Category Archives: inspiration

Driving with a GPS

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

My hairdresser moved about two months ago. Her business took a serious knock due to the lockdown and she could no longer afford the rent in a small shopping centre where she ran her salon. She decided to operate from her home instead.

I have always travelled about half an hour to have my hair cut. In the past I have seldom been happy with hairdressers and once I found one I liked, I stuck with her, even though she moved out towards the West Rand about five years ago. Her prices and pensioner’s discount are also the best I’ve found.

The first time I went to her home, I got lost. I had looked at the directions on Google Maps before I left and had a general idea of the first couple of kilometers. Then it was time to switch on the GPS.

I have two cell phones. The one that is connected to the cell phone network has limited connectivity (WIFI, Bluetooth and GPS) after it was dropped on its face and repaired. My backup, which is old, has limited battery life. I stopped at the side of the road to connect my main phone. Predictably, it gave me the first instruction then lost the GPS signal. I drove straight, hoping it would regain connection but it didn’t. There was nothing for it but to call on the backup. To do that, I had to pull over again, create a hotspot on my main phone and connect the backup. I connected the backup to my phone charger because I saw there was only 20% charge left although it had been fully charged just three hours earlier. I sent a message to my hairdresser saying I was running late but on my way.

By now I was in territory totally unfamiliar to me. After about five minutes, my backup phone gave me the low battery warning and then went dead. Obviously it was losing more power than it was gaining. I couldn’t switch it on again.

I was lost.

I looked at my WhatsApp messages to see that my hairdresser hadn’t read my message. I was about to phone her when she phoned me wondering where I was. In the end she came to fetch me and I followed her home and charged my flat phone while I had my hair cut so at least I could find my way home.

If we get lost using a GPS device or app, there are three possible reasons.

  1. We think we know better and ignore the instructions.
  2. Our reception of the GPS satellite is faulty or intermittent.
  3. We run out of battery on our device.

The spiritual life is like driving using a GPS device. The signal is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13 NIV)

Romans 8:14 says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”(NIV)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” (Galatians 5:18 NIV)

All Christians receive the Holy Spirit when they accept Jesus into their lives as Lord and Saviour. However, we can still get lost on our spiritual journey. This can be for similar reasons to getting lost with a GPS.

  1. We think we know better and ignore instructions.
  2. We do not hear the Spirit’s promptings because our minds are filled with too many other things. Our reception of the signal is faulty or intermittent.
  3. We have run out of power. We have not been in the habit of plugging into Jesus for daily prayer and scripture reading. We have not spent enough time with our Lord to recharge our batteries.

There is one other reason for getting lost, both in the physical drive and the spiritual walk. We misunderstand the instructions. The voice on my phone says turn right and I turn immediately into a building site when I was meant to turn at the next road.

Spiritually, it is when God calls us to something and we try to do it in our own strength immediately and run ahead of God.

I’m happy to say I have been to have my hair cut subsequently and I did not get lost. I took precautions. I made sure my backup phone was charged 100% and I plugged it into my car charger as I left. Moreover, I had gone to Google Maps on my computer and printed instructions to my destination.

I am sure there are precautions we can take in our Spiritual walk too. By constant communion with our Lord, we can make sure our spiritual batteries are charged.

My Prayer

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:10)

When God Does Nothing

We’ve been having a cold snap at the moment. (After all, it is winter.) Days are quite pleasant, around 15 degrees C but nights tend to be much colder, at about 4 degrees. We’ve had our gas fire on some evenings and we’ve put our fluffy blanket on the bed.

On Fridays I often take my grandson to Cubs. He was ready in his uniform when I came to collect him at 4.50pm last Friday. In the car he told me with pride how he had been made a sixer (a leader of a small group) the previous week.

I dropped him outside the Scout hall grounds and watched as he ran to sign in, sanitise and have his temperature checked. It was only then that I realised that he hadn’t brought his jacket. The evening was going to cool down and, although I knew they would probably be playing some active run-around games, I thought he would probably get cold. I determined to quickly drive home and fetch his jacket but on the way home I had second thoughts.

How embarrassing might it be for this new little leader to have his Granny interrupt his Cub meeting by bringing him a jacket? If he got cold, he might remember next time to bring something warm to wear. He might learn to take more responsibility for himself.

So I did nothing. It wasn’t easy. I worried. I couldn’t wait for him to get home so I could find out how he had coped.

“How was Cubs?” I asked.

“Great! I got to do the flag.” His face lit up with excitement.

Nobody talked about cold.

