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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Days in My Life

Some time ago I put together a booklet called ' Days in My Life '.  It contains actual occurrrences in my life through which I have experienced the teachings of God, and some of the poetry that I have written as a result of those experiences.  One of these articles I called ' The Space '.
 The Space
I had been to a prayer meeting at a local church fellowship, where much of the theme had been about patience.  I came out of the meeting with most of these thoughts fresh in my mind.  My friend and myself decided to go to the supermarket, and on the way we met a man that  used to live near me.  ' Hello ', I said, and was about to say ' I was only talking about you the other day' when I remembered that the ' talking about you the other day ' was a neighbour of this man telling me that the man and his wife had parted.  I did not want to embarrass him so I said nothing.  We had a very pleasant conversation and I went off feeling quite pleased with myself at being so tactful.
After visiting the supermarket I dropped my friend off at her house and proceeded to go home when I suddenly remembered that I did not have any bread in the house.  I wanted the bread from the bakers in the middle of town but did not want to pay sixty pence car park fee, fo I thought that I would park at the edge of town in a street that had free parking for an hour, which was a rarity as most streets had double yellow lines.  I decided that the walk back to the bakers was better than paying the sixty pence car park fee, which was nearly the price of the loaf.
When I arrived at this particular street there was just one space left empty.  I was about to pull into it when I noticed a lady who was just driving out of a pub car park into the street, which was a dead end, in order to come out onto the main road.  'Oh ' I thought, ' I'll let her out and then pull into the space. '  I then also noticed a car that had been turning at the top ot the street.  This disturbed my peace a little as I thought he might be going into what had already in my mind become ' my space '.  Then guilt crept in and I thought ' Well he was in the street before me, and if he was going to go into the space then he would be entitled to it.'  Then the thought crossed my mind that he had already passed the space, being at the top end of the street, so maybe he was the previous occupier of the space, and was just turning around to come out onto the main road, after which I could drive into ' my space ' as it was now firmly established in my mind.
Smiling faces and courtesy were all around, with the lady waiting to come out of the pub car park into the side street, with the man who had by now turned at the top of the street and was facing me preparing to come out of the street, and with myself waiting to go into the space after they had both come out.
Suddenly the happy picture became distorted.  There was a large car pulling into the street alongside me. 
' Can't he see me waiting to go in and these two waiting to come out' I thought.  'Beep ', I gave him a gentle attention catcher, pointing to the situation inside the street, and waited for a response.  the only response was his slowly moving into the street.  ' He's trying to get into my space!'  My peace had disappeared and anger was shoving its way in.  ' Beep - beep!' Now much louder attention catchers, and twice as many.  He turned to me with a look that said ' I'm half in now, I might as well go '.  Feeling a threat in the fact that he might have to pull into the space to get out of the way of the other two cars, and that there was nothing I could do about it, suspicion and frustration joined anger in the void left by vacating peace.  He drove past the space however, and tucked himself into a turning area at the top of the street.
I felt a twing of guilt at thinking that the man was out to steal my space.  He might not even have noticed me waiting at the entrance of the street.  He might have thought I was a parked car.  After all, I had left the centre of the road free to allow the two cars to come out.  I began to feel ashamed.  Suddenly, another car entered the street from the main road, this time with a woman driving it.  I beeped the horn and pointed out the situation once more, but she proceeded to try to enter the street.  Now guilt and shame were the first to leave, and frustration and anger ballooned to such a size that there was no room for anything else.  I pulled out into the middle of the road to prevent this new ' space stealer ' from entering the street and immediately tried to get into  the space, which was in front of the car I had been waiting behind.
Afraid that this new driver might drive into the space instead of me, I did not pull foreward enough to allow myself to be able to reverse close enough to the curb so that the lady in the car park could get past me.  After several futile attempts, with an audience of the man waiting at the top of the street, the lady waiting in the car park, the man tucked in the turning area, and the lady waiting behind me, the lady in the pub car park motioned to me that if I moved forward past the car park entrance, then she would be able to get out and I wouold be able to park my car in the space.  Shame returned as anger and frustration diminished in size.  Suspicion edged its way in as a reminder that mayve the lady behind me would move into the space as I pulled forward, but I realized I had no alternative.  I pulled forward and the lady came out of the car park and drove out of the street.  There was no sign of the potential space stealer, and I reversed slowly into the space.  By now there was not room in my mind for anything except shame and humiliation.  Frustration and anger, along with ridiculous suspicion, had been pushed out by these far more powerful spirits.  I lowered my head as the man who had tucked himself in the turning area pulled into the pub car park, probably where he'd always intended to go.
Where was my Christianity?  If the Lord had appeared at that very moment and asked the righteous to step forward, probably everyone in the street including those in the pub would have been more entitled to respond to His call than I would have been.  Righteousness is born in thought, wickedness takes residence through action.
Jesus says ' I desire mercy, and not sacrifice '.  Mercy overlooks injury to self, sacrifice is something given in order to gain something else.  True discipleship will incur loss to self before any gain is achieved.
Not wanting to embarrass my ex neighbour, and wanting to park in the right place were right things to do, but these acts had become smug self righteousness in the light of my latest actions.  I should have been more concerned about the space that housed the spirits than the space that housed my car.
I sadly went for my loaf of bread and thought about the spiritual bread the Lord had already offered me in the prayer meeting, the words on patience.

