For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.
From Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market
From Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market
Francis Thompson (1859-1907)
It's strange how our minds dwell on the past, or jump ahead into the future -- often with great negativity -- when right NOW is the only time we can be sure of. We put off living, and the present slips away -- wasted -- and is gone forever.
This reminds me of Canadian physician Sir William Osler's address to students at Yale University in 1913 -- he told them to live in "day-tight compartments", similar to the water-tight compartments that keep ships afloat (remember Titanic?). Osler urged that "you so learn to control the machinery as to live with 'day-tight compartments' as the most certain way to ensure safety on the voyage... Touch a button and hear, at every level of your life, the iron doors shutting out the Past -- the dead yesterdays. Touch another and shut off, with a metal curtain, the Future -- the unborn tomorrows. Then you are safe -- safe for today! Shut off the past! Let the dead past bury its dead... The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today, makes the strongest falter. Shut off the future as tightly as the past... The day of man's salvation is now" (Way of Life, William Osler).
"Live neither in the past nor in the future," Dr Osler said, "but let each day absorb all your interest, energy and enthusiasm. The best preparation for tomorrow is to live today superbly well".
Dr Osler also had a beautiful poem written by the classical Sanskrit writer Kālidāsa on his desk called Salutation to the Dawn:
Look to this day! The bliss of growth, Look well, therefore, to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Such is the salutation of the dawn.
The bliss of growth,
Look well, therefore, to this day!
So again, THIS is the day the LORD has made, let us REJOICE and BE GLAD IN IT!
Some time ago, a lovely lady I got to know via Flickr introduced me to Christ Notes. The cool thing about the site is that it has a "Daily Bible Verse", as well as "Weekly Wisdom". You can even sign up to have these emailed to you regularly (but for some reason, it's not working for me and so I have to keep visiting the site). This week's "Weekly Wisdom" is great -- press on everyone!
If God took you to it, He'll get you through it
Exodus 14 records the story of how the Hebrews escaped from bondage and slavery in
You have probably faced times when you thought that you could never do something, never complete a particular task, or never make it to the finish. However, if God has promised you something, then you can be confident that God will get you through the difficult times in order to bring about his promise.
This is true in Joseph's life. God took him through years of pain and suffering for an ultimate benefit; Joseph realizes this and, in Genesis 50:20, says, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." God had a bigger plan for Joseph's life, and God didn't let him down. God led Joseph through his struggles.
This principle is also true in your life. Even though you may be going through extremely painful times, do not fear for God will get you through the hard times you face (see Psalm 23:4). If God took you to it, He'll get you through it.
From Christ Notes' Weekly Wisdom
If I had my life to live over, I'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
I'd relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances. I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I've had my moments and if I had it to do over again, I'd have more of them.
In fact, I'd try to have nothing else.
I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
* * * * * * *
The part that especially struck me was that she said she would choose to have nothing else but "moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day".
He drew me up out of a horrible pit [a pit of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay (froth and slime), and set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings.
And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord.
Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who makes the Lord his refuge and trust, and turns not to the proud or to followers of false gods. (Ps 40:1-4)BLESS (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!
Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits--
Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle's [strong, overcoming, soaring]! (Ps 103:1-5)
PRAISE THE LORD! He has delivered me YET AGAIN! Yes yes yes -- what time I am afraid, I WILL remember His wondrous goodness and loving-kindness to me, and His faithfulness to deliver me!
The past week was so challenging for me to say the least. I prayed and prayed throughout each and every day for God to help me overcome the spirit of fear, and to remind me that He is faithful to deliver. Indeed, when I look over my life I do see how God is faithful and merciful to me without fail, and how abundantly blessed I am, but I guess it's a human weakness, or my weakness, to forget that and panic whenever life throws out something apparently negative. But everything in life is subject to change, everything except God.
As I grow older, I find I have to come to terms with my frail human frame and my mortality. We have a vague notion of it when we are young, we think we are not afraid, but in actuality we never truly accept that we are not invincible. Then one day we are middle-aged and we gradually realise that we are subject to decay, and that our joy has to come from God and from within, and not be reliant on the external world or circumstances. The importance of truly living in the now, living each day to its fullest, suddenly becomes clearer than it has ever been. Yet it's strange, or sad, how, as I come to grasp this truth, I also seem to have become more anxious, more worried, than I ever was in my "younger days".
But as Jesus said, "... stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life?" (Matt 6:25-27, Amplified Bible)
Like any frail human however, I am still miserably subject to my worries and fears, despite the fact that I know that God is my omniscient, omnipotent, all-powerful, Almighty father, that He is always with me, that He is my hope, my strength and my deliverer. I see that I need to more than just know this -- I need to know that I know that I know. It's like a muscle that I need to exercise regularly, a habit I have to build up, till one day I find that it is truly natural and instinctive in me to truly "cast my cares" on Him, and confidently trust to His mercy, goodness and love. I need to accept too, that no one is in control of their life, but that it is enough to know the One Who is. And in order to know God, we have to spend time with him, LOTS of time, and do our best to live our lives according to His commandments, for "the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6).
