The LORD appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."
Jeremiah 31.3 (NKJV)
I'm sure you've all seen a beautiful sunset. The above drawing was based on a photo of one when the rays of the suns light just shone out. You know what I mean - when you can see the light reaching out across the sky. And the colours! As an artist and a painter, I am so often blown away by the colours God paints across the sky. And the idea that this is how the world was made; that all these different things come together and hold in place for those colours to be there. I find it quite insane sometimes! I can't get enough of sunrises and sunsets. The remind me that my God is creative. And that I was created also to be creative.
There's this old hymn that we've sung a few times at my church before lockdown which says:
'There's the wonder of sunset at evening,
The wonder as sunrise I see;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that God loves me.'
(A hymn written by George Beverly Shea.)
A sunset can be an incredible sight. The depth of the stars in space can be an unfathomable occurrence. The intricacies of a flower, it's colours, and how it thrives can be an epic tale. But it is all such small things compared with seeing the incredible, unfathomable, intricate beauty and truth of God's love for us.
God's love doesn't fade into night. God's love can't be travelled across, no matter if you could travel forever. God's love doesn't droop or wilt or die. It is the same today as it ever was, and whatever we see or don't see around us, there is nothing that could take that away from us.
"Yes, I have loved you," says God. YOU.
Stay safe, and take care!
A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.
Proverbs 15.13 (MSG)
It was one of my sisters' birthday this week, and so one of my other sisters arranged for us all to make a little 'Happy Birthday' video, and then she put them all together. It was brilliant! Everyone in my family seemed to use this as an opportunity to be varying degrees of silly, and all my sister's friends gave very tame, heartfelt, proper birthday messages! 😂😂 But it was brilliant to see each other being silly, and then to join together later on a video call to again be silly and make each other laugh.
I'm sure you've all got those people in your life who make you laugh. And at the moment, I think it's more important than ever to not take ourselves too seriously and allow ourselves and others to laugh at our sillyness.
I made this post because one of the pastors at my church shared a story of how he needed to buy some dental tape, but in order to avoid delivery charges, he had to buy 8 reels of it. When he told his wife, our other pastor, she said, "What about if you die before you use them all?" Which set them both about laughing, and they were glad of that moment of light relief and the release that it brought.
The proverb above seems to hold true in my experience. Doesn't mean it's always easy to have a cheerful heart, but there are things we can do to help. We can force ourselves to stay in contact with those we love and who love us, even when we don't feel like it. We can try to focus on the things that make us happy and feel strong, instead of ruminating on what we're not good at or that makes us sad. And we can open up to others when we need someone to break through our wall of damaging thoughts against ourselves.
Keep laughing. Keep loving. Keep hoping.
Stay safe, and take care!
You will keep that person in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26.3 (translation mine)
I'm going to share a little more about me in today's post (not that I don't mostly just end up doing that anyway...) - I keep the Sabbath. Now, it's not some legalistic thing I do with a million and one rules or lists of 'I shall not...', and I absolutely don't do it because I think it'll get me into heaven or that people who don't do it won't be invited. Not at all! I keep Sabbath because it injects rhythm and purpose into my weekly walk with God.
I try to do things on Sabbath that will direct me towards God - I spend time reading the Bible, worshipping and praying, I sometimes study books about faith and God, I talk with people and make sure I know how they're really doing, and sometimes I get the chance to make things while doing some of that as well! I love creating as I worship, or pray, and making things that focus me on some aspect of God's character, either alone or alongside a friend.
Last Sabbath I got to do just that.
For my housemate's birthday a couple of months ago I'd gotten her a lino-cutting starter pack, and we'd liked it so much that we'd gotten some more pads, and then we hadn't really done much with them. After we enjoyed a good lunch together (with cheesecake for dessert - my all time favourite!), we decided to do some printing. I had this verse in my head from earlier as it was the one sent to me that day to illustrate for my church's Look up in Lockdown post, and I just sat there reflecting on this idea of "perfect peace". And in that day, of not having to worry about productivity or work; and in that meal, of being open and true with my husband and closest friend; and in the discussion we'd had about the intricacy and beauty of the flowers that adorned the table, sent to me from my sister earlier in the week - I felt a sense of that perfect peace. So I made a print of one of the carnations that stood in the little jar of water in front of me. To remind me of that beautiful time when there was no fretfulness, no rush, and no worry, and to remind me that this is what God wants for each of us. Peace. Shalom. Wholeness. Perfect peace.
