Category Archives: parable

Watch your step

We had a few very wet weeks recently, with rain falling almost every day. An area of my garden consists of clay soil and it doesn’t drain very well. As a result, it has been muddy for weeks. I bought some more stepping stones to supplement the ones that have sunken into the ground and it is now possible for me to walk from our front path to the gazebo without getting muddy shoes if I watch where I place my feet.

Proverbs 4:23, 26, 27 read, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. …Give careful thought to the paths of your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

It is easy enough to stay on the path if we are mindful, if we are watching each step. If we are sincere about living God’s way, we know what to avoid, places we shouldn’t frequent in the same way we avoid certain areas because of security concerns.

However, we are not always mindful. Recently my 87-year old mother had a fall in the bathroom. It was unexpected and she had no sense of danger. She was just not mindful, possibly stumbling about half awake in the early hours of the morning.

In the same way, if we are unmindful of God walking with us, if we shuffle along following our own desires and inclinations, we might very well stumble and fall.

My mother only ripped the skin of her arm, but it could have been much worse and a spiritual fall can be tragic.

My Prayer.

Father God, please keep me mindful of You and Your commands that I might not stray from the path You have set before me. Amen.

Casting All Your Cares on Him

Image by pucho from Pixabay

Jesus says, “Come unto me, all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Peter reinforces this idea when he exhorts us, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Nevertheless, we find it very difficult to give our burdens to Jesus without taking them up again and worrying about them ourselves. It is as if we want to be God, sorting out our problems ourselves.

It reminds me of my youngest grandchild. She loves to help wherever she can. Sometimes she insists on carrying heavy six-packs of milk. “Let me help you with that,” we’ll say as it is obvious she is struggling.

“I can manage,” she’ll say, struggling up the garden path with two heavy six-packs in her arms. She wants to be independent. She wants to be thought of as a big girl.

Don’t we do exactly the same with Jesus?

“Give Me your burden,” He’ll say. “It’s weighing you down. It’s slowing you down. It’s robbing you of abundant life.”

“No thanks,” we say, “I can manage,” and we continue to worry, trying to show that we are like God, we can fix things.

My Prayer

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that You are willing and able to shoulder my burdens. Please give me the grace and the humility to surrender them to You. Amen.

Candy

My granddaughter had a lovely, fluffy jersey, knitted by her other granny some years ago. She loved the hood, the beautiful colours and the soft feel of it. However, she outgrew it long ago and even her younger sister couldn’t fit into it.

However, she wanted to keep it and maybe turn it into something else. I helped her turn it into a teddy bear. We went together to choose eyes from a special teddy bear shop. She sewed the hood over the front neck to make a head. We stuffed it, added the eyes and she sewed some ears. Then we shortened the arms and cut off the excess to make legs. More stuffing, more sewing, some shaping and she has a bear. Maybe it’s a slightly wonky bear but it’s huggable. She called it Candy because the colours and fluff remind her of candy-floss.

Sometimes God does a similar thing with us – He repurposes us. His calling was not a mistake. It’s just that we have outgrown that particular purpose. Now the Lord wants us to undertake a new mission. He might have to shape us somewhat, cut back areas of our lives that were underutilised and fill us with substance to suit His purpose.

An example of this is the story of Ruth, a Moabite woman. God’s plan was for her to become a wife, to care for her husband and later her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, when her husband and both sons died.

God had another purpose for Ruth. She accompanied Naomi to Israel and married Boaz, her kinsman redeemer. Again her purpose was domestic, to be a wife and mother to Obed who became the father of Jesse who became the father of David.

If God calls us out of some area of ministry, we should never feel that we have failed but rather that Our Father has decided to repurpose us according to our different circumstances and stage of life.

My Prayer

Father God, in this stage of retirement, may I be willing to allow You to shape me according to any new purpose You have for my life. Amen.

This post is the last one in the JusJoJan series.

Stormy Weather

We’ve all been hearing about Cyclone Eloise recently. Across Southern Africa at least 15 people have died, including two from South Africa.

It reminds me of the Covid pandemic. It sweeps across the world leaving death in its wake.

There were storms in the Bible too. Elijah was on a mountain and experienced wind strong enough to break rocks, an earthquake and a fire but the Lord was not in any of these natural disasters. God was in the aftermath – in a still, small voice. ( 1 Kings 19)

The disciples were in a boat in the eye of a storm that they, experienced fishermen, thought might kill them. They woke Jesus. I don’t imagine they woke him at the first sign of the storm or when they thought they could cope on their own. It was only when things were out of their control that they called to Him.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:25-26 NIV)

We are in the midst of a Covid storm. Maybe we think we can cope. Let’s not wait until we are out of our depth to call on Jesus. He’s not sleeping. He is only a whisper away. He has the power and the authority to still any storm.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, all around me is uncertainty, fear and confusion. Please still the raging anxiety in my heart and bring me peace. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan.

Close Eyes and Point

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday as well as Just Jot it Saturday. The challenge is to just write as thoughts come without overly editing or changing. The prompt is “close eyes and point.” I am going to use the Bible, open it up, close my eyes and point. Then I need to write about whatever my finger points to.

