Tag Archives: faith

Remember the Avocado Tree

Recently I read that walking by the Spirit is no more than inviting God into my internal conversation with myself. I resolved to try to live this way but since then, haven’t really been doing it intentionally.

This morning, while I was bathing, my thoughts were in idle mode, just running on themselves. Mainly I was thinking about the Girl Guide camp my daughter is running this weekend. The weather forecast is dismal – 80% rain on Sunday. Every Guider knows the hassle of packing up in the rain. You can’t pack up wet tents. They go mouldy and rot. Mostly you have to take them down wet, bundle them loosely, take them home and, as soon as the sun shines, put them up again then pack them properly when they are dry. I idly thought of possible contingency plans.

While I was worrying thus, it is almost as if the Lord interrupted my thoughts.

HIM: Why do you need a contingency plan. I thought you handed that over to Me last night.

(I remembered I had prayed last night with the family that it wouldn’t rain until the tents had been packed away.)

ME: Yes, but the weather forecast said…

HIM: Do you think I can’t?

ME: I know You can.

HIM: Don’t you trust Me? Or would you rather trust the weather service?

I had to think carefully about these questions. I decided it was not that I didn’t trust God nor that I doubted His power but rather that I thought the God of the universe should not be troubled by such a trifling matter.

HIM Remember the trees? remember the avocado tree.

That silenced me. I remembered them both.

Our neighbours used to have eight tall conifers just in front of our north-eastern wall which divides them from us. When the house was sold about two or more years ago, we got new neighbours. I was careful to hint to them that we’d love the trees cut down and we would be happy to pay half. Then later, when I saw they were actually cutting down other trees, I raised the matter again and tried to set up a meeting. It never happened. Soon after that I read again Mark 23-24.

Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ but does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”(NIV)

There was nobody around, just me and the trees, so I thought I’d try it. “Trees,” I said, “be cut down in Jesus’ name.” then I stopped fretting about it.

The trees are no longer there. In about April this year, the neighbours started work on extensions. They wanted to build extra rooms so her parents could move in with them. The trees were in the way.

As for the avocado tree, we have a tall avocado tree next to our house. It has never given us any fruit. When we came back from a two month winter escape this year, my gardener reported that the tree was dying. Sure enough the leaves were hanging limp and seemed to be a dull grey colour. Remembering the conifers, I said to it, “Tree, live, in Jesus name.” Although many leaves turned brown and fell off, new leaves grew. Now it looks like this.

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So tomorrow I am going with my daughter to help with the Guide camp until her assistant arrives. Maybe I should take an avocado leaf with me.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, I am never quite sure when You are speaking to me and when it is my own imagination. Please interrupt my thoughts more and more frequently and teach me to know Your voice.

Lockdown Day 4 Tents on the Patio

I’m running one day behind at present, so this was for yesterday.

When my husband cleared out the store room, we found four tents. Two tiny ones were from the days when our younger son was still at home and used to go camping with us. We had a caravan and later a motor-home and he had a tent. Then he out grew too that tent and got another, a longer one. As a Guider, when I took the Guides camping, I liked to take my own tent into which I could fit a chair. Then there is a very old tent my parents used with the motor-home before they gave it to me. On Sunday the grandchildren, with the help of their father, pitched all four so we could establish what kind of condition they were in.

Of course, the kids thought this was a wonderful adventure and decided each to spend the night in a small tent . The very old tent turned out no longer to be waterproof, but made a great play room.

When I think of a tent, I think of a place of refuge, of shelter from the wind, rain or sun. There are many psalms about God being our shelter or refuge. I like Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. (1-2.) Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; (6.) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.(10-11.)

At this time of uncertainty and turmoil, in the words of Psalm 91:2 NKJ.

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.

Exceptional Gifts

On Monday night, our fellowship group had our “last supper.” We all saw how things were going and knew it would not be long before South Africa, too, faced a lockdown. As a group, we watched the president’s address which confirmed it.

Although I had been expecting it, I was surprised by my own reaction of shock. I have been on-and-off tearful since. I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I do not fear the virus at all. I think I am mourning for a lost way of life.

Two exceptional gifts have helped stabilize me. The first is a laminated statement of faith which was a gift from our hostess, who always provides wonderful suppers for our meetings.

