Tag Archives: #SoCS

Driving with a GPS

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

My hairdresser moved about two months ago. Her business took a serious knock due to the lockdown and she could no longer afford the rent in a small shopping centre where she ran her salon. She decided to operate from her home instead.

I have always travelled about half an hour to have my hair cut. In the past I have seldom been happy with hairdressers and once I found one I liked, I stuck with her, even though she moved out towards the West Rand about five years ago. Her prices and pensioner’s discount are also the best I’ve found.

The first time I went to her home, I got lost. I had looked at the directions on Google Maps before I left and had a general idea of the first couple of kilometers. Then it was time to switch on the GPS.

I have two cell phones. The one that is connected to the cell phone network has limited connectivity (WIFI, Bluetooth and GPS) after it was dropped on its face and repaired. My backup, which is old, has limited battery life. I stopped at the side of the road to connect my main phone. Predictably, it gave me the first instruction then lost the GPS signal. I drove straight, hoping it would regain connection but it didn’t. There was nothing for it but to call on the backup. To do that, I had to pull over again, create a hotspot on my main phone and connect the backup. I connected the backup to my phone charger because I saw there was only 20% charge left although it had been fully charged just three hours earlier. I sent a message to my hairdresser saying I was running late but on my way.

By now I was in territory totally unfamiliar to me. After about five minutes, my backup phone gave me the low battery warning and then went dead. Obviously it was losing more power than it was gaining. I couldn’t switch it on again.

I was lost.

I looked at my WhatsApp messages to see that my hairdresser hadn’t read my message. I was about to phone her when she phoned me wondering where I was. In the end she came to fetch me and I followed her home and charged my flat phone while I had my hair cut so at least I could find my way home.

If we get lost using a GPS device or app, there are three possible reasons.

  1. We think we know better and ignore the instructions.
  2. Our reception of the GPS satellite is faulty or intermittent.
  3. We run out of battery on our device.

The spiritual life is like driving using a GPS device. The signal is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13 NIV)

Romans 8:14 says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”(NIV)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” (Galatians 5:18 NIV)

All Christians receive the Holy Spirit when they accept Jesus into their lives as Lord and Saviour. However, we can still get lost on our spiritual journey. This can be for similar reasons to getting lost with a GPS.

  1. We think we know better and ignore instructions.
  2. We do not hear the Spirit’s promptings because our minds are filled with too many other things. Our reception of the signal is faulty or intermittent.
  3. We have run out of power. We have not been in the habit of plugging into Jesus for daily prayer and scripture reading. We have not spent enough time with our Lord to recharge our batteries.

There is one other reason for getting lost, both in the physical drive and the spiritual walk. We misunderstand the instructions. The voice on my phone says turn right and I turn immediately into a building site when I was meant to turn at the next road.

Spiritually, it is when God calls us to something and we try to do it in our own strength immediately and run ahead of God.

I’m happy to say I have been to have my hair cut subsequently and I did not get lost. I took precautions. I made sure my backup phone was charged 100% and I plugged it into my car charger as I left. Moreover, I had gone to Google Maps on my computer and printed instructions to my destination.

I am sure there are precautions we can take in our Spiritual walk too. By constant communion with our Lord, we can make sure our spiritual batteries are charged.

My Prayer

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

Dust Collects Everywhere

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt for today is “collect.”

Our neighbours are doing alterations – breaking down walls and eventually building new ones.

Anybody who has ever been involved in any kind of renovation or building will know that the dust collects everywhere. We can see it creeping over the wall.

Sin is like dust. Sometimes it’s easy to spot and we can avoid the area. At other times it is subtle and hardly noticeable until a shaft of sunlight reveals the dust that has collected on a surface. If we ask Jesus to shine the light of His Holy Spirt on our lives, we will see things that we hadn’t noticed, not blatant actions but tiny attitudes of mind, a grumbling spirt, a covetous thought or regarding our time/money/life as our own.

When Jesus washed the disciples feet, Peter objected. When Jesus explained that unless Peter allowed Jesus to wash him, he had no part of his Lord, Peter replied, “Not just my feet, but my hands and head as well.”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.” (John13:9-10a NIV)

The roads in those days were dirt roads. Nobody could walk along them in sandaled feet without collecting a lot of dust on their feet – even if they had bathed and put on clean clothes for a special celebration like Passover.

We come to Jesus once in repentance and He forgives our sin, based on His atoning death. That is like the bath; but every day we collect the dust of sin on our souls and it is necessary to ask for forgiveness. That is like having our feet washed.

I am certainly not going to dust my house every day just because the neighbours are building but I will try to get my soul dusted every day.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, as You did to the disciples, please wash my feet and show me those little dust sins that collect in my heart. Amen.

The Rock

…lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2b)

I’m feeling generally down today. My bridge came loose approximately three weeks after the dentist last secured it in my mouth. The other side also seems to have a problem and stabs of pain beset me every now and then when I get a seed or something stuck in my bottom tooth or when I don’t bit down in the right place.

