Celebrate!

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Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Today is a day to celebrate! A day to praise the Lord! Victory has been won. Death defeated, sin conquered.

Celebrating Jesus’ resurrection invigorates our hope, rejuvenates our spirit and gives us courage. As the hymn says “because He lives I can face tomorrow.” Whatever the future holds we have God holding us and that is enough, more than enough.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives

I can think of no better words to finish on than to quote from Romans.

This RESURRECTION LIFE you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously EXPECTANT, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! ” (Romans 8:15-17 Msg) 

Alleluia! He is risen indeed!

 

 

{And as a follow on from my earlier post, today Resurrection Sunday, my boys taught Oscar how to say “batman” – deep voice included. My Easter miracle – There is always hope}

 

Silence

hope

Easter Saturday. And there is silence. The body of Jesus lies in a tomb. Lives ruined, dreams in pieces.

It is in this gap, this in-between, in this waiting that would have tested the disciples. Jesus had told them to wait, that they would see Him again. But reeling from seeing Him crucified and dead must have caused them doubts and confusion. Their disbelief turning to unbelief. For some their disappointment leading them away from Jerusalem.

Life around them continuing on as normal. Yet for them everything has changed. And yet there is just silence.

This is where we often find ourselves. With unanswered questions and sorrow. A reality that we don’t want. Heaven silent. This is the moment when hope needs to anchor us, to keep us in faith and trust that even in the silence God is at work. Sean Feucht wrote “Most of our lives are lived on Holy Saturday. The space between promise and fulfillment, where we hang on to a Hope that never disappoints.” Hope transcends the boundaries of the present and propels our vision forward. It tells us to look beyond our visible reality to an invisible realm.

It tells us to hold on for Sunday’s coming.

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14)

At the foot of the Cross

cross

Today we remember Jesus on the Cross, suffering for us…dying for us. I have also thought of His disciples, His family. Seeing Him being crucified. Seeing Him dying. And in that moment, when Jesus gave up His spirit and died, it must have seemed to them that it was over. He was dead. He was gone. The light had gone out of the world. Darkness reigned. Hopelessness and despair abounded. All must have seemed lost.

I think of this as I look at my little chap, so close to turning 4 yet not talking. My heart has felt heavy as I see and hear his fellow mates with down syndrome talking so beautifully. And I feel I’m at the foot of the Cross laying down my hopes for him. And in that very moment, feeling that despair, that darkness.

It’s hard when you can’t grasp the healing now. When you are waiting for your miracle. It takes faith and it takes trust, when you can’t see past the foot of the Cross. When it all seems hopeless, impossible.

But even as I have felt this pain, I have felt too this bubbling up of hope. Hope that takes us from seeming defeat to victory. For laying everything down at the foot of the Cross is not defeat and it’s not giving into hopelessness. It is surrender to the King of Kings. It’s letting God do what God does best.

‘Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who you are

Let hope arise.

Sunday’s coming.

Anthem

sea

In the first few months after Oscar was born, when I was still very much grappling with his diagnosis of down syndrome, I would frequently listen to Kristene DiMarco’s song “It is well.” It became my anthem. When fear and worry would cast a shadow over my day, I’d play it. Before and after specialist appointments I’d play it. It was my way of telling my soul to keep my eyes on Jesus.

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard
And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And through it all, through it all
It is well
And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And it is well with me
And far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea
And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And through it all, through it all
It is well
And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And it is well
It is well
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
And it is well with my soul

 

Now in lock down and everything you see on the news and on social media is Covid-19 centric. I find myself with a different anthem. “The blessing” by Emmy Rose & Sean Feucht. A reminder of God’s presence being with us. An opportunity to keep my heart focused on God.

May His favour be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children
May His presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
He is with you, He is with you

Listening to worship songs like this, that resonate with your spirit, helps set the atmosphere in your home and in your heart. They help turn our spirit towards God and drown out the noise of fear and of worry.

Lock down day 13. It is well with my soul.

The Little Things

fantail

On a walk Oscar on Day 6 of lock down we passed a house that had Tuis and other birds singing in the trees. It was so lovely to see and hear. I fleetingly thought to myself, I’d live in that house just for the joy of having those birds close by.

The very next day, one of the boys shouted from the lounge that there was a bird inside. Somehow a fantail had made it through our shutters into our lounge. We were able to shepherd it back outside where it spent the next 10 minutes happily chirping around our little courtyard, flitting around from tree to bush, to the delight of Oscar (and myself!).

