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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Homesick for Our Own Land?

Since reading a poem at our church’s Australia Day celebration this week, I’ve been thinking about my attitude to my heavenly home.

The poem was written by a famous Australian when she was 19 years old, and visiting England. Although Dorothea Mackellar admired the English scenery, it was vastly different to her own land. She was so homesick for Australia, that she wrote the poem, ‘My Country’. Many Australian children learnt it at school. The words are graphic, yet poignant. And they evoke such strong patriotic emotions in her readers. Compared with England, our land is harsh in places, and yet we still love it, because it’s home for us.

Since then, I’ve been meditating on the fact that, although I’m actually a citizen of heaven, how much do I understand of it? And how homesick am I for that amazing place that Jesus told us about. God has given us some information about his home where we will go one day, but for now, I’m not longing to be there … yet.

Dorothea was a gifted, observant poet. She could express her feelings about her homeland, and show why she loved it, even its sad and haunting aspects, such as these lines:

Core of my heart, my country! 

Land of the rainbow gold,

For flood and fire and famine

She pays us back threefold

As I read those words, I was reminded of the sad images we’ve all been seeing in our news lately of bushfire damage, and the anguish of the people who’ve lost so much in recent months.

But the last words of the poem gave me pause for thought:

An opal-hearted country, 

A wilful, lavish land

All you who have not loved her,

You will not understand.

Though earth holds many splendours, 

Wherever I may die,

I know to what brown country 

My homing thoughts will fly.

Dorothea believed in God. She made it plain in another of her poems, which she asked to be read at her memorial service after she died. It was one of her favourites. It’s called ‘Colour’, and in it she thanked God for all the colour he’d put in her life.

But I can’t help believing that when I die, my own thoughts will fly to another country – the one that’s mentioned in the hymn, ‘I vow to thee, my country..’. that we loved to sing at school. It was written by Cecil Spring-Rice and the final verse says,

And there’s another country I’ve heard of long ago,

Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;

We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;

Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;

And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,

And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

Surely this is referring to the heavenly country where we all long to go. But our eyes are focussed on this place where we all live now. There’s still some good here, but what earthly country can lay claim to always having peace? Isn’t that what we all yearn for?

You may recall other patriotic songs from your childhood, but I hope every one of us can say that heaven is the place where we want to return. That’s where the most wonderful person is – our Saviour, Jesus. His disciple John recorded in his Gospel (14: 3) that Jesus promised, ‘After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back. Then I will take you with me, so that you can be where I am’.

 

 

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Refreshing

I was looking in an old journal and found this statement that God had said to me:  ‘There are refreshing things coming!’

At the time, I’d been sitting at the piano, and as I recall those words now, I appreciate how music is one way that God refreshes us. It flows over our weary spirits; it revives our souls. Today I was meditating on this again. Why did God tell me? and ‘Did it come to pass?’

One summer, my brother-in-law brought his family on holidays. I’d made a cake and he was amused when I said, ‘Don’t worry if it’s not finished, and goes stale, I’ll make a trifle out of it’.

When we need refreshing, it’s the stale things in our lives that need it. How do we tell if something is stale? It can’t be used for it’s original purpose. But burnt cake can be pared back, and some people like to eat burnt biscuits! You’ve probably heard the myth of the resourceful apprentice who left the bakery so he could watch something happening in the street. Look it up and see how biscuits (meaning ‘twice-baked’ – from the Latin, bis cotus), might have originated!

God uses leftovers, but he imbues them with fresh potential. That’s why he’s given us hope. It’s one of the abiding things, along with faith and love. When I’m feeling stale and dry, drained of my usual resources, I can be sure God will raid his store of refreshing ones to revive me. If I sense I’ve become hardened and discouraged about my use, he’ll soften me with his replenishing moisturisers, just like jelly and soft fruit in a trifle! Then he’ll put me to good use to refresh other people.

These provisions might include an encouraging call from a friend, or a word that I’ve mislaid in the Bible, such as Psalm 23 where we find refreshment mentioned. God might even take something I wouldn’t accept in more happy times, and show me how innovative he is! The refreshing might even come from an enemy!

