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!!"
Lord I hate what the enemy has done
He has shut us down
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
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.
Bare your sword and come.
’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
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
The Christ Child will take them all
and remain with me
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….
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
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
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
With good things
Forests of peace
Lakes of kindness
Mountains of faithfulness
Waterfalls of joy
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
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.
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.
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
A different experience each day.
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.
This is the world you hold in your hands.
Not one jot
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.
Our souls are seen.
An empty cross our proof
of your infinite care.
Our bottled tears
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.