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Posts Tagged ‘the Counsellor’

Jo 23Well, who would have thought? Just last week, I heard the term ‘buddy bench’ for the first time. I discovered it is a seat in the school grounds where you can go and sit if you are sad and/or in need of a friend. So instead of wandering around feeling lost and lonely, any student can go there and know someone kind and understanding will come along soon to keep them company. Now how good is that?

One recent afternoon, our youngest granddaughter Maxine put her school’s buddy bench to good use when she could not find her mother or her brother anywhere. She had already been picked up from her classroom and the whole family was walking towards the school gate. But then Maxine became lost in the midst of all the other students when her mum was momentarily distracted as she tried to read something our grandson was showing her. Our daughter looked everywhere for her—even down the road towards their car. She asked the school janitor who stands at the gate and always gives Maxine a friendly wave. Then she phoned Maxine’s teacher and they all began searching. And at last another teacher found her, sitting on that buddy bench in the school yard and crying, so she took her by the hand and brought her back to her mum. Phew!

Now I might not have been familiar with the term ‘buddy bench’, but I can think of various challenging times in my life when I needed someone to come alongside me who would listen and understand and empathise. And thankfully, God provided those wonderful ‘buddies’ for me when I needed them most, including my lovely soul friend Joy, to whom I poured my heart out so often. Yet sometimes, especially earlier on in my life, I can remember feeling there was no one around with whom I would be comfortable to share what was going on for me. Sometimes, I suspect the problem was that I was unwilling to be vulnerable enough to admit my need and ask for help. Sometimes, my pride and sense of shame got in the way and kept me isolated, when others would have helped. But thankfully, God reached out and persevered with me, bringing much healing and renewal.

Yes, whatever our age, we still need those buddy benches at times where we can find those who understand and are able to help us—or at least point us to where we can find that help. But whatever our age too, we all need that wonderfully wise and perfect ‘Buddy’ even more, the one Jesus said would be sent from God to be available and alongside us at all times, the helper and encourager and comforter par excellence who will never leave us or forsake us.

But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:25-27

What a privilege to have such a Friend on our buddy bench every moment of the day!

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Jo 23Sometimes I think I have a short memory. On occasions, I have vowed and declared I will never do something again that turned out to be particularly exhausting or costly in some way. Yet, time goes by … and I am asked to do that very same thing … and I say yes … again.

Recently, I agreed yet again to speak at a morning church service on Mothers’ Day. Now I love speaking—but not particularly on Mothers’ Day! I have found in the past how difficult that can be when one is aware there are those present who have experienced great pain and loss in this area. Perhaps their own mothers have let them down. Or perhaps they have longed to be mothers themselves and that opportunity has not come their way. Or perhaps they have lost a mother or a child recently. Or perhaps their children have brought them great grief and would not think of calling home. The list goes on. Besides, on a totally selfish note, I like relaxing a little on Mothers’ Day and not having to give out to others to any great degree!

Yet, now it’s over, I find myself feeling very humbled and grateful. You see, it ‘happened’ that, just after I agreed to speak, I came across John 14 in my own personal Scripture reading. I had already decided to focus on God’s caring, nurturing heart for us, rather than directly on a mother’s role per se when I spoke. I recalled the beautiful image in Psalm 91:4 of God—He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge … and also Matt 23:37, where Jesus says:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longer to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

But then I noticed in John 14 how Jesus shows such nurturing love to his disciples, calming them and giving them his peace, challenging them gently to remember what he has taught them and to show their love by obeying his commands, and reassuring them that the Counsellor will be with them forever. The disciples were obviously upset and confused. Jesus had just predicted his death, then washed their feet, before sharing the Passover meal with them in a new, disturbing way, letting them know as he did that he would be betrayed and disowned. Yet Jesus continues reaching out to them in love, caring for them to the very end.

This is what I shared then on Mothers’ Day. What a privilege it was to see Jesus’ words again speaking peace into the hearts of some who needed it, challenging others, and reminding us all that he has not left us as ‘orphans’ (Jn 14:18) but has given us his Spirit, who was so present amongst us even as I spoke.

Never again?  Hmmm! I’m so glad God changed my mind. I’m so glad I got to eat humble pie—yet again—and enjoyed being part of the Spirit’s nurturing, loving ministry this Mothers’ Day. When we are weak, God is strong. When God calls, we can do it!

How about you? Has God taught you too to say ‘Never again’ never again?

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