Transitory

Two versions of the same thing:

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message)

Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]! So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (AMP)

With Christ it’s no longer a ‘this, too, shall pass’ – along the lines of Ecclesiastes – but a ‘this changes; I change’ by the grace of our dear Saviour. I’ve always loved the word ‘ephemeral’. It’s a cool word. It means that something is fleeting, changing, short-lived. But it always brings to mind the image of a butterfly, and then the word ‘ethereal’ seems to be intimately connected.

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How can I say no to this ephemeral, ethereal thing called Life?

Weak, Strong; Broken, Whole

“What is my strength that I should wait?

And what is my end, that I should be patient?

Is my strength the strength of stones,

or is my flesh bronze?

In truth I have no help in me,

and any resource is driven from me.”

Job cries out to God, Job 6:11-13 (NRSVA)

Three times I appealed to the Lord about [my suffering], that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me… for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

My dear mother-in-law is very poorly. She had a stroke at the weekend. It’s touch and go, as they say. When my sister-in-law visited yesterday my MIL was extremely distressed and crying out to God. Praise God she is a woman of faith! But dementia can be very cruel. It steals everything you have. When I read the words from Job this morning as part of my daily Bible time, I was immediately struck by how apt they were. Despite the extreme distress of my MIL (which is heart-wrenching because there is no way to offer consolation when a person has no memory, no way to comfort, no way to reassure) it is an honour to know a woman who, when all else is gone, has a faith that cries out to her Redeemer. God help us all.

In my distress I called upon the LORD,

to my God I cried for help.

From his temple he heard my voice,

and my cry to him reached his ears.

Psalm 18:6

 

God is good. God is always good.

Reblog: A Well Ordered Exterior

Beautiful post. May we all desire less ‘me’ and more ‘You’, and may we all become more fully ourselves in the process. When I was a child these were the people I called ‘the shiny people’. I want to be one of the shiny people.

You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 (WEB)

Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2 (WEB)

Amen. Do read the post below from Ben over at Contemplative in the Mud. His quiet wisdom regularly floors me and lifts me up at the same time.

Contemplative in the Mud

Many of the effects of contemplation, like all Christian prayer, involve setting up storage in Heaven (Mt 6:20). They concern the Church and the world at large.

On the other hand, another of the effects of contemplation is to reorganize and reintegrate our whole person. The human being who prays becomes rooted more totally and absolutely in Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and these Three impart a new order and organization to everything about him or her.

That includes the body.

Contemplation is something that happens to persons who are, as we say today, embodied. Perhaps it would be more accurate to note that the body is in the soul (as Saint Hildegard says), but regardless of the way we phrase things, it is true that any reorganization, reintegrating, and reordering of our whole person will involve a reorganization, reintegrating, and reordering of our body

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Reasons to be Cheerful


Yesterday Fluff played volleyball after school and hurt her thumb. She managed to cycle home and then drooped listlessly into the kitchen where I was baking. The nearest Accident & Emergency is about 20 miles away, so there was no question of Frank taking her. Driving is something I find really tiring, but I managed to get her there. We waited for two hours before she had an x-ray, then waited another half hour to be told there was no fracture, it was just a soft tissue injury. The kindly doctor advised me to keep her dosed up on paracetamol and ibuprofen. We didn’t get home until gone 9. I was shattered and went straight to bed.

As we were driving home I was trying to distract Fluff from the throbbing thumb. I asked her to list 10 things for which she is thankful. This is what she came up with:

1. A nice mummy to take me all the way to the hospital even though I didn’t break anything this time – not like poor Cassie at school who has been taken into foster care 😦

2. A nice bed to sleep in.

3. Always enough food, and always good food.

4. Moving house soon!

5. A daddy who works very hard so that we can have a new house (this might have been prompted by mummy…)

6. Going to a good school.

7. Friends at school.

8. The beautiful sunset (one advantage of children hurting themselves in the summer is that the drive home was still in daylight).

9. Having a lucky sister! We shared a smile over this one. Chip won a ‘design an Easter egg’ competition. She drew a lovely sunset and three empty crosses in silhouette, with underneath an angel shouting ‘He’s alive!’. Then last week she won a prize draw I didn’t even know about. Apparently if you re-enrol at the sports centre you are automatically entered into a raffle and Little Miss Charms-her-way-through-life won a huge sack full of garden games, just in time for the summer!

10. Living in England where it’s nice because you’re able to go to the hospital whenever you need it and it’s free.

 

I was proud of her for this little list – and more so of the fact that, once we were home, the pain seemed to have lessened… or maybe she just realised how thankful she is.

The latter parallels my own experiences. For me, if the negative thoughts begin spiralling in my head and I can’t stop them, thinking of all I have to be thankful for is a great way to extinguish those ‘fiery darts’. Being thankful and expressing thanks to God is a way of holding firmly to my faith, just as Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians. He knew the Christian life is not easy, and he knew that faith gives hope and hope enables us to carry on, even when we have nothing left but faith.

<aside: Incidentally, I wonder if  this is what is known by contemplatives as the ‘dark night of the soul’? The moment when, after a long struggle, all I have left is faith?>

Frank said only yesterday how far I have come, despite still waiting for treatment for PTSD. I have grown so much stronger over these past few years – and this is not a strength of my own, but my ultimate weakness surrendered to God. It’s not my strength. This is grace.

 

‘…be strong — not in yourselves but in the Lord… Put on God’s complete armour so that you can successfully resist… For our fight is not against any physical enemy… We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world… Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God [so] that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you.’

Ephesians 6:10-17 (JB PHILLIPS)

Even when we have to fight to a standstill – till our last breath, our last drop of strength before exhaustion hits – we still have God. The love of God never fades. The love of God defeats all evil. Thank you, Lord. You turn every last thing on its head. Hallelujah!