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Posts Tagged ‘experiencing God’s love’

P1040053Recently, while digging out my old high school magazines from the sixties for a friend, I noticed again our school motto, ‘Scientia est potestas’—‘Knowledge is power’. The school had an excellent academic record and, as a result, there were plenty of high achievers who later made it into all sorts of fields—education, politics, business and so on—including a Governor-General and a few other people of note. While I might not have ended up a person of any great note, I did my best to acquire lots of knowledge and succeed in all my studies.

Seeing that old high school motto reminded me of my primary school one as well—‘Striving to progress’. And, digging a little further, I found my old primary school reports, glued inside an ancient exercise book. Yes, I certainly did ‘strive to progress’, always taking great pride in being top of the class.

I am so thankful for my sound academic background. But I suspect that, in all of the striving towards progress and gaining of knowledge and aiming for excellence, I became more than a tad perfectionist in my approach to things. Perhaps that’s one reason I now find the whole idea of inner peace from God so attractive and write about it often. And perhaps that’s why I resonated with a little phrase I read recently in Emily Freeman’s book Grace for the Good Girl. After sharing about a talk she heard on Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha’s home (Luke 10), which included encouragement to receive the gift of rest, she writes:

I wanted to give myself permission to sit down on the inside and live like I have a God who knows what he’s doing. (p 65)

Isn’t that a wonderful phrase—‘sit down on the inside’? Does that concept resonate with you? To me, it speaks of heaving a big sigh and relaxing every part of me, knowing I am totally accepted and loved by God. To me, it’s the opposite of letting my mind dart here and there, worrying about all sorts of possibilities, and, instead, resting in God with complete trust. Yes, I need to strive to move forward with my writing and speaking, but there is a way of doing this, I believe, that is characterised by peace and trust in God rather than inner angst.

These days too, I seem drawn to those verses about peace in the Bible with enough regularity to cause me to think God wants me to take good note of them. Recently, I noted Jesus’ wonderful words to his disciples—words I believe that are meant for all of us:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Then this past week, I came across the Apostle Paul’s final blessing to the Thessalonians:

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

May we all know that peace-giving presence of the Lord with us as we practise the art of sitting down on the inside.

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If there were a degree in playground assessment, I reckon my husband would pass it with honours. He well knows the various criteria that must be met as far as playgrounds go, according to which grandchild one is trying to entertain. The equipment has to be suitable for the child’s age—not too adventurous and not too boring. It is preferable for there to be some shade. There has to be good parking nearby. And it also helps if said playground is not too far away.

P1030367AAnother plus is the presence of a particular piece of equipment we call the ‘basket swing’—that is, a shallow, basket-like circle made of some webbed material attached via chains to the apex of a strong support structure that enables it to swing in all sorts of directions. In past years, our two older granddaughters loved swinging together in one of these. Now our grandson lies back just like they did and is happy to be pushed for as long as Granddad has energy to do so. Sometimes he even goes to sleep in the process. Zain, that is—not Granddad!

I thought of this swing recently when I came across some words in Isaiah, which, while spoken to the people of Zion, God’s chosen children, surely also apply to God’s children today:

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

What has this verse to do with basket swings, you may well ask. To my mind, lying back in a basket swing is a wonderful picture of what I believe it means to truly rest in God’s unfailing love. Just as our grandchildren relax and enjoy the ride in this swing, trusting Granddad to keep on pushing faithfully and in a way that is safe for them, so I know I can trust the Lord to be there for me and to go on loving me, whatever might lie ahead.

Yet it is one thing to agree God loves us with an unfailing love but quite another to live as if we actually believe it, I have discovered. Why do I sit here, for example, worrying about so many things if I know the Lord has such compassion for me and is able to keep me in a place of peace, even if everything falls apart around me? Why do I so often forget about God’s amazing love for me that will never, ever waver, however much or little people might value me as a writer and speaker?

So … as 2015 begins, once again I choose live my life secure in that basket of God’s unwavering love, knowing God understands me perfectly, values me so much and will provide for me, whatever happens in the coming year and beyond. When those doubts and fears come flooding in, I plan to choose to rest back in those loving ‘basket swing’ arms of God and allow that unshakeable love to consume me once again.

If you find yourself feeling a little shaky as you look to the year ahead, may you too experience that unshakeable love of the Lord once again that will never fail you, whatever happens.

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I’m on the home run – I think – with my first non-fiction book Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey, due for release in October by Even Before Publishing. A few days ago, the first layout version of the book arrived for me to check through and to get someone else to proofread as well. Now I know from past experience with my previous books how essential this meticulous proofreading is. But each time, I find such experiences somewhat disconcerting. As I discover this little mistake and that little oversight, I ask myself how these could ever have escaped my attention – as well as the attention of my two manuscript readers/editors – during our numerous checks prior to this. They seem so obvious now. Admittedly, some always tend to creep in during the editing process – as one thing is changed, so another is affected without noticing. And sometimes things happen as the manuscript is imported into a different program. But I know they will be there – I don’t assume anything with my work these days.

This time around, however, my experience has been even more interesting in that each day this week we have minded our five-month-old grandson. Can you picture him sitting on my lap, a little unhappy for some reason or another, reaching out his cute little hands towards my keyboard? Can you imagine my attempts to type sensible comments with one hand, while holding him firmly with the other?

Nevertheless, I have now succeeded in finishing it. Yet I am left with this weird feeling inside. Are there other mistakes I should have noticed? Are there more clumsy sentences I should have changed, even at this late stage? Have I acknowledged everything I should have acknowledged? Does the book do my lovely spiritual mentor justice? After all, this book is about the spiritual journey I have enjoyed with her over the past fifteen years – it reflects on her as well as on me.

And then as I reach for my Bible in order to sit in the sun and let God’s Word minister to me, even before I open it, I am reminded again of God’s amazing grace. God has been right beside me, through all the challenges of this week. And right now, God is saying a wonderful ‘Well done’ to me at another task completed to the best of my ability.

Yet as I let my mind relax and focus fully on God, I am reminded of another even deeper truth. Every day of my life, God sees my mistakes – my impatient words to a family member, my self-focus, my complaining about this or that, my self-doubt, my forgetting others who need my support. Yet God never gives up on me but continues to reach out in love, to forgive, to urge me on to do better. From God’s perspective, all my mistakes are gone. As Psalm 103:11-13 says:

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him …

There are no hidden mistakes with God. God sees. God knows. God loves. God forgives. I still find that so amazing and freeing – and I pray with all my heart you do too.

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