“A few years ago, I conducted a survey of women at various stages in life and with different beliefs. I wanted to know which felt more important to them – faith, hope or love. I figured every single woman would say, ‘Of course, it is love.’
The answers astonished me. They all said, ‘Hope.’
‘Why?’ I asked one woman.
She explained it well. ‘Faith comes and goes, and I have learned to live without love. But hope – if I didn’t have hope, I would die. There would be no reason to live.’
How I identified. If hope didn’t exist, I would have crumbled in impossible situations. If hope meant nothing, comfort could not have comforted me. Romans 15:13 says, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ For us to find comfort, God gives us hope.”
(story from ‘This Crown of Comfort’)
HOW MANY CROWNS DO YOU WANT?
Imagine wearing a 2 kilo crown. King Charles III will on his coronation day. But that crown is only used on royal coronations, so he will switch to a lighter one later. He is a very important man.
Yet there is someone with more crowns than King Charles – the King of Kings – Jesus. He wears many crowns because he is King of the whole earth.
But each of us can wear a crown as well. We can choose. When we are sad, God can give us a crown of beauty. When we need rescuing, God can give us a crown of joy. When we don’t give up, God can give us a crown of life.
God doesn’t mind that we aren’t royal. If we stay close to him, he will give us some crowns as well.
– Mrs Leaf
SAYING OF THE WEEK
‘Always wear your invisible crown’ – author unknown
(from a ‘Chaplain’s Chat’ I wrote – photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)
At 7am, I headed out the door to walk the 4 mile round trip to the hardware shop. I desperately needed some emotional replenishing, as well as a can of paint for an outdoor swing.
I started painting as soon as I got back, but an hour later that paint pot slipped from my fingers. In horror, I watched it fall and tip over. I was only fast enough to save a third of it.
For an instant, I didn’t know what to do, but the idea of a large metal spoon came to mind. I ran inside to grab one and then began scooping up the spilled paint. In the end, I rescued another third, just enough to finish the job.
It felt like a practical lesson from God… Despite all our mistakes and lack of emotional capacity, God makes sure that we have enough, that we are enough, for the jobs before us.
(photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo)
It is a fact that I struggle with boundaries, especially when I am uncertain of what someone thinks of me, especially if their opinion matters to me. If they ask me to do something, and I am already stretched, I will still try to please them. I will give in.
This morning I read a verse which redefined this boundary for me. It also showed me my heart. “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). My instant reaction – “Ouch!” and “Oh!”
“Ouch!” – When I try to please others to the detriment of myself, I despise the One who created me, who gave me my physical and emotional limits.
“Oh!” – It is that simple. I don’t have to justify myself. A “Yes” or “No” is enough.
photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com
Abraham Lincoln was a self-taught lawyer. He worked a menial job and studied at the same time. Apparently, one day he came upon a word he couldn’t define, so he stopped his studies until he could.*
For years I haven’t understood these words: “You are the salt of the earth.”** So for the last two months, I too have stopped. Here is one thought…
Salt is about taste. It is about an experience as we eat. Too much and we feel revulsed. Too little and we get bored.
The same is true in faith. I have noted that EVERYONE has an opinion about God, which means that EVERYONE has had an experience in one way or another. Could it be that those who are antagonistic had salt dumped on them by the bucket load? Could it be that those who don’t care found it tasteless?
It puts a lot on me. Jesus says that I, that we, are salt. Oh, to get those measurements right.
- Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com *A children’s adaptation of Abraham Lincoln’s life. I read it as a child. **Matthew 5:13
Seven years ago, while travelling internationally, I sat in a cafe waiting for someone to turn up. Earlier, this woman had telephoned me, weeping, saying she needed to talk with me right now. So I cut short a meeting, caught a train to the cafe where we had arranged to meet.
I sat there for three hours, and when this person finally arrived, there were no tears. She laughed instead and told me it had been a ‘test’ to see how much I loved her.
You can imagine my anger and hurt, and maybe even that every bit of love I felt for this person disappeared. For human love is like that – if it is abused or used, it runs out.
I prayed for God to give me his love, because I didn’t know what it looked like in this situation. And since I heard no voice from heaven, I bought this person a cup of coffee and a cake. We chatted a bit. But then I stood up and walked out, leaving her to sit alone.
Whether I did right or wrong, I don’t know. But I learned that there are two kinds of love, mine and God’s. I learned that mine isn’t enough and only God could help me now.
Photo by Maria Orlova: https://www.pexels.com
I thought I had left everything behind when I arrived in the UK at age 30 – a young bride. All I brought along was a small suitcase of clothes, a box of books and some wedding presents. I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t care. I was starting again with Derek.
Now, after 30 years in the UK, 6 years in Portugal, I can say that we don’t ever leave everything behind. Memories still nip at our heels. The genetic code we inherited. Recently, my hands keep reminding me of someone from the past who used their hands for harm. Their hands and mine look identical. I want to hide mine away.
But then I remember, my ‘inherited’ hands come with MY heart. I can choose to use them for good. I can choose to undo harm. And as I do, I redeem my past.
Photo by Tiana: https://www.pexels.com
I was in a dark place at age 19. I felt like a prisoner. But one afternoon as I searched a mountain for blackberries, I paused to look around. For some reason, my heart leapt with a wild kind of joy.
I immediately corrected myself. Such an irrational wild joy was simply a figment of my imagination. It was an escapist emotion to protect me from harsh realities.
But now, decades later, I discover that there are several Bible words for joy.* One is agalloasis – a WILD JOY.
God gave it to Jesus when he anointed him “with the oil of [wild] joy” (Hebrew 1:9). And Jesus gave it to his followers, as they “ate together with [wild] joy and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46).
And he gives it to us, for we can stand “before his glorious presence without fault and with [wild] joy” Jude 1:24.
Oh, to embrace this in our hearts…
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio: https://www.pexels.com
* research from https://biblehub.com/greek/20.htm
Imagine – you’re getting married, but that morning your dad disowns you. You plan to drive to church, but he disappears with the car. So, you end up going in a dirty work van, sitting on the floor in the back. Yet you still wait for your dad outside the church, standing in the wind in your wedding dress and veil. You wait for him to walk you up the aisle. He never shows up…
Derek and I got married almost 36 years ago, but still I struggle to reconcile my wedding day with James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds”. But then I regain perspective yet again. Joy is a constant choice.
I walked up that aisle. I took a bold step. And, oh, the joy to see Derek there!
Photo by Jamie Coupaud on Unsplash
Over the last year, I have watched some people wreck havoc on the lives of others. And the sad thing is these people sincerely believe they are doing the right thing. They count the suffering they inflict as unfortunate but acceptable.
And for us who have endured this havoc? It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that these people have ruined God’s plan in our lives. It is easy to blame them for binding up God’s hands. But there is a verse that puts things back into perspective. God says, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ (Isaiah 46:10)
It is a definitive statement. What God wants in our lives will happen. No one can thwart it. We can stand strong.
Photo by Steffi Wacker: https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-and-red-lighthouse-on-rocky-shore-3722772/