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Posts Tagged ‘God does not change’

Jo 17One night last week, I went to bed early to read, but in the end, did not feel like concentrating on all those words. Instead, I decided to relax and try to stop recycling the disturbing issues in my mind that had been fuelled by the many negative news reports I had heard on TV. And these days, that can be a little hard, don’t you find?

I lay there in the half dark, listening to the sound of our TV from the lounge. Often all I can hear is the monotone voice of some expert on planes or machines or battles that my husband enjoys listening to—surely enough to send anyone to sleep? Or it might be the sound of laughter from some comedy show. But this time, it was neither of these things. This time, it was a simple but beautiful old hymn, written by Charlotte Elliott in 1835:

Just as I am, without one plea,

but that Thy blood was shed for me,

and that Thou bidst me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

When I first heard these lines as a fifteen-year-old, I am sure I did not understand fully what they meant. One way of putting them today might be: ‘Jesus, the only grounds I have for coming to you are that you died for me and that you tell me to. I have nothing else of my own to plead my cause.’ But back then, all I knew was that I had to get to the front of the meeting room as fast as I could, because Jesus was calling me and I wanted with all my heart to be close to him. In that moment, I was overwhelmed by the truth that I mattered to Jesus—that he knew me and loved me so much, exactly as another verse of this hymn says:

Just as I am, Thy love unknown

has broken every barrier down.

Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

What a joy then, having felt so tired and disheartened, to lie in bed and hear this wonderful reminder of how Jesus’ love drew me to him all those years ago—to be taken back to the beginning of my journey as a Christian in an instant and to realise how faithful God has been to me through the years!

I realised too that, in one way, nothing has changed since then. Jesus certainly hasn’t—and here I am, still so thankful he loves me and that I belong to him. Yet, in another way, everything has changed. That day, I was made new. That day, my life took on a clear purpose—to live for God. And over the years, Jesus has been so patient with me, as I have sought to grow in my faith and know him better.

… anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Today, as so many disturbing things are happening in the world around us, may you too be able to rest in the simple truths that Jesus loves you, that you belong to him and that he will never let you go.

 

 

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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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