All Aboard the Ark!

  • Post comments:1 Comment

Today has been a busy day. I know this because I’m only writing this blog post now, late in the evening, despite knowing this morning what I wanted to write. I’m sure it has been a busy day for all of you as we approach the hour of the lockdown. There are just so many things to sort out, to go and buy, family and friends to visit before not seeing them in person for nearly a month. The stores have been chaotic – so much for social distancing!

All this hustle and bustle made me think of how it must have been like for Noah and his family getting everything ready on the ark before the rains hit. Sure, it took a long time to build the ark, but the loading of the pairs of animals only happened in the 7 days before the rains fell (Gen 7:6-10). There must have been a lot of frantic activity on the ark, making sure everything was ready. Did they have enough food for all the animals? Was there enough food for the family? Did they buy enough toilet paper?!?

As the day approached, and Noah and his family thought about the long period of time they would be cooped up in the ark floating. I’m sure there was a great deal of apprehension, doubt, even fear. Scholar’s reckon that the family and all the animals spent about a year in the ark! The 40 days and nights was merely the period of constant rain and flooding. It took a long time for the waters to finally recede after they had wiped out all life on earth. In that light maybe 21 days isn’t so bad…

Here’s the amazing thing though. When the family and all the animals were on board. When the rains and floods started. It was God who closed the door, who shut them in safe and sound:

13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in, (Genesis 7:13-16).

It’s such a small detail. One we might even miss in reading the account. And yet it is worth taking special note of it. To me it speaks of God’s tender care for us, His people. God personally shut them in the ark, like a parent tucks in their child ensuring they are safe and warm. It’s reminder that we are loved by God and He will look after us. So if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the flood of all that is happening in our country, in our world. Know that God is the God who takes special care of us. He’ll “tuck us in” and keep us safe. Like Noah and his family, we should place our trust in the Lord.

 

God Bless

Graham

Continue Reading All Aboard the Ark!

Tears in a bottle

  • Post comments:2 Comments

The other day I was flicking through a few YouTube videos and came across one that was highlighting the talent of a young man on the current season of American Idol. It was an excellent performance that actually caused one of the judges to cry. What stood out to me wasn’t his transparent emotion but the fact that he felt that he needed to apologise for his tears.

And this got me thinking – why do people often apologise when they cry? Is it because they feel embarrassed or is it maybe because they feel like they are making others feel uncomfortable? I can’t remember the last time I saw someone apologise for having a good time or someone saying sorry because they were so excited about a situation they didn’t know what to do with themselves. So why do we often feel as if we need to apologize for crying?

A psychologist by the name of Sheryl Paul answers this question in the following way:

“Well, it’s not a difficult question to answer. The vast majority of my clients — and the human population — grew up with the very clear message that crying wasn’t welcome or even tolerable. “Get over it” was the message that most kids were — and still are — raised with. Because if you’re a parent who hasn’t embraced your own pain, who still views pain through the lens of shame that you absorbed when you were a child, you can’t possibly create an environment in which your child feels safe to cry.”

Crying is a natural response to painful and difficult situations and we don’t need to apologise when we become so overwhelmed we don’t know what to do other than cry – there is no shame in this action. I must admit that the impending lockdown and all its ramifications has had me quite emotional. On Monday I was on the verge of tears because I was feeling so overwhelmed and I’m sure many of you may be feeling the same way.

But do you know that our God is so great that he doesn’t turn away when we cry? He doesn’t feel uncomfortable and tell us to stop – he welcomes our tears because he loves us and cares about how we are feeling. While David was in the custody of his enemies he wrote these words in Psalm 56:8; 10-11.

8 You yourself have recorded my misery
 Put my tears in your bottle.
 Are they not in your book?

10 In God, whose word I praise,
 in the Lord, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid

We can find comfort in the fact that God remembers the pain we have gone through in this life – he doesn’t forget about a single tear we have shed. David was so confident in this fact that he used the imagery of God collecting every tear in a bottle and recording our pain in a book. And while there are still many tears for us to cry and many difficult situations to face in this life we can stand firm in the knowledge that there will come a day when tears from pain will no longer exist:

“Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away,”
(Revelation 21:3-4)

Much love,

Luke

Continue Reading Tears in a bottle

The Lockdown & Isaiah 26

  • Post comments:1 Comment

I think we all knew that it would be a big announcement that the president would be making last night, even if we hadn’t comprehended how drastic the measures might be. The prospect of the 21 day lockdown, as necessary as it is, is a daunting one. And yet, it is more the fear of the unknown and the anxiety that such restrictions produce in us that are worse than the reality of it. There will still be food available, there will still be the essential services. Many of us are blessed to have the comfortable homes in which we will now be spending a great deal of time.

Most of all, we know that God is still in charge. This is something that has been highlighted by the message that has been widely shared via social media (i.e. WhatsApp, Facebook etc.). The gist of this message is that South Africa’s lockdown begins on 26 March 2020, now somehow, someone was prompted to take the 26 of the date and the 20 of the year and refer to Isaiah 26:20 which reads:

“Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the LORD’S anger has passed,” (NLT).

I wouldn’t go building a theology or prophetic message based on this, such as, is the Coronavirus God’s judgement on the world? Or, is this the final judgement? If you want a fantastic take on these questions I can recommend a sermon Louie Giglio preached the last Sunday (Sermon Link Here). But it is encouraging to find this word linked in some way to the events unfolding in our country.

The message is that God will watch over us, as we stay in our homes and ride out this storm. He is in control. Another coincidence (or what people call a “God-incidence”) that was pointed out to me is that the end of the lockdown, 16 April is the last day of Passover this year – I double checked and this is accurate. Passover commemorates the time when God’s people were “passed over” by the angel of death as God brought judgement on Pharaoh and Egypt, their oppressors. The Israelites who had brushed the blood of the lamb sacrifice on their doorposts were kept safe in their homes. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the one who saves us, He keeps us safe.

And so, to end I want to leave you with these encouraging words elsewhere from Isaiah Chapter 26:

You will keep in perfect peace
 all who trust in You,
 all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
 for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
(Isa 26:3-4 NLT)

In a time of anxiety and fear we, God’s people, can have perfect peace in the situation. Let us trust in Him, let us keep our focus on Him and His word. He is constant. He is good. He will be the firm rock-foundation below our feet in a time of shifting change.

God Bless

Graham

Continue Reading The Lockdown & Isaiah 26