Encouragement

There is much in life to smile about, be warmed by and to recognize as blessing. These posts capture such moments.

Nothing is ordinary. Life is an endless series of little miracles. The difference between living and existing is noticing. – Louie Giglio

Robin from iStockphoto

The buds are appearing on the rose bushes. The robin is singing vibrantly on the cherry tree. The car, which is ten years old, is running smoothly. I safely negotiated the uneven surface of the old path and dipping garden beds, without turning my ankle. My internet connection, which was broken, reconnected just in time for an important email to be sent.

Yes, little miracles perhaps, but miracles nonetheless. Today, like most other days, my friend and I started the day by committing it to God and trusting him to help in every detail. The more we do this, the more we are identifying hid intervention and protection. The more we see of his miracle of creation and his care for us.

What little miracles have you experienced today?

Image by Comstock

I once heard of tale of a man who crossed the Atlantic on a great ocean-going liner. He had just enough money to pay for the ticket, but not much else.

A diet that was crackers!

The story relates how he sat in his cabin every night while the other passengers enjoyed sumptuous dining. Each evening he would nibble on a few dry crackers, which he had brought with him, instead of tucking into the oysters, fillet steak and luxurious desserts served above.

What he did not realize was that his fare covered not only his travel, but also all his meals while he was on board!

Heating one room

Recently my blogging kidmin friend Barbara Graves tweeted about an experience she had some time ago.

Barbara and her husband had moved into a new apartment. They were told that there was no domestic heating fuel left in the tank. As Barbara tells it:  “We lived in one room in front of the fireplace for a month.”

Imagine their surprise when they eventually discovered that there was fuel in the tank after all! They had never tried it!

Living below our privileges

No doubt Barbara and her husband can smile about it now, but tragically, the same can be true of us spiritually. God has made provision for so much grace, help and power to be available to all his children. Everything has already been paid for. Yet, too often, we are inclined to be cracker-eating Christians, existing on a minimum diet.

What a shame if we nibble away at the Bible as if it were a dry ration we are obliged to take each day. Instead, we should be reaching out in trust to the Holy Spirit, our Teacher, and asking him to help us to see the rich diet, the tasty feast, that is within the covers. If you can’t enjoy it, ask God to give you an appetite for his Word.

How tragic to be struggling with sin, phobias, anxieties, burdens or anything that weighs us down and ties us up, when we could be tapping into the “fuel tank” that God has made available to us through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. That is an unending supply of God’s grace (the ability to cope with every situation God allows to touch our lives).

Jesus Christ died, defeated death and went back to heaven, so that he could the release the Holy Spirit to this earth. The “meal” has been paid for, the “fuel tank” is full, just waiting for us to turn the tap by prayer and trust.

If we are God’s children, having received Christ, then let’s not live below our privileges. Let’s reach for and use every good thing that God has made available for us.  Jesus didn’t intend that we live on spiritual emergency rations, but on an abundant and rich supply of all we need to glorify God and be victorious for him.

Is there any area in your life where you feel spiritually lacking?
Why should you wait any longer?
Reach out in simple trust and ask God to open your eyes to see all that he has made available for you.

If you need to be made clean from sin

If you need help to overcome a temptation

If you need to be  effective in prayer

If you need to be able to speak to someone about Jesus

If you need to experience God’s guidance

If you need to grow and exercise your gifts and ministries

If you…

…Well, is there anything you would add to your list? What will you trust God for? Will you claim the privilege Christ has paid to give you?

 

Sometimes life gets complicated. And sometimes, when we come to pray, that seems complicated too. How do we pray? What will be the best outcome to pray for? There is a temptation to try to figure it all out and pray accordingly.

Image

But the following story illustrated beautifully how we might approach a conversation with God about such a situation:

A grandfather was walking past his young granddaughter’s room one night when he saw her kneeling beside her bed, with head bowed and hands folded, repeating the alphabet.

“What are you doing?” he asked her.

She explained, “I’m saying my prayers, but I couldn’t think of just what I wanted to say. So I’m just saying all the letters of the alphabet, and God can put them together however he thinks best.”

What a great way to pray! Leave it all with him!

  • We don’t need to go over the whole situation – God knows it.
  • We don’t need to figure out a solution and pray for that – God’s solution will be perfect, and way beyond what we could engineer, if we were able.
  • We don’t need to strive to please him with perfect, articulate prayers – He knows our hearts, our grieving, weeping, confused and helpless hearts.

So next time you are struggling to put words together in prayer, just tell God to work it all out according to what he knows is best, and relax into him.

