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Posts Tagged ‘God the Creator’

I had arrived bright and early at a nearby bookstore to promote my books. As I settled in, I wondered what adventures awaited me. From past experience—and also because I and others had prayed—I knew there would be at least one special ‘God appointment’ with someone that day. And that is exactly what happened. Four or five times as I chatted with various customers, I sensed God connecting our spirits in a way that is hard to describe. It might have been for only a fleeting moment, but I knew something was happening outside of or beyond the words I was saying.

At one stage, I began talking with a young woman who was a little hard to understand at first. Her voice was soft and she wore a mask, but English was obviously quite a challenge for her too. I explained about my books, but could see she was still mystified. Eventually, she picked up a copy of Becoming Me and we talked about receiving God’s love and about understanding who God created us to be. She opened up a little more then, telling me in her faltering English about her husband who suffered from depression but was now doing better. Then she took the book to a spot where she could sit down and glance through it.

Later, however, she returned it, telling me she wanted something that would explain things more or teach her about it all. But then, as she went to leave, she thanked me sincerely in her soft, gentle voice for listening to her—for simply listening! Even though her eyes just peeked over her mask, I could see such gratitude in them and also that she was trying hard not to cry. I will never forget those pleading eyes and my heart went out to her yet again, as I silently prayed for God’s love and grace to fill her and meet her needs.

We can’t all be in bookstores, promoting our books, but most of us at least connect with others during our weeks, however fleetingly, either in person or by phone or some other way. I certainly do, not only in my own home but also in the village where we live, as well as wider afield. So… how do I act then when talking with others? How well do I show respect for them by truly listening? How carefully do I take note of their tone of voice, their manner, their facial expression—and particularly their eyes? How often do I put their needs first, instead of thinking of my own or of what clever comment I myself might make next?

This week, I came across the following blunt proverb in my Bible:

 He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame. Proverbs 18:13

What an important warning—to me and to us all! How much better if we were to be ‘quick to listen and slow to speak’ instead (James 1:19). And how much better too if we were to listen more to the voice of Jesus our Shepherd as we engage with others and follow the leading of the one who knows us all so well (John 10:27). Perhaps then we would remember to give that gift of listening more often, don’t you think?

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Each day, I suspect I somehow often miss those many little moments of miracle that can remind us God is still alive and active everywhere. It might be the sound of birds in the trees outside our window, as we wake in the morning. It might be the smell of something freshly baked, filling our home. It might be the sight of a rosebush covered in beautiful, fragrant blooms. Yet often, my mind is so preoccupied that I fail to see these little touches of grace in my life.

One Sunday morning during our Sydney lockdown, I decided to lie in bed for a while instead of getting up. Yes, I had things to do and a church service to watch online, but I felt quite tired and demotivated. So many thoughts ran through my mind of things I was concerned about—and soon I found myself feeling more than a little gloomy.

Eventually, however, I got up and proceeded with my day. But when I returned to our bedroom after breakfast, I stopped suddenly in the doorway. There in front of me, across the bedspread, I saw an ever-changing shadow pattern of small leaves and branches, as the trees outside our window swayed in the breeze.

At first, I thought, ‘How silly to stand here watching this mundane, everyday event!’ Yet I was mesmerised. I then walked over to our windows and gazed up at the trees, silhouetted against a beautiful, blue sky. I noticed the different shades of green in their foliage. I marvelled at the variety of shapes and sizes of their leaves. And I thanked God, not only for my little glimpse of creation in its natural state but also the added bonus of that special, ever-changing pattern on our bedspread.

Then my mind went to the events of the previous afternoon. We had driven into the city to pick up our friend from a quarantine hotel, but we had not navigated our way into this area for many years. We allowed a certain length of time to get there, but were a little nervous about it all. We did not want to arrive earlier than our friend’s allotted departure time, as we knew there was nowhere to park. And we knew too those alert security guards and hotel staff and policemen and even army personnel would not let us hang around.

We arrived a few minutes early to be told that, if our friend was there already, we could stop. Otherwise, we would have to find a park elsewhere or drive around again. Eek! Then, as we began to leave, we suddenly saw her—she had left her room a little early and was outside waiting. Almost to our bewilderment, everything went so smoothly in the end.

Now we could have congratulated ourselves on our cleverness at managing things so well. Yet surely God was there with us in that moment of reunion and had guided us all along? Surely this too was another gentle touch of grace from God’s hand?

