Tag Archives: God

When God Does Nothing

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.

My Prayer

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.

Beach Memories 2

“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.

My Prayer

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 Prayer.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

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!'”

This post is part of One Liner Wednesday.

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.

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.

Home Schooling (Again)

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.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

My Prayer

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.

Naming and Establishing

But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, O Jacob, who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God,…” (Isiah 43:1- 3a)

God knows my name. He has called me by name. I am not just one of the world that He loves, or one of the “Whoever believes,” or even one of the “All those who are weary and heavy laden.” It is personal. He calls me by my name, Jenny.

This morning I found out something I have never known before. One of the meanings of my name is “Yahweh is gracious.” I’m just reflecting on that.

God sets great store by our names – to the extent that He sometimes changes them where appropriate. Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter and Saul became Paul.

What does your name mean to God and are you living up to it? Either way, know that His promises are for you. Personally.

My prayer

Thank you, Father, that I am Yours and You know me by name. Hallowed be Thy name. Amen.

Image by Jackson David from Pixabay

The Life of a Daffodil Bulb

I love Spring. I love watching the emergence of blossoms, of flowers, of Spring bulbs. Our first sign of Spring in our shared garden is usually the jasmine, budding even before September and touching the air with whiffs of its heady perfume. Soon sweet-peas add their fragrance with freesias and yesterday-today-tomorrow joining the scent party. My favourite spring flowers are daffodils. They have such smiling faces. It makes me happy just to look at them.

Jesus said,

Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith!”(Luke 12:27 – 28 NIV)

I considered the life of a daffodil. It starts as a bulb, not particularly good-looking but provided by God with all it needs to become a beautiful flower. However, it takes time. At first the bulb is buried under a heavy load of soil. It is dark. It is smelly. It seems like the weight of the world is pushing down on it. It might not be the life the daffodil had planned for itself. It might even question the existence of God. Praying doesn’t seem to help. Nothing changes. Things might even get worse. Winter comes. It gets colder.

The changes, when they come, are gradual. A stretching for the sun, a tentative reaching out to the dirty soil around it. At last a tiny breakthrough. Is that sunshine on its tip? God sends the circumstances, the rain, the sunshine that grow the plant. It is all His doing. When Spring comes, the daffodil, stretched and strengthened, is ready to bloom where it was planted. Again, it is no effort or straining on the plant’s part but only the grace of God that causes the opening of a beautiful flower bringing glory to the Creator and beauty to the world.

My Prayer

Father God, sometimes I find myself in dark and unpleasant places and the burden on my shoulders seems too great for me. Please help me learn from the daffodil that You have a plan for me. It might not be quick, it might not be painless but if I merely trust you and commit myself to your circumstances I will grow into the flower You imagine, bringing glory to You and beauty to the world. Amen.

Encouragement with Red Ribbons

A spiritual exercise I did recently prompted by Margaret Silf’s book, “Taste and See” encouraged me to imagine my life as a store topped by a living area. What product or service would my store offer?

On reflection, I decided my store would offer encouragement, bottled in pretty glass jars tied with coloured ribbons. Different sized and shaped bottles of encouragement would be displayed in the store window.

Image by Tesa Robbins from Pixabay

Of course, encouragement doesn’t last. It is like a bottle of sweets, enjoyed for the moment but gone by tomorrow.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 reads, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

That’s all very well, but I want something more concrete. How do I encourage others? I think it starts with my attitude towards others. If I accept others just as they are, if I care about them as individuals and see each as God’s unrepeatable masterpiece, I already create an atmosphere of encouragement.

Then it is concentrating on the good in people, regarding them as competent and trustworthy, and not focusing on their faults and failings. It is a word of appreciation or applause for something done. It is enthusiasm for what they love or are called to do. It is sincere words of support or agreement. It includes offering an apt word of scripture according to the circumstances.

To encourage means to imbue with courage. The Oxford dictionary defines it as to give someone support, courage or hope.

My Prayer

Father God, please give me eyes to see others as You see them and to accept them as they are. Give me ears to listen and understand so I may enter into their struggles, joys and sorrows. Give me a tongue to be able to communicate the hope I have in You, the faith that You are good and that You have everything under control. Amen.