It reads:

Lord God – I believe that you love me and that you made me for a purpose. Lord – I believe that I shall not die a moment sooner or later than you decree. Lord – I believe that I shall suffer neither more nor less than you decide. Lord – I believe that I shall complete the work that you have planned for me to do on earth. Lord Jesus, as you died and rose from death, so I believe that I too shall rise from death. Lord – I believe that in the resurrection I shall see and understand all that is hidden from me now. Lord – I believe that because of this resurrection, new life springs out of every kind of death. Lord – I believe that all my dear ones in the same way, are safe in your capable moulding hands. Therefore Lord – I believe that all anxiety is sin and I renounce it as unnecessary, wasteful and hurtful. And Lord – I commit myself to you with all my heart to be set free to live and love and serve your children.

Yesterday, as our motor-home needed a run before we are all confined to our homes, we went to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens where I received my second exceptional gift – the reminder of how great and creative our God is.

Every day, everywhere, are reminders of God’s glory. Let’s keep our eyes open to see Him and our ears attuned to His voice.

Feelings and Faith

“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”
― George Muller

Although I had decided to trust God with the matter of our air tickets, it didn’t stop me from being anxious about them and living with a knot in my stomach.

Speaking to my son helped. He is very adventurous and recently did his first sky dive. I asked him if he had butterflies in his stomach before jumping, even though he totally trusted his parachute, the laws of physics that enable sky diving, and his instructor. He admitted that he had. So even though I thought I trusted God implicitly, it was understandable that I felt anxiety.

Recently I’ve heard a number of things that have tried my faith.

A couple had been praying for fifteen years for a baby. Finally there was a pregnancy, and amid much rejoicing, a baby was born two weeks ago. A couple of days ago, the baby was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I feel so sad and disappointed for those parents. My boss had a Down Syndrome baby and I know how much of a life change is involved. Questions arise. Why didn’t God answer sooner? Surely He gives good gifts to His children?

A friend’s daughter-in-law died of colon cancer. The funeral was yesterday. She leaves behind young children.

My best friend’s son is a pilot for an airline which is in serious financial difficulties and they don’t know from month to month whether they will be paid. We’ve been praying for months for another job for him. He applied for a position in England and had an interview scheduled for later this month. He borrowed money to fly to England to attend the interview. Yesterday he received a letter saying that owing to the Corona virus outbreak, the airline had decided not to hire any more pilots as all airlines were facing a drop in custom.

I know, and I am absolutely convinced that …all things work together for good for those that love the Lord… (Rom 8:28,) that even these negative things can be worked out for good. However, that doesn’t stop me from feeling sad or even depressed and confused by these events.

When I discussed this with my prayer partner, she raised the question, “Why did Jesus weep when confronted with Mary’s and Martha’s sorrow following the death of Lazarus? (John 11:35)” Surely He had perfect faith in the Father. He knew what God was going to do in response to His prayer. Why then did He feel and express these human emotions?

I think it’s because Jesus understands. He knows our feelings and identifies with them in the same way as the little girl who said to her father, “I’m going to my friend’s house because the dog got her best doll …

Image by Frank Becker from Pixabay

and I’m going to cry with her.”

Image by Mariangela Castro (Mary) from Pixabay

I am far from being a Christian like George Muller who trusted God so implicitly that he had no anxiety. My Lord knows that. He knows I am weak and He understands. He will cry with me.

Guide Dog in Training

A friend of mine is a Puppy Trainer for the Guide Dog Association. She is an art teacher in the studio that is on the same property as our cottage and once a week she brings Jarvis with her. Last week, the dog galloped into our lounge, clearing out the old ginger cat who was lazing on the couch. My friend was close behind. I commented that this did not seem like a responsible Guide Dog and she said I should see him in his harness.  When he wears it, he knows what is expected of him so behaves appropriately. Jarvis is only a Guide-Dog-in-training but that doesn’t get rid of his doggy nature.

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I am a Christian-in-training. I have consented to be in Christ’s harness and I qualify for all the benefits He died to secure for me: forgiveness from sins, His presence and involvement in my life, guidance, His inexplicable peace, and eternal life where I can be forever with Him forever.

However, I am not perfect. My human nature, or sin nature, is never far away.  I take comfort in Phil1:6 which says, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” In this life I will never reach perfection, but I trust my trainer for “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12-13)

I am sure that Jarvis will become a wonderful Guide Dog, bringing independence to a sight-impaired person. His trainer knows what he is destined for and what he can become. Christ, my trainer, knows the purpose for which I was created and can help me fulfill that purpose and become the best version of myself.

