These are lines from Michael W Smith’s song, “Christ be All Around Me.”
I thought about those lines today. Everywhere I go, Christ goes with me. He encloses me. So when I sat in Mugg and Bean this morning, drinking bottomless coffee and fighting to try to get onto their internet to write this blog, Christ was with me. When I fetched my granddaughter from Brownies, Jesus was there too, smiling at the sight of happy little girls. When I prayed with my best friend and prayer partner, Jesus was there, as He promised, in our midst. (Matt 18:20)
He is closer than breathing, He’s privy to my thoughts and He abides in my heart. Unfortunately, a lot of the time I tend to forget that Jesus is right next to me. If I remembered more often, I would stress less, think of others more and revel in the wonderful life He has given me.
Lord Jesus, please be the air I breathe and may I constantly be aware of Your presence. Amen.
John 6:44 Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.”
He also said, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b)
In other words, even coming to Christ is not at our initiation, but God’s.
Charles Wesley had a term for this action of the Father when He draws us to Christ. He called it “prevenient grace.”
Looking back in my past to identify signs of prevenient grace in my life, I remember an incident in my childhood which I count as my earliest possible memory of this grace.
I must have been quite young, but already at school, so possibly five or six years old. Somebody at school told me that if you stripped a feather of all but a top tuft of vanes and planted it in the ground, you could make a wish and the wish would come true. At that age I already felt inferior to others. I wasn’t as pretty, as comfortable socially, as interesting as other kids. I felt I was not good enough. My wish was that I could be good enough. In the back of my mind I had a sort of fairy story. I was actually a princess and had been swopped at birth and one day people would find out who I really was.
Peering back through sixty years, I can see that this was my first inkling that I was a sinner. At university I heard another variation on this theme from an Assembles of God pastor. “Wherever I go, I go too and spoil everything.”
I have now been a Christian for over forty years. I know that I have the righteousness of Christ since on the cross He exchanged my sin for His righteousness. Nobody can say that’s not good enough. Moreover, I know myself to be a daughter of the King of the Universe. In anybody’s book, that makes me a princess.
So it might have taken a while but my wish on a feather came true.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
Philippians 4:13 is a favourite verse of many Christians, me included.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (NLT)
However this verse is often used out of context. Paul is thanking the Philippian church for their gift. He says,
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil.4:11-15 NIV)
The “All things” we like to refer to is actually the ability to be content in any circumstance. I need this strength at this time. After last night’s address by the president I felt depressed because it looks like a long time before life in South Africa is going to get any better, and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go back to how things used to be.
Can I be content if we don’t go to the South Coast in our motor-home in July as we have planned and booked? Can I brave the worst of the winter in Jo’burg doing the same old lockdown nothing?
Can I be content if we don’t fly to Port Elizabeth at the end of August for my mother’s birthday?
Can I be content if we don’t get to go to New Zealand in December to visit our children and grandchildren.
When my plans are arbitrarily foiled and cancelled can I be content?
This is what we are all called to do – keep going for the long haul, keep trusting God in all circumstances and be content in the process. This is when we need all the strength that Christ can give us so we can say, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Pledge Allegiance.”
I grew up in the era of hymns and I am still moved and inspired by the old words. One of my favourites and possibly the most challenging is “I Vow to You, my Saviour.”
It was written by Richard T Bewes after “I vow to Thee my Country” by Celcil Spring-Rice to the music from Thaxted (1921) from Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity from The Planets (Op32) (1914-1916) by Gustav Holt
I am not often in a position where I can pray it honestly and sincerely. My dedication to my Lord fluctuates as I keep trying to take back control of my life which I have surrendered to Him. However, today’s prompt has reminded me where my allegiance must be.