Letters From Greece—#1

Dear Reader,

It’s been a year—exactly a year today in fact—since my husband Ross and I moved to live in Athens, Greece. And what a year it has been!

Culture stress is a well-known phenomena experienced by anyone who moves to live in a culture new to them. Someone once briefly described to me how the human brain (or is it the mind?) reacts in relation to a new and unfamiliar culture; it made sense and helped explain what I was going through. In a fairly normal, everyday sort of situation in my new life, I automatically head off down a well-worn pathway in my brain only to find that I can’t go that way. All the familiar signposts don’t work here! The process of developing new pathways can be a confusing and exhausting one, even if the adventure of it adds a wonderful myriad of colour to my life!

So, you might ask, what are some highlights of this first year in Greece for me?

The food. Most local areas in Athens, like the rest of Greece, host a weekly farmer’s market known locally as the ‘laiki’ or more technically, the ‘laiki agora’; literally, it means the people’s market. Imagine table upon table of the freshest fruit and vegetables—and you’d be correct! Not only is the food fresh, but it is also seasonal. I remember the time I forgot about the lettuce in my fridge. I expected to find it wilted and sad; but no, I found a lettuce which looked fresher than I would’ve found in the supermarkets of Melbourne!

The people. (Maybe they should’ve come first!) This is a nation of people who are strong and resilient and creative… a people who have learned to persevere in the face of one trial and crisis after another—both historically and more recently. Hospitable, friendly, helpful, delightful, kind-hearted, passionate, encouraging. These are all words which might generally describe the Greek people I have encountered. Of course, there are exceptions, but aren’t there anywhere?

The language. One of the best things I chose to do was to more formally learn Greek. A lesson with Kiki (my teacher is Greek and she teaches Greek!) is a weekly adventure. Each new grammar rule expands the capacity of my brain, even if it does sometime ache with the effort! (Note to school students: it’s worth paying attention to those grammar lessons!) Each new word and phrase learned and practised, serves to open up a new avenue of communication! It’s an exciting new world, and one in which I have encouraging and enthusiastic language helpers most places I go to; supermarkets, the local church, market, neighbours… And just a note on language dear Reader; if you ask me to say something to you in Greek, in my experience, all my words seem to disappear somewhere I can’t access ‘on the spot’!

The roads. Oh, the roads! One of the major victories I have had during the last year in Greece, is to learn to drive on the ‘other side’ of the car, on the ‘other side’ of the road! Another has been to learn to expect the unexpected! That time when the woman crashed into the rear of our (borrowed car), I was so very thankful that Ross was with me, no one was hurt, she spoke English and she admitted fault! On a more general note, it seems to me that switching on the hazard lights of a car means its driver can pretty well do anything—even stopping unexpectedly right there on the road in front of you! I might add here that the many motorbike riders without helmets worries me. I’ve worked in a major hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Enough said…

The weather. Living in Greece has allowed me to experience every season. Summers are long and hot made even hotter by heat waves! Anyone who can do so, escapes Athens in summer, especially in August. Winter was cold but not as cold as I imagined it might be. There was a brief covering of snow on the mountains just before Christmas which made for some super-cold winds but spectacular scenery! Springtime has possibly been my favourite season with its mild weather, and such treasures as the wildflowers. On my daily walks, to see the rich display of red poppies together with their neighbours all dressed up in blue, yellow and purple in a riot of colour, has been wonderfully life-giving.

The Celebrations. Christmas, Easter… It has been such an experience to be here and experience the various celebrations that are familiar to me but are celebrated in different ways. Maybe I’ll tell you about the red coloured Easter eggs another time (by the way, I didn’t see any hot-cross buns and very few chocolate products which was refreshing!). Other celebrations or remembrance days unique to Greece, have spoken into my love of culture and history.

Transition and Home. Dear Reader, Ross and I don’t regret leaving ‘home’ to come to live in Greece but we do miss our family and friends, not to mention all the familiar support structures that we took for granted. We treasure your communication with us and gifts of encouragement to us, as we continue to navigate our way through one transition after another. We’re gradually making new friends and learning how to thrive in our adopted home.

