Whether our years are few or many. All of us at some time in life come to a crossroads and often we find the ways are not as clearly marked as we would wish for and there are no guarantees that we shall find what we desire by following this path or that.
Perhaps we may look and choose the “Road Less Travelled By” (Robert Frost) setting off hopefully and Cross Roads left behind, then suddenly we aren’t so sure… How do we know just which is the good way?
Many set off with a strong sense of vocation, and certainty of the road to take. Many more do not.
How do we find certainty
Mark’s Gospel, full of immediately’s, or straightaways, has this little account:-
“Now in the morning, having risen a long time before daylight, he (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place and there He prayed.
And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him.
When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
But He said to them. “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth’
Mark 1. 35-38 (NKJV)
When the Holy Spirit points out to us the good way, of Prayer way we should “immediately” take it. It is a quiet way and a lonely way but it is the way our Master took, His feet never left it not even surrounded by great crowds …. and from that good way…. He gained direction for the coming days.
Lord be with us today in the good way
That we may leave behind yesterday’s town and regret
Sometimes, the Lord surprises us in unexpected ways. We know, that He knows all about us, each word before we even think to utter it. At some time or other, these words from Psalm 139 have rung gloriously true for most Christians
“How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand-
when I awake, I am still with you”
Psalm 139.18 (N.I.V)
During these ‘Coronavirus’ days, I have felt, as you have also, no doubt that the Lord has been very present in many situations, in many ways, great and small.
I chose the picture of Julian of Norwich with the well loved words that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well, because reading her Revelations of Divine Love we feel we almost ‘know” this homely lady born in 1342. She speaks comfortably, from her heart to our heart. The little cat sits comfortably on the window sill joining in the conversation with the odd purr from time to time. As I read Julian’s writings I feel assured that Julian knew our Lord God very well and that He knew Julian very well. In fact they were very close friends who shared heart to heart thoughts of each other.
Sometimes people who know each other very well surprise each other.
My first thoughts each morning are spontaneously with God. No effort involved. I know that I am awake and with God, that God is with me. Just over a week ago I was surprised as into my head came a fleeting glimpse of the computer work station, as it arrived new with my first home computer in the year 2000.
When my late mother became ill, she just wanted, needed me to be always in her sight, so abandoning the work station and its little den, I switched to a lap top so I could type up Church Minutes and stuff in the room where she was, Mom would look up from time to time, and we would exchange little thoughts… presence is comforting. Well, my Mom died 17 years ago and the work station on wheels, was never given a second thought. The little upstairs room, which I had turned into a den all those years ago, had slowly become a storage room for boxes and boxes of files that Martha has busied herself with down through the years.
Well, seeing the fleeting picture in my head, I knew, just knew that I was being prompted to do something.
Something like finding the tape measure and finding the work station a new corner elsewhere in the house. It, was, as I vaguely recalled, comfortable to work at.
Not for one moment did it occur to me that the room might be cleared of boxes. A couple of days later, tape measure in hand I entered the room. The work station had been pushed into a corner blocked neatly in by a box, or two.
It was so quiet, restful in that room. I ventured over to the window, opened it, and looked out into the back garden, where the little birds were busily having breakfast.
I just knew. This is my new ‘prayer closet’
The Lord and I are going to be comfortable here.
Of course, there are the boxes to sort, and made ready for their new storage home in church, the Martha side of me has already taken first steps in arranging that!
God, of your goodness, give me yourself; you are enough for me, and anything less that I could ask for would not do you full honour. And if I ask anything that is less, I shall always lack something, but in you alone I have everything.”
The prayer above comes from Chapter 5, Revelations of Divine Love
Thank you Lord, that you see all our needs and recognise them when we do not.
Thank You for your many thoughts towards us, your wise provision.
You carry us, dear Lord throughout all our days; teach us to know when we are being carried that all shall indeed be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
Teach us also, to recognise that following You does not always mean a journey of miles, we do not reach your throne by any other means than Jesus who is the way, and though our bodily strength may fail us…. it is always by your Spirit alone that we are empowered.
