As Good As Dead!

we can make our plans...

I’ve been considering what it means to come to the end of myself, of my own strength, and fully trust in and rely upon an almighty God who has all the power needed and more, to do all that He has promised. 

Sometimes it’s easy to look at and listen to the obstacles in our way. To contemplate our own mortality and weaknesses and to be persuaded that nothing will change.
Sometimes God keeps encouragement away from us until we learn to trust Him without it!
I am an encourager and thrive upon encouragement. This is a steep climb for me!
As a dreamer, I am always looking for signs that point out the way ahead and planning the ‘best’ route. It’s funny, but in all of my dreams, I am never ‘as good as dead’! I plan my rescue way before that!

kirkbymoorside (1 of 1)-4Now, there is nothing wrong with dreaming, Joseph was up there with the best of them! Nor is there anything wrong with planning. God loves that He made us this way… Creative thinkers and strategists. BUT in the dry desert of now, with my eyes pealed for a sign and my ear to the ground for any sound of direction, I am undergoing an important test to prove my faith. All I need to do is look upon His face, listen to His voice and cling to Him with all my might!

With an utterly thankful heart, I continue to hope for His help alone and to know without doubt that He will direct my footsteps despite my best laid plans!

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Sometimes, when the need arises, our good God in all His wisdom will choose to wait until we are ‘as good as dead’ in our own strength so that His glory shines out above the hopelessness surrounding us.
And even I can see that in the long run, which, as followers of Jesus, we are in for, it’s not a bad plan!

Today, these words from Psalm 71 underline all that I know to be true.

‘You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
But you will restore me to life again
And lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honour
And comfort me once again. ‘

Curbar edge (1 of 1)-2.jpgMy eyes and ears are On Him and I as I reflect back on this past year, I realise that I am  really getting the hang of this ‘Sing and Cling’ moto of mine.

I Choose To See Diamonds

It has been raining and there’s nothing unusual in that. But when the storm clouds pass and the sun makes an appearance, the raindrops left behind are transformed into a dividend of diamonds!

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Yesterday, I spent a productive hour in our modest back garden capturing these delightful jewels, liberally adorning the naked foliage. A breathtaking, multidimensional, installation of light, colour, texture and scent bombarded my senses.

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Looking through a lens forces me to meditate upon the common occurrences that surround and to remember afresh that I alone am responsible for the lens of my soul.

I can look at the storm or choose to see beyond it! I can dwell on the downpour or I can anticipate the bounty it will leave behind!

As I look at all that has been washed away this past year, I could indulge myself in grief at the loss of my chosen plans. I could allow myself to be defeated by many disappointments. I could simply see rain.

But praise be to God who has gifted me a brighter perspective!

I have always been a ‘cup half full’ girl, always made the best out of every circumstance, always looked for and found the best in others. And I am truly thankful for this ability to see hope and goodness. It has enabled me to swim through floods and remain buoyant, to be enriched but not engulfed by the storm and to remain ‘fruitful in the land of my suffering’ Genesis 41:52

And right now? I have my minds eye on the jewels that will be left behind once the rains are passed, diamonds for me to ponder and to pocket!

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Just Finishing is Victory

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‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ was a popular proverb as I was growing up and its message has remained with me, urging me on, reminding me that when conditions become difficult, strong people take action.

That’s great if you are strong.
But…
What if you are not? What if, in fact, you feel quite weak? What happens then?

‘When the going gets tough, the weak….’? Collapse and give up?

Yesterday, I felt God speak to me about iron and His desire to put iron inside me, (metaphorically speaking) to make me strong.

Jeremiah 1:18 says’ Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land’

But I am weak! Have you forgotten?

Then I remember that ‘God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.’ (1 Corinthians 1:27) and I breathe a sigh of relief!

Even when we feel helpless, it is God Himself who strengthens us. We are never alone in the fight! Words of encouragement come to lift our heads and the iron in a true friend awakens the iron in me.

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 ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.’ (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Now THIS I can do! I can boast mightily in my weakness!
And all this ‘boasting’ inspires me to move forward, however slowly!

The Ironman Triathlon is an incredible feat of a 3.4 km swim, a 180. 25 km bicycle ride and a 42.2km (marathon) run. In that order, without a break!

Julie Moss, a college student, almost won the women’s race in 1982 but collapsed a few meters from the line out of severe exhaustion and dehydration. Losing out on first place, she crawled to the finish line and her moving performance was broadcast worldwide. The Ironman mantra, ‘Just finishing is victory’ was born.