We began our adventure in Athens staying for a few weeks in an apartment in central Athens. From there, we moved to the foothills of one of the mountains surrounding Athens to ‘house-sit’ a property for eleven months (we sub-leased the fully furnished house). The cat, whose care was entrusted to us, will be joyfully handed over to her family soon! (We’re not ‘cat-lovers’—apologies if you are!) The coming three months will see us staying in different places whilst we wait for an ‘inner-city’ apartment to be ready for us.

May you and I know through faith and experience—especially in the winds of change and uncertainty—the reality of being held secure, at peace, in the sure and strong and wise grip of Jesus who is magnificently one with the Father.

Until next time,

With love from Heather

PS, What’s a letter without a few photos? Here are a few of my favourites in a slideshow…

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The path

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Imagine with me for a moment as together, we stand on the path…

Look! I see Jesus… He is standing there up ahead at the bend in the pathway! 

Of course Jesus has been with you all along! Did you know that? Or did you not recognise that it was Jesus who was with you all this time? Is it possible that you have been so intent on just getting to where you think you must be, that you paid no attention to Who it was that has been offering to equip you, help you and guide you on your journey in life?

Did you not know that if only you would come close to God, He promises to come close to you?

Or have you been so focused on the path itself—trying to work out how and where every part might fit in (does it even have a place?), that you lost sight of Jesus?

In perfect and loving harmony with God the Father, Jesus has not lost sight of you.

Did you notice the wonder and the beauty of the unfolding story contained within the path?

Did you see that even the smallest piece of rock has its own place and is held securely together in the cement?

Or did you think He did not care?

Did you think He did not treasure even the smallest part of your life that you thought would not matter? Did you think He was just watching—from a distance? 

You are loved by the Father-heart of God! He sees you. He knows you. Intimately. 

The Father’s plans are all about Jesus. He loves you with the same love He has for His Son Jesus! There is no other pathway to God except through Jesus.

Beloved, just like every one of your tears and sorrows is lovingly, carefully collected and treasured in the heart of God, so has every one of the steps you have taken this far in life been lovingly, intentionally and creatively brought together.

It is all there and there is more yet to come! 

Worked together. Held together in the embrace of Jesus who is The Way. The Truth. The life!

It is the only wise thing we can do. Leave everything to be where Jesus is. Go where He is going. Choose to partner with His Spirit wholly surrendered to God’s plans!

It is all for the glory of our redemptive and sin-forgiving God who is love and has the gift of life to freely give and invites us to join Him!

Through Jesus. For the fame of the name of Jesus Christ!

By the way… did you notice in the picture that the day is drawing to a close? The mercies of Godwho is I AMare new every morning.

“… we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. God knew what he was doing from the very beginning.

He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.

After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself.

And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.” (Romans 8:28-30 The Message) 

What else might the Holy Spirit want to speak to you about or show you as you reflect on my photo (taken in Athens, Greece)?

I see something different every time.

I see that there are gum trees and I am comforted by the grace of my compassionate God who has transplanted me into another land and gives me visible memories of my home in Australia.

I see the dry ground scorched by the summer heat and am reminded that by God’s grace, I am like a tree planted along a riverbankwith roots that reach deep down into the water. Such a tree is not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. The leaves of such a tree stays green and never stops producing fruit. (Jeremiah 17:8 NLTparaphrased)

God has so much to show you. Get your journal out. Take the time to be still with Jesus and listen to His Spirit and receive all that He has to give you. 

Peace. Hope. Freedom in Christ. Healing from the inside out.

To love God is to trust and obey.

All for Jesus!

Home

So I’ve been thinking about home a lot lately. But where is my home? Is my home in Eltham in Australia? Is it in Athens in Greece? Or is it found in all of the places in which I’ve lived during my 58 years of life? Maybe home is where I was born…

What does ‘home’ mean to you? It might be a haven of security and belonging that even now draws you back to an atmosphere wherein love, peace and rest prevail. On the other hand, it might be somewhere you dread being even in the distant shadowy memories of long ago years shoved away in a dusty ‘don’t go there’ room in your mind.

I need home to be a haven where I get to relax having tuned out the cacophony of the voices in the world all clamouring to exert their influence on my mind.

After a day spent navigating my way through life with its accompanying intersections each demanding a decision (which way is the right way?) or deciding what to do about the roadblocks, detours and confusing one-way streets where my forward momentum seems somehow even temporarily threatened… I just want to go home!

But what if ‘home’ no longer feels like home?

