26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #21

I’m an insomniac. Not chronically, but fairly regularly. It doesn’t particularly bother me, most of the time, because I know I’m able to cope with whatever comes my way… but ever so often, the sleepless nights will build up to such an extent that it starts worrying me, and I’ll wonder if I’m ever getting to get a proper night’s sleep again. The sense of relief when that night’s sleep *does* come is just beautiful!

That’s what happened last night.

For over a week now, it’s been Mr7 who’s the main reason for my wakefulness  – he’d have a nightmare, I’d get up to him, and then I’d be unable to fall asleep again for hours and hours.

And yes, last night he also got me up at just gone 11.30pm. But I got back to bed again before midnight.

And at 5.48am this morning, I woke up. I LOVE this feeling of having slept!!!

Now in my opinion, sleep isn’t such a big deal. Not in the grander scheme of things. I know that if I’d had yet another sleepless night, that this morning would still have come, and I’d still have coped with whatever today has in store for me… but it’s lovely that I can face it with a larger reserve of patience under my belt! [Right now I’m reminded of the Robert Ludlum JASON BOURNE series. “Rest is a weapon,” Jason Bourne said regularly :)]

But I also know that God cares about it. Because in the book of Matthew, chapter 10, verses 29 to 31, Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

He knows how many hairs are on my head? He cares about things THAT minutely?

That’s pretty mind-boggling.

Today’s letter in the #AtoZchallenge is ‘U’. And my mum’s cross-stitch shows the Earth being held in two upraised hands, with the words ‘Upholder of all things.”
The verse is Hebrews chapter 1 verse 3. And we’re back to the King James version for this wording:

U“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high”.

Modern translations of this verse use the word ‘sustaining’ instead of ‘upholding’: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

He upholds (sustains) ALL things. My sleep included, if I wanted it! A colleague once shared with me, decades ago now, the events surrounding his new-born child’s health. The child had been born VERY sickly (I can’t remember the exact condition) but the doctors were very worried. So my colleague, in great distress, prayed about it. And felt led to pray for very specific things. Instead of ‘please heal my child’, it was ‘ask for her heart rate to slow down’ (the first thing that was needed for her recovery) – so he prayed for her heart rate to slow, and it did. Then the second specific thing that was needed, he prayed for, and her body responded. Then the third thing (I wish I could remember, but it *was* many years ago) and the same thing happened. Several times over, until his new-born child was completely out of danger. The doctors were amazed – as was I, when he told me the story. But that’s God for you: upholder (sustainer) of ALL things. If he numbers even the hairs on our heads, then of COURSE he can work to sustain that new-born’s life.

He could also work in my insomniac issues – if I asked Him to.

Maybe I need to do just that, hey?

God is the ‘Upholder of all things’ – so everything that bothers me, I can bring to Him to deal with. My takeaway lesson for day 21.

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #20

There’s a lot to be said for thinking for yourself, in my opinion. I try daily to teach my own three cherubs how to not just blindly accept what they hear, but to test its veracity and decide for themselves.

One of my favourite Bible verses is from Acts 17 verse 11, comparing the Bereans to the Jews in Thessalonica. The Bereans didn’t just accept what they heard Paul (one of Jesus’ followers) say, but they “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” They checked it out for themselves. I like that.

TIn the book of John, chapter 14 verse 6 says:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Today’s letter for this #AtoZchallenge I’m doing is ‘T’. ‘T’ is for ‘Truth’ – and that, with a capital T.

In this verse, Jesus said that He IS the truth. Also the way, and the life. That’s a pretty radical claim. And me being the type of person I am, I’m not just going to take this on face value. I need to examine this further.

That’s one reason why I agree wholeheartedly with C.S.Lewis’ argument in MERE CHRISTIANITY: that there’s only three options when you come to thinking about Jesus. He’s either a liar, or a lunatic, or He actually is who He *said* he was: Lord.

Warning: long quote alert!

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. …

Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.” *

I’m taking the third option. I believe He’s the LORD. And I’m gratefully accepting His offer to follow Him and His way, and have life! 🙂

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

* Quotes taken from Book 3, the end of Chapter 3 “The Shocking Alternative” and immediately on into the beginning of Chapter 4 “The Perfect Penitent”

 

 

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #19

I was looking for a ‘Saviour’ analogy for this ‘S’ post in the #AtoZchallenge I’m doing, and went looking for a couple of stories I’d heard: one about a young man throwing washed-up starfish, back into the ocean; and a story about a man buying caged birds, just to set them free.