The Bible is full of words about refreshing, reviving, and replenishing. God told many prophets to pass on this message to his people:

Jeremiah 31:25  ~ I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls – The Message Bible

Isaiah 44:3 ~  I will give you abundant water for your thirst and for your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit and my blessings on your children ~ The Living Bible

Paul: 2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether—the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new ~ J B Phillips

While our land lies hardened and black from raging bushfires, and people reel from the disastrous horrors, God wants to revive and refresh those who are mourning. These fires have ravaged our country, leaving it seared and empty like the way we sometimes feel when we’re stale. That’s the time when God’s people should be willing refreshers. Perhaps we ourselves have become hardened to his refreshing? Have you ever put dry old scones in a microwave oven for a few seconds, then used the soft results for afternoon tea? People might think they’re the leftovers, but God can take them and use them differently, like stale cake in a delicious trifle!

So what about the fulfilment of the promise from God? Yes, it happened. All over the world, the Holy Spirit swept through the church with holy laughter and changed lives. Who can deny the refreshing benefits of a good laugh!

Let’s believe God’s promise and receive his refreshing – for ourselves, and others.

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Do we value what we’re given?

It’s surprising what the dead leave behind! These leavings show us what they valued, or  what might have been discarded if death hadn’t overtaken them…

I’ve had to sort a few objects belonging to various family members. It’s hard to decide what to give away, or keep. And it’s often difficult to sense what they valued.

Here’s a relevant message that Jesus sent to one of the early churches. I’ve been puzzled about its meaning, particularly the words Jesus spoke at the end.

“… Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. I’ll give the sacred manna to every conqueror; I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name” – Revelation 2:17 (The Message Bible).

Because I never really understood what Jesus meant by this new name, I haven’t cherished it. But a gift from Jesus shouldn’t be ignored. It’s a treasure.

Recently I found an interesting object when I was going through the mementos of Maurie’s brother, Vic. It’s a small piece of dull metal. After examining it and doing some research, I learnt that it’s an Identification Tag from WW2 belonging to an American serviceman. This information was on it: his name and Social Security Number, his next of kin and their address, the date of his last tetanus immunisation, and his blood group.

So did Vic find it in Australia, New Guinea, or in England when he was serving in the war? Was it given to him? I know it’s part of a pair, but we only have one.

I looked online and found the funeral details of a man who’d fought in the war. He died in 1996 and belonged to the Christian Brethren Church. Was he the owner of the tag? Then I discovered that the American Government owns these tags, not the serviceman or woman … or the finder. So we plan to send it to the Defence Department in Washington D.C., hoping that, after all these years, his family may be able to keep it.

I have these questions: Did this soldier value his tag? What did it mean to him? Was his life changed because he didn’t have it? We may never know.

In light of all this, I’ve taken another look at the scripture above, and thought about my attitude to the special stone Jesus said he’d give to those who won the victory. The Bible mentions many special stones, most of them engraved with words, especially names. That’s a hint to the meaning of this one. They were often reminders of God’s presence, of his promise to always be with us.

So no matter what situation we’re in, Jesus will give the conquerors something to carry everywhere. Something we can pull out at any time and remember what it means for us in our everyday life, and in emergencies. Do we really value this gift, or have we mislaid it somewhere? Like the American soldier’s tag, is our stone, with that good name deeply etched in it, floating around in places where it’s of no use to us? The American Government wouldn’t help us if we fronted up with that old ‘dog tag’ – it doesn’t have our name on it.

I wrote this post a long time ago, and retrieved the draft today. I must have that special stone on my mind; I wrote about it in my last post, remember? I still haven’t heard back from the Pentagon, and doubt if I ever will, considering the pandemic we’re experiencing now. ………………

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Who Cares about Jesus at Christmas?

Christmas traditions have changed over the years. Perhaps they’ve always been changing, and it’s only lately that I’ve noticed!

As a child, I lived in a street where most of the people went to church, and believed in the story of the wise men and the shepherds who came to worship the baby Jesus. I wonder what response I’d get now, if I were to call on every home in our street and ask the occupants to tell me their beliefs about Christmas. Would they even be thinking about Jesus at this time, let alone pondering the miracle of a virgin birth? Or do they celebrate the festival at all?

I’ve always enjoyed receiving Christmas cards from friends, and displaying them with the manger scene every December, but now most of us send our greetings in an email. In this way we learn how all our friends and their families are faring, and look forward to seeing the digital photos of aging faces in faraway places. Other people seem so busy catching up on gift-buying, or parties with their favourite groups, that they don’t have time left for meditating on this important event. There are holiday preparations, and the rush to organise their Christmas meal. It makes me feel tired, just thinking about it!

