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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 103:13-14’

I wonder if you are like me and do not readily allow yourself time off from all the tasks around you demanding your attention at home. It might be something I need to finish writing. It might be cooking dinner. It might be vacuuming—my pet hate! Any of these can prevent me putting time aside to be kind to myself and do nothing—or perhaps something special.

Recently, a friend invited me to see the exhibition ‘Modern Masterpieces from The Hermitage’ at the Art Gallery of NSW, with paintings on display ranging from impressionists such as Monet and Pissarro to the more avant-garde Matisse, Cezanne and Picasso. So we locked in a date and I immediately bought our tickets online. No backing out then!

And what a memorable day we had. After a speedy bus ride to the city, we strolled up through Hyde Park and the Domain to the Art Gallery. It was a beautiful day and, as we walked, we enjoyed God’s creative heart on display all around us, particularly in the towering Moreton Bay fig trees lining the road through The Domain.

As we entered the Art Gallery, we were overawed by the building itself, with its spacious, elegant interior, complete with domed ceilings and marble pillars. Our hearts lifted. Our particular exhibition was superbly set out and included an excellent multi-media presentation. And while some of the paintings were more to our taste than others, all spoke of such creativity, of pushing the boundaries, of trying new styles and techniques.

IMG_20190226_131535052Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch in the open air section of the cafeteria and were reminded again of God’s creativity, as we watched the cheeky and persistent rainbow lorikeet pictured here help itself to any crumbs we had left. What fun God musIMG_20190226_115620622t have had, creating its amazing colours! Perhaps it was this very bird, we decided, who inspired the artist Kandinsky to choose the colours he did for his bold landscape included in the exhibition!

As we eventually made our way home, after sampling the special delights of the Queen Victoria Building, we looked back on our wonderful day and felt so blessed—as if God had poured such kindness all over us in so many different ways. We were tired, but our hearts felt lighter and our minds buzzed with creative ideas birthed from seeing such creativity around us—both God’s and man’s, which surely comes from God anyway.

Recently, a friend commented how we can sometimes be less kind to ourselves than God is—and I think that may be true. Some of us are so hard on ourselves that we can end up becoming quite graceless and may even struggle with receiving God’s amazing grace. We do not deserve such compassion and forgiveness, our hearts cry out—we are not good enough. Yet through Jesus, God has reached out to us with such lovingkindness, drawing us close again. We are loved. We are accepted. We are God’s precious children.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

I hope you can show that same kindness and compassion to yourself when you need to—and I hope I can too.

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Jo 12I am an expert at feeling sorry for people. Just ask my husband, who simply sighs and shakes his head at me, after fifty years of marriage. Last year, during a road trip interstate when we passed through various little country towns where everything looked more than a little down-at-heel, he knew what I would be likely to say next.

‘Oh, this all looks so quiet—and everything seems so old! How do the shops here survive? I feel so sorry for them. Even the pub looks deserted! Oh dear!’

Sometimes too when I spy a small, corner store right here in Sydney somewhere, I can easily feel sorry for its owner, who must find it so hard to compete with the bigger shopping centres. And when I see shop after shop all crammed together in close proximity to its competitors in one of our more heavily populated suburbs, I can manage to feel sorry for those owners too.

‘How do they all make a bean?’ I ask in a worried voice. ‘They must have to work such long hours seven days a week to survive!’

Yes, I am a champion at feeling sorry for all sorts of people—probably unnecessarily, most of the time! That is one reason I do not watch those current affairs shows that often feature some poor person who is being picked on by a neighbour or who has been duped by some dodgy, unscrupulous builder or tree-lopper or who is at odds with a hard-hearted insurance company who refuses to pay up. I cannot bear to see their need—and to be unable to do anything about it. All I can do is hope and pray the story has a good ending and that someone else who can do something about it takes action.

There is a sensible limit, I suspect, in how much energy we should expend in feeling sorry for others in this unproductive way. And there is a difference too, I think, in feeling sorry for someone and having true empathy or compassion for them. So perhaps those of us who can so easily feel sorry for others would do better if we realised this and modelled ourselves more on our great God of compassion, who not only empathises perfectly, but can actually do something about our situation.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:8

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

The Lord did not simply wring his hands and say, ‘Oh dear—what a mess my children are in!’ Instead, because of his great compassion for us, he sent his Son Jesus to rescue us. And we see that same compassion in Jesus himself in the way he reached out to those around him, healing so many and preaching the good news of the kingdom.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

What a wonderful, powerful, compassionate God we have who does not simply feel sorry for us but reaches out in love, rescuing us, restoring us and drawing us ever closer to himself!

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P1030888Our new granddaughter is the best dressed little lady in town right now. As well as being given so many gorgeous new clothes and cute accessories, she has inherited a veritable wardrobe of amazing outfits from her cousins. Some have never been worn—after all, how many Size 0000 suits can a girl wear before she graduates to Size 000? So … does our little Maxine really need the jumper I am knitting her? Of course she doesn’t—yet her mother still wants me to finish it. It’s nice to have some things that have been made with love, I am told. Besides, it matches the little pram blanket I have already knitted for her.

Yes, these items have been created with love—but that does not mean they are without mistakes! Having finished the blanket while lying on my back recuperating from an operation, I can see I must have still been recovering from that anaesthetic as well, judging by all those glaring mistakes! However, our daughter assures me she can’t see them and doesn’t care anyway. That is comforting—but I still know those mistakes are there.

As for the little jumper, what excuse can I give for sewing up the side seam inside out?! Could that anaesthetic still be lurking around?? And is there any need for me, with an ample supply of little white buttons at my disposal, to sew on three the same and one that is slightly different? Again, I am assured no one will notice and, if they do, will not care. But again, I will see it.

This whole experience has caused me to reflect not only on my silliness and lack of dexterity but also on my failures in general. As a child, I hated to own up to having made a mistake. I was far too proud and too much of a perfectionist for that. And this mindset was slow to leave me in my adult years—and possibly one of the reasons God, I am sure with a wry smile, called me to be a writer. Once a book has been released, an author is in such a vulnerable position. Some readers are going to love our little offering, while others will hate it. Some are going to look past those inevitable mistakes, while others will point out every single one, which can be handy so these can be rectified in the next print run but also just a tad deflating. With seven books published now, I am fast learning those two indispensable qualities for any author—a sensitive heart and the hide of an elephant! And I know God has worked miracles in my life in this regard, enabling me not to be devastated when I mess things up.

But I’m so glad God looks past my mistakes and, even more importantly, forgives me when I deliberately choose the wrong path. I’m so glad that, as far as God’s concerned, it’s not about performance but about belief in Jesus—that it’s not about law but all about grace. I’m so glad God sees and knows the real me and accepts me, flaws and all.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

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