Many of my posts have been centred on my younger self, well this one is from very recent days, as recently as 2018 a little baby of an elephant presented herself/himself? The lord knows. During my morning prayer time. I was charmed, fascinated. Momma elephant stood nearby, watching as baby raised a courteous trunk in greeting.
They stood by a roadway constructed from logs, all neatly and perfectly laid
I still find the image of baby, mother and Mahout stirring in my mind from time to time. Yes, I did say Mahout, elephants do not naturally lay logs to construct roads, but they are capable, very capable of learning much and teaching much, passing on knowledge and experience gained down through their generations.
We say, don’t we, that an elephant never forgets? Memory and learning go hand in hand. With people not all learning comes from books, classrooms, teachers, the internet, much of it like that of elephants is from experience. From the moment we are born we are learning from mothers, fathers, siblings, all of our senses, touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight inform us .. we are fearfully and wonderfully made. All God’s creatures are wonderfully and delightfully made – yet all must learn, and to a certain extent learning to all creatures is instinctive, so much is gifted to us before we are even born. Yet… there is always so much more to learn.
I captioned the picture we all have to learn, simply because we do Baby elephants need Momma on hand the first time they take a bath; and a fledgling’s parents are not far away when baby wings are tried out; water for a baby elephant, air currents for a bird. What about a child of God?
Just the same? We need the Holy Spirit. All the way along, on looking back we will find that even before we tried the water of baptism if we were baptised as older persons, the spirit was carefully helping with the construction of the road, present, although we may not have been fully aware of it, in our choices and decisions .. especially that big decision of trusting our very self to our Saviour and Lord to a new element .. the water of Life in Jesus.
Momma Church can teach us a lot, but not all because when it comes to choosing which logs to lay, which direction to go in, Momma church like Momma elephant needs Mahout, and Mahout is the Man Christ Jesus.
It is through Jesus, that the Spirit, and instruction is given.
I invite you to think about this “showing” with me, share your thoughts please if you will. I know that I still have much pondering on it to do for myself. But one final thing. If you will accept them, the words of Jesus to the little elephant
“Don’t be afraid. I must touch your head as well as heart.”
Lord, there are times
When our biggest need is for your
Touch on our heart, to warm our coldness,
Inspire our thinking.
There are times when you understand,
But we do not yet comprehend it, that
Our greatest need is the enlarging of our understanding
Your touch on our head, your gift of understanding,
To the heart you inspire with your thoughts
To bless and willingly to serve in the way You direct.
It takes time to grow a rose. Time for buds to firm, open. It takes time to take in its fragrance, to enjoy its sweetness. Such a pity to be in such a hurry that we have no time to simply look and notice the subtle shading of its petticoat, to touch and smell.
At the beginning of Lockdown in the U.K. I just simply didn’t realise how tired I was. It wasn’t until two weeks in that I came to a stop with trying to get some important things in order – even that stop came as the result of being blocked as necessary communications with various official offices closed down. Telephone queues became hours long, replies to emails were likewise delayed by several days…. so I came to a stop, found content in my little wilderness garden, and found joy in just being still in one place,
Silence will speak more to you in a day than the world of voices can teach you in a lifetime.
Find silence. Find solitude – and having discovered her riches,
Bind her to your heart
Frances J. Roberts… Come away. My beloved (Barbour Books)
And in the silence.. the sound of the rain, the gentle soft rain of the Holy Spirit that refreshes, restores and brings new growth.
Not, the hard, loud, rain of a deluge that causes panic as the flood waters rise to overwhelm a distressed soul.
Not the cold, persistent rain that chills to the bone.
But the soft, gentle, showers of blessing, that leave rainbow crystal drops on herbs, grass, thirsty flowers: rain to swell the buds, causing them to open.
As I rested, I was aware that the Lord was never going to chide me for sitting, and just sitting, because I was sitting with Him, and this was what He wanted, and what He purposed.
As we sat, so my understanding grew, and grows of many things shown and given, through the long years.
He showed me a box, a golden box, a bejewelled box, which I thought must contain some fortunate ladies precious treasures.
“I gave you the box, many years ago!
I gave you the key,
But you were careless with it;
You put it aside, out of sight:
Too busy, Martha to sit awhile,
This to do …..
