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Posts Tagged ‘God’s kindness’

‘We’ll show Mummy you can do something she says she can’t do!’ I told our two younger grandchildren blithely, before they came to spend the day with us. Now the moment had arrived. There was my sewing box, complete with needles, buttons and coloured thread. And there too was seven-year-old Maxine, needle in hand and eager to be shown how to sew a button on the piece of cloth I had given her.

After overcoming the problem of threading that pesky needle, Maxine did well at pushing her needle through the cloth, then carefully through each hole in the button and finally back down through the cloth. I tried to guide her needle close to her earlier stitches with minimal success, but we kept going. And soon she had repeated the process often enough that her button was well and truly attached to that cloth, after Nanna’s help to tie one final knot. Sure, it looked a mess on the underside, but fine on the side that really mattered! Two more buttons followed—and Maxine was soon quite chuffed with all her efforts.

I thought ten-year-old Zain might not want to join in, but when I reminded him how his dad does any mending needed in their family, he seemed more interested. Soon there he was too, carefully sewing on his first button. Despite usually having difficulty with fine motor skills, he managed to thread his own needle and also get it through the cloth and the hole in his button in one go—an impressive feat indeed. Then he chose a more challenging four-hole button and another after that, which he sewed on mostly by himself. Sure, his was a mess of dark thread on the underside too, but those buttons were indeed on there to stay.

At times as I sat frantically trying to rescue both children at once, I sensed a little niggle in my spirit that God wanted to show me something via this whole exercise, but I pushed it aside. Later, however, when I had time to reflect more, I felt I had been offered a gracious, little glimpse into my own sometimes stumbling journey with God.

As I reflected, the image in my mind of the tangled stitches beneath those buttons spoke to me of the messes in my own life at times. I might have looked good on the outside, but God has always seen beyond that to the confusion below and lovingly reached out to help. With much more patience than I could muster as I helped our grandchildren with their sewing, God has graciously rescued me from the tangles my own thoughts and actions have often created and has persevered in teaching and refining me and helping me grow. Sometimes, I have welcomed that help, like my grandchildren did—and sometimes I have not. Yet God has still persevered, weaving the threads of my life together in a much better and much more satisfying way than I ever could have.

I’m so glad we have a gracious, merciful God who is not fazed by messes, aren’t you?

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2

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It’s amazing how some little word or act of kindness can lift our spirits and change our day, isn’t it? Perhaps you may feel you have been lifting others up quite a lot instead lately, in this challenging, lockdown time. Yet we all need to receive as well and experience those special moments when our hearts feel a little lighter.

Recently, I dashed to our local fruit shop to buy some ingredients for our dinner, including parsley. But as I paid for my items, I fell into complaining mode.

‘I can’t believe I’m having to buy parsley,’ I told the girl at the checkout. ‘Right now, our daughter has heaps of it growing in her garden on the other side of Sydney, but of course that’s further than five kilometres away. And her parsley’s so lovely and flavoursome too.’

The girl smiled sympathetically, then looked thoughtful, as she adjusted her pretty, pink headscarf.

‘Um … would you like some fresh parsley instead?’

At first, I didn’t understand what she was saying. Her accent was quite strong—and I was puzzled too, as I had hoped the parsley I had bought was fresh. But then she went on to explain further.

‘I dropped into my dad’s place this morning to give him some sweets I know he really loves and he wanted me to come in, but I said I wasn’t allowed. So he said, “Well, at least take some of the parsley from my garden with you!” We use it to make tabouli, but would you like some?’

At that point, she picked up the parsley I had bought, put it back in its display stand rather disdainfully and hurried to the rear of the shop. After a short while, she re-emerged and handed over a huge clump of her father’s beautiful, fresh parsley to me.

‘It’s good—and it’s organic too!’ she told me proudly.

I know it was only a bunch of parsley, but I was so touched.

‘Wow, that’s wonderful!’ I told her. ‘Thank you so much—and please thank your father too. God bless you!’

She looked a little stunned at my final words, but, somehow, they had just burst out of me. I truly did want God to bless her. She had done something so kind and unexpected for me—and I felt her actions had pleased God’s heart too.

That evening, as I chopped my lovely, fresh parsley for our dinner, I realised this girl’s actions had not only blessed me but taught me something too. We all need those kind words and actions right now, even more than usual—and I needed to remember this more often. I need to be part of the solution, rather than add to the problem by complaining and feeling hard done by. Besides, surely this is what God wants us all to do?

Be kind and compassionate to one another … Ephesians 4:32

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25

Little things are so important, aren’t they? Especially those kind words and deeds that reflect God’s own kindness and build us all up.