Stay safe, and take care!
The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
Psalm 35.15 (KJV)
I've been struggling with prayer meeting since Lockdown. Like, I used to always go when it was in church, and sometimes I had to cycle in the rain to get there and I'd be cycling just wishing it could've been in my house. And now it is, and my church has started doing a prayer meeting every evening now, so I can even pick when I want it to be convenient for me. AND so many more people are going now, because lots of people struggled with the travel before and now don't have that problem. But as much as it's become more convenient for me... I've become less likely to actually go, and when I do I rarely say anything, and afterwards it doesn't feel like I even went to anything anyway.
I don't like not seeing the people I'm praying with, and I don't know when to talk or not. It's just strange!
But it's also encouraging, to hear the prayers of those who share my faith. To be united with one purpose - to help each other through this time and to bring all our cares, worries, thanks and praises before our God. The one place where something can actually happen about them.
So maybe it's not about feeling comfortable or having prayer meeting go my way - but about sharing in this fundamental part of Christian faith, together.
Stay safe, and take care!
But Elijah went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying "It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than those who were before me."
1 Kings 19.4 (ESV)
Where do you go for comfort?
There seem to be days every now and again during this lockdown (and to be honest, probably before, but they were shrouded in the busyness of going to work and needing to do a million more things by the time I got home that they weren't really as noticeable), when I just don't really feel like doing much, and I want to just eat the food that I know isn't that great for me, and sit under my covers in my bed, and do things that don't take much effort. Today is actually one of those days so far... As I type, I am covered in a duvet and a blanket, with my TV on pause next to me while I write this post. I'll probably go back to it afterwards while I do menial chores and general admin.
It's not that there aren't other things I could do. Even other things I want to do! It's just every now and again I guess it just seems like there's not much point. It gets annoying being stuck inside, and my response is to just soak up the indoors, not-doing-anything, attitude.
But that's ok. Tomorrow will be different - maybe even this afternoon will be different! I'm not going to get mad at myself; just keep reminding myself of the things that are good to do!
But some of that desire also is my body wanting comfort. Wanting to not have to make decisions, just be looked after, and told everything's going to be alright. The cognitive burden of thinking on the present situation too deeply is too much for me. It is enough. I have had enough. We all feel like this sometimes, I'm sure!
Elijah felt like this too. He'd been doing and doing, and it hadn't worked, and he just wanted to lay still. To not make decisions. Even to die. Elijah needed comfort. So God comforted him.
God let the emotionally overwhelmed Elijah sleep. God provided him with some food. And then God gave Elijah directions on somewhere to go. Once there, God greeted Elijah with a gentle whisper. There God listened as Elijah spoke. After Elijah had shared every fear and every worry, God's advice to Elijah was to go back and face the situation that troubles him. And so, Elijah was able to go.
I leave you with my pastor's words from her 'LOOK UP IN LOCKDOWN' post for today:
Something happens when we choose to meet with God. Especially when we enter into the
quietness and peacefulness that surrounds him. God is able to give us, just as he gave Elijah,
strength, encouragement and comfort to go back and face those things that trouble us.
So if today is one of those days for you - where you've had enough and you don't want to do anything - why not take it to God and allow God to comfort you. Let God strengthen you, encourage you and comfort you, to go back and do all that God, in this moment, has given you to do. God can face down all the things that trouble you.
Stay safe, and take care!
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I'm a recent Cambridge Theology graduate now studying for a Masters in Biblical Studies and blogging about all sorts of things! I'm interested in faith, Church, theology, social action, the great outdoors and being creative, and all of those things - along with many more - come through in my posts!