What do I do? Where do I go?

Maybe the better question is, “To whom do I turn?”. I discovered long ago that I am a traveller on a sojourn passing through this world with all of its brokenness and beauty…

My real home is in Jesus in the heart of God—the great I Am who asked me to call Him “Daddy”.

So it doesn’t matter where I am in the world when I practice resting back into His presence. It doesn’t matter who I’m with… or not with. It doesn’t matter whether the language is different. It doesn’t matter.

It’s in God where my place of security and belonging rests. The guarantee of an eternity lived ‘at home’—one with Jesus where I am forever healed, forever content, forever fulfilled and satisfied, forever tuned in to the sound of heaven—is the beloved Holy Spirit who made His home in me when He drew me to Jesus.

That day when I believed what I was hearing within the hidden depths of my being—that Jesus loved me and wanted to make His home in me—that day when I said “yes” was the day that I found out where my real, forever home is…

No matter where I am in the world.

Heather Henson

20th July 2017

 

Ross and me

Where?

Have you ever wondered where all the people are going? Have you ever sat in the safety of your dwelling place and wondered…?

Here I am on ‘day 3’ in Greece—downtown Athens— and I’m wondering. How do I do life in this place mostly unfamiliar to me? The explorer in me is weary from all the preparations of just getting here. The courageous part in me wants to hide for a few minutes, maybe even a few days. The observer within me is watchful and alert, working hard to interpret and process all that I see around me through the lens of my personality and experience of life.

So many questions with an accompanying cacophony of emotions… What is happening around me? How do they do it? How do I do it? What do you call that? How much is that? Where does it go? What does that mean? What must I do? How do I ask for that?

I don’t fit in. Yet. Will I ever?

I witness the uninhibited joyful response of the woman behind the counter as I use her language to say “Thank you for your help” and I know I will keep going…

Life. It really is all about relationship and not so much about the task after all.

And I know I will explore—one step at a time. Where the people are. How they get there. Where they are going. I will join them on their journey even if my steps are a little tentative at first.

My dwelling place is a safe and secure one. In this place of belonging I am daily prepared and equipped for exploring the world around me.

I go out. I come back in. I go out… The very air I breathe—the very atmosphere in which I have my being—in this place I am utterly loved and accepted.

So I will remember to live and love well for life is not a guarantee but a gift. And I remember.

I follow Jesus and when I follow Jesus, life happens…

Man in alley

A journey with Stephen…

So what is it, that the Father might be saying to us at a time such as this? It seems to me that it is as simple and as profound as a story of glory—the triumphant glory of God that has not been and will never be, extinguished by the darkness!

Imagine that you’re present—in this story recorded for us in the book of Acts 6-7. You are there living the journey with Stephen—working alongside him, helping him.

How exciting it was to be present that day when he was chosen by the community of Jesus-followers to serve them in the distribution of food to the widows of the Greek and Hebrew speaking believers? It was like you could feel the atmosphere was charged with the holiness and passion of God!

You had heard that Stephen had a reputation for being ‘a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit’. (Acts 6:5) and now you realised that Stephen was not just serving food to the people in need. Important though the task is, you have been recognising that it is never all about that. It is about relationship. Whenever authentic community is allowed to exist and is practised, God’s goodness and grace and mercy and compassion are on display for all to see! 

Whenever the Word of God speaks, you have been learning that we do well to listen. But not just to listen because it is when we believe God and put what we have heard into action that it becomes life… And life charged and empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit changes everything! 

You saw—sometimes through your tears—that through Stephen’s life in-action, God had gifts to give to the ‘little ones’ who are so easily forgotten—marginalised by a world locked in an insane struggle for power.

Now of course you remember… Jesus always honoured the people who the world rejected. He only did what he saw the Father doing! He never treated the vulnerable—the ‘lepers’ of society, the ‘invisible’ people like they were victims and expendable— people to sweep out of his way.

Their needs were (are) opportunities… opportunities for God to reveal his glory, his majesty, his goodness and his eternal loving-kindness  to the world who was (is) watching. 

