May 24, 2013


I've lost count of how many times I've watched "The Freedom Writers" DVD as I use it in my groups and see it twice every term. That has been for a whole lot of years now!

It never ceases to impact me significantly, and remind me that when our focus changes, the story of our life takes on a whole new aspect.  In the film Meib Gies, who hid Ann Frank and her family from the Nazis during the Second World War, speaks of what she did as simply doing 'the right thing'.  She says that each of us, whatever our place in life, "can turn on a small light in a dark room".

It challenges us to ask God what dark room He wants to shine His light into through us.  The place He knows it is needed most.  But most of all, it challenges us to hold that focus every day of our lives, wherever we find ourselves in that particular day.

Whether in our work place, or on our knees, as we turn our hearts towards God He is able to shine through us.  Many are waiting for the glorious moment and the great call, but He is waiting for the obedient heart, open eyes and ears, to do the simple thing that will make a difference.  It brings a childlike wonder at what God can do, and each day becomes a treasure box in which we collect His surprises.

This week has been full of lovely things, but a couple stand out quite starkly.  Last week in one of the groups I noticed a young woman with her face practically on the paper as she wrote.  This week she was given some magnifying glasses from the chemist with cute frames and wore them for the whole group, this time writing at a normal distance from the paper - she was so joyful.  Another woman wrote about 20 pages in her journal about her life and wanted to share it.  The story breaks your heart, but her new determination to move forward and make a great life for she and her daughter is driven by her own terrible childhood.  She has begun to take solid steps in that direction and feels empowered by them, and in writing her story has recognised her own courage.

My God continues to stand at the right hand of the needy ones, and He needs many more lights to walk onto the lamp stands He has prepared so that He can shine ever more brightly there.

This is not about overseas mission trips, several weeks of having our comfort zones messed with, and then returning to the status quo and getting on with our lives, maybe changed a little in our heart and thinking.  This is about taking His hand and walking out into the places near our own homes that are screaming for love and healing, and trusting Him to supply everything we need to be with Him there for the rest of our lives if necessary.

“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.' And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!”
― Minnie Louise Haskins

May 03, 2013


"The desert was created simply to be itself, not to be transformed by men into something else.  So too the mountain and the sea.  The desert is therefore the logical dwelling place for the man who seeks to be nothing but himself - that is to say a creature solitary and poor and dependent upon no-one but God, with no great project standing between himself and his Creator...............So the man who wanders into the desert to be himself must take care he does not go mad and become the servant of the one who dwells there in a sterile paradise of emptiness and rage."  Thomas Merton "Thoughts in Solitude".

I awoke this morning thinking about the desert and the place I've lived with You Lord these past 10 years or so (it honestly doesn't seem that long!).  Lately I've really questioned why my heart and head constantly seek for spaces of quietness and rest - it is 'holiday' in my head, but really You in my heart.  The question has been 'have I gone mad or begun to serve a different master?'

Today I feel encouraged that to save me from both those things, You have given me the work of serving and loving the poor and oppressed.  You have blessed me with them, they have been my help and salvation in this desert place and You intended it all along.

A light just went on in a place that was growing dim!  Maybe I've now learned one of the lessons You intended me to?

Now I will let my heart go wandering in the desert with You, and learn to lean on You in new ways, and my head will cease to be troubled by the desire to do so.  Thank You.

"This then is our desert  to live facing despair, but not to consent.  To trample it down under hope in the Cross.  To wage war against despair unceasingly.  That war is our wilderness.  If we wage it courageously, we will find Christ at our side.  If we cannot face it, we will never find Him". T.M.