Category Archives: inspiration

Fearfully and wonderfully made.

Sitting in the bath one morning, I noticed the sunshine coming through the window falling on my hand. Even though it is an almost seventy-year-old hand, it is an amazing piece of engineering! What piece of man-made mechanical expertise in daily use lasts as long?

I though of my skin. Waterproof but breathable. How many rain coats have I been through trying to find that combination? On top of that, skin is elastic – although admittedly there is a bracelet of fold lines at the start of my wrist. These lines are badges of work done, trophies of accomplishments. Moreover, skin is self-repairing. Can you imagine how expensive it would be to buy such an amazing material!

I swiveled my hand and opened and closed the fingers. I considered my bones, so delicately crafted, so well designed and well integrated with each other. I got to thinking about nerves for communication, blood vessels to keep all the parts alive and functioning, muscles for movement and tendons for connection.

How awesome and creative is our God! I love Psalm 139.

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.”
(ESV)

My Prayer

Creator God, I praise You for Your wonderful works, Your amazing designs and infinite variety. Truly, I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I stand in awe of You. Amen.

Water

Yesterday I was still in bed when my husband told me we had a water problem. Fearing that our pipes had sprung another leak and anticipating that we’d be frantically mopping the laminated floor to try to save it from being ruined, I was slightly relieved when it seemed to be only a pressure problem. Instead of a gush, there was a trickle.

Image by Mikes-Photography from Pixabay

It soon became clear that this was not only our problem but that there was a generalized water disruption in our area affecting a number of suburbs. All sorts of problems surfaced which I would never have thought about. My daughter came to borrow the vacuum pump pot because the water boiler in the art studio wasn’t working. For a while hot water trickled out of the cold taps but before long even that dried up. We hadn’t realized how dependent we are on our water on tap. I kept trying to wash my hands after cutting an orange or before cooking. We couldn’t flush the toilet. Fortunately there is a borehole on the property so my husband fetched water in a bucket. To wash dishes we had to heat it in a pot because I didn’t want our kettle to scale up too much. As the day got later and there was still no water, I started contemplating how I could bath. It might have to be a quick cold wash instead.

Drinking water is a necessity for life but we use water for much more than drinking. Without water, plants won’t grow and there would be no life on earth. But water is also used for cleansing.

Jesus referred to water a lot.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit,.. (John 7:37-39a ESV)

Jesus knows that in the same way as people without water will die, so without the Spirit of God, a Christian cannot survive. Moreover, the Christian can be a channel of life to others, leading them to cleansing and eternal life.

My Prayer

Jesus, I want to come to You often and drink. Please fill me with Your Spirit and may rivers of living water flow out of my heart. Amen.

In His Time

There’s a lovely little chorus my children used to sing when they were little. It’s called “In His Time.”

In his time, in his time
He makes all things beautiful
In his time

Lord please show me everyday
As you’re teaching me your way
That you do just what you say
In your time

Sometimes we can’t understand God’s perspective on time. I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in Genesis 37 and 39 again.

Joseph was a teenager, somewhat cocky and arrogant as many teenage boys are. His brothers hated him. So much so, that, when the opportunity arose, most of them would have killed him. The oldest brother intervened, persuading them not to shed their brother’s blood but rather to throw him down a well. He intended to rescue him later but in the interim the other brothers sold Joseph to slave traders on their way to Egypt.

Joseph found himself in a terrible situation not through any actions of his own. He was a slave in a foreign country. He couldn’t speak the language. He trusted in God and prayed to Him, no doubt begging to be returned to his father. God didn’t answer that prayer. But He was with Joseph in his situation. “When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes. “ (Genesis 39:3-4a NIV)

Joseph was unjustly accused. Again an innocent person suffered because of the sin of others. Joseph ended up in the king’s prison. He must have wondered why God had allowed such an unjust thing to happen to him. Yet again the Lord was with Joseph and everything he did was successful. but he was still not free. He was still in a foreign land.

Joseph was thirty before things finally changed for him. ten years of the prime of his life were wasted. Or were they?

When Joseph finally appeared before Pharaoh, there was no trace of the arrogant youth. Joseph was humble, yet confident in God. God had used the years that seemed wasted to mould Joseph’s character. In the ten years, Joseph had also learned to speak Egyptian, a skill he needed both to communicate with Pharaoh and to fulfill his role as overseer of all Egypt. God couldn’t have used Joseph as he was when he first arrived in Egypt. God’s plan needed time.

So often we find ourselves in a situation where God doesn’t answer our prayers. We can’t understand why He has allowed us to suffer. We pray and we pray. We feel God has abandoned us, we doubt His love.

