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Posts Tagged ‘Creator of the universe’

This week, one of our daughters is moving house. She will have more room where she is going, so already she has bought more pieces of furniture to fill this space and that. She is looking forward to making her new place feel like home and to tidying up the messy garden that was neglected by previous tenants. Soon this house will feel warm and welcoming to her. And soon, no doubt, she will truly enjoy have guests over to visit and possibly even to stay for a while.

It has been some time since those of us in Sydney have been able to have guests come and stay, especially from interstate. It can be a lovely experience, can’t it, having visitors in our home? But it can also become irksome, if that sharing of our home goes on for a little too long. Some time ago, I heard of someone whose adult child needed a home, ostensibly just for a few weeks. But those weeks turned into months and months until, one joyous day, she finally moved out to a place of her own. What a challenge, especially for introverts like me, to share our personal space with others for that length of time!

I love our home—a spacious, ground floor unit that is comfortable in every way—and the quietness here that enables me to write without distractions. But I also do enjoy sharing our home with others and making them comfortable while they are with us. Yet I wonder if this extended period of COVID restrictions has made me less able or perhaps even less willing to do so. I suspect in some ways in this time, I have come to guard this personal space of mine too strongly, to see my home as a place of safety where I can hole up from the outside world and wait out this crazy time in splendid isolation. And I suspect there may be times too when I try to do the same thing with God.

Recently, I read some words of Jesus where he tries to comfort his disciples before leaving them. In reply to a question from one of them, Jesus says:

If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23

At first, these words almost shocked me. Wow, I thought, do I really want God the Father and Jesus around all the time? What about when I want to have some space to do my own thing? But then I realised how silly such thinking is! Years and years ago, I gladly and freely invited them into my heart and life, to be with me forever. And what a joy that was—and still is. More than that, what an amazing privilege it is to have God, the Creator of the universe, willing to move into my life and take up residence in me, to live in me and through me each day! And what loving patience God must have to stay on, even when things get messy!

I’m so grateful God moved in all those years ago. May my wonderful House Guest always feel welcome and at home here, until that day when we actually meet face to face.

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Jo 17I wonder if you have ever tried to find your way around by car somewhere and become hopelessly lost. I clearly remember that happening to me once in a new suburb of western Sydney where there are endless roundabouts and the streets seem to head in so many different directions. But I also remember another occasion when, after speaking at a church in a gracious, old, northern Sydney suburb, I could not get my bearings at all. Eventually, I resorted to looking up Google maps on my phone and was soon rescued. Phew!

In recent weeks, two lots of visitors trying to find us here in Sydney have been led astray by their car’s GPS at exactly the same spot as each other. In both cases, that disembodied voice talking so nicely to them was insistent they could turn right off Windsor Road at a particular street, but there were two problems. Firstly, there was no street sign at the relevant spot, so how could our visitors know this was the right one to take? Secondly, once they had missed it, they discovered the next corner said ‘No Right Turn’—and the next—and the next! Admittedly, the small print on some of these did say right turns were allowed between certain hours. But how could anyone unused to Sydney traffic risk trying to drive and read that fine print? As a result, our visitors had to proceed to a main intersection further on, then backtrack to our home.

GPS navigation can be a wonderful help—a lifesaver, in fact. But it is not infallible. There are some problems even that polite, electronic lady cannot solve, such as disappearing street signs! Nor did she tell our visitors the little trick many people in our area use to get from Windsor Road to where we live, which is to turn left instead of right, then turn right into a side street and right again. Then we can drive straight across that busy main road and head on our merry way, untroubled by those ‘No Right Turn’ signs!

Afterwards, one of our visitors told us how she has opted to rely on a different sort of GPS as she travels around. You see, those letters may stand for ‘Global Positioning System’—but they also stand for ‘God’s Perfect Strategy’! Now this latter navigational system will never let us down, because God, as the eternal, all-knowing, all-loving and all-wise Creator of the universe, is well aware of those missing street signs and ‘No Right Turns’ in our lives. God knows when we are lost and confused. And our God is not about to let us flounder or go off track, as we continue to look to the Lord in our lives and listen to his voice.

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. 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. Psalm 18:30-32

I’m thankful for both sorts of GPS available to me—but particularly the latter! And I hope I’m getting just that little bit better at going exactly where God’s voice tells me to go.

