“Faith is to believe what we do not see. The reward of faith is to see what we believe.” (St Augustine)
It is supposed to be Autumn. We have been having lovely sunny days with maximum temperatures hovering between 21 and 24 degrees C. Yesterday the rain started. The temperature has dropped by at least ten degrees. We haven’t seen the sun for two days. The sky is misty grey.
Where has the sun gone? In actual fact, the sun hasn’t gone anywhere. It is exactly where it is supposed to be. Nuclear reactions still take place at its core, fusing hydrogen to helium, generating immense amounts of heat and energy. We don’t see it because the conditions on the earth have blocked it from our view temporarily. It is not the sun that has changed but the conditions and circumstances where we are.
Sometimes we can’t see God. We wonder where He has gone. Jesus promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He is with us even when the circumstances and conditions of our lives obscure His presence. God is constant. He doesn’t change. When we don’t feel Him near, He is still with us, loving us, guiding us and working out His plan in our lives and for the world.
Nobody stops believing in the sun because they have a couple of rainy days. Neither should we stop trusting God when troubles and problems obscure our view of Him.
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
Lord Jesus, please help me to trust in You even when circumstances form a cloud around me so dense that I can’t see You. Give me the faith to keep believing in Your unchanging love. Amen.
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.
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.
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.
God makes a promise, faith believes it, hope anticipates it, patience waits for it. (Nicky Gumble)
This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday
Quote by Nicky Gumble:
“Faith is a muscle that grows by stretching.”
This post is part of One-Liner Wednesday
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.
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.
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.
“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 …
and I’m going to cry with her.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.