I’ve always disliked competitive sports particularly since becoming a Christian. To me exalting yourself/team at someone else’s expense seems the opposite of the servant nature of a Christian. I could never understand, even as a child, why it mattered who scored highest in getting balls through hoops, posts, etc. – such a pointless activity. I found it amusing that grown men got so caught up in children’s games.
Yet now, though I’d find actually watching a match rather tedious, I have been keenly following England’s wins in the world cup. Why?
You see I’ve been praying for some time for something to help unite us amid the whole Brexit turmoil etc. and strangely these football wins seem to be doing just that. A young multi ethnic (if not multi- national) team playing together, and winning, seems to have captured many hearts. People who wouldn’t normally mix are hugging each other and somehow national confidence is being restored. Who would have thought God would use football lol?
Jesus gave a formula by which all would know we were His followers. It was not which denomination, or creed we held, or how often we went to church, not even how well we kept “the rules”.
He said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.”
I seem to have so many blessings it’s tiring me out lol! Life is so full of good things, my wonderful family, incredible parties and BBQs, sailing, plants and allotment, great friends, writing, blogging etc. I just wish I had extra energy to enjoy it all more! Now approaching my 67th birthday and having to “pace myself” somewhat it reminds me of the saying that life should be lived to the full not limping to the finish line but skidding into last base lol!
God has been good to me and my more frequent times of rest are punctuated more and more by my heartfelt thanks and appreciation of all He does for me on a daily basis.
So here’s another true story of God’s miracles. I didn’t witness this one personally but I’d like to include it as I was closely involved and know the guy who recounted it to me to be a man of great integrity and not inclined to exageration. Most important of all I want to share it because it concerned Christians and Muslims praying together in love and unity.
I worked alongside a wonderful family who were involved helping Kurdish refugees in Greece for a short time. There are many incredible stories to tell of this period but this one I heard about later from the father who was visiting London at the time.
The Greek government had given the refugees the use of a camp over the winter hoping to be able to move them on when the tourists began to arrive in spring. Though most did actually pass through and on to France, UK and Germany there were always more coming to take their place.
It seems, getting angrier and angrier, the local restaurant owners (who made their money from the tourists that generally used the camp in the summer months) took to desparate measures in hopes of driving them out. Nothing was proved for sure, but several small fires were started in the area with the prevailing winds blowing the flames towards the camp. In summer the grass is tinder dry in Greece and the blaze was soon out of control. A wall of fire six foot high was soon leaping toward the camp while the residents tried frantically to evacuate (minus transport or help of any kind.) I’ve seen these type of fires at close quarters and it is terrifying! All that stood between the camp and the blaze was a simple wire fence. My friend began praying desperately joined by his Muslim brothers. The fire came on in leaps and bounds, but just as it reached the wire fence the wind changed direction blowing the fire away from the camp.
Amazingly no one was hurt (though it seemed the retreating fire destroyed several restaurants). All gave praise to God together as one, the fence making a clear demarkation line between black ashes and dry untouched ground.
That sounds contradictory, particularly as I have a wonderful little church with brothers and sisters that love Jesus, the spirit of which has often uplifted me. Yet sometimes we just need time alone with God. Life has been busy in wonderful ways, holidays, visitors and family events. My allotment has needed extra work due to the unusually hot spring weather and I love to watch the plants flourish. Sailing has been fun, but somewhat exhausting, as several new groups of disabled children have joined us, straining our volunteer resources and frequently adding days to my weekly commitment. All these things are good, and fruitful, but take away from time alone with Jesus, still, quiet times, just resting on His breast pondering my path.
While retaining my times of morning prayer and Bible reading etc. I’ve lacked that personal intimacy of truly resting in Him, my mind half on the clock or anticipating all I need to cram in that day before my strength flags. The older I get the more I need to find my strength in Him, in my weakness comes His strength. Sometimes we get so busy serving we neglect our first love.
