ephesians 1

He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

ephesians 1For my birthday this year, Benny, my little six year old grandson, chose two gifts for me which I treasure. One was a beautiful blue dragonfly fridge magnet. The other, a plaque which states: “Nanas are flowers in the garden of love.” That is very cute.

Cuter still was Benny’s inscription in the card that accompanied the gifts: “Dear Nanna, I love you when the earth was created and now I love you on your birthday.”

I think the sentiment is that Benny loves me no matter what and for all time. Out of the mouths of babes … as the saying goes.

What a great truth that sentiment signifies. I know Benny was not there at the creation of the earth, but God was. In fact, before the creation of the world God knew me and predestined me to be one of his adopted children. I was chosen by God to fulfil his purpose and his will here on the earth he created.

I wonder why he chose me. I really have nothing that would endear me to the almighty God. Rather, I know I have done everything in my power to thwart God’s designs for me, including dedicating my life to the service of Satan in one of my weaker moments when I was a teenager.

God’s purposes, however, will not be frustrated. Despite my best efforts, here I am, a child of God enjoying the blessings of his kingdom forever in his love … and in Benny’s.

and life goes on

We are as the grass that withers and dies and is forgotten.

dead grassSadly, a young man I have known since he was a young boy of eleven years recently died. The ravages of cancer took him. He was only thirty something.

My eighty two year old mother died last year and, at the time, I felt a great sense of loss. Mum, who had always been there, was there no longer. That sense of loss is slowly diminishing although it does occasionally well up, especially when I think back on our years and I want to talk to her about her early life or her family as we did when she was alive.

The death of a family member or a friend has always left me with a sense of wonder. It strikes me that this life is so fragile and can be so easily and sometimes so quickly extinguished.

What is even more striking to me is that the world does not stop when someone dies. Those of us who knew the one who died do pause, albeit momentarily, to attend a funeral or memorial service, but on the whole, people still carry on with their frivolous and capricious life affairs. With one breath we sympathise, even empathise, with the next we crack a joke or revel in how good the coffee is.

In short, we enjoy life in the face of death.

This raises the question: who will stop when I die? Who will mourn for me longer than a fleeting moment?

The answer is fairly obvious: probably my family and close friends. I will doubtless leave a Marcia or Mum or Nanna space in their hearts for longer than a moment, but then they will carry on enjoying their lives as they ought, as I did when my mum died and when Cameron died.

God, through David in Psalm 103:15-16, asserts that “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field, for the wind passes over it and it is gone and its place knows it no more.” This is the way we have been created: to be born, to live, to die, and to then be forgotten.

The real blessing is that this life is but for a moment in eternity. When we die in Christ, then the living really begins. The next verse shows that the Lord’s steadfast love “is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him.” We are remembered by God, not in mourning, but with a deep and abiding affection.

Live on Cam.

truth & love & nits & warts & all

Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.

liceWhat if there was a ten year old girl who had a very bad case of head lice and was ostracised by many in her community and her mother, because of a disability, was unable to help her to be rid of the lice.

What if one day this little girl went to church at the invitation of church member and the good church folk could see the head lice jumping on her head and the tiny white specks, the nits, close to her scalp.

What if the minister preached about acceptance asking if the good church folk would welcome into their midst a person with lots of tattoos, a person who was a drug addict or a person who was an alcoholic, any such person – warts and all – into their midst, and if all agreed that, yes, everyone was welcome to sit with them in church.

If this scenario happened in your church, what would you do?

Would you shun the young girl keeping a very safe distance and instruct others not to give her your address for fear that she would visit you and play with your children?

Or would you welcome the young girl and have her sit with you and your family in church and invite her into your home allowing your own children to play with the young girl placing your children in a position where they would get lice and nits in their hair?

Would you purchase head lice treatment, wash the young girl’s hair and consistently treat the lice over a period of three or four months then enjoy watching the young girl’s long dark hair become shiny and beautiful and clean and free of lice and nits?

Would you love the young girl and bring her under the instruction of the gospel teaching her the truth about Jesus Christ and his love for her even while she is a lice-ridden sinner and in need of his salvation?

And would you thank and praise God for lice?

