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Posts Tagged ‘Genesis 1:27’

IMG_20190418_100541803Recently, I did something I have wanted to do for a long time. I bought an original painting at an art exhibition. I already own two lovely paintings—one of the Charles Bridge in Prague which featured in my very first novel and another my brother-in-law painted for my seventieth birthday of a street scene in Paris. Yet I have always dreamt of roaming around myself at an art exhibition until I found that special something that spoke to me in a deep, personal way. And that is exactly what happened.

Since the artist, Jo Sterland, was standing nearby, I decided to ask her what had inspired this particular painting. I discovered it was titled ‘The Change of Season’, with the rich purples and blues depicting the past contrasting with the bright tangerine splashes of colour in the foreground, speaking of vibrant, new life—and in between, the white, swirling cloud of change and uncertainty but also hope, so often felt in moving from one season to the next in our lives. Jo also explained that this particular painting had come into being during a time spent listening to God, alongside other artists with a similar heart for God, and endeavouring to follow those gentle promptings of the Spirit to paint in a certain way.

At that point, my eyes filled with tears. I understand the concept of listening to God as I write, so to paint in this way resonated with me. I also understand well those change of seasons in our lives, having moved from one career to another several times over and having put aside a beloved ministry role at one stage, only to have God give me the awesome privilege of becoming a published author. But I sensed God was speaking to me for the here and now too, reminding me of past blessings but also reassuring me of joys to come and future answers to prayer.

At this exhibition, it was wonderful to witness the fulfilment the artists experienced through displaying their works for us. Inwardly, I applauded them for their courage in baring their heart and soul in this way and risking rejection in the process. But if these artists had not been prepared to put their work on public display and offer it up for God to use, I for one would have missed out. And so would those vulnerable women and their families in Thailand, towards whose support and care the money raised from the sale of these artworks is going.

Each of us is creative in some way. Yes, I have met a good number who say they do not have a creative bone in their body! Yet surely, if we are all made in the image of God, the Creator of our amazing universe, that cannot be the case.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them Genesis 1:27

I wonder what creative gift you have that reflects something of God to the world in your own unique way? Did you perhaps put it aside for a season? Is it time to change that? May you find great joy and fulfilment as you dust it off, listen to God and offer it to us all again!

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I have been thinking a lot about faces recently for several reasons. Firstly, my fifth novel, ‘Heléna’s Legacy’, is due for release in about a week – and featured on the front is the face of one of the main characters in the novel. This was something I vowed and declared I would never agree to with any of my novels. I like my readers to imagine their own heroes and heroines. After all, many of us have no doubt been disappointed in how the main characters in our favourite books are depicted when seeing the movie adaptation of the stories.

Yet on this occasion, the particular image chosen by the graphic artist seems to convey something of the conflicting emotions my character, Doctor Susan Curtis, experiences in the novel. There is a kind of pensive, wistful air about her that appeals to me – and I hope to my readers as well. (For more information, please visit my website, www.jo-anneberthelsen.com).

My second reason for my focus on faces is that this past week, a rare event occurred for me. I was treated to a blissful facial at the salon where our daughter works! Such things usually come my way only by virtue of a birthday or Christmas present – but I do enjoy them. I experienced the tender, loving care our daughter took of my skin and other facial features – and I must admit I was ashamed of how little I do in this regard. After all, I am made in the image of God, as Genesis 1:27 tells me, so I need to do what I can to honour God through my appearance as well as through my life and the words I say.

But my third reason for thinking of faces – and the reason for the above facial – is that our lovely beauty therapist daughter, Tina, celebrated her wedding last Saturday evening. She was married overseas in February but this was the first opportunity she and her husband, Kofi, have had to celebrate with friends here. Someone commented recently that Tina and Kofi are a ‘shining couple’ – and they did both looked radiant on the night. Their faces clearly displayed their happiness at being together and their joy that they could celebrate with friends and family.

So these events caused me to wonder just how much my joy at being a child of God and the peace and happiness I have as a result truly show on my own face. I know outward appearances aren’t everything. They don’t seem to matter much to God, who, as 1 Samuel 16:7 says, prefers to look at our heart instead. And of course all of us go through difficult periods when it’s hard to look particularly joyful. But if my face is completely miserable most of the time, or has a hard, critical expression, surely that doesn’t convey a very positive picture of God to the world at large?

Some of us have more interesting and attractive features than others – and there’s little we can do about that. But I hope I do my best with what I have to shine forth God’s love and grace to those around me. I hope in some small measure that I mirror the face of God to them, so that no stumbling block is put in their way and that they will long to seek his face themselves with all their hearts (Psalm 27:8; 105:4).

How about you?

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One Sunday recently, I found myself part of an interesting lunch-time conversation. We had just consumed the most amazing meal, which our friend, a mother of five young children, had somehow managed to serve us, despite having been at church most of the morning. In complimenting her on her fantastic effort, we mentioned how she is following in the footsteps of her mother, also a wonderful cook.

‘Yes,’ her husband said then. ‘It’s always important to take a good look at your girlfriend’s mother before proposing.’

Now on the surface, his words could have been taken as a compliment. But it was the rolling of his eyes, the resignation on his face and his doleful tone that conveyed something quite different. And the muffled chuckles of other family members reinforced his opinion. You see, our friend’s mother is a great person, but is also known to talk – quite a lot!