My mind goes back to the angels who appeared at the time of Jesus’ birth; they had an assignment to visit a paddock on the outskirts of Bethlehem. I’m sure they were excited to join the event that would change the world forever. Their message to the shepherds who were watching their sheep that night, was: Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God ~ Luke 2:14

These words introduced a new concept: heaven and earth were about to be delivered as one package, and it was good news! This was the mystery that had been revealed to the ancient prophets down through the ages and now it was actually happening! Amazing! Glorious! Wonderful! Who would have believed that God would choose this way to bring his joyful home into the lives of all mankind?

Who but God would show such wisdom;

by His Love would heal the rift

‘tween mankind and His own Kingdom?

Gave a Babe ~ Himself the Gift!

~Lyn Thiele

Nowadays we can read how his mother, Mary, responded to this unique event, and how her fiance made the most difficult choice of his life to marry her. We can also read the reaction of Simon in the Temple, and Anna, the old woman there, who were thrilled to see the baby. We know the cruel act of the king who hated him. All these stories spread around the Roman territory of Israel and eventually made their way into our Bible. But we have no report on the thoughts of the baby who had to make the journey, first from heaven, then from the womb, a short distance into the world: the world he’d created!

However, there is a record of the state of mind of that Person who became our Saviour. It’s found in a letter written by the Christian missionary, Paul, to the Philippian church.

Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. Instead he gave up everything and became a slave when he became like one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. Then God gave him the highest place and honoured his name above all others ~ Philippians 2: 6-9

If I knocked at your door today, could you tell me what you believe about Jesus Christ?

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Two Lost Sheep

An incident, two actually, happened in the Salvation Army Opportunity Shop the other day. I was walking between the racks of pre-loved clothing, and saw a little two-year-old boy, crying and rushing through the aisles. Earlier, I’d noticed him in his mother’s arms, and now, he couldn’t find her!

I offered my hand, but he took off in the opposite direction. I thought his mother might be up that way, so followed him, and there she was in the distance, coming towards us. She said nothing to me, but he ran to her and I went back to my shopping.

But not for long. Another child, a girl about four years of age, hurried past me; she was weeping miserably. I asked, ‘Are you looking for your Mummy?’ but she kept crying. Soon her mother appeared around a rack of children’s clothing and said to me, ‘I was just about to start panicking!’ She turned to her daughter, ‘You were supposed to stay over there and play with the toys!’ She looked at me with a sigh. It can happen so quickly.

I said, ‘My daughter was lost in a store once. I was so relieved to find her! Afterwards, I told her, “If you’re ever lost in a shop, just stand still. If you’re looking for me, I’m sure to be looking for you!”‘

I hope this encouraged the young mother, who smiled and said to her child, ‘Say thank you to the kind lady’. The little girl stared at me, a bit overwhelmed, I suppose, and relieved to be ‘found’. It’s so scary for a lost child.

I didn’t mention what else I’d told my perceptive young daughter all those years ago. ‘It’s just like Jesus’, I explained to her. ‘He’s always looking for us if we’re lost. If we keep still, and wait, He’ll find us’. She probably remembers that advice to this very day!

I think you can guess what these incidents brought to my mind? Yes, it’s the story Jesus told about the owner of one hundred sheep. He counted them in their pen, and was dismayed to discover there was one missing! So he left the ninety-nine safe sheep, and went out to search for the lost one until he found it!

Jesus explained to his listeners that he was their Good Shepherd, so good that he would soon give his life for them because he wanted them all to live with him in heaven forever. He’s our Good Shepherd too, and wants to find every lost ‘sheep’ who is longing for a safe place. He’s always searching for them.

Both of those children were disoriented and heading away from their parent! Is this what we sometimes do when God’s wanting to find us? Have we already tried other comforts, or remedies for our troubles, instead of him? Or perhaps we’ve forgotten that we really belong with him in the safe ‘sheep-pen?’ And some people don’t even know there is a Good Shepherd who wants to bring them to safety, and who loves them dearly.

