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Posts Tagged ‘china cabinet’

It is a grey Sunday afternoon, in the middle of our strict, Sydney lockdown. I sit at the table in our living room, idly wondering what to do next. I have various options, but I am too unmotivated to take any of them up. Instead, I sit and stare, almost frozen into inaction. It is as if those restrictions in the world outside our four walls are reaching inside me too, shutting down my heart and mind and restricting any creative thoughts I may have.

I take a deep breath and, as I do, the first few words of Psalm 23, read again recently, come to mind.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

My soul does indeed feel a little weary right now. Day after day, we hear news of ever-growing numbers of COVID cases in our city. Week after week, we cannot go to visit family members. And, one by one, events I was looking forward to participating in or speaking at are cancelled.

Yet, as I sit there in the silence, I hear God’s gentle but insistent whisper. Look around you, Jo-Anne. Look at all you have and be thankful!

I gather my thoughts together and try to focus. My eyes settle first on some things right in front of me on the table. I see an excellent, helpful book I am reading, while next to it lies a pen and a book of crossword puzzles. I love words—and I love challenging myself to work out the answers to those rather cryptic clues. And there is my steaming cup of tea too, along with a buttered scone—simple, heart-warming pleasures. Yes, Lord, I truly am grateful for each of these things and the joy they are giving me right now.

I lift my eyes then and notice my precious, old piano, inherited from my grandparents, with its lid up and some music open, as if waiting to be brought to life. Even as I glance across at it, so many memories come flooding back of hours playing this same piano in my grandparents’ home as a child. And I know God is reminding me to be so thankful for these memories—and for that fact that I can still play and enjoy doing so.

My eyes continue to roam around the room. I see comfortable lounge chairs, a TV, family photos and some precious, little possessions in a nearby china cabinet. The room is warm on this cold afternoon and I glance up at our very effective reverse cycle air conditioner. Once again, I hear that whisper in my spirit. Look at all you have, Jo-Anne—and be thankful.

Then I gaze out through our balcony doors to the shrubs and trees beyond, their various shapes etched against the sky. They look so green and vibrant, even on this dull day, and remind me that, whatever is happening everywhere right now, God’s natural world out there is so still amazingly beautiful.

Yes, Lord, despite everything, I know you are still watching over me, still caring about me, still longing to lead me and to restore my soul. You are my faithful, ever-present shepherd—and I am so thankful.

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I never cease to be amazed at the neat things God does in my life. Just when I least expect it, I am surprised yet again with some kind act or some special insight that leaves me gobsmacked.

This past weekend, I found myself trying to round off that final chapter of my current work in progress—a non-fiction book, entitled Coming Home to Myself. Should be simple, right? Hmm—wrong! Instead, I found myself writing several paragraphs, then deleting them—over and over again. I swapped them around. I shortened them. I split them up. But nothing seemed to flow well.

As you might imagine, I became somewhat frustrated. I have struck difficult patches in my writing before, but this time, it all seemed particularly confusing. Eventually, I stood up and declared out loud, in a firm voice, ‘This is enough!’ I then prayed, still out loud, asking God to show me the way forward. Almost immediately, the thought came to go to our china cabinet and get out my set of five wooden Russian ‘babushka’ dolls I bought at a market stall in London years ago, simply because I loved them. I had always envisaged these dolls featuring on the cover of my book. In fact, I mention them in my introduction, since, to me, they depict my own journey over the years, as God has gently removed various self-protective layers from my life and enabled me to become who I believe I was created to be. But I had never thought of mentioning them again, to conclude my book.

P1030938I took them back to my desk and lined them up. The words began to flow, almost carrying me along with them. Then, as I wrote, out of the blue, I remembered how I had once dropped the smallest doll of the set and how I had been unable to find it for years. Then one day when we moved the whole china cabinet, there it was, right at the back underneath it. I had forgotten that whole experience, but saw immediately how it fitted in so well with the theme of my final two paragraphs, which stresses the importance of not losing sight of who we are at the very centre of our being—that person made in the image of God, created to show something of God to the world in our own unique way.

I almost laughed with joy as I wrote. How freeing it was, as those words flowed out! I could feel the lightness in my spirit and such a sense of the fullness of God in me. Surely God had prompted me to stand firm against that overwhelming confusion, to get out those Russian dolls and to remember, as I did, my experience of losing—and finding—that littlest doll all those years ago. Again, I knew I had been privileged to experience another touch of God’s amazing love and grace in my life, just when I least expected it and in a way I could never have envisaged.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

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