It Came To Pass

Expressions of life – lived and observed.


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The Light

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“I said to the man
who stood at the gate of the year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely
into the unknown.’

And he replied ,
‘Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you
better than light
and safer than a known way !’

So I went forth
and finding the Hand of God,
trod gladly into the night .
And he led me towards the hills
and the breaking of day in the lone East.”

 

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(Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957)

 

May God bless us all throughout 2017 –
and enable us to walk forward with our hands in His,
as He leads, directs and encourages us in
accordance with His promise.
Thank you for your company and support in our journey this past year.
May His Light shine ever stronger for you as you press on with Him.

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I Like It Too

 

Some years ago I was given the gift of a week in Cape Town. One morning my hosts took me to the point where the two oceans meet. There we enjoyed breakfast on the wooden deck of the restaurant, and then wandered off, each with our own thoughts as we absorbed the view. It was a beautiful, cloudless day. The sun was hot upon my back, and everything was clear and fresh. I walked towards the sea and stood looking out over the waters. They were a deep, purplish blue. A steady swell was moving from my left to my right and, without wind, there were no white horses. Instead the sun-kissed waves sparkled as if they were reflecting all the stars of heaven. The air was heavy with a silent stillness. I stood, and watched this majestic loveliness in awe and, without thinking, said softly, “God, but it’s beautiful!”

 Deep within me a quiet, but unmistakable, voice said, “I like it too!”

I stood very still, unwilling to break the moment. It seemed as if, suddenly, Someone else was within me, and I was enabled to look out through His eyes and feel the response in His heart, as He did the same with me. It was a long and very precious moment, in which I seemed hardly to breathe, as I knew this deep and powerful oneness with God.

 Afterwards, as I looked back upon this time, I realised that I had never imagined that God could still enjoy looking over His creation. In the beginning He certainly had looked at it with approval. The Biblical, “It was good” could today, perhaps, more adequately be expressed as, “I am delighted!” I find, however, that it has changed the way that I look at things. I am a lover of beauty, and I see it all around me. Now as I look at a sunrise or sunset, clouds floating through the sky, raindrops on a leaf, or the movement of the ocean, I feel as if I am still sharing a moment with God. Indeed, it is as if He is drawing my attention to it and saying softly, “And how do you like this one?” The artist of creation, sharing His treasures with His son.

 I understand what Paul has said,

 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20)

 He shares it with us. And if His creation is filled with such beauty, how much greater  must be the beauty in the appearance, and character, of the Creator!

 “And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.”
(Gen 1:9-10)

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From a distance

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I was sent this photo with the comment “How cute is that.” Indeed it is. However I have a long established mistrust of felines and quite understand the comment that where dogs have masters cats have subjects!

So I investigated further and discovered – sure enough – that this particular breed has ‘a bite force equivalent of 133.1 which is the highest of all cats.’ Cute it may be, but definitely from a distance! And if you look into those eyes carefully enough you will discover that you are not invited to approach any closer!

However they are interesting. Known as the Arabian sand cats they are widely distributed in the deserts of North Africa and South-west and Central Asia. They exist in both sandy and stony areas and with their thickly furred feet are able to handle both extremely hot and cold temperatures – within the range of -5 degrees C to 52 degrees C. They are not as water dependent as other cats and are able to survive for months on the water in their food. They are small in size growing to between 24 and 36 centimetres (roughly 9 -14 inches) at the shoulder and weigh between 1.5 and 3.4 kilograms (roughly 3 – 7+ pounds). They are capable of sudden bursts of speed between 30-40 km per hour (19-25mph) and live in burrows – very often leading solitary lives outside of the mating season.

Dangerous they might well be but they are beautiful and graceful – and a part of the wonder of creation. I do enjoy just looking at the life and vitality contained in that attractive bundle of fur.

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The Living Dead

Under the large and shady trees the fallen leaves lay soft and deep – clothing the bare and silent graves with mantles of gently coloured death. The far-reaching acres were hushed and quiet. Few birds sang and no murmur intruded from the nearby traffic or passing trains.