Lord help me to listen when I hear You speak
Create in me a spirit that is lowly and meek
That I should be a ' doer ' Father of Your precious word
And not just walk away forgetting all that I have heard

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Go into the highways and the byways

When I first felt that the Lord was telling my friend and myself to go into the streets to evangelize, poems started forming in my mind that I felt could be put together in leaflets to hand out to people, some of which spoke of my own life.  Since doing this we have always had a good reception, we simply ask the people if they would like some Christian poetry.  Some take it, some refuse, and we have had some very interesting conversations with variouos people.  One such leaflet was created when a picture of a person in a rowing boat lifting another person out of the water into the boat came into my mind and the words
 ' Sometimes it is as if I am swimming in deep water, exhausted, whilst my Father is rowing a boat alongside me saying, ' Get into the boat child, let me take you to your destination'.  I placed them on the front of the leaflet with a poem and the scripture  'Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'  I then put the poem, 'The sinner's prayer' inside

The Sinner's Prayer
You didn't come for the righteous - for the sheep as white as snow
The ones that are whole and healthy, who know which way to go
No Lord You came for the sinner - the sheep that went astray
You came to guide him back to God along the narrow way

Lord here stands a sinner, a lonely child of the night
I walk the paths of darkness where there is no guiding light
My feet are bruised and bleeding as I stumble down life's track
The brambles cut across my flesh, there's no coat upon my back
My hands are torn and calloused as they push aside each thorn
My clothes give no protection - they are tattered and worn
I'm lost in my inheritance of pain and misery
Lord I call upon Your name - Jesus .... Save me!

The Lord's Answer
' I hear you child ' says Jesus - 'Your cry in in my ears
My heart is burning with your pain, my face wet with your tears
These feet have felt your bruises - my hands were torn for you
Those thorns were laid upon my head, my stripes were for you too
Yes child I hear you calling from your dark and miry grave
'Twas this very reason that God sent me to save
So lift your eyes my lost one, don't look at earthly things
Look to the Son of Righteousness - there's healing in my wings
Don't bear your heavy burdens and remain among the dead
I came two thousand years ago and bore them in your stead
Just look towards your Saviour, I'll be your guiding light
Cast your cares upon your Lord - Your God for you will fight
And I'll give you a garment, a new coat for your back
You'll wear my robe of righteousness to save you from attack

' For I am come not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. '  Matthew ch.9 v.13

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Windows of Opportunity

' Stay in bed for the day ' my husband said ' get rid of that cold '.  ' Hmm.. ' I thought, ' maybe I will have a few hours in bed.'    ' I could do with a rest.'  I replied.  So I had stayed in bed that morning and much of the afternoon.
As I lay there, gazing out through the window, I watched the people passing by in the street and reflected on how their lives might be, on whether there might be sadness behind the smile, or worry and anxiety behind the sombre look.  I thought of how little we might know about one another's lives, whether we be workmates, neighbours or even strangers.  After a while my husband brought me a cup of tea and I started to feel a little better, and decided to read.  I looked at my collection of books on my shelves and chose a book of poems called ' In Memory Of ', a collection of poets' tributes to, and memories of, friends and loved ones that had died.  As I read poem after poem of peoples' feelings, some of joyful memories and some of grief, I began to realize that God was revealing to me what I had pondered on earlier while gazing through my window.  He was now showing me what lay behind a face in the street, revealing to me peoples' innermost feelings, people who were mostly hurting through loss and loneliness.
I don't believe that God does anything by chance.  I am a Christian and, as it says in one of the Psalms, ' every day in my life is written in His book before even one of them was formed '.  As I lay in my bed I had to question my part in life as far as my fellow man was concerned.  I read on and became filled with compassion for the people who had allowed my to see into their lives.
I know that on that day, when I was brought to see inside the hearts and minds of others, I felt compassion which brought in turn responsibility.  I had been made aware of the loneliness and suffering of others, Christians included, and it had compelled me to want to play my part in life to the best of my ability.  May the Lord help me always to be alert to where and when I may help another.
One poem in particular about a man who was grief stricken at the loss of his soul mate and looked to God for release filled me with such sadness that it brought me to write this poem which contains, I suppose, some of my own deepest feelings.

The Window

' Twas sickness caused me on that day to rest and in my bed to lay
While through my window I could see the world outside did not need me
It carried on its busy life regardless of my pain and strife
Yet as I gazed upon the scene that lay beyond lace coverd screen
I wondered at each passer by .... If face reflected truth or lie

I lay in comfort needing naught - my husband food and drink had brought
But for my mind to idle be was nothing short of misery
Then suddenly my eye was cast upon my books - a treasure vast
A book of poems I should read to satisfy my spirit's need
To see what lay within the mind of other creatures of my kind
I turned the pages one by one .... A stirring journey had begun
For hidden there in every leaf was joy and sorrow, love and grief
A vast collection here was seen - of frozen dreams that might have been
Of past regrets and loneliness - sweet memories of tenderness
Lost loves and breaking of the heart when sudden death caused to depart
A soul mate of so many years
My burning cheeks felt cooling tears

Such moving stories I had read as I lay sick upon my bed
A window had been shown to me through which I'd seen reality
Of pain that lay behind a smile - of need to go the extra mile
What of my part in life I thought - What words of comfort had I brought
In all my years upon this Earth - What words of love, support and worth
Had touched the lives of those I'd met - Was there remorse, was there regret ?
What use is it if kindly word is left in thought and never heard
This world that from my bed I saw, that looked so proud and strong before
Hath need of me .... and I of it - each soul to do its special bit

To share with others words of love - God's seeds of blessing from above
Is all that may be asked of me to help to set another free
From pain and hurt and misery that death and loss has caused to be
But seeds can never come to birth unless they're planted in the earth
So Father help me in my life to ease a fellow creature's strife
To seek my Lord to try to do the things that I have learned from You
And may You cause my eyes to see windows of opportunity
To stretch a tender loving hand towards the suffering in this land
To sow Your seeds of love and peace - that word and deed might bring release