Following the Paths Ahead

Near our home, there are many huge electricity towers where no houses are permitted. Park-like areas have been created underneath and many walking paths run through them.

I try to walk every day, and to keep it interesting, I prefer to go in a different direction each time. Since we’ve recently been more confined at home, I’ve gone exploring and have been amazed at how extensive these networks of footpaths are. They run for miles and lead to interesting destinations.

The first time that I did a long walk through some of them, enjoying the trees and the playgrounds dotted here and there, I went so far that I wondered if I might be lost!  It seemed lonely and I didn’t want to run out of energy before I found my way home. No-one knew where I was and perhaps I’d have to ask for directions … that’s if anyone were about. But I remembered how God had encouraged me once before. (See my post – ‘Never Out of Contact’).

I eventually entered a lovely park with Australian indigenous plants, and thought, this might lead me home. I saw a small group of people in the distance, using some  playground equipment. When I reached them, I asked the young woman, ‘Would you be able to tell me the easiest way to get to Duff  Street from here?’

The lady looked at me for a few moments, and I wondered what she might reply, but she said, ‘I’m sorry. I don’t live around here’. But she pulled out her mobile phone and showed me a map! Praise God for maps and mobile phones!

By way of explanation, she said, ‘We’ve come here today to look at a house to buy’.

‘Why did you choose this town?’ I asked.

She smiled and said, ‘We thought we might be able to find something that we could afford’.

‘Where do you live now?’ I asked. Fortunately she wasn’t put off by my questions and said, ‘We’ve recently moved here from Perth and we’re staying with my father’.

‘Oh’, I said. ‘My daughter lived in Perth and loved it there. She missed the sun when she and her family returned to Melbourne’.

The lady called her young daughter by name, and said, “We’re feeling the cold, aren’t we?’ Then she turned to me. ‘She’s been complaining about having to wear so many clothes here!’

By this time I thought I should be getting on my way, so wished her all the best in her house-hunting, and soon found I wasn’t far from home after all.

Since then I’ve often thought of that lovely young mother and her children and I’ve prayed that they’ll find a place to call home. I’ve also wondered if I should have asked her about joining a church in her new community and offered directions to ours. We have many young families and I was sure she’d feel at home there.

Will I meet her some time in the future? I hope so. Even if another person befriends her here, I can pray that they’ll be the best one for her. I’m so glad I followed the right path that day. God knows where our footsteps should go. He’s even given us these words of encouragement in the Bible:

But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. ~ Job 23: 10 -11.

I want that to be my constant prayer: walking all the time with God. How about you?

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Trust In Our Father

Recently, like some other older people, I’ve been facing a few tricky health issues. I’ve talked to my Heavenly Father about them, and asked what I should do regarding medication, exercise, tests, and, believe it or not, how he wants to deal with it all! I know he does miracles. I know he’s given amazing abilities to medical people and scientists, but I’ve felt somewhat confused as I’ve thought about the plan that God has for me. I know for sure that he does have a plan. Not just something that will fit my current situation, but an eternal, special purpose for me. A plan that will show everyone else what he’s really like.

Going through some of our family photos today, I was thinking about all this, and came across a couple from our granddaughter’s wedding. On that morning, as she was getting ready in her parents’ bedroom, the photographer, Megan, snapped some fun scenes.

I looked at the background of them, the participants, and their emotional involvement in the day, and I noticed one message there. Can you see what I saw?

Is it the half-completed renovations, the potential drama, or the humour? Some fathers might tease their daughter and go too far with their fun. What if he moved too close and slipped? Would he care if she walked down the aisle on his arm in a few hours time with a patch of shaving cream on her beautiful dress, just because he hadn’t taken enough care with his tomfoolery? Would that grey top hat make him look any better or more responsible?

Yes, all these aspects are there in the photo, but the most wonderful thing I see is the relationship between Peter and his daughter. Amber trusts him completely! In fact, she’s entering into the joy of the moment!

What a wonderful privilege to have such trust! Trust by the bride, yes, but the father holds her trust; it belongs to him. She knows him so well, and he doesn’t have to doubt if she’s relaxed about his intentions with that white stuff in his hand! We don’t just have trust in a person, we give them our trust. And so it is with God.

I thought about my health worries. Was I really trusting him to do his glorious best for me? Do I know him well enough to believe that he has my most important interests at heart? And can I trust him to do what is most valuable for everyone else in my life? Have I actually given him my trust?

