Tag Archives: Love

Mushrooms and Dandelions

It had rained for two days in Gqeberha. Our hosts were driving us to visit friends of theirs and we drove past a nearby park. It looked fresh and green after the rain and I thought I saw mushrooms.

As we went on, I saw they were dandelion flowers. When I went back the next day to take photos, I realised they were not even dandelions but other small yellow flowers. My eyesight, which is not wonderful, limits my knowledge of the truth. My husband wears hearing aids. He doesn’t always hear the full story in a conversation. We can only know as much truth as our senses let through to us and we often filter even that through our own misconceptions.

I am reading a book by Francine Rivers called Leota’s Garden. One of the characters lived with bitterness against her mother as a result of lies she was told, and incomplete conversations she overheard as a child.

Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). We can know the Truth if we know Jesus. “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32.)

I know I am not perfect. My eyes are not perfect, my memories are not perfect, my conclusions are not perfect, my ideas are not perfect. The sooner I acknowledge this, the sooner I can be free of my own version of life.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Truth. Forgive me for thinking I know the truth. Please soften my heart to consider other viewpoints besides my own and other interpretations of words and events to the ones I cling to. Please guide me always into Your Truth. Amen.

Even the Most Insignificant

Tuesday was one of those days. On Monday night we had both power and water outages. For some strange reason when we have a water cut, hot water comes out of the cold tap until it dries up completely.

On Tuesday morning we had left-over dishes from our community group meeting on Monday. We had had soup and rolls as well as the usual tea and coffee. The electricity was back and we were able to do a double wash- load of bed and bath linen. The cold water was back but not the hot. Nothing but coughing and spluttering came out of the hot tap even after ten minutes. We decided that since the washing machine was working, we would load all the dishes into the dishwasher rather than boiling kettlesful of water for dishes. After the two-hour cycle, the dishes were no cleaner than when they had gone in and we ended up having to boil the water anyway and was them.

Tuesday is our shopping day and this particular Tuesday we had to be home earlier than normal because my husband was fetching our grandson at an earlier time than usual. Meanwhile I was expecting a delivery of ink cartridges for the printer and I notified the family so my daughter or son-in-law who were working from home, could take collection if necessary.

“More haste less speed,” they say. My husband knocked over his cappuccino, making a big mess but fortunately not breaking the mug. When at last we were ready to leave, much later than we’d intended, my husband pushed the panic button by mistake and we had to waste another couple of minutes sending messages.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

As we finally drove out of the electric gate, the delivery vehicle drove up. He scanned my ID document and handed me my parcel. If we hadn’t been delayed, we would have missed him. I am not sure if he would have given the parcel to my family if he needed my ID card. Is it possible that the Lord took control of my schedule again and delayed us? Or was it just co-incidence?

The Bible says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV.) The verse doesn’t say “all significant things,” just “all things.” Neither does it mention “great good” just “good.”

I believe that my loving Heavenly Father uses even insignificant things like spilled coffee for my good, even a tiny good. Receiving delivery as I did saved all kinds of hassle like the courier having to come again, red tape, possibly having to stay at home all morning waiting.

My Prayer

My Father, thank You that You are interested in even the insignificant things in my life:- the incidents that will not be remembered, the daily bumps and spills and mistakes. You can use all things both big and small, pleasant or unpleasant for my good or the good of others according to Your design. Please become more and more involved in the detail of my life. I surrender my plans to Your control. Amen.

A Story of a Cardinal

It started on Tuesday. A rapid tap-tap-tapping caused my son-in-law to go out into the garden to investigate. He took a video of a red-headed woodpecker pecking at one of our acacia trees. He said it was a cardinal woodpecker. Later I saw it too.

I was all set to go to ten pin bowling on Wednesday, when my daughter and granddaughter knocked at our front door and asked if I would like to save a woodpecker. Their cat had caught it and they were alerted by the bird’s loud shrieks. My daughter confiscated it from the cat. They brought it to our cottage because it would be safe from the cats. It looked like it had a broken wing and it was obviously in shock.

With my granddaughter’s help and a pair of gloves, we managed to place the bird gently in a cardboard box and give it a plastic cooldrink bottle lid of water.

