Monday, November 2, 2015

Who sets the boundaries?

I am living near a beach once more, and I find myself staring across the waves at distant horizons on my daily beach-walks. This time I also live near a port, bringing ships in all shapes and sizes to traverse that same thin line where today meets tomorrow. What is their destination? Where have they been, and what adventures have those inanimate vessels seen? My mind can only guess at the answers...
Often I find myself wondering about the course of my life. So many storms and unexpected waves of upheaval that threatened to sink me; yet countless sunrises bringing a new day, a continuation of the journey and sunsets that found me still floating at the end of the day!
This past month as I became reacquainted with solitary prayer walks along the shore, God has been speaking to my 'wandering' heart about the boundaries that He sets. He determines the place the sea may approach onto the beach on any given day. He has placed that line between sky and sea that I perceive as the end of my world; whereas it is only the limit of my ability to see. He has plans that continue past my understanding and out of my range of view.                                                                 
I've been confused and nothing seems certain under my feet because all my ideas of how things should turn out have been washed away from under me. I struggle with the constant changes. It occurred to me after walking along the same beach every day for the past week, and every day the shore line is completely different, that God loves to create each day fresh in unique design. One day the beach is all shells and yellow sand, the next it has receded and coloured, polished rocks appear while yesterday's beach is having a swim in the ocean; only to return the next day in an altered format.
How can I find the unchanging nature of God in this creative chaos? It is in the boundaries. The fact that the sky sunny, cloudy or stormy remains in its place above me. The sea comes and goes within limits. He holds the tides within His control, and is aware of the exact placement of each grain of sand. I cannot press against His purposes without it bringing turmoil to my soul. If I desire peace and the purposes of God to come to pass in my life I need to find a way to float with the Spirit, and that takes faith in His sovereignty and trust in His loving character. These are the boundaries He operates within; always working towards my ultimate good.
As I stop and ponder on the underlying constancy that my heart desires within the changes thrust upon my, I hear God telling me to become once again as a child. Stand on the shore and just know that He holds the earth together, I don't need to worry. To open up my spirit to enjoy the changes, and release my need to understand it all. When I was small I loved nothing better than to stand right on the water's edge and let each wave move the sand beneath my feet. With every teasing rush and recession the sea attempted to knock me off my feet, and I would wriggle my toes into the sand as it covered my feet up to my ankles and I remained steadfast. Not sinking sand, but an adjustment into my circumstances.
This month I've rediscovered the joy of simple faith. That ability to find joy in the ebb and flow of life. I am standing on the edge of the water, looking at the distant horizon that promises heaven. My feet may be covered in the grains of earthly goings on, but my toes are wriggling in the sensation, and I am finding the wonder of His fluid presence.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Looking for Love... Rocks in my Head?

One day this week as I went to watch the sunset, a number of life circumstances were weighing on my mind. Instead of walking continuously along the shores of our new 'Lake Beach', I decided to sit in one place and let my mind rest. It gave me time to ponder and listen to the still small voice instead of concentrating on where to put my feet, and what was around the corner.
So as I picked a tree stump for my perch, I waited quietly as the sun began to paint the surrounding atmosphere, closing my eyes temporarily and breathing in the peace. Then I opened my eyes and glanced down at the little pebbly beach next to me. There was a tiny little pink heart stone. Collecting 'Nature's hearts' has long been a hobby of mine, and this one was so cute, so perfect!
I picked it up and photographed it against the backdrop of a white rock to emphasize its pinkness.
Then I realised there were many pink stones in amongst the gravel right beside me. True, not in the shape of a little heart, but bearing the same quality and colour as my little, freshly found love rock. The entrance for an object lesson from God!
Inspired by a thought forming slowly in the back of my mind, I began to collect the pink and red stones and place them in a heart shape on the ground. Some tumbled from the pile, so I added a stick boundary... in the shape of a heart. 

Now I usually avoid the contrived photos of not-so-natural Nature's Hearts that I regularly come across on the web. Give me one that has occurred without human intervention any day! This little project I had begun seemed to go against my ideals, yet as I continued I knew what it was the Spirit was showing me.
It helps to have a definition of contrived.... "deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously."... or as another dictionary puts it...
"to form or think of (a plan, method, etc.) : to form or make (something) in a skillful or clever way. : to make (something) happen in a clever way or with difficulty."
 It occurred to me that many people are 'looking for love' in a way that is strongly influenced by the notion that we somehow fall into it, or that it is there waiting to be discovered at first sight. After 35 years of marriage I believe the contrived idea is much more realistic. We should pick up the small offerings of love enacted daily, focus on the traits that reflect a living heart, and look for the good in our partner. Placed in the framework of the way we think about each other, they create an ever-growing heart-shaped view that is LOVE. It requires purposefully laying aside offence and short-comings, leaving them outside our deliberately created boundary. Sometimes this is difficult, but I am clever enough to see that I end up with a much greater love in the end.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Splinters of truth...