After all these years of walking with him, surely I know I can trust him. But lately I’ve sometimes looked in the wrong direction. My thoughts have been on myself, my worries, and so-called potential dangers. How beautifully he draws me back to himself, showing his love and care for me. And not just me, but all his people.

Like Amber with her father, I can trust him to shelter me under his wings. When I see these images from the wedding album, I’m thrilled at the way my heavenly Father has used them to comfort me and to keep me trusting in his loving care. I’m not the only one who’s nervous. Many others are the same in these days when the world is being shaken with horrendous challenges.

But God’s given us His promise:

He will cover you with his feathers; you will take refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield ~ Psalm 91:4Christian Standard Bible

Let’s all remember –  including me – that he’s there for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What If I’d Been There?

So often, when I read my Bible, I wonder how I’d think and behave if I were actually present in the story. Would I act in the same way as the original participants, or would I choose to be different? It’s hard to know for sure. We’re living in a modern era now, far removed from life as it was in the days of Jesus, or King David, or Moses.

At the moment I’m reading King Solomon’s book, Ecclesiastes, and it’s amazing how his words fit our times. Take this verse for instance:

Wisdom is better than warheads, but one hothead can ruin the good earth ~ Ecclesiastes 9: 18 – The Message Bible.

Here’s how it reads in the Good News Bible: Wisdom does more good than weapons, but one sinner can undo a lot of good.  

In these days of the pandemic, most people are being sensible and acting for the benefit of all the members in their community. But a few careless ones are pleasing themselves, making life difficult for everyone else. There will probably be pundits in the future who’ll have an opinion on how we’ve behaved in our time, and they might be right. But they could also be wrong!

As Solomon said, The quiet words of the wise are more effective than the ranting of a king of fools ~ Ecclesiastes 9: 17  (Msg).

Below is a poem I wrote years ago. Maybe you can get into my head as you read it and wonder along with me: ‘What if I were there when Jesus lived among the people in Jerusalem and faced challenges that would test his disciples as well as him?

What If I’d Been There?

When they gathered for the special meal that evening in spring,

what if I’d been there;

not merely on the sidelines,

watching,

but into everything?

When they argued who would be the greatest of them all,

what if I’d been there?

Would I nominate myself,

suggesting

I had the highest call?

When Jesus knelt before each one, began to wash their feet,

what if I’d been there?

Would I have drawn my legs away,

protesting

his servant heartbeat?

When the Master opened up the truth, exposed the stark betrayal,

what if I’d been there?

Would I have searched my heart for hate,

revealing

all that would entail?

‘My body for your life’, said Jesus, as he passed around the bread.

What if I’d been there?

Would I have understood his words

telling

us his sacrifice was in our stead?

His blood, like wine, the seal upon the covenant, would lie:

a new one that he made with us,

everlasting.

And like the Egyptians’ eldest sons,

God’s first son would also die.

When the others said they’d never leave, would even die his death,

what if I’d been there?

Would my voice be raised with theirs,

forgetting

‘…alone he would be left?’

Before they walked into the night, a holy hymn was sung.

What if I’d been there

and heard his voice, like a prelude,

blending,

accompanying my own?

In the garden would I have stayed awake to hear his dreadful prayer?

What if I were there?

Would I comfort him and wipe his tears?

What if I followed after him and braved the leaders’ ire?

What if …? What if I …?

What if I were there?

But now I know he prayed for me.

In his mind I was there.

He ensured this meal would take me back,

remembering

he’ll return by God’s decree.

© Lyn Thiele

Luke 22: 14-46

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A Stirling Discovery

As I walked down our hallway one evening, I noticed a small brown piece of rubbish on the blue carpet runner. A shirt button? Maybe a lump of mud from the garden? I bent to pick it up. It wasn’t part of the normal detritus that enters our house via shoes and paws. When I turned it over, its surface reflected the ceiling lights like fine diamond dust. Beautiful! It would make a nice addition to a pressed-flower picture. ‘What is it?’ I asked my husband. ‘A seedpod off the tree next door. I probably brought it in on my jacket’.