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Jo 23In this time of COVID19, as I entered our local supermarket, I looked for the hand sanitiser. Yes, there it was—but alas, there were no wipes left for hands or shopping trolleys or whatever. I decided it might be good to point this out to one of the staff members—and watched as this message was relayed from one to the other without much action. In the end, I could not wait any longer and went on my way.

I did not get far, however, before a tiny, elderly lady stopped me and held something out to me. Her English was minimal but her actions spoke louder than any words ever could. With a smile and a kindly nod, she held out a packet of her own wipes and offered me one.

‘Thank you so much—God bless you!’ I said to her as I took one, at which point she smiled even more broadly.

Her little act of kindness changed my whole attitude that morning. I had been feeling just a tad put out, but this lady’s thoughtful action lifted my spirits so much, like a sudden ray of sunshine peeping through the clouds.

Not long after, I noticed a rather short lady trying to reach a carton of long-life milk high up on a shelf in one aisle. At first, I hesitated, recalling how we are not supposed to get too close to other shoppers. But then I remembered my lovely, little lady who had given me one of her wipes. Being tall, I could easily help this person.

‘Can I get a carton down for you?’ I offered.

‘Oh yes—two, please!’ she told me in a relieved voice.

I did as she asked—it was no problem.

‘Thank you so much!’ she said, beaming. ‘Now you have a lovely day!’

Again, I felt my spirits lift as I walked off. Such a little thing—yet it had made two people happy.

Eventually, I reached the checkout where the cheery staff member began chatting to me. I cannot remember what she said now, but I do remember how every second sentence ended with the word ‘darl’!

‘How are you, darl?’

‘I’m fine, thanks. How are you?’

‘I’m good, darl. Give me your bags—I can pack them. Is that too much in this bag for you, darl? No? No worries, darl!’

Yes, just a pleasant checkout chat—and yes, perhaps this was her natural way with everyone. Yet it too lifted my spirits. She could have looked glum. She could have worked on without connecting with me at all. Instead, she was warm, pleasant and kind.

As I went on my way, I could not help thinking what a difference all these brief connections had made to my morning. Sometimes it’s the little things that count, isn’t it? Sometimes being kind to someone can act like a lovely, soothing balm to their spirits and perhaps even reflect one tiny aspect of God’s kindness and grace to them. Yes, I love those times when God prompts us to say more or do more. But what a privilege to be part of showering God’s grace on others via the little things too!

As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

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Life is full of new experiences—and this past week has brought its fair share of these. Our daughter has currently bequeathed her two cats to us to mind while she is overseas. And I must say I have learnt so much already as I have observed them trying to come to terms with their new environment, not to mention the two weird people minding them who aren’t used to cats!

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Miss Lexxi

It is obvious from the beginning that Lexxi is a little more adventurous than her sister. After the initial shock has worn off, she is prepared to emerge from hiding and explore. Soon she becomes daring enough to nuzzle our legs. Then she graduates to prowling around my desk, settling on my lap and nudging my hand when I stop stroking her in order to type. Coaxing her over to the nearby bed instead works occasionally—but only when she deigns it to be so.

Miss Lexxi again

Miss Lexxi again

Eventually, she finds an empty book box of mine and—voila! She is in heaven for a while! But then that paper bin under my desk looks very interesting too …

Meanwhile, on arrival, poor Tesla (yes, that’s her name!) bolts for a spot in the far corner underneath our sideboard—and stays there, refusing to budge. When we look for her there on the second day, however, she is nowhere to be seen.

Now picture this, if you can—two mature adults with worried looks, hunting high and low in every nook and cranny of the house for said cat, moving beds, fridges, freezers, clothes driers, crawling on  hands and knees under desks, peeking in boxes, behind curtains, in cupboards that have always been closed anyway. You name it, we did it!

For many hours, we keep up the hunt. And then we find her—curled up on a tiny ledge way at the back of an old desk in my husband’s study where we thought no cat would ever fit. We let her be, taking her food and water to her. And eventually, she braves it enough to gravitate during the night to a spot behind the settee in the lounge, where she remains silent and still—at least while we are around.

What have I learnt so far from this experience? Apart from some practical tips on caring for cats, it has inspired me to reflect on how often we try to hide from God. At times, we find ourselves reverting to that behaviour exhibited by that first man and woman in the Garden of Eden when they heard the Lord looking for them and hid in fear. Yet God knows where we are all the time—just like right now, I know where timid Tesla is hiding because those curtains pulled to one side in the lounge are a dead giveaway! And God longs for us to experience so much more of that warm, loving relationship on offer for anyone willing to emerge from that hiding place, trust the Owner of the house and explore the freedom the Kingdom has to offer.

So where are you? Are you hiding too? Is there more of God’s amazing love and grace out there for you to explore?

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jer 31:3

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