Whereas it is good to walk alone, sometimes walking with a friend adds a greater dimension to the experience. They see things from a different perspective, and can show you things about yourself that you may have become blind to.
I am blessed to have a friend like that. His knowledge of plants and their precise botanical names always amazes me. I love that we share a genuine amazement and fascination over God's creation. We can walk in a garden and never grow tired of the trees. Our conversation happily meandering through different paths of creation, relationships and life.
Today my faithful friend gently delivered some home-truths. He did wrap it in jest to soften the blow, but the jokes contained that 'splinter of truth'. Now that I am able to sit and reflect on the conversation they are beginning to do what splinters do. Make me uncomfortable, and realise I must address the issues. Left to themselves they may cause discomfort at the best and infection at the worst!
So thank-you to my friend and his words of insight and the love that motivates him to want the best for me, even if it hurts. Interestingly enough, I accidentally brushed past a prickly plant in following him through a desert garden and have an actual splinter in my thigh just to give me a physical reminder of the lesson! AND... just in case you thought plants could not have prickles and a healing quality here is a Aloe vera in the same garden. (Coincidentally from South Africa as is my friend.)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Proverbs 27:6


Finally found my way through...

For weeks I have been planning a walk all the way through the National Park to the surfside of Bribie. Something about the unattainable 4WD beach has long captured my attention. Once I walked 4 1/2 hours along the beach to find Mermaid Lagoon on that side, and then had to endure the 4 1/2 return trip with blistered feet and hips that felt like they were dislocated. I made up my mind to NEVER put myself through that level of pain again!
So I googled a possible route and it seemed simple enough. Follow the road that accesses the SEQEB Water plant until it becomes a fire trail. Maybe take a turn to the right and then there would be a path that took me 'almost' to the beach.
 WRONG! This is where I ended my first attempt. I took a wrong turn and ended up the proverbial creek without a paddle, or alternate plan!
 Another day, another look at the map and working out where I went wrong the first time. It is never a failure in life, if you use a thwarted experience as a learning process. The temptation to brush it aside as irrelevant is common, but as I found out 70% of the journey was on the right track, it was just a small miscalculation that caused me to err.
Nothing ever worth achieving is gained without persistence, and how sad to give up when breakthrough may be just around the corner... or just past the next set of trees!
BREAKTHROUGH is mine! My first glimpse of the sea through the tree tunnel.

The sunrise on the deserted beach and the view of uninterrupted beauty was worth it all.
I made sure to leave a trail so I could retrace my steps next time, and also as a marker to others who may want to follow in my footsteps. 

A very biblical principle, I might add!

Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your towns here.
Jeremiah 31:21

Monday, July 26, 2010

Breaking Point

In all the years I have been walking along the beach, watching the waves as they break... I only noticed it today! For the first time ever!  Right as the waves crash down, and the bigger the crash the better the effect... for a fleeting moment a rainbow appears. I must have taken 30 photos trying to capture it, but it was so elusive. JUST for that moment of time!
Then as I pondered on this, the Holy Spirit reminded me that this is like the Promises of  God in a way. At that breaking  point in your life, when everything comes crashing down around you... even on you... God reveals his precious promises. So that you will know that he is still in control, and you are safe.
It isn't always CRISIS that brings you to the place where you feel your heart will break I have found... Loneliness and even tedium of everyday life can do it too! This rainbow reflects on the tiles of a bathroom I clean regularly. An ordinary bathroom tile in the midst of a tedious unnoticed task. God reminds that He is there too! Shining his grace and love into my brokeness and turning it into something glorious in His sight!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Treasured Possession

If the tide had been different, or I had "parked" my kayak at a slightly different spot, or walked in a straight track along the muddy shore... Then I wouldn't have found it. An old bottle from the 1900's. Once it was an everyday item used to hold "Coffee & Chicory Essence". Being emptied somebody either tossed it overboard or it was indeed the victim of shipwreck. Then for nearly 100 years drifted aimlessly and found itself in the mire... till this day! I only JUST spotted it! And even then didn't realise it was actually worth keeping.
However the thing that I really treasure about this bottle is "the message in it". You may feel like your life is shipwrecked and you are tossed aside, useless and unwanted...up to your neck in the mud! God isn't finished with you yet! He has plans for your life and a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). One day you'll certainly be gathered up as His treasured possession. My bottle is no longer just a pantry item, but a thing of beauty and admiration. I left it's barnacle in place as a medal of honour that it survived unbroken and intact despite the years of hardship!
JOB 5:11
He places lowly people up high. He lifts those who mourn to safety. 
I do not think I  "found" this treasure, but that it was "gifted" to me from my Father! 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back in the wash!

On an early morning beach walk this weekend, I noticed a beautifully sea-green coloured piece of glass. I love "sea-glass" and have collected quite a bit of it over the years. Usually it is just ordinary old brown fragments...that I think originate from beer bottles! I must admit my reaction to the amber brown glass that Cliff was going to use on my stained-glass sunflower candle holder, would point to the fact that I have a bias against beer bottle glass! This particular piece was a bit unusual though. The pale aqua seemed to "belong" in the beach setting. An exact replica of the moment just before a wave breaks and the sunlight shows through. 'Tis my habit to photograph any beach finds "in situ" before I claim them for whatever use I have in mind, so I did. On closer inspection though... DISAPPOINTMENT! The edges were still sharp. Beach glass takes a lot of years of tossing and turning in the wash of the waves before it is worthy to be taken home! Sounds like our earthly predicament! Reminded me that though I sometimes long to go home, God is not finished with me yet! So many rough edges to be smoothed. I can just imagine Jesus leaning in for a close look, and proclaiming "Not yet! Back in the wash!" So every monotonous day that rolls in and out like the tide, and turns me in my place, and causes me to find friction in those dreaded "sandpaper people" is working for my good.
For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
 will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6