You stood with Stephen as he along with his colleagues was prayed for and commissioned by the twelve apostles. Then in the days to come, you watched as a principle was displayed for all to see and understand: in the hands of the author of our lives, a job description becomes something infinitely more than anything imagined, planned or authored by man alone

You watched in amazement as Stephen—full of God’s grace and power—performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. You had learned from history so you were not really surprised that he attracted opposition. It came this time, in the form of a group of Jews from a local Synagogue. But do you know what the worst thing was? These men couldn’t stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke so they persuaded others to tell lies about him. 

It was awful! Of course, the people always did become enraged in an instant whenever they imagined the law of Moses and the holy Temple were being blasphemed but the speed with which you saw the religious leaders became involved was incredible. 

That day, you heard truth! The very words of Jesus (yes, you heard him speak them with your own ears) were twisted and used with malicious intent against Stephen. You sensed evil at work that day—invisibly and visibly—bent on stealing, killing and destroying…

But the wonder of what happened next! You watched in awe when you saw Stephen’s face became as bright as an angel’s with the glory of God shining upon him, within him, all around him. Everyone just stared at him in amazement, their mouths wide open!

It was then that the priest in-charge spoke. You turned, this time to stare at him as he arrogantly asked Stephen if the accusations levelled against him were true! The way he asked made you wonder if he had already made up his mind about the matter.

The way Stephen replied was amazing and reminded you of the words Jesus said about a time of great persecution ahead. He said, “You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!” (Luke 21:12-15 NLT)

It looked to you like the religious leaders were pleased with what Stephen was saying… in fact it was like listening to the lesson for the day in the Synagogue. But all that changed when he pointed out to them that they were ‘heathen’ at heart and deaf to the truth! And then he asked if they were going to forever resist the Holy Spirit—which was what their ancestors did! 

Oh! He really gave it to them! The Truth would not be silenced! He said that their ancestors persecuted every one of the prophets that God sent to them but not only that, they even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One, the Messiah. He even told them that the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands! After all, who amongst men could build God a resting place when heaven is his throne and earth is his footstool! 

You wondered… is it possible that the Temple and the traditions of the law of Moses had tragically somehow become a form of idolatry reinforced time and time again? Had this idolatry hardened—even encapsulated—their hearts to the Father of our beloved Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? 

It seemed like the Father was giving these people whom he loved so much, another opportunity to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus in faith. But they would have none of it that day. The power of the ‘story’ was too strong in them and it was like they served it. Anyone perceived as a threat to their story was being treated as ‘the enemy’.  They chose that moment, to become infuriated by Stephen’s accusation. They could have chosen to turn to God—truly remorseful and repentant. They had a choice but sadly, you recognised, they had made this choice so often that it was like it now owned them.

You watched with awestruck wonder as Stephen—full of the Holy Spirit—gazed unwavering into heaven and saw the glory of God! He saw Jesus standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand. He testified to what he saw even in that moment, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:55-56)

The speed and violence with which the engaged religious leaders grabbed Stephen was awful and terrifying! You watched with horror when men took up one stone after another and with a deadly force borne out of self-righteous fury, struck him again and again…

With tears streaming down your face, you watched as Stephen—innocent of the charges brought against him—prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Falling to his knees, he shouted, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!”  (Acts 7:59-60) 

And you remembered Jesus… 

Oh… and the triumphant glory light of God? One of the witnesses who stood in agreement to the killing of Stephen, was a young man known as Saul who was soon to find himself in the very centre of the focus of that same glory! 

Oh merciful and great I AM! Keep us from the folly of resisting your Holy Spirit! Help us to more fully surrender (by faith with joy and thanksgiving) to Jesus and experience true and lasting freedom to live in unfettered abandonment to your ways and to your will… No matter the cost of the opposition that we will attract! For Jesus sake! For your glory! 

(References: This story was taken from the Bible book of Acts chapters 6-7 NLT.)

The Joy of Creation

Imagine! The Creator of the universe is standing with you. Right beside you… to your right. He turns to you and with a twinkle in his eyes says, “Watch this…” 

Looking up into the night sky, you watch as he flings a star into space. His throw was amazing to watch. There was no sense of randomness or trying hard to get it right.

This was the Creator having fun. Enjoying himself! 

You watch as the Creator of the universe paints a picture on the easel of the dark canvas of the night sky. But this is no ordinary work of art. This is life. But this is not the ‘still life’ sort of art you have seen artists in the world work to copy from a model set before them.

