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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Wild Wind

Gales buffet the house, bending trees and branches and carrying small birds off course. The sun is shining but with that wild wind – I wouldn’t call it a beautiful day.

But my husband just did, and he pointed out that the wind is drying the garage and fields, melting the snow and ice, and restoring a balance to the earth. So, I guess I shouldn’t complain.

Of course I shouldn’t complain. This is the day that the Lord has made, and he knows why we need winds like this to preserve the eco-system. 

I have heard sad news over these last few days. News of a young woman, studying to be a doctor, stricken with cancer for the second time in a few years, this one triggered by the chemo she received to kill the first cancer attack. News of another young woman, age 27, killed in a car accident. One of my cousins, aged 57, is on his deathbed with cancer he’s fought for a couple of decades. 

I don’t understand why such terrible things happen. Why God doesn’t intervene in every pending tragedy and prevent it. It’s not the same as the winds and the eco-system, which is part of God’s design, though perhaps there is a possible parallel. Natural disasters are occurring more frequently now, as pollution perverts and changes the way it was meant to be. 

Sin has perverted the way God intended humanity to live, and we live with the consequences. We live in a fallen world, and in that fallen world, bad things happen, things that God never intended to happen.

Wild winds blow in every life. We don’t understand. We do know that God stands beside us, weeps with us, comforts us by the power of his Holy Spirit, and strengthens us.

We do have a hope which is sure, that one day God will wipe away every tear, and that he will re-create the earth so that it is exactly as he intended it to be. Thanks to the price Jesus paid on the cross.

All creation groans in anticipation of that glorious day. Come, Lord Jesus.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Shadow Sites

While in London last week, we looked around some of the exhibits at the V&A Museum. There is one of Middle Eastern photography, the way it both can reveal and distort truth. In particular, we watched a video by Jananne Al-Aru called Shadow Sites II. 

In a series of aerial videos shot over a vast swathe of apparently empty, dead desert, the videos revealed that as the focus closed in on the desert floor, life was evident. Entire communities, lines of cultivation and residential properties, became identifiable the closer the camera got to the ground.

It made me think of how many times we may assume that friends or acquaintances have no spiritual life going on inside them, because from our perspective there is no evidence. Our perspectives are never fool-proof, though; they may distort truth. 

It reminds me of a conversation I had years ago, a conversation of which I am ashamed, in which I accused someone of not ‘believing in Jesus anyway’. The retort came back in a flash. ‘How do you know what I believe?’

Of course there should be evidence. James wrote that faith without works is dead. But sometimes spiritual awakening may be just beginning in someone, and evidence may not yet be discernible. 

Note to Self: never assume; never condemn; always be generous towards other people.

Friday, 25 January 2013

How's Your Hearing?

We just spent a few days in London. Noisy London.

One of the afternoons, in an attempt to get the best price theatre tickets, we checked at the box office of one theatre while our friends checked prices on-line. We needed to keep in touch.

After we ascertained the best price from the box office, we headed down Oxford Street. Buses roared by, taxis accelerated and then stopped, braking noisily, an ambulance hurtled past, siren blaring. First we realized that Don’s fancy phone wouldn’t get a signal, so we switched to my basic pay as you go cheapo phone. Although we thought we were listening for the sound of my phone ringing, our friend phoned us four times to no avail. When I realized that despite our alertness, there was just too much noise for us to hear it ring, I switched the phone to silent and slipped it into my jeans pocket, where the vibrations alerted me the next time our friend phoned.

Our lives are often like that. The noise of work, of friends and colleagues and the thoughts going on in our own heads drown out ... God. God loves each one of us and the desire of his heart is to have a real relationship with us. If you think God never bothers to speak to you, maybe you just can’t hear him. Maybe you limit your expectations of how he will speak to you to one particular way. But God is the great creator who is not limited in any way. He delights in diversity – look at the diversity of our world if you doubt that – and so why would he limit himself to just one way for communicating with his children?

Next time you complain that God never speaks to you, think again. Maybe he’s speaking in a way you didn’t expect. Through a beautiful sky or sunset. Through the words someone else says to you. Through an article in the newspaper or a film at the cinema. Or, more traditionally, through the Bible or a sermon or Christian book. 

If you quieten yourself long enough, you might just sense a nudge from his Spirit, or hear a soft whisper, or sense his delight in you. Take time to step aside from the Oxford Street of your life, and use all your senses to hear from the living God.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


I’m sorry to keep harping on about this, but really, the winter landscape right now is breath-taking. We don’t very often get more than the odd day where the air is still and clear, the sun is out, the temp is well below freezing and the snow blankets field and forest, houses and dykes.

Today is a perfect winter day. I never really thought about there being such a thing. Now a perfect summer day is more my scene, but today was the cold-weather equivalent. Thank you, dear Lord, for eyes to see it and a heart to appreciate the gift it is. 

Again it draws my thoughts to human equivalents. I learned last night of the death of a dear friend in her 90’s, whose latter years looked like this perfect winter’s day. 

Pared down to skeletal frame, thin grey hair drawn back unattractively in a bun, yet her eyes continued to sparkle with love for Jesus. She shared with me for an hour recently about the revival in Stornoway in the 1950’s. It was a gift to listen to her, treasured moments I’ll always cherish.

Today she’s home with her Lord. But her going to him was like a perfect winter’s day – austerity overlaid with a soft covering of faith and love. The winter of her life was just stunning.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of knowing Nan.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Bare brown branches

Bare brown branches, contorted, stretching upwards into the misty white sky, overlaid by a soft covering of white powdery snow. Twisted and exposed to the onslaught of winter; breath-takingly beautiful. Inspiring worship and awe.

I’ve just spent two hours with a beautiful, inspiring friend of mine who I see too rarely. She has suffered with rheumatoid arthritis for over twenty years without respite. One after another of her joints has seized up, disintegrated, been operated on or injected with steroids. Now her neck and a shoulder are collapsing, a knee and a foot need surgery. 

In spite of her own daily challenges, she has her octogenarian mother living with her – a mother whose focus is all on herself. 

Yet Jenny’s smile is radiant. Her laugh is genuine. I come away from being with her in awe of her resilience and generous spirit.

Walking Dusty in this amazing winter wonderland makes me think of Jenny, and praise to Jesus rises within me. There is something profoundly beautiful in the suffering. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but the quiet maturity of my friend who has learned patience and the secret to being content in all circumstances is awesome. 

To God be the glory, and now, may his mercy bring a healing springtime to my dear friend’s beleaguered body. Amen.