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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus raising the dead’

Jo 17A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a restful break away. I had plenty of opportunities to walk on the nearby beach and to explore further afield. But I also had time to indulge myself in a feast of reading. In the process, I discovered all over again how amazing it is to become so absorbed in a novel that the real world recedes and time seems to stand still.

First, I re-read a Maeve Binchy novel, Circle of Friends, and was soon immersed in the lives of Benny and Eve and those other interesting Irish characters from Knockglen, relishing their successes and grieving for them in their failures and disappointments. From there, I gravitated to another favourite author, Kate Morton. I had not read The Distant Hours and was delighted to find it in a second hand store for all of four dollars! This story transported me far away from my beachside surroundings and deep into the English countryside, leaving me to wander around creepy Milderhurst Castle, on edge as to what scary event would happen next.

It was a relief to leave this dark, foreboding environment and return to Ireland via another Maeve Binchy novel, Firefly Summer. I wandered beside that brook near Ryan’s pub, as the young people gathered to swim and jump off the bridge and grow up. I felt Kate’s pain and fear for her family and loathed the cad Kerry. It was another great read, although I was a tad annoyed to be left wondering what happened to some of those characters after the story ended. And it was a long time before I was able to return fully to the real world again.

In the midst of all this holiday reading, however, I did not forget the best book of all. I continued my current project of journeying through parts of the Gospels. What a privilege to sit and reflect on these events, as I gazed out at God’s creation of ocean and sky and clouds and listened to those waves crashing on the nearby beach! I was well and truly grounded in reality as I read. Yet I was also far away again, this time watching as Jesus walked on water, talked with Moses and Elijah, raised the dead, rode into Jerusalem and celebrated the Passover with his disciples.

How moving to stand in the midst of two large crowds converging on the road into Nain and hear Jesus say gently to the grieving widow, ‘Don’t cry!’—then to see her son sit up (Luke 7:11-17). How heartbreaking to hear another crowd shout ‘Hosanna!’ and to see them spreading cloaks and palm branches on the road as they welcomed Jesus (Matthew 21:1-11), yet to know they would shout ‘Crucify!’ not long after. How humbling to be at that Passover meal, to hear Judas ask, ‘Surely not I?’ and to witness Jesus, in return, talk of giving his body and blood for him—and for us all (Matthew 26:17-30).

Our imaginations are a wonderful, God-given gift, don’t you think? I love using mine not only to create stories of my own but also to enter into and fully appreciate those worlds others write about—especially the world of the Gospels. After all, that’s where I meet Jesus all over again, face to face.

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P1040079I shocked someone last week by telling them I am usually reading three or four books at any given time.

‘Doesn’t that spoil the whole experience?’ this person asked. ‘And don’t you get mixed up?’

All I can say is it works for me. You see, it all depends on what I feel like reading. If my brain is alert, I will choose a ‘meatier’ non-fiction book such as the one I have just finished—The Discerning Heart by Wilkie and Noreen Au. I loved the many wise insights it contained about the ways God guides us.

If I am a little less alert, I might want to read something that will still give me food for thought but is slightly less ‘meaty’. At the moment, that book for me is Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P Freeman—one I have picked up and put down many times, probably because, although easy to read, it still packs quite a punch!

Then, when I am too tired for non-fiction, it’s time for a novel. Currently, I’m reading Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown, which deals with the spiritual journeys of four women at a retreat centre. But sometimes a novel like this that contains much food for thought is not what I need. So I turn to something lighter, which at the moment is an Ellis Peters mediaeval ‘whodunnit’ featuring Brother Cadfael!

Yet, at the risk of sound trite and obvious, nothing beats my worn, old Bible for me. Whatever my mood and however tired I am, there is always some treasure waiting there in its pages. Today I read Matthew 9, where Jesus goes to see a ruler’s sick daughter in her home. For me, there was something so uplifting and encouraging about the calm, authoritative way Jesus acted here:

When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd. He said “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. (9:23-25)

Despite the mocking of the grieving, noisy crowd, Jesus went ahead and brought that girl back to life. If Jesus can do that, I found myself thinking, surely he can deal with the relatively small concerns in my life with the same power and love and authority, as I look to him. And surely I too can minister with more of that same power and authority as I rely on God’s Spirit at work in and through me. One little passage of Scripture—yet it contained, for me, both great comfort and strong empowerment.

Yes, I confess I am an incorrigible bookworm. I have enjoyed and learnt much from reading a wide variety of books over the years. And many of their authors, no doubt inspired by the Spirit, have ministered to me deeply. I know too there are many more books out there for me to explore—I keep a ‘wish list’ of those I would like to own one day. On top of that, I even write my own! But that tattered, old Bible of mine still wins hands down. And somehow I think it always will.

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