Aha! That’s where those seedlings originated. The seeds blew in and took up residence in our garden. I’d noticed the little plants before, and suggested Maurie could pot them up until they were ready to give to a friend who was establishing a larger garden. I’d thought they were weeds! Mmm – pittosporums. Producing seeds isn’t their only use. A step to our roof for the resident ringtail-possum is another! She’d probably knocked off a few pods to grow a garden for her descendants to use – they’re fast-growing trees! They’ve become popular hedge plants in our country, although their native home is New Zealand. Other pittosporum species hail from various parts of the world, but the first ‘James Stirling’ plant was brought to Australia by Frank Lucas in 1972, and in the years since then, he propagated hundreds of thousands of them. He named the original tree, but no-one seems to know who inspired him to give it that title. Maybe it was Sir James Stirling, the first Governor of the colony in Western Australia?

Regardless of its derivation, I couldn’t help reflecting on its dainty seeds. The pretty rosettes, with their shiny hidden depths, look as if someone has taken a fine brush, dipped it in lacquer, and flicked it onto them. The way they reflect the light reminds me of the words of Jesus to his disciples:

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this; as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket do you? Now I’ve put you … on a light stand – shine! … be generous with your lives … you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven – Matthew 5: 14-16.

I’ve thought carefully about those words of Jesus. Surely he wasn’t telling them to brag about their good deeds so people would think they we’re great. Of course not; we’re not allowed to put ourselves on a pedestal. So I began at the end, where he said people would understand our Father in heaven when they saw our good works. How would they know to do that?

Well, if we’ve been talking to people about our Father in heaven, or praising him for what he’s done for us, and then we go on to do things for them that he likes to do, they can easily make the connection: he’s our father. All our good works are likes his great deeds: loving, kind, patient, gentle, faithfully creative, perfect for each person. There’s no purpose in walking around in the dark in this world. All those things light the way to a beautiful, light-filled life, so everyone knows where they’re going.

Like the pittosporum seeds that attract many birds, animals, and possibly bees, to their gleaming surfaces, we’re also meant to be productive, glittering and beautiful, showing people everywhere what God is really like.

 

 

 

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The Friendship Books

Have you heard of The Friendship Books of Francis Gay? I have a small collection, some inherited from my mother, and others which were gifts from dear friends. They’ve been a blessing to me and those with whom I’ve shared the writer’s thoughts.

Francis Gay died in 1977, but the books are still published in time for Christmas, so people can begin reading them on New Year’s Day. For every Sunday, there’s a scripture which stands on its own, anchoring the week ahead. The rest are stories that people sent to Francis, and some experiences and observations he and his wife made during their lives.

Lots of people enjoy a devotional to read each morning or evening. What I like about these books is that they highlight humble lives. Even the famous people are all shown in the light of their natural humanity, their humility. And I also enjoy the tricky jokes of the little boy who shared them with his kindly neighbour!

Francis Gay was Herbert Leslie Gee’s pen-name. An ardent Methodist, he wrote about his travels in his home county of Yorkshire. My mother loved his books; I recall seeing one in the bookshelf when I was a child. He also wrote for children, and about World War Two’s Battle of Britain. Another of his books focussed on hymns; most included Christian themes.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally checked my collection in December to see if the dates of any of them match those of the up-coming year. If so, I’ll use that volume as a daily reading once again. I’ve learnt so much from the simple stories – everlasting truths that I’ve taken to heart and shared with friends. I’m reading the 1981 volume this year.

One day, years ago, I was feeling sorry for myself. I’d received some bad news. The shock of it so filled my mind that I didn’t read my Friendship Book entry. The next day, I turned back to it and realised I wouldn’t have absorbed it if I’d seen it the day before. I still remember the way it spoke to me then. It was about Victor Hugo, who had a habit of going down to the sea each morning and throwing stones into the water. When asked why, he replied, ‘Not stones … I’m throwing my self-pity into the sea’. What a relief to be rid of that burdensome malady! I imagined doing it too, and it helped me.

The Bible’s a bit like God’s Friendship Book. He’s included stories we can relate to when we’re down; hymns that lift us up to praise him, and lyrical songs our bodies can dance to. There are many instances of people in the Bible – King David, Job, Moses, and more – who experienced times when they felt God was expecting too much of them. Self-pity tricks us into thinking that our own bad attitudes are friends we should keep. After all, shouldn’t we deserve better?! Only God can deal with our self-pity, but we have to let him. We need to be prepared to live without it – to throw it as far away as we can.

I have a feeling that James, Jesus’ brother, knew self-pity well. He wrote, Take the old prophets as your mentors. They … never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard … of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail – James 5: 10-11 – The Message Bible.

Will we relinquish our self-pity? Permanently?

