Lunch Next Week?

Lunch Next Week? - Deborah MurrellI am a planner.  I love to plan and then execute the plan.  It makes me so happy to sit down at the beginning of every week and plan the week, fit all the puzzle pieces in the plan.

Sometimes the week goes according to schedule.  Most of the time, I have to make many adjustments along the way due to unforeseen interruptions.

As I was reading this morning, I was struck by the fact that as Jesus was preparing to go the cross, he made a plan to see His disciples again.  He told them He would see them again in Galilee   even though He knew that they were about to encounter great difficulty and fall away.

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  Then Jesus said to them, “you will all fall away because of me this night.  For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.  But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”  Peter answered him, “Though they all  fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”  Jesus said to him, “ Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”  Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!”  And all the disciples said the same.  – Matthew 26:30-35
Jesus knew they would fall away.  He knew Peter would too.  They didn’t want to.  That wasn’t their intention, but He knew they would.  But He told them, “I will go before you to Galilee.”  He knew they would fall away, yet He told them He would see them again in Galilee. He still wanted to see them again. He told them to plan on it.
I think there is a lot of Peter in me.  I have great intentions.  I never want to deny Jesus or fail to grow in my relationship with Him or dishonor Him in any way.   It is my intention to show up every morning to read my Bible and pray.  But I don’t show up sometimes.  Or I do show up and I am easily distracted with so many things.  So I give up and close my Bible and move on with my day.  Unfaithfulness at its finest.  Yet Jesus is always faithful.  He keeps our date.  He loves me and forgives me even when I don’t show up.  And He welcomes me back when I do.  Who can really understand a love so great?
Oh the wonder of such undeserved grace and love and mercy.  May I never take it for granted.  I pray it always leaves me in awe and yearning for more.  And I pray that I will be faithful to the One who loves me most.

The Sun and the Moon and the Stars (South African Bush- Day 3)

The Sun and the Moon and the Stars - Deborah MurrellI love taking Josephine, our almost three-year-old granddaughter, out to the car at night.  Before I can put her in the car, she looks up and and says “See the moon.  See the stars.”  She does this every time.  I usually take the time to look up with her and marvel at God’s magnificent creation.  I hope she never fails to marvel and be amazed at the majesty of such a sight.

We were recently in the South African bush for a few days, and the skies lit up every night with such brilliance.  And since we were in the Southern hemisphere, we could see different constellations there that we don’t see here in the Northern hemisphere.  They can’t see our Big Dipper.  Or the Little Dipper- the ones I have seen my whole life.   We can only see the Southern Cross when we are there. Wow!!! Absolutely amazing.

Oh those skies at night…unforgettable.  The few days that I spent in the bush, I read and reread Genesis 1 and the story of creation.  I marveled all over again at  the creative genius of God.

Genesis 1:14-19 tells us that on the fourth day of creation, God made the sun and the moon and the stars–the sun to rule our days and the moon our nights–to separate the light from the darkness and “let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years.” God gave us the sun and the moon and the stars to light up our days and our nights and give rhythms to our lives with seasons and days and years.

Father, I pray that we will all stop to marvel when the stars come out at night.  Help us not to ignore or take for granted the incredible gift of these lights that shine brightly for all the world to see.  And  when  the sun rises each morning, may we stop and thank you for this great light that you’ve given to rule our days.  May our hearts be filled with praise and gratitude to the One who created all things.

Beauty in a Barren Land (South African Bush, Day 2)

I love thinking about creation–about how God created the heavens and the earth and all things. As we drive around this very barren land, over to the left there are two bull elephants. We sit for a while and watch the larger one scratch his back on the bark of the tree. We then watch him push over a tree and proceed to eat branches that look like they are dead. Such powerful, majestic creatures.

A few minutes later, there are two male lions resting in the shade. We stop for coffee and here come the white rhinos–a mother and her calf.  We saw a troupe of baboons and a herd of wildebeests and too many varieties of antelope to keep up with. And oh the birds, the colors too vivid and beautiful to even describe.  I think that is why God made the birds on a different day than He made the animals–He needed time to paint them one by one.

As we continued our drive, we saw a beautiful lilac breasted roller-the most photographed bird in the Kruger National Park. She was  perched on top of a very dead, lifeless tree. I may not have seen it as well if it were perched in a lush green one.So much beauty in spite of the barrenness of the land. Perhaps that is why God allows for barren times in our lives-to bring forth beauty that can really stand out, beauty that can only be from Him.  Maybe we are like those birds–lovelier still in the midst of dry times as we are allowing God to work in our lives and strip us of all that resists Him and teaching us to rely on Him in greater ways than we ever thought possible.

Father, thank You for Your creation, for times and seasons, and for the great work You are doing in our lives.

Let It Rain! (South African Bush, Day 1)

This week we have the privilege of taking a few days off in the bush of South Africa.  There is currently a drought and it is so dry and barren as you look across the wide open spaces.  Rain is expected in  a few days and if it rains enough, it will turn green within a few short days.

Makes me think about my soul. Sometimes we feel like we are in a long dry spell where drought-like conditions prevail.  Perhaps we are too busy, too tired, overworked, overwhelmed, financially strapped, anxious and the list goes on and on.  All of these can create drought in our spiritual lives.  We read the Bible but it just seems like words on a page rather than God speaking to our hearts.  We pray but don’t feel anything at all. Yet if we persist the rain will come.

Just as the rain will come to the bush here in South Africa and refresh the earth and the rivers and all the living creatures, so in its season we will once again experience the refreshing presence of the Holy Spirit speaking to us as we read the Word and pray.  We must be faithful to be available, to make the time every day and come to Jesus.  And trust that in due time, the rain will come, the drought will end and our souls will be refreshed and restored once again.