That fantail, a gift from God, and a reminder to me that God cares about my little wishes and hopes. He cares about my ordinary everyday. Even more so He cares about my life. We might be in the midst of a lock down, but God is still present. He’s in the little things in our day, and He is with us in our big challenges.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” Psalm 139:5-6

 

Shadow

Oscar and I have a new game. One we’ve invented on our daily walk. We play with our shadows. It involves him standing in front of me so his shadow is hidden by mine. I say “where is Oscar?” and then I step away and Oscar’s shadow appears.  Oscar points to his shadow and laughs, before ducking back into my shadow and the game begins again.

But as I have stood behind Oscar, letting my shadow cover his, I can’t help but think of how we can find rest and comfort in the shadow of God. For the game to work, Oscar had to be close to me so that my shadow could hide his. Close to God is where we will find rest. The best place to be.

“Those who live in the shelter of the most high will find rest in the shadow of the almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

Bare Necessities

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And don’t spend your time lookin’ around
For something you want that can’t be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin’ about it
I’ll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you
Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
Lock-down. And things are removed, life restricted. Holiday plans, normal routines, changes in work situations, hobbies, freedom. Life is stripped down to our bare essentials.
The things we used to lean on are no longer there. Gone overnight. Whether it is the company of others, incessant busyness, shopping and habits outside the four walls of our home. If we’re honest, we all have them. Something that self medicates our issues and problems. They become a path back to happiness. Things that have become anesthetic to mask what we don’t want to see. Whether it be loneliness, low self esteem, insecurity. Whatever it is, the removal of our crutches confronts us with them.
Instead of depending on these scaffolds we can lean into God. To lean into His strength and His love.
This time of lock-down might just give us a little more space to be honest before God.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5)
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1,2)

Circumstantial Evidence

mountainer

The evidence appears to be mounting up. Daily increases of people with COVID-19 being announced. The tally worldwide on an exponential climb. It’s confronting. It’s scary.

But we do not have to live dictated by our circumstances. We are in lock-down but we are not locked in. It is a reality for us now but doesn’t have to be our perspective. We need to look at what is going on around us with God’s perspective.

“When you stay in the right perspective, it helps you navigate through issues” (Shawn Bolz)

I’m taking a little bit of licence here with the term circumstantial evidence and not applying in its legal sense. But rather to say don’t let the evidence of these circumstances be the one loud voice in our day. Don’t let it triumph by letting fear grip our souls. Take our worry and anxiety and give it to God.

We need to remember that God is above circumstances. He gets the final say, not covid-19 and not the enemy. The best thing we can do is lift our eyes from these circumstances and keep them firmly fixed on the Lord.

For my eyes are toward You, O GOD, the Lord; In You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless. (Psalm 141:8)

‘I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)

 

 

Go to the mattresses

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“Go to the mattresses. You’re at war.” (You’ve got mail)

In You’ve got mail, Joe Fox gives Kathleen Kelly some advice from The Godfather. Time to hit the mattresses! What great advice for us now! We’re at war against an invisible enemy. And our tactic and strategy – time to stay home and maybe literally spend more time resting!

The origin of the phrase “to the mattresses” dates back to 1530 when the combined troops of Charles V and Medici Pope Clement VII lay siege to Florence. The bell tower of San Miniato al Monte was part of the defences. The locals used the ploy of hanging mattresses on the outside of the tower to minimize damage from cannon fire.

Hundreds of years later it has become part of pop culture when it was used in the Godfather as a call to war. Time to prepare for battle.

So here, on the eve of Lockdown for COVID-19, I say it’s time to go to the mattresses. To stay home and fight this virus.

But more importantly we have another weapon! Prayer!

We pray for wisdom, comfort and strength. We pray for God’s protection and deliverance from the coronavirus. May God’s peace reign in this time.

STAY HOME

SAVE LIVES

To the mattresses!

Walking in the Jungle

jungle

Today our Prime Minister, for the first time, gave an address to the Nation. A warning of an encroaching and invisible enemy and for us to do our part to keep it at bay. We’re told to stay calm and not to panic as our daily norm dissolves around us. Supermarkets remain overwhelmed, and popping out just for the bread and milk is no longer such a quick errand. And the fear, the worry lurks.

Immediately after Jacinda Ardern’s address, Oscar’s music went back on, and the lyrics grabbed my attention.

“Let’s take a walk in the jungle. Walking in the jungle. We’re not afraid. We’re not afraid. “

Yes, COVID-19 is serious. Yes, daily life as we know has changed. Yes, we need to be careful. But we do not need to be afraid or be in fear. God is with us. He is our rock, our strength and our help. Daily life and the world as we know it may be changing significantly but God is unchanging. His love is unchanging and His promises unchanging.

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

Not alone. Not afraid. Trusting in God.