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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 95’

Jo 17I looked around me as the morning train headed towards the city. Not many people in my carriage appeared overly excited about the day ahead. Some were staring into space with glum expressions. Some were dozing. Some were playing electronic games. A few were trying to study or work, frowning as they did.

And, of course, several were talking on their phones. One girl sitting not far from me spent almost the whole trip complaining to a relative or friend about someone else. No sooner had that call ended than she took another one—during which an unpleasant argument ensued. No, there was not much joy around me in that carriage that morning, I decided.

When the train reached the city, I joined the others trudging up those stairs from our underground platform. At last I surfaced in George St and stood still to catch my breath. As I did, I noticed some large banners along both sides of the street. Each of them carried a simple question in bold letters—‘Do you hear the people sing?’—and the well-known image of a wistful, young child wearing a beret and with hair streaming.  Yes, those banners were advertising the new production of Les Misérables, soon to open here in Sydney. But that morning, this question impacted me in another much more significant way.

‘Do you hear the people sing, Jo-Anne?’ God seemed to be asking me. ‘Do they know I love them? Where is the joy in their hearts?’

At once, I recalled those glum faces in the train. Then I looked at the people all around me on busy George St. Most were hurrying along, eyes down, their expressions set. Nearby, a young busker was playing her violin with great dexterity yet little heart and soul. She seemed tired and even bored—how many times had she played those pieces already? Not far from her, an unkempt man sat begging, head bowed in a hopeless manner and hand outstretched to receive whatever coins people might give.

At that point, it occurred to me to wonder how I myself looked. Could others see any joy and peace in me? Or did I seem glum and preoccupied, perhaps even hopeless, as if everything depended on me? Had I even given God a thought on my way into the city? Could God hear my own heart singing that morning? If so, what did it sound like? Was it doleful or even angry, like those who had sung the song with such fervour in Les Misérables?

Maybe I too needed to choose to begin my day with a thankful heart, full of praise for God’s many blessings, whatever was happening or not happening in my life. And maybe I needed to pray for and reach out to those around me more often in love, so that God would hear their hearts sing as well.

Maybe we all need to do what the psalmist urged us to do so long ago:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. Psalm 95:1-2

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A few weeks ago, I decided it was high time we attacked our back ‘garden’, which for some strange reason had become an amorphous mass of weed. I dug and pulled and piled up tons of rubbish—and eventually these beds were ready again for replanting.

I decided to choose very hardy, quick growing ground cover plants that would suit a sunny rockery area and also be relatively inexpensive. I came home with some bargains—a few humble old gazania plants, a convolvulus, two varieties of portulaca, several ‘Million Bells’ plants like mini-petunias, some lobelia and a small lillipilli tree. I planted them all out straight away—just in time to receive all the rain we have had lately.

Now I was sure some of these plants would wither and die in the first few days. The soil in these beds is by and large so poor—and some areas are almost as hard as the nearby rocks. But amazingly, most have grown well and are now bearing bright, new flowers.

But here’s where I stand back in awe and ponder our amazingly creative God. Yes, all these plants are fairly common and—well—garden variety! Yet as I look closer, each one of the tiny flowers that has now appeared blows me away with its shape and colour and intricate markings. Even the widely different textures and shades of greens in their foliage are fascinating—not to mention the fact that one of my portulacas is able to produce an array of differently coloured blooms from one and the same plant! As for the flowers on the common old gazanias, while they are similar in colour, they still vary amazingly in the pretty markings on their petals. All this abundance in my own humble backyard, with minimal assistance from me.

Yet something else amazes me even more. When I complained about the terrible state of our garden, various friends told me not to worry about it. After all, almost no one else sees it. They’re right too—and even we don’t go down there all that often. But that doesn’t seem to make any difference to God. These hardy, little plants produce their bright array of flowers whether anyone sees them or not. And this is even more true when it comes to our Australian wildflowers. Years ago, during a wonderful drive over the Alpine Way in southern New South Wales one Christmas, I saw so many tiny, tiny flowers, each formed so perfectly. But how many more were tucked away in rock crevices or down beside some mountain stream where no one would ever venture?

What an amazingly diverse and liberal Creator we have, even when there is no one to admire such marvellous, natural works of art! Our God is the original, perfect Creator, from whom all our own creativity flows. I look back at the seven books I have written with gratitude, knowing I could not have woven these stories without God’s creativity at work in and through me. And even as I write this, I know I can only do so because I am made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). How much in this world and within ourselves do we take for granted, as if no master hand has designed and sustains everything? May we instead join with the words of the psalmist in Psalm 95:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

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