Testimony

To recount in simple terms
the unembellished truth
of the path I have walked down years;
to recall and describe the ways
You stopped me in my tracks
to redirect my steps,
relieve me of a burden
or heal a wound acquired along the way;
to speak of the times Your touch
restrained or drew me back
before my chosen route
led me to disaster;
to tell of how Your power
enabled me to do the things
far beyond my strength or inclination;
to remember with renewed wonder
Your provision for all my needs;
and then to see hearts open,
wounded souls receive hope,
saddened eyes light up
at the realisation of a Love
that only wants to give, heal, restore and bless,
to hear the shy, whispered confessions,
“Aunty I want to forgive the people
who did wrong things to me”
“Aunty I believe this story give me strength”
“Aunty I want to trust because
God will provide for me”
this makes it all worthwhile,
not just the journey of 4700 miles
to come and tell of Your deeds,
but all of it, the whole
of what You have led me through,
worth every tear, every doubt,
every moment of unexpected joy,
every puzzled misgiving
that dissolved into delighted realisation
that You knew what You were doing all along;
every second of it worthwhile
to see the One who has been
my Saviour, Guide and Friend through it all
adored and loved and worshipped
by young hearts renewed in hope.

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Hebrews 12. 18-24

Was the Father who would run,
flinging dignity to the winds
to throw His arms around a returning prodigal
ever unapproachable?
Did He, somewhere between Malachi and Matthew,
undergo a Damascene conversion?
Did Jesus really come
to rescue us from an offended God?
Or could it be those arms
were always open wide, that heart
never had anything but love
and yearning and welcome and warmth
but we saw, between us and Him,
fire and darkness and gloom and whirlwind
until the very voice of love filled us
with fear and trembling?
Like the son rehearsing over and over
as his dogged yet tremulous steps carried him home,
“Make me one of your hired servants”,
did we assume He shared our pettiness
and so rehearse our expectation of rejection
until it metamorphosed in our minds
into the hostility of God?
Could it be that Jesus came
not to rescue us from the Father
but to show in living truth before our eyes,
when He becomes incarnate,
love takes on flesh and bone, not to hire servants,
but to whisper again as to Adam,
“You are still my beloved children”?

On hearing the story of the prodigal son for the very first time


the return of the prodigal son by rembrandt

How astounding it must have been
to those first hearers of the story.
After he wished the years away,
wished his father gone and laid to rest,
his palms itching to grasp the lucre,
his mind reeling with the possibilities –
disposable means, available choices,
everything until now denied to him
in a world where every day was a fait accompli;
after he broke his mother’s heart
(why is she not mentioned in the story?
Was her grief too deep, too sacred for public sharing?)
After he squandered his children’s birthright,
and for what?  Not so much as a mess of pottage;
after he dragged his family’s name
into the literal mire of pig dung;
everyone present knew how the story would end.
And even now, I can see the jaws dropping,
The eyes widening,
The slow, delighted upward curl
of the corners of the mouths
spreading quickly into exultant incredulity.
And me, as I read again Your pièce de résistance
I find myself agape too, at how wide of the mark
my picture of the Father has been,
at how insanely recklessly He loves,
how limitless is His capacity
to bear insult and still forgive.
If this had been the only speech you ever made
It would have told us everything we need to know.

Through the filter

May I always view the world
through this one filter: Jesus.
The people You made, loved
and gave Your all for
through this one filter: Jesus.
The street dogs, the exotic birds
and the monkey now screeching
in the treetops opposite my balcony
through this one filter: Jesus.
Made for Him, to be redeemed
and restored in Him, to thrive and burgeon
under His pre-eminent Kingship.
May I see no one through my eyes of flesh,
but every wounded soul I meet,
every angry, self-entitled abuser,
through this one filter: Jesus.
Every loving heart reaching out to the hurting,
every hand held out in kindness,
no matter the creed or heritage,
through this one filter: Jesus.
Every heart created to be His throne,
every longing designed to be quenched in Him.
May I always read Your word
through this one filter: Jesus.
Every requirement of the law,
every ancient scowling prophet,
through this one filter: Jesus.
Every epistle to Your church,
every revelation of Your return,
through this one filter: Jesus.
Through the rainbow prism of Him
who is the Father’s love embodied;
through this one filter: Jesus.

Prayer of remembrance

When I look back at all Your goodness,
the path You have led me by,
how You have redeemed my mistakes,
rescued me from myself
and brought me into a place of blessing
that I know I don’t deserve,
every time I tell the tale to someone new
and remind myself You have done this,
I fall in love with You all over again,
fall at Your feet in worship
and overflow with thankfulness.

In stillness

When all the noise is silenced
and I withdraw to a place alone;
when I take the load I’ve picked up
and find a spot to lay it down;
when all the inner turbulence
ceases to hold my attention and,
for  want of heed, subsides;
when I sit in that quiet stillness
for as long as it takes,
however long it takes,
finally the dense clouds part
and  as Your breathtaking beauty
comes into focus,
the thing I notice most
is the scars in Your hands,
the price Your love was willing
to pay to rescue me.

Revelation 2.4

It’s like a nostalgic, warm aroma
curling from the baking-oven door;
like waking from a coma
to find myself at home once more;
it’s like taking from the closet
a long-forgotten overcoat
and finding in the pocket,
unexplained, a fifty pound note;
it’s like a dream of recovery
where my desires have all come true,
this longed-for rediscovery
of my first love for You.