Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Old Friends & And The Journey

When meeting with old friends, it is lovely they way they remind you of one another. This morning for me, the old friends are the apostle James, the prophet Micah and F. LaGard Smith.

In Sunday School we are studying the letter of James with his reminder of what true religion is.

Dr. Smith reminds in Meeting God in Quiet Places that Noah walked with God as did Enoch. But the prophet Micah shows us that "walking with God leads us to the very heart of our purpose for living."

He has showed you, O man,
what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6.8

Loving is earnestly desiring and delighting in.
Walking is doing so carefully and perseveringly, making progress on the journey

Humbly mean submissively. (from the Greek definitions)

And James gives the three aspects of true religion as the controlled tongue, the ministering, sacrificing spirit and a life unstained by the world and its ways.

These all strike with very pointed arrows deep into the heart of me.

My life just now seems a far cry from the quiet Cotswold country lanes Dr. Smith walks. Yet...and yet...wwould not every lane of my journey be quiet and yes, peaceful if these simple requests were followed? If I truly walk with my God, how could I walk other than submissively? How could I be other than unhurried, unstained and quietly peaceful?

A new day, a new focus.

Thanks be to my faithful, longsuffering God and Life companion.
Onward, still onward!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Best Leftovers

It has always, to me, been a delight and joy to tidy up after visiting loved ones have gone. Washing the dishes, glass ware, the silver and thinking of conversations, sweet exchanges, the beloved faces with smiles, singing, whatever it has been leads to the recounting of blessings. And yes, to warm feelings and the planting of memory's seeds.

Better still, are the moments after the the great-grands leave. Dishes aren't the items of this picture as yet. It is the blocks found under the chair, the beany bear under the foot stool and the Pooh book left on the footstool.

Then there is also the delightful still life in the kitchen- the cookie tin with the bowl of clementines and a match box racing car deftly set between. In front. At an angle.

Perhaps best of all, the finger prints and nose smudges recorded on French door windows. These are at a rather low level. Only the observant lover sees.

Only a Gran-Nan's heart rejoices.
At least this Gran-Nan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The ruffle of the news these days and its focus seems to be on what will or will not occur on the 21st.
This quiet word was in my morning's reading. It seems to put all things in their proper perspective.

And now, little children,
abide settled in Him,
so that when He appears,
we may have perfect confidence,
and not be ashamed and shrink from Him at His coming.
~I John 1.28

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Life as a "B" Movie and Almighty God

"I've been to that movie".
That is a line originated by a dear son-in-law attached to those recurring commonplace happenings in life. Reruns.

And reruns popping up often enough, while separate and unique, become like walking through the familiar.

The title of this post seems an oxymoron, perhaps almost blasphemous but bear with me a little longer, Dear Reader.

First stated, I know with absolute certainly that my life's plan was laid out in Eternity Past by my loving and faithful Sovereign God. He created in me a spirit that desire peace and order above all. He also strategically has placed events that keep me from becoming too settled or complacent and trusting Him completely.

The rerun aspect is played out by many emergency visits to hospitals in diverse locations in recent years. These have involved the Husband as patient. So here we were again.

Yesterday began as your ordinary Sunday. Sundays are always tiring, that's the by-product of the game.

Then it happened, the sudden onset of excruciating, unrelenting pain and for no apparent reason. After so many minutes it was certain this was not an I'll-drive incident. So a first: 911 called, interminable waiting while scrambling between patient and swiftly moving furniture to clear a pathway for the gurney to come.

Here now is a list of high points with the Finger Prints of the Hidden Hand all over.

  • A neighbor saw the aid car, immediately called a friend and dear member of our church.
  • Dear Church person immediately called me and stated she was on the way to drive me to hospital behind aid car.
  • She and husband (one of our deacons) arrived just after patient had been loaded.

  • Neighbors on each side, one set out on porch, one to my side.[such is the joy of small town living!]
  • When arriving at the hospital 30 miles hence, met by another deacon and wife, plus Daughters 2.
  • Later, yet another deacon arrived. (All these are young and very dear to the heart.)