In the course of my Googling though, I discovered that Leonardo da Vinci himself is reported to have done just that! Well, not thrown starfish (not that I know of!) but he bought caged birds, destined to be eaten or to be kept as pets, and released them. (I also found a VERY interesting passage where he made a rather inappropriate suggestion about who could sit for the portrait of Judas in his painting of The Last Supper!)

Anyway, I was planning on using one of the stories as an example of what Jesus has done for us. But then I looked at the verse used in the cross-stitch, and realised something. This verse happens BEFORE Jesus died!

It’s in the book of John, chapter 4. Jesus was in Samaria, resting by a well, and a woman came to draw water. They spoke, and she believed that He was the Messiah (God’s son, come to save the world.) She went to tell everyone in her town that she’d met the Messiah, and they came to question Him for themselves. Then in verse 42,S

“They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you have said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”

So that’s a little weird. Why would they think that he’d come to save the WORLD when he hadn’t died yet, to save it? I guess that they knew the Scriptures (as in, the Hebrew scriptures up until that point – what we now call the Old Testament) well enough to realise that Jesus was the one prophesied about. Wow. To understand so clearly… I’d say that they must have had a time of massive celebration – and in fact, John says after, that they convinced Jesus to stay with them for a couple more days.

[Actually, this verse reminds me a little of Luke 9:23, where Jesus says,“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Remembering that he had NOT yet been crucified, and so for everyone who was listening, there was not even a HINT of a ‘cross’ in Jesus’ future! Let alone theirs… just another example of Jesus obliquely telling the future 🙂 ]

But back to the point. I love how the Samaritans KNEW that Jesus was the Saviour – and they celebrated because they had seen Him and met Him.

My lesson from that: do *I* celebrate knowing Jesus? Because if not, then I probably should start!

 

 

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #18

I rarely post video clips, but want to share this one with you.

And although I haven’t yet seen the movie, it’s one that’s at the top of my ‘must see’ list. And not just because I really like Joseph Fiennes’ acting…

The trailer text refers to ‘the biggest manhunt in history’ – and I think that’s a perfect way to describe it. How else would it have felt, for the people living in Jerusalem, in the year that Jesus was crucified, and rose again after death?

RLuke 24:6 –

“He is not here; he has risen!”

Unprecedented. Miraculous. And yet – true, factual, history.

That’s enough for me.

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #17

I live in an area which you could call ‘flood-prone’. My part of the street, although close to a large creek, is quite high above sea level, so our house is always fine. Others however, not so far away from us, are more low-lying, and so bear the brunt of too much water.

Downpours cut roads at least once a year, sometimes more often, and unfortunately, fatalities occur due to cars being washed away by the pressure of the water. Media reports love to show brave emergency service personnel wading waist-high through fast-flowing water, risking life and limb to rescue people. They look so strong, so capable – and yet, make the tiniest of mistakes, and they too will be swept away.

It’s incredible to think that something so innocuous as water, can take lives. Especially considering we usually associate it with its life-giving qualities. But too much of it, and it becomes a disaster.

Song of Solomon 8:7 speaks of God’s love for us.

“Many waters cannot quench your love;                                         rivers cannot sweep it away”

I picture God’s love as strong and steadfast… like an Emergency Service worker, but one who can never make a mistake. One who would never succumb to rising floodwaters.

QThe verse also says “many waters cannot quench your love”. And that’s where the ‘Q’ comes from in today’s #AtoZchallenge: unQuenchable. That’s God’s love for us.

And in my opinion, that’s amazing.

Did you know that there’s NOTHING we can do, that will make God love us any less than He does right now? That’s right – nothing! No matter how badly we stuff up, how many mistakes we make, how many times we ignore Him or disregard Him, His love for us is unquenchable.

How cool is that!

I’m mystified by that. And humbled.

How about you?

