Thought I would put in a short piece that will be in my next book (and there’s a statement of faith!)
The River of God is full of water – Psalm 64:9
The river flowed. It always flowed. It was always full. It flowed and it shimmered. It was both colourless and full of colours. Every colour of the rainbow and more were in the river. Even as I looked at it the colours seemed to move and change. Just as I decided it was blue, it would appear gold, then red, then brown and orange and oh – many more colours than I could ever mention. Each colour was purer and more vibrant than I had ever seen and changed from one shade to another as I watched. The river sometimes shimmered, sometimes glowed. It sparkled one minute and seemed pearlescent the next. Somehow it held the essence of God – hardly surprising since it flowed from His throne room, and the further it went, the deeper it become.
He breathed life into His children. The breath of His life contained His essence, and this was imparted too. No one child could contain it all. The breath could not be contained in lungs – it went directly into the Spirits of His children.
The children breathed out, and the very same air that had filled them with life also activated vocal cords of denial:
"I am no artist!" "I can't spell, let alone write!" "I cannot draw, let alone paint!" "Creative - me? That's a joke!" "I don't have a musical bone in my body!"
And the slightly more honest, but no less stifling, statements:
"Well I drew this, but it's just a scribble..." "I like writing, but I'd never show anyone..." "What if they don't like it? what if they laugh at it?" "I've been mocked before; I'm not risking that again..." "Sometimes I sing off-key"
And the stain of shame spread across their beautiful but unseen creations, all of which proclaimed the Father’s glory.
The denials came even as the children tended their gardens, refurbished their homes, made up stories for their toddlers, fiddled about in their workshops or went about their daily business, humming tunes under their breath. ‘No, we aren’t creative,’ they insisted.
The River of God, gloriously full and multicoloured, sparkling, shimmering and full of life, flowed through their hearts. It could not fail to produce rich fruit and leaves for healing of the nations, but they refused to recognise the fruit or allow the leaves to fall, for they were blind, and saw no value in the fruit or the leaves. They said. “Fruit? What fruit? What leaves? Everyone has them. What’s so special about them?” His children were sometimes as insightful as trees!
What would it take?
It would, of course, take the Gardener. He stopped by one of them and reached for an orange. The tree shrieked, “What are you doing? It isn’t ripe or ready yet. It has to be perfected first.”
The Gardener took no notice but peeled the glistening fruit, separated the segments, put one in his mouth, and bit on it. Juice burst into his mouth and he grinned, biting into the rest of the fruit. Juice ran down his chin. He smiled, “It tastes like no other fruit.”
“Exactly!” cried the tree. “I warned you it wasn’t ready.”
Softly the Gardener spoke. “It has been ready a long time. It is good; it is delicious; it brings life; it is beautifully unique. I can taste the Father in it.”
The tree seemed to stand a little taller. It seemed to rustle its branches, and now more fruit could be seen, nestling among the glossy leaves. One or two of these leaves dropped off now, to be carried away by the river.
“No!” cried the tree in dismay. “My leaves! I am losing my leaves!”
The Gardener laughed and pointed at buds which were already springing up on its branches. ‘Look!’ He exclaimed in delight. ‘More are growing. As you allow some to fall, as you give away the fruit, more will grow.’ Your fruit will bring life to whoever eats it, for it is My fruit fed by My river. Your leaves will heal those whom they touch, for they are My leaves, fed and grown by My river.
As the Gardener spoke with love in his voice, He was touching the tree. Stroking the trunk, caressing a leaf here and there. Sniffing the fruit and murmuring in admiration. Taking His time. “May I take more of your fruit? I know some who need its life-giving properties?” It was gracious of him to ask? All the trees were His, growing in His garden, fed by His river. He didn’t need to ask. But still He asked.
The tree hesitated. “But it’s harvest time. That fruit took time to grow. What will be left if you take it?”
The Gardener laughed, but it was a kindly laugh and His eyes twinkled. “This is My garden. This is My river. You will harvest often, not just once a year. You will produce more fruit each month. Different fruits, too! Not just oranges! Imagine that!”
The tree tried to imagine bearing apples, pineapples and kiwis. It seemed unbelievable, yet it heard truth in the Gardener’s voice.
“Well, will you risk it?”
In reply to the Gardener, trusting His voice and relishing His loving touch, the tree let out a laugh. “Shake me!” it cried. The Gardener placed a hand on the trunk and the tree trembled. Oranges tumbled down, glossy leaves dropped into the river. Even as they fell, new silver leaves sprung up along its branches and twigs. There was a hint of a scent of pear, the promise of future fruits.
