful to explore different ways to become more mindful of God.

What Shall I Wear?

In a week’s time, winter will be officially over. The larger clothing stores have already had their winter sales more than a month ago but on Saturday a little shop at a nearby mall was selling out winter clothes at R30 for any item. Few women could resist such a bargain and I was not one of them. I bought myself two long sleeved tops. I wore one of them over the weekend.

This morning I checked the weather forecast to see that the temperature would go up to 24 degrees and down to 9. I wanted to wear my second new top but thought it would probably make me too hot in the middle of the day. However, we were going out early and it would still be cold for a couple of hours. Moreover, the weather will be warming up over the next week and I might not get another opportunity to wear my new purchase until next year! What should I do?

We are often faced with decisions about what to wear. We have to weigh up the weather, the occasion, comfort, looks, our mood and various other subtleties. My Bible had some very clear instructions this morning. I read Colossians 3:12:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, Please help me to clothe myself in garments You consider fitting for Your Princess. Amen

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A Brush with Instability

During the winter I often write outside under the gazebo. Our house, like most South African houses, is designed more for summer and it is cold in winter.

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Recently I noticed the table was no longer stable. The gardener had done his best by inserting a rubber wedge under one foot but that hadn’t helped. Yesterday I found one of the leveling screws on the floor and suddenly it all made sense. The screw had come out of one of the table’s legs leaving it much shorter than the other three.

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Today I managed to screw it into the offending leg and now my table is once again stable.

My life is in need of leveling at the moment. When we were at the Beach House I read a lot. I rediscovered my love for historical romances and downloaded a new one from the library as fast as I finished reading the last. This habit has continued since we got back and, much as I love reading, my life has become unbalanced.

I know that a balanced life must include rest and relaxation but too much relaxation is just as unbalanced as too little.

This image is from https://lifejottings.wordpress.com/tag/daily-activities/

Balance seems to be the brush that paints my surroundings at the moment. I have finished working through “The Workbook of Living Prayer “by Maxie Dunham. He talks about the balance between prayer and action.

“There is a certain class of demons that can only be chased away by prayer – the demons of deafness to God, dumbness in thanksgiving, self-sufficiency, worry, despair, and solitude. But there is another class that can only be chased away by action – the demons of illusion, sentimentality, infantilism, narcissism, and laziness. So if we cultivate prayer exclusively, we harbor the second lot, and if we cultivate action exclusively, we harbor the first….

“The goal of prayer is a life of friendship and fellowship with God, co-operation with God’s Spirit, living God’s life in the world.”

My Prayer

Father God, may I see You more clearly every day as I spend time with You and Your Word, may I love You more dearly as I open my eyes to Your actions in nature and in the world, and may I follow You more nearly as I try to be Christ to or receive Christ from every person that I meet. Amen

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

Rice Fields

Frank Laubach was looking over the rice fields when God whispered in his heart,

“Child, just as the rice needs the sunshine every day, and could not grow if it had sun only once a week or one hour a day, so you need me all day of every day.”

This post is part of One-Liner Wednesday.

More Tomatoes

I’m not much of a gardener. If there was an opposite to green fingers, maybe brown thumbs, I have them. Pot plants come into my house at their own peril and they can count themselves lucky if they last three months.

A tomato plant grew itself in an old tin bath that had been used by the previous owners of the house as a sort of compost area. I was so excited to see tomatoes grow and ripen. Unfortunately the plant died before all the green tomatoes could ripen and we cut it off at the ground. Lo and behold , it sprouted again. Before we went to the South Coast last month, it had four green tomatoes. Inspired by this miracle of nature, I started putting suspect tomatoes in the bath and watched little seedlings sprout after a while.

Now I see my inspirational tomato plant is dying and it doesn’t look like we will ever get to eat the four tomatoes. The leaves have all withered and turned yellow or brown.

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I googled it. Seems like my plant might be suffering from a fungal disease. I found some bright blue fungicide and sprayed not only the dying plant, which I don’t think I can save, but also the newer ones. Here’s hoping I might yet see some fruit.

Psalm 1 refers to a person whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:3 NIV)

Sin is like a fungus which is easily spread and in the end is deadly. I would much rather live a fruitful life than a life characterised by withering leaves. According to Psalm 1, the secret is to delight in God’s Word, to meditate on it day and night. That is the fungicide.

Fortunately, God is a much better gardener than I am and I can trust Him to take any action He deems necessary to ensure that I live a fruitful life. However, I am neither a tomato plant nor a tree and the Father respects my God-given free will. I would need to submit to His care and love if I want to live the life described in Psalm 1.

My Prayer

Father God, you know I can’t live the kind of life you ordained for me on my own. Please forgive me for my inherent sin and human tendencies. Please continue to be involved in my life and take charge. Create in me a love for Your Word. May I delight in it and meditate on it constantly. Thank You. Amen.

Wasting Your Marbles

Today our eldest son turns forty. My husband and I have been pouring over old photo albums remembering the good times when our children were young – family holidays, birthdays, Christmases long past. How the time has flown! Only last night our youngest son commented that we were both in the vulnerable category for Covid 19. In other words, old. I don’t feel a bit old. I’m enjoying the benefits of being a pensioner but we can’t avoid the fact that my husband will turn seventy one this year, while I’m fast approaching seventy. We don’t know how much time we still have together. We need to value what we have in the present rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future.

In 2014 my husband read an inspiring article about a man who wanted to take seriously the command in Psalm 90, “Teach us to number our days,” (Psalm 90:12a NIV)

This man worked out that if the average person lives to seventy five and there are fifty two weeks in a year, subtracting his current age, he had a thousand weeks left to live. He bought a thousand marbles and put them in a large clear container. Every Saturday he threw one away. As the collection of marbles got smaller, he began to focus on the important things in his life, like his wife and family, making happy memories. The importance of hours spent at the office diminished into appropriate scale.

My husband was inspired to do some calculations of his own and procured five hundred and thirty eight marbles. He doesn’t throw them away each Saturday but rather puts them in a second container to give to our grandson every so often. Since 2014 they have shrunk to about half.

As we lose a marble each week, it behoves us to use wisely the precious time we have left on earth. Is there a task God has for us, a person to love, a difference to make?

Losing our marbles is inevitable. Let’s not waste them!

Lord, teach us to number our days, that we might gain a heart of wisdomMay the favour of the Lord our God rest on us. Establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:12,17 NIV)

Carried

In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9 NIV)

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

When our children were younger, they would often fall asleep in the car on the way home from an evening’s outing. My husband would carry them inside and lay them in their beds. Sometimes they would pretend to be asleep so they could be carried rather than walk the short distance from the car to the bedroom.

I remember doing exactly the same thing when I was a child. It feels so safe and comfortable to be carried rather than try to cope on your own and use your own energy to make progress.

There are times when we, as big as we are, need to be carried. When we are worn out, distressed or in pain, our loving Heavenly Father would love nothing more than just to pick us up and carry us. Then it is time to cease striving and snuggle into His strong and capable arms.

When we were at the beach recently, I was reminded of the well-known poem, “Footprints in the Sand,” by Margaret F Powers.

On Hibberdene beach

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”