 

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #16

I tried reading WAR AND PEACE once. Emphasis on the word ‘tried’ – because I didn’t finish it. In my defence, I had young children at the time, was running my own business, and studying. So I probably didn’t give it the concentration I needed to. I’ll try again one day… I don’t like to be beaten 😛

But the title has always intrigued me. Are they opposites? Or just two different places on a continuum? (Jane Austen’s SENSE AND SENSIBILITY comes to mind.) Because I, for one, don’t think that the opposite of peace is war.

In my humble opinion, for what it’s worth, I think that the opposite of peace is tension.

And for me, ANY type of tension – even the merest hint of it – is enough to negate peace.

Maybe I’m not a good judge. I *am* a highly-strung person, I think. It’s on the rare occasion that I ‘relax’. Seriously. The last time I really “relaxed” was the 2nd of April, at about 10.30am. And I stayed relaxed for about 7 hours, which is rather a record in recent years. The time before that? I can’t actually remember.

[A Bible verse that always challenges me is the one they made a song out of: “Be still and know that I am God.” I get the ‘I am God’ bit – it’s the ‘being still’ bit that I have problems with!!! (And yes, my tongue’s in my cheek there. Because if I ‘knew’ – enough to trust, like in the ‘B for Bread of Life post’ – then I’d be *able* to ‘be still’!)]

But back to peace:

PIsaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Yes, this is the same verse that we saw in post #5, ‘E’ is for ‘Everlasting Father’, the post about my Dad.

The last title for Jesus is ‘Prince of Peace’.

I love thinking that Peace is like the name of a country – like Australia, or America, say – which has a King… and Jesus is the Prince of that country. (Although if there was a King, then it wouldn’t actually be a country, it’d be a kingdom, yeh?)

And if this kingdom called Peace, were here on Earth, then it’d have a geographical location, and people could live there. I’d like that, I think. To live in a place of Peace. To not have to worry – or be tense even! To just ‘be still’ 🙂

And that’s my lesson today. If Jesus is what God says He is, the ‘Prince of Peace’, then as one who follows Him (as in, who dwells in His kingdom) then I can be free from tension, too. ‘Be still.’ A challenge for me! But here goes…

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

 

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #15

Last year, I gave in. My eyesight had been deteriorating, so I breathed a deep sigh and booked an eye appointment. And ended up with glasses. Which is fine. I *am* 41, after all.

But it only hit me, after years of watching my mother remove her glasses before removing baking from the oven, why she always did that.

I yes, I meant ‘hit’.

Because the steam which issued forth, the first time I opened the oven with glasses on, instantly fogged them, rendering me momentarily blind. I squealed, then laughed (after putting down the cake carefully). Of course! THAT’S why she always removed them first!

Mr7 (who was 6 at the time) asked me what was wrong. I explained that the steam had fogged up my glasses, and then we moved into a long discussion about what steam was and where it came from. (Prior to that, he’d always called it ‘smoke’ whenever he saw it rising from the top of pots at the dinner table.)

He was intrigued at the idea that water could become three separate states, depending on temperature. I guess it *is* a tricky concept for a young mind.

And yet, that same idea: One God, in three ‘states’, is exactly what we have in the God of the Bible. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. My Mum’s cross-stitch has an image of three inter-locking circles.

OIn John 10:30, Jesus says to the people listening: “The Father and I are one.”

Those were the crucial words for the religious Jews of the time. They had laws that said anyone claiming to be God should die. And from this exact moment on, they looked for an opportunity to have him killed by the Romans (who were the rulers in Israel at the time.)

Because Jesus was stating, clearly and unmistakably, that He was divine. And rightly so! He *is* One, in essence and nature, with God the Father, and with God the Holy Spirit (who was given to believers at Pentecost, after Jesus had ascended back into heaven).

Jesus IS God. Not just a good man, or a good teacher. He is GOD. God who came down to our world and lived among us for over thirty years, before suffering the most painful death possible – for our sake.

I don’t know about you, but pondering on that blows my mind every time! It makes me shake my head, and realise again just how grateful I am that He loves me so much!

And that’s my take-away lesson for “O”. Jesus, fully God, came here and died for me. And for that, I am grateful!

