These are lines from Michael W Smith’s song, “Christ be All Around Me.”
I thought about those lines today. Everywhere I go, Christ goes with me. He encloses me. So when I sat in Mugg and Bean this morning, drinking bottomless coffee and fighting to try to get onto their internet to write this blog, Christ was with me. When I fetched my granddaughter from Brownies, Jesus was there too, smiling at the sight of happy little girls. When I prayed with my best friend and prayer partner, Jesus was there, as He promised, in our midst. (Matt 18:20)
He is closer than breathing, He’s privy to my thoughts and He abides in my heart. Unfortunately, a lot of the time I tend to forget that Jesus is right next to me. If I remembered more often, I would stress less, think of others more and revel in the wonderful life He has given me.
Lord Jesus, please be the air I breathe and may I constantly be aware of Your presence. Amen.
During the winter I often write outside under the gazebo. Our house, like most South African houses, is designed more for summer and it is cold in winter.
Recently I noticed the table was no longer stable. The gardener had done his best by inserting a rubber wedge under one foot but that hadn’t helped. Yesterday I found one of the leveling screws on the floor and suddenly it all made sense. The screw had come out of one of the table’s legs leaving it much shorter than the other three.
Today I managed to screw it into the offending leg and now my table is once again stable.
My life is in need of leveling at the moment. When we were at the Beach House I read a lot. I rediscovered my love for historical romances and downloaded a new one from the library as fast as I finished reading the last. This habit has continued since we got back and, much as I love reading, my life has become unbalanced.
I know that a balanced life must include rest and relaxation but too much relaxation is just as unbalanced as too little.
Balance seems to be the brush that paints my surroundings at the moment. I have finished working through “The Workbook of Living Prayer “by Maxie Dunham. He talks about the balance between prayer and action.
“There is a certain class of demons that can only be chased away by prayer – the demons of deafness to God, dumbness in thanksgiving, self-sufficiency, worry, despair, and solitude. But there is another class that can only be chased away by action – the demons of illusion, sentimentality, infantilism, narcissism, and laziness. So if we cultivate prayer exclusively, we harbor the second lot, and if we cultivate action exclusively, we harbor the first….
“The goal of prayer is a life of friendship and fellowship with God, co-operation with God’s Spirit, living God’s life in the world.”
Father God, may I see You more clearly every day as I spend time with You and Your Word, may I love You more dearly as I open my eyes to Your actions in nature and in the world, and may I follow You more nearly as I try to be Christ to or receive Christ from every person that I meet. Amen
I am the true vine…Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:1a,4-5 NIV)
I got to thinking botanical thoughts. Roots of a vine absorb water and nutrients from the soil. This combines with the stored food made by the leaves to make the plant sap – the life of the vine. If a branch gets cut off from the vine, it doesn’t receive the sap. Not only does it not grow or produce fruit, it doesn’t live. It dies. At first glance, if a branch is broken but still looks like it is connected, there is no difference. For a few days the leaves remain green before starting to go limp and then slowly yellow and brown. Eventually the whole branch withers and dies.
Jesus says that’s what happens to us if our link to Him is broken. We wither and die, producing no fruit. On the flip side, if we remain in Him, we don’t have to strain and stress to produce fruit. It is not up to us. The life of the vine produces the grapes. Everything a living branch needs to produce fruit is provided. The chlorophyl in the leaves which enables them to produce glucose from carbon dioxide and water was set in the DNA of the plant from it beginning. Just by being a leaf, a leaf can produce food for the plant. It stores it as starch and it is available to the branch and the whole plant. Some of this nourishment goes into the production of grapes. It is a natural process.
All we need to do to produce fruit for the Kingdom of God, is to remain attached to Jesus, to maintain the link, to abide. The fruit comes from Him, through the Holy Spirit, the life-giving sap.
Thank you, Vine of Life, that I am attached to You, that I have no control over bearing fruit, except to remain in You.