One time, long ago, God had a special message for his people when they were in danger, and Moses, the shepherd who’d been given the responsibility for them, spoke these words:

Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today … Then he added, The Lord will fight for you, and all you have to do is keep still ~ Exodus 14:13-14 ~ The Good News Translation.

God did it! He performed a miracle! And he has more miracles he wants to do.

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Hanging On to Things

We have one skinny Bobie Bobie tree in our garden. It’s a rare variegated Australian one. We’re hoping it will eventually cover some of the dull paling fence outside our bedroom window. Another name for it is Phebalium squameum variegatum, but its botanical name is Nematolepis squamea. That’s your botany lesson for today! 

In our previous garden we had twenty of these attractive trees, forming two hedges at right angles to each other. Here they are. They had a special purpose.

Before the new buyers moved in, they paid us an early visit. As we stood among the fruit trees, the lady asked, ‘Do you have these hedges to keep the wind out?’ ‘Yes’, I replied, ‘it gets very blowy up here’.

Our home was on top of a steep hill, so you can imagine how exposed the garden was. One day the sweetcorn plants bowed before the wind until they lay prostrate on the ground! Two days later, before we could remedy their reclining sprawl, another big blow came from the opposite direction and restored them to their normal upright stance, but we couldn’t rely on that happening on cue!

A few years after we shifted, we heard the property was on the market again, so we checked it online. Most of those variegated trees had been removed! What remained of the orchard was open to the winds. Here’s the new look! Each phebalium would have been worth many dollars. They’re difficult to propagate, and Australian native plants don’t like to be moved, otherwise they could have been sold. There aren’t many of these particular trees available, even in the specialist Australian Plant nurseries.

I know that once a place is sold, the new people own it, and can do what they like with it. We did something similar in our new garden when we removed a lot of spikey-looking plants, and replaced them with softer foliage. But I did feel a bit sad for those phebaliums. They tried hard to grow and now they’re gone.

I wondered about my attitude to this. I could just forget it, but maybe there was a lesson I could learn? God will use our experiences to teach us an important life-truth … if we’ll listen. And sure enough, He reminded me of something I’d read many years before – in about 1960!  It may have been in Isobel Kuhn’s autobiographical book, By Searching, but lately I’d read the incident again; she repeated it in the continuation of her story – In the Arena. It’s about hanging onto things.

Isobel was a missionary to China, and was given this advice by a fellow Christian: ‘Keep your treasures on the open palm of your hand. If you hold something tight-clenched in your fist, God may have to hurt you in order to open your fingers and take it from you. But if it is offered on the open palm of your hand, you will hardly know when it is gone.’

I’m not sure that God wants to hurt us; we’re probably doing it to ourselves! But it’s an interesting illustration. I’d actually recalled this quote in a slightly different way. What I remember of it was that ‘our treasures will be crushed if we grasp them too tightly in our hand, and then they’re no use’. Over the years, I’ve applied it many times in that way. I’ve even repeated it to other people in ‘my’ version!

I pray I’ll always remember to keep my treasures on an open palm and allow God to take them if he wants to. Alternatively, he may leave them there for me to share!

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Steps for Old Bones

Ever since I broke my hip five years ago, I’ve been careful to watch my steps (see my Blog Post from May 2015 – Everyday Things). It was no fun to hit the floor and be unable to stand up again. They say the ‘fear of falling’ contributes to many of these accidents, so I remind myself to trust the Lord to keep me upright. I’m so grateful for his guiding arm.

Today I’d like to tell you about the latest Culture Night at our church. Last Sunday we were privileged to learn some of the traditions and worship customs of the Philippines. There were songs, dances, food, an informative video about the nation – and a quiz to see how much of it we’d absorbed! Not a lot, on my part, but I did remember that there are over 230,000 people from the Philippines living in Australia. And, we had great fellowship; Filipinos are beautiful fun-loving people.

At the end of the evening, there was something I’d been eagerly anticipating: a Tinikling Dance performed by the young ones. They’re so clever. It’s amazing how they step between the moving bamboo sticks that are operated by a couple of people on the floor. I’m sure they must listen carefully to the background music. I noticed it was in 3/4 time and the click of the sticks would accentuate this for the dancers.

