Blessed

Comfort, O comfort my people,

says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and cry to her

that she has served her term,

that her penalty is paid,

that she has received from the LORD’s hand

double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,

and all people shall see it together,

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

 

A voice says, “Cry out!”

And I said, “What shall I cry?”

All people are grass,

their constancy is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades;

when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;

surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades;

but the word of our God will stand forever…

 

He will feed his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs in his arms,

and carry them in his bosom,

and gently lead the mother sheep. 

 

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand

and marked off the heavens with a span,

enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure,

and weighed the mountains in scales

and the hills in a balance?

 

…Have you not known? Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?

Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

 

…Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,

and strengthens the powerless.

Even youths will faint and grow weary,

and the young will fall exhausted;

but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,

they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

they shall walk and not faint.

Extracts from Isaiah 40 (NRSVA)

My dear mother-in-law died yesterday. We weren’t quick enough to the hospital to be with her, but Frank and I were able to see her, laid out in a private room with a sheet neatly placed over her body, just exposing her face. She was warm when I stroked her hair and said a burbled goodbye. I thanked her for being my mother-in-law and told her I was glad to know she was with Jesus. Later, when we were home, my sister-in-law visited and cuddled one of our newly acquired guinea pigs as we briefly discussed the next steps. Jesus said ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted’. I doubt he meant that guinea pigs would be part of the process, but I am quite sure God uses even the lowliest of creatures!

Please keep Frank and his sister in your prayers as they go about the funeral arrangements. Thank you.

Let it Go

If you have daughters of a certain age you will no doubt have repeatedly heard the dulcet refrain from Disney’s ‘Frozen’. In our house it has been less dulcet and more, shall we say, decibels, when my two giggling beauties belt out, “Let it go! Let it goooooo!”

That was the refrain that came to mind as I read Richard Rohr’s words this morning. My brain assigns a song to pretty much everything I do. Musical insanity. My husband says it never happens to him. Perhaps he’s the sane spouse. Anyway…

[The] spiritual life has more to do with subtraction than with addition. But in the capitalistic West we keep trying to climb higher up the ladder of spiritual success… We’ve turned the Gospel into a matter of addition instead of subtraction. When we are so full of ourselves, we have no room… for God… 

~ Richard Rohr (highlighting my own, for emphasis)

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Going up? Or down? Image from idpinthat.com

Like a good little baptist I immediately wanted to locate a relevant biblical comparison, and this is the first one that came to mind:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2

It also brings to mind the Beatitudes, in which Jesus says we are blessed when we are low. Maybe that’s not just a way to bring comfort to those who are suffering, which seems to be the usual (perhaps rather shallow) interpretation, maybe He was telling us that the whole point is to go lower, to be less, to welcome dishonour and unglory, because only when there’s less of me can there be room – any room – for our beautiful Saviour.

Emmanuel: God with us.

Life Goes On

I am struggling a little today. I have been trying to study but my brain keeps going foggy (I’ve started a Statistics course with half the points of my previous course – I’m hoping I’ll be able to cope better with the workload). This morning we were woken around 4am by a series of beeps. Then sometime later another series of beeps. And another, and another. I groaned and pulled the pillow over my head.

In the morning, as Prince is about to leave for school, Frank says, in his patient, gentle way, “Can you please make sure you turn off whatever was beeping last night? Mummy and Daddy don’t want to be woken up at 4 o’clock, thank you.”

Prince stares, in his detached way. “It was my alarm.”

“Yes,” says Frank, “but why was it going off at 4 o’clock in the morning?”

“So that it would wake me up.”

Ask an autistic child a direct question and you’ll get a direct answer…

Frank knows this, so he says, “Yes, but why did you set it for 4 o’clock in the morning?”

“I wanted to get up and be ready for school.” Prince is so s…l…o…w in the mornings. He is always running late, no matter what we do. We are used to it.

“But you got up at ten to eight!”

“I went back to sleep, Daddy!” He sounds pained.

Frank sighs. Prince just looks blank.

I say, “Well done for being up in time for school. Please make sure the alarm doesn’t go off before 7 o’clock. You woke me up.”

Unfortunately, although I can appeal to Prince over waking me up (I am his current favourite, second only to Glorious Grandmother), he wouldn’t bat an eyelid if I accused him of waking anyone else up.

Then comes a knock at the door. “Taxi’s here, Prince!” Chip yells. “And you woke me up last night too! I’m tired now!”

Chip’s life could be written as a series of exclamation marks. She always manages to run into school all higgledy-piggledy. This morning, with toothpaste on her cardigan, her coat hanging off her arm and her specs askew, she looks like she got dressed in a jumble sale in the middle of a hurricane. Just as well she’s charming with it. I don’t know how she manages to charm every single person she meets, but she does.

Prince ignores her and continues calmly, yet deliberately, eating his toast.

“Prince,” I say, the same as I say every morning, “the taxi is here.”

“It’s early. It’s only 8.13.”

I cannot argue this; the kitchen clock does indeed say 08.13. At 08.15 Prince promptly stands up and strides to the front door.

Now it’s time to go.”

I follow, to make sure the door is unlocked. There’s no point trying to reason with him. That only slows him down more.

As he pulls the door behind him Prince calls, “See, Mummy, I’m not banging the door because I’m not cross!”

Hmm… I find myself humming ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ and decide to write a blog post.

Blessed

Inspired by this post from Glory to God about being out of one’s comfort zone. I have spent most of my life way beyond my comfort zone, and well into the traumatic zone. God has blessed me now with a time of rest and I can’t help but be thankful for what is. Not worrying about yesterday, or tomorrow. Just walking by grace. I am learning to breathe after drowning for decades. God is good. He keeps His promises.

 

Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise.

When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say

‘Blessed be the name of the Lord’.

~ Matt Redman ~