God’s Love

A friend asked me recently if I could send her a photo of a heart as she was doing a visual project regarding love.
Whilst I have many hearts around the house, I wanted something fresh and new. I couldn't think of anything so, somewhat hesitantly, ask God to give me an idea. Two days later I was walking along a local beach and picked this up. 
Do Zoom in and see the secret heart. So much I could say about this. The heart is 'concealed' in marble within an ordinary-looking red stone. It is surrounded by glistening 'jewels'. It reminds me of how precious our hearts are - they are like treasure to God, and when Jesus takes up residence, he perfects us from the inside out. We are hid in Him, and He is within us. Inside the 'heart' itself, the marble has cracks running through it - reminding me that Christ was broken for us, the very heart of Jesus was pierced with a spear. I was so grateful to God for this gift.

A couple of weeks later, we were taking the garden rubbish to a local compost heap. It is on private land but the farmer allows us to put green rubbish there. In return we remove any litter. We dumped our grass cuttings and glanced around, picking up an old beer can and disposable coffee cup. Something midst the rubbish caught our eyes, something sparkling...
A  beautiful shining heart in amongst all the rubbish.

Such a reminder that even with all the rubbish in our lives, even on days when we feel we have done nothing right, even when we feel rubbish about ourselves His Love is right there.

In times of pruning, when our branches are cut short and discarded, when we wonder if we will ever bear fruit again. When we are locked down and cannot do anything much except mow the lawn and throw away the clippings, there He is, amongst those shorn off clippings declaring:
 "I love you, I love you, I love you - your worth is nothing to do with productive you are... I love YOU!!"

Lockdown Lament

Lord I hate what the enemy has done
 
He has shut us down
In isolation.
 
He has stopped our mouths from singing,
Hidden our smiles
Broken our fellowship
Separated us until
We are alone
In a virtual world with no hugs.
 
Our world has turned grey and drab
We are surrounded by pain and need
And cannot even leave our homes to help.
 
But even as the dark clouds gather overhead
And mock us with ceaseless rain
 
I know that there is sun above those clouds.
And though some of us are lost
I see we are found in you.
 
Our lives are like a heart beat
Ba-boom and we are done.
But your heart beats for eternity
And when ours are done
We find ourselves in you
Forever.
 
We will sing in our hearts
We will smile in our homes
We can never be alone
For you are with us.
 
Come like a mighty wind 
And blow this pestilence from our land
Many times you have rescued from the enemies hands
You have fortified our coastline
And defended our borders
And rescued our hearts.
 
Our hope is in your Salvation.
Lord Jesus
Bare your sword and come.

Who holds who?

Picture by Sr Jackie Smith
 Happy Holidays
 Winter Wishes
 ’Tis the holiday season
 The Festival of Light.
 
 When and Why
 did the word ‘Christmas’
 become such a threat?
 A word to be avoided?
 
 Why do we take offence
 at the sight of a baby?
 Poor, conceived out of wedlock 
 Homeless.
 
 When I enter the darkness of the stable
 I see little.
 No tinsel here.
 Yet I am drawn to the scene.
 
 This babe in whom all our hopes rest
 The mother lifts him and gestures.
 I draw near and he is placed
 into my waiting arms.
 
 Just a baby
 a chubby arm flails up and meets my cheek.
 holding him a wave of love consumes me.
 For somehow, he is mine own.
 
 This child will live and grow
 and die and live and be mine. forever.
 What comfort to hold him
 knowing this is so.
 
 Here I can leave my pain
 My disappointments 
 My grief.
 The Christ Child will take them all
 and remain with me
 loving
 comforting
 forever.

Emmanuel

It was a cunning disguise.
 
You’d have won a fancy dress competition.
 
Who would have thought 
to look for God
in the womb of an unmarried teenager
in the barn belonging to a pub?
in a crying baby?
in poor people far from their simple home
hounded by bureaucracy?
in a child who would soon be ‘wanted’?
who would soon be a refugee?
 
Who would have thought to find God later
in an immigrant?
in a backward fishing village?
in a carpenter’s workshop?
 
Well yes – in his celebrity status
performing miracles and healings…..
I would expect to find God there….
 
but then
to find God
on a cross
alongside two thieves
and convicted of blasphemy?
 
Who would have thought
That God would be found now
Here, in you, in me.
 
Do you wince thinking ‘only on my better days?’
No friend, He is in you even now - 
This treasure likes to live in broken pots
That His glory may be seen through the cracks.
 
That His presence delights to be with me
Is a wonderful mystery born of love
 
God with us
Emmanual

Review of 2020

As we entered the year, few were aware of the cloud over China
 The size of a mans fist
 That would grow to encompass the planet
 Dripping disease, spreading fear and anxiety
 Locking down the frenetic world
 Till all was still
 
 We hunkered in homes
 Disconnected with all that went before
 Isolated 
 from each other
 Counting the death toll.
 
 The pundits quick to criticise
 All that was done
 But having no answers of their own.
 
 Much that had meaning was shed
 as shops shut, workplaces closed
 We stopped our rounds of visits.
 
 It was time to stop.
 
 ***
 
 How swiftly life reduced
 To four walls. 

 And I was challenged
 By my inner sparseness 

 Stripped of activity
 Faced only with news
 Of disease and death,
 It was time to clean the clogged fountain
 And let the spring rise up anew.
 
 This small cave grew and expanded
 Simple beauty pervades my heart
 Inspired by creation 
 Through which I stroll

 The light of God my source
 In this darkness. 
 
 These burdens too heavy
 I pass them to my King
 Who bears all things
 And gives me life
 
 How sweet His name. 
 
 And now I furnish His house
 My heart
 With good things
 With beauty

 Forests of peace
 Lakes of kindness
 Mountains of faithfulness
 Waterfalls of joy
 Good fruits
 Pathways of self control
 The scent of patience on the calm sea
 I walk across the gardens of gentleness
 And relish the landscape of love
 
 How can my life be called constrained 
 When this richness is in You Lord
 Within me.
 
 Your song drowns out 
 the clamouring circumstances 
 Glory outweighs suffering
 This outward world so quickly shrank
 But the inner world expands
 For all time
 Until one day, we will see you clearly
 Walking over the waves towards us
 To greet us in a holy embrace.
 

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.