Hope

What!?? Two posts in as many days!! What’s THAT about then?

The thing is, yesterday, a wave of HOPE washed over me, just as I was was driving along. I've written about it:

 Yesterday, an illogical wave of Hope swept over me.
 It felt so good.
 Even amidst the global crisis I was reminded that there is Hope.

 Jesus himself walked with us in our darkest times.
 He lay, emaciated in Bergen-Belsen
 He crouched in the Anderson shelter hearing the bombs whining and crashing.
 He waded into the water at Hiroshima, in skies red and black.
 He fled the great fire of London.
 He sat on dusty plains of Africa's famines
 and cried in Romania's orphanages
 He heard the cries 'bring out your dead' as plague stalked the land.
 He was a refugee, fleeing murderous threats.
Oppressed, like honest men under communist rule.
Rounded up, like the Jews. Did I mention he was Jewish?

He was the object of lies, and mockery, falsely arrested.
Betrayed and tortured and murdered, 
like monks as their monasteries were pulled down around their ears.
He walks  through hospital wards and sits by hospice beds
And rules from a throne, highly exalted.

He is alive. He is hope. In our midst.  Personified.
His cry of 'HOPE' can be a whisper deep inside, almost unbelievable. Almost.
Or HOPE can be a cry from Heaven, echoing across the land
Bouncing off mountains and oceans alike.
Coming from an empty tomb in Israel.
It is a sure thing.
Hope. Hope. HOPE.
 
 

Peace

I have been considering peace . . . His Peace

The bible tells us He, Himself is our Peace
That His wonderful illogical peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ.

When I google ‘peace’, it takes me to pictures of still lakes, tranquil sunsets and gentle doves.
Or peace demonstrations, CND emblems, as if peace can be imposed by marching and shouting for it.

But Peace cannot be demanded. Nor is it just in stillness.

The peace of most value is the peace Jesus brings, when he says ‘Peace be with you’ – his ofttimes greeting.

This peace is a gift, a promise. Best of all, it offers its company not just in stillness and beauty but in ferocious times of trial and testing.

The hand of Christ needs to rise up and cry ‘Peace’
If it stilled the storms of life that would be good. 
But even better when it stills inners storms of heart and mind.

I love the progression of Psalm 27. 
So often, it is quoted just from verse 4 ‘One thing I desire . . .’ but this loses the powerful context.

In verse 2, enemies are attacking David
by the beginning of verse 3, the city is under siege 
by the end of verse 3, war has arisen.

David’s response to all of this is to dwell in God’s house, to gaze upon God.
to declare the ‘one thing’ that is needed – to seek God.
To offer sacrifices with shouts of joy. To worship. 
This is His source – the Presence of God. 

Now we truly see why, in verse 1, God is his light, his salvation and the reason he is unafraid.

True peace is the peace that is found from within, during the storm.

It is interesting that the ‘eye’ of a storm is the wildest, most dangerous place to be, if at sea. Waves from all directions, at extremes heights, collide in chaos.
Yet, if you are on land, even though winds swirl around it at enormous speeds, the eye of the storm itself is a place of utter stillness. Of peace.

We need to be on the rock. Grounded in Christ with our eyes fixed on Him.
Then no matter what storms rage around us, our inner peace can be maintained by Him.

How easy it is to know the theory, yet to find this peace can be so difficult.
Vincent Van Gough famously said ‘there is peace even in the storm’, yet tragically took his own life. We need to know it, not just know about it.

May the Lord be with you.
Peace be with you.




Feel free to follow my meanderings on instagram.emma_treesoflife
(Phil 4:7, Col 3:15, Ps 27 1-5)

Secret Place

When and where is there joy?

When He holds the most important place
the Highest place 
the innermost throne
of my heart
and in my life.

He loves to dwell in the inner sanctuary
that too often he occupies alone
whilst waiting for me.

In that place is
Gold
A River
Laughter
Rest
Beauty
Tears
Vastness
Passion
A different experience each day.

Truth
Conviction
Grace
New beginnings
Gifts
Revelation 
Adventure
Love poems
Encounters

and so it goes on…
I could write a Thesaurus and it would never say enough.
For the words of what is found in that place
march off the page to eternity.

