Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2019

Whenever I look out over those rugged ranges in the Blue Mountains that seem to stretch forever, I often wonder how the early explorers felt when faced with such a formidable barrier. But while visiting the Botanical Gardens at Mount Tomah last week, some words on a plaque at a lookout gave me a little more insight. They were originally written by an early explorer who stated how he could not find words to describe how incredibly difficult it was to traverse the mountainous terrain around him, except to say it was akin to ‘climbing across the steep roofs of houses, one after the other’. That poor man—how intrepid and tenacious he must have been! And how his heart must have sunk when, after congratulating himself on reaching the top of one unforgiving mountain range, he was faced with another … and another … and another!

Sometimes our lives can feel like that, can’t they? We may manage to fumble our way through a demanding week or month, only to discover an even more demanding week or month around the corner. Or perhaps you have a relative or friend for whom life never seems to be straightforward. Instead, they seem to face one huge challenge after another, only just managing to get their head above water before the next onslaught comes. Perhaps that may even describe your own life at times. So when that happens, how can we stay in that place of peace we know God can provide for us?

IMG_20191107_121153435These thoughts were in my mind when we went on to visit the Jenolan caves area. While having lunch there, I happened to glance at the rock wall nearby. It had quite a sheer surface, but here and there in the small crevices, various ferns and other plants had managed to find a foothold and were flourishing. How had they survived there? It hadn’t rained much of late and the snow season was over. Then I noticed a small waterfall flowing down one side of the cliff face. No doubt some of this water at least was finding its way along the crevices and enabling those tenacious plants to survive, as they clung to that rocky surface in such an exposed position. In that moment, I sensed God prompting me to see that, here before my eyes, was a clear picture from nature of how to weather the challenges of life in the best way possible. Just like those plants, we must all cling onto the Lord, our strong, unshakeable rock, who will sustain us with the lifegiving water we need to survive—and, in fact, even to thrive.

For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. Psalm 18:31-33

I hope I am never called upon to be as intrepid and tenacious as those early explorers must have been, to tackle those rugged mountains one after the other. But I hope and pray I always remember, whatever challenges life brings, to cling to the Lord, hide in those rocky clefts with him and rely on his strength to see me through.

Read Full Post »

IMG_20191026_124546957‘Do you like rhubarb?’ our dear, old neighbour asked, as he pointed with a trembling hand to a small clump growing nearby. ‘My wife cooks it with apple. Please pick it, otherwise it’ll be wasted.’

That day, he had learnt his wife would need to be in a nursing home and unable to come back to their unit. For thirteen years, she has chosen to care for all the garden areas nearby, with the blessing of our village gardeners, and I remembered how carefully she had tended this precious rhubarb plant in the months it had taken to grow. Now, just as it can be harvested, she is unable to do so.

As he went on to explain that he and his wife would probably both move into a double unit in the nearby nursing home, I noticed how he wiped tears away. He was concerned about the cost and also about the fact that there might not be room for all their possessions.

‘I tried to clean out the garage the other day, but I didn’t get too far,’ he told us. ‘I don’t know what we’ll do with it all.’

We endeavoured to reassure him as best we could. Finding a double unit where they can be together is wonderful, we told him. After all, they have been married for well over sixty years. And their beautiful daughters and sons-in-law will sort out what to take and what to give away, as well as all the paperwork needing to be done.

We felt so sorry for him as he stood there, a frail, old gentleman who is not well himself. Eventually he left, assuring us he had more than enough at home for dinner. Then, feeling so guilty, I went to cut those rhubarb stalks. I cooked them up, along with some apple, then filled a little container for him to take to his wife in hospital. It was the least I could do for her.

As I did, I felt sad, but I also felt at peace for them. You see, they are both Salvation Army officers and beautiful, humble Christians. This time in their lives might be fraught with pain and difficulty, as they suffer ill-health and grieve over the loss of their independence, as well as their lovely unit and garden. But they know where they are going. They know Jesus Christ. They have known him for a very long time. And I know they look forward to the day when they will meet him face to face and be with him forever. I know too they would agree with the words of the Apostle Paul:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

Our lovely neighbours will get over this huge hump in their lives in God’s strength and they will keep on trusting, whatever happens. And one day, I am sure, ‘God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ (Revelation 7:17)

May we all carry such a hope in our hearts, as we live out our days here with our eyes fixed on the Lord, knowing this is not the end but only the beginning.

Read Full Post »