Costorphine Hill behind Murrayfield from wikipedia

Costorphine Hill in daylight - the beacons are just visible!

A few nights ago I was travelling homeward in the car. As I approached Edinburgh, ahead of me I could see the city lights.

Two in particlular are very familiar to me. They are the red lights that top off two masts high on Corstorphine Hill. This land mark I can see from my home, and at night it is usually the first one I identify as I draw near the city, from whatever direction I aspproach.

Though there was no fog this time, there was no moon either, so even with its massive bulk, the Hill was invisible. Nevertheless, there, proud and bright, were the two red beacons.

Even massive things may pass beyond our vision. The sun goes behind a cloud; a great ocean liner sails over the horizon. But there is no reason for us to suppose that they no longer exist,  simply because we cannot perceive them with our senses. Corstorphine Hill had not crumbled once darkness fell! I could tell that much, because the beacons marked it’s height.

Of course, while it is easier to experience the closeness of God when we are praying or reading the Bible, there are times when God may seem very far away; days when we appear to see nothing of him. But he is still there. We just need to look for the beacons, the events that mark his presence and care.

  • The phone call from friend that came as you were feeling a bit lonely
  • The lost item that turned up just in time
  • The book mark you “just happened” to find in an old volume, and which quoted a Bible verse or motto which helped you see things straight
  • The kind thoughtfulness of a neighbour
  • The simple faith of your child
  • The inspiration of another life
  • The glory of a sunset
  • A safe journey, without incident or harm
  • And so I could go on…

In so many ways, some obvious and some subtle, God indicates his love and care for us. When I realized that knowing God was with me was not necessarily the same as feeling his presence, I began to make an effort to detect God’s beacons every day. There is always something that marks his presence.

Now I don’t need to see the beacons to know he is there. But it’s become a habit and it certainly turns my thoughts Godward in awe and gratitude.

When did you last see a beacon of his presence with you?

Will you join me in looking for at least one, every day, and thanking God for it, however small?

 


Driving in fog - courtesy Morguefile.com


A couple of nights ago I found myself driving through very thick fog – at night. As visibility was reduced to about 50 yards, I had to drive very slowly and be vigilant. At least I was able to follow the white line at the side of the carriageway.


I could see nothing of the countryside I was driving through; the usually bright lights of the nearby homes and factories were obscured and I even passed the familiar flood-lit church on the hill without recognizing it was there. The fog blanketed everything and the headlights lit up only the short distance ahead.


I felt very alone. The cars ahead of me were driving faster than me, so pretty soon their comforting red tail lights had disappeared. There were no visible reference points with which to judge where I was on the familiar journey, and, apart from the slight vibration of the road, there was little to indicate that the car was moving! Eventually I arrived home safely. But the experience made me think of my life’s journey.


There are exciting times when the road ahead is clear. God has made his will plain and it is a joy to be actively engaged in his plan.


But it may be that the fog comes down. One day you realize you are simply plodding on, doing what God told you to do, but without much joy or vision. It can happen. Circumstances change, burdens come, things aren’t quite the way they were when you started out on this part of your life journey. What can you do?


You can keep moving on and following the “white line”. If God called you and you have been obedient, then you can be sure of his continued presence. Let him be your guide, your white line. When every other form of guidance is obscured, and you don’t even feel you are moving forward, stick to him, keep doing what you are doing in trust and obedience, and you’ll come out of the fog.


It takes perseverance and focus to safely complete a drive in fog. It’s the same with us. God’s Word is a lamp to our feet. Like the headlights in the fog, he doesn’t always let us see very far ahead. But he shows us enough to stay safe and keep moving forward.


Is the familiar countryside of your life blurring a little right now? Are you wondering if you have lost your way? I hope it will help you to remember that you have one unfailing point of reference – God himself.  Focus on him, stay close to him, cultivate your relationship with him, and you will find that everything else will fall into place. The dullness of soul will lift as you turn your face to his radiance.


David the Psalmist  had that confidence. His words still encourage us today:


I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 27:13,14 (New King James Version)
 


UPDATE! I have just learned of a lovely article in the same vein as this. You can find it the I Lift My Eyes Web Ministries Newsletter Archives

Follow Me

SLICES OF MY LIFE are little slivers of my experiences. I have many interests and this blog is my way of keeping track of what I see and learn. Some of it brings a smile to my face, uplifts and encourages me, or makes me think deeply. I hope you enjoy what you read here as much as I enjoy writing it!