My daughter left as she had an art class to run but left my granddaughter, who had stayed home from school after a bout of sickness, to look after the cardinal. I didn’t know what to do. I realised that, once again, the Lord had accepted my invitation to change my schedule as He saw fit. My husband went bowling without me.

I warned my granddaughter that the bird might die. (I’ve had experience with trying to save birds.) Then we prayed, remembering that Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31 NIV) He didn’t actually say that the Father would prevent sparrows falling to the ground, but that He cares. Other translations say that the Father knows about it. We had to pray for the best outcome.

I googled “Bird rehabilitation Johannesburg” and finally got hold of a number to phone in Midrand. When I spoke to a friendly lady called Margie, she advised me that they worked with a vet in Bryanston (about a third of the distance of that to Midrand) and I could take the woodpecker there. By then the bird was looking a little chirpier, even tried to escape when my granddaughter transferred him to a smaller box for travelling.

Cardinal woodpecker ready for a trip to the vet.

The vetinary practice was expecting us and there was no charge so we could leave the cardinal in the best possible place. Margie would fetch him later in the day and take him to the rehabilitation centre. Meanwhile he was whisked off to an incubator.

When the Lord changes our schedule unexpectedly, it can get quite exciting.

My Prayer

Thank You Father, that You know all about me. You care for me and are interested in everything I do. You are always with me. Please help me to be more aware of You in my everyday life. Amen.

From the Sidelines

Tomorrow is Wednesday and the day we join other pensioners for our ten pin bowling league. I am one of the worst bowlers in our group but nobody takes it too seriously and we all just have fun.

Some weeks ago I was trying to practice the presence of God by imagining Jesus with me. First I let Him bowl through me. All I can say is, He may have been a wonderful carpenter, but His bowling was no better than mine.

Then I thought perhaps He is my coach. That gave no better results.

Finally I realised that if God is my Father, He would be where any good father would be – watching his child from the sidelines.

I pictured a school cricket match. The fathers don’t go onto the pitch and hold their sons’ bats. Good fathers get enjoyment out of watching their children play whether they are good players or not. They cheer when their children hit sixes or take wickets, and shout, “Unlucky” if they are bowled.

In actual fact, my Father is more interested in my attitude and sportsmanship than in my performance.

So where is Jesus in the bowling alley? He’s standing unobtrusively behind the bowlers. He cheers when I get a strike and commiserates when I throw a gutter ball. He enjoys my enjoyment and smiles when I react in a God-honouring way.

Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9 ESV)

My Prayer

Thank you, Father, that you love me unconditionally, that there is nothing I can do that will make You love me more, or less. Thank You that You are a good Father and are interested in everything I do. Amen.

Apology notes

On Saturday I attended a family fun day organised by the Girl Guide Association in this region. The plan was to move around in a small group and take part in activities representing other countries at various well spaced locations at Delta Park. It was great fun and included hitting a piñata, fishing with magnets in the river, making Canadian pancakes on upended tins and solving puzzles.

Delta Park
fun and games at the Mexico base

During the day I came across people I was involved with a long time ago, when I ran a Guide company.

At the end of the day, I received two apologies. One from a young woman who was manning the India base. She told us all about henna painting for Indian weddings. She was dressed up in Indian clothes and I wasn’t 100% sure she was the girl I had known but I asked her how she was doing. She called me Irmgard but I didn’t say anything. When she saw me later, she apologised profusely for getting my name wrong. I also got an SMS from the lady who used to be my commissioner. I had waved to her. She apologised because she hadn’t recognised me.

I need to write an apology letter of my own.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I invited You into my day on Saturday morning then forgot about You. When I woke with a headache, I didn’t consult You or ask for Your help but took two aspirin then slept for another fifteen minutes. I could have used Your help later in the day, too, when I got to the Guide campsite and there was no sign of my granddaughter or my son-in-law. You gave Your help anyway. When, not ten minutes later, I was hailed by my son-in-law, I did not think to thank You.

I know You were with me. You were there in the beautiful autumn trees, in the Ibises rummaging in the newly mown grass, in the gurgling river. How easy it would have been to pray a silent “Thank You.” But I didn’t. I ignored You all day. When I puffed up hills that the Brownies took at a laughing run, I didn’t ask for Your help, although I am sure You would have given it.

