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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’ parables’

IMG_20180918_071052560I think I must be the Queen of Lost Earring Land. I lose all shapes and sizes of them with great regularity—just ask my family! I even have a little jewellery bag where I keep the one sad, remaining earring left behind, in the hope that someday it might be reunited with its partner.

Believe it or not, I have managed to lose one of my earrings pictured here three times over! They are not valuable, but I like their colour and shape. So whenever I have lost one, a big treasure hunt has ensued. The first time, my granddaughter found it behind the driver’s seat in my car. I’m not sure who was the most excited, but she was definitely quite pleased with herself.

On another occasion, as I went to get into my car one day and head out, I realised I had lost one of these same earrings again. So back I went to our unit, looking carefully everywhere. Finally, I gave up and walked rather disconsolately to my car again. And at that point, when I was not even really looking for my earring, I spied it lying on the footpath right in front of me! What a joyful moment—I could not believe I had missed seeing it earlier.

Then recently, I managed to lose one of these earrings for the third time. I searched everywhere at home, to no avail. When the granddaughter who had previously found my earring visited soon after, I even offered her five dollars if she could find it, but in the end, she too gave up. The next day, I decided to search down at our church, with no real hope of finding my errant earring. But just as I was about to abandon my quest, I checked one last room I had briefly entered the previous day—and there it was. Someone must have picked it up and put it on a table there so I could see it clearly. What a relief!

Each time I have lost and found my earring, I have remembered with feeling the parable Jesus told about the woman who loses a silver coin:

Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:8-10

This coin the woman lost must have been very valuable to her, so no wonder she searches so diligently, using precious oil to light her lamp and sweeping until she finds her lost treasure. And that is exactly how God searches for us too. God sent his own Son Jesus ‘to seek and to save what was lost’ (Luke 19:10). How easily we can forget how valuable we are to God! And how lovingly God continues to seek us out, however far away we might stray, then celebrates with great joy when we are found!

It’s worth losing something, I have decided—even a favourite earring—in order to be reminded of God’s heart for us. And it’s doubly worth it when that something is found again!

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Jo 23I think it would be safe to say not many of us have donkeys tethered in the backyard these days. We do not get them out and saddle them up when we need to go shopping or pick the kids up or travel to another town. But this past week, I heard how a friend has decided to call her car her ‘donkey’—and with good reason.

You see, she often drives others who are unable to drive or don’t have cars to doctors’ appointments, waits there with them, then drives them home again—so much so that she has become a little tired of it. But one day recently, she read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 and was challenged all over again by the way this man cared for the stranger who had been robbed and beaten up. According to this story Jesus told, not only did the Samaritan delay his journey to stop and treat the man’s wounds but he also put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he proceeded to care further for him. Then, when he had to leave, as well as paying the innkeeper to continue caring for the injured man, he promised to pay any further money owed for the man’s care on his return. Amazing!

I guess that is the reason Jesus told such a story—to shock the ‘expert in the law’ (Luke 10:23) who well knew what was written there about loving God and loving one’s neighbour. And that shock value is still there for us today, as my friend can testify. Instead of grumbling about these demands on her time, she has decided to be thankful for her own good health, call her trusty, little car her ‘donkey’ and saddle it up over and over again, out of love for God and for others.

My friend’s response challenged me so much that I came home and read that Good Samaritan story for myself. As I did, I noted the little conversation at the end where the expert of the law has to admit the Samaritan was the true, merciful neighbour to the one who had been robbed. And I also could not ignore Jesus’ final, unequivocal command—Go and do likewise (Luke 10:37).

So … what does my ‘likewise’ involve? What should it look like? Yes, perhaps it might involve driving someone somewhere in my own ‘donkey’ for an appointment at times, but God calls and gifts each one of us in different ways. Perhaps for me, showing mercy to my neighbour might involve taking someone a casserole at times or inviting them to our home for a meal. But it might also involve helping someone with their writing project or being prepared to speak at some event they are organising in order to support them or selling their books alongside my own books somewhere. Whatever shape that ‘donkey’ may take in my life, I need to saddle it up and use it well for the purpose God intended, showing love to others in the same way as I so easily show it to myself every day of my life.

How about you? What will your ‘likewise’ involve? Are you using your own ‘donkey’ well?

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Jo 23‘Savour the moment,’ the little, old nun told me during a time when I was experiencing some deep sadness, ‘because you might not pass this way again.’

I did not know her—our paths crossed for only one session at a conference. Yet, the more I thought about her words, the more I realised what a gift they were to me. In essence, she had encouraged me not to miss out on what God had to teach me right in the midst of that difficult time. I had been given a unique opportunity to experience more of God’s love and grace, to grow in my relationship with God and to learn some important lessons about myself too—and I needed to grasp it fully.

‘That’s not humility—that’s self-protection!’ an insightful pastor friend told me once.

I was a little shocked. Yet I trusted him and knew he was challenging me in love. I had just refused to take up a new role in our church that he felt was so right for me. I thought I was being humble by pointing out how hopeless I would be at it. Yet, in reality, I panicked and wanted to protect myself from any humiliating failure rather than allow God to help me grow and to use me in a different way to bless others. I needed to think again—and respond to the challenge before me.

‘They might not be able to have you,’ my dear spiritual mentor told me gently, as I questioned whether I was truly wanted at the place where I was then employed.

Again, I was shocked. In fact, I found her words quite amusing. Imagine thinking something like that! The privilege of having such a position was all mine, wasn’t it? Surely I had no right to choose to go elsewhere or do something different? Yet I respected my friend and tucked her comment away in my mind to consider at a later date. And when that date arrived, I realised what little sense of self-worth and self-respect I had had for so long and how blind I was to the work of God’s grace and love in my life.

This week, I came across one of the littlest parables Jesus ever told:

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches. Matt 13:31-32

So many times, God has given me precious mustard seed moments when one small comment has ended up changing the course of my life in some significant way. With each one, God has shown me a better way to respond to my circumstances or a healthier and more courageous way to live. These brief words have enlarged my heart, leaving more room for God and providing a place of shelter and strengthening. Some have impacted others as well as I have shared them both personally and via my writing. God has been at work, building the kingdom in me and in others, little by little, word by word.

Let’s not downplay those tiny mustard seeds. In God’s hands, the possibilities are infinite.

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