My fickle heart - you have an enemy who shakes to see you go there.
Not merely to pass through paying lip service to my King
But to sit. To gaze. To dwell.

Therein my joy. My love. My heart.
Picture by Linda Lee

In His Hands

This is the world you hold in your hands.
Not one jot
one iota
of suffering goes unseen.
You wince as a sparrow falls to ground
so how could our suffering leave you unmoved?

This wonderful world
made for your children

Each ploughed field nurtures and blooms with life
sustained by mud, sun and rain
life-giving elements freely given.
Growth is in your being O God,
whose depths cannot be plummeted.

Yet even as you fling 
the ever expanding universe into space 
You regard, lovingly, the palms of your hands
engraved with our names.
Each of our faces before you.
Lives known.
Our souls are seen.
And loved. 

An empty cross our proof
of your infinite care.
Our bottled tears
kept safe
until the day
when no tear more will fall.
For we will see you.
Face to face.

Earths cares forgotten
in the light of eternity.

Walk with me

“Walk with me”

The words to your friends in Eden’s cool evening
tumble through history.

Enoch, walk with me
Noah, walk with me whilst I explain carpentry and rain
Walk with me, Israel, through parted seas and barren desert.
I'll walk you to the promised land though you wriggle to escape my hand.

Even as they feasted on milk and honey,
they strayed.
So far that none could hear your voice.

So you yourself came
Looked us in the eye and bid, ‘walk with me’
And we followed and walked from Galilee to Jerusalem and back
many times,
walking and talking.
You were our friend, walking with us.
Your crown was hid, and when your plan was revealed
and disguise cast away
You merely asked us ‘pray with me’
yet we slept,
and on waking, we fled.

Death could not hold you.
Alive and risen you took again to the road
with ordinary people.
‘May I walk with you?’ 
And you walked and talked
explaining the plan,
only leaving when light had dawned upon our dull brains
that this was you and you were alive.
Despair dethroned by Hope.

Here we stand
Urged by ancestors to walk with you
A cloud of witnesses watching our steps
until we will come
to the city where no one shall say to another ‘know the Lord’ for all shall know You.
All shall walk with You 
in a place beyond time itself.

But for now, as gravity pins me to earth
I hear the call of love
the call to friendship
You almost sound lonely, and certainly yearning:
“Walk with me”. 

Unboxed

It is time to leave all of our boxes:

Our zoom boxes

Our gadget boxes, our entertainment boxes

Our boxes with wheels or without wheels

Plunge instead, into creation and taste its rich delights

The world of colour, texture, smell

Full of the nature of our Creator – from tender deer to towering mountain

Through the seasons His message is plain – He is beauty

Life comes from death

Take off the mask and breath deeply

Of sea salt or pine forest or damp, peaty earth

Feel your soul expand as you move, unboxed, into Him…and live

Perspectives

by Jonathan Bunday

Why was I born so slow?
Why did the Holy One… All seeing. All knowing. Perfect in wisdom.
Supposedly!
See fit to encase my free and dancing spirit within this lumbering carcass?
That creeps, and crawls, and trudges with rhythmical torpidity;
That takes an eternity to get the shortest distance.
A twig across my path seems like a Giant Redwood
A stone like Butser Hill
A puddle like Heath Lake.

Even the busy wood louse scuttles past like an Olympic sprinter
With a cheery “Morning, slowcoach! Nice day!” as he leaves me trailing in his wake.
 
Why did the Creator choose to incarcerate me in this now fat and ever more wrinkled body?
That crawls inch by painful inch across the damp earth
Up the brown plant stem
All to reach the life sustaining leaf – 
My daily bread, my nourishment that nourishes me less and less 
As this geriatric body stiffens and crumbles, and finally gives up the ghost.
Why?
What is it all for? 

I have never doubted how loved I am. 
His love throbs and pulses through every cell of my body.
His delight in me; 
His tender care;
His passion, and compassion, for me, even me
Surely the slowest and least important of His creatures.