I had fun, even though I was physically exhausted and my foot was sore after I twisted it going down a step. However, I am sure my day would have been greatly improved if I had consciously involved You. If I had used the opportunity of walking in nature to also pray, talk the walk, so to speak. Instead, I treated You like a fifth wheel and I’m sorry.

We learned in church today about how You reinstated Peter, meeting him in his weakness where he was. (John 21:15-19). I know You do the same to me. You know I am just dust and yet You love me. Even if I ignore You, You will never forsake me because you have promised. Thank You. Please continue to walk with me into the coming week and help me to be more mindful of You. Amen.

The Cinderella Fruit

Image by anwar suseno from Pixabay

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

Love is popular. There are songs and poems written about it down the ages. Peace is almost as popular. Everybody wants Love, Peace and Joy at their party. Patience, Kindness, Goodness and Faithfulness are welcome everywhere but don’t get as much limelight as Love, Joy and Peace.

It is easy to spot those Christians where the popular fruit is growing. A loving person or a joyful person are hard to miss. Likewise people growing in peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness are easy to spot.

Self-control is the Cinderella fruit, easily overlooked and undervalued. Yet self-control is a fruit of maturity. We have all come across children who think the world revolves around them and want their desires fulfilled NOW. Hopefully as they grow and mature, with the training of loving parents, they learn a measure of self-control. But true self control is the result of the Holy Spirit working in a surrendered life.

Self-control refuses to be grumpy even when he is tired or hungry. Self-control doesn’t react aggressively when a driver cuts in in front of him or hoots at him. Self-control can discipline himself to spend time with the Lord on a regular basis. Self-control can stick to a diet, can get up on a cold winter’s morning without complaining, can suffer pain and illness without becoming a pain to others and can control his thoughts. Yet the person with self-control is not immediately obvious to all, although the opposite Is perfectly patent.

I am not sure whether the Holy Spirit grows these seven fruits evenly in our lives or whether He causes circumstances which grow a particular one at a specific time. I can certainly think of times in my life where patience training has been noticeable. What have other people experienced? Do you think the Fruit of the Spirit grow evenly in our lives or do certain of the fruit have growth spurts?

My Prayer

Holy Spirit of Jesus, please continue to grow Your fruit in my life that I may conform more closely to the image of Christ. Amen.

The Choice

Yesterday my middle granddaughter had her ears pierced. She jumped about joyfully as she went with her Mom to Cresta to the jewelers. She knew it was going to be painful but it was her choice for her eighth birthday present. For the joy of being able to wear pretty earrings like her sister does, she endured the procedure.

First the ears were marked to get the placing correct.

Jesus also made a choice.

Next week we remember Good Friday and Christ’s crucifixion. Probably the best known verse in the Bible is John3: 16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV)

We are mistaken when we think that Jesus was a victim. Jesus has the same love for us as the Father. “The Puritans would often speak about the Father and Son agreeing in eternity past, both of them together, to redeem a sinful people. Theologians call this the pactum salutus, the ‘covenant of redemption,’ referring to what the triune God agreed upon before the creation of the world” (From Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland.)

Christ had a choice. Nobody could kill Him against His will. He said, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10:17-18 ESV)

Why would Jesus choose to do this? The Bible explains it thus: “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,… (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)

The joy that Jesus kept in mind was the joy of having a relationship with us, of doing life with us, the joy of being able to welcome us to where He is and to spend eternity with us.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You that You love me that much; that You chose me. Amen.

Welcome Home

My daughter had to go to hospital to have a node removed. It was just one night and she came home today. Her three children wanted to make a surprise for her. They worked together as a team. There were constant requests to me. “Granny, can we pick some of your white flowers?” “Can we pick the rose? It’s the last one. Usually the rule is you have to leave at least one flower.” “Granny, do you have any eggs? We want to make scrambled eggs for Mom.”

One request I had to refuse. All three children were in the kitchen, one peeling pawpaw, one doing something else. The seven-year-old asked, “Granny. can I come and cook bacon in your house? We’re all busy in here.” I had to say no, as I was quickly cleaning the kitchen (today’s housework task) before going off to Cresta with my husband to try to secure our tickets to New Zealand on a special that is only valid until 6 April.