The traditional Tinikling Dance has gained popularity around the world, particularly in America. You can see YouTube videos of competitions, and the participants look so confident and carefree. I always love to watch them hopping and stepping over the sticks and coordinating with their partners in the routine that seems to come so easily. This time, once the dancers had finished, a few people from the congregation went up on the stage to have a go! We laughed at their wobbly efforts. A couple nearly fell, and had to retire sheepishly! But I can’t criticise them – I’d do worse!

I don’t know if the Filipino people often do the Tinikling Dance at home, or whether they’d practiced some new moves for our benefit, but I could see that they really enjoyed it. And so did we! I knew I’d never be able to get up there and join them; it was too complicated for me, and I thought my old bones mightn’t tolerate such harsh treatment!

That night, as I lay in bed, I thought about the whole dance routine and wondered how it operated. I should have asked the experts, but they were also in bed now, recovering from their exertions; those dances went for a long time. So I had to rely on my own guesswork. Did the music set the pace; were the steps pre-planned? Who followed who, and how did they know when to stop? I’m still wondering! But with my mind running along these paths, I soon recalled the scripture verse which says: 

      The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord  ~  Psalm 37: 23.

This is from one of King David’s psalms, written when he was an old man – with old bones! Although I’d often heard these words, it was fresh once again, especially in a modern version. A few questions still arose in my mind about their meaning, and I wasn’t sure I knew all the answers, but the next words were an encouragement for a lady with vintage femurs.

If they fall, they will not stay down because the Lord will help them up ~ Psalm 37: 24.

So I’m happy to watch, and content that I can still walk well. I know God is helping me every day.

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Keeping It Looking Loved

‘You’ve got the cleanest rubbish bins in the whole of the city’.

The Council employee grinned at the elderly lady as he replaced her bins on the nature-strip, and pressed the lids down. The big truck clattered behind them while the other workers emptied the bins from the opposite side of the normally quiet street.

Yes, my mother had a reputation to keep! Every week, she scrubbed her two small metal bins, placed any leftover meat bones in used cream containers with their lids firmly on, and wrapped all her other rubbish before placing it in the bins. It was a matter of importance to her. Garbage collection is different these days, with huge trucks and several types of bins: recycling, garden waste and everyday household rubbish.

My Dad had found those two bins somewhere and brought them home. He was the kind of person who patronised the Railway auctions. I had a small black umbrella from the same sale rooms. It fitted perfectly in my school case, which also came from there; likewise my tennis racket. I think my brothers’ push-bikes originated there. Why waste good things when you can paint them and save money? Someone had left them behind on the train and never enquired about them again. 

Mum also swept up the autumn leaves from the footpaths in the next street. The neighbours appreciated her thoughtfulness. It’s amazing how some people prefer a clean environment and others couldn’t care less. She was also afraid that someone (perhaps herself!) might slip on those damp oak leaves. It was easier for the sun to dry the paths without the slimy leaf litter.     

Recently one of our pastors spoke about the way the church property occasionally has rubbish lying around under bushes, and in the carpark. She asked the congregation, ‘Do you pick up papers when you see them on the church grounds?’ When no-one replied, she went on to say, ‘This property belongs to us all, and we should look after it’.

I glanced at my husband. He always picks up papers, lolly-wrappers, cans, and even tissues. Although I remind him to wash his hands afterwards, he takes no notice! He doesn’t like the church garden looking messy after he’s worked hard in it, raking up leaves and trimming the trees. The pastor also has a gardener’s heart and knows how much work goes into keeping it looking loved.

When I walked to the shops this morning, I noticed the papers, bottles, plastic bags and other rubbish scattered among the shrubbery. I wondered, ‘ Why don’t people use a bin or take it home?’ If I were younger, I’d pick them up myself. 

Here’s something relevant I read in the Bible. If you’re one of those who litter, maybe you’ll ignore it, but if you care about the world we all live in, please take notice. 

           It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy – 1 Corinthians 4:2.

Many people worry about rubbish in the environment, but how many also concern themselves with spiritual pollution in our world?  That inner kind of filth is worse than papers in the bushes. We’ve been left in charge of the earth, and as much as we’re able, we’ll be wise to look after it. But are we contributing to the spread of evil principles? Are we speaking out against them? Or do we just let it slide? Do we teach our children to honour holiness by setting a good example for them and their friends? What kind of stewards are we? And are we loving the ‘inner earth’ and its people as God expects?

 

 

 

 

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