This was the place of the dead. Soundless themselves they attracted no sound to them and their wish was respected. Beneath the leaves and turf lay their bones as most had done for the past century – and so would continue until the final trumpet called, or meddling man interfered. Yet for all the quietness there was no peace – instead a sense of wary listening, of uneasy alertness, a watching stillness.

In the open spaces between the groves of spreading trees grass grew thick and rough. Everywhere wild weeds reached up sturdy stalks armed with little black spikes. Clusters of rubbish, and scattered items that had once been clothing, indicated the presence of other residents. These were they who crept in during the darkening hours to anaesthetise themselves and sleep, if they could. Some were still in evidence and nearby a bending woman handed a sullen figure a mug of liquid, warmed over a few glowing ashes.

With the help of the caretaker we made our way through the thousands of graves, seeking the four that we had come to find. He was very good and knew the numbering system which was important as many had no headstones nor other visible form of identification. So it was with three of our ancestors. We found the sites by locating the numbers buried beneath the turf. It was scientific but not modern. Our implement looked like a bread knife with a rounded blade. Plunging it into the grass or leafy site we searched for the lump of concrete holding the numbered metal plate. It took a long time but we found the ones for which we searched. Nothing else indicated that the remains of a once living person lay beneath the grass.

When finally we left it was in a sombre and reflective mood. Our journey had been successful but we had discovered more than we had looked for or even wanted.  A neglected and forsaken cemetery, a sad and wistful place. We had been the only visitors and left behind no flowers or other mark of our visit – apart from a few areas of disturbed grass and leaves. Nowhere did we see a sign of recent visits by others. Neglected, abandoned, forsaken – even some of the headstones and statues were leaning sadly over, tiredly finding no reason to stand erect any longer. And more than a few lay shattered on the ground.

More haunting though were the living dead – hovering in their twilight zone. Once they too may have known something of life and love and laughter. Now – dead to acceptable society and not yet members of the fellowship of the fallen – they exist in a dark and frightening world which is in no hurry to let them go and which they dare not leave. 

If this world has neither Creator nor Saviour they have no hope. If it does then Someone may yet find them in the nightmare garden of their souls – Someone who has been there before them and passed through the darkness to become the Light. It is worth a prayer.

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The Speaking Skies

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I love Your clouds Lord.

These huge, tumbled masses
that sail majestically
through the silent skies.

I look in awe at the subtle shadings,
creamy whites and pockets of grey,
rosy pinks and dusky salmon,
the towering pinnacles kissed by the sun,

and quiet valleys awaiting their dawn.

Sometimes, knowing I was watching,
a glorious, dazzling rim appears,
blinding in its brilliance,
uplifting in its beauty,
as if You  reached out
with the brush of Your finger
 and said,
“Let there be Light,
– just there.”

I love Your clouds, Lord,
Thank You so much!

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“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

(Psalm 19:1)

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Trees

The leaves have changed colour, and are drifting down outside my window. Whilst they blanket the ground their falling reveals the spreading wonder of the trees themselves. Hidden for so long the powerful white stinkwood, the elegant group of silver birches and the intertwined branches of a fig stand out against the paling sky. The wind sighs sadly through them in the night missing the rustling chuckles of the summer evenings.

 

Trees silver birchI think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair,
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

(Alfred Joyce Kilmer 1886-1918)

 

I first heard this when it was sung by Paul Robeson, with his deep almost melancholic voice. It built, slowly and powerfully, to the final line – which then came across with crystal clear finality. I have never been able to look at a tree in the same way since.

Whether covered in delicate blossoms, rippling green leaves, blazing Autumn colours, or standing bare and proud through the pale days of Winter, a tree has its own story to tell. It is a story of life, and the God of Life. A story of Yesterday and Today and Tomorrow. A story of Crucifixion and Resurrection.  A story of Hope.  A never-ending story. A story with one focus only all the days of its life – upwards, ever upwards towards God.

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(Sergeant Kilmer died, likely immediately, from a sniper’s bullet to the head near Muercy Farm, beside the Oureq River near the village of Seringes, in France, on July 30, 1918 at the age of 31)

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