Could be dangerous. I heard of a man who did that when seeking guidance from God. His first point was to “And Judas went and hanged himself.” He didn’t find this very helpful so tried again. “Go thou and do likewise,” he read in dismay. Deciding to give it one more try, he closed his eyes and pointed again. “What you do, do quickly,” was the sentence.

So I’m understandably a bit nervous. Here goes…

My word is “money” from the sentence, “He scattered the coins of the money changers.”

I am going to bend the rules a bit and write about money changes. This can be considered in many ways: money changes hands, money changes everything. money changes down the years: what cost 50 cents once upon a time is now R10.

When I was a little girl, I got one-and-three for pocket money. That was a shilling (12p) and a ticky (3p) or metrically, about fifteen cents. With that I got to go to matinee movies on a Saturday morning and buy myself a chocolate bar. Nowadays it’s not even enough to offer a beggar.

Although Jesus overturned the money changers’ tables, money is not seen as evil in itself. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) We see this in our society – opportunists who have used the Covid crisis to make money off PPE equipment. No thought at all to how many nurses may die in hospitals earmarked for that equipment. Much more profitable to sell it and get rich.

That is what is behind all corruption – the love of money.

Jesus warns us, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

Money is neither good nor evil. It is merely a tool. It can be used for either purpose, to help others and promote the kingdom of God or to sqander on selfish wants and insubstantial pleasures.

Let us never make a tool our master.

My prayer

Father God, please help me to keep my priorities in line with Your will and to serve no other master. Amen.

God Uses Limping People

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man…. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:24,29 NIV)

Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life. He became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. God was with him. He was not perfect but he trusted God and God used him.

Sometimes our experiences leave us with an emotional and spiritual limp. Almost always we struggled with God as we tried to understand what had happened to us.

Our previous pastor, Leigh Robinson, lost his wife and sister when his son was only a toddler. However, he was able to use this testing experience to help others cope with grief. He even wrote a booklet, “Journey with Grief,” which I have given to many people who have lost loved ones, even non Christians. For South Africans it is available here.

I have heard of many Christians who have gone through traumatic and devastating circumstances that have left them permanently scarred and God was able to use them in amazing ways to help others. Joyce Meyer is one that comes to mind.

So if you walk with a limp, God is able to use you in a special way.

My Prayer

Father God, thank you for the unique experiences that have made me who I am. Help me turn my hurts, disappointments and regrets over to You. Please use me as You will. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan.

Tent Dresses

When I was a teenager, tent dresses were in fashion.

Angelique from Pinterest

I hated them. My mother, wanting her daughter to be in fashion, made me one for a party I had been invited to. It was of shiny pink satin with silver embossing and had three silver buttons. I felt overdressed. The other girls also wore tent dresses, but they were made of cotton. I never wore that dress again.

Perhaps there was some psychology in tent dresses. They certainly served to hide a frumpy figure. Thinking back, it was, of course, the age of free love and what better way to mask a budding teenage pregnancy than with clothes that made a tent around your body?

Now I am older. Much older. My figure has bloomed to ample curves and plenty of padding. Recently I went shopping for another summer dress. I must have tried on close to twenty. When I finally came home with the only one that looked reasonable on me, I noticed it was a tent dress.

I have changed my mind about tent dresses. I’m allowed to. My assertiveness training coach said so. It’s one of my rights.

I think we all have opinions seen through coloured glasses influenced by the world around us, our experiences, what our church teaches and what our friends think. We see the world through eyes slanted by social media posts and what google thinks we would be interested in as news.

Paul says, “When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to realise that I do not know all Truth and the humility to admit when I have changed my mind.

This post is part of JusJoJan

The Neighbourly Thing

This post is part of JusJoJan. The word for the day is “neighbor.”

I immediately thought of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was asked what the greatest law was, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.”(Mark 12:30-31 NIV)

When asked who his neighbour was, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. A man was attacked by robbers, beaten up and left for dead. Religious people walked by and pretended not to see. The man who finally helped him, the Samaritan, was not of his culture and belonged to a despised group of people. Nevertheless, he rendered first aid and organised transport to a place of recovery and rest. He paid for the man’s stay (after all, the robbers had taken all he had.)

Image by falco from Pixabay

That is the standard Jesus has set for us. Of course, we won’t all be called on to spend our money for a stranger’s hospital stay, but we might be. The Samaritan put aside his own agenda and spent time to help a person in distress. We are called to love others as we love ourselves. We can only do this one person at a time. Love equals time. We might not be called on to do the big things but we can all do the little things. We can take time to acknowledge the people who cross our path, to greet them and treat them as valuable, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done, their culture, religion or language. We can take time to help somebody who asks for our help or whom we see needs help.

The Bishop in Les Miserables inspires me with his forgiving attitude to an ex-con and his kindness to a person in need. I’ll be quite honest, I shall probably never attain such an unselfish attitude but, by God’s grace, and by keeping the example of the Good Samaritan in the forefront of my mind, I can learn to love my neighbour more and more each day.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, You set very high standards. Please incline my heart to be able to love my neighbour as You commanded. Amen.