Recently I was told about a lady of 102 who wished she could go back to being 79, an age not many of us have reached yet. But I wonder how it feels to be 102. I need to walk in other’s shoes and imagine how they view life. It was Jesus who said, ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned’ Luke 6:37
We can never fully understand another persons life and why they act as they do. People’s lives have been described as an iceberg. We only see one eighth, the other seven eighths are out of sight. How often do we ask a person ‘How are you?’ and they reply ‘Fine.’ That person is maybe suffering in some way but hiding it from the world. We then judge the actions of that person without knowing the whole story.
It was a wet, cold day as the two stone masons were chipping and fashioning stones. A parachutist drifted by and asked the men what they were doing. ‘I’m chipping this stone to go in the gap,’ the first workman replied. ‘And what are you doing,’ the second mason was asked? ‘I’m building a cathedral.’ The two men working side by side, doing the same job, one plodding on with his work, the other building for posterity.
In our lives are we working day by day without seeing the bigger picture or are we contributing to the kingdom of God.?
Our church leader is always coming up with fascinating illustrations to explain a certain point. One Sunday he placed a large green cushion and a large red cushion on the platform about two feet apart. He asked for a volunteer and there always is one. The green cushion represented the perfect God and the red one us with our sins. The volunteer was asked to jump from the red cushion to the red one. The leader then moved the cushions much further apart, making the gap too large to jump. The thought was that we can’t get from the red cushion (our sinful selves) and the green one, God. The leap is too great. Sin is too much of a barrier.
The leader then produced a large kitchen roll (Jesus) and spread out it out between the cushions. Our volunteer was then able to walk over to the green cushion. Jesus had made the way possible by His death on the cross. I will remember that illustration. I trust the youngsters will too.
When Samuel went to anoint the next king (1 Samuel 16) he looked on the outward appearances. He was seeking for a strong, virile young man who could lead the nation. God had to remind him not to look on outward appearances. God, as always, was right, the brothers later showed a very petty jealous attitude to David.
We know as Christians that we are not to look on outward appearances, but I wonder if, in spite of ourselves, we still do judge. If a poorly dressed man comes into our church, we have learned to be extra kind to him and not sit him in the lowliest seat. But do we judge and over-compensate? Do we look, judge and then act in the light of our judgement?
I’m reminded again, how ‘human’ we are. This really leads me to think that only God knows how to judge correctly. He can even see our non-judgement and deal with us accordingly.
I’ve recently had two teeth out. They have now been replaced, but the new ones are not as good as God planned for me in the first place. It made be think about the various replacements that medical science now offers. We can have transplants for hearts, livers, stomachs and many other organs which are being done all over the world.
Limbs can be replaced; some people have artificial legs, arms, hands etc. This is something to be grateful for, especially by the recipients. But the replacements will never be as good as the original ones when they were working properly. Our handiwork can never be as good as God’s. It reminds one of what is said in Genesis, ‘God saw what He had made and it was good.’
Since the beginning of the pandemic life has changed for everyone. We might even forget how things were before this catastrophe. To a small degree we can choose whether our present normal is better or worse.
In the very large things we have little choice, we have to go along with our nation and government. But the change in the small things are up to us. We can have negative thoughts or positive thoughts. Our minds can dwell on the bad things or we can look for the good. Our minds work in grooves; bad thoughts will lead to further bad thoughts; good thoughts will lead to further good thoughts.
As there is more sadness, poverty and troubles around we can be a bright light in people’s lives. If we are Christian, we can share our faith and our hopes. We can be more generous with our money and if we have none, then give someone a meal or even a smile. Time is one of the most precious gifts we can give. Time and a listening ear will have a healing effect.
Yes, things are difficult but let us look to better times. They will come. Let us be ready with our smile, encouragement and hope. Things will be different. Even in the Bible we read ‘See I am doing a new thing.’
The other evening I heard two bit of bad news. One was a tragedy, the other sad news. They did not affect me and mine personally, but I was struck by the fact that the devil is still wrecking havoc in this world. Nationally we hear of one disaster after another and our own circle of friends and acquaintances have troubles, as well as suffering ourselves.
That evening I felt a real sense of darkness. I grieved and I wept and then I turned to God. It is so easy to look down and around and feel discouraged. But we need to look up, look up to God. God is not just in His heaven; He is here all around us. He is in the grieving, dismay, frustration and our helplessness. There is no earthly answer to our suffering and confusion. God is the only answer.
This following quote needs to be said out aloud to really understand it. ‘I took a snook at the back of the book, and I saw that we won.’
When we disagree with people, there is the danger of thinking we are always right and others are in the wrong. We are so convinced in our opinions and stuck in our beliefs. There are times when we do not stop to consider the points of view of others. We only see things from our point of view.
Sometimes we could profitably stop and consider others to be in the right and ourselves in the wrong. We could then stop and consider matters in a different light. We will not necessarily change our point of view., but we will have a wider perspective on the issue.
It would also be good to consult with He, who knows all things, our Lord and Master.
As I plodded round the shops I realised that I felt extremely tired and exhausted. Using a bit of common sense I knew I needed something to drink. I was dehydrated. These days to get a drink in a cafe is not an easy task.
In first place I approached I found I needed to book. Honestly, book for a just glass of water! My next attempt was closed. The third was closed for a private function. Thinking of the Biblical text about giving a glass of water to a stranger didn’t help. Then looking up one street I spied people sitting out at tables. It meant more steps and up an incline. Did I have enough strength? But I’m used to exhaustion, so up I went.
By now a glass of water was not enough, I ordered a glass of juice and the smallest cake I could see. I sank down at one of the outside tables. Then a voice said ‘It’s Carol, isn’t it.’ Standing beside me was a friend I hadn’t seen for about six years. As she sat down opposite me I could only wonder how God had intervened. God wanted me at this table at this particular time. My friend, who didn’t often use this cafe had been led by God to this place at this particular time.
My friend was the only person who I knew lived in this town which I hadn’t been to for about two years. A friendship was renewed and much of the next day spent together. I could not have dreamed of this meeting. Only God could orange it. This God of ours who controls the universe and everything in it, loves us enough to care for us in this way. I could only thank and praise God all over again.
A sign of the times; I’m excited to have been away for two nights just 50 miles away. Since last September I’ve not been away anywhere. Now I’ve spent two nights in Kendal, a lively little town in the heart of the Lake District. The scenery all around was stunning, hills and mountains, some mist topped. The town itself was full of little shops and hide away places. Time spent exploring was enjoyable.
The place was buzzing with people but unfortunately there were empty shops, and to use cafes it was necessary to book. So sad for all the tourist industry. A sign of the times.