(August 24, 2022) Maureen McQuillan shares some ‘wintery’ thoughts…
Each new morning the sun shines brightly and it looks so summery outside… trees and other plantings growing so well. But as I step outside to do some trimming, I shiver and rush back indoors!
Why? Because, like that old 1944 song popular with Dean Martin fans goes: ‘But