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Posts Tagged ‘Redeemer’

Jo 23Of course I could never relate to the following (!), but I wonder if you are the sort of person who often tends to be just that little bit harder on yourself than God would ever consider being. Where God would choose to treat you with grace and kindness, you instead choose to drive yourself on and to berate yourself that you have not done enough or been perfect enough. You may even find it difficult to admit you are only human, after all, and not superwoman—or superman!

Yep, somehow that sounds all too familiar to me—at least at times. There are so many things I may want to do and can do. And so many things I may need to do that are merely part of life. Yet, unless I listen to God, learn to trust God’s guidance and rely on God’s enabling, I can easily run myself ragged.

Recently, I read again the very long Psalm 78, where the psalmist challenges God’s people to look back in their history and see how many times God rescued them and had mercy on them, yet how many times they chose to go their own way. As I read, I began to apply it to my own life—to remember the numerous difficult patches God has brought me through, to recall all the wonderful gifts God has given me along the way in the form of special people or amazing experiences or achievements beyond anything I ever expected. And as I did, I sensed things somehow falling into place deep in my spirit and heard God’s calming voice, reassuring me, as Julian of Norwich once wrote, that ‘all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’.

In Psalm 78, we read how God’s people at one stage did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them’ (10-11). Further on in their history, they apparently ‘did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance’ (22). Things seem to look up at another later stage, however:

They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. (35)

Yet sadly, we find a big let-down once again in the very next two verses:

But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with them tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. (36-37)

Wow! Am I like that at times, I had to ask myself? Hmm.

What a relief then to come to the two following verses, right in the middle of the psalm:

Yet he was merciful, he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return. (38-39)

How much we need to remember, like God’s people way back then, that God is our Rock and our Redeemer—that we, who are like that momentary, passing breeze, need to rely so much on God’s strength and love and mercy and forgiveness and grace! Then, and only then, will we be at rest deep down, living out of that place of peace each day.

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Jo 12I enjoy doing crossword puzzles and was recently given a crossword book that is just the right level for my slightly addled brain. This enables me to take a break from writing now and then, yet still play with all those fascinating words in the English language. What fun!

The other day, while tackling one of those mega crosswords that completely fill a large page, however, I found myself flummoxed. There seemed to be so many clues that could be taken different ways. For example, one clue simply said ‘hide’. So … did that mean the noun ‘hide’ or the verb ‘hide’? But if it meant the noun, ‘hide’ can have at least two different meanings. Or take the clue ‘sort’. Did that refer to the verb ‘sort’ or the noun meaning ‘type’? And what about that one little word ‘dear’? Did it mean the opposite to ‘cheap’? Or did it mean ‘sweetheart’ or ‘beloved’?

But most confusing of all was the clue that simply said ‘badgers’. Now I took that to mean those animals called badgers. ‘They must have another obscure name,’ I thought. ‘I’d never know that.’ So I left the spot blank until the end. Then, when I saw that the answer had to be ‘pesters’, it finally dawned on me that my ‘badgers’ clue meant the verb ‘harasses’ or ‘nags’, rather than any animal! There I was, trying to think of a scientific name for a badger when the clue meant something quite different.

As I thought about those crossword challenges, I began to wonder how often I myself confuse or mislead others with those words that roll off my tongue so readily each day—or spill out onto my computer screen. How glibly I can say one thing yet be thinking the exact opposite! How many times I seem to opt for those pious-sounding words and phrases that sound good but lack integrity and can leave others feeling puzzled or, even worse, discouraged!

There are some verses in Psalm 139 that have always challenged me about the words I speak—or write.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. Psalm 139:1-4

Hmm. To me, it is a very comforting thought that God sees into the depths of my heart and knows me through and through. There is no pretending with God—and that is so freeing, don’t you think? But it also challenges me deeply that God knows every word I utter, before it even leaves my mouth. I cannot fool God with my words. I cannot get away with saying one thing and meaning another with God. And it does not please God whenever I try to fool others around me either.

So Lord, this day and forever, may all the words I speak and write honour you and be as honest and unambiguous as I can make them. And, as King David also prayed:

May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

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Have there been times in your life when you wished you hadn’t written that email to someone or at least said things differently in it? Have there been occasions when you felt you’d like to wind the tape of a conversation back and erase the last few words you said? I know there definitely have been for me.  I’m quite experienced at speaking impulsively and thinking afterwards – and the same goes for the many emails I dash off each week.  Once the words are spoken or that ‘send’ button is clicked, it’s too late then to do anything about it – except apologise and try to set things right when I can!

Perhaps this is why I particularly noticed the following verse from Psalm 19 one morning recently:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Ps 19:14)

These words are a very pertinent reminder to those of us who get the opportunity to speak in a public setting or to teach others.  Do we say what we say to make our audience think well of us or admire us in some way?  Do we aim to please them with our words and forget that God is there listening as well? Yet this verse points out that it’s not only the words we say but also the very thoughts of our hearts that need to be pleasing to God.  And surely they are connected, since as Jesus himself says: Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt 12:34).

As I write my novels and even blogs such as this one, I am often aware I am putting what are at times my inmost thoughts out there for all to see.  I might have the luxury in my novels of disguising them as the words of one of my characters or the thoughts of some ‘omniscient narrator’, but God at least knows where they have come from!  Yet this isn’t to me a scary thing. In fact, quite the opposite.  To me, it’s a relief that God knows my heart, hears the words I speak and sees the words I write.  God understands where I’m coming from – and when I make mistakes and my motives are less than pure, God isn’t there with a big stick wanting to punish me. God’s heart is to draw me close in love and to help me do better in his strength.  He is ‘my Rock and my Redeemer’, as Psalm 19 says – the one who has ‘bought me back’ and rescued me, the one who will protect me and never let me down.

So I rest in that love – and in fact, that very love spurs me on constantly to try to be careful about what I say and write.  After all, I want God to be comfortable there in the back row when I speak, nodding and encouraging me – or to truly enjoy reading my latest novel, a pleased smile on his face!

And while on the subject of words, both written and spoken, you might like to check out a ‘written interview’ I did for American Christian fiction author Lena Nelson Dooley recently – it can be found on her blog lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com.  You might even win a copy of one of my novels, if you choose to leave a comment there!

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