This morning I contemplated the year that is almost past. I wrote down some things that I remember from 2021:-
Hurriedly going on holiday a week earlier than planned and only just missing the Gauteng lockdown,
The unrest in June/July which was closer to us in KwaZulu Natal when we spent two months in a motorhome,
Ever-changing Covid regulations and getting vaccinated,
A last minute decision to visit my mother for her birthday in September.
Omicron being identified in South Africa.
As the year comes to an end, I can put a full stop and close the handwritten book.
Before me is a clean page, a new book with nothing yet written in it. I wonder what will be written on 2022’s pages. As I prepare to pick up my pen to at least write a heading, I stop. Am I going to write the new year, or is God? Experience tells me God always writes history. I am like a character in a novel. God is the author. He endowed me with gifts, a personality, a character, hopes, fears, dreams. I react in certain ways to pressure.
Like all good novels, 2022 will have conflict. How I react and cope is up to me. That will make the difference between a good story and a bad one. What story would I like to tell when 2022 is history?
I don’t know what 2022 holds. But I know the God who holds 2022 in His hands. I trust Him because I know He loves me.
Father God, Author of all things, as I stand before a new year, I ask You once again to reign in my life. May my decisions be based on Your guidance and my knowledge of Your will. I commit my future to You. Amen.
I’ve started going through Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life” again. In chapter four he asks, “What is your metaphor for life?” Some people see life as a circus, a minefield, a roller coaster, a puzzle, a symphony or a dance. My husband, in answer to my question, said it was like our fiberoptic Christmas tree – always changing.
I see my life as a journey. It has a starting point and it has a destination. As I go along, I gain more experience and can cope with future travel challenges. There are challenges to travel, of course. Whether it be a long hike with obstacles to overcome, rivers to cross, or difficult rocky outcrops to negotiate, or international travel with borders to cross, languages to learn, visas to obtain, it is seldom a boring predictable experience.
There are travelling companions. They journey with us for different proportions of our travels. My husband has been travelling with me for nearly 43 years but he won’t always be with me. Other people travel only a short distance with me but if I can enrich their journey or help them with directions, it adds to the journey of both of us.
My destination is Heaven and the road has already been mapped out for me. Although many of my traveling companions and other pilgrims before us have the same destination, we don’t reach it at the same time. Each person’s journey is an individual one.
I need travelling clothes that are comfortable but can be adapted instantly if conditions or climates change. I also need a compass and the Bible is an excellent one.
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. … I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.”(Psalm 119:9-10 and 32 NIV)
I can write more about life as a journey, but Rick Warren maintains there are only three Biblical metaphors for life. Life is a test, life is a trust and life is a temporary assignment.
Certainly life is temporary, we all know that. One day my heart will stop beating and my earthly life will be over. Thinking about my life as a test or a trust is challenging because I’m not sure I am doing all that well. However, it might change the way I react to problems, trials and troubles. This will require some serious reflection.
Meanwhile, as the motor car manufacturer maintained, “Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.”
Eternal Father, I know in my mind that my life is not about me but because You willed it according to Your plan. Thank You for the gifts and talents with which You entrusted me. May You have a good return on Your investment. When I am tested, please help me to stand firm and trust in Your strength to overcome. Amen.
“This is the true joy of life: the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” George Bernard Shaw.
Christmas has come and gone and I’m now in this strange doldrum era between Christmas and New Year.
My Christmas memories of 2021 consist of little things. My youngest South African granddaughter (7) secretly made Christmas hats for all her family. She cut and folded paper plates, covered them with silver or gold paper, used her pocket money to buy little Christmas bows and adorned them according the the colour preferences of the recipients.
Mine was magic. It turned me into a unicorn granny – a grannicorn?
I will remember the lovely Zoom call we had with all our children, scattered around the world, from New Zealand to Russia…
and the Christmas message I got from a friend I haven’t seen or had contact with in over five years.
