Desert Road

Originally published in December, 2007.  Updated 3 May 2017

Into the desert

On our holiday away from home, we had to travel through an area of arid desert. We turned off the tarmac onto a gravel dirt road. It looked long and straight and as if it was without end.
The sun baked down on the parched earth, and we were grateful for our air conditioner that ran at maximum speed.
“Even the birds keep away,” I remarked to my husband.
“Yes, apart from the occasional vulture, and I should think they find plenty animal corpses out here to feast upon.”
No clouds offered the promise of rain. All we could rely on was the knowledge that if there was a way in, there must also be a way out.

A lesson for life

This also applies to life, doesn’t it?
No matter how difficult or barren our lives may be at times, there is always a way out of the predicament. Every bleak situation will eventually offer us an ending.
God promises He will always supply an escape route.

Hosea 2:14-15 (CEV)

I, the LORD, will lure you into the desert and speak gently to you. I will return your vineyards, and then Trouble Valley will become Hopeful Valley.

Pray with me?

Lord, help me to learn the lessons of the desert, then show me how to move on.

How do you face times of trial that seem never-ending?

I’d love you to add a comment below and let’s be in touch.

If you leave me a live link, I’ll get back to you.

Other inspirational posts from Africa:

Even Elephants Communicate
The Shepherd with an Impossible Dream

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It’s a Wonderful World

Originally published in 1 Jan 2008. Updated 3 May 2017.

 

Have you ever stopped to look around and marvel at the beauty that surrounds you each and every day?

Have we got so used to it, we take it for granted?

The New South Africa

In 1994, we in South Africa experienced the ushering in of “The New South Africa” as it was widely called. For a period, the euphoria spread across the nation as people of all color—black, brown, yellow and white—joined together under the new leadership of Nelson Mandela and F.W.de Klerk.

The Rainbow Nation

As a tribute to the new nation, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Prize-winner (1984) and political activist, coined the phrase, “The Rainbow Nation.” He saw us as one nation made up of all different colors.

A wonderful world

It’s clear that God loves color. We only need to look around at nature to see this. See the fiery reds and oranges of an African sunset compared to the coolness of a blue sky mirrored in a calm sea. See tiny shoots of yellow, pink or red as they push their way through the life-promising green to herald the arrival of Spring.

We only need to look at nature to see how God loved color! Click To Tweet

No color is better than another, yet a khaki rose would not compare with its red counterpart, and blue earth defies imagination. In the same way, God has also made us different. He didn’t mean us to be identical. We have different natures, life-styles, cultures and abilities. Our appearance differs, whether we look at hairstyles, physiques or skin colors. Yet, just as those colors join together to make one rainbow, we are called to be one people under God.

We have many parts in the one body, and all these parts have different functions. In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body. So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us (Romans 12:4-6a GNB. )

Take a look around

Look around you now, and take note of the colors you see in your surroundings. Red? √ Blue? √ Purple? √  Green? √ In fact, I can’t think of any color that I can’t see, and I haven’t moved from my computer seat!

How about you?

What colors can you see without leaving where you are?

Tell me something about yourself. What gifts do you have? Where do you live in our wonderful world?

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below and if you leave a live link, I’ll get back to you.

Other similar posts:

Even Elephants Communicate
The Shepherd with an Impossible Dream

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The Shepherd with an Impossible Dream

https://www.flickr.com/photos/riot/54970673 by RogiroAn impossible dream . . .

Tembo was a shepherd boy who lived in a makeshift hut in the mountains of Lesotho.

Often he watched airplanes streak overhead en route for distant cities. One day he cried out, “If only I could fly one of those.”

Some years later, a missionary met Tembo and he got to know him. Impressed with the boy’s dream he gave him a job cleaning hangers.

The years passed, and Tembo’s hard work was noticed. He was promoted to better positions. Kind-hearted pilots gave him lessons in his off-duty hours.

One memorable day, the shepherd boy from Lesotho received his pilot’s licence. God had known all along where that young boy was, and He had a plan for his life.

(True story—Name changed.)

My dream: 

I had an impossible dream—to attend a writers’ conference in the United States of America. I called it out to God, and I’ve been to two, not one. You can read about them here:

Sandy Cove Writers’ Conference, and Florida Writers’ Conference.

How about you?

Do you have an impossible dream? Do you have the courage to give it to God? Speak to Him about it, and He may surprise you. He just might bring it to pass!

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26 Click To Tweet

PRAYER: Lord, help me to dream big dreams and trust you with the results.

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Even Elephants Communicate

elephants communicate with one another

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
(Proverbs 12:25 NIV).

Animals communicate with one another.

From the gigantic elephant to the tiny ant, they “speak” to one another.

