Monthly Archives: February 2014

The door


Oswald Chambers arrived in the mail yesterday like an old friend. I haven’t read him for years. Not since my children were small. We reconnected in January on the internet through ’30 days with Oswald Chambers’ that I found in an App. It whet my appetite for more so I rang the store and ordered a year’s worth of his words.

I’ve devoted my mornings to sentences for five years now. They have become my passion and my delight, my space between the absent mindedness of sleep and the hectic pace of the day. Through this habit I punctuate the morning. I pause. I stop.


Some people exercise in the morning, I write. I consider sentences. I linger on words. As I ponder playfully on the pages I “organize the world into manageable units that can then be inhabited and manipulated.” This is the beauty of language according to Stanley Fish.

Today in his writing, Oswald quotes Isaiah 26:3 from the RV MARG translation of the Bible. This is a version I have never seen.

(Note to self): Search dad’s shelves to see if one is there.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose imagination is stayed on Thee.”

In my memory the word is not imagination but mind. I ponder this and decide I like ‘imagination’ so much better. It’s more apt, more descriptive of how the process of being at peace actually works. It’s the part of our brain where images are kept, our artist mind.
Without developing my artist mind I do not know how we would have survived the past five years.

To imagine God was never to deny reality. I determined early on after the diagnosis to hold an image of God firmly in my mind. I determined to imagine him physically beside me every moment. All those long nights of terror I determined to find him.

“How can you have faith in a God you cannot see?” My students ask me. “I want to believe,” they tell me, “but I don’t know what to do with the doubts.”

I know…I know…I understand this more than they realise. So how can I transfer my knowledge of God in order for them to see what I see?

I tell them that His word promises that we will find Him if we seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13). “If you look for me wholeheartedly you will find me” (NIV).

Imagining God, taught me to live in the all things are possible realm, to experience that his ways are higher than my ways, his thoughts than my thoughts. Through imagining God I discovered a door that had previously been hidden, kept only for special occasions.

Are you like me? Does your natural inclination go to fear? Do you look at a situation and determine all the reasons it can’t be done? Do you start out wondering why bother at all?

Do you lean in to pray, hoping for the supernatural light to shine upon you yet no matter how you wait or how tight you squeeze your eyes, the situation remains the same….daunting, overwhelming, and too hard?

Oswald reminds me that God is very practical. “He tells us to do the most ordinary things – the things we would never have imagined God was in and when we do them we find He is there.”

“Arise and eat,” the angel said to Elijah. (1 Kings 19:5)
“Rise, let us be going.” Jesus said to His disciples. (Matthew 26:46)
“Arise, shine.” God said to Jerusalem. (Isaiah 60:1)

My devotion is a combination of pausing to consider words and possibilities, then rising to believe it can be done. It is both in the imagining and in the moving that I discover the way forward.

As I leave the cafe and head to work, I perceive that God is with me. I have discovered that practical living is spiritual. It is not all inspiration and angelic visitations though those things are helpful. The answers come when I ask questions. When I knock, I find the door is open. As I seek I continue to find and so it begins…another day.

What about you? How do you manage those crazy thoughts?


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How a stranger saved Sam’s life

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Sometimes life turns around in your fingers like a roll of tape. You can’t find where to begin. You’ve started before, it’s not like you don’t know how to do this. But somehow, no matter how hard you concentrate or how slowly you turn that roll, or how close you bring it to your eyes, the end has gone.

You are calm to begin with. Not in a hurry. You’ve convinced yourself the end is there. You’ve studied the roll from the cross section and the layers are thick and promising. So you turn it again, more focus this time and you change your strategy. Instead of the soft, intuitive touch of your finger tip, you decide to use the edge of your nail.You hope that you’ll find the ridge that isn’t visible to the natural eye and that your nail will catch. You’ll find that end which becomes the beginning and once again you will be able to move forward, or create, or get something done.

Then when you find it, you pull. Full of hope, you make a plan that you will mark the spot, fold the tape, or hang it strategically from the edge of the bench. You won’t let it waste this much of your time again.You have places to go and things to do. Yet while you are still making that plan life takes you by surprise. The tape has taken an unexpected turn. It’s not one delightful, rectangular piece of scotch tape. Even though this time you were ready for things to work, you find yourself holding a pathetic little triangular piece no good for anything. You are no longer calm.

“Argh,” you groan with frustration. “Why does this only happen to me?”

You look at this scrap that you hold.

“Typical.” You whisper under your breath.You were so close but now the end must be found again. You start to think of all the people who manage their life so well. You wonder why it works for them or how you can know their secret.

You pause for a moment and wonder. Is there any way you can make do with this shapeless strip for a while? Is this all there is? Should you just settle, try to be happy?

“Lean not on your own understanding.” A whisper comes from behind and you turn to meet His eyes. “May I?” He asks taking the roll from your hands. Then he pulls a book from his jean pocket. “Yours!” He says, with a smile. You remember that it was written that all your days were recorded. (Psalm 139:16)

Without words He shows you the pages; events you recognise but had forgotten. Some drenched in pain, some filled with joy. You smile remembering the things you’ve come through. You notice the layout of moments, some are perfectly positioned and framed, while others are bound to the pages with wads of thick tape. You run your finger over these.

“What happened here?” You ask and He reminds you of a former frustration, when you took matters in your own hands, extracting the tape from the roll with scissors rather than patiently letting things flow.

“I was with you then as well,” He tells you, “but you gave me no permission to intervene.”

Then there are events you don’t recognise. He flicks over these not letting you really see.

“When was that?” You ask Him.

“The steps I ordained while you make plans. (Proverbs 16:9) These are my plans for your future, full of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Your life is in my hands. (Psalm 31:15) May I help you with it?” He says returning the book to his pocket.

“Hidden for you, not from you!” (Deuteronomy 29:29) He smiles handing back the roll.


As you pause and think on this you see that you coffee has gone cold, that time has past and you must be getting to work.

Alas…He has made everything perfect in it’s time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

“No goals this year, just trust…learn to be effortless.” You say.

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