Lost and found

1 08 2012

I’ve touched on seeking God in the past few posts, now it’s time to work on the idea a bit more.

Research – that’s always a good place to start, and it delays the writing process! (Writers among you know what I’m talking about!)

I’ve looked through Old Testament references to seeking God (www.biblegateway.com makes this painless) and they seem to point to one conclusion – seeking is a wholehearted deal. It’s not for the faint hearted but for the whole hearted. And the corollary is that if we seek, we will find. (I know it sounds odd, but I have friends who appear to be seeking God, but when they some within touching distance, they back off. I can only assume that they don’t really want to find because they know that a wholehearted find would be life-changing.)

And there’s a twist to this seeking because it’s not just that we seek God, but that in Jesus, he seeks us:

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10)

So there’s a dance – realising that we need God, seeking him wholeheartedly, finding / being found by him and a wholehearted turn around.

Old Testament prophet Isaiah blends the steps together:

“Seek the Lord while you can find him.
    Call on him now while he is near.
Let the wicked change their ways
    and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
    Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.”

What an exhortation!


Theme 2012

3 01 2012

Olympics?  Diamond Julilee?  What’s the theme for 2012?

A theme is pervasive; it runs as an undercurrent, at times explicit, at times quietly in the background.  I’ve chosen one for this year, but first a little musical detour.

One of my favourite pieces of classical music is the third movement of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. The theme presented by the full orchestra and then restated three times – on solo oboe, clarinet and French horn, with a four-note descending bassoon. It’s then picked up by the whole orchestra and developed. You really have to listen!

So here’s my theme for this year, inspired by reading Isaiah 35. 

First, its solo statement  –

“The eyes of the blind will be opened.”

They’re my eyes. I easily lose my focus – on God, on others, on the things that matter most.  Often I choose blinkered vision so that I don’t see the needs of those around me; I ignore the difficult person, turn away from the hurting. I need to have my eyes opened.  It’s a solo.

But then there are other people’s eyes. I have friends who have no time for God, and I would like their eyes to be opened. This is not just so that they see things the way I do, but so that they discover for themselves that life really does work better when you live it God’s way.

Now, the full orchestra!  If only those with power and influence on the national and international stage would see how to use their gifts for good.  That would be a symphony!  If the piccolo misses a cue, or plays a bum note, it’s obvious and affects the whole piece and although my little tune may not count for much in the grand scheme of things, I do want to play it.  I need to maximise my peripheral vision.

Because I forget so easily, I have my theme on a label on my computer monitor so that I will have to close my eyes not to see it.

It could be an enlightening year and I’m excited and apprehensive in equal measure.  Where will my theme lead?  How will it develop? Who will harmonise with me?

Coming together

4 12 2011

I love when things come together, when loose ends get tied up and things that haven’t made sense click into place.  It’s a strength that Marcus Buckingham identifies as Connectedness in his book Now, discover your strengths.  Here’s a quotation to give you the flavour –

“Sometimes I look at my bowl of cereal..and think of the people who brought it to me – the farmers in the field; the biochemists who made the pesticides; the warehouse workers at the food preparation plants; even the marketers who somehow persuaded me to buy this box of cereal and not a different one sitting next to it on the shelf. I know it sounds strange, but I give thanks to these people, and just doing that makes me feel more involved with life, more connected to things, less alone.”

That’s me!


Here’s a brilliant story of connectedness. 

The Ros Tapestry Project in Ireland  (www.rostapestry.com/) has taken over ten years with a few of the 15 panels yet to go. It is a local community project, with 150 volunteers, working in shifts, to create the largest modern embroidered art in Europe.  It’s not random by any means.  The tapestries, researched and designed by Ann Griffin Bernstroff, begin as large illustrations called cartoons, and are then copied in richly coloured thread in reverse, by stitchers at a wooden frame, telling the story of the Normans coming to 12th Century Ireland and the founding of New Ross in County Wexford.  If you visit the project while people are working on it, you can contribute a stitch to the tapestry.  I’m tempted!


What got me thinking about this theme was reading a quotation in Acts that comes from the book of Isaiah…and then, as they say, I went off on one.

So back to my source.  In Acts 13:16-41 Paul explains to the synagogue congregation in Antioch about how Jesus fits into the history of the Jewish people –

“And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors, and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus.”

But that’s not the only loose end that he ties up; he goes on to quote Isaiah 49:6 and applies it to himself and his mission – ” ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’” 

Paul has that strong sense of connectedness, of being part of a bigger whole, of having a purpose beyond himself.  I wonder if that’s what kept him going in tough times, if somehow he could see that his stitches were contributing to the tapestry of God’s purposes.


New for Old

9 11 2011

One of the great advantages for modern Bible readers is that we have the New Testament, because often we need its insights to understand the Old.  This is true of the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah is a prophet whose writing is poetically infused with three themes – judgement, comfort and hope.  His writings feature someone called “My Servant” who at times is the people of Israel, and at times is an individual.

In Matthew 12, the section of Isaiah 42 about the Servant is applied to Jesus.  He is God’s chosen one who brings restoration, justice, compassion, comfort and hope…

“And his name will be the hope
      of all the world.”

Dare we believe this?


9 11 2011

Those who love Handel’s choral music will be familiar with words from the prophecy of Isaiah in the Old Testament.  Here’s a flavour for you from chapter 40:1-5:

The end of the same chapter is Isaiah’s poetry at its best.  Read and savour!

 The Lord is the everlasting God,
      the Creator of all the earth.
   He never grows weak or weary.
      No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
 He gives power to the weak
      and strength to the powerless.
 Even youths will become weak and tired,
      and young men will fall in exhaustion.
 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
      They will soar high on wings like eagles.
   They will run and not grow weary.
      They will walk and not faint.

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