Picture the devoted wife who cleans the house, cooks an amazing meal, cares for the children etc. but her husband finds her asleep in the armchair when he wants to talk together. He carries her upstairs to bed because he loves her, but there is no lovemaking because she’s just so exhausted. It sounds funny but it’s so easy to be this way with the Lord.
When sailing we constantly need to check our direction, make small adjustments to the tiller and anticipate wind and direction changes if we are not to end up ensnarled in the reeds etc. We do this by lining up the mast with a static point on shore against which we can see if we are being drawn right or left. (Unlike a car a sailing boat will not simply follow the course of the tiller other forces are also at work.) Life is like that too. While we set a general course, we need often to check if “winds” or “currents” are slowly leading us off course. Jesus is our reference point firmly “on shore”.
So today I want to stop, get quiet, get my bearings, and listen to the whispers, to write. Sometimes we just need one on one.
“I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy.” (Luke 10:19)
Sometimes we forget the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual. Spending a great deal of my life in the far east I became aware the powers of darkness are real – however God’s power is much greater.
The next true miracle story is an illustration of this. Since this is often a foreign concept to those brought up in a mostly Christian culture perhaps first I can give an example of how this kind of thing manifests itself.
Whilst in Taiwan I saw what I assumed to be a movie set. A crowd of people surrounded a young teenager drenched in blood, (so much so I felt the make up department had overdone it). In his hand he held what looked like a spiked mace. I soon realized this was no movie, the blood was real. Seeming to feel no pain, he was repeatedly hitting himself with the mace and blood was pouring. I finally found someone who spoke English to explain what was going on as another boy convulsed in what looked similar to an epileptic fit. Surrounding men thrust a mace into his hands as the excited man beside me explained proudly, “the Gods eat their bodies!” I was horrified. Fireworks were being set off to scare away evil spirits and a huge crowd followed. It was too much for me to challenge directly. Returning home I prayed desperately for rain, knowing they’d stop if they couldn’t set off the fireworks. Thankfully God answered with a deluge.
I’d heard about these thing before, failed students could make a lot of money as vehicles for the spirits in these processions, generally to bring luck for a business venture or something. These practices are outlawed in mainland China but still exist in Taiwan. It was the first and only time I saw one. While perhaps the most upsetting this was only one example of things we encountered.
I have no explanation for the following story. It was very weird and happened for no apparent reason. One of my daughters (then a toddler) was sitting in her highchair when she grew restless. I looked on mesmerised as a very distinct red line encircled her toes, in seconds rising up her body leaving her lower body scarlet. It wasn’t a flush or like anything I’ve seen before or since. The skin on one side of the line was bright red on the other white. As it reached her head she began to scream. I grabbed her from the chair as my husband and a Christian friend, long resident in the far east, rushed in.
“We need to pray!” the friend urged laying hands on her and desperately rebuking the devil. We all joined in and slowly the process happened in reverse. The red line receded back down her body and disappeared from her toes. She stopped screaming as soon as it left her head and promptly got up and went to play with her toys on the floor, seemingly totally undisturbed. The whole incident took less than five minutes. It was the weirdest thing I ever saw. I’ve since asked doctors if there is any physical explanation, but none had heard of anything like it. Whether she had some affliction and was instantly healed or whether it was an attack I don’t know. Physical or spiritual, from that moment on I realised the authority we have in Jesus name.
“To everything there is a season”
Why this text again, again?
For all of life there is a reason.
Every season has its gain.
As leaves flutter, soil enriching
Whence tomorrow’s crop will grow
To every time, to every season
Blessings harboured to bestow.
So they follow, so they follow,
Forth so richly to endow
A lingering of depth and beauty
The latter process to enshroud.
Nothing lost, as forth in nature
Only transformation rules.
When time is over, spreading riches
Heavenly and sweet perfumes.
Something lingers, something lingers,
Essence of eternal flame.
Bringing hope and exultation
Glory to His heavenly name.
Dig down deeply, dig down deeply,
To the seasons swiftly past.
There you’ll find in rich abundance
Fertile soil for growth at last.