When my granddaughters get to the beach, they like to collect shells. They sort them and arrange them, show them off and admire them. Some of this enthusiasm must have rubbed off on me because when my husband and I went for a walk on the beach recently, the little girl in me surfaced and I decided to collect shells. It is amazing the colour and variety one can find!
They also come in all sizes. At the shell shop in Shelly Beach there is a shell almost one meter across! It is not for sale. I found shells small as my baby finger nail!
The creativity of God never ceases to astound me. Sure, I can categorise my shells into rough families but even within those groups there is so much variety.
How much more individuality can be found among people! Again, we can roughly group people according to country and heritage but within those groups there is endless variety. If we learn to treat people as individuals, made in the image of God, our interactions with them would be so much deeper.
Our Father created us all and He has a unique plan for us all. I love Psalm 139.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. … Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”(vs 13,14,16 NIV)
Father, please open my eyes to Your wonderful creativity all around me. Help me to treat each person I meet as an unrepeatable masterpiece made in Your image. Amen.
The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea- the Lord on high is mighty. (Psalm 93:3-4 NIV)
We are at the seaside. Yesterday I went into the sea with my little inflatable surfer with the intention of surfing the waves. I had done this a couple of days ago with reasonable success but this time I didn’t seem to be able to position myself in the middle and I kept falling off. Moreover there was a very strong side current so I stuck to small waves and shallow water.
Way beyond me, surfers were riding the big waves with style. I got to thinking about waves. Waves transfer energy. In this context the energy is one of motion and surfers are able to move far on the energy of just one wave.
From a scientific point of view, most energy forms have some wave component – light energy, electrical energy, sound energy.
I became aware again of how mighty God is. He spoke and light was created. Imagine the energy, the power involved! God’s power stopped the waters of the Red Sea and held them at bay until He chose to remove His hand. Jesus demonstrated His power over the waves of the sea. He spoke and the sea was calmed, the waves as tame as a puppy dog.
I am convinced that prayer has power – energy if you like. Maybe prayer consists of some form of electromagnetic wave yet to be discovered. Be that as it may, I know that all power, all energy originates from God Himself, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Father God, I stand in awe of Your power as I watch the waves of the sea. May I never forget that You, the mighty God, are for me, not against me. Amen.
We’ve been having a cold snap at the moment. (After all, it is winter.) Days are quite pleasant, around 15 degrees C but nights tend to be much colder, at about 4 degrees. We’ve had our gas fire on some evenings and we’ve put our fluffy blanket on the bed.
On Fridays I often take my grandson to Cubs. He was ready in his uniform when I came to collect him at 4.50pm last Friday. In the car he told me with pride how he had been made a sixer (a leader of a small group) the previous week.
I dropped him outside the Scout hall grounds and watched as he ran to sign in, sanitise and have his temperature checked. It was only then that I realised that he hadn’t brought his jacket. The evening was going to cool down and, although I knew they would probably be playing some active run-around games, I thought he would probably get cold. I determined to quickly drive home and fetch his jacket but on the way home I had second thoughts.
How embarrassing might it be for this new little leader to have his Granny interrupt his Cub meeting by bringing him a jacket? If he got cold, he might remember next time to bring something warm to wear. He might learn to take more responsibility for himself.
So I did nothing. It wasn’t easy. I worried. I couldn’t wait for him to get home so I could find out how he had coped.
“How was Cubs?” I asked.
“Great! I got to do the flag.” His face lit up with excitement.
Nobody talked about cold.
Sometimes God does nothing. We wonder why He is not helping us in a difficult situation. Is it possible He trusts us to cope using the skills He has gifted to us? Is there some area of growth He knows we need? Sometimes a little bit of discomfort can teach us things we might not easily learn otherwise.
When Lazarus got sick and his sisters sent an urgent message to Jesus, He did nothing for two days. At first glance this seems very unfeeling. Lazarus died and both Mary and Martha pointed out to Jesus that if He had been there, their brother would not have died. Jesus had a greater plan. Mary and Martha got such a faith boost when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. (John 11: 1-44)
Jesus had just fed five thousand men, plus women and children. “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side… Later that night, he was there alone and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” (Matthew 14 :22, 23b,24.)
Jesus knew about the storm. He knew the disciples would battle but He sent them out into the storm anyway. Again, Jesus had a greater plan. If the disciples had not had to face the storm, they would not have witnessed Jesus walk on the water and Peter would never had stepped out of the boat to walk on the water towards his Lord. How much their faith grew in that one night!
When God does nothing we usually don’t understand. Our best action is to trust. Trust in the love of God. Trust in His wisdom and overall plan for our lives. It is not easy. But God know exactly what He is doing.
Father God, I don’t understand when You don’t answer my prayers the way I think I need. Please teach me to trust You in every circumstance of my life – even when things are uncomfortable for me. Help me to grow in the areas where You are stretching me and to learn the things You are trying to teach me. Amen.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
Once my six-year-old granddaughter had had enough jumping in the waves, she decided to try her hand at digging a swimming pool. After a while, her father came to join her but left her to lead the project.
When God created us in His image, one of the attributes He implanted in us was creativity. We all have some of the creativity of our Maker whether we like to design engines, do woodwork, create a garden, paint a picture, write a book or…(fill in the blank.) It is our Father’s gift.
He would love to be with us in our creativity and He can inspire us with ideas, but He leaves us to manage the project and He takes as much pleasure in the finished work as we do – even is it’s only a sand castle.
Father, thank You for the gift of creativity. May I seek to glorify You in everything I do so I can bring everything I make to You like a preschooler bringing home his artwork and say, “Look Daddy, I made this for You.” Amen.
God always answers our prayers, but He does not always give us what we want.
Rick Warren explains it thus:
“When the request is not right, God says, ‘No.’ When the timing is not right, God says, ‘Slow.’ When you are not right, God says, ‘Grow.’ But when the request is right, and the timing is right and you are right, God says, ‘Go!'”
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.
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.
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.
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.
South Africa is under adjusted level three lockdown at the moment. This means businesses can still operate but the return to school has been delayed until 14 February.
The King’s School Robin Hills, which my grandchildren attend, has been outstanding in their organisation and management of online schooling. My grandchildren, aged six, nine and eleven, have all learned to navigate google classroom, watch youtube videos (selected or produced by the school), and even attend zoom meetings with their teachers once a day. Every week my daughter collects a pack of worksheets for each child and hands in finished work as required.
My daughter is fortunate in that she is still able to run her art classes, so Granny is supervising the children with their on-line schooling (like many other grannies I know). The older two are capable and responsible, but the youngest is only just learning to read and needs me to read the instructions to her.
I am struck by the different levels of the children’s school work. One is colouring pictures and cutting and pasting them into her book, one is learning spelling words and preparing an oral with cue cards, and one is learning about equivalent ratios and photosynthesis.
In the same way, our Heavenly Father treats us all individually, according to our maturity. The lessons He would like me to learn are not the same ones He’s working on with you. It is no use looking at other Christians and their experiences and expecting God to give us the same. He knows exactly our personalities, our talents, our strengths and weaknesses. You can be sure He is leading us gently into full maturity in Christ.
So let’s not give up the opportunity to learn the lessons He puts in our path daily.
Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86:11)
This post is part of JusJoJan. The word for today is spell.