No. This unique art exhibition created by him is living, vibrant and joyful—singing in worship to the Creator—the One who spoke it all into being. The One who sustains it all by the power of his word!

This masterpiece—set high in the heavens by the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—testifies to the brilliance and power and majesty and love of our Creator.

“Did you like that? he exclaims as he turns to you looking into your eyes! The energy and loving kindness, the sense of ancient wisdom there—you see all of this and more—somehow mixed in together in the limitless depths of his eyes.

You know you are looking in to the face of the eternal I AM who I AM. The Ancient of days. The Author of life—your life and mine.

Rich and satisfying. Abundant life!

Resting his hands on your shoulders, the Creator speaks to you with an intensity that has every part of your being quivering. You know that you cannot contain this energy that is even now building within you. You begin to wonder, “What will it take? What is going to happen to release this energy? Am I going to explode?”

Suddenly, Jesus lifts one hand from your shoulder and turning, he looks up once more into the night sky. “Look what I did with that energy! Look what was created through me! By me. For you. To point you to me. You cannot contain my power… relax into me and let it flow. Let it flow through you. My Spirit will guide its flow according to our Daddy’s plans. And rememberthe plans… they are all about me!” 

For the glory of God!

Let us worship the Lord—our God! Ascribe greatness to the Creator immersed in the beauty of his holiness…. in the splendour and wonder of his majesty!

Perspective and life…

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Perspective is a funny thing.

Standing side by side, two people can look out on to the same scene—yet they can focus on two different points of view.

Same picture. Different perspective. 

I believe it is not possible to focus on two different things at exactly the same time—even though there might only be a fraction of a moment in time between moving one’s focus from one thing to another.

So, I wonder… In this picture of mine (taken in 2015 at a Morning Peninsula beach, in Australia), what do you see? What does the Spirit of Jesus Christ want to show you from the depths of the Father’s heart?

Some questions coming to my mind include…

Is my focus drawn to the approaching storm front? Or has the sun in the middle of the picture attracted my attention? Why?

Am I drawn to the lighter clouds dancing their way across the blue sky?

Is my focus drawn to the ocean? And why? What is it about the ocean?

I look at the picture where the sun is shining in the centre of it all and I remember…

I remember that God—my heavenly Daddy—powerful and gentle, righteous and holy, gracious and loving, kind and wise, the always-good Lord of Heavens’ Armies says, “Be still and know that I AM God.” (Read Psalm 46.)

I remember that even if the storm clouds come (and they do come), the sun will always be there—hidden but not gone. The light of the life of God’s one and only unique Son Jesus Christ—who exactly represents God—will never ever be extinguished by the darkness. Never. It is not possible.

I remember that the Spirit of Jesus will always be with me. Jesus did not return to heaven (to his Father) and leave me and you as orphans. He promises to always be our secure place of refuge. And it is impossible for God to lie. His promises are forever. His kingdom is unshakeable. 

I look at the picture and remember. Jesus Christ is, and must be, the centre of it all.

You might like to use the photograph and ask Jesus… “What do you have as a gift to give me from the Father’s heart—about life? From his perspective? For your sake.”

Yes… There might indeed be issues which we each see from a different perspective but… we must meet together in Jesus. And yes… We need the Holy Spirit to empower and help us be the sort of relational community where we are free to explore life together within the good and pleasant and secure boundaries of God—who is truth and love.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom… Freedom to be live the rich and satisfying life that Jesus came to lead us into. 

God calls us to be one—united in love in (and with) the Prince of Peace—by the power and work of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

For HIS glory!

That the world would know that God is good!

Preparing for the journey

We might describe the living of lifeday by dayas a journey.

Where are you going on your journey in life? What is your destination? And how do we make each day count? Who do we count it for?

Imagine… you are preparing for the journey ahead of you. Excited, you begin dreaming about all the adventures you will have—the places you will visit, the people you will meet. 

A question forms in your mind, “What will I pack in my suitcase so I have everything l need—on this journey of mine?” 

A man comes and stands beside you. You recognise Him. It is Jesus! He says, “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with (God) the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” (1John 2:15-17—The Message)

Jesus goes on to remind you that you cannot follow two masters—you will eventually love one and hate the other. The Father—God—is good all the time. He does not want you taking your journey through life alone. He invites you to join Him and work with Him in His mission of love to a confused and hurting world in need of the Saviour.

