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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Happiness Is ...

Abundant balls, and a discarded jacket. Who is happier, Dusty or me?

Hard to tell. The sun’s been out again, most the day, and the wind has dropped. I’ve been able to work outside. 

And while working outside, I heard it. The first cuckoo of spring. At last!

Lots of ‘things’ tell a story. 

Like an empty cross. A cruel instrument of torture and death devised by the Romans. Yet Christians wear it around their necks. Why?

Because of the story it tells. That man did his worst to Jesus, but that wasn’t the end of the story. The end of the story is an empty cross, or more tellingly, an empty tomb. Jesus defeated death. He had the last word.

And the last word, like the first word, is Love. God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, his much loved son, so that everyone who believes that he is the son of God will live forever with him.

Now that is happiness.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Blooms among the Dead Wood

I’m trudging along the usual path Dusty and I walk. I’ve forgotten it’s spring. Well, no wonder, since I’m still wearing five layers and a woolly hat and gloves. That wind is brutal.

So, I’ve forgotten it’s spring and my eyes are downcast. It’s been a busy day; now it’s time to cook dinner, skype my mom, and here I am walking the dog, feeling vaguely stressed. I wanted to go to Messy Church tonight and meet some of the folks who are coming along, but my annual check-up at the hospital was over an hour late, so I missed it. 

Not in the best of moods. Suddenly, my eye is drawn to a splash of colour down in the gully of detritus and dead wood. It’s just a wee dip off the path, but every year, about this time, there is a cheerful display of yellow and hot pink in big clusters of primroses. Wild primroses.

I can but smile. How lovely. How wonderful to discover a thing of beauty in the midst of drab and dreary brown. 

Beauty is all around us, in the most unlikely of places. We just don’t see it sometimes. But if we let our eye wander; if we linger and pause and pay attention, we might just be amazed at the beauty to be found everywhere.

There’s a story in the Bible about David. God spoke to Samuel and told him to go visit a certain family in Bethlehem, and he would tell Samuel which of the sons of the family was chosen to be King of Israel. Samuel went, and as Jesse, the dad, paraded six sons before him, Samuel was shocked as God rejected them, one after the other. Each one was good looking and seemed a distinct possibility for kingship, but God said no. “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” The Lord looks at the heart.

Finally Samuel asked Jesse if that was all the sons he had and he admitted he had one, much younger, who was out shepherding the flocks. When David was summoned and came before Samuel, God said YES. “Rise and anoint him; this is the one,” God said. (1 Samuel 16)

I could have walked blindly past those primroses today, and missed a moment of joy. I wonder who else I walked past today, never giving them a second glance. 

There is always the possibility of blooms among the dead wood.

Friday, 26 April 2013

A Bird in the Bush, or Tree

I seem to have hit a theme here of birds!

I was out earlier than usual with Dusty this morning, and realised that although the birds were raising a feathered chorus to greet the glorious, sunny morning, I couldn’t actually see any of them. I paused and stared at the trees in the woods and saw very few birds. 

It reminded me of a walk I had a few years ago with a birdwatcher, who kept pointing excitedly to various birds in trees which I hadn’t seen at all and would have missed if he hadn’t pointed them out. He had trained his eye to pick up the distinctive markings and the signs of movements from a huge number of birds. 

This drew my thoughts to hearing God. We all have trouble hearing God, unless we have trained our inner ear for his still, small voice, and trained our eyes to glimpse him in the everyday. That’s what he wants us to do. He says in the Bible that those who seek his face will find him. He invites us to spend time with him, sharing his thoughts. That is amazing.

How do we train ourselves to recognise the face or voice of God in our everyday activities then? It starts with the Bible, I think, so that we grow closer to what he reveals about himself there. We are aware of the attributes of his character – his kindness, his compassion, his purity and holiness and so on – and then we become more aware of the urges we feel within us towards developing and appreciating these attributes. Then as we think about him during the day, he sometimes suddenly draws back the curtain and we see him in all his glory, or we feel him almost imperceptibly. 

We begin to recognise prompts to do or say things – good things! – as being prompts from the Lord. And then it’s up to us to obey. And as we obey, we draw nearer to God and feel his presence more closely, and hear him better each day.

Maybe one day I will be able to see the birds in the trees. But more importantly, today I want to hear God more clearly during my daily routine, which today is looking rather frenetic. 

‘Be still and know that I am God.’

Thursday, 25 April 2013


What’s happened to the first cuckoo of spring? I know it’s been unseasonably, unreasonably cold this ‘spring’, but surely the migrant cuckoo should be back again by now?

I know that in some areas the cuckoo has ceased to return, and hope this isn’t one of them.

It’s funny how, among the beauty of the dawn chorus, I am listening out for the raucous, distinctive call of the cuckoo. I couldn’t identify the song of many of the birds I hear, but I can identify the cuckoo. It’s due to more than just the clock my sister brought back from Germany one year!
The cuckoo has a unique voice which rises above the rest.

Last night I was reading Revelation 4, and it occurred to me how loud it’s going to be in heaven. All that shouting praise and singing at the top of their voices, from millions of angels and creatures and people who love the Lord. It’s probably loud there already.

Yet the Lord is listening out for my voice, and yours, to be raised in praise to him. He may be surrounded by a host of worshipers singing and praising with all their might, but when my weak voice says ‘I love you Jesus’, he hears it and responds. I know he does. I can feel him. Very close. Loving me back.

Isn’t it amazing? I probably have the same discordant voice as a cuckoo among nightingales, and yet the Lord is listening out for me.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Early Birds

As the welcome sun slides north, raising hopes of warmth coming with it soon, the days stretch out and that means there’s no sleeping late unless you have black out curtains. I didn’t even have the shade down last night so was wide awake just after 5 am. 

It’s a nice time to be awake, listening to the birds singing and the silence not yet broken by others in the house. But this morning I allowed it to be wrecked by worry.

Once it starts, it’s so hard to control. The worries proliferate as you tick your way through them. I should have done what Jesus did. The Bible says he got up while it was still dark, many a morning, and went out on the hills to be alone with his Father in heaven.

I didn’t get out to the paths to be alone with my Father and Dusty until after 8, but what a difference it made. God helped me to get things into perspective. He highlighted my own predilection to avoid confrontation and conflict and nudged me to hang in there, promising a blessing as we see him work in various situations right now. 

Even our Bible reading exhorted us to persevere. Hebrews chapter 12 begins with a crowd of witnesses cheering us on to keep doing the good things that we are trying to do, despite set-backs, and not to be discouraged or ‘grow weary’.

So, praise God for the early morning. Praise him for the reminder that he is in control and there is no need to be anxious about anything or anyone. And I thank him for being with me today.

He’s with you too, you know, urging you on, in your corner. Listen out for him.