A-Z: Zest for Life

There’s an Amy Grant song I absolutely hate.  Lyric-wise it’s probably one of the worst Christian songs I’ve heard.  The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah sometimes?  She’s basically saying God loves our honesty and brokenness more than our praise, but I don’t think that’s right.  Because I think us honestly telling God how we feel should complement our hallelujahs, but never replace them.  I remember hearing a friend say that when he felt down he would find things to praise God for, like a table or a chair or the roof over his head, and I think that’s what God loves – authentic praise; when things are going well, and in the midst of heartache.

When you reflect on someone’s limited time on this earth, you’re reminded of how important it is to take an extra-deep breath of fresh air and make the most of the time you’ve got.  I was originally going to put this quote from Pope John Paul II under H for hallelujah, but it fits in well with ‘Zest for life’.  “Do not abandon yourselves to despair.  We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

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A-Z: Yes!

I expect at some point you’ve read or heard somebody say something and you’ve thought:  “Yes!  I really needed to hear that.”  I’ve had a couple of those yes-moments in the last few days, and here’s the one from today.  It’s a post from Holley about recharging the batteries and God’s power going out from you.  I’ve mentioned Holley on the blog before.  I like her posts.  They tend to be short, and some (like this one) are so impactful; I’d really recommend you read it.

A-Z: X-Ray Vision

Who has X-ray vision?  Well, God does.  “His understanding no one can fathom” – Isaiah 40:28.

 

Our pastor asked one day what we thought a mediator was and somebody said:  “An enabler of dialog.”  He liked that and so did I.  Jesus has opened the Way for conversation between us and God.  He went on to say that if you were choosing a mediator, you’d want someone who ‘Really got you’/really understood where you were coming from, so they could put your case to the other party.  Jesus understands us.  He knows us intimately, and what’s more, we can know God.

 

I heard a story this week that I really wanted to share on the blog, so I’m glad it fits in here.  An actor was once the guest of honour at a gathering, where he was asked to recite extracts from different literature.  An old preacher who was there asked him to recite the 23rd Psalm (the LORD is my Shepherd).  He said he would, on one condition – that the preacher also recited it.  The actor’s recitation was beautiful.  He put the emphasis in all the right places, and as you’d expect, there were applause.  The preacher’s voice was rough from years of preaching; his rendition anything but polished, but when he finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  When asked what made the difference, the actor said:  “I know the Psalm; he knows the Shepherd.”

A-Z: Wrestling

I need to give Sue some credit for this post.  We met on the web through this A-Z challenge, and her alliteration theme seems to have wound its way in here …

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It’s been a week this week when things worked out well, but what about when you’re wistful and weepy and wondering what’s next?

 

I was talking to a friend once about someone who went through a difficult time, but instead of throwing a wobbly, he wrote a worship-song.  My friend called it an indication of his character – that he could write “Jesus, I love You Jesus”, and not a where-are-you-now sort of song.  It’s wonderful to have conversations like that.

 

What about you?  Which songs do you wander to, while you’re wrestling with feelings of hopelessness?  This one by Keith Green builds my faith and makes me want to smile, while this by Third Day wowed me enough to buy and then play it nonstop.  I love story-songs.  I know Third Day have written at least one song about people they knew, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this one was too.  It’s encouraging to be reminded in your desperation that you’re not on your own; God’s willingly come through for others and answered their prayers.  You might feel weak and wan and wilting, but remember one of my favourite promises:  “Your strength will equal your days” (Deuteronomy 33:25).  Don’t waver, but wait for the LORD.

Vzzzzz

Vzzzzz!  Vzzzzz!  Can you hear me?  I don’t have a big voice, but when there’s a whole crowd of us, then you’ll hear.

We watch the tourists come swooping in on their planes.  Their feet hit the tarmac and whoosh!  We surround them – so many the air’s heavy with our presence, but it’s no fun at the airport.  The repugnant smell of all that cream they’ve smattered on their arms is enough to put you off, or sometimes you try to get a hold and something from within them pulls you away.

No, when the sun goes down is when the fun starts.  My colony and I – we make our airborne way through the city.  The little mud huts are our destination; there’s sure to be a crack or two …  In we go while the household sleeps, and straight to the huddle of children.  I dive down to one of the bodies – so small you might mistake me for a speck of dirt, and finally a victim!  Surely one of my colony is having the same thrill next to me – the air’s heavy with our presence …  Bad air.  Malaria.