The Hiding Place, written by Corrie ten Boom and John and Elizabeth Sherrill, is the story of Corrie and her sister, Betsie, when they suffered during the course of the holocaust in the Ravensbruck concentration camp during World War II. The account relates how the barracks were so badly infested with lice that the guards would not enter. Consequently, the sisters were able to read the Bible and pray with others without fear of retribution. When the sisters understood the reason the guards dared not go into the barracks, they thanked God and praised him for the lice.

Praise God for Corrie and Betsie ten Boom who overcame their fear of lice for the sake of the gospel. And praise God for the person who overcame her fear of lice to become a wonderful witness to a young girl of the love of God in Christ Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life and the one who died that we might all be free of the nits and warts and all of our sin. (Jesus Christ—Matthew 25:40)

juxtaposition

Juxtaposition: placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.

Juxtaposition is a wonderful concept.

A notable juxtaposition moment for me is at the end of the film, The Last of the Mohicans. The music is a Celtic folk melody interwoven with the hauntingly beautiful theme. This is set against the violent action of the scene when the antagonist and his cohorts drag the heroine up the mountainside hotly pursued by the protagonists. By placing together the concepts of violence and beauty, the urgency of the chase and viciousness of the attacks that ensue are heightened. I have watched the movie only once, but that vivid scene remains with me.

juxtaposition3When my daughter and granddaughter, with the sun setting behind them, walked hand in hand over the crest of the hill juxtaposed with the telephone and light poles and wires, cars, buildings and rubbish bins, I could not help but note the contrasts. Mother and daughter, nature versus man, light and dark, mature/immature. It is precious to see the mother/daughter relationship in full bloom; a relationship in which the daughter feels safe and free to express her feelings and her thoughts and where, under the watchful eye of her mother, she can develop her personality and become the person God would have her be.The same can be said of the mother/son relationship. A similar image a couple of years earlier shows the same notion and contrast, that a mother can lead her son to become a whole person, who is unhindered in the expression of his ideas and one who recognises his wonderful heritage in the Lord.

My granddaughter and grandson will one day, God willing, be parents who will follow the legacy of their parents and lead their own children to appreciate the juxtapositions of life.

my place

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

Verses 5 and 6 of Psalm 16 to me are just the epitome of what God does for his people and who he is to his people. God is faithful to me: he chose me, he saved me and he sustains me. Even more than that, he has placed me in a wonderful place – “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places”. The boundaries have been set for me. My place, my ‘citizenship’, is in heaven.

When I look at the world in which we live, there is nature: famines, floods, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis. Then there are people: wars, tyrant leaders, corrupt governments and organisations, whackos who call themselves Christian, Muslim, religious whatever, who blow up, shoot, kill, maim, rape, pillage … all in the name of their ‘god’, or themselves, which is really the same thing. Not what I call a pleasant place.

The place in which my God, the Yahweh of the Old Testament in the Bible, Jesus Christ of the New Testament, has placed me knows nothing of these things. He takes his people and places them in a position of safety and peace – not the ‘safety’ and ‘peace’ of this world, but that of the kingdom of God, the place of which Jesus spoke when he said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” It is not a place of violence and jostling to gain the upper hand and power over others. It is a place where I can rest in the knowledge that Christ is King of kings and I am his subject.

On a personal level, as a wife, mother and grandmother, a teacher, a business woman, an ex-sportsperson and all that goes with life in general, the mind and the body have suffered with age (not that I am that old) and the results of a misspent youth. The physical aches and pains, the mental and psychological woes, real or imagined, have all begun to head south.

But … I love this place where God has placed me. I am secure. He is with me. I know his peace and his sustenance. I know my position and identities in this world are of no consequence, but Christ is. I also know my faith and trust in God are weak at best, but like Abraham of old, my faith does not waver because it is dependent on him.

And the best thing about this place – my inheritance? Christ is there. He is what makes my inheritance a beautiful place. Matthew Henry said: “Heaven is an inheritance. God himself is the inheritance of the saints there, whose everlasting bliss is to enjoy him. We must take that for our inheritance, our home, our rest, our lasting, everlasting, good, and look upon this world to be no more ours than the country through which our road lies when we are on a journey.” What a blessing it is to be in my inheritance, in Christ, and to be able to enjoy him throughout the journey of my life.

I give honour to God in Jesus Christ for my place in his pleasant and beautiful world.