And yet, His purpose in creating me remains a mystery -
At least to me.
Soon I shall breathe my last, and die.
Die, knowing I am so loved;
But die without knowing my deeper purpose.
If only I could know.
If only I had even some faint inkling of why He made me like this.
Ah well. 
He knows. 
That has to be sufficient.
He gives, and He takes away.
Blessed be His Holy Name.

The Word saw, and He smiled.
As creation was unfolding on that seismic fifth day;
All of heaven gasping with wonder and delight
As each new creature burst into life upon the Virgin Earth.
Each one revealing something of the Divine Mystery, 
Divine Wisdom; Divine Glory;
The elephant’s strength; the gazelle’s grace;
The eagle’s pinioned, breathtaking beauty in flight;
Each one a mirror, a reflection, of one small part of the Holy One.

Then heaven paused; intrigued.
The humble caterpillar appeared;
Brought into being by a word from The Word.

“Now what reflection is this?” whispers one to another.
“What part of Him does this slow and tiny creature reveal?”

And now, Heaven sees, the caterpillar - having lived so briefly,
Stops, dies, and is encased in a funeral shroud of its own body.
The Word saw, and He smiled.
There are no mistakes.
All are so loved; so precious; so cherished.
All reveal something of His Divine Nature.

“Arise, my love,” whispers The Word.
Heaven holds its breath.
A tremor of movement in the dead pupa.
A flash of colour.
The new creature arises, phoenix-like, called into life by the Beloved.
It gasps with wonder as it soars, and swoops, and flutters on the gentle wind.
The sights, the smells, the delight, the freedom -
Set free from that stiff and plodding body into a glorious burst of dancing speed and energy.

Ground that once took a tortuous day to cover
Is now crossed in a breath and a flap of iridescent wings.
The Redwood beneath me now.
Butser? Hah! A stone! 
Heath Pond? A mere puddle!

The greatest mystery of all time;
The prophetic forerunner of the Incarnate Word 
And for every ransomed child of God until the end of time -
Revealed through an insignificant grub?
Truly, for the foolishness of God is wiser, far wiser, than man’s wisdom;
And nothing 
is insignificant 
To Him.


© Jonathan Bunday 2013

Forest Walk Part 3 – Living Word

We came across two trees intertwined. One was old with peeling bark, the other younger smoother and vibrant. They were mutually supportive and reminded us of the Living Word – Old and New Testaments.

Neither of the Testaments stand alone. The Old points us to the New and the New is the fulfilment of the Old. Both grow in the same direction and teach us about God – His ways and His person.

Both were alive, producing dense foliage. The leaves that suck the unwanted things from the air and breathe out oxygen. His Word is alive.

Thus ended our walk. I love the way God is so present in all of His creation.

Forest Walk Part 2 – The Vineyard

In John 15 Jesus talks in length about the vine and we were thrilled to find a young vineyard in the middle of nowhere on our walk. Jesus calls himself ‘The Vine’ and us ‘the branches’ but in another sense, since we are called to be like him, we are also like individual vine plants in His vineyard.

What struck us was the time every little vine spent alone in isolation in its little protective sleeve. At a time of national social isolation this was very relevant.

All the time the baby vine is in its sleeve, it feels alone and in the dark. Yet it is a necessary time in order to teach it to grow straight and to grow towards the light. The sleeve may feel restrictive but it is also protecting the vine from pests and predators that would attack its wood to strip its leaves. Whilst it is in the sleeve the vine has no idea that it is part of something vast, that one day it will be producing fruit and contributing towards the rich wine that will be be produced.

How vast is His vineyard and how tenderly He cares for each individual vine, training it to become part of the whole.

“My Father is the gardener.”

Forest Walk – Part One

This time we opted for a forest walk and asked God to walk with us.

Whilst we know he is always with us, there seems to be specific times when He says ‘walk with me’ and this was one of them. We chose to ‘look up’. The majestic pines towered above us, refusing all distractions and reaching straight up to the light.

We felt small amidst the huge trees, yet looked down to find heart-shaped blossom at our feet.

A reminder that His love is all around us, if we have eyes to see.

We saw more of this right at the end of our walk, again reminding us that He – the King whose name is Love – is our Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.