Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘local church ministry’

Jo 17I was disappointed, I have to admit. During the weeks leading up to our recent trip to South Australia, I had been in contact with a particular church to see if an author visit there would be possible. I did not want to intrude or upset any plans the leadership might have—after all, it had been a long time since we had lived in South Australia and been part of this church.

Eventually, I thought it was all arranged. Then, a week before we left, an email arrived: I’m sorry, but there has been some miscommunication—I have arranged for something else to happen in our morning service that day. I hope you can find another church instead.

Well, that was that—and it was too late to enquire elsewhere. We had been looking forward to visiting this church, but would it be wise to do so now? Did I even want to?

On the Saturday of that same weekend, I had scheduled an author visit at the Adelaide Koorong Bookstore. I had barely finished setting up when an older man approached my table.

‘What’s this? Something special on, is there?’

Then he noticed my name.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen! I know you from years ago at church!’

As soon as he told me who he was, I remembered him. And yes, he was from the very church where I had hoped to be interviewed the following day! We chatted for quite a while—I could not get over the fact that the first person who walked in the bookstore that morning knew me, after all those years.

Later, when I told my husband what had happened, we decided we should attend this church, for old times’ sake. And, as soon as we walked in, the gentleman I had met at the bookstore the previous day came scurrying up.

‘I tried to get onto you, but I didn’t have your mobile number. I’ve spoken to the minister—would you be able to talk about your books for a couple of minutes in the service?’

And so I did, unprepared as I was. Afterwards, I chatted with the minister with whom I had liaised and soon saw how much he had on his plate at that church. And yes, there was something extra on in the service that day, with a couple being farewelled. A special luncheon was held for them, during which we got to talk to several people we had known all those years earlier and even sell some of my books.

Later, we could not help but marvel at the way God brought all this about. I had sensed God wanted me at that church. So when it didn’t happen, I was confused. But God wasn’t—and promptly found a unique way around those obstacles that had arisen. Again I experienced, as I have many times in my life, the truth of Isaiah 55:8-9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

May you too experience God’s unexpected ways in your life and know the real and lasting joy this brings.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

We have just returned from a road trip to Queensland, our home state. We have driven there many, many times over the years since moving south, sometimes travelling the inland route, sometimes the coast road and sometimes a combination of the two. Each time, we seem to discover some new vista along the way, as well as enjoy familiar ones we love. And this time was no exception. On top of that, an added bonus was a guided tour around the beautiful beaches of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, courtesy of some good friends. I was refreshed in spirit by it all, despite our busy schedule. And I think that’s because I saw again two key things about God that still blow my mind.

Firstly, God is amazingly, amazingly creative. Who could possibly stand looking out over those beautiful beaches and not be in awe of a God who has created something so vast as our blue ocean and so breathtaking as those shimmering expanses of sandy foreshore? Who could not marvel at the variety in nature to be seen at every twist and turn of the road? As I observed all this beauty, it occurred to me again that, as God’s children created in his image, we have something of that very same creativity within us. It is God-given—so any creativity I might display in my writing is not something I have produced all by myself. As a result, I need to be so thankful for the creative gifts I have and handle them with great care and humility. God is the Creator par excellence—and, by God’s grace, I have the privilege of reflecting just a teensy bit of God’s creative heart to the world.

Secondly, God is amazingly, amazingly faithful. On our way up and back this time, we drove through a particular spot just west of Byron Bay in the Northern Rivers area that holds special significance for me. From this spot, high on the crest of a hill, there is a breathtaking view of the whole hinterland area, with its green paddocks and rich soil, as it rolls on towards the beautiful coastline and the blue ocean beyond. Almost fifteen years ago, having completed my theology degree, I stopped at this very spot on my way up to Brisbane. I could not have done otherwise. I was simply overcome with the goodness of God in enabling me to complete my studies at that stage of my life. It had been a hard road, but God was there for me all the way along.

But now as I gazed at that same scene in 2012, I realised how utterly faithful God has continued to be to me. In those intervening fifteen years, I completed a very fulfilling ministry in a local church. God then called me out of that ministry into another one—that of writing and speaking. Now I have five published novels and one work of non-fiction—plus another novel due for release next year. I have also spoken many, many times in a great variety of places. And I know all this has come from the hand of my gracious, faithful and loving God.

So right now, as I look to the launch of my sixth book this week, I am so humbled and grateful. We have such a beautiful country. But we have such an incredibly beautiful, bountiful God.

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits … Psalm 103:1-2

Read Full Post »