I felt sorry for our friend. The comment seemed quite a ‘put down’ to me. Had her husband merely been trying to lighten the moment with his particular sense of humour or perhaps shift the focus onto himself, I wondered? But no, I suspect he was at least partly serious.

‘It’s strange, isn’t it,’ I therefore responded sweetly, ‘how men make these comments about their wives. Have you ever considered that a woman might be well advised to look carefully at her prospective partner’s father before deciding to spend the rest of her life with him?’

My words were greeted with stunned silence and also some surprise. Obviously the males present had not thought about this possibility. Hopefully without being too judgmental, dare I say sexism was still alive and well around that table?

Yet our friend’s comment made me think – and this time along much more spiritual lines! Certainly, his wife resembles her mother, yet, knowing both her parents, I could also see glimpses of her father in her. And I was glad she reflected them both in ways that honoured them and their influence on her life. But she also reflected something of God to me, I felt, with her warm, friendly smile and the gracious, caring way she welcomed us after not having seen her for so many years.

Now I know I too am like my parents in various ways, both positive and negative, but how much do I reflect my heavenly Father in my daily life in a way that honours him? Do people see God in me in the words I write and speak? I am created in God’s image, Genesis 1:27 tells us, but just how clear is that image and ‘family likeness’ to those around me?

In 2 Corinthians 3: 18, after commenting how we reflect the Lord’s glory as we gaze on him, Paul maintains we ‘are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’ Yes, we were all created in God’s image, both male and female – but something happened. Sin entered the world and that image became marred and blurred. Yet as we choose to become part of God’s family again, keeping our eyes on the Lord, his Spirit will transform us more and more into his likeness. So God’s image is slowly being restored in me as I cooperate with his Spirit.

Now that sounds pretty amazing and wonderful to me. How about you?

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It happens to be my birthday this week – and yes, that definitely indicates I’m getting older!  Now I can let that mournful truth affect me in either of two ways.  I can be discouraged, decide I’ve done enough and slow down a little in my writing and speaking endeavours – or I can be encouraged, redouble my efforts and forge ahead, knowing I have even less time to complete all those novels in my mind that are waiting to burst onto the page.

I’ve decided I’m choosing the latter.  In 2010, I will put my best foot forward once again to speak wherever I’m invited about God and about writing in whatever ‘mix’ seems appropriate.  And I’m also aiming to complete my sixth novel, which has patiently waited in the wings these past few months when I have been too busy with other things.  Not that I know myself yet exactly how my characters are going to develop and what they actually will want to do in the end.  I think I know – but I might be wrong.  And I can’t wait to find out!

But how about you?  What unique contribution does God have for you to make to the lives of those around you this year?  Because each of us has something to offer, however little we believe that.  Just today I received a very apt birthday card in the mail, featuring a quote from Max Lucado that says:

Your life has a plot; your years have a theme. You can do something in a manner that no one else can.

I didn’t always believe that, particularly the last part.  I think that many years of my life were spent trying to be like someone else or trying to be the sort of person I thought God wanted me to be, without ever realising it was okay to relax and fully be the person I had been made to be in the first place.  Some time back I read some interesting words written by psychologist and spiritual retreat leader David Benner in his book ‘The Gift of Being Yourself’:

(Our true self) is the image of God that you are – the unique face of God that has been set aside from eternity for you.

That’s a sobering but amazing thought, isn’t it?  Each one of us, created uniquely in the image of God, as Genesis 1:27 talks about, is given the ability to mirror God to the world in a completely unique way as a result.  No one else is going to write my books.  No one else is going to speak exactly as I do and will.  No one else will relate to others or work or care for people or simply live the exact same way as you do.  Each of us has the opportunity to show the world something of God in a unique way.

Are you up for the challenge in 2010?  Whatever your age – go for it!

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Someone read me a beautiful poem recently that contains what I believe is one of the most important questions we could ever be asked.  The poem is ‘A Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver and ends this way:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Well, my life doesn’t quite fit the bill of being ‘wild and precious’, you might be tempted to say.  But just stop and think a minute.  I’m not sure exactly what Mary Oliver meant by ‘wild’ – yet isn’t it true that each morning when we wake up we face a whole raft of possibilities for the day ahead?  Whatever our role in life, each morning we can choose afresh how we act, how we approach the various situations that confront us, how we will respond to others along the way.  And if we consider God to be a vital part of our life, then the journey becomes even more interesting and full of possibilities.  That’s pretty wild, I reckon.

Recently, a woman who had nursed elderly people for many years commented on radio that one of the things in her experience people most regretted at the end of their lives was that they had not grasped the opportunities presented to them along the way or, in other words, had not taken more risks.  I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want to get to the end of my life and feel I had not attempted the ‘wild’ things God might have called me to do.  I have gifts and abilities.  You have gifts and abilities that can be used for good to bless and encourage others.  We all do.

And yes, my life and your life are definitely ‘precious’.  Each of us is unique.  Each of us is made in God’s image, according to Genesis 1:27.  And each of us has one opportunity to be all we were created to be, to have a positive impact in this world, to make a difference.

That inspires me to listen to God’s leading each day, to invest myself more fully in what I have been given to do, to try my best to honour God with this particular moment of my ‘one wild and precious life’.

I hope you find Mary Oliver’s question equally fascinating and challenging.

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