Sometimes God does nothing. We wonder why He is not helping us in a difficult situation. Is it possible He trusts us to cope using the skills He has gifted to us? Is there some area of growth He knows we need? Sometimes a little bit of discomfort can teach us things we might not easily learn otherwise.

When Lazarus got sick and his sisters sent an urgent message to Jesus, He did nothing for two days. At first glance this seems very unfeeling. Lazarus died and both Mary and Martha pointed out to Jesus that if He had been there, their brother would not have died. Jesus had a greater plan. Mary and Martha got such a faith boost when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. (John 11: 1-44)

Jesus had just fed five thousand men, plus women and children. “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side… Later that night, he was there alone and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” (Matthew 14 :22, 23b,24.)

Jesus knew about the storm. He knew the disciples would battle but He sent them out into the storm anyway. Again, Jesus had a greater plan. If the disciples had not had to face the storm, they would not have witnessed Jesus walk on the water and Peter would never had stepped out of the boat to walk on the water towards his Lord. How much their faith grew in that one night!

When God does nothing we usually don’t understand. Our best action is to trust. Trust in the love of God. Trust in His wisdom and overall plan for our lives. It is not easy. But God know exactly what He is doing.

My Prayer

Father God, I don’t understand when You don’t answer my prayers the way I think I need. Please teach me to trust You in every circumstance of my life – even when things are uncomfortable for me. Help me to grow in the areas where You are stretching me and to learn the things You are trying to teach me. Amen.

Spiritual Diet

Most of us know what we should eat. We’ve been told we need lots of vegetables, fruit, and enough protein. There are different schools of thought about amounts of fats and carbohydrates but we all have an idea of what is healthy.

Funny how it’s so much nicer to eat things that we know are unhealthy. A carrot doesn’t remotely have the appeal of a chocolate, or cream scone or lemon meringue pie.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

There is a balanced diet for our spiritual growth too. Our pastor told us about it in church on Sunday. It is in 1 Timothy where Paul is warning Timothy about false doctrines that were prevalent in the church at the time.

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.” (1Tim 4:6-7)

There also appears to be spiritual junk food. Paul talks about godless myths and old wives tales. I think fake news and over-forwarded social media posts can fall into this category. However, just as junk food has more appeal than healthy food, our natural sinful state is to be drawn more to spiritual junk food. We need God’s help to be able to maintain a balanced spiritual diet.

My Prayer

Father God, thank you for the wonderful array of food that you have created for us. Please help me to be wise in selecting physical food and to remember to nourish my spirit with the truths of the faith and good teaching. May I have discernment to be able to identify and avoid godless myths and old wives tales. Amen.

Dust Collects Everywhere

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt for today is “collect.”

Our neighbours are doing alterations – breaking down walls and eventually building new ones.

Anybody who has ever been involved in any kind of renovation or building will know that the dust collects everywhere. We can see it creeping over the wall.

Sin is like dust. Sometimes it’s easy to spot and we can avoid the area. At other times it is subtle and hardly noticeable until a shaft of sunlight reveals the dust that has collected on a surface. If we ask Jesus to shine the light of His Holy Spirt on our lives, we will see things that we hadn’t noticed, not blatant actions but tiny attitudes of mind, a grumbling spirt, a covetous thought or regarding our time/money/life as our own.

When Jesus washed the disciples feet, Peter objected. When Jesus explained that unless Peter allowed Jesus to wash him, he had no part of his Lord, Peter replied, “Not just my feet, but my hands and head as well.”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.” (John13:9-10a NIV)

The roads in those days were dirt roads. Nobody could walk along them in sandaled feet without collecting a lot of dust on their feet – even if they had bathed and put on clean clothes for a special celebration like Passover.

We come to Jesus once in repentance and He forgives our sin, based on His atoning death. That is like the bath; but every day we collect the dust of sin on our souls and it is necessary to ask for forgiveness. That is like having our feet washed.

I am certainly not going to dust my house every day just because the neighbours are building but I will try to get my soul dusted every day.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, as You did to the disciples, please wash my feet and show me those little dust sins that collect in my heart. Amen.

Sunshine

We moved into our cottage almost ten years ago. We added on some rooms and enlarged some. The renovations were planned by an architect. Although we have a large French window and a smaller window facing north, our lounge always seemed dark. We have a magnificent paperbark tree outside which gives beautiful shade in summer and we always thought that was the reason our house seemed dark. We had two sky lights put in and that helped a bit. However the lounge light stayed on during the day while I was home.

