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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Life and Laughter

When I hear the chatter of the swallows giving each other last instructions before commencing their marathon migration, I smile. When I hear the cuckoo in spring, my heart is filled with joy. When I see the woodpecker knocking his beak on the larch tree in search of breakfast...when I hear the chaffinch chattering...when I hear the cows moo or the donkeys bray or see the horses canter through the fields, my heart is filled with joy.

When I hear the cries of my newborn granddaughter, or hear her suckling contentedly, I am overwhelmed with joy, love and peace.

Life is affirming. Life is wonderful. Life is such a gift. Such a gift. 

The news this morning carried a disturbing report about the 52% decline in numbers of animals throughout the world over the last 40 years. It is more than disturbing. It’s horrifying. The Lord has given us a world teeming with a diverse variety of life, and we have got to get hold of how to manage this better before it is teeming with nothing more than billions of our own species. 

The diabolical darkness shrouding the Middle East right now is snuffing out life. There must be very little laughter and joy under the cover of such brutality and terror. The reports of the wave of young western muslim girls being beguiled into joining in make my heart sink.

There is much in the news to shadow the joy of life, to threaten to extinguish any laughter we might once have enjoyed. Now is a time perhaps unprecedented in world history when the good news of Jesus needs to be proclaimed louder than ever and lived out in brave, uncompromising, joyful lives. 

Jesus is Lord over all the earth, King of creation, Lord of life and love, Prince of peace. He is the light of the world, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The darkness has not overcome it. Silence will not prevail in the end. It will be the exuberance and joyful chatter of love and life which triumph. And today Jesus triumphs again in me, in my life, in my heart, in my expectations.

Life is a gift. Such a gift. Unwrap it and enjoy it. And give thanks.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Colours of Autumn, No shades of Grey

The trees are beginning to go now, and maybe because we have had such a decent summer, with sunshine and warmth continuing even now, I feel happy to see the colours showing vibrant and varied. There is a season for everything under the sun, it says in Ecclesiastes, and when a season has been true to its expectations it is a joy to see one season segue into the next.

Not always like that in Scotland, and not always like that in life.

Very often we have cool or wet summers, grey and overcast and with temperatures barely warmer than what we might have in February. When the weather is like that, moods can continue grey and overcast too, and seeing the fall colours starting can be discouraging.

We think of the seasons of life equating with our age, so that the winter comes at the end. But some people are born with significant health problems which eliminate the hope of spring and the fulfilment of summer. Others have economic constraints or political upheavals which cut short the normal seasons which should be theirs.

I feel very blessed to have lived a life so far blessed with the orderly unveiling of the seasons. Now I am a gramma, and am very aware that this is a new season. I wouldn’t equate it with winter just yet though! More like the colours of autumn. Beautiful. Vibrant. Glorious. And also, a tinge of sadness, reminded that time does pass, and that I will not be here to enjoy the whole life of this beautiful granddaughter. 

The hope of a Christian’s autumn, though, and indeed her winter, is that round the corner is a springtime filled with flowers and hope, joy and freedom. In the colours of autumn, there are no shades of grey.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The miracle of new life

The miracle of new birth. We think of that especially in spring, not in autumn, but this morning I became a Gramma for the first time as one of our sons and daughter-in-law became parents to Felicity Catherine Le Morrison. 

Felicity is beautiful. She is perfect. Even the paediatrician examining her said that. Perfect. Felicity did nothing to be beautiful and perfect. She just received the gifts from the Father in heaven who loves and created her.

Before he created her in the womb, the Father knew Felicity. He knows the plans he has for her, plans for good and not for harm, plans to prosper her. He has prepared good things in advance for her to do while she is on this earth. She was born for such a time as this. She is created in the image of God.

Felicity can’t do anything for herself yet. She needs to be fed, washed, changed, loved, carried, cradled, sung to. But a year ago, Felicity was still a glimmer in her Father’s eye. And now she is here. 

I am so excited to see what God has in store for wee Felicity, loved so much by the Father that he sent his only, and much beloved, Son to die for her, as if she were the only person in the world. He didn’t die because she was independent, good, successful, beautiful, or anything else. He died because he loves her and wants to spend eternity with her. 

The miracle of new birth. I remember when I was born again – not the first time, but when I gave my heart and soul and mind and spirit to Jesus and invited his Holy Spirit to live in me. That was an amazing miracle which I didn’t deserve.

The miracle of life. Gratitude doesn’t seem enough, but that’s what I give to my Lord tonight. Heartfelt gratitude for the safe arrival of wee Felicity. Praise Him.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Black Holes Part 3

For someone with very little scientific knowledge, I seem to be rather focused on black holes at the moment.

It’s just that today, as I was praying for the world, I was using my most recent aide memoire, a small globe peppered with black dots where the current trouble spots are. Over the Middle East spreads a blanket of black dots. You can see where this is going. 

It appears from this globe that the Middle East is at present a black hole. Need presses on need. Atrocity follows horror. Injustice and pitiless brutality are mind-boggling in the extreme. Darkness pervades and it seems as if it is impermeable to light.

But even I know that when light comes, darkness flees. Jesus is the light of the world. When he comes into situations of extreme darkness, light comes with him. 

So, the Middle East is currently a place of extreme darkness, like a black hole eating up all the matter it encounters. But God has the power to transform that matter into brilliant light. He has the power to give individuals ‘Damascus-road experiences’. To change them from murderous zealots to Spirit-filled believers. Like a quasar, perhaps one day the Middle East will shine with the light of Jesus. 

No doubt about it. Jesus is the hope of the nations, and as dark as nations may appear, he can transform that darkness in an instant.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Atmospheres, like Cat Hair, Cling

Atmospheres, like cat hair, cling.

I’ve just got up from the chair in the conservatory which the white cat, Amelie, favours. Yes, my jeans are covered in white cat hairs now. I’ll either have to get out the lint brush or just live with them until they fall off.

We have the power to create a good atmosphere in our residences or offices. As we rely on God, he empowers us with his peace and kindness, patience and love. These attitudes establish an atmosphere in the place, an atmosphere which is tangible.

We have a small B&B, and very often people who stay with us comment on how peaceful it is here. Of course some of that is due to the fact that we live in the middle of a field, where the only intrusive noises might be the munching of cows or the startled cries of pheasants. But some of it is intrinsic to the home and is due to the fact that this home has clocked up many hours of prayer and Bible study and Christian fellowship. God is invited to be the master of this house, and he is.

I have an alcove which is my prayer seat. As soon as I move into that alcove, I feel the sense of God’s presence, and I can settle into an attitude of study and prayer. I trust that when I move out of that alcove, the atmosphere of having been in Jesus’ presence comes with me.

Actually, I know it does, whether or not others sense it, because I know that when I have stepped aside to be with God for awhile, his peace and presence carry me through the day. 

I think I’ll go brush off the cat hair. But the atmosphere of God’s presence – I want that to cling forever.