Humans too communicate with one another. Our words can lift up and encourage. When spoken at the right time they have great value.

When the wrong words are spoken, or even the right words at the wrong time or attitude, it would be better if they weren’t spoken at all.

Let us ask God to make our hearts and words available to Him, and that we may be sensitive to speak at the right time.

Sometimes it is said, “Christians are the only army that stab each other in the back.”

This ought never to be true. Let us concentrate this week on building one another up and encouraging those with whom we have contact.

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Eve ~ Mother of All

eve_rgb_smallWho was Eve?

We have all heard of Eve, the very first woman who was created in God’s own image. She lived in a beautiful garden, the Garden of Eden, and she was married to the first man, Adam.

Remember her?

Of course you do.

But have you thought of the challenges she faced?

√ as a woman without friends

√ a mother who was never a child

√ a wife to the only man alive

√ a parent who had never seen a baby?

You will read about all these challenges and a whole lot more in

Eve – Mother of All.

Why read this book?

She lived a perfect life in an idyllic setting. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.

Join Shirley Corder as she draws Eve out of the shadow of the garden and shows her as a real flesh-and-blood woman.

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your situation, or faced seemingly impossible challenges, you will identify with this woman who had no mother, sister or female friend.

What format is it written in?

Written in creative non-fiction, the story stays close to the biblical narrative, but Shirley brings it alive in a way that will encourage you and give you some chuckles.

Reflections after each short chapter will enable you to walk in Eve’s bare feet as you apply the words you have just read to your own life.

How to read this book

There are two ways you can use this book. You can read it through as a story, pausing at the reflections as you go. Or you may choose to use it with friends or an established Bible Study group. You could assign several chapters to be read over the following week, possibly as daily readings. You could then get together once a week to share your own reflections and compare notes.

The Scripture readings are very short, sometimes only a section of a verse. There is often so much information packed into one verse of Scripture. On a few occasions, you may even have the same reading for consecutive chapters.

Feel free to read the passage surrounding the quoted verse, although these may not be relevant to the chapter you are reading. The reflections often offer further passages in order to give you background to the passage. I pray you will enjoy getting to know Eve as she steps out of the shadow of The Garden of Eden as a real flesh-and-blood woman.

Excerpt from Chapter 2:

God’s latest creation stretched, blinked her eyes and squinted at the sheet of blue hovering overhead. “That’s so beautiful!”

“What?” came a voice much deeper than hers. “You mean the sky? It’s always that color.”

The woman’s eyes focused on the face that now appeared above her. “Oh. What…? Who…?”

The figure rose to his feet and stretched out his hand. “Let me help you up. I’m Adam, the first man, created in God’s image.”

“Am I also Adam?”

“No. I’m going to call you Woman, because you were taken out of me. You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

The woman examined the man closely then looked down at her own body. There were similarities, but there were also differences. “Are we both made in God’s image? Or only you?”

“We both are,” Adam assured her. “God said it wasn’t good for me to be alone, and then He made you. He took you out of my side.”

“Whose side did you come from?”

To see how Adam answers, read the book. Available only as an ebook at this stage.

Click on the link to own your own copy, and if you enjoy it, I’d love you to post a review.

 

The Next Thing

Every night I curl up in bed with my Kindle or a paperback book and read until I can’t keep my eyes open.

Recently I was reading Take Three, from the Above the Line Series by Karen Kingsbury. Keith, one of the main characters of the book, had just received devastating news. His life, which an hour ago was brimming with excitement and promise, seemed headed for disaster. He and his wife were alone in their living room, and the story goes like this:
He leaned his head against hers and remembered a sermon a year ago, something he’d forgotten until now.

“Remember what Pastor Hastings said awhile back?” Keith’s voice held a calm that he still didn’t quite feel. “He said sometimes life gets too complicated to figure it out on your own. When that happens, God has to do the figuring.”

“Mmm.” Lisa eased her arm around his waist and pressed her body close to him. “I remember.”

“And while God does the figuring, there’s only one thing we can do.”

He felt Lisa smile. “The next thing.”

“Right. We just do the next thing and let God reveal the bigger answers.”
I stopped reading. I thought back over times when my life had become so complicated that I had no idea what to do. Like the day I heard the doctor utter the words, “You have cancer. And I don’t think they’re going to be able to get it all out.”

My prayer, uttered in the recesses of my mind, was “Dear Lord, help!” I instinctively did the next thing and headed for home. My husband was there to greet me.

“How did it go? Everything okay?”

“No. I’ve got cancer.”

Our lives had hit a wall. Suddenly everything was so complicated. How would we survive?

We hugged. And we prayed. But although our prayers brought a measure of calm, no heavenly voice told us what to do. So we did the next thing. We phoned our sons. Then we phoned my brother and asked him to tell my mother. We phoned the medical aid to get clearance for surgery. Then we made supper.