  • A young ER RN who knows our Savour. This dear young man - the age of our grandchildren- picked up on the profession line on the chart - "pastor".
  • Long waiting till medical conclusion. The pain that brought us to this place was only so that other things could be discovered by cat scan, or so it seem right now.
  • Ready to leave now, the RN placed his hand on the patient and began to pray. And oh, how he prayed! Mostly entreating a God with whom he is evidently intimate to bless us in our future days with grace and wisdom and most of all peace. Now THAT is not something before experienced and an amazing, glorious, evident Finger Print and perfect ending to this movie.

By this time, Deacon Couples one and two had been sent home with profuse thanks, but not before the men prayed with their pastor. Then the Daughters were freed to go as Deacon #3 lives in our town while they do not. He sweetly and graciously waited to return us home.

These and so many other blessings along the way, through the day that have brought us to this place.

How very grateful to be placed in families - by blood, by Blood, with love of all sorts surrounding and protecting, blessing and tending. All these and the above are Divine reflections, Grace points that take Life's common movie moments and touch them with Eternity's gold.

"Your eyes saw my unformed substance,

and in Your book all the days of my life were written,

before ever they took shape

when as yet there was none of them."

~Psalm 139.16, Amp.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Prayer For One Beloved In Awful Circumstances

O Thou Who art my quietness,
my deep repose,
My rest from strife of tongues,
my holy hill,
Fair is Thy pavilion,
where I hold me still.

Back let them fall from me, my clamorous foes,
Confusions multiplied;
From crowding things of sense I flee, and in Thee hide,
until this tyranny be overpast,
Thy hand will hold me fast;
What though the tumult of the storm increase,
Grant to Thy servant strength, O Lord, and bless with peace.
~Amy Carmichael

Photo: In Tuscany, by Cindy Swanson

Monday, May 9, 2011

Life Like Soup

Not a definitive soup like chicken noodle, or Italian vegetable,
rather a gathering from refrigerator remains swirled together with a common broth.

It may simmer long, almost forgotten. Perhaps a crisp fresh ingredient is added for surprise, and certainly fresh garden herbal snippets to make it palatable before serving. But it remains soup, a pottage gathering, a blending of flavors.

This has been Life here of late. So many ingredients.

Nothing new in this, Life is always a mixture of sweet and salty, of pleasant and bitter, limp and crisp. So much depends on the gathered herbs that are added to make it all go down easily.

The ingredients which take left-overs and always make life palatable begin with the Water drawn from the Ever-flowing Stream. The salt of tears is an essential. Then the fresh herb of music of ancient and fellow soup makers is added for seasoning. The serving up and eating is made better by the friend that joins one in the supping of the presented bowl brewed.

Sometimes it is the Presence of The Friend, occasionally a friend 'with skin on'. Both add joy and flavor to the offering. Both give strength and nourishment in order to face another day, another bowl.

Monday, May 2, 2011

After nearly 40 years in ministry, it still saddens me at all the time and energy depleting ways in which folk let themselves get involve in things church - lower case 'c' intended.

Somehow playing church takes the place of an authentic Christianity which is based on a vital Relationship with Jesus Christ and which builds up the Church, the Body of Christ.

Somehow talking about The Book brings enough contentment. Gatherings, 'book clubs' are chosen as worthy and good things. The deep study of that Book of All Books, that study which brings joy, insight and maturity is never quite grasped.

We recently watched, for the umpteenth time the movie Chariots of Fire. This account of a gentle Scotsman who by his courageous act of conviction, turned the 1924 Olympic games on its head. The account never ceases to thrill me. Eric Liddell was termed a 'muscular Christian'. He was the genuine article. He was a man after God's own heart. He was unafraid to stand up to the pressure exerted by powerful men. Doing the right thing was all Liddell desired. He died in a concentration camp serving his fellow man as Christ would have done. He truly served his God all the days of his life with great grace and quiet joy.

Eric Liddell's life example inspires me today. Even his unique 'head back, chin forward' form as he approached the goal line thrills and delights.

O that I could somehow set my mind rightly regarding activities that are just busy-nesses; O to shake the spiritual lethargy that hinders my progress; O to be able stand in my own little sphere in a truly authentic way and so to make a difference.

I'm too often reminded of the Pastor's Postscript by Peter Marshall:

"Church members in too many cases

are like deep sea divers,

encased in the suits designed for many fathoms deep,

marching bravely to pull out plugs in bath tubs."