That to do ….
You gave me back the key.
And the box?
The box you forgot. Placing it
Conveniently, at the back of memory’s closet.
My sweet girl,
I let you,
Allowed you to do this,
Because, I your loving
Friend and brother, watching jealousy
Wanted the pleasure of sitting with you,
To watch you open your gift and taking
Out every treasure reward me with your
Me and Jesus sitting together
The story is true but praise God for His Grace, the Lord and I sit together, and even when Lockdown is done and tiredness done. We will still be sitting together.
Not a glimmer, a day with no ray of hope or encouragement.
The Word of the Lord came to me.
“Shalom! Peace! My peace take it!”
“Do not be worried or anxious. Neither fearful nor dismayed. Cast aside all the burdens carried for all others; take in their place, my burden instead. Yes, take my burden, even the Word of God. Carry my Word with you. Let it be your light in dark places.”
“The days are dismal and dark, you say. So they are!”
“The worries and the tasks are many. So they are!”
“Every neighbour adds to his neighbour’s load; every man, every woman casting off their share of the work, responsibility and blame onto someone else. Every ill, every problem, every grief is caused by human hands.”
“Every word of untruth comes from a human mouth- ”
“Every word of Truth and Wisdom from mine”
“So let Martha be like Mary. Set aside the many things and the many teachers, and choose thegood part – come to your Heavenly Teacher – choose Me. For Ichoseyou.”
“Take my Peace.
Take My Burden.
Take my Yoke.
Take my Word and speak it out.
It will not return to Me without bearing fruit-
Look! My Word pierces the darkness like a sword,
It is the bringer of Hope.”
This Word came with the dawning of the day. And after it a vision of the Lord Jesus wearing the crown of thorns before Pilate; forced to kneel to receive the Burden of the Cross for our sake, in my visionI was allowed to kneel at His side. The Lord looked and made me welcome.
It may be that someone reading this feels that they are carrying burdens and responsibilities that they cannot put down, for love’s sake- yet they are conscious of the Lord calling them closer and requiring them to do just that. Listen to His voice please. As I must do and please pray for me, that I may have grace to do the same.
Chickens out in the rain, puddles up to the knees, squawking as only very wet, miserable chickens can.
Had they no sense?
Why didn’t they head for their nice cosy hen house?
Puzzled, I reached for trusty waterproof with a hood, someone needed to get those silly hens in, and if it had to be me, it had to be me.
At iiii shhh ooo. At iiii shhh ooo!
That’s when I realised I had flu, just as the hands of Jesus reached down to pick me up and tuck me under his arm.
“No not you. I want you for something else today”
Does this ring true to you? Are you the one who sees the plight of others first, before you see your own?
Well, I can only say on reflection the Lord sees and notices every single thing you do. He cares about the chickens out in the rain. Of course He does. He shakes his head in sympathy and understands each perplexed, ‘what do I do now, what’s the right way to go cluck.
After all, “the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost”
Most of us, at times feel lost. Even those who have been ‘found’ a long time .. we can feel we need to know the way to go next. Yes, we may well know every cobble in the farm road, every step to the hen house and barn. We may know, as wise-birds, exactly what to do when it rains on everyone’s parade.
But do we know our God cares about us?
Knows we are willing to be pushed to the limit for those rainy day chickens, and to shoo them into the warmth of a dry shelter, to wholesome food and drink.
Yes He does know these things and yet, there is still something, which we can’t put our finger on… the something else, that thing which He wants us to do for Him today.
That puzzling, something else – may be quite different to what we did yesterday – it may be the last thing we would ever choose for ourselves – the last thing we would want to do, or want to be.
We did not choose you Lord Christ;
But you chose us.
We cannot choose what we do,
If there is something else,
You would have us do-
We have to choose aright,
As you would have it.
Lord, show us what you would have us do
To do for you, today and every day:
Give us each day our Daily Bread,
Fresh and new:
Let our food be to do God’s will,
Together with you,
Reading: Luke 19:10
Prayer: my own
The picture described given on rainy Saturday 12th October
‘Let everyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift’
There are many words, many commentaries, many books, many WordPress posts written on our Lord’s invitation to come receive the water of life as a gift. This is one more. One more written in love, testimony and gratitude for the Love of my Lord, for mercy and grace so freely given to me.
