“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches.” (Isaiah 45:3)
Grief visited this week. It threw shadows across my path as family and friends grieved over the loss of loved ones. People were left with sadness, tears in their eyes and empty spaces in their homes. There really were no words to say.
When hard times come, when the darkness has crept into our day, we can know that God is there with us, close. For He is close to the broken hearted. He knows our pain, our loss. He hears our whispers of fear and hurt and He catches every tear that we shed.
In during these times, we will discover treasures in the darkness. Treasures of God’s grace as we find the strength to get through. Treasures of friends gathering to show their love and care. Treasures of prayers and an awareness of God calling people to pray. Treasures of a deeper revelation of God’s love for us.
We find the laughter and the light grows stronger and brighter again.
The darker the night,
The brighter the day,
The fiercer the fight,
The stronger the faith,
So I place my hope in You
(Kristene Mueller – Redemption)
Ok, so the lyrics of a Christmas Carol have inspired me! It’s funny what songs you find yourself singing at random times! But it’s a good question! Although don’t worry the answer isn’t taking me down a Christmas inspired route with tinsel and bells, but rather to the mirror.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see your flaws first, the things you don’t like about yourself? Do you find yourself doing a stocktake of grey hairs or wrinkles? Or bemoaning the shape of your eyes or mouth? What about the invisible parts of you? Do you find yourself looking at an invisible mirror that reflects back your personality, your intelligence? Maybe it reflects back how poorly you think you are doing as a mother, friend, worker….Do you have times when quite frankly you don’t even like yourself?
And believe me, the enemy loves it when we question and criticize what we see in the mirror. He’s at the ready with barrage of words to assist. Worthless…ugly…dumb…unnoticed….unlovely…failure…guilty….I could go on, but I am unwilling to assist the enemy with his negative adjectives!
The best defence is the God defence! You see, when I started singing (well in my head singing!) this song, I heard this phrase “do you see what I see?” as if God was saying it and not the night wind or the shepherd boy! But God saying it of us – “Do you see what I see?”
Do we? Do we really see ourselves as God sees us?
Straight away we can put a red line through the negative words that we say to ourselves or carry around in our hearts. For that is not what God sees when He looks at us. He sees a person who is beloved, treasured, fearfully and wonderfully made, chosen, called, greatly loved, purposed and predestined, redeemed, holy, a new creation, a royal priesthood.
I heard someone recently recount how they had taught “Siri” (Apple’s personal assistant app) to call him “Your majesty”. If I ever get around to installing Siri on my phone I might be tempted to do the same. A little bit of royalty in my day can’t hurt me! But laughs aside, make sure that you are letting the words you say about yourself line up with what God says about you – what He thinks about you and what He sees when He looks at you! We need to give the enemy no chance of rebuttal with his words of condemnation.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3)
“you are precious in my eyes, and honoured, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4)
serenity : – the state or quality of being serene; the absence of mental stress or anxiety
I’ve been captivated by the word “serenity” for many years now. Ever since reading the novel, “I take thee Serenity.” While the book focuses on a couple – Peter and Serenity, trying to make wise choices in a busy, modern and changing world, it was the peace, the calm that the backdrop of Serenity’s family and community provided that captivated me. And actually even just the word – serenity.
Serenity, back then for me, elbow deep in University text books on the Industrial Revolution, Middle English and Accountancy, seemed an elusive quality. Fast forward to today, with our technological advances that puts you in contact with your workplace 24/7, the emphasis on being busy equating to success and serenity seems even more elusive. Something relegated to a bygone era as much as the novel is now.
Serenity possesses the hope of peace and calm, tranquillity in a busy, noisy world. The question, the challenge is, is it obtainable? Is it achievable? In a life that has us at best jugglers, can we be serene? Actually, if I take the analogy of jugglers a bit further, I can’t say I have ever seen a juggler looking agitated, stressed or panicking as various items from skittles, plates, torches of fire even are juggled. Ok, most have a clown’s face or smile plastered on, but they don’t seem to be sweating through the paint! In the midst of it all, they’re at peace. Calm.
Peace is the key to a life of serenity. And while it is often defined as the absence of trouble, the peace that we can have is much more than this. It is unrelated to circumstances – good or bad. In fact it is unaffected by our circumstances. It is a peace that can be had in the midst of trials or the busyness of life in the 21st Century. It is a gift, given to us by Jesus Christ. It is a peace that can actually influence our world around us. But to enjoy this peace, we have to let it rule – let it breathe in our lives.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” (Colossians 3:15)
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“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 14:27)
Today was a total waste of makeup! Actually to be honest, I didn’t even get that far! Waking with a crippling migraine that meant most of my conversations today were with a toilet bowl (too much information?), I kept to my bed. The offer of a coffee was even refused – yes I was that sick!
I think the busy lead up to Christmas and Year end was my undoing. My body had gone on strike. Having now emerged from the migraine, the lesson has been learnt. It’s time to unrush Christmas. Christmas is a time of year that sees many people stressed and under pressure. Gifts to buy and wrap, food to prepare, Christmas events to attend. Add into that Work, School Assembly’s and holidays and you have one busy month.
All great, all good and all lots of fun. But still makes for a busy schedule. It’s probably just as well that one of the themes of Advent is Peace. And it’s probably at this time of year it’s when we most need it. At this time of year there are many distractions and stressors that seeks to rob us of peace. But in amongst it all, we need to remember the reason for the season – Jesus. Whose name includes Prince of Peace!
At this time of year we need to keep Jesus first and foremost. And by doing that we can stay in peace even in this busy season. It’s a pretty good solution and certainly better than the day I’ve had today!
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3).
Motherhood is messy. It is filled with spills and stains and grubby marks. All precious, but still messy. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to go out (or gone out) and discovered the milk marks, snot marks even on my shoulder. I have repeatedly wiped the fingermarks and the occasional crayon mark off walls.
Last week I had an unusual messy moment. I sat in a salon chair as a hairdresser coloured and cut my hair, enjoying the pampering. Only to have him exclaim, “what happened here!!” as he pointed to a clump of hair only an inch or so long, compared to rest of my longer hair. Rather hard to explain how my 2 year old had managed to find some scissor, come up behind me and cut a fair amount of hair out before I even registered what was going on! The hairdresser told me he couldn’t fix or hide this now spiky patch in my recently straightened hair. Hair grows quickly eh?
Motherhood is messy in another way and that is in the unpredictability of it. Yes we have routines and timetables. But we can’t predict when the baby will cry (and for how long) or when just before leaving the house a nappy needs changing, or a child needs the toilet while you are on the motorway. Nor can we know the numbers of nights of broken sleep, or days when plans change due to a sick child and doctor visits. Or when tired children needing reassurance and comfort and interrupt dinner plans. Days when nothing on our lists gets achieved and we crumple exhausted into bed.
I am thankful that during these times, I have a good God. One who gives me grace to keep going through the broken nights, strength to get through hard days. I have a loving God who ministers to my mother heart when I worry about my children. I have a kind God who knows my heart when I whisper a prayer as I fall asleep reading the Bible. I have an encouraging God who speaks to me through my daily life. I have an amazing God who blessed me with my children and blesses me with strength, grace and wisdom to be a good mother.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
And carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those that have young.