Tag Archives: courage

When all is not lost

You may recognise this smile.  It featured in the book, Postcards From Heaven, when the front tooth was missing, and now 3 years on it’s full of big teeth, and the somewhat irresponsible owner of a (very-expensive-to-replace) removable palate-expander-thingy.

We were having a fantastic day at the Zoo and it wasn’t until we were just about to feed a magnificent giraffe that the gorgeous Chaos-Generator turned and grinned at me, revealing the tell-tale lack of wire.

“Where’s your brace?!” I yelled, “and why isn’t it in your mouth?”…

Fellow parents of wonky-toothed children may recognise the scene that followed. After an intensive hunt through bags and pockets and some frustrated remonstrations,  I left the kids with their Grandma and unenthusiastically retraced my steps around the Zoo wondering where on earth she might have taken it out and dropped it.

After unsuccessful hunts around the ice-cream stand and the Gopher viewing area, eventually I returned to the picnic area where we’d had lunch, more than an hour after we had left it.  The picnic table we had sat at was empty, and I hunted on and around it and the bin where I’d thrown the empty crisp bags, but the floor was covered in a thick layer of bark chippings and I imagine several families had used the table since we had.  There really was no chance of finding a 4cm wide piece of see-through plastic and wire.

The tiny bit of hope I had left drained away as I sat down at the table,  convinced that we would never see it again.

And then I looked down, and there it was, just next to my foot.

I’m not sure now whether it had been there all along, or whether God had moved it there.  But as I picked it up, flooded with relief, I heard God whisper “I am a God who restores”.

“I am the God who restores”

It’s funny because I would have said I knew God as Restorer well already, and I do, but in the sense of a restorer of a master painting – someone who comes in and painstakingly cleans something up and carefully repairs damage!  But obviously I only had part of the picture…

When I looked it up, the first definition of restore that I found was ‘to give back or return’.

Part of what God longs to do as our great Restorer is to return to us things that have been taken away,  things that feel forever-lost.

Perhaps there are parts of your heart,  your confidence, your strength, your faith or your hope that feel as though they have been taken away and are gone.  There are times in life when difficult things happen to us and something good that we had is taken away; we make a mistake and some part of us is lost.    If that sounds familiar, hear this:

 

Our God is the God who restores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mango tree

I hate waiting…

Since I moved to an island I’ve realized that they way to get the very best fruit is to eat whatever is currently in season. Strawberries appear in May, cherries in July, figs in September, and clementines in December- fresh and delicious, and at their very best in their own season. But if you want cherries in September, well, you’re probably just going to have to wait.

I’m a bit like the cheeky children in a story I heard from my friend Bron.
In the front yard of their old house in a remote town in Mozambique they had a wonderful mango tree. It was heavy with fruit and they were looking forward to sharing a bumper harvest with their friends and neighbours. They patiently waited and watched as the fruit grew, happily anticipating the day when they were sweet enough to eat and dreaming about jam, pies and fruit salad!

Unfortunately, the children of that neighborhood are not great at waiting. Much to my friends’ frustration, these kids would sneak into the yard and eat the mangos while they were still green, hard and sour. That first year, most of the fruit never had the opportunity to ripen!

God’s word for me this week has been simply this- to eat fruit in the right season.

Eat fruit in the right season

Sometimes we can see what God is growing in our lives a bit ahead of time. But if we are in a hurry to harvest what we see growing on the tree, if we push into something ahead of God’s timing, we risk missing out on the sweetness it would have had if only we had waited to the right time.

Don’t eat fruit that isn’t ripe yet

On the other hand, I don’t want to let caution, laziness, or lack of awareness stop me from bringing in the harvest when it’s ready.

but don’t leave ripe fruit to rot on the tree

That’s all very well, I thought, but when it comes to the opportunities in front of me, how on earth am I supposed to discern which ones are ripe for picking and which aren’t yet?

I stumbled across the answer on Wikipedia while I was looking for a picture to paint from:
you can tell when a mango is ripe because it smells really, really good.

Pray this week that God would give you the nose to smell out which ‘fruit’ is ripe so you can be aware when you are tempted to jump ahead of God’s timing, or when you’re being too cautious to reach out and enjoy what’s in front of you.

Enjoy whatever is on the tree this week. May it one way or another be a blessing to you.

Living on the Leeward side

“You get to choose which side of me you live on…”

Petra tou Romiou is a huge rock in the sea just off the coast of Cyprus.   We took some friends to visit it at the weekend and as we stood on the cliff looking down I was struck by the difference in shape and nature of the two sides of it –  the one facing the sea and the one protected from it.

The side exposed to the prevailing wind and the waves is almost vertical, bare rock, constantly attacked by waves from the sea.  The protected, ‘leeward’, side slopes gently towards the beach and has patches of moss and even sometimes some wildflowers on it.

As I looked at it I heard God – my rock – say, “you get to choose which side of me you live on”

It’s interesting to think that God is a rock like this one, with a leeward and a windward side.  On a clear, calm day intrepid young people climb up and sit in the sunshine at the top of the rock. They sunbathe there and I imagine, enjoy a wonderful view. But in a storm, as waves crash endlessly against the base of the rock,  you would definitely want to be sheltering on the leeward side.

I love the picture of God as a rock  and one of my very favourite lines in the message translation is from Psalm 62:

“He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul.”

That’s my God: unmoveable, unchanging, strong and solid.  A firm place to stand and a shelter from the storms of life.

There can be no doubt that when storms come (as they always will, even here in sunny Cyprus) it is better to be standing in the shelter of the rock than out on the beach. But I’d never thought before about choosing to stand in the shelter of God’s protection rather than on the ‘stormward side’.

My pride would often rather have me out in the storm fighting my own battles, demanding justice and vindication in the face of the wind and waves.  The whisper in this picture is of God inviting me to step out of those battles and into the protection of his leeward side.

But that’s hard.  Somehow to my fragile heart it seems cowardly and a bit out-of-control to trust God to handle the battle for me, to step in behind him and not to try to fight my own fight.

And yet… when I look at this picture I can see how foolish it is to think that I am the one better able to face up to the onslaught of the storm.  There is only one sensible place to be in this picture, and it’s definitely not out attempting to defend myself (or the rock) against the waves!

I’m suddenly aware that there is a choice to made here… to conciously step into the leeward side of the rock… to know that to admit that I am weaker than God and need his protection is actually a strong choice – and a wise one.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress I shall not be shaken.

You might hear God saying something else through this picture… but if you hear him calling you to step out of the battle for your own reputation, or acceptance, or vindication, then have courage, and step into the leeward side.

Psalm 63:5-6