“Thank you,” whispered the Gardener as He gathered the fruit. The tree drank deeply from the river, feeling new life flow into its sap.
The Gardener moved on to the next tree. Each tree was different. He took time with each tree. He asked each tree the same question.
“Well. Will you risk it?”
It has been 9 months since I’ve written here. An interesting time frame. Perhaps something has been incubating and maturing, growing within, in a hidden place, unable to shared until it is ready to be born.
For now, the rich simplicity of the Christmas message has struck me anew.
God with us. God came to us. In so many ways:
to Mary as a prophetic declaration
A promise and plan beyond her wildest dreams with a reassurance
- Fear not, you have found favour -
to Joseph in dreams with instructions
to Elizabeth as a leap of joy within
to Herod as a threat
to Bethlehem as someone needing a room
to Shepherds as a glorious, joyful host of angels
to wise men as a light in the dark
to Simeon and Anna as a promise fulfilled.
to earth as a new Hope, a Promise, a Grace, an Open Door to Eternity.
How will I receive him?
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.
In the beginning
Before heaven was.
Before earth was formless -
There you are
Father, Son and Spirit Holy
Three in one
The sacred dance
And In the end
At earths destruction
Beyond the days of
new heaven and new earth
There you are, dancing still
The dance of love goes on
Graceful and fluid,
Majestic and lovely,
Flowing like water
Entwining and joyful.
It is hard to see where one person ends
And another begins
Father, Son and Spirit Holy.
And mystery of mysteries
You bid us come.
Spirit draws us, Son takes us
In nail pierced hands
And presents us to the Father.
And we are caught up in the holy dance
The eternal relationship of love
Which knows no beginning and no end.
What a privilege to be
Caught up in you
And the rhythm of eternal communion
As we spin and sway and move
to the music of grace
With Father, Son and Spirit Holy.
Hopeless and weary, yet still
Our love for him drew us to the place where he lay
Braving the knowledge that the guards would still be there
Despite the finality of death, we had to see
even his grave
one more time.
The earth shook as we approached.
We shook, too.
Though we had thought that those last dark days had wrung out every last emotion,
We found we were wrong
but still our love drew us.
A light too bright to look into
Words issued by an angel
Words too bright to believe entirely
but unbidden, a strange forgotten joy was birthed. It was hope.
We ran. We ran to call the others, but stopped in our tracks.
He was there. Radiant.
“Greetings” he said.
Are those words from beyond the grave…….? “Greetings”
even now it makes me laugh.
And we who had thought to never feel again
were filled with joy.
Laughter spilled out, love overflowed, struck down with awe we lay flat
and clutched at his feet with love whilst we could barely breathe.
“Fear not” so gentle his words that banished fear forever.
and now we could let him go
For we knew he would never leave us again.
The second day
was a day when you were gone.
No gospels written then
The certainty of victory concealed
The second day
smelt of bloodshed
and dirty linen used to wash thy torn pure form
lay soaking in a bowl.
The second day
we were bereft and weeping.
No comforter then.
I turned to a friend for a hug and a smile
but saw only pain.
The second day
and you loved us too much
to leave us there
in the bleak darkness
hopeless and lost
for more than a day.
oops – forgot to post yesterday, so two offerings today. Here we are, Good Friday, remembering the darkest of days. We know the events through the bible and with hindsight. I cannot imagine how the mother of Jesus, or his friends felt at the crucifixion, not knowing what would follow.
I watched a much loved sister die over a relatively short period of time a few years ago. Sitting at her bedside, watching her lovely face grow thinner, seeing her slipping away in front of my eyes, was agonising. Yet I kept thinking about Mary, watching Jesus die before her eyes, an unimaginably more painful death with no pain relief, no nurses, and so alone.
He would have been naked, exposed, his skin gouged, his face beaten…publicly derided and humiliated. I cannot imagine watching that happen to a much loved son, to someone you loved more than yourself.
Mary watched and wept
as the torture proceeded
not knowing that each and every
savage, painful moment
drew You closer to home
to the place where
tears are tenderly wiped away
and glory is inhaled with every breath.
Every step on the highway to death
forged a path to a life that will never perish.
And when deepest blackness
darkened the sky
and utter bleakness
stole Your soul
that was the last grasp of evil’s fingers upon You.
Never again can the tentacles of death
trap those in whom Your Spirit inhabits.
For we are free
and more alive than we will ever know
even while we die.
I will fear no evil. For the Good Shepherd is by my side.
Father forgive them, they know not what they do
The only certainty more sure
than our past, present and future
to the killers.