 

 

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Quoting Quotes

I was passing my husband’s study, and thinking of other things on my way to the kitchen, when I heard an astonishing statement: ‘We don’t need any more positive people!’

This pulled me up short. I’m used to hearing leaders emphasising how to be positive, so I was surprised to hear someone say the opposite. Then I realised I’d actually heard something from the latest National Report on the coronavirus. So I quickly had to get my mind into gear as the words of the Chief Medical Officer flowed out of Canberra!

It depends what you’re positive about. Our words, attitudes, feelings; they’re all meant to be optimistic. But this senior doctor was saying he didn’t want any more people with a definite positive diagnosis of COVID-19. He was aiming to lower the number of them. More people with a negative test result means we’re on the right track! Everyone’s interested in the figures these days, but nobody wants to be on the Positive List! If we’re positive (optimistic) about being negative to the virus test, then that’s wonderful!

It’s like having hope. Last week I saw a quote from Jean Kerr on my desk calendar: ‘Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent’. I’d never heard of Jean Kerr, so I looked her up online. I wasn’t prepared for the information I gleaned there: she wasn’t the author of those words; she’d helped herself to them, but changed one pronoun. In this case, Mignon McLaughlin is supposed to be the originator of the saying, but she used ‘we’ instead of ‘you’. It’s dangerous to quote someone else without knowing the context of their words.

If someone were giving an inspirational speech, but criticising those who believe in optimism, and used that sentence of the Chief Medical Officer out of context, he would be disgusted. He’d probably write to the speaker, ask them to check his context, and request an apology. And rightly so. Although the words may have sounded negative when I first overheard them, once I knew who was speaking, and his intent, the meaning was obvious.  It was actually a very positive statement!

Jesus Christ was optimistic, but he said some extremely negative things! He was certain that he would die. He was positive about it. He told his disciples, the Jewish leaders, and the common people. He used the example of Jonah, who was in the fish for three days and nights. While Jonah had no way of getting out of that fish, Jesus stated that he himself could lay down his own life. But he had a wonderful extra to add: he could take it up again! 

If we only read the ‘death notices’ that Jesus broadcast, we’ll miss the whole context of his message! He had more in mind for his people, including us. During these anxious times in our world, when many are fearful about the future, death is so prevalent around the globe. There’s no vaccine against this pandemic; no surety that anyone is immune to the virus, even after they’ve contracted it once, and then recovered. But the words of the apostle Paul in the Bible give us a wonderful assurance of life after death.

Christ really has been raised from death—the first one of all those who will be raised … But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back – 1 Corinthians 15: 20, 23

So whether we live or die, Jesus has an answer for us. Will we trust him?

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Staying Home for Easter

We’ve all been encouraged (or rather, told!) to stay home this weekend. Many people like to travel at this time, visiting family, going to holiday destinations, and having a refreshing change of pace. But in most places of the world, that’s out of the question at the moment.

As in many other countries, in Australia we’re bringing change to our homes instead of seeking it away from our normal residence. It’s almost unbelievable that we have so suddenly accepted such new and foreign ways of living.

Today our son did our big shop for us. Yesterday our neighbour bought some milk, and dropped it off at our front door. The day before, a young mother cut a dozen sweet corn cobs off their stalks in Maurie’s Church Community Garden bed, and delivered them to our driveway. He took them inside, cut off the kernels, and froze them for next year’s meals.

Our street is quieter than usual; the children’s voices aren’t filling the pathways as they normally would when they’re home from school. There’s less traffic.

For some, home has become a sort of prison; a bastion of boredom. For others it’s been accepted as a challenge to invent new ways to keep the family occupied, instructed, and entertained. Such a tiny organism has caused this change in our lives. The influence of this virus has spread over the globe and instigated so many reactions and unexpected rules. Numbers are displayed each day: infections, admissions, and sadly, deaths. And the mantra goes on – stay at home, stay at home, stay at home.

It’s especially important for the elderly to keep to themselves as much as possible. And others who are at potential risk of infection must be careful to keep their distance. I feel for the lonely and the sick.

It makes me think of this period in the church calendar when we’re remembering the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He didn’t stay home. When he left his glorious residence, he knew he’d never return to it until he’d experienced a cruel death at the hands of the ones he loved.

