Tag Archives: Life

Building a House

In my assignation with the Lord this morning, I read Psalm 27. Having just blogged yesterday about allowing God to do things His way and not trying to struggle on in my own strength, I was struck by the first two verses.

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (NIV)

I am a great believer in energy efficiency. To build in vain seems such a waste of energy.

I am going to apply this principle to my vague plan to publish a collection of my better blog posts. If the Lord organises it, then I will not labour in vain.

My Prayer

Father God, if this vague plan of mine is of You, please will You take over. If not, please show me how to use my time to glorify you. Amen.

The Tomato Plant.

I may have mentioned before that I have brown thumbs – the opposite of green fingers. The idea of growing my own vegetables is very attractive but my success has been meagre. When I planted tomatoes, they looked healthy for a while – even gave me five tomatoes to eat. Then they developed some kind of fungal disease and the plant died even before the last six tomatoes ripened.

In winter I bought a packet of tomato seeds and some of those compostable planting pots and some growing pellets. As soon as Spring arrived I planted them. When they were big enough I cut off the bases of the pots and planted them suitably spaced in my vegetable garden. Now, two months later, five of the nine pots contain living plants. One is about 20cm tall but the others are still about 10cm. I’m not feeling too optimistic.

About six weeks ago I noticed a tomato plant among my clivias. It already had flowers so I knew it wouldn’t be long before there were some tomatoes. Now it is producing fruit. Abundantly. They turned out to be baby tomatoes. My favourite kind. Three or four times a week I can collect upwards of 20 tomatoes – enough for a salad for lunch.

This tomato plant I had nothing to do with. I didn’t plant it. It just grew. God planted it.

What this says to me is that if I start a new endeavour in my own strength and wisdom, the results are not amazing. If God starts something and I keep my grubby paws off it, it will work out exactly according to His plan. I have to learn to be led by the Spirit, not my own imagination or good ideas. Perhaps I also need to examine my motives. If my motive is purely to glorify God, then it is a worthy endeavour. If my motive is to make money or get fame or recognition or to impress others, the results are in no way guaranteed.

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143:10)

My Prayer

Father God, I find it difficult to discern when my thoughts and ideas come from myself and when they are from You. Please help me to live so closely to You that my default is to be led by Your Spirit. Teach me to hear Your voice and obey Your commands. Amen.

Democracy

On Monday I voted in the municipal elections in South Africa. Because I am over sixty five, it was fairly pleasant. We were taken to the front of the queue for initial checking of documents then escorted to the door of the classroom where our section of the alphabet was voting. I don’t think we took longer than ten minutes.

I am able to vote because I live in a democracy. My husband and I reminisced about the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994 when the queues snaked around the block and my husband waited six hours. We still had dependent children at that stage so I came and went with the children, keeping an eye on progress.

As a civic-minded gesture, Wimpy offered free coffee to every person who showed their marked thumb to prove they had voted.

The special ink leaked all the way around my nail and under it.

Just because South Africa is a democracy doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Far from it. In fact it seems that what the majority wants is not even close to what I want.

My ultimate citizenship is not in South Africa. Paul says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus, Christ.” (Phil 3:20 NIV)

Heaven is not a democracy. Its citizens do not vote on the way it is governed nor any policies. Its citizens have no rights except the right to be God’s children. (“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 NIV) All they have is gifted to them through God’s grace alone.

Heaven is a kingdom, with all authority and power vested in King Jesus. His word is law.

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:3 ESV)

That he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Eph 1:20-21 ESV)

Until I get to my home country, I am an exile, not quite fitting in with the customs and mores of this world. I am called to pray for my earthly rulers and authorities, for my country of residence for peace and prosperity.

My Prayer

Father God, when I feel alone and rejected in this world, please remind me that I am a citizen of heaven where love is the only language spoken and grace is the legal tender. Please bless South Africa and give her leaders wisdom and a knowledge of You. Amen.

Blooming Where we are Planted.

I enjoy certain aspects of gardening but I have brown thumbs. However, one joy I have discovered is taking slips and planting cuttings.

My mother’s gardener works for different people on different days of the week. He takes cuttings or leaves from one garden and transplants them into another. My mother often notices plants that are new to her garden.

I’ve only had success with rock roses and geraniums so far. It’s easy. I cut off a leaf or a short piece of the plant and stick it just like that in some soil. It has no roots or anything and the environment is different from what it is used to. Nevertheless, given water and sun, it develops roots, grows, and will eventually bloom bringing all the beauty of its parent plant to a new location.

What started off as a couple of leaves stuck in the ground is now a lovely pot plant

Sometimes we are transplanted, be it through our own plans or circumstances beyond our control. Either way, God is the gardener and He prepares the soil where we are to be planted. Our job is to merely settle. We explore, meet new people, and slowly grow roots. It takes a long time to grow enough to start blooming but that is ultimately our Father’s desire, that we bloom where we are planted. That we bless those around us with a bit of the culture of our homeland.

Sometimes it’s not even a change of locality that stresses us. Sometimes it’s just a new set of circumstances. Sure, we mourn for what we have lost but God still desires the same thing for us – that we bloom under the new circumstances that have come into our lives.

When the Israelites were captured by the Babylonians, this is what the Lord said to them through the prophet Jeremiah< “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there, do not decrease.” (Jer 29:5-7 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, sometimes I feel so alone, as if I don’t fit in this place and I long for things as they were in the past. I feel like a shell tumbled and tossed by waves of circumstance beyond my control. Please help me to trust You implicitly, to know that You have a plan for me right here, right now. May I trust Your plan and settle in to Your provision, knowing that growth and root-making are the result of Your work in my life. May I bloom where You have planted me. Amen.

Grey Hair

When I became a granny, I stopped colouring my hair. I reckoned it was appropriate for grannies to have grey hair. I am quite used to my older image now.

The Bible says, “Grey hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Prov 16:31 NIV)

In this world where the elderly are often overlooked or treated with disdain, it is good to know that God is no respecter of age. He has a plan for each of us in every stage of life – from the boy, Samuel to the old man, Moses.

Certainly the Lord’s immediate plans for us change as we grow older, but His overall plan remains constant:- that we may be conformed to the image of Christ. We can do no better than to seek all our lives to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, every day as I seek to see You more clearly, love You more dearly and follow You more nearly, may I gently be transformed into Your image by the work of Your Spirit in my life. Amen.

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.