Seeing Past the Brick Wall

In my 2015 post, A Brick Wall by the Family Tree, I lamented a lack of information about my husband’s maternal aunt, Irene May Hampton. Her line stopped at her 1926 marriage to Ernest Joseph Sheppard, a bachelor, we’re told. If only I’d been interested in family history when my father-in-law and his second wife went to England in the early 1960s! They probably visited the relatives of Maurie’s deceased mother. Now here’s an update.

I was thrilled when the great-granddaughter of Ernest Sheppard contacted me via What a story she had! At first I thought we weren’t connected. When her Ernest married Rene, he’d already been married in 1915 to someone else – and fathered a child with her – because the ‘widow’ declared that her husband had died in the war in France! But when the man returned, she went back to him, taking her young daughter, and leaving Ernest alone. Had he told Rene all this?

We’d presumed his first marriage was annulled, but to sort it out, we purchased Ernest’s birth certificate, and his first marriage certificate. When I saw his details, it was plain that the 1915-marriage-Ernest, was the same person who’d wed Maurie’s Aunty Rene!

But what about her? On the 1939 Register of England and Wales I found Irene working as a book-keeping clerk in a steel construction company. She and Ernest were living in Essex, but no children were listed.

Later I discovered another marriage record for her: in fact two – in 1945! One gave her surname as Hampton, and on the other, it was Sheppard! I wondered if she’d learned about Ernest’s child, and if that had caused friction between them. His great-granddaughter had supplied me with a photo of him and his daughter in what looked like her debut portrait, where he looked very proud.

So we bought Rene’s second marriage certificate, and found that she’d informed the Registry officer of her divorce from Ernest, hence the two surnames as a note on the one certificate. Her new husband was George Harcourt Johnson. This was during the Second World War.

Sadly, Rene died eight years later, aged 54, and George died in 1972. I could fritter away hours searching online for more, but the most important question for me is this: Did they know Jesus as their Saviour? I hope we’ll see them in heaven, and Ernest too, who died in 1965.

Merely living on earth and leaving a trail of dates isn’t enough. There’s a holy purpose for our lives. God has a plan for each one of us, and if we don’t allow him to fulfil it, it’s a complete waste. I know of two famous men who were not married, had no children of their own, and were not materially rich. But their births, the events of their lives, their dramatic deaths, and the amazing blessings they bequeathed to mankind, are all recorded. Their mothers were cousins: Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, were both women of great faith in God.

We could all wonder – what will people remember about us after we’re gone? But as CT Studd, the famous cricketer and missionary, wrote:

Only one life, ’twill soon be past.

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Jesus Christ said no-one was as great as John the Baptist. And John declared that Jesus was the long-awaited one who would take away the sins of the world! What legacies they left! And we can be sure they both have a place in God’s Kingdom! What great gatherings we’ll enjoy there when we’ve made sure that heaven’s our eternal destination.

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How are you, Nanni?

‘How are you, Nanni?’

I watched our dear little great-grandson talking to his paternal grandmother, and although she was far away from him, he could hear her and even see her as she waved to him from her hospital bed.

Again James asked, ‘Nanni, are you feeling well?’ He even prompted her: ‘You say, “Yes” or “No”’, and hinted – ‘Yes?’  There was hope in his eager suggestions for her reply!

I was also far away, but observing this touching exchange from my home. I had the Tinybeans site open on my computer at the daily-update my granddaughter faithfully sends me every evening. I love to get it!

James was able to recognise his grandmother because he was familiar with her voice. He knew she loved him, and although he couldn’t see her in person to give her a hug, he had no trouble believing she was real!

So why, I wondered, when we want to hear the voice of God, do we sometimes feel he’s too far away, or it’s impossible to really hear him speaking to us? Perhaps we wonder if he can hear our voice? We know that Jesus spoke to his heavenly father all the time, and he said we must come to God naturally, like a little child. How it must give the same heavenly father a thrill when we want to talk to him! God loves to know what we’re thinking and doing. He wants to be a big part of our lives. He wants to talk to us any time we’ll listen, just like James’s Nanni.

The technological systems that allow us to keep in touch with each other are not new to God. He created the airwaves, and the skills of the people who’ve used them to design communication systems. He placed talents in the minds of those who tap into the amazing resources available nowadays. These f0rms of communication are important. They should be used to pass on our feelings, our enjoyment in each other, and our love, just like we can do in our conversations with God.

