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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 115:1’

We are complex beings, aren’t we? Sometimes we think we know why we do the things we do, but then we may discover other reasons lurking beneath the surface. We may try to help someone, yet find in the end our actions are more to make us feel good about ourselves. Or we may give that help in the hope that, when we need help, they will perhaps return the favour. We like to think our motives are pure, but sometimes they can be more mixed than we care to believe, as I myself discovered recently.

Sometime last year, a gentleman invited me to speak at a secular venue and told me I would receive a monetary gift towards my travel costs. I thought that was quite generous as, often in the past, I have received instead either a bottle of wine, which I usually give away, or some chocolates, which I don’t eat! I thanked him, but then enquired whether I could also display my books. This seemed to shock him, however.

‘Well, either we give you the money or you sell your books!’ he told me in a rather incensed tone. ‘But if you want to bring a few, I’ll look the other way.’

I felt like some mercenary criminal. Why he would need to look the other way? I have sold my books at such meetings many times before and still received some sort of gift at least. Besides, any author will tell you writing books is not a good way to get rich quickly—unless one’s book is a bestseller!

This particular meeting was cancelled because of Covid but, when we made a new date, I discovered this man would not be there then. So, I decided to display my books after all and see what happened as far as any monetary gift was concerned.

Nothing did. I sold two books, which of course did not cover travel costs, and returned home more than a little disgruntled.

As I reflected on this experience, however, I began to feel more ashamed than disgruntled. Hands down, if I had to choose, I would prefer to sell my books rather than receive money to cover travel costs. After all, I want readers to enjoy my books and also hopefully be drawn closer to God in some way. Besides, many times I have happily spoken at different places, well aware there will be no monetary gift afterwards. Yet this day, I sensed my motives had shifted a little.

In the end, I decided to sit down and remember who gave me the gifts of writing and speaking and who has enabled me to do both for years now. I might not have made a great deal—but I am not in debt either. And I have met many interesting people along the way and learnt so much. Soon I began to feel thankful again for my wonderful, God-given, unexpected, later-in-life journey. And I remembered too the verse featured on my website, reminding me to glorify God, rather than seek glory and gain for myself.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1

I hope I keep that wonderful, pure motive in mind more often in future.

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Our little grandson is perfect, of course, but he is curious about everything—especially things like CDs or old cassettes arranged neatly on shelves! Recently, I decided it was high time we stored these items in my study rather than in our lounge room, thus removing at least one temptation for him. Anyway, what grandparent wants to keep saying, ‘Don’t touch that!’ or ‘No!!’ and taking things from a grandson who looks up with big brown eyes and clings on for dear life to the treasured item he has discovered?!

Moving the items turned out to be the easy part. Much harder was the task of culling both the CDs and our few remaining cassettes, some of which had sustained me through various interesting times in my life or had been favourites in earlier years.

Among these was one cassette that is unique on several counts. It doesn’t look much—it is just a homemade cassette with some songs on it I recorded many years ago for my mother. But what memories it holds! My mother wasn’t particular about the quality—she just wanted to hear her daughter sing. After all, we lived many kilometres away in another part of Australia and saw each other usually only once a year. I remembered then how I had spent many hours sitting in our church as I recorded myself singing, accompanying myself on the organ, piano or guitar. As I listened this past week, not only did the songs evoke memories of other places where I had sung these songs, but it also brought a wave of nostalgia for that time years ago when I could sing as high as I did then and when I could actually play those complicated piano accompaniments I had recorded!

But it was the very first piece on the cassette that threw me completely. To my great surprise, I found I had included a recording of an old anthem King of Kings in excellent four part harmony, sung by our church choir in the South Australian town where we lived around thirty-five years ago! And guess who featured in the very high soprano solo? Yours truly! I listened open-mouthed. No churches, in our circles at least, sing such songs these days. Church choirs are by and large a thing of the past, as are organs like the one at that country church. Yet what joy we had had, practising and performing together, I remembered.

What a reminder of God’s gracious hand on my life, watching over me down through the years! What rich experiences God allowed me to have, even in those days in South Australia as a young mum with three little ones when life was often so busy and draining! As I reflected on my ‘blast from the past’, I was filled with awe. God has persevered with me, teaching me so much, walking me through challenging experiences, rejoicing with me at the many high points in my journey.

People, we serve a faithful, faithful God. May we never forget that and may we all be so thankful!

Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1

Praise the Lord. Praise, O servant of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. Psalm 113:1

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