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Posts Tagged ‘drought in Australia’

Jo 17Last week, in preparation for speaking somewhere on Australia Day, I went on a little foray back into our nation’s history—and also into the depths of my brain, as I tried to remember what we learnt at school about Captain Arthur Phillip and Botany Bay and Port Jackson and such like. How amazing that, after eight months of sailing across thousands of kilometres of ocean, those eleven ships of the First Fleet managed to arrive within a few days of one another! But can you imagine being tossed around in the depths of a small, wooden ship for eight long months, scared, starving—and probably sick too? I feel ill even thinking about it!

No wonder the first chaplain to the new colony, Reverend Richard Johnson, chose some verses from Psalm 116 as the text for his first sermon here a week later—in particular, verse 12, which he would have read from the King James Version:

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?

Or, as the New International Version puts it:

How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?

Perhaps some of those present—particularly convicts—might not have felt as thankful as Richard Johnson did. How had God been good to them? Here they were on the other side of the world and so unsure what lay ahead for them. I read about the youngest convict to reach our shores—a nine-year-old boy, transported for stealing. I wonder what his life had been like before that and what happened to him as he grew up in New South Wales. Others too seem to have been sentenced so unjustly, then suffered further injustices after arriving here.

Yet the writer of Psalm 116—most likely David—had been in equally terrible situations. And his response here is a very moving, heartfelt song of thankfulness to God. So, as I read it through several times, I began to think about my own response to all God has done for me over the years. How thankful have I been for God’s constant rescuing, providing, comforting, healing and guiding, along with so many other things?

Verse 7 seemed to challenge me the most:

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

Yes, I can be at rest. God provided for and sustained me in the past—and God will do the same in the future. It irks me a little at times when I hear people say things like ‘Oh, God was so good to me—I found a car park easily.’ Or ‘But God was good and I didn’t miss my bus.’ No doubt they are simply expressing their thanks to God, but I am often tempted to pipe up, ‘So does that mean God was bad when you couldn’t find a car park or did miss your bus?’ Of course not. God does not change (Malachi 3:6). God will remain faithful and I can therefore be at peace.

God is good—all the time. In the midst of widespread drought in our country when bushfires rage and people lose so much, even their very lives, God is still good. One day we will understand. But for now, let’s keep on trusting God—all the time.

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Jo 17During the school holidays in particular, I am thankful for the lovely heated pool and spa in our village. Usually, our two younger grandchildren enjoy being taken there, but one day recently, our grandson elected to play games at home with Granddad instead.

Meanwhile, his sister Maxine and I headed for the pool. Almost two hours later, as we were still bobbing around there, the cleaning lady arrived to mop out the change rooms.

‘She’s like Cinderella!’ Maxine announced after a while.

‘Pardon? … What do you mean?’

‘Well—she has to do all the work!’

Of course! Why didn’t I see that connection immediately? I laughed, then pointed out that must mean we’re the Ugly Sisters!

Later, however, I began to reflect on Maxine’s immediate response to the scene before her. She loves those old fairy tales, especially the ones featuring beautiful heroines with long, flowing hair. So far these holidays, along with the inevitable, more recent Frozen, we have watched DVDs of Snow White and Tangled (the story of Rapunzel), some more than once. We have also read different versions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and such like together over the years. And recently, Maxine even managed to cajole her granddad and me into acting out one of these stories with her—this time, Little Red Riding Hood, including cutting that big, bad wolf open with relish, stuffing stones in him and sewing him up again with a flourish! These stories have well and truly made their way into Maxine’s imaginative little mind and continue to play out there in technicolour—for her, it’s natural to think of Cinderella immediately, when she sees a cleaning lady working hard, with no one helping!

All this caused me to reflect again on the power of story and on the fact that Jesus chose to use stories at times as he taught (see Matthew 13). I have read them often, yet how deeply have I allowed them to impact my mind and spirit? How much have they changed the way I see the world and the way I respond immediately to situations around me?

I thought back then over some of these stories Jesus told—the parable of the sower, the good Samaritan, the lost sheep, the unmerciful servant, the wedding banquet. As I see people in need, such as right now, with our bushfires and drought, have I been shaped into thinking immediately of the good Samaritan? Am I prepared to put myself out and give in a costly way—or am I more like that Pharisee who stayed at a safe distance? In my life, am I still acting like that unmerciful servant who was happy to receive the king’s forgiveness, yet did not extend that same forgiveness to another? Or have I allowed God’s mercy to transform me and flow onto those around me? Am I like that dry ground in the parable of the sower where the seeds could not take root? Or have I truly softened my heart and provided a fertile space where the things God says can flourish, bear fruit and bless others?

In 2020, may I remember Jesus’ parables and internalise them more and more. And may Jesus open my eyes too to see the ‘Cinderellas’ around me and reach out to any who need comfort, help and understanding.

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