I will remember singing old songs at the tops of our voices while the grandchildren queried the meanings of the lyrics.
Then there are the things I probably won’t forget, even if I try:-, Waking up on Christmas morning with a headache and feeling of nausea and deciding not to risk church in person, packing a couple of Christmas nibbles for a friend and finding one container of Christmas mince crumbles had gone mouldy, scrubbing the burned bits off the gammon because I had allowed the water/wine mix to boil dry.
Good, quirky or unfortunate, these are some of this year’s Christmas memories.
So I would like to give thanks to God for all His blessings. For the family He has given us, for technology, enabling us to video-chat with those far away and receive messages from old friends, for His material gifts, enabling us to cook a special meal and give gifts to each other.
Most of all I would like to give thanks to God for His great gift of Christ. God became man and lived among us. The world will never be the same again, and since I’ve met Him, I will never be the same again.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger telling the world how bad it was. He came to help. To put the world right again.” (John 3:16-17 MSG)
Lord, all I can say in the face of Your great love is, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Amen
I re-watched “Miss Congeniality” recently. I was arrested by Grace Hart’s early misconception of beauty pageants as a collection of empty-headed beauties who always said they wanted world peace. After all, who doesn’t want world peace? I thought that was what the angels had promised the shepherds in the nativity story in the Bible. I checked it up this morning from Luke 2.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord…”Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (verses 10,11,13,14 NIV)
Nothing about World Peace. Jesus Himself said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
Yet, the coming of Jesus into the world, did bring peace. Through Him we are able to be reconciled to God, and that is the start of all peace.
At the Fall, community was broken:- Our relationships with God, with each other, with ourselves and with Nature were all shattered.
The consequences are all around us for anyone to see. The news media is full of accounts of xenophobia, violence, hatred and war. Man is at enmity with the natural world, trying to enrich himself at the expense of the earth. Wild animals know that we are the enemy and treat us accordingly. Psychiatric wards teem with people at enmity with themselves and others, suffering the pain this brings.
Jesus came to reverse the Fall, to restore the broken relationships. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says “that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”(NIV)
When Christ reigns in our hearts, we can be reconciled to our neighbour because our life is no longer centered on ourselves but directed by Him who committed to us this message of reconciliation.
We can have peace with ourselves. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Phil 4:7)
When Christ comes to reign over all the earth, even Nature will be reconciled. The Lion will lay down with the lamb and little children can play with dangerous snakes.
May the Prince of Peace Himself reign in your hearts this Christmas, spreading His reconciliation work to those you meet, bringing you the peace that we cannot fathom.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Amen.
Today I planted a macadamia nut tree. I bought it from a man who advertises plants on our community group. There was no photo in the ad so I had no idea how big the tree was.
It is tiny.
The pot was donated by a friend who has recently moved into a new house. I’ve been wanting a tree in a large pot for some time so when the pot was offered to me I accepted with gratitude.
I did some research on the internet on macadamia trees and found out that i) yes you can plant them in pots although the yield of nuts might be restricted, and ii) that they require a lot of water, especially when they are young.
That reminded me of the verse I read this morning.
“Blessed are those that trust in the Lord… They are like trees, planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.” (Jer 17:7-8 NLT)
I can just picture trees along the riverbank with a permanent supply of water.
I’d like to be like that. I’d like my roots to be so deep into trusting God that the heat of the stress of modern day life, the winds of change and disappointment, the drought of Covid or health issues, or loss, or want, or suffering, do not worry me but I can stand firm knowing God is my provider and He is Sovereign.
Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37-38 NIV) By this He meant the Spirit.
Of course, my little nut tree is not planted by a river. It will have to make do with my watering system. And I am not yet in a place where my trust in God is so deep that the circumstances of life do not worry me.
Lord Jesus, Please continue to water me with Your Spirit that I might grow deeper in my love of, and my trust in You. Amen.
Recently my son, who is a computer whiz, sent me an email. He pointed out that sometimes the updates he gets of my blog contain ads that give the OPPOSITE message to what I am trying to convey. He sent me a couple of examples.