Jesus loved little children. He called them to himself even when others sought to shoo them away. I often ponder on the words of the song by Jemima Luke that I used to sing as a child.

I think when I read that sweet story of old

When Jesus was here among men,

How he called little children as lambs to his fold,

I should like to have been with them then.

I wish that his hands had been placed on my head,

That his arms had been thrown around me,

And that I might have seen his kind look when he said,

‘Let the little ones come unto me’.

Yet still to his footstool in prayer I may go;

And ask for a share in his love;

And if I now earnestly seek him below,

I shall see him and hear him above.

But thousands and thousands who wander and fall,

Never hear of that heavenly home;

I wish they could know there is room for them all,

And that Jesus has bid them to come.

So as I continued to watch and listen to the short video on my screen, James, with his thumb in his mouth, mumbled,  ‘I hope you feel better soon, Nanni’. But then, with his thumb out again, he added words that I’m sure his grandmother will always treasure: ‘I love you’.

And that’s what God imparts when we tell him how much he means to us ‘I love you’, he says. What a wonderful father he is!


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The Danger of Acting on Incomplete Information

I was reading an interesting article on the website ‘Desiring God’ when some of the text suddenly became jumbled and unintelligible like this?

It’s happened several times on my computer lately. In the first instance, I was typing an email to my daughter. I deleted it because I had no idea what else to do! But that night, I wondered. Maybe the strange text wasn’t as innocuous as I thought? Was it pointing to a dangerous event I’d been warned about? Should I have taken the doctor’s advice, and immediately called an ambulance to take me to a hospital in case I was having a Transient Ischemic Attack – a T.I.A, or mini-stroke? The medical people weren’t sure if the two similar incidents I’d already experienced, were mini-strokes. I’ve read that even experienced neurologists find them difficult to diagnose. But with this latest incident, it was now too late to check my brain! Nothing shows on a CT scan if it’s not done soon.

So I looked for other reasons, and asked some family members if this corrupted text might be a problem with another ‘brain’ – my computer’s inner workings! Yes, it could. Fortunately, I hadn’t jumped to conclusions when I didn’t have all the facts. Since then, I’ve had a few more text-corruptions on a variety of websites, including the one above. I knew I couldn’t fix the problem myself, and with our city in lockdown, nobody could come and do it for me. So please allow me to segue to this blog post about it!

I often find myself thinking of Jesus in these situations. He designed the human brain, but in the times of the Roman Empire, he hadn’t yet introduced the second-best copy to mankind – computers were still waiting in the wings. But the word ‘corrupted’ grabbed my mind in relation to the incorruptible man who walked the streets of Jerusalem twenty centuries ago. Everything he said was true. Everything he did was perfect. His life was holy; his message clear. Everyone could ‘read’ him. But whenever the Jewish leaders wanted to trap him with their questions, they reverted to their corrupt habits, even setting up false witnesses to get their way. But Jesus never flinched. He knew his purpose – and the plan of his Father in heaven – to show us all what God is like. And he succeeded in his mission. His message was never corrupted, and neither was he. 

King David prophesied about Jesus centuries before he ever lived in Israel, saying that God would not allow his holy one to see corruption ~ Psalm 16:10. Even though Jesus would die, his body wouldn’t decay; he would rise from the dead!

And Peter, one of Jesus’ followers, quoted David, explaining that the Messiah would not be abandoned in the world of the dead; his body would not rot in the grave ~ Acts 2: 31.

The apostle Paul also quoted that psalm where David wrote about Jesus: You will not allow your faithful servant to rot in the grave ~ Acts 13: 35. Corruption was never in God’s plan for Jesus. 

So we need to be careful not to act on incomplete information. As my daughter said, ‘Mum, if you’d been reading an ordinary book, rather than using the computer, you would have known the difference with that text’.  But novice that I am, I could have been fooled when I saw the corruption on the computer screen. 

Many people believe that Jesus lived. But do they also believe he was resurrected? If they accept the complete story, all of it, they won’t be fooled by corrupted words! Will you be among them?


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Common Sense and Other Essentials

We’ve often heard the following advice from our Victorian State Premier, ‘Commonsense is what should guide everybody’. It’s made me ask these questions: Is that always the only approach in every situation? Can everyone use gumption well? And do we usually possess all the information to help us make a wise decision?