Have a great day, dear reader 🙂

— KRidwyn

 

Lessons from God’s metaphors: #14

During my years as a High School English teacher, I introduced my fair share of students to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The balcony scene, “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name… What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other word would smell as sweet” was guaranteed to cause significant classroom discussion.

But I’m recalling this now, for a different reason. You see, that “what’s in a name?” question that Juliet poses, has a different answer to the one she gives.

Yes, a rose *would* smell as sweet if it had a different name… but I posit that the reactions people would have to it, because of the different name, would differ greatly to what they do now.

Because unlike Juliet’s ‘answer’, names ARE important in the eyes of society. Like the ‘King of Kings’ post from Wednesday, names imply heirarchy. “King” is higher than “Duke”, just as “Bishop” outranks “Deacon”. If I’m travelling by plane, I’d prefer a pilot flying, rather than a flight attendant. If I’m on trial for murder, I doubt a lawyer who specialises in real estate to the wisest choice of person to defend me. And before I get sidetracked onto chess or The Castle analogies, I’ll head straight to today’s Bible verse: Philippians chapter 2 verse 9:

N“Therefore, God elevated him [Jesus] to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all names” – which means, just that. The name of Jesus is above all other names. It’s greater, higher, ‘above’ all others.

And the reason why, is revealed in verse 8 immediately prior:because Jesus had “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

Obedience to God’s will for His life, brought death – and with it, God’s exaltation.

And my response to that is to pay him homage. To honour Him by being obedient myself – well, I try, anyway!

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #13

MSo I’ve been basing these #AtoZchallenge posts on a cross-stitch my Mum made for me a few years ago. Each letter depicts a title for God, with a picture and a Bible verse. Today’s letter, M, shows the phrase ‘Merciful Lord’ and the verse Psalm 100:5.

The Bible version I’m reading this year is the NLT, the New Living Translation. It’s a modern-language translation first released in 1996, like the more popular NIV (New International Version, first released in 1978) which I’ve used previously.

Neither the NIV nor the NLT however, have the word ‘mercy’ or ‘merciful’ in this Bible verse though. In fact, I needed to go back to the King James Version of the Bible (released in 1611) to find the word ‘mercy’ in that verse! It reads:

“For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth for all generations.”

Instead of ‘mercy’, the NIV uses the word ‘love’ and the NLT uses ‘unfailing love’. I also found it interesting that the English Standard Version (ESV) uses ‘steadfast love’ and the New American Standard Bible uses ‘lovingkindness’ for this same word.

So that got me thinking: What is ‘mercy’, anyway?

Google’s definition: “compassion or forgiveness shown to someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm”. Yup, that’s kinda what I had it pegged as.

According to www.gotquestions.org, “Mercy is the withholding of a just condemnation.” Now that’s concise. I like it.

Whenever I think of mercy, I think of Aesop’s fables. There’s The Lion and the Mouse and its parallel tale, Androcles and the Lion.

In both situations, the more powerful creature could have harmed the weaker, but chose to show mercy instead. Then the situations are reversed, and the weaker shows mercy to the stronger.

Well, God’s definitely the more powerful one in our relationship, and I’m glad he’s chosen to show me mercy. (Unlike the Aesop’s fables though, I can’t imagine the situations ever being reversed!)

So that’s my lesson for today: His mercy begets my gratitude!

Have a lovely day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #12

I had originally planned to write a 26-instalment work of fiction for this #AtoZchallenge. Titled “The Daughter of EmGeen”, it ended up being FAR too M+ rated for me to feel comfortable publishing it on this site. So I have other plans for that story.

But the “B” entry for ‘The Daughter of EmGeen’ was ‘B is for Black’. And it is that which I wanted to write about today.

An online friend and writer, KD James, is also participating in the #AtoZchallenge this year. She’s part-way through her story, a mystery involving her main character Zoey, who befriends a dragon amidst her other adventures. Her description of the dragon’s cave really invoked for me what ‘dark’ feels like. It’s here: A to Z challenge: D

LContrast that to what the Bible says in John Chapter 8 verse 12. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I like that. The opportunity to NEVER walk in darkness. To never worry about barking a shin, stubbing a toe, or spilling hot candle wax on yourself…

So today’s metaphor? Light of the World.

Used for? To never walk in darkness again.

How to receive? Follow Jesus.

Okay 🙂

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn