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Friday, 29 January 2016


Since when did they give names to Storms? Hurricanes have a history of being named but storms? Well, whatever, but this wind and sleet slamming into our windows is called Gertrude, I believe. 

Just thinking it might have added a touch of levity to the overwhelming awesomeness of the event  if Jesus had stood up in the boat and commanded, ‘Peace, be still, Gertrude!’ 

Or George.

Nameless or known by a name – oh, that’s a whole new avenue I didn’t intend to go down! God knows each one of us by name, and he has new names ready and waiting for us in the future. Beautiful names which resonate with the everlasting love God has for each one of us.

But back to storms. This one threatens, like the Big Bad Wolf in the 3 Little Pigs story, to huff and puff and blow down my house. The windows are rattling in their frames. Gertrude’s icy fingers are tapping their sharp nails on the glass. The trees are bending and swaying alarmingly. 

Inside, though, so far the electricity is still connected as is the telephone. The heating has now gone off but the room in which I sit is warm enough. Soon I can boil a kettle and make a coffee. Until I venture outside, Gertrude’s intrusion into my life is minimal. (May it continue to be so....)

The granite walls may buckle in an earthquake but Gertrude stands no chance of blowing them over. Jesus told a story about a couple of houses, one built on sand and the other on the rock. The one collapsed when the storm sprang up while the other withstood the onslaught.

There are one or two things blowing about in my life which could escalate into the strength of Gertrude, but I’m trusting in the granite assurances of scripture and the powerful presence of my saviour. Don’t let any Gertrudes blow you over today. Trust in the promises of our everlasting God, who has you covered and who can still the roughest of storms with a word.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A Gentle Touch

A gentle bumping of the sliding kitchen door heralds the approach of Indy, the smaller of our two cats. Indy doesn’t always live up to her name: a baby’s cry or laugh can send her scurrying for a secure hiding place. But she has mastered the art of sliding the door open by lying on her side and prising at the opening until it moves.

I am working on my computer on the kitchen table. I hear Indy’s entrance and soon I feel a slight tapping on my left elbow. A little face looks up into mine. Please feed me, that expression says. I respond.

Sometimes when I go to sit with God I make a bit of a song and dance. I might read something out loud from the Bible. I might sing a chorus or two, or launch into a cry for help with something that’s going on. 

But sometimes I just sidle up to God, so to speak, and sit down. I imagine he might hear me coming. I know he feels the light touch of my heart reaching out to him. I don’t need to ask: he knows that I need to be fed. And he knows exactly what to feed me.

I am so grateful.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Everlasting Love

The wilderness. Make a way through the wilderness for the Lord. Jesus was in the wilderness right after he was baptised in the Jordan by John, whose cry to the people of Israel echoed that from Isaiah 40: Prepare the way for the Lord. 

Then he baptised the Lord, and the Lord went into the wilderness. Jesus knows what it is to be in the wilderness. He knows from his own experience the sense of loneliness and abandonment, the fear and trepidation, the physical discomfort and emotional strain. The hopelessness.

God spoke to his people through Jeremiah (31:3) ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love.’ Jesus knew that, and the love of the Father sustained him through those long days and nights. Eventually he emerged from the wilderness, strong and assured of his calling.

Sometimes when we are in the wilderness, preparing a way for anyone, including the Lord, is beyond us. I’m sure then is the time to hunker down in the shelter of God’s promises, and this is surely one of those to cling to. ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love.’ Before God formed you in the womb he knew you. He has loved you – he has loved me – since before time began until beyond its cessation. Everlasting love. The everlasting love of the Creator of the Universe; the everlasting love of the three-in-one Lord who invites us to join in the dance of life. 

If preparing a way is too much today, then rest in the shadow of his love and leave it to him.

Monday, 25 January 2016


Prepare the way

We’re getting estimates for repaving our driveway. A man came out this morning and explained what would need to be done.

The potholes need filling in. The moss needs scraping off. Then they can lay down a new layer of tarmac. The drive opening would be edged with kerbing because of the frequent pressure of a tractor entering and exiting the field there. For an extra cost, we can kerb the edges the length of the drive, which will preserve the integrity of the edges. Otherwise, as oil and coal trucks trundle up the drive and overspill onto the verge, the tarmac will begin to crumble.  The edges are vulnerable to cracking up.

Prepare the way of the Lord. What potholes are in my life today that need filling in? Which vulnerable points are beginning to crumble? Where has moss taken root in my life, obscuring the way and turning it into a slippery slide? 

Time to evaluate.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Bucolic Beauty

A bucolic scene of beauty and peace greets me today as I gaze outside the window. Where the sheep huddled frozen to the earth in yesterday morning’s hard frost, this morning they graze their ways across the green field. The cool winter sun carries enough warmth to thaw the grass and make it edible. 

Song birds continue to dart and dive in their efforts to gather enough food to survive this season. They’ve eaten their way through the bag of peanuts and are now back onto the breadcrumbs scattered on the drive.

The couple who stayed overnight for B&B have enjoyed their substantial breakfast and have now departed, fuelled for the journey. 

We all need food to power our bodies for the day ahead. Our spirits crave food, too. Jesus said that man doesn’t live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

The mouth of God. Wow. To think that the creator of everything feeds our spirits, much as a bird feeds her newly hatched chicks, from his mouth straight into mine. And that word that I receive from him today will be different from the one he feeds your soul with, because he knows exactly what each of us needs for the moment and for the day that lies before us.

His love is so personal, as a loving relationship should be. May his love not go unrequited in me today.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Full flower

The silent stillness of a frosty morn. As the sun, hanging low on the horizon, creeps a bit higher, long rosy shadows spread across the whitened fields. Sheep stand and lie frozen on the ground. No breath of wind ruffles the bare branches of the larch tree. 

And then ... life. Birds swoop and swirl, hop and jump in their constant quest for food. A fat pheasant strolls past the window, having gorged on the breadcrumbs scattered across the drive. The smaller birds cling on to the nut dispensers, pecking away at the food inside.

The rosiness is going but the stillness remains, the stillness of a wintry morn. 

Inside, the bunch of greens which so resembled spring onions yesterday are beginning to turn towards the light and open in the warmth. Their warm yellow trumpets herald the approach of spring. Daffodils.

We were made to dwell in seasons. There is beauty in each season, only marred by our feeble attempts to delay the next one’s coming. Our lives are, themselves, a season, more closely resembling winter than summer. Perhaps the time of life we often call the autumn of our years is, in fact, the spring, and as we approach our end we resemble those greens which yesterday looked like spring onions, and today flower beautifully. 

The warmth and light of God’s presence teases out the beauty in each of us and its full flowering will come when we are finally Home.