As we were about to leave, I checked on the children again. They had cooked the bacon as a team. The oldest girl actually cooked the bacon. Her younger brother separated the slices and popped them in the pan because she doesn’t like touching raw meat. The youngest had thawed the bacon and made a welcome home poster.

So much love. So much excitement to be able to show their love to their mother. So much welcome. The children had been working on their surprise for about two hours. It brought tears to my eyes. When my daughter got home she was treated to breakfast in bed.

I thought of all the preparations. How much more will Jesus prepare for us to welcome us home to be with Him. The children know what their mother likes and her favourite food.

Our Lord knows exactly what pleases or inspires us and will be prepared to spend time to make sure we know how much He loves us. He will welcome us with special surprises.

Jesus promised, “Let not your hearts be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2 ASV)

My Prayer

Thank you, Lord for families, for human love. It just gives me a taste or Your great love. You went to the cross for me. How can I ever doubt Your love? Amen.

Love Makes Time

When I ran a Girl Guide Company, I frequently organised Guide camps. Although I had an assistant Guider and often a parent to help, I was basically in charge and knew where everything was and what was next. I was constantly bombarded by girls wanting something. My Guide name was Panda.

“Panda, where is the toilet paper for the bathrooms? We’re on health patrol.”

“Panda, I’ve cut my finger,”

“Panda, is it time to start lunch yet?

“Panda, the flag pole is falling down.”

If you’ve ever organised something or been in charge of something, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

That’s exactly how Jesus felt in Luke 8:40. “Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him for they were all waiting for him.” (ESV) They were waiting for Him to teach them, to minister to them, to heal them. They needed His time and attention. Then came Jairus. Jairus begged Jesus to come to his house because his daughter was dying. Jesus left the crowd and made time for the one. “As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.“(v 42b)

Even while He was going on His mission of mercy, Jesus was interrupted. A woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years touched the hem of his garment so she could be healed. Jesus stopped and took time to meet, talk to and reassure the woman who was healed. Even though He was on a mission involving a leading public figure, Jesus made time for the one.

Love makes time. Throughout His ministry, Jesus made time for people around Him – eating a meal, going to the house of Zacchaeus, or interacting with little children. Jesus was there for those around Him.

As we seek to grow more like Christ, we need to choose to make time for those in need even if it doesn’t fit into our schedules. If we have surrendered our lives to Him, we have also surrendered our time and we are no longer boss of our own time.

Image by Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I remember that You are Lord of my time. I know that You have the right to change my schedule without notifying me. May I always be alert to Your still small voice and be prepared to change my plans and priorities at Your prompting. Amen.

Generous on Every Occasion

Our Gospel Culture for this week is Generosity. I know some amazingly generous people. I am not one of them. I was sharing with our community group last night that my first reaction, even if it is only for a couple of seconds, to any kind of request is almost invariably negative. Even when I was working and I was asked to do something that was actually my job, resistance was my instinctive response. I always did what was required with enthusiasm, but I invariably had to overcome the initial barrier.

Yet the Bible says, “Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 MSG) Some versions read, “God loves a cheerful giver.”

Our group discussion was very helpful to me. My husband suggested that if we keep our eyes open to see the needs of others, we can initiate the generosity and offer to help. It is much easier to be a cheerful giver when one initiates the giving. Somebody else pointed out that generosity is not limited to giving money, although that is how we usually regard it. We can be generous with our possessions, with our time and talents as well as our finances. He pointed out that nowhere in Corinthians 8 or 9 is the gift of money specifically mentioned. It could have been food, clothes or other necessities that the Jerusalem church was lacking.

Friends of ours own a beach house and take delight in blessing others with a holiday by the sea. They are cheerful givers.

Dolphins swimming past the Beach House

Another generous lady offered to babysit for a couple who are both musicians and sometimes serve in the worship team together. Another example of cheerful giving.

My You Version Bible plan for this morning reinforced these thoughts. It was based on James 2:26. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (ESV) I tried to think of anybody I knew who had a need. The thought came into my mind that a certain friend needed a phone call. Before I could even put the thought into action, she phoned me. I was amazed how readily God responded when I opened a space for Him in my busy day. We were both blessed.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, please help me to open my thoughts to You more and more during the day. Open my eyes to see the needs of others around me and conform my heart to Your heart of generosity so I can be a cheerful giver. Amen.