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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 139:7-10’

Years ago, a friend and I were eating breakfast in a B&B in Stratford-on-Avon during a trip to the UK. There was only one other couple in the dining-room that day—and they turned out to be from right here in Sydney, close to where we lived! But that story pales into insignificance, compared to one I heard last week. A couple I met while speaking at another secular club told me how, once when they were in Kenya, they met a man from the UK. This man mentioned the name of someone he knew who had emigrated to Australia and asked if they had met him.

‘Yep, we’ve met him,’ the husband replied. ‘In fact, right now, I’m sitting next to his sister—he’s her brother!’

The reason they told me this amazing story was that, in the talk I had given, I had included some photos from times when I had travelled with another friend of mine. My friend featured in some of these photos, although not many and not very close up either. However, this couple recognised her, so came up to me after I had finished speaking.

‘Um … we noticed those photos of your friend in your slides. Would her name perhaps be …?’ The man asked.

‘Yes, it is!’ I managed to get out.

‘Well, we know her too—she’s visited our church quite a few times over the years!’

We chatted for a while, marvelling at the amazing way God connects people at times. Then we also talked about the final slide I had used in my presentation that features some words from a psalm.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7-10

I chose to include this slide when giving this particular input at a secular group because, to me, it is a fitting end to a talk about various travelling adventures I have had. Yet, in speaking to such groups, I am always aware I need to be careful when and how I mention anything about God and faith. I know such places are non-sectarian and I need to honour that. Yet, because faith in God is such a huge part of who I am, I go ahead, hopefully in a gentle, non-threatening way, knowing I and others have prayed God will guide. So far, I have noticed that, whenever I read these words aloud from this particular slide, a hush tends to fall in the room. And twice, I have had someone come afterwards and talk about ‘the little prayer’ or ‘that lovely little poem’ I shared with them.

We can experience some amazing, unexpected connections with others, wherever we roam on this earth. Yet how much more amazing it is to be truly connected with our God who knows where we are 24/7, who holds us fast and who guides us continually! May we each find ways to share this wonderful privilege with others with sensitivity and grace, however God guides.

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I truly enjoy seeing other people’s holiday photos of beautiful places they have seen overseas and exciting experiences they have had. Not only does it give me an opportunity to share in all their joy, but it’s a little like taking a vicarious, cheap and hassle-free holiday myself! And of course I also love looking back through my own photos taken during overseas trips. What great memories they stir up, often so vivid that, in an instant, I am back in the exact spot where the particular photo was taken!

This past week, I spoke at a group where the topic was left up to me, so I decided to utilise some of my travel photos and create a talk entitled ‘From the ridiculous to the sublime—true travelling tales’! I focussed on four different categories of experiences I have had overseas—funny experiences, scary experiences, wonderful experiences and ‘God’ experiences, in that order. In each section, I managed to tell three or four stories, backed up by photos on power point, then asked those present to share a story of their own.

scan0010What fun I had, looking through all those old photos as I prepared and choosing which to use! I laughed out loud again when I found some taken in a Turkish village where my friend and I stayed for a few days. One night, we went to a local restaurant for dinner. The owner cooked us a beautiful meal, but when we went to pay, he told us he was too busy to take our money and asked if we could come back the next day to pay! Can you imagine an Australian restaurant doing that?

I looked through more photos and found one of my first visit to a beach in Turkey. I had wrapped my glasses in my towel and put a small rock on top before heading off to swim, but when we returned, I found the metal frames of my glasses had been moulded around the rock into a U-shape from the heat of the sun. I proceeded to bend them straight back into the right shape, but what a scary moment that was, considering they were the only pair of glasses I had with me in Turkey!

Other photos brought back wonderful memories of my first visit to Germany and also to England, both such surreal moments for me. I was reminded too of wonderful ‘God moments’—one in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, while contemplating the Holman Hunt painting ‘The Light of the World’ and another back in Turkey when God challenged me to start my writing journey. While reflecting on this last category of experiences in particular, the words of Psalm 139:7-10 came to mind:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

What a gracious, almighty, loving God we have who is more than able to be here, there and everywhere at all times, watching over us in all our wanderings!

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