I hope I don’t miss too many more of these moments in my life when God reminds me who is in charge and always will be.

How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:2 NLT

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I quite enjoy driving long distances by myself. There is something special about being alone in my car in a kind of bubble with God, listening to music or praying aloud or just enjoying God’s presence. And what makes it even more special is the opportunity to gaze out at the beautiful countryside I am driving through, noting the often dramatic changes in the landscape and marvelling at God’s creativity on display all around me.

This past weekend, I found myself heading west from Sydney to the beautiful town of Orange. I have always loved driving up into the Blue Mountains. Yet again, I feasted my eyes on those vistas of tree-covered slopes, of valleys shrouded in blue haze and of old stone settlers’ cottages and holiday venues from a bygone era. But it was as I crested that mountain range and began to descend to the sloping plains beyond, stretching as far as the eye could see, that my mind was blown yet again with the vastness of it all. And as the road wended its way further west, across smaller ranges and down into rich farming valleys, God seemed to be all around me, in and outside that car, overwhelming me with his own vastness.

I am so thankful for that experience. I am in the midst of a very busy month of speaking—and at these times I can often forget the bigger picture and become overwhelmed with all that has to be attended to. I can even lose sight of why I am doing everything I’m doing, until things become more of a chore than a joy. But my journey over those mountains put a dramatic stop to that, ministering to my spirit in several ways.

Firstly, seeing God’s hand of creativity in such an undeniable way around me enabled me to pull back, focus on that bigger picture again and realise God is quite able to use my speaking and writing to encourage others. I am in the hands of a great, great God, after all.

Secondly, at my destination, I met with a body of women who love the Lord and endeavour to serve God where they are. Some face big challenges right now and others are on the brink of changes that will impact them greatly. And again I saw what a privilege I have to speak into others’ lives and encourage them in some way.

Thirdly, I glimpsed again the power of a written story. One lady had travelled some distance to hear me speak because two of my books had touched her so deeply. How could I ignore God’s encouragement via this dear person to hold fast to the vision I have been given and to believe my books can make a difference?

Yes, I journeyed over physical mountains this past weekend with God. But I suspect I surmounted some inner obstacles as well. People, we have a great God—a God who will help us climb those mountains in our lives and stand victorious till the end!

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. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. Psalm 18:31-33

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Zain four days oldIt has been six years since I last held a newborn baby. In that time, I seem to have forgotten how tiny and how amazing these little people are. So imagine my awe today as I held our new little grandson, Zain, for the first time!

Now of course he is the most gorgeous baby boy there has ever been. He has the cutest little face and lovely, long fingers and toes, despite his weighing only a little over three kilo. But that’s nothing compared to his ears! You see, because Zain’s father is Ghanaian, this little one has a lovely dark tinge to his skin. So at present, each little fold of his ears is a different, dusky shade somewhere between black and white. For all the world, as our older daughter commented, it looks as if this little one can’t quite decide which colour he wants to be right now!

But as I examined our new little man more carefully, I realised the same awe was welling up inside me that I had felt when our own children were born. All those years ago, I remember looking down at each of them, overwhelmed at our God who could create such a beautiful, perfect, intricately made little human being and enable this little one to develop and grow right inside me, entering this world through my own body. What an amazing, overwhelming act of creativity from an amazingly creative God!

Yet more than that, here I was holding a new little person created in the image of God, so full of promise and with all sorts of inbuilt potential for doing amazing things in the years to come. And I was overwhelmed all over again with the incredible privilege of it all and the depth of trust God had shown in us as parents to give this new little one into our care.

So at this time, what do I pray for my daughter and her husband and their new little one? Well, I pray for them as parents that they will walk closely with God throughout their lives, modelling God’s love and grace and forgiveness to little Zain. I pray they will be filled with God’s wisdom and listen to the guidance of the Spirit within them in all the decisions ahead of them in his upbringing. And I pray for Zain, that he will grow up to be a strong man of God, living a life of compassion, creativity, honour and integrity and becoming all God purposes him to be.

But how amazing and reassuring it is to realise that our God who created him and knew him even before he was born also knows all about what the years ahead will hold for him. In Psalm 139:13-16 we read:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

So Lord, may our Zain pray those words one day for himself. May they rise up from a heart full of reverence and love for you. May this little one who has been created in your image and likeness be conformed more and more to your image in the years ahead. And may your beautiful, gracious and creative heart flow out of him, bringing new life and new hope to many. Amen

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