In this season, in my weakness, at times, crawling on hands and knees, I am happy to boast in Him who’s strength is enough and who’s strength is in me and I will finish the race!
Because
‘Just finishing is victory’!

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 ‘Just finishing is victory!’

‘Shadow Lace’

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Shadow lace appears upon a tree-lined pathway. The trees have become templates to the sun’s rays. The effect is striking! I see it and capture the display on my phone.

And isn’t a sunset more breathtakingly beautiful seen through the brush strokes of vapor after a storm?
The band of clouds on the back side of the departing weather system, along with the air clarity, act as a sort of projection screen for the low-sun colours. The cloud captures more of the orange and red light, and reflects those colours down.

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And I am studiously learning that the most beautiful songs can only be mastered in the low places. No theory can perfect them. They are songs remembered and sung through the shadows of the past and the notes are mine alone to sing. They are deep and resonant. And they perfectly harmonize with the angelic soprano highs, combining to produce a vocal ‘lace’ that is more pleasing on the ear than a solitary note could ever be, however lofty!

I love that God uses the shadows and storm clouds of all our yesterdays to create a visual and symphonic masterpiece! And when I gasp at the glory of the ‘shadow lace’ produced by these rich harmonies of light and sound, it isn’t the trees that grab my attention nor is it the din and flash of the storm itself. This all gives way to an overwhelming and intricately absorbing splendor! The light, colour and melody of His grace in my life brings glory to Him alone. And I am happy, no, more than that, I am absolutely overjoyed with my part.

Change Seats!

 

 

I’m still learning the lesson that what I ‘view’ is really about where I sit and in which direction I choose face.
This past week, the sun came to stay for a few days in Dronfield and one lunchtime, I sat alone at the kitchen table, in my usual chair. (I am most definitely a creature of habit.) As I nibbled thoughtfully on my salad, I looked out of the window in front of me. The old double glazed units are misty due to trapped condensation and are not so easy to see through. Clear panes, however, would have only enabled me to see, more clearly, the stark, brick wall and scaffolding of our neighbour’s extension, a mere six feet away!

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I was contemplating this miserable scene and actually beginning to feel a little sorry for myself, when a voice from within prompted me, very clearly, to “change seats!”
It was such obvious advice. Why hadn’t I thought of it?
I moved 90° round the table and faced an alternative window and a very different scene.

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Before me, a newly tended, lush, green garden, bathed in sunlight, hosting buds, blossoms, seedlings, flowers and a line of clean washing! A somewhat different outlook!

Granted, one of the windows is still a little foggy, but the difference my change of position made was immediate! I became instantly and utterly thankful!

My circumstances hadn’t changed, but my perspective had! This view was rich with reminders of God’s goodness and mercy and of His work in my life which is active and focused! Where old is pruned and burnt away, weeds are removed and seeds planted. There is evidence here of a Gardener who is intent on seeing both flowers and fruit and is also a ‘dab hand’ at the washing too! He is highly skilled, thoroughly attentive and infallibly clear sighted!

Publisher of Peace

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John 14:27
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’

‘There is a part of the sea known as ‘the cushion of the sea.’ It lies beneath the surface that is agitated by the storms and churned by the wind. It is so deep that it is a part of the sea that is never stirred. When the ocean floor in these deep places is dredged of the remains of plant or animal life, it reveals evidence of having remained completely undisturbed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The peace of God is an eternal calm, like the cushion of the sea. It lies so deeply within the human heart that no external difficulty or disturbance can reach it. And anyone who enters the presence of God becomes a partaker of that undisturbed calm.’ -Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

Wonderfully…

I have discovered the serenity of this seeming paradox by plunging the depths and battling through the turbulant shallows.

I haven’t covered my eyes, blocked my ears and sung out to mask the thunder, (tempting though it was!) There was no escaping the weather front as I forcefully pushed against the wind and waves.

But my reward is this!

I have entered the depths of an extraordinary sanctuary. Hidden in the cleft of The Rock, I have withstood the force of the hurricane and been engulfed by His peace at centre point.

My eyes are wide open! My ears are unstopped! And His grip is steadfast!

And when I awake in the night, surrounded by darkness and my heart twists with complex emotions, this tranquil, cushioned core where I choose to remain, embalms me in peace.

Eventually, the curtain of the dawn rises and my wide open eyes drink in the textured brushstrokes of Spring, whilst my unstopped ears tune in to the unabridged medley of bird song.

And I marvel that He so delights in harboring my tender heart whilst persistently and purposefully, publishing His peace!