Jesus says you are valuable to the Father whose Spirit will never ever leave or abandon you as an orphan. He will help you, guide you and teach you all that you need to know. He will even provide for you in ways that will bring great glory to His Holy Name.

You look up into the face of Jesus—in his eyes you see Truth. You see grace and mercy. You see compassion. You see joy! This is Someone you can trust. You say to Jesus, “Yes! I will trust you. I will submit to you as my Master. I will follow you and serve you. I will go where you go. I will say what I hear you saying. Yes Jesus. Yes!”

It feels like you have come home… when Jesus takes you into his Father’s arms and holds you secure. Jesus and his Father are One—perfectly united.

Now it is time to pack your suitcase for the days ahead. Jesus offers to help and you accept His offer knowing how wise he is! You remember that he once took a journey too. He set his face resolutely for Jerusalem so you feel confident that he knows all about being prepared for the journeys of life.

You recognise now that you are no longer anxious about what you will need—on this journey of yours. At peace now, you watch and listen as Jesus describes some of the things He gives you to pack in your suitcase… 

Compass: The Holy Spirit will guide you and keep you in the power of the Father’s love and in the Word. He will remind you to check the compass—to ensure you keep heading ‘true north’—in step with Jesus into an eternity with him. The compass might also be called a ‘moral compass’ designed to keep you pure, holy and blameless in Christ. 

Magnifying glass: represents God’s gift to you to help you examine and test everything to ensure it is of His Kingdom. You will be able to see so much more clearly with the magnifying glass—the lens through which God sees everything. 

Sandals: these are sturdy—you are not surprised to find they fit you perfectly! Jesus tells you that they have been tailor-made just for you. They will protect your feet even on the roughest of roads. These are the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace.  

Tool box: The Father knows what you need along your journey. He gives you tools such as patience, wisdom, knowledge and other grace-gifts designed to build up the body of Christ in the way you live. (Some tools you will be given further along the journey as you need them.)

Walking stick: this is designed to steady you. As you practice the Presence of Jesus wherever you go, His Spirit will steady you. Even if you stumble you will not fall. 

Lantern: even in the darkest of places, this light will never go out. Jesus reminds you that the light of his life can never ever be extinguished by the darkness. His light within you means that even in the darkest of places, you will be able to see what God needs you to see empowered by His Spirit.

Clothes: Jesus does not pack these clothes—he dresses you in them! The robe of righteousness is a brilliant white and the garment of praise seems to be made of cloth the colour of a rainbow! 

Now Jesus places His Hand upon you and speaks an ancient blessing. It is like holy oil that He says you will pass on to other people who you meet along your journey… ‘‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favour and give you his peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

You pick up your suitcase ready to set off on your journey—Jesus looks at you with a smile that reaches all they way up to his eyes and says, Let me carry that for you…!”

Moving from one position to another…

Do you ever wonder how you will move from one position to another… in life? 

If you paused to consider the question, metaphorically speaking… would you take a running leap & jump—even if you risked falling? Or would you construct some sort of bridge? You might even use people to walk over to get where you want to go. Perhaps you might resign yourself to looking for a different path—the long way around if necessary. If there is one. And there would be no guarantee of not getting lost…

Of course, if you sit at the impasse long enough, you might get so tired of waiting that you turn & go back the way you came, disillusioned & disappointed, wondering what it was all about. 

What if fellow-travellers distracted you with their ideas? For goodness sake, they might even convince you to abandon your own plans & join them on their journey! Being carried along in someone else’s hopes & plans for the future might help you to forget all about your own… for a time. 

Imagine a vehicle pulling up beside you. The door opens—the Holy Spirit invites you to get in. He even helps you & shows you to a seat—reserved for you! There beside you with a smile that goes all the way to His eyes, is Jesus! The light of His pleasure shines into your face. “Welcome! You‘ve joined Me for the journey! “ 

Breathing in the atmosphere—replete with the exquisite aroma of joy & peace & love—you respond from a deep place within. If you could even find the words, you might describe feeling more alive than ever. Paradoxically, every cell in your being seems ‘electrically’ excited but completely at rest. 

Words are coming to your mind… Our Father—the One true, powerfully gentle, majestic & holy God—knows the plans He has for you. He reminds you that, “My plans are for good & not for disaster, to give you a future & a hope.”

