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Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah’

Jo 12There I was, standing peacefully at the supermarket checkout, when the lady in front shook her head, turned to me and started muttering:

‘I could have done this in ten minutes! It’s not worth it, bringing my husband with me, I can tell you that!

I looked and saw her husband happily chatting to the checkout girl. Then the lady went on:

‘I asked why she hadn’t put our cold things into the blue bag but he’d packed it away! He’s no help at all!’

I glanced at another lady behind me in the queue then and caught her grinning.

‘Well, if I brought my husband shopping with me, he’d still be back in the chocolate aisle now!’ she announced.

Then I decided to add my contribution to the conversation.

‘My husband doesn’t come with me either. If he did, he’d organise everything with military precision and know exactly what was in each aisle and what order to get things! I know where things are and usually have a list, but I like to see what’s on special and get ideas for different things to cook.’

(I rest my case!)

I watched then as the first lady and her husband left, with things apparently reconciled between them. Phew! No doubt she would be very happy to have his help with loading everything she had bought into the car and unloading it later.

All the way home, I chuckled at this amusing little episode. I shared it with my own husband then—and, thankfully, he laughed too! After over fifty years of marriage, we are well aware how different we are and how we can help each other best. But then I began thinking a little more seriously about this whole experience. The first lady’s husband looked as if he was only trying to help—had he felt rejected and rebuffed by his wife’s response? Had she overreacted, thinking she was holding the queue up? Was she perhaps a little tense and stressed that day anyway? Who knows?

I wonder what you are like when it comes to accepting help. I know I am not the best—I am quite independent and am also reluctant to bother others. Yet recently, when someone offered to make a cake to help out with some catering I needed to do, I accepted—and it felt good. Not only did this lady look pleased, but I was quite relieved too and grateful for her thoughtfulness.

Often too, I know I have rejected God’s help in my life and gone it alone, preferring to do things in my own strength rather than trust God. Yet how much that must grieve God’s heart! I think we see a glimpse of this in Isaiah 30, where the Lord says to his people:

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (15)

Instead, the Israelites decide to do it their way and flee on horses, even though the Lord warns them they will be defeated. Then we come to these beautiful words:

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. (18)

It’s all about the right help at the right time, don’t you think? And the Lord’s help is always exactly that.

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I wonder how you are feeling as you look towards the year ahead. Apprehensive? Daunted? Bored? Overwhelmed? Even a little trapped? Perhaps you have no idea how you feel – or perhaps you are still in holiday mode and don’t even want to think about it at this stage. On the other hand, perhaps you are like my granddaughter who asked excitedly when her father joked how he would see her next year, as he put her to bed on New Year’s Eve: ‘So am I going to school tomorrow?’ She had been told for so long that she would be going to school ‘next year’, that to her delight, she thought the moment had finally arrived! Maybe some of you share Olivia’s excitement and anticipation at what the coming year might hold and can’t wait for things to begin.

Some of you who, like me, had a very big year last year might be wondering how you will handle another similarly busy year. As I get ready to launch into 2011 with both my writing and speaking, I find myself feeling a strange mixture of emotions. I have a fifth novel, ‘Heléna’s Legacy’, due for release in June. I have some speaking engagements and an interstate trip lined up, and no doubt more will emerge as the year unfolds. I have a half finished novel on my computer that I can’t wait to get back to – after all, I want to find out what happens in the end! I am thinking of beginning a work of non-fiction – something I thought I would never do. So I am excited about the prospects ahead. Yet I feel challenged and a little apprehensive too. Will my fifth novel find a ready readership? Will my sixth turn out to be my best writing yet, as I hope it will? Will it perhaps be the ‘breakthrough novel’ for me? Is what I write worth spending so much time on? Will it make a difference in anyone’s life? Will the things I say when I speak anywhere truly bring honour to God and impact those who hear?

I turn to Isaiah, one of my favourite books of the bible, and see these words in Chapter 51:16:

I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand – I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’

And then I find myself on firmer ground. Then I sit back with a sigh of relief, knowing I am one of God’s people and that these words apply to me too in 2011. God tells me here that I have his words in my mouth – surely as I stay close to God, these will flow both onto the page and into my listener’s ears. Even more than that, I know that as I step out into this year, God’s hand is overshadowing me and protecting me. Whatever the year might hold – success, fulfilment, disappointment, challenge, loss, joy – God will uphold, God will equip, God will comfort, God will watch over me.

And this assurance is there for you to take hold of too. So 2011 … here we come!

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