I found a few definitions. One applies to my first question. ‘Common sense is the ability to see beyond the rules and apply intelligence to a situation. It might be about knowing when to break rules for the purpose of complying with more important outcomes’. We’ve been told to ‘stay home’ during this lockdown, but in an emergency, like the storm that hit various suburbs here last week, people can choose to leave home to get help. In a compassionate society, that’s common sense!

During our overnight curfew, a man told the roadblock police that he was ‘taking rice to his children’. Maybe the $12,000 cash, or the illegal drugs in his car, are now called ‘rice’? That answers my second query, and fits this definition: ‘Commonsense is developed by being more aware, and reflecting on situations before making a decision’. Surely he knew he’d be caught in the quiet streets in the middle of the night. No commonsense.

Another is, ‘Commonsense is based on human compassion and respect for yourself and others.’  It reminds me of a young autistic man I heard talking about interaction between neurotypicals and people who have Aspergers Syndrome. He said, ‘Just be kind’. How wise. That’s also in the list of fruit that the apostle Paul said the Holy Spirit will give to us (Galatians 5: 22). 

The Premier’s statement was made in the context of Victorians deciding how to obey the rules that the government had put in place to protect us all from the spread of the coronavirus. He cited the couple who made a 200-kilometre round-trip to ‘do exercise’, instead of staying closer to home, as instructed. People like them had caused us all to be limited to exercising only in a five-kilometre range from our homes. Did they think about the consequences of their actions?  No commonsense. 

I remember my father helping me with my maths homework. He wasn’t well-educated, but he was clever. He couldn’t understand why the teachers wouldn’t accept the ‘obvious short-cut’ he’d taught me, unless I’d shown how I’d arrived at the answer. He was a man full of common sense; what teachers might consider cheating never appealed to him. 

A while ago, our grandson was struggling with a face mask, until he discovered he was eligible for an exemption. A permit from his doctor was all he needed. That applies to my third question.

I believe the person who has commonsense is observant. They pick up tips to carry in their mind like valuable treasure, and bring them out when needed. They don’t ignore good advice. 

The opposite of commonsense is foolishness. Jesus told a story showing his opinion of stupid people. In Matthew 7 we have a series of his wise teachings. You may remember the final one about the wise and foolish men. The sensible person built his home on the rock. But what sticks in our minds is the graphic picture of the foolish man who erected his house on the sand. All that hard work, and what a mess after the floods!

Jesus finished by saying, Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock – Matthew 7:24.

Will we use commonsense and choose to obey what Jesus said?


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Falling but not Failing

Can you imagine David, King of Israel, as an old man? Perhaps he’s sitting with his grandchildren gathered around him, plus his favourite servants, his old soldier-friends, and close family. He’s reciting Psalm 37; maybe singing it. He wants them to know the way to live well. 

Songs are such a valuable way to remember important truths. This week I was repeating verse 23 of that same psalm. I’d learnt it as a song many years ago, and it came back to me exactly when I desperately needed its words of encouragement:

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his ways…’.

That sentence gave me strength. In fact the whole verse made me think about many things.

When Eugene Peterson translated Psalm 37:23 into The Message Bible, he didn’t use the words ‘good man’. The single word he chose isn’t in common use these days, but I really like stalwart. Its synonyms are strong: staunch, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated. Dependable, reliable, loyal, stable, and hard-working. They describe a person whom David admired. And so does God.

In my mind, I see ‘good man’ standing tall. His name is Stalwart. David personalised his examples, not only as Wicked and Stingy, but Righteous, Generous, and Good – or Stalwart. That last one gives us plenty of virtues from which to choose if we want to be good. Which one would you select? I want to be all of them!

The next part of the verse says, ‘… though he fall, he shall not be cast down…’

Now that’s hard when you’re going along at a brisk pace, and before you know it, down you go, with a concrete path coming up to meet your falling body faster than you expected. That was me last week.

As I lay there for a mini-second, I wondered, ‘Is this going to be like it was six years ago when I fell and broke my hip, and couldn’t get up? I knew I had to try this time, so, like a toddler, I scrabbled up onto all fours, and managed to rise. There was no-one in sight, so I put one foot forward, and with lots of praise to God for his promise in the rest of that Bible verse, I proceeded to complete the other half of my daily walk. My ribs were a bit sore, but I was upright. 

