Tag Archives: Life

What a Difference an “S” Makes

My times are in Your hands:” (Psalm 31:15 NKJV)

Image by LittleAngell from Pixabay

I understand this to mean God determines when I am born and when I die. I believe He chose my parents, the era I live in, my country and my birth order.

One of my favourite Psalms is 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. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my informed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Verses 13-16 NIV)

The Lord has chosen my station in life, where I live and what happens to me. I can say with the Psalmist, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”(Psalm 16:6)

So to say, “My times are in Your hands,” is to state a fact.

However, if I say to God, “My time is in Your hands,” it’s a totally different thing. It means, “I commit the time You have given me to Your control and management.” It is a prayer of commitment, of surrender. What a difference an “s” makes!

Jesus didn’t have control over His own time. On the day He heard about the beheading of John the Baptist, He longed to get away to a quiet place by Himself to mourn and process the events. Instead, He was inundated, first by excited disciples who had returned from a mission, and when He took them with Him to a quiet place, the crowds were waiting for Him. He loved them. He gave them His time and then fed them, more than 5000 of them.

Sure I can make plans. I need to go shopping, sort out admin, enjoy coffee with a friend. I need to earn my keep, take care of the home and family God has given me. But I need to remember Whose time it really is.

My prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. You know my beginning and end. Thank You for where you have placed me, my country, my city, my home. Thank You for the family You have given me. I commit to You now, my time. ‘Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.'”

The last line of my prayer is from a hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be,” by Frances R Havergal, 1874.

Chris Tomlin has revamped it in this You Tube version.

When a Good Friend Dies

Yesterday a good friend died. She hosted our fellowship group which will never be the same again. It wasn’t Covid. It was leukemia and it was sudden. We got the first message saying she was in hospital with some weird blood disease on Saturday. She started chemotherapy on Monday, Yesterday morning we got the message that she was unresponsive and by 3pm she had gone to her Lord.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I was shocked out of comfort into stark reality. Death is so final and so disruptive to our everyday life! Could I have been a better friend?

I realised again that we should tell the people we love that we love them, while they can still hear, that we must forgive while it is still possible, that we should always keep in mind that we, too, can be taken suddenly in the midst of living.

Our possessions, home, car, pets are only ours while we are alive. One day somebody else will sort out our freezer, make plans for our animals, donate our clothes, close our bank account.

Stephen Covey recommends that we start with the end in view. I am going to die. What would I like my friends and family to say about me once I’m gone? That my house was always tidy or that I dropped everything to enjoy an outing with a friend? That I published a book or made memories with grandchildren? That I brought encouragement or pointed out mistakes?

These and many more questions I need to think on in the coming days. The advice in Philippians 4:8 is always helpful.

Finally, Brothers and Sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Goodbye, Pat, I will always remember you. You were a hostess who cared about each individual guest, even the ones who didn’t like curry or pork. You knew our favourite drinks and made sure you had them. You noticed the quiet members of the group and encouraged them. Your love for life inspired me, your unwavering trust in the Lord I strive to attain. You will be missed by a large circle of friends. I feel honoured that I can count myself one of them.

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.

Bread of Life

Original water colour by Kristen van Lieshout of The Purple Plum Studio

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 NIV)

This post is part of the One-Liner Wednesday challenge by Linda Hill.

Lockdown Day 29 This is the Year

Last night President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a stepped lifting of the hard lockdown from 1 May according to the infection rate and the readiness of health services. South Africa has 3 953 confirmed cases of Covid 19 and the death toll is at 75.

2020 will be remembered as:

  1. The year of the mask.
  2. The year we washed our hands, again and again and again………..
  3. The year we got to attend church in our own comfy lounge.
  4. The year the older generation had to learn new things like Zoom and Facebook prayer meetings.
  5. The year we evaluated what’s really important in life. What are essentials?
  6. The year the government stopped infighting and all faced the same direction. The year of unexpected leadership.
  7. The year when communities reached out to each other and more compassion was shown.
  8. The year when the background noise was more birdsong and less traffic.
  9. The year many people remembered how to pray and seek God.
  10. The year that humans realised we were not in control and, actually had never been.
  11. The year of courage and inspiration, of new inventions and new ways of doing life.
  12. The year the inequality divide shifted and some people were so overworked they barely had time to eat and some so bored and unpaid that they spent their time waiting in queues for food parcels, neatly spaced 1 to 2 metres apart.

Yes the world is upside down. But God is not. His promises do not change according to circumstances.

But we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28 NIV)

All things means all things, even a pandemic. God, who knows and understands so much more than our puny little brains can even think or contemplate, can see the good that will result from our present distress and trial. Let’s just trust Him and enjoy the every day gifts that we so often overlook, like sunshine, oxygen, colour, sight and the ability to walk.

Shadows

Things are not always what they seem from their shadows. This morning I started running my bath water and noticed a long legged spider trying to get out of the way of the rising water. As he slipped and slithered on the white enamel surface, it looked to me like two spiders were ascending and descending. Eventually he made it and scurried away and into the corner under my console.

In the photo above, the bird’s shadow looks much larger than the bird itself.