And the victim stays a victim long after I’ve finished with them.  If only they could travel!  There’s a hospital with medicine, miles into the distance, but what transport do they have?  Only their feet, and an unhealthy body walks nowhere.  Once, near the hospital I saw a breathless grandfather struggle to carry his little one, only to be turned away.  No money, no medicine.  Ever the victim.  That’s how it’s been for centuries …

What?  That one next?  Oh, we can’t go in there; lost cause.  Why?  Well, peep through the door and I’ll show you.  See that?  The net over the bed.  Sure to be a crack or two?  Not likely!  Even if there were, the stuff they cover them in is so overpowering, you can hardly breathe.  Malaria intervention, that’s what they call it.  Folks from the local church give out these nets.  Just $10 a piece.  Shh – they’ll all want one!  And once they’ve got them, that’s it for us.  We can’t get near the huddle of children.  Ever the victim?  More like never the victim!  If it’s not the nets, they’re growing strange trees and we can’t get near them either.  So what’s left for us now; do we just have to twiddle our wings?

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Today is World Malaria Day, and you can click here to read more mosquito posts.

A-Z: Unique

This time next week the A-Z challenge will be over.  Are you joining in?  How have you got on with it?

 

When I first started watching Formula One, it was commentated by Murray Walker.  He was such a passionate commentator I’m sure he could have converted me to any sport, but Murray Walker and mistakes sort of go hand-in-hand.  In fairness, it’s not always easy to tell which driver is which when they’re shooting past at a hundred miles an hour.

 

Sometimes he’d say something, and you could almost hear the cogs going round as he spotted the blip and tried to correct himself.  For anyone who doesn’t know, there are two cars per team in a Formula One race, and so he came out with one of my favourites:

 

“This McLaren car is absolutely unique!  Except for the one in front of it, which is identical.”

A-Z: Touchable

I remember someone standing up in church once, telling of something God had done and saying:  “I just want to shake His hand and say, ‘Thank You very much’.”  We’re all so different aren’t we?  I know we’re supposed to reverence God, but for me, a handshake sounds much too formal for the One I love the most.  I think that when we meet Jesus, I’ll want to run to Him and give Him a massive hug, but for a while I wasn’t sure I could do that.  You see, somebody preached on the verse:  “God is spirit”, basically saying we’d never reach out and touch God because He didn’t have a physical body.  For a couple of weeks I struggled to get my head around this.  Could I relate to God if, even when I got to heaven, I wasn’t able to express love to Him in the way I’d always imagined?

I’m glad the struggle didn’t last long.  A few Sundays later, during worship, 1 Timothy 2:5 came to mind:  “There is” (present-tense) “one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”  We may never be able to touch God the Father; the Holy Spirit may always live in us, but Jesus is the one part of the Godhead who’s still a man.  He’s kept His nail-pierced hands, so of course He’s kept His arms, and of course I’ll be able to run into them one day!  I can’t tell you how good that made me feel.

A-Z: “Street Children of Brazil”

S is for “Street Children of Brazil” – a book by Sarah de Carvalho.  First of all, I should tell you I get my Braille books from a library and have to send them back once I finish reading.  It’s awhile since I’ve read this one, but I wrote some quotes down at the time.

 

From what I remember, Sarah worked in television and left a job with a very good salary to go to Brazil, where she worked with street children in Belo Horizonte.

 

It was there that she met her husband, and I liked the fact that she felt God pointing her to Isaiah 61:3 (about bestowing on mourners beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of despair).  They would be called oaks of righteousness.  When she and her future husband read the verse together, she found that Carvalho in Portuguese is ‘Oak’ in English.  Probably a woman thing, but I love to hear those kind of stories about God drawing 2 people together and giving them the same verse to seal their engagement.

 

The plight of those she worked with prompted Sarah to write (in chapter 10):  “Now we may walk on streets made of tarmac and full of litter and robbery, but in heaven it’ll be gold and there’ll be purity, joy and everlasting love.”

 

Compassion is mentioned in the book, which surprised me.  I didn’t know they worked with other ministries.  I assumed the only children they funded were those in their centres, but the most striking similarity to what I do as a Compassion-sponsor came in chapter 4.  “God’s answer to my question was, ‘The children are covered in wounds:  Clean their infections.  They are hungry:  Give them food.  They are cold:  Clothe them.  But above all be their friend.’”  If you sponsor through Compassion, your sponsorship provides medical help with your child’s infections; it buys food and clothes, but through the letters you send, you have an even greater privilege – to be their friends.

A-Z: Really Smiling

I just noticed that Princess (one of the little girls I wrote about yesterday in the Philippines) has already been sponsored!

So, R is for ‘Really smiling’ because I’ve realised an orphan, a Ugandan, a Brazilian, and a Filipino child have now found sponsors!  All those Compassion goals achieved, possibly through you – my readers.  I’d absolutely love to hear from you if you sponsored one of those 4 children.  Add my Haitian boy into the mix and we’d have a child in every area where Compassion works.  That makes me really happy.

PS.   Despite last week’s Internet-problems, today I’m up-to-date with the A-Z challenge.  🙂