Now, do you know what those last inspiring words are? They’re a wonderful reassurance that says: … for the Lord upholds him with his hand. 

Over that last kilometre, I kept going, longing to reach home so I could tend to any injuries. On the way, I wondered if I should see a doctor, but decided I couldn’t possibly have any broken bones because here I was, walking. All the way home!

Then it was time to begin preparing our hot dinner, so I set to and did it. I stayed up all day, but by evening I was feeling shaky. I think God was suggesting a good rest would be in order. He believes in rest, but not on a lonely path way out beyond the electricity pylons! 

That was last Thursday. I’m sporting some bruises, one grazed knee, sore ribs that are healing, and a song I can’t get out of my head. Here’s The Message Bible version:

Stalwart walks in step with God;
    his path blazed by God, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down for long;
    God has a grip on his hand.

I’m sure you’d like to read the whole psalm and enjoy God’s hand around yours. 


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Numbers or Words

Learning the twelve-times-table as a child in fourth grade, I wasn’t only discovering about a dozen eggs, a quarter being three, and half being six, I was imbibing a truth that God put in place for us to learn about himself.

When I learnt the piano, I didn’t realise how much of God’s personality was involved in the music. What multiplication! Every melody has a pattern.

Right now in our State, we’re being inundated with numbers: how many new cases of COVID-19 have occurred since yesterday, and sadly, the total deaths, with the age of each deceased person. We can choose to hear God’s voice in all of this, or allow our lives to descend into chaos.

Take the game of cricket for instance. It’s full of statistics: how many runs in a short period of time, how many balls bowled, the number of overs. Followers of the game love them! The ABC sports writer, Geoff Lemon, wrote: ‘For all the apparent immutability of mathematics, words may yet explore places that numbers cannot’.

The Bible is full of lists. God had a reason for each of them, but I like to think the words are the most important! Moses wrote: God created the earth by what he said. And John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, said, In the beginning was The Word. He was talking about Jesus, who was present at creation, participating in it all.

I’ve always loved the 55th chapter of Isaiah. (Read it and enjoy it for yourself!) I especially hang onto these words about what God would do for his people:

So you’ll go out in joy,
    you’ll be led into a whole and complete life

~ Isaiah 55: 12 (The Message Bible)

In other translations that last phrase is ‘be led forth in peace’. That’s what peace is: a whole and complete life! In everything God does, there’s abundance and integrity! 

In our Bible, the dramas, the parables, the letters, the gospels all speak to us. That’s what words do for me. Perhaps it’s calculus that grabs you. I don’t get excited about numbers like I do about ideas, but I need to accept that God does speak to us through numbers. He has more than one way of communicating with us; he’s a speaker and a multiplier. We shouldn’t limit him. Depending on the way he’s made us to be like him, he reveals himself, his personality, his wonderful attributes, through his innate character. Whether he’s speaking through numbers or words, or any other way, he’s always in control, producing an amazing harmony in our lives.

Our part is to listen. Whenever we begin to comprehend that it’s his voice bringing good news, we need to turn from our busy activities, and wait. Whether they’re facts in the form of numbers, or coming to our inner ear by means of words, God is showing himself to us.

I’d like to finish with some more of Isaiah’s prophecy.

Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway … everything’s free! …  listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you … sure, solid, enduring love… Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand …

I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work… the words that come out of my mouth (will) not come back empty-handed … they’ll complete the assignment I gave them …  

The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song’ … a living and lasting evidence of God.

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a unique name

As my father held our toddler on his lap, he referred to my mother as Grandma, but Mum swiftly reminded him, ‘I’m Mar Mar’, she said proudly. ‘That’s their special name for me’.

In later years, our son asked me if I would mind if he called me by my Christian name. I replied that it was a privilege to be able to call me ‘Mum’. He never asked again!

We like to think our name’s unique, but looking online for family and friends, it’s amazing how many ‘twins’ I’ve found. Some parents try to give their child’s name an original spelling, unknowingly burdening them with problems in the future! How many odd pronunciations have we heard from teachers who have never heard our name spoken?

I had a friend whose first job was as a receptionist in a funeral home. One day the director had to go out and he left her with specific instructions about a client who was expected to call in to view her deceased grandfather. When the young woman arrived, she showed her to the back room where he was laid out, and left her to mourn in private. My friend had barely returned to her desk when the girl came running out, ashen-faced and crying, ‘That’s not my Grandad!’ The man she’d seen had the same names as her grandfather, and had died on the same day! What a shock. My friend never forgot that experience.

As a teenager, I won a prize in a newspaper competition. The results came to my school, but another girl, who unknowingly shared my name (except the middle one), was called to receive it. She was honest enough to say she hadn’t entered the competition.

Recently, I was in the doctor’s waiting room and he came out and called my first name. I  followed him into his room and when he examined the papers on his desk, he exclaimed,  ‘Sorry! Wrong Lynette’. I returned to my seat while another lady was called in my place! I was next…after her!

These incidents show how unoriginal our names can be. In family history research, it’s handy if William or Mary is used repeatedly over the generations, but it’s also useful if you’re looking for a person with an unusual name.

Have you ever wondered about the name that Jesus promised to give his children? He said it will be a name we’ll recognise and will be written on a white stone, and he’ll hand it to us personally. This was what Jesus said the Spirit would say to the overcoming people in 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).

I’ve been studying these words lately and found a few historical theories about the meaning of that stone, but none seemed to fit. Of course, the apostle John’s ‘Revelation’ is full of symbols, and they can be interpreted from other parts of the Bible. I’m reminded of the fact that Jesus is our ‘bread’, or manna. We live, because he lives in us.

In the same way, our new, secret name shows us who we really are: to him, and to ourselves.  It’s a wonderful gift to be able to relax ‘in our own skin’, as they say, and be the person we’re meant to be.

And who are we? We own the life of Jesus in us: his love, his good standing with his Father, and more! What amazing potential is in our new name!


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Gratitude in Hard Times

It might seem as if things have got out of hand in the world right now. People are crying out for healing, for peace, and for freedom from the overwhelming pandemic that’s been flooding over most nations. I know it’s hard, but there are many things for which I can still be thankful. Here’s a small list I compiled this week: I can hear the birdsong. I see daffodils blooming, their bright trumpets reminding me of heavenly music. Our camellias provide me with picking flowers for the house, and the perfume from the daphne bush brings back memories of my father who planted one when I was a child because he knew I loved it.

I can’t go shopping for new socks for my husband, but I do have wool and a needle to darn the holes which his toenails have bored through the toes! We’re again in lockdown, but we have a computer, an e-reader and a telephone to keep in touch with the outside world. Our garden provides us with fresh vegetables, and weeding to keep us fit! I’m able to go for a walk, and offer a smile or say ‘hello’ to people I pass. And Maurie and I have each other! Millions of people lack these things and more, but I’m glad for what I have.

Last Sunday, after our online church service, we ‘virtually’ met with some other members and shared our blessings. The pastor said he’d received an email from some Christians in Africa. They’d heard things were going badly in our city because of a worrying spike in COVID-19 cases here. That email was sent about 2 am African time. They were awake and praying for us! How blessed we felt!

Earlier, I was thinking of what happened in Noah’s time once he was safe on dry ground after being stuck on the ark during the flood. He hadn’t known how long his family’s isolation would last, but when he was eventually free to walk around on the earth, he sacrificed a clean offering in thanks to God, who absolutely loved its beautiful aroma.

When I checked the story again in Genesis, I found that God had said something to himself at that time; something that’s still a promise for us.

The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done’ ~ Genesis 8:21 – New American Standard Bible.

In most English translations of the Bible, this passage is identical, saying that God was pleased with the aroma. But I like the word ‘soothing’ in this version. I think it’s really nice to know that God was soothed. Perhaps Noah was also soothed by the aroma of the burning sacrifice he offered to God. The giver is usually blessed in the giving.

And with this promise, we’re also blessed. We can recall it when we need comfort. God didn’t only say it to bless himself; he also said it for our benefit. A blessing is sometimes called a ‘godsend’. He made that promise for our well-being – so we could prosper, thrive and flourish. Even in drought, natural or spiritual, he watches over us and keeps his word.

Maybe we all feel we’re in hard times right now, but God’s promises are eternal. No matter what happens, he’s faithful. His blessings are greater than any hardships we might experience, and my heart overflows with gratitude to him.

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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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