This post is part of Saturday Stream of Consciousness. The prompt for today is to use val in a word. I have chosen to look at valour – a good old fashioned word. According to the dictionary, it means great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle.
I thought this is what we all need in these trying times. Let’s face it, we are in a battle – humans against the virus. A good dose of valour is what we all need. Courage is not the lack of fear. It is doing the right thing in spite of fear. At the moment, doing the right thing means obeying the authorities, doing what God commands, like loving our neighbours, and putting the good of others, the general population, above our own preferences, likes and welfare.
Health workers are at the front-line of the battle, going into danger every day. We salute their acts of valour. The police and the army are also in the trenches, facing not only the power of the enemy, but also friendly fire from disobedient citizens. If a soldier in war time does not obey orders, he is court marshaled or often just shot out of hand.
Joshua 1:6 exhorts us, “Be strong and courageous…” Those words are repeated three times in the rest of the chapter. I like verse 9 best.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Yesterday was Easter Saturday – a kind of marking-time day on the Easter weekend. I imagine on that first Easter Saturday, the disciples will have been locked down in their homes, trying to process the events of the previous days. Nothing was the same. Nothing would ever be the same again. They were learning to cope with all the aspects of loss. They were probably in the denial stage. Perhaps they were reading the old scriptures – especially the one Jesus had quoted from the cross.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?… I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted withing me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me;They pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” (Psalm 22:1a,14-15 NIV)
Did they understand? Do we understand? Do we appreciate the shame Jesus bore on our behalf and dealt with? If we do, if we know that not only our guilt but also our shame has been taken away and dealt with, then life can never be the same again.
Two things come to mind when I see this word. The first is a bible verse. I hope it’s not cheating to look up the whole quotation.
“Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”(Psalm 42:7)
I am not sure what it means. It seems like the psalmist is feeling overwhelmed. Sound familiar in these times? Nevertheless the phrase resonates with something deep within me and I almost feel its something like God’s Spirit calls to my spirit.
The second thing I think of is a song – How deep the Father’s love for us.
“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”
How deep the Father’s love for us How vast beyond all measure That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss The Father turns His face away As wounds which mar the Chosen One Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross My sin upon His shoulders Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there Until it was accomplished His dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything No gifts, no power, no wisdom But I will boast in Jesus Christ His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer But this I know with all my heart His wounds have paid my ransom
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer But this I know with all my heart His wounds have paid my ransom (azlyrics.com/lyrics/selah/howdeepthefathersloveforus.html)
The word I have chosen is climb. As in move from one elevation to a higher one. When I was a little girl I used to fantasize about a system where you always walked down hill. I realized that to equalize things at some stage you would have to go up at some stage so I pictured a sort of lift contraption at every street corner. I am still not crazy about walking or even cycling uphill. It takes so much more effort. When I go on hikes and have to climb a steep incline, my method is to take ten steps up, turn around (so I can’t see how much hill is still ahead of me) and take ten deep breaths then continue with the next ten steps.
At work I have my office on the second floor. It is in a school so there are no lifts. I have got into the habit of climbing up and down two flights of stairs regularly. After a school holidays, when I get back to school I am so breathless and can barely make it up the two flights. It occurs to me, when I retire next year, my body will miss the regular conditioning those two flights of steps have afforded me.
If we only had downhill, our climbing muscles would get weaker and weaker. I suppose life is like that too. If everything always ran smoothly and there were no obstacles, no mountains to climb, we would miss out on a lot of life and never develop coping skills and our characters would never develop to their full potential.
So today, I thank God that I can climb and that He’s put steps in my life.
This post was inspired by Linda G Hill who set the topic for this week’s #SoCS as “indescribable”. I can’t think of this word without thinking of the DVD I saw by Louie Giglio called Indescribable. That is too long to paste here but it is based on the song by Chris Tomlin with the same name. Click Here