Last weekend, Palm Sunday gave us a glimpse of the countdown to the most horrible drama of Jesus’ life. That day, he wept over Jerusalem; he warned the people of their future defeat. He reminded them of their betrayal of him, but he accepted their praise on his way up the hill to the Holy City. He knew full well that they’d turn on him later and demand his crucifixion. And he knew that the reason for it all was so he could provide a home for them; a place of safety in heaven where there would be no more boredom, fear of disease, suffocating confinement, or death.

Yes, Jesus didn’t stay home for Easter.

What are we doing this weekend? Are we longing to get away, or are we happy to stay home and ponder what Jesus did for us? His church cannot gather together to celebrate that special meal, the Communion. But we can still remember his sacrifice for us. In our homes, we can partake of the bread and the wine, the symbols of his body and his blood. And do it together, seeing each other, hearing one another – at the same time … online! Man may have invented the internet, but God provided the ability to use it! In our homes, let’s praise him together!

Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship, praise him under the open skies; praise him for his acts of power, praise him for his magnificent greatness … Hallelujah! ~ Psalm 150

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You Don’t Need to Carry Your Load by Yourself

Here’s part of a post I began to write a while ago:

‘I’ve been following the journey of Job lately, and eventually I came upon these words: And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm – Job 38:1 – The Message Bible.

Before I read further, I focussed on the word ‘storm’, and was reminded of another man to whom God spoke – Elijah. I looked up the First Book of Kings, where Elijah’s storm experience is recorded. You can read it in chapter 19, verses 9-19. We find these words: Then the word of God came to him. 

What did God say? ‘So Elijah, what are you doing here?’ As if God didn’t already know!  When he asks a question like that, he’s usually wanting us to think about our situation. But Elijah gave an answer that showed he wasn’t aware of his surroundings; he was still thinking about how lonely and sad he was. Read it and see.

God had taken him all that way so he could tell him something special, in a place of revelation, at God’s own special mountain where he’d talked with Moses. Then he sent him back to where he’d come from! But only after he’d given him a vital learning experience.

Like Job…’

*    *     *

Well, that’s as far as I got with the draft of that post. I’ve now moved on from Job, and I’m up to the Psalms. Today I read this:

I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt – Psalm 119:11 – The Message.

In the course of the day, I’ve thought of that verse often. I’m grateful to be able to read the prayers that many mighty ones lifted up to God. Some were cries for help, others were gratitude for amazing blessings, and some, like the one above, were statements of faith.

Job, Elijah, and many others found themselves in places where they had to draw on resources they’d laid up for the future. Perhaps they hoped they might never need them. Here’s another version of that same statement, including more of the context.

I have tried my best to find you—don’t let me wander off from your instructions. I have thought much about your words and stored them in my heart so that they would hold me back from sin. Blessed Lord, teach me your rules – The Living Bible.

Job or Elijah could have spoken these words. They were familiar with the storm. And they knew God.

I now stand in a stormy place, along with everyone in our world. Today I’m seeing things through a different prism than I was back then. How will I react? How are others dealing with the terrible, frightening aspect that the world has taken on? How many are trying to find God’s rules for living: the promises he’s given us for help in our times of standing against the elements, the strong winds that can easily blow us into a place we never expected? What warranties can I grasp in that ‘vault of my heart’ to sustain me in this hour of trouble? The ones I’ve laid up in my personal bank?

Here’s one. Jesus said it to all who were laid low. If you’re burdened in this period where the world is reeling, take it as your own and he will make it happen. It’s true!

Come to Me, you who are weary and heavy laden. Let me give you rest ~ Matthew 11:28

What a wonderful guarantee! The Lord speaks quietly, confidently and lovingly when the storms buffet us. We can always trust him.

 

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The Fork in Our Road

We were about to leave for home after an enjoyable family celebration. Unfortunately our GPS decided not to work, so a friend found an app on our phone and set it up. We already had a route in mind, but the ‘App-GPS-person’ had other ideas!

It was okay for a while, but then she said, ‘Turn left at the fork’. She sounded so caring and personal, but I’ve read that the owner of the voice can’t actually see us on the road! We ignored the directions and took a way we were sure would eventually lead us home. The suburb had once been familiar to us many years before, but now the roads looked different, and the surroundings were built-up, unlike the quiet, pleasant streets we’d known sixty years ago!

All our problems began at that busy fork in the road. We were already in the wrong lane, and before we knew it, we were heading down the incorrect tine of that fork. The heavy traffic prevented us from going back, so we had no choice but to keep on, hoping to find a quick way to our original ‘shortcut!’ The weather was humid, so we had the car window down and ‘the voice’ was drowned out by the noise on the congested road. However, without our permission, a whole half-hour had just been added to our 45-minute trip! I was about to learn a few life-lessons on this journey!