The house next door had five tall conifers growing against our north boundary wall. When the house was sold, I made a point of informing our new neighbours that I would love the trees cut down and we would pay half. Well, they had other things to attend to and repair and I didn’t want to nag them but I talked to the Lord about them. I even talked to the trees! (I remembered what Jesus had said about mountains throwing themselves into the sea.)

While we were away last week, the trees got taken out. The neighbours are doing some renovations and building on to make room for their parents to stay with them.

The difference is amazing. Sun streams into the lounge almost all day. We no longer need the light on in the daytime. I am just wallowing in the sunshine.

John said about Jesus, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5NIV)

Sometimes we miss out on the light of God in our lives through circumstances that are beyond our control. They are the things that cast shadows on the abundant life that Christ promised. They are like those five trees, seemingly invincible. They could be an early family tragedy, an unhappy childhood, a disability we were born with, or even poverty. We are totally powerless to remove them. They are not in our garden.

God is not powerless. We can do what we can to improve the light in our lives but then we need to call on Him to take away the trees. It won’t be easy and it won’t be immediate. But our God is faithful.

Jesus promised, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” May we not become so used to living in the shadow that we miss out on the Light of Life.

My Prayer

Lord, please open my eyes to the things with which I have been living, that are casting shadows over my life. May they be rooted up and cast aside. May the Light of Your Life and Your Love bathe me every day. Amen.

Beach Memories 1

Just before Easter we went to Port Elizabeth, mostly to visit family but also to enjoy being at the seaside. We overlapped with the younger family for three days and made a plan to go spend a sunny morning at the beach.

I love watching my grandchildren enjoy themselves.

Watching them relate to their father spoke to me about our relationship with God. The six-year-old didn’t venture into the waves on her own, but only when holding her father’s hand tightly. It must have been scary for her. Her Dad told her when to jump and helped her bounce over the big waves.

I picture myself as a little girl going into scary waves of life. My Father holds me tight. I must listen to His voice and obey promptly. Sure, He could calm the waves and make them flat but mostly, He doesn’t. He could also keep me out of the sea altogether but then I wouldn’t grow, or learn or have the adventure of the seaside!

This is illustrated in Matthew 14:22 and Mark 6:45

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. (NIV)

Jesus knew a storm was going to blow up later that evening and the disciples were going to struggle to get to shore. He could have prevented it. If He had, we would not have the account of Jesus walking on water and Peter would never have learned that to take his eyes off Jesus is to sink. Jesus was glorified and the disciples faith grew.

My Prayer

Father, when I am afraid of what lies ahead of me, please hold me tight and tell me when to jump and when to hold my breath. Amen.

A Princess Story

Once upon a time there was a little girl called Aster. She was an orphan and lived in the streets stealing, fighting and hanging around with a group of outlaws. Her clothes were dirty and tatty and her hair was matted and unkempt.

One day Aster was thrown off a vegetable cart where she had climbed to help herself to a free meal. She landed in the street and broke her ankle.

As it happened, the king of that country was being driven in his royal coach behind the cart and the king saw what had happened.

He took the girl home to his palace to care for her. He called for the royal doctor to treat her foot and apply ointments to her scratches and bruises. The king told Aster he wanted to adopt her. Aster couldn’t believe it. She was dirty, had never been taught to be polite or kind and did not even like herself. How could such a magnificent king want her in his household? There were many princes and princesses in the king’s family already, all clean, well mannered and beautifully dressed.

As soon as Aster agreed, the king called for the documents to be drawn up and he signed them and put his seal upon them.

Aster became a princess at that moment.

The king arranged a bath for her and bought her beautiful clothes. Although Aster was now a princess, she didn’t feel like one. She used bad language and fought with the other children. But slowly, from watching the behaviour of the king and the other royal children, and wanting to do everything she could to please her new father, Aster learned to behave more and more like a princess.

At church we are looking at the Household of God from 1 Timothy. On Sunday we looked at 1 Timothy 3:15 and 16.

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness flows is great:” (verse 16a)

Pastor Richard pointed out that we often confuse godliness with goodliness. We think being godly is being good, upright, moral, honest. But that is goodliness. Paul goes on in verse 16 to talk about Jesus. He is the mystery from which true godliness flows.

Other Bible passages agree. “The secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you, bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come.” (Colossians 1:27 Philips translation.)

In my fairy tale, there might have been many little girls in the kingdom with beautiful clothes who were taught to behave like princesses, but they were not. Aster could do nothing to become a princess. It was a free gift of the king. In the same way, we cannot strive to be godly. We need merely to agree to Christ coming to live in us. He does the rest and it is not an overnight transformation.

But He has promised, “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ.” Phiippins 1:6 NIV)