And so, as happens when we are panicky and fearful, I prayed and prayed with all my might, with heart and soul as bared as they could be. I prayed for strength and for deliverance, and I also prayed for comfort -- and in the midst of my distress, I suddenly did hear that "still, small voice". It said, "Psalm 56". (Now I must admit I've never been much of a psalm reader, and beyond the obvious ones like the 23rd, I don't know them very much at all (there are 150??). So really, hearing "Psalm 56" was like something just sort of dropping out of the sky. I even paused and asked, "Did you say Psalm 56 or 53?". Which was when I actually saw, in a visual way, the words "Psalm 56". So of course I'm like, okaaay... I'll go read that. And I'm so so glad I did:
BE MERCIFUL and gracious to me, O God, for man would trample me or devour me; all the day long the adversary oppresses me.
2They that lie in wait for me would swallow me up or trample me all day long, for they are many who fight against me, O Most High!
3What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You.
4By [the help of] God I will praise His word; on God I lean, rely, and confidently put my trust; I will not fear. What can man, who is flesh, do to me?
5All day long they twist my words and trouble my affairs; all their thoughts are against me for evil and my hurt.
6They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they watch my steps, even as they have [expectantly] waited for my life.
7They think to escape with iniquity, and shall they? In Your indignation bring down the peoples, O God.
8You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle -- are they not in Your book?
9Then shall my enemies turn back in the day that I cry out; this I know, for God is for me.
10In God, Whose word I praise, in the Lord, Whose word I praise,
11In God have I put my trust and confident reliance; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
12Your vows are upon me, O God; I will render praise to You and give You thank offerings.
13For You have delivered my life from death, yes, and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life and of the living.
I cannot begin to describe how much this uplifted me, reassured me, helped me to press on, to "do it afraid" -- reminded me that YES! God IS faithful to deliver. And it's true -- HE DID DELIVER ME YET AGAIN. O Lord, help me to remember this every time I must confront my fears, remembering as David did when he had to confront Goliath, how in the past the Lord had helped him slay a lion and bear.
And even now, as I still struggle with my fearful thoughts, I will declare, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Father in Heaven who lovest all,
Oh, help Thy children when they call;
That they may build from age to age
An undefiled heritage.
Teach us to bear the yoke in youth,
With steadfastness and careful truth;
That, in our time, Thy Grace may give
The Truth whereby the Nations live.
Teach us to rule ourselves alway,
Controlled and cleanly night and day;
That we may bring, if need arise,
No maimed or worthless sacrifice.
Teach us to look in all our ends
On Thee for judge, and not our friends;
That we, with Thee, may walk uncowed
By fear or favour of the crowd.
Teach us the Strength that cannot seek,
By deed or thought, to hurt the weak;
That, under Thee, we may possess
Man's strength to comfort man's distress.
Teach us Delight in simple things,
And Mirth that has no bitter springs;
Forgiveness free of evil done,
And Love to all men 'neath the sun!
(From Rudyard Kipling's The Children's Song)
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 18:1-3).
The poor quaking little monkey replied: "You are of course -- no one is mightier than you."
A little while later this tiger confronts a deer, and just bellows out: "WHO IS THE GREATEST AND STRONGEST OF ALL THE JUNGLE ANIMALS?"
The deer is shaking so hard it can barely speak, but manages to stammer: "O great tiger, you are by far the mightiest animal in the jungle."
The tiger, being on a roll, swaggered on up to an elephant who was quietly munching on some weeds, and roared at the top of his voice: "WHO IS THE MIGHTIEST OF ALL THE ANIMALS IN THE JUNGLE?"
Well, this elephant grabs the tiger with his trunk, picks him up, slams him down; picks him up again, and shakes him until the tiger is just a blur of orange and black, and finally throws him violently into a nearby tree.
The tiger staggers to his feet and looks at the elephant and says: "Man, just because you don't know the answer, you don't have to get so mad".
Thus, if there are afflictions, there are also comforts: great consolations, great chastisements. There is a comforter, and there is a chastener. Every man must taste of death: every man must taste of life. It shall not be all bitter nor all sweet for any. It shall be life. The unseen ministers of a stupendous equity have their eyes and their hands about every man’s portion; ‘as it is written, he that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.’
It is the same earth for all; the same earth for the dead, great and small; dust to dust. The same earth for the living. ‘Thorns, also, and thistles shall it bring forth,’ and God provides the flowers too.(J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Wylder's Hand)