Sometimes our lives are marred by shadows of the past. We all experience bad things and we all make mistakes and hurt others. However, when we allow the shadow to grow into something larger than it really is, it can steal our happiness and peace.

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We all know what happens to shadows when we shine a light on them. Let us allow Jesus to shine His light on the dark shadows in our soul.

This post is part of the JustJoJan challenge.

Business Upgrade

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. (Eph 2:8)

My husband and I are reading through a little book by Randy Alcorn called “Grace.” First thing every morning he reads the day’s passage to me while I drink coffee in bed. So I am reading a lot about grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favour given to the undeserving.

Yesterday I was given a graphic illustration. Our youngest son was returning to Russia after a holiday in Australia and was given a business upgrade together with his two companions. They didn’t apply for it, they didn’t ask for it and since they hadn’t paid for it, they didn’t deserve it.

May I never take for granted God’s grace to me. It is free to me but cost Christ everything. It is not cheap and I certainly don’t deserve it. It gives me the right to call God, My Father, and for me to be His child. I have all the privileges of the children of a loving, rich and powerful king. How blessed I am!

Prayer

Father, may I never take your grace for granted but live in an attitude of gratitude, extending grace to others. Amen.

Computers and competitions

I am very competitive. When I felt God was calling me to write, ( How it all began, ) I joined a writing club to gain experience, practice and hone my skill. Every month there is a different writing challenge, from haiku to horror. A judge gives a written report of your writing and points are accumulated for first, second, third places in that challenge. At the end of the year a trophy is awarded to writer of the year and runner up.

Last year I came second. This year I am currently in third place. To be able to improve my position I have to enter every single challenge. November’s was to write a tall tale in 3 000 words about a Voortrekker. During the month I did my research and started my story. Last week we were camping with friends and, although I took my computer in the motorhome, I didn’t write a word. We got back on Friday. Saturday was the last day of the month and the deadline was midnight. No problem. I only had 1 500 words to write. I would dedicate the whole of Saturday to it.

I set my alarm for 5am. I told my husband he could bring me coffee but I wouldn’t have time to pray and read our daily devotion as we do every morning. I wanted to get in three hours of writing before I had to take my granddaughters to Brownies and Teddies. I would skip the Gideon’s prayer meeting that would take place in our house.

I got up with the alarm and went to my study to switch on my laptop. It just stared at me. I jiggled my mouse. Nothing. I stroked the touch-pad. Nothing. My computer would not accept any communication from me. It took me half an hour to realize that though I could access the Windows screen and scroll using the key pad, I could select nothing. It was much too early to ask my son-in-law for help. I couldn’t write my story.

I don’t know how I knew it was God’s interference, but I knew. My Father was not impressed by the way I had casually pushed aside appointments with Him to do my own thing. I was awestruck that He had come so close to me. There was nothing I could do except abandon the idol of possibly being able to come second in the writers club yearly standings. I would have to consciously allow the deadline to pass and not send an entry. Only other competitive people will understand how difficult that was for me.

Of course, now I had time to pray and read with my husband. I even had time to have a quiet time and talk to the Lord and repent. I had not been interested in His will, I was too busy doing my own. Ps 40:7 jumped at me. Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; Your law is within my heart. I was at the Gideon prayer meeting.

As it turned out, all that was wrong with my computer was a flat battery in my mouse, but I know that, had He needed to, the Lord could have ensured that my computer was out of operation for a month. Maybe I could still have finished my story but I had already relinquished it and I wasn’t about to reverse that. I didn’t dare.

Image by Florian Berger from Pixabay

Doing and Being

Every Saturday morning I take my granddaughters to Brownies and Teddies, the junior branches of the Girl Guides. It is in another suburb about fifteen to twenty minutes away. While they are there, I usually take myself out to breakfast at a little bistro not far from the church hall where they meet.

This morning I sat down facing the window instead of the TV and was about to whip out my phone to check my email, or check the news, or play games or something when I caught myself. Why do I feel compelled to always be doing something instead of just being?

Instead, I just looked out the window.

sdr

I saw the beautiful Jacaranda trees in full bloom. By and by, a lady came up to the tree directly opposite me. She was wearing an apron and carried a watering can. She carefully poured water around the tree and I noticed there was a little rockery around the tree where some Clivia were growing. I saw a man carry an empty box and carefully deposit it next to a dustbin. I saw a parking guard with a luminous orange vest pick up litter as he strolled backwards and forwards. I saw doves fly past and perch in the trees.

On a whim, I checked my new tracker watch to determine my heart rate. It was lower than it’s been since I got the tracker three days ago.

Shouldn’t we spend more time being rather than doing from wake up to sleep time? Wouldn’t we appreciate more of the abundant life Christ offers us? Shouldn’t we spend more time looking at the lilies in the field?

Isn’t it strange that when we meet strangers, a stock question is “What do you do?” and never “Who are you?” It is true that often we can gauge who a person is by what they do, but not always.

I am determined to spend more of my waste time just being. Time in the car as a passenger, time walking, time eating, time relaxing. My cell phone is merely a tool, not my master. It’s all right to just look around, enjoy the world and thank God.