God uses the unjust, the unfair, the unfortunate trials of our lives to fit us for His future plans. He promised never to leave us nor forsake us and He honours that promise. He is with us when we struggle, when we don’t understand, when things seem to go from bad to worse. Joseph was able to say to his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”

God makes all things beautiful in His time. That is the point. It takes time and we should not waste the pain.

My Prayer

Lord, I am limited by my perception of time. I can’t understand why You don’t bring healing when I’ve been praying for years. Like the Psalmist I want to ask, “How long, Lord, how long?” Even though I don’t understand Your ways and Your times, please give me eyes to see Your presence with me even when there seems no relief in sight. Amen.

What God says

On Wednesday we attended a choir festival. My granddaughter is in her school choir which was one of six high school choirs taking part.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

One of the songs performed was “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. I felt a deep affinity with the words.

“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up

Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low

Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know

Ooh-oh

You say I am loved when I cant feel a thing

You say I am strong when I think I am weak

And you say I am held when I am falling short

And when I don’t belong, oh, You say I am Yours”

Jesus says about the devil, “When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

Unfortunately we believe many of these lies – especially when they concern ourselves. The father of lies will tell us we are failures, we can’t do anything right, nobody loves us, we’ve been so bad that God will never forgive us and other similar lies. He will make us doubt our identity in Christ. “If you are really a Christian, you wouldn’t…” He even tried it with Jesus. “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread. ” (Luke 4:3 NIV,) or “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down” (from the pinnacle of the temple). (Matthew 4:6.) Each time Jesus countered with Scripture.

That’s what I love about this song. It tells us what God says.

We are loved. ” I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV,) “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15 vs 9 ESV.)

We are strong in Christ. “I can do all things Through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

I know God is trying to teach me these truths at the moment. I was in Pick ‘n Pay, about to rush home after grabbing a quick lunch, when my phone rang. It was one of our elders so I thought I’d take the call. When we disconnected, I became aware of what song they were playing in the huge store – “You say” by Lauren Daigle! If I hadn’t had the phone call, I would have left the shop five minutes earlier and another song would be playing. Do you think God is trying to tell me something?

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, You give me strength. My identity is in You. Please give me discernment to recognise lies that I have believed and the wisdom to replace them with truths from Your Word. Amen.

The Birds and the Bees

Our dining room table is near the window that overlooks the bird feeder. While we eat breakfast, we enjoy the birds visiting our garden to eat fruit, bread and seeds.

Black Collared Barbets are frequent visitors

Every morning I put out bread and apples or oranges cut in half in the fruit feeder. The bread feeder hangs beneath it. It is like a cage which can just accommodate two slices of bread. As the sparrows and weavers eat the bread, crumbs drop onto the ground so clumsier birds like doves cluster under the feeder to forage for bread crumbs.

When I go out to replace the fruit every morning, a buzz of up to ten bees greets me. They think I put fruit out for them. My purpose is to feed sparrows, weavers and mid-sized birds like barbets, starlings and occasional go-away-birds. However, doves also benefit and so do bees.

This illustrates to me that all our actions have knock-on consequences. “The Butterfly Effect” is a metaphor to demonstrate that little insignificant events can lead to significant results over time. Recently both my husband and I have had feedback about something we did or said at least ten years ago, that we have forgotten about but had an impact on other people that they still remember.

Adam and Eve made a decision to go their own way instead of God’s way and the whole of humanity was contaminated by sin. The Bible says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV)

The things we do and say have consequences that we might never have imagined. They will affect people we might not even know. The things we do matter. The things we say matter.

My Prayer

Lord, I sometimes speak without thinking and act on the spur of the moment. Please teach me to guard my tongue and measure my steps. I want to commit my ways to You so You can direct my paths. Every day. Amen.

Like a Little Child

Jesus said,” Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,…” (Matthew 18:3-5 ESV)

Image by Steven Batty from Pixabay

After church this morning, we met the missionaries our church supports from the Ukraine, Arkadiy and Anneke Naydenov. Since the calamitous events that have been happening in the Ukraine recently, their life has been turned upside down. They managed to escape to Hungary and recently arrived safely in South Africa. They have a five month old baby, a contented, peaceful, happy child. Anneke was telling us that during air raid sirens, crossing borders, living in different countries and four different houses, he would just look at her in complete trust and coo happily. “That,” she said, “is how we should trust God.”

I’ve been meditating on that picture all afternoon. My trust in God is so far from that ideal and yet, all of us, at one time, had that same unquestioning trust in our parents. We could do nothing for ourselves, we were totally dependent on our parents, particularly our mothers. Imagine how stress-free our lives would be if we could recapture that trust and place it in God, Who loves us more than our parents ever could, Who has promised to care for us and provide for us, Who is the perfect Parent.