I do know that a friend of mine stopped following my blog because she was getting “off colour” ads with my posts. I know ads appear from time to time because I was on the free plan. Because of South Africa’s weak currency, the cheapest upgrade, paid annually would come to about 23% of my monthly pension and I didn’t see that I could consider it. However, the ads did bother me.
Today I prayed about it and asked the Lord what His will was for my blog. The verse that came into my mind was “I desire truth in the inward parts.” I had to google to find the verse. “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part, You will make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6 NKJV)
At least one of the ads my son pointed out was, as he said, misleading. It claimed to be a McAfee renewal notice but my son said it was very unlikely to come from McAfee. That’s not truth. If anything, it is the OPPOSITE.
So today I took the plunge. I upgraded my site to remove ads. It took me a while because I am somewhat technologically challenged. However, with the help of a live chat from WordPress, I finally got it done. I must admit I am a little nervous. I will just need to trust the Lord that He will provide the wherewithal, especially since the subscription renews annually.
Lord, I know that Your thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts. Please give me discernment that I might know the Truth so the Truth can set me free. Amen.
On Sunday evening we attended our church’s Carols by Glowstick service. Last year it couldn’t be held because of Covid and the previous year we had been away and had missed it. I was so excited to be able to attend this year with our daughter, our son-in-law and three grandchildren. Maybe I was too excited. You know how you build things up in your mind and then you are disappointed? So it was with me.
The Christmas carols (all three of them) and other worship songs were very well performed, if a little too modernised for my conservative tastes. The registration and distribution of glowsticks was slick and efficient.
There were extracts from scripture highlighting the Christmas story. All good so far.
Then the preacher came. A visiting preacher, a friend of our pastor and an author, Stephen Pohlmann.
Actually, his talk was good. His field of interest is Christian apologetics. However, in my opinion, it was not a suitable talk for a family service. I had been expecting a family service. I felt for my grandchildren. Weren’t they bored to tears?
Perhaps my expectations had been too high. I had expected to sing well-loved carols interspersed with Bible passages and possibly a short talk suitable for children. What I got was a normal evening service, aimed at the youth and young adults with a couple of carols thrown in.
I was disappointed. I considered writing an email to our pastor telling him so. I was still contemplating this when we went ten pin bowling yesterday. My husband and I play socially in a pensioners’ league. One of the other bowlers, who I know attends our church occasionally, asked if I had been at the carol service and how I had enjoyed it. When I told her about my disappointment, she said she had also been disappointed. Moreover, another bowler, who belongs to another church, had attended the Carols by Glowstick two years ago and had so enjoyed it that she invited friends, including a family with young children to attend the event this year. They were bitterly disappointed. Especially as the children were still young enough to believe in Father Christmas and they were told he wasn’t real.
Spurred on by these people who thought like me, I sent the email yesterday afternoon.
Last night we joined the family for supper. I thought I would ask the grandchildren how they had enjoyed the carols service, expecting them to say it was boring or it was so long.
My granddaughter (12) said she had enjoyed it except the music was too loud. When I asked what part of the service she had enjoyed most, she said, “The talk by Stephen Pohlmann. I’ve read his book.”
It turns out my daughter had bought the book after the service and my granddaughter had read it in two days. My grandson (10) had also enjoyed the talk.
How small we are; how little we know.
So I had to send a subsequent email to the pastor, explaining my grandchildren’s feelings on the matter and to admit that perhaps I was just an old lady trying to hold on to how things were done in the past, consorting with other old ladies trying to do the same. I hope our pastor will be gracious.
I do not know everything and my opinion is not the only one. The sooner I learn that, the better.
“We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be cancelled… We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us. “ (1 Cor 13:10, 12 MSG)
Lord Jesus, please give me 3D vision so I can see more than one side of any situation. Please help me to see people through Your eyes and not my own fallen ones. Amen.”