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Posts Tagged ‘John 14:18’

Have you ever thought about all those billions of memories stored inside your brain? We can consciously remember so much—but even when we think we have forgotten certain experiences altogether, some little thing may happen that catapults us back in time, whether we like it or not. In an instant, we are in the midst of some past event again, noticing everything in vivid detail and even feeling the same emotions we felt then.

This happened to me recently when our washing machine decided not to spin anymore. I resorted to washing by hand—and immediately, a memory surfaced from around fifteen years ago when I was travelling around Turkey with a friend. Often, we would wash our clothes in the shower, then drape them over chairs on our balcony to dry. In an instant, I could hear again in my mind the voices of the nearby shop owners vying for custom, smell the freshly baked bread and feel the warm Mediterranean sun on my arms. In my mind, I was back there in Turkey, revelling in it all once again.

But I know painful memories can sometimes be triggered too and catch us completely off guard. Years ago, I experienced this in a public setting, to my embarrassment. Everyone else was laughing at something funny that was happening, but I found it hard not to cry, as it triggered a memory of a distressing event in the past. Yet I was thankful for this painful moment in the end, since it helped me understand the agony those who have survived great trauma in their lives often experience on a regular basis via flashbacks.

As I thought more about these memories, both good and bad, I sensed God prompting me to apply my reflections to my faith journey too. Yes, I can remember many times when God lovingly rescued and strengthened me in all sorts of situations and when I sensed Jesus’ presence right beside me, even to the point of feeling his hand on my shoulder. But it was as if God wanted me to realise there have been so many other such occasions that have now passed from my conscious memory—difficult times when God watched over me and held me close, but also wonderful, happy times when God rejoiced with me and cheered me on in my journey.

Whether I can clearly remember each time or not, God has been and always will be with me, wherever I go and whatever happens in my life, in joy and in sorrow—forever. I love how God keeps reassuring us of this fact in different ways and places in Scripture.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20

I will not leave you as orphans … John 14:18

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

In these strange times, may we constantly remember these words. May they remain embedded in our hearts and minds—forever.

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The moment had come. For some time, I had planned to clean out a particular bedroom drawer that was stuffed to the limit with precious memorabilia—cards and notes I had received over the years, old school reports, certificates for music and academic achievements, programs from concerts and shows I had attended. It all seemed far too daunting, since I knew I would not want to throw any of it out. But I could not put it off any longer.

First, I tackled all those cards. Many were beautiful thank you notes from groups where I had spoken or from readers who had appreciated my books and taken the time to let me know. Others were special birthday or Mothers’ Day cards from our granddaughters, some handmade, with lovely messages inside written in wobbly letters. After reading them all again, I decided it was pimg_20170211_103120558-2robably time to throw away most of the thank you notes at least … but surely I could keep those precious Mothers’ Day cards?

I dug deeper and found more home-made Mothers’ Day cards from our own children, including one that said: ‘You will like this … and it only cost $1.49!!’ I found some funny notes as well: ‘Dear Mum and Dad … could you please make sure that in the morning Tina does not, I repeat, NOT wake Andrew or me up and play the piano? Thank you. Warning: If Tina does do these offensive things, you will probably not live to regret it—that goes for Tina too!’ From your loving daughter, Jane.’ Still another was in distinctly grovelling mode: ‘Mummy darling dearest, if you are in a fantastic mood, PTO. If not, don’t bother!’ How could I throw such gems out?!

I kept digging and soon found many more cards written to me at key points in my life. Cards for key birthday celebrations. Cards when moving on from jobs. Cards congratulating me on my graduation from theological college. Cards on the death of my mother. Cards on leaving our church. Cards for no reason at all—except simply to encourage me. So many words written just for me. So many words expressing so much love and heartfelt thanks for things I had said or done, some of which I now have no memory of saying or doing.

As I completed my mammoth task, I felt quite sad and nostalgic. I sat still for a while, trying to let all that love and affirmation people had expressed sink in. And in the quiet, I sensed God saying, ‘Remember my words to you too and take them to heart.’ Then those precious snippets came flooding back—words I tend to forget so often:

I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5

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

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. John 15:16

I love reading those heartfelt words from family and friends. But these are the best heartfelt words ever, don’t you think?

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Jo 23Sometimes I think I have a short memory. On occasions, I have vowed and declared I will never do something again that turned out to be particularly exhausting or costly in some way. Yet, time goes by … and I am asked to do that very same thing … and I say yes … again.

Recently, I agreed yet again to speak at a morning church service on Mothers’ Day. Now I love speaking—but not particularly on Mothers’ Day! I have found in the past how difficult that can be when one is aware there are those present who have experienced great pain and loss in this area. Perhaps their own mothers have let them down. Or perhaps they have longed to be mothers themselves and that opportunity has not come their way. Or perhaps they have lost a mother or a child recently. Or perhaps their children have brought them great grief and would not think of calling home. The list goes on. Besides, on a totally selfish note, I like relaxing a little on Mothers’ Day and not having to give out to others to any great degree!

Yet, now it’s over, I find myself feeling very humbled and grateful. You see, it ‘happened’ that, just after I agreed to speak, I came across John 14 in my own personal Scripture reading. I had already decided to focus on God’s caring, nurturing heart for us, rather than directly on a mother’s role per se when I spoke. I recalled the beautiful image in Psalm 91:4 of God—He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge … and also Matt 23:37, where Jesus says:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longer to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

But then I noticed in John 14 how Jesus shows such nurturing love to his disciples, calming them and giving them his peace, challenging them gently to remember what he has taught them and to show their love by obeying his commands, and reassuring them that the Counsellor will be with them forever. The disciples were obviously upset and confused. Jesus had just predicted his death, then washed their feet, before sharing the Passover meal with them in a new, disturbing way, letting them know as he did that he would be betrayed and disowned. Yet Jesus continues reaching out to them in love, caring for them to the very end.

This is what I shared then on Mothers’ Day. What a privilege it was to see Jesus’ words again speaking peace into the hearts of some who needed it, challenging others, and reminding us all that he has not left us as ‘orphans’ (Jn 14:18) but has given us his Spirit, who was so present amongst us even as I spoke.

Never again?  Hmmm! I’m so glad God changed my mind. I’m so glad I got to eat humble pie—yet again—and enjoyed being part of the Spirit’s nurturing, loving ministry this Mothers’ Day. When we are weak, God is strong. When God calls, we can do it!

How about you? Has God taught you too to say ‘Never again’ never again?

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