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Blending

Adult colouring books are not really my thing. I thought I’d give it a try (since everybody else was so enthusiastic about it) and bought myself a book. Well, I have half coloured one page. I saw a journal in a Christian book shop with bible verses and small pictures to colour on every alternate page and plenty of space to write so I considered I might manage that.

My daughter is an artist and taught me to blend with Aquelle crayons. “Use different colours,” she said, “and blend them together with your wet paintbrush”. It worked quite well for a non-artist.

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It occurs to me  that is what God does in a marriage or in a family. He uses different colours (people), puts them together artistically, and blends them making a more vibrant and dynamic picture.  My husband and I are very different but God has managed to blend us together so the “Us” contains elements of each of us but also of a combination of both of us, making the whole more than the sum of the parts. In the hands of the Master, each marriage and family is an unrepeatable masterpiece.

Taste Test

Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)

Every baby knows that one can’t tell what a thing is like unless one has tasted it for oneself. Unlike sight and hearing, where one can experience something in a big crowd, taste is very personal and has an element of risk. Anybody and everybody can admire a glorious sunset but, while it may be uplifting, there is no direct interaction. A rousing  overture can be heard by thousands of people at once but they are not personally involved. Smell is indiscriminate. Nobody has a choice regarding what smells might waft in and out of our nostrils although we can move our bodies to get closer or further away and we can breathe in deeply or block our noses.

Taste is normally a choice. We can choose to interact with something by putting it in our mouth or, if we are more cautious, putting a tiny bit on our finger and transferring it to our tongue. There is always some degree of faith required. Do we trust the person who is inviting us to taste something, or might they be trying to poison us or play a practical joke?

What we taste cannot be tasted by anybody else – it is changed in the process. There is real interaction. We make ourselves vulnerable to possibly find something that we never knew before and is really delicious.

The psalmist exhorts us to not rely on other people’s experiences of God to know He is good. Taste and see for yourself.

Prayer. Lord, I am willing to take a chance. Please interact with me and show me how good You are. Amen.

man holding ice cream cone under cloud

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

X rays and Conditions

When I was in my early forties, my mother’s doctor suggested that I go for a bone scan to see if I had osteoporosis like she did. What a ridiculous idea! I was still young. I couldn’t possibly have an old peoples’ disease! Nevertheless the scan showed that I had, indeed, suffered from loss of bone density. I have a condition that I didn’t know I had and would have staunchly denied while I laughed.

person holding x ray film

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My daughter also has a condition. A different condition. Last week she took her three children to check if they had inherited it. They had.

We probably all have conditions. Or syndromes. Or illnesses. Or weaknesses. Many of them we inherited. Although they are many and varied, we all suffer from one hereditary condition. We will refuse to believe that we have this condition although it is usually obvious in others. The global expert will tell us we have this condition but because we don’t think we have it, we might not accept his opinion.

This condition is called Human Nature. God calls it SIN. We inherited it. It is in our DNA. None of us in immune. “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned – every one- to his own way.” (Isiah 53:6a ESV)

Those of us who go to church and maybe read our bibles think we are immune. We are not. God’s X ray of our heart will reveal it. I was reminded again of my condition this morning. I had slept very badly and, twenty minutes before my alarm was due to go off, I was woken by my husband’s footsteps. He asked if I wanted coffee then of after seven. I felt grumpy and irritable. had not slept well. My sleep had been interrupted.  needed my sleep. A couple of minutes later when I did wake up, he brought me cappuccino and a rusk. He could not have coffee with me because he had to leave to do a Gideon Bible placement at a school. Later I found his coffee cup with a spoon of coffee powder.

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I had not thought of him, had I? Only of me, me, me. This is a symptom of my condition. Total self focus.

Fortunately, God has provided a therapy for this condition we all suffer from (or ignore.) Isiah goes on to say in verse 6b, “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus had paid the consequences for our condition and, if we are willing, will give us a transfusion of divine nature that will slowly change us to the image of Jesus if we submit to his regime. That does not mean that our human nature disappears. It is still alive and kicking and only with God’s help can we tame it to some degree. I long for the day when my first waking thought can be Good morning , Lord rather than Good Lord, it’s morning.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you died for me. By your Spirit, please transform me into your image. I submit myself to Your authority. Amen.