At that fork, we had no conception that we were making a choice! There was no opportunity to deliberate before we took the wrong road. We should have made allowances for  tiredness, deafness… and presumption! We thought we knew the road, but ‘progress’ had altered the old ways! How dare it! Yes, these problems were all related to a change in our age! We’d never been this vintage before!! You could call it the ‘too-many-birthdays-syndrome’ – TMBS. (I hope that acronym doesn’t stand for anything obnoxious!) In any case, this TMBS can reduce our ability to think quickly.

On this trip, we were now being given ‘correction-instructions’. Well, we ignored them too! This trip was becoming a bit of a joke: an argument between us and the GPS. Of course, we knew best! After all, didn’t they realise that we were older and had more experience in driving?

Looking back, it’s amazing how much more ‘intelligent’ I am since I meditated on these matters, and related them to my life. I’ve been drawing connections between this fork-in-the-road experience and the information God’s given me over the years. I’d even recorded it in various diaries and notebooks, but this time, I’d forgotten to refer to it for the current part of my journey. Many lessons in life are repetitive. Have you noticed that handy hint? We’re often heading for a ‘fork’, and if we’d only think ahead at the beginning, before we begin to move onto the road, we might make a decision of value. Yes, value: keep calm! Listening, admitting our fallibility, giving space to the age we occupy in life, and most importantly, being aware that God has sent his Holy Spirit to be our loving Guide. He’s had a Global Positioning System in operation forever! And with him, we’ll retain our serenity. What peace!

I’m sure the Apostle Paul stood before many forks on his journeys. He wrote to the church at Philippi: …in all your prayers, ask God for what you need … with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus ~ Philippians 4: 6-7.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Church Lending Libraries

Have you ever attended a church with a Lending Library with free books, and a notebook to fill in your details? Were those books old, dilapidated and dusty? Were there any for little kids, teenagers, or men? Who checked them for doctrinal perfection? And who took the initiative to throw away the torn ones, or who repaired them? It’s not an unimportant job to run a church Lending Library! And I wouldn’t suggest turning up at parishioners’ homes to search their bookshelves for any ‘permanently-borrowed’ ones!

They say, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, but without reading the whole volume, how else can we know if it’s any good? People do judge a book by its cover in a church lending library. The old ones are often left on the shelves, but they can be very wise and helpful. Modern books might look good, but they may rely on ‘promotional’ material to impress potential readers that they’re better than they really are!

Church librarians are usually women, and as you might have guessed, it’s one of my jobs in our church. It involves checking donations, reading books by little-known authors (Yay!), dusting the shelves, and taking some damaged ones home for my multi-talented husband to repair. I also follow-up the tardy-returners, but in a multicultural congregation like ours, I have difficulty deciphering many of the signatures. And people are often in a hurry, so I have to ask someone who the borrower is or what they look like.

I think it’s amazing that these dear people are so good at English when they speak more than one other language. I learnt Latin and French at school, but they’re useless to me now in our ‘etcetera-church!’ Of course, I don’t intend to denigrate anyone with the use of that odd term. I only mean African/Indian/Cambodian/and many more nationalities. What a privilege to have so many lovely people who share our faith in God. I’m so glad I don’t have to read any foreign-language books! I’d need an assistant for that.

When I was a child I went with my mother when she arranged the flowers for the next Sunday’s church service. It was school-holiday time and even the kindergarten was closed. The building seemed so desolate that day without the congregation or any music. I wandered around and found the quiet vestry out the back. In there I noticed the old Lending Library. I doubt if the books had been dusted for years, let alone borrowed or read. They looked so boring to a young teenager! They made me sad.

Recently I read about a priest who rediscovered a precious book. He sent it to the king, who tore his clothes in anguish when he realised that he and his people had neglected it even though it contained all God’s instructions about the way his people should live. Long before, Moses, their great leader, had written it to prevent them from being carried away into captivity by their enemies.

It reminded me of another world-famous book that people leave on their bookshelf. It’s the only one that has the whole Truth that we need to know about death, life, and heaven. It tells us about our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We neglect it at our peril. It’s the Christian Bible. I hope you have one and that you read it. If not, maybe you can go to a church and borrow one. They’re sure to give it to you for free. You’ll never regret reading it. It’s full of God’s words, written for the whole world, but especially for you.

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