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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 117’

Jo 17I love the Psalms. Time and time again, I come back to them—particularly when I am busy. In my old Bible that I am reluctant to pension off because I know where everything is in it, there are many verses in the Psalms I have highlighted via a wiggly line drawn beside them. And many of these are now etched in my mind, so that they feel like old friends when I come across them again.

Yet I often still find surprises along the way. One morning recently, we needed leave home earlier than usual, in order to mind our grandchildren for the day. I rushed around, organising this and that, but then found myself with a few minutes spare before we actually had to walk out our door. So I decided I could read at least a few verses of the psalm I was up to and thus have it in my mind as we drove to our daughter’s house. I opened my Bible to Psalm 116—yes, I had read that yesterday. I turned the page and there before me was Psalm 117—all two verses of it!

Praise the Lord, all your nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

That was it! I was sure I had never seen this tiny psalm before, yet I must have. Despite its brevity, I decided it packed quite a punch. And it was just the right length for me to remember, as we hurried out to begin a day full of interesting activities with our two young grandchildren.

Later that evening, as I sat down to re-read my huge psalm of the day and ponder on it some more, I decided it pretty much sums up in a nutshell what our amazing God is like and how we are called to respond to him.

Great is his love toward us’—that to me surely gets straight to the heart of the gospel. In my own life, it was God’s love that first drew me to him as a fifteen-year-old. Even after all these years, I can still remember thinking, ‘Wow! God knows me! And God loves me!’ Then many years later in my life, I believe God gave me a glimpse of his amazing love for me all over again one New Year’s Eve. I saw in my mind a picture of someone whom I knew was Jesus holding me as a baby and looking down at me with the most incredible love shining from his face. He was speaking tenderly and saying over and over again, ‘Wow—Jo-Anne!’—and I knew I would remain loved and secure in his arms forever, just as this psalm goes on to say. Whatever happened in my life, the Lord would remain faithful.

And, after more than fifty-five years, that is still my testimony. God has rescued me so many times, picked me up and held me close until I was strong enough to stand again. So what can I do but praise the Lord from my heart, as The Message version of this psalm encourages us all to do?

Praise God, everybody! Applaud God, all people! His love has taken over our lives; God’s faithful ways are eternal. Hallelujah!

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Our house is quite small. As someone once put it when visiting, ‘It’s a nice little cottage!’ So, over the years, we have tried to get rid of unnecessary or unwanted clutter. This applies to everything we own—well, almost everything. Of course, books are the exception.

P1040041This past week, I nevertheless decided to pare down one or two of the bookshelves in our house. I picked up some volumes I had read recently—but no, I could not throw those out. You see, I know the authors. And, being an author myself, I could not consign their books to some throw-out pile. Far better to take them to a second hand bookstore where others might read them as well, if I had no room for them. So back on those shelves they went for the moment.

I began pulling out other books lower down on those crammed shelves. Some were textbooks from my years at theological college. Others dealt with church issues I was passionate about at one stage but no longer am—at least not so much. Some even went back to my earlier years as a Christian—large volumes I treasured then, now too outdated to refer to often, if at all. Yet I found myself loath to throw them out because they hold so many memories for me of key periods of my life when I was growinP1040044g and learning and trying to come to grips with so many matters of faith.

In another room, I unearthed some old language learning books of mine—Japanese, German and even Classical Greek textbooks of little use to any student now since they are so outdated. I stopped for a moment to reflect on the hours and hours of effort put into studying these. And again, because they represent such key parts of my life, I did not have the heart to throw them out.

Putting these back, I then progressed to another set of book shelves. Here I found books dating back not only to our children’s growing up years but also to my own—favourites such as Anne of Green Gables, What Katy Did, Little Women and many others. How could I possibly throw those out? Perhaps our grandchildren will read them one day. Yet the pages are so yP1040042ellowed and the print so small. And all those long sentences and unfamiliar words …

I am aware January is often the month when nostalgic and even somewhat depressive thoughts can take hold as we get to clear out the clutter of the past. Yet, while acknowledging these feelings, I also found myself reflecting on God’s faithfulness through all those periods of my life those books represent. While my faith may well have waxed and waned, according to the pressures of life or my own wilfulness, God has watched over me, steering me through it all.

Those books are only things—I cannot take them with me when I die. And the memories they invoke in me will no doubt fade in the years ahead. But that faithfulness of God they represent to me will never, ever end. And I am so thankful.

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 117

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I wonder if you have ever experienced one of those weird moments in your life when, with one glimpse of something or one whiff of a familiar perfume, you find yourself transported back through the years in an instant. There you are, a child again in a place or situation you had thought was long forgotten.

Recently, in order to entertain a fourteen year old visitor and his ten year old sister, I decided to check through our board games. Some date back to my own childhood—Snakes and Ladders and Ludo and Fairyland and Motor Race on fragile pieces of folded cardboard, held together in spots by yellowing sticky tape. And our ancient Monopoly game, bequeathed to us by an old friend of my parents and complete with currency in English pounds. And yes, the little silver top hat, boot, racing car and ship my sister and I used to fight over are still there too.

P1030981In the end, I put all these aside. This is 2014—no doubt my visitors would prefer a game on their mobile phones or Ipads. But I couldn’t resist showing them two classic old card games from my childhood years, the boxes now held together with rubber bands. I was sure ‘Donkey’ would be beneath them, but, to my surprise, they were intrigued. In fact, they played three games and were quite chuffed when they avoided that dreaded donkey card! And they were even more intrigued when I showed them my old ‘Comic Families’ card game, with cartoon-style drawings of Pa Lather (the barber), Pa Bones (the butcher), Pa Snips (the tailor) and Pa Chalk (the milkman), among others!

As I sat dealing those dog-eared cards, I remembered the hours spent playing with them in my growing up years. How long ago that was! Many years later, our own children had played with these same cards, then later still, our two older grandchildren. And what had happened to me personally since those early, innocent childhood days in Brisbane? So many, many things I would never, ever have envisaged.

God was there for me throughout all those early years, I reflected then, knowing what lay ahead and drawing me close, even when I was unaware of it. God reached out to me when I was fifteen, so that I came to experience Jesus’ love for myself. God watched over me in the ensuing years, not letting me stray too far and always, always calling me back. And God showered me with grace and continued to deepen my faith, even when I thought I knew it all in later years. God loved me so much as that little girl way back then who played those games with her sister and rarely won. And God loves me just as much now, I realised, as I held those same old cards in my hand.

Games come and go. Things change. People change. But God remains the same, so faithful and so loving through all the ups and downs of our lives. How truly blessed we are!

Praise the Lord, all your nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 117

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