It all seemed surreal. All we could do was move forward, one hesitant foot in front of the other. We took the following step. Did what had to be done. Kept doing the next thing. And somehow, we survived. God brought us through. Today, over sixteen years later, we look back with wonder and joy.

Joseph, the colourful character in the Old Testament, was thrown into a pit by his jealous brothers. He must have wondered what his future held. He was no longer able to make plans. He became a slave, and he rose in rank. He held an important position, but then he landed in jail through no fault of his own. He couldn’t figure out what God wanted of him. So he did what he had to do. He saw guards and other prisoners in need, and he stepped forward and helped them. One step. Then the next. Eventually he became the second highest ruler in Egypt. He saved the nation, and his brothers and father, from starvation. But he did it one step at a time.

As you step into a new year, and everyone around is wishing you “a Happy New Year!” perhaps you are really facing a wall. Are you wondering how you will ever get out of the mess you are in? How you will survive the year? It doesn’t need to be a cancer diagnosis. How about your finances? Are the bills far higher than your bank balance? Your career? Do you face unemployment? Your family? Is there a relationship that needs your attention?

Stop struggling. Hand it over to God. Leave it up to Him. And while He’s doing the figuring, you do the next thing—whatever that may be. Before you know it, God may have opened the way for you. Perhaps this time next year you will look back and marvel at how you survived. It may only be a tiny step. You may not see how it will help. But do the next thing.

And thank you Karen Kingsbury for this thought-provoking lesson! It all goes to show the power of a good story.

The Unfinished Story

“You have to come and speak to Bridget! Your unfinished lesson last week in Sunday School so upset her.”

The words of the frustrated mother on the other end of the phone took me by surprise. “Unfinished?”

What could be wrong with her cute little daughter who sparkled with the joy of living? She had seemed happy enough in class last week.

Over the past four weeks, I had been telling my Sunday School class of eight and nine-year-olds the story of Jesus’ last week on earth. As a story-teller I had put myself into the scenes, bringing out the drama and tension as far as I thought was wise for such young children.

The previous Sunday I had taught them about the crucifixion, ending at the point where Jesus had died. Unfinished? I suppose so, but only so that they’d be keen to come back the next week for the sequel.

I was careful to tell the story as simply as possible, not wanting to scare the children with the gory details, but at the same time I wanted them to understand that from a human point of view, Jesus was dead. After all, how would they appreciate the incredible miracle of the resurrection if they didn’t accept He had first really died. I ended on a positive note—I thought.

“That’s not the end of the story!” I assured them. “Come back next week and hear what happens next!”

They had all left laughing and shoving each other, racing to be the first out the door. I tried to remember if Bridget had been among the happy gang of hooligans. I couldn’t remember.

When I arrived at her home, her mother came out to greet me. She told me how her daughter had returned from Sunday School distraught. When it came to saying her prayers that night, she didn’t want to say them. “Jesus is dead!” she sobbed. Nothing her mother could say would reassure her. Aunty Shirley had said Jesus was dead, so He was dead.

What was the point of praying?

Why say grace at mealtimes? Jesus wasn’t there any more. After several days of trying to reason with the child, her mother decided to get me over to sort out the mess I’d created by telling an unfinished rendition of the Easter Story!

I sat outside in the garden nursing a glass of cold lemonade as I told the little girl the next part of what happened that first Easter. I watched as she narrowed her blue eyes for a moment. Suddenly I saw a spark flash in her eyes as they widened in amazement.

“You mean, he’s alive?”

“Yes, He’s alive,” I assured her. “And He’s watching over you right now. He loves you so much.”

As I took my leave of the precious little girl and her relieved mother, I marveled at the reality of that child’s faith. When had I last been broken-hearted over the torture and death of my Lord? Had I become so used to the Easter story that I’d got used to glossing over the details?

How I rejoiced that I’d been able to assure Bridget that Jesus was very much alive. I resolved there and then never to leave Jesus hanging on a cross “until next week’s thrilling instalment.” Never again would I leave the story of Jesus unfinished!

Yes, Jesus died. He died on that cruel cross for me. But the story didn’t end there. He’s alive!

Be Still!