You remember that Jesus said, “… ask for anything in My name, & I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”HIS word will be a lamp to guide your feet & a light for your path.3  

Now Jesus reminds you, “Keep hold of your Daddy’s hand & walk resolutely with Him—one step at a time—just as I taught you. My Spirit will help you.” And remember… He said to His Daddy, “Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.”4

Just like Jesus said to weary travellers so long ago, so He says to you now, “Come to me, all of you who are weary & carry heavy burdens, & I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble & gentle at heart, & you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, & the burden I give you is light.”5

Still another thought comes like a gentle wind strengthening you in Christ—preparing you for the journey ahead. ‘Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.’ 6 

God has not left you alone like an orphan to find your own way in life.7

Choose this day! Choose to rest in the Spirit of Jesus Christ? Trust Jesus to be the way who will reveal truth & give to you His amazing gift of joy-filled life in all its fullness! 

So… how do you move from one position to another? It happens as you practice abiding in Jesus Christ. You are carried in the Living Water (the Holy Spirit) in harmony with our Father’s heart. 

God made Jesus Christ to be wisdom itself8 therefore walk  in wisdom… in every footstep of Jesus, there is so much to explore!

There is freedom in Christ—to move forward with courage & confidence—even when it is in the face of fear.

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Scripture references (NLT) 

  1. Paraphrased from Jeremiah 29:11-13     
  2. John 14:13 
  3. Psalm 119:105 
  4. Matthew 26:39
  5. Matthew 11:28-30 
  6. Isaiah 30 contains treasure! Quoted here is verse 21.
  7. John 14:18—but don’t stop there—explore the whole chapter!
  8. 1 Corinthians 1:30

 

 

Surrender…

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting on the sand just by the water’s edge. Not so close that a more daring wave will take you by surprise but close enough to guarantee your access to the ocean.

Feeling pleased with yourself—for claiming such a prime location—you entertain the thoughts that come to mind. Of course, you would never voice them out loud, but they are there all the same—wrapped up in, “It’s mine!”

Dreaming about what it will be like, you set yourself up for the day. Building ‘sandcastles in the air’, you imagine the admiring glances of your neighbours as they wonder who you are and how you got to where you are.

Time passes… Unnoticed by you, the crowds have gradually departed until now, no one is left around you. And still, you hold your position.

But, now you see something you did not expect. There is water swirling all around you. Even as you watch, it slowly but relentlessly continues to rise.

The tide has turned.

So focussed as you were on maintaining your place on the beach, you did not see that your environment was changing. And yet you remain. The water continues to rise…

To the Observer, only your head is visible now. But you are not alone because fear and anxiety have become your companions. “Where will I end up… if the next big wave washes me away?” Now you begin to think. Maybe the sand was not such a smart place upon which to build a house.   

A question forms in your mind even as you scan your surroundings looking for a way of escape… “Where is Jesus?” You realise you have not seen Him in a while but with a sinking feeling, you know you were not even looking for Him—preoccupied as you were with your own plans.

The water is now threatening your very existence. You decide to call out for help because you remember do you not? He is the ‘Master Life-Saver’. Tentatively at first… “Jesus!”. No one can rescue people like He does. But you wonder, will He want to?

Maybe your growing sense of courage is fuelled by you admitting to the reality of your desperate situation. Louder now, you call out again.“JESUS!”

Then you see Him. Why did you not see Him before? He is standing on higher ground. You hear His voice saying, “Come to Me beloved one. Come to where I AM”.

The water of your circumstances weighs heavily all around you but you have made a decision. Determined, you take the first small step towards Jesus.

You have surrendered to Jesus.

Now you see something wonderful taking place. It changes your whole world in a moment in time… Jesus is moving towards you! And then—He is with you—standing right beside you. Feeling magnetically drawn to Him, you look up into His face. There reflected in His eyes, you see the warmth of His eternal loving-kindness, compassion and mercy… focussed on you. God’s amazing grace!

“Come with Me” He says.“I want you with Me where I AM going. I promise you an adventure-filled life. It will not be an easy life—there are challenges ahead—but My Spirit will be with you and will be your Helper and Guide. Imagine the joy of following Me and serving God—My Daddy and yours! It is a lifestyle you do not want to miss out on.

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all your mind and all of your strength.”

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