I had not realised how tired and weary I was. So much to do. In a church there always is, and I was grieved and troubled because, the Lord called me to put my tasks on one side and just sit, in stillness and quietness with Him.
Why? Why should He say, “Come, be still.”
Because,” He says, “There are many things I must speak to you about . Many things you must hear”
I saw a hand cupping clear, refreshing water.
“Because you are very thirsty. Don’t refuse me this. Don’t say to Me that there are others who can serve Me better, others who can speak, others I can send. I want you.
I came to you, to your house, I came in, now you must come Come and sit at my feet. I know you are worried, I know you are anxious and I know no one else will pick up the tasks you put down but put them down you must.
I know in serving others you’re serving Me, but serve Me first in this ONE THING. Come, listen and speak to Me. You are my friend.
I know you are thirsty. And, I know this is not for eternal life, you have that how could I withhold that, from my dear friend? No, you are thirsty, always thirsty for this one thing only, and that is,
My company, my love.
Yes, I see you shaking your head; yes I know I am always with you. But my beloved friend; when will you turn your attention and eyes away from waiting on others? Don’t you know, even now, that I always wanted your eyes, ears and hands for myself?”
The costly ointment we can give to anoint the feet of Jesus, is our whole, undivided self.
Scriptures from NRSV – Ps. 27.8, Rev. 22. 17
Photo: my own.
The message from Jesus from Jesus, on a day I did not expect it, like Martha I was too busy ….
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen.
Easter lasts 7 weeks, for 7 weeks the Altar frontals and hangings are white, and the Readings tell us more about the Resurrection appearances, tells us more about Our Risen Lord and Teacher preparing the seedling church for the great Day of Pentecost. Just as it takes time for a seed to germinate and put out its green, so it takes time with all spiritual growth.
Sometimes the Heavenly Gardener sows fresh seed into our hearts, carefully preparing the soil first, removing old planting, yes, it maybe that He received a good return on the first, second or even third planting, but He has a new work for us to do, now. Something, the Holy Spirit is nudging us, moving us forward to do, something new, but we are just not sure what.
At times like these we need the Teacher’s time, His personal attention so we ought to devote more time to seeking His attention in prayer, waiting. Listening for His answer.
Perhaps we might use the following prayer
Most High glorious God,
Enlighten the darkness of my heart
And give me true faith, certain hope,
And perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord
That I may carry out
Your holy and true command
St Francis prayed this prayer, kneeling before the crucifix in the little Church of San Damiano. It was around 1205/6 early days in his Christian calling and Francis knew God was asking him to do something, but what? In the stillness of that place Francis heard Jesus, our Teacher saying, “Francis, go and repair my house, which is falling into ruins” Francis did just that, gathering stones, begging materials as he went to repair the little church. Now we can see, what Francis could not see, Jesus meant THE CHURCH.
From time to time, the Church, and all of us do need repairing, restoration and renewal takes time… whether in the greater body of believers or just in me or you) and it takes time, from the first seed, the first whisper of the Spirit for the full sense of God’s Holy Spirit, His Holy and true command to come to flourish in our hearts and in what we carry out with our hands and feet in the world.
All of us need to be prepared, to take time, and allow ourself to be set aside, to find each for his/herself what the Teacher wants us to do….next.
To ask for light to see the way as it is pointed out,
for true faith, in the One who is speaking to us,
hope which nothing can shake,
love which will still be love for all, no matter what the enemy of our soul throws at us,
sense … nothing stands us in better stead in undertaking a new work of faith then sense. Sense such as Francis had, when hearing ‘Go and repair’ he immediately began to do so with his own hands and little else. All new ventures all have to begin, so let us begin and have faith that God will complete His work in us.
And yes we need knowledge, whether it be knowledge gleaned from the Scriptures or a Word of Knowledge to help us on our way, God will provide it. For our part we need to wait and ask in prayer…. The Teacher will show us what comes next.
(The Prayer is commonly called ‘The Prayer Before the Crucifix’)