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10

 

This morning I awoke and lay in the semi-darkness, allowing the peace of the early morning to flow over me. “Lord,” I prayed silently. “Thank you for another day. Please help me to spend it as you want me to.”
Even as I prayed, my mind skipped ahead to the frantic schedule that lay ahead. An appointment with a lady who wanted me to be her mentor, singing in a scheduled concert, speaking at a meeting, finishing off a series of commissioned devotional messages for an overseas publisher, continuing work on my book, writing my next devotional blog for ICFW, walking the dog, making meals, oh yes, and finding time for my amazing husband. I knew, even in those early pre-dawn minutes that it wasn’t all going to happen. There wouldn’t be enough hours. A sense of panic started to claw its way up toward my throat.
Help me to spend it as you want me to.  Was this how he wanted me to spend my day? Perhaps it was, but not in the frantic rush I already anticipated. If God wanted me to do all these things, He would supply the time. If there wasn’t enough time, then something had to be dropped. But what?
I have long since learned the phrase, “God first.” Before I put my foot to the ground, I had to spend time with God. To make contact with Him. Otherwise my day would be a mess.

 

As part of my daily Quiet Time with God, I am currently reading The God who Sees You,” by Tammy Maltby. She takes the verse I’ve quoted above and turns it around. “Be still and know that I am God” becomes “Don’t be still – don’t know God.”

 

When I first read this, I decided to print it out and stick it on the shelf above my computer desk where I would see it every time I sat down to work. Perhaps I need to stick it all over the house. Why? Because it is so easy to become too busy, to get caught up in the crazy schedule that faces me most days and to overlook the most important thing of all – to be still and know that He is God. Not the person I will see later today. Not the concert. Not the dog. Not even my husband. There will be time for all these if they are part of God’s plan for my day. But they are not God. He is God. Be still!

 

I don’t know who first conjured the life of the typical retired person. You know the picture. For the person over a certain age, life becomes so quiet and serene it’s boring. The woman sits and soaks her feet while she lovingly knits for her grandchildren and listens to her favourite radio programme. (Oh yes, she typically still multi-tasks, but at such a gentle pace.) I have to admit I haven’t met too many of those ladies! Wait. I don’t know any. But that’s the picture I used to have of retirement. The man on the other hand sits on the stoep and watches the day go by, usually with a pipe in his mouth – or he’s reading the newspaper.

 

What bliss. Or is it? Is that really what God would want of any of us? I can’t see Jesus sitting on the stoep reading the newspaper, can you? (Forget the pipe!)

 

At the same time, perhaps we need to bring back the stillness. Even a little. Can we not find a space in each day, somewhere, to be still. Maybe, like me, the best time to find that time is before the day even starts. Before I put on the bedside light and acknowledge that the day has begun. “Thank you Lord for this new day. Help me enjoy it for a few minutes before I get into the busyness. Help me be still and know that you are not only God – you’re my God.”

 

Will you join me? Today? Schedule a few minutes of stillness into your frantic schedule, and you know what? I think we’ll both find we achieve more. At the end of the day, we will be able to say, “Thank you Lord for this day that’s just gone by. I spent it as you wanted me to.”

 

Give it a try, and then come back and share how it went. Did you achieve less? Or did you get through more? Don’t be still – don’t know God. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Sikhona!

The angel added [to Hagar], “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.” The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me.” Genesis 16:10-13a NIV

A common greeting used by the Zulu people in South Africa comes in two parts. The one person says, “Sikhona!” and the response is “Sawubona!” Sikhona literally means “I am here to be seen,” and Sawubona says, “I see you.”

What a powerful greeting! How often do we give a casual and meaningless “Hi!” or ask “How are you?” The traditional response for that question is, “Fine thanks and you?” I have to confess there have been many times that I have hoped that is all the person will say. I really don’t want to be there for the next ten minutes while he or she tells me exactly how they are!

Yet what a difference we could make to someone’s day if we took a lesson from the Zulu folk. If we were to look each other in the eye and admit, “I am here to be seen!” and hear the other person assure us, “I see you.”

Hagar was Sarah’s servant. Because Sarah was infertile, she ordered Hagar to sleep with her husband Abraham and give him a son. (No pressure!) The son would then be Abraham’s heir.

No sooner was she pregnant, when Sarah started to ill-treat the girl, and eventually Hagar could take no more. She ran away into the desert – an extremely dangerous place for a pregnant young woman.

Suddenly, an angel appeared, and brought her a message from God. Hagar apparently had some spiritual awakening as a result of this angelic visitation. She was so excited, she gave Him her own personal name, Lahai Roi, meaning The God Who Sees.

All of us have a heart-felt need to believe there is someone who sees us. Who really notices us. Who understands and who cares. We want to feel appreciated and affirmed. We long to be valued and celebrated. How great to know that God always sees us!

Whatever word or greeting we choose to use when saying “Hello”, how good it will be if we think about the person and convey that powerful message. “Hello. You are important to me . . . because I see you.”

OVER TO YOU: This week, try to make each greeting, no matter how brief, convey a powerful message. Just a warm greeting, a nod or a smile can say to them, “I see you! And I care.”

Bye for now! Sawubona! I see you!