 

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Maxine4We have a certain one-year-old granddaughter who has a knack of getting her own way—especially with her Nanna! Yes, our Maxine can now walk or climb or even run places. But sometimes it’s a different story. Sometimes she decides she wants to be picked up and carried—or simply held and cuddled, cheek to cheek, to her heart’s content!

At times, I can be working in the kitchen when she will come around the corner, whimpering a little, arms raised. Whatever I’m doing, she wants to be up there with me, seeing what is happening or merely being held. And when I try to meet her eyes, she carefully averts them, as if to say ‘There’s nothing wrong—I just wanted to be picked up! And I got my way—yay!’

There is one problem, however. I have yet to perfect the art of picking up Maxine in a way that does not damage my back any further. Yes, I know one is supposed to use one’s knees rather than bend at the waist. But … well, in the heat of the moment, I tend to forget. I bend and lift and bend and lift because … well, this is my granddaughter we’re talking about! Besides, she’s just so cute and cuddly!

There’s a lot of bending down involved in caring for young children, isn’t there? If it’s not picking them up, it’s getting them into car seats or helping take their shoes off or changing nappies or tidying up toys or cleaning up messes or doing any number of other tasks. One day they will be able to look after themselves—but not quite yet.

It was perhaps because of all this that I particularly noticed some beautiful, poetic words in Hosea 11:1-4 this past week about God’s amazing love for the children of Israel. God called them out of Egypt, strengthening them, teaching them and healing them so they could stand on their own two feet. Yet they still went astray and worshipped other gods. In verses 3-4, we read:

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.

What beautiful images these are of God’s ‘bending down’, as it were, in order to offer such patient nurturing to these Israelites! Here is God, the Creator and Lord of the Universe, pouring out such love on them, leading them to the Promised Land, setting them free, going to great lengths to feed them. And surely this is the same heart God still longs to show to each of us as we journey through life? How many times does God bend down to pick me up on a daily basis, hold me close, clean me up, set me on my feet again and help me walk forward in much greater freedom?

I hope I never take for granted God’s patient, loving nurture of me. This week, every time I bend down to pick up Maxine or care for her in some other way, may I remember to thank God for doing the same—and more—for me.

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Just think about it for a moment. This week, we remember an absolutely mind-boggling, earth-shaking event that will never cease to impact our world. As we sing about the Christ child born in a manger, we are acknowledging the fact that our Almighty God, Creator of the universe, chose to come to earth and be born as one of us. As Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, Jesus ‘did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness’.

How glibly the words of those Christmas carols can roll off our tongues and how easily we take this huge act of love for granted! Without that baby born in Bethlehem, we would all be lost—literally. ‘She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’, the angel told Joseph (Mt 1:21). Jesus, the Son of God and Saviour of the world, became Immanuel—God with us (Mt 1:23).

Out of love for us, God chose to send Jesus to reveal himself to us in human form. Jesus showed us what God the Father is like as he walked this earth, preaching the good news of salvation, healing the sick, driving out demons, raising the dead, teaching his disciples in word and deed how to live in the light of the new kingdom he came to establish. And when he died for us, he sent his Holy Spirit to be with us. Immanuel—God with us—forever.

One Christmas many years ago now, I was in a place of great indecision in my life, having taken on an exhausting job that did not fit me so well. I read again the beautiful words of Isaiah 9:6—For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. I knew straight away I needed to cry out to God for all the guidance and resources I needed and that I could do that because Jesus had become flesh and understood all my dilemmas. And I knew that Immanuel, God with us, the Prince of Peace, would give me the peace I longed for.

Whether you are in a place of indecision or of peace in your life, may the words of Isaiah 9:6 speak to your heart today too, along with the following poem I wrote at that time:

Wonderful Counsellor, surround me with your wisdom.

My mind is tired, with indecision torn.

Where is the path prepared for me to follow?

I need you, Lord, to watch, to guide, to warn.

Almighty God, defend me with your power.

My weakness wins, my courage ebbs away.

O Holy One, great Lord of all creation,

For strength to stand secure I humbly pray.

Everlasting Father, how you love me!

I am your child, forgiven, forever free!

O hold me fast, transform me to your likeness,

Till men in me your face more clearly see.

Prince of Peace, bestow your calm assurance.

My heart is troubled, turmoil takes control.

O send your soothing Spirit to surround me.

Speak, Lord, till I am still within my soul!

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