My Prayer

Father God, I know that You love me. I believe You know how to care for those who belong to You. Why do I find it so difficult to trust You with all my heart? Please help me. Amen.

Insiders and Outsiders

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers, ‘What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and misfits?’

“Jesus, overhearing, shot back, ‘Who needs a doctor; the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m hear to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.'” (Matthew 9:10-13 MSG)

As far back as my school days, there always seemed to be an “in-crowd.” They were the popular girls. They seemed to have secrets that the rest of us didn’t understand. They were confident and poised. I was never one of them.

Image by DONT SELL MY ARTWORK AS IS from Pixabay (adapted)

What Jesus said in this passage makes so much sense intellectually. We need a doctor when we are sick, not when we are well. However it is difficult to understand with our hearts. It is exactly because of our failings, struggles and imperfections that Jesus came. While He came for everybody, It is those who are not in the “in-crowd” that need Him most, those of us who feel like we don’t quite fit in to society, who battle to live a victorious Christian life.

My Prayer

Lord, when I’m not coping, when I feel spiritually weak or unwell, I run to you, my doctor. Please help me to allow You to speak to me, then do what You say. Amen.

Macramé Bird Bath

I recently explored Lifestyle’s Garden Show with a friend. I was interested to see that macramé hanging baskets are fashionable again. I was inspired to make a hanging birdbath for our garden.

I chose tarred sisal because it is for outdoor use. The string itself does not look very pretty or memorable. Compared to some of the beautiful coloured wool available in the wool shop, it looks very drab and uninteresting.

Knotted together, the string becomes something beautiful. Now that I have completed my project, I am pleased with the result.

The finished birdbath

This is a parable of most of us. On our own we are not particularly good looking, talented or memorable. Yet if we allow the Creator to take control of our lives, to twist us into knots when necessary, to make us pass through tight spaces on occasion, all according to His pattern and design, we can become part of something beautiful for the Kingdom. We don’t get to choose with which other pieces of string we are intertwined. We are required only to let go and let God. Imagine trying to knot an article in macramé where each string had a mind of its own and wanted to tie itself into its favourite knot! When we think we know better than God, we just make a big, tangled mess.

The Bible doesn’t talk about macramé and string, but it does talk about living stones.

“…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5 ESV)

The stones on their own are nothing special. It is the craft of the Builder that makes something wonderful from a pile of stones. But only if they let Him.

My Prayer

Father God, I submit my life to You again. I give You permission to make of me what You want, to rank me with whom You will, and use me for Your purposes. Amen.

Apology notes

On Saturday I attended a family fun day organised by the Girl Guide Association in this region. The plan was to move around in a small group and take part in activities representing other countries at various well spaced locations at Delta Park. It was great fun and included hitting a piñata, fishing with magnets in the river, making Canadian pancakes on upended tins and solving puzzles.

Delta Park
fun and games at the Mexico base

During the day I came across people I was involved with a long time ago, when I ran a Guide company.

At the end of the day, I received two apologies. One from a young woman who was manning the India base. She told us all about henna painting for Indian weddings. She was dressed up in Indian clothes and I wasn’t 100% sure she was the girl I had known but I asked her how she was doing. She called me Irmgard but I didn’t say anything. When she saw me later, she apologised profusely for getting my name wrong. I also got an SMS from the lady who used to be my commissioner. I had waved to her. She apologised because she hadn’t recognised me.

I need to write an apology letter of my own.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I invited You into my day on Saturday morning then forgot about You. When I woke with a headache, I didn’t consult You or ask for Your help but took two aspirin then slept for another fifteen minutes. I could have used Your help later in the day, too, when I got to the Guide campsite and there was no sign of my granddaughter or my son-in-law. You gave Your help anyway. When, not ten minutes later, I was hailed by my son-in-law, I did not think to thank You.

I know You were with me. You were there in the beautiful autumn trees, in the Ibises rummaging in the newly mown grass, in the gurgling river. How easy it would have been to pray a silent “Thank You.” But I didn’t. I ignored You all day. When I puffed up hills that the Brownies took at a laughing run, I didn’t ask for Your help, although I am sure You would have given it.

I had fun, even though I was physically exhausted and my foot was sore after I twisted it going down a step. However, I am sure my day would have been greatly improved if I had consciously involved You. If I had used the opportunity of walking in nature to also pray, talk the walk, so to speak. Instead, I treated You like a fifth wheel and I’m sorry.

We learned in church today about how You reinstated Peter, meeting him in his weakness where he was. (John 21:15-19). I know You do the same to me. You know I am just dust and yet You love me. Even if I ignore You, You will never forsake me because you have promised. Thank You. Please continue to walk with me into the coming week and help me to be more mindful of You. Amen.