Saturday, August 20, 2011

Peace, be Still!

I have just spent three days of study break at the beautiful new Elim International Centre at Malvern in the UK.  Here my old college has been established after its move from Nantwich in Cheshire and the new facilities are terrific.  It was so inspiring to be able to spend significant time in reading, prayer and reflection.  Walking up the Malvern Hills, in the armpit of which sits the new Centre, was a special joy.  Don't you just feel that there is something unique about high places?  I do, and as I gazed out over hundreds of square miles of glorious English countryside, I felt inspired enough to start writing poetry!  Now that's a first for me!

Being quiet and still are vital ingredients in catching the whisper of God.  I have found it challenging to hear from the Lord during my long battle with pain as agony shouts louder than any competitor.  It has sometimes been a real act of discipline to sit and be still in the presence of God when my body has been wracked with pain and my mind clouded by opiates.  Now in the aftermath of such wonderful improvement as I have known this year I felt like I had met with an old friend after a long period of being in touch only from a distance.

The most moving part of my dialogue with heaven this week was the flow of repeated assurances in both Bible readings and the whispers in my heart that God's love for me has not diminished.  He also seemed to be saying that this is a new season - 'after the storm' - and that the day of fulfillment of so many promises is upon us. If that is so, then thank God for that!  All I know is that God seems to come close to us when we can make the space and the time to be still, focused and alone.  Try it some time!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Headline News

I was listening to the morning radio news here in Guernsey.   Now I know that this is the time of the year that the news hacks call 'the silly season' - mid summer in Britain - but I was unprepared for the shock of the main story but one. 'Outrage as dog attacks small bird on the beach!'  In this small community we get a daily local newspaper which is eagerly read from cover to cover in the majority of homes.  We are used to being regaled with lurid reports such as 'Boy falls from bike: taken to A & E'.  Don't think for a moment that I minimise the potential danger of falling from bicycles as one poor man did just that over here recently and died as a result.   No, it's just the quaintness I suppose of a community where thankfully major crime is rare and small things become newsworthy.

By the way - the dog was being very naughty - and the owner was negligent as there were warning signs nearby.  The bird was no ordinary one either - it was a young Oyster Catcher.  So, the plot thickens.  The headline didn't quite say it all - but it still brings a smile to my lips when I remember that there are places where even the murder of human beings hardly makes news.

And then I thought about a headline from two millennia ago. 'Sale Price of Sparrows Hits an All Time Low - Two Sold for a Penny'.  Nothing unusual there you might say.  But it's the next bit that grabbed my attention.  'Yet not one of them falls to the ground without God knowing it - and allowing it' (my paraphrase of Matthew 10:29).  So maybe the headline writer at BBC Guernsey was right.  It is news that a small bird was killed on the beach near here, at least to Almighty God!

When I think about that I take heart.  For the very same passage in the Gospel goes on to say that even the very hairs on my head are numbered - and that in God's eyes I am of more value than many sparrows. And so are you.  And yes - I will keep my dog on a leash when there are birds about - you never know Who is watching!