Yesterday we got back from a lovely five days out in the bushveld, away from the stresses of every-day-life. That might contribute to my down feeling and maybe the fact that I wasn’t placed in the top 25 of a writing competition I entered adds too – but I think the tooth thing is the main contributor.

My faith wobbles like a jelly on a motorbike swinging from highs to lows depending on immediate circumstances and even the amount of sleep I had the night before. That is why I need to run to the Rock that is higher than I. I know that I can do nothing without Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. I just have to rest in the assurance that God loves me as I am with my weaknesses and failures and He will provide all I need for life and godliness.

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

Fingers

I fell in church last week and damaged the ring finger of my left hand. i didn’t think it was broken. As soon as I got home I applied a cold compress then later I immobilized it by bandaging it to my middle finger.

“Lucky it’s not your right hand,” everybody says. And they are right. I would be much worse off if it were my right hand. But it’s only my left, the less important one. Moreover, it’s not like it’s an important finger either. A ring finger is only good for putting rings on, after all. Don’t you hate it when you get labelled and categorized by that label?

That’s another thing. Wearing a ring on a damaged finger is a problem. It took me ten minutes or more to give a thought to the fact that my finger might swell and I should get my ring off. It was too late. My finger did swell and the purple moved down but I made sure every day that my ring could swivel.

This whole experience has given me a different view of my fingers. They work together, like a well-oiled machine. Inactivate one gear or cog and the machine no longer functions correctly. Just try eating while holding your fork with a thumb and index finger! It seems to me that the ring finger is more useful than the middle finger although our hand can’t function well without all our finger supporting and helping each other. Some people have to, but it requires a lot of time and therapy relearning, practicing and strengthening.

The Bible says, “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to those parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it… Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor 12:24b-27 NIV)

No matter how insignificant and unimportant we may feel, we are all part of Christ’s body and if we hurt, the whole body suffers. God is constantly aware of every one of us and we can trust Him to take care of us.

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. The word for today is “different.”

Holiday Snaps

We are on holiday at the moment in Port Elizabeth (Now Gqeberha) visitng family. Yesterday I took my Mom for a pedicure. Her toe nails have calcified and she wasn’t sure the beautician would be able to cut them but it turned out to be a positive experience for her.

We then went out for lunch at a quaint coffee shop called “Little Georgia.” The walls were punctuated with pithy and uplifting sayings. I’ll be posting some of them in the days to come.

These memories are like holiday snaps to hang in the gallery of my mind.

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

One Year On

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday

 Now that I have retired, my main roles are wife, mother and grandmother. We are particularly blessed in that we live in a cottage on the property of our daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren.

When the lockdown came, I cried. I had seen footage from other countries and I had been keeping an eye on the news since the first Covid 19 was diagnosed in South Africa but I didn’t fully understand the scale of the pandemic.

I cried for my country. I never thought it would come to this. I cried for the poor people who would lose their jobs, I cried for the homeless who would be housed in emergency shelters.

Our laws were strict. Nobody was allowed to leave their homes except for medical emergencies and essential shopping. Malls were closed except for food suppliers.

It was March 2020, about two weeks before the Easter school holidays. The schools would close early and stay closed until further notice.

We were given four days to prepare for lockdown. My husband and I made the most of our four days.

We took our motorhome for a run to charge the battery. We went to the Botanical gardens and enjoyed walking around in  the gardens before we were locked down when we wouldn’t be able to walk outside our house.

We did our slightly bigger than normal grocery shop on Tuesday but I forgot to get stock cubes to make butternut soup, although I did buy a big bag of butternuts.

I went to Checkers. It was full to bursting. Queues for the tills stretched all the way down the aisles. The ten-items-only queue snaked across the front of the isles and down the last isle. As I looked around for maybe the shortest queue, a black lady smiled at me and offered that I could go ahead of her in the ten-items-only line. That was my first glimpse of glory. An ordinary housewife, having already waited for who knows how long, being kind to a stranger. She was about twentieth from the till so I thanked her but decided I could probably do without stock cubes. That small gesture brought a lightness to my step.

Perhaps that set the tone for my lockdown. I determined to see the glimpses of glory, to keep my eyes open to the beauty, the fun. These ranged from dew drops on a spiderweb to the family making a campfire from the chopped down branch.

My son-in-law worked from home so he got to see the children more during the day. We did fun things together. We cleaned out the store room and found three tents. For the rest of the lockdown the children camped int the art studio which unfortunately had to be closed.

We all learned many things. I had never heard of Zoom before. The children learned to do on-line schooling and learned to use Google Classroom.

As a family, we grew closer. Once the hard lockdown had been lifted, I missed certain aspects of it – the sense of community where we contacted neighbours to find out how they were doing, the sense of peace where rush hour was bird song not traffic noise, the ability to do online church together.

So I learned, I grew, I appreciated little things. The crisis is not over. We are expecting a third wave of the virus any day. We still cannot visit our family in New Zealand. Meanwhile may I make the most of every day and continue to look for glimpses of glory.

Spider web in the garden
sailing boats on puddles

The Alpha and the Omega

“The end of the world has arrived!”

Image by icheinfach from Pixabay

This was the theme of many social media posts at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. Not long after came a batch of talks by various pastors and scholars showing how this was not the end of the world.

Most of this frenzy has died down recently (or maybe I’m being more selective of what I choose to watch and read. I’m wary of social media.)

In either case, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.“(Rev 22:13 NIV)

Jesus was at the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-12) and He will be with us at the end of the world.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b NIV)

Even if it is the end of the world, if we walk with Jesus, we don’t need to fear. Today is the beginning of the rest of our lives.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, Keep me trusting You so that each new day can be a new beginning. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan and Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

Close Eyes and Point

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday as well as Just Jot it Saturday. The challenge is to just write as thoughts come without overly editing or changing. The prompt is “close eyes and point.” I am going to use the Bible, open it up, close my eyes and point. Then I need to write about whatever my finger points to.

Could be dangerous. I heard of a man who did that when seeking guidance from God. His first point was to “And Judas went and hanged himself.” He didn’t find this very helpful so tried again. “Go thou and do likewise,” he read in dismay. Deciding to give it one more try, he closed his eyes and pointed again. “What you do, do quickly,” was the sentence.

So I’m understandably a bit nervous. Here goes…

My word is “money” from the sentence, “He scattered the coins of the money changers.”

I am going to bend the rules a bit and write about money changes. This can be considered in many ways: money changes hands, money changes everything. money changes down the years: what cost 50 cents once upon a time is now R10.

When I was a little girl, I got one-and-three for pocket money. That was a shilling (12p) and a ticky (3p) or metrically, about fifteen cents. With that I got to go to matinee movies on a Saturday morning and buy myself a chocolate bar. Nowadays it’s not even enough to offer a beggar.

Although Jesus overturned the money changers’ tables, money is not seen as evil in itself. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) We see this in our society – opportunists who have used the Covid crisis to make money off PPE equipment. No thought at all to how many nurses may die in hospitals earmarked for that equipment. Much more profitable to sell it and get rich.

That is what is behind all corruption – the love of money.

Jesus warns us, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

Money is neither good nor evil. It is merely a tool. It can be used for either purpose, to help others and promote the kingdom of God or to sqander on selfish wants and insubstantial pleasures.

Let us never make a tool our master.

My prayer

Father God, please help me to keep my priorities in line with Your will and to serve no other master. Amen.

Assignation

First thing in the morning, I am never at my best. Don’t ask me to make any decisions until at least 10am. My husband is the opposite. He’s a lark. I’m an owl.

The Bible says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) If I did such a thing, I would fall asleep praying.

There have been books and sermons preached on what has come to be known as The Quiet Time. It is the time during which we read a portion of scripture, maybe with the help of a Bible-reading aid, we pray and possible meditate. I don’t like the term Quiet Time. I prefer to call it an assignation or a tryst. An appointment to meet Somebody at a specific time at a specific place.

This is not to say that we can’t pray at other times, and I do, mostly just SMS prayers or a quick word of thanks.

I believe it is an important habit for Christians to get into a routine of such an assignation. I have tried various methods and various guides during the years. They all work and at different times different ones are more meaningful. Sometimes I just go through the Psalms, one a day, or sometimes more than one if I find the first ones unhelpful for where I am at. At the moment I’m reading through the Bible in a year, thanks to my YouVersion Bible App.

One thing is almost indispensable and that is my journal. I write my thoughts, sometimes prayers, sometimes drawings. At the back I keep a prayer list so I can tick of prayers I have forgotten about when God answers. A journal doesn’t work for everybody though.

Another indispensable thing is a cup of coffee. Although it is not first thing in the morning, my assignation is usually before breakfast so a cup of coffee, or lately tea, helps in the gradual wake up process.

Then, after breakfast, I am ready for the day.

This post is part of SOC Saturday and JusJoJan.

Sunday School Songs

There’s a lot of theology packed into the old Sunday School songs I used to sing.

“Jesus bids us shine with a pure, clear light, Like a little candle burning in the night; In this world of darkness, so we must shine; You in your small corner and I in mine.”

That describes exactly what yesterday’s blog post was about.

Karl Barth, the famous Swiss Reformed theologian, was at Rockefeller Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago during his lecture tour of the US in 1962. After his lecture, during the Q and A time, a student asked Barth if he could summarize his whole life’s work in theology in a sentence. Barth allegedly said something like “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'” (www.patheos.com>2013/01)

Can anybody reading this think of any other children’s Christian songs that contain sound theology?

My Prayer

Lord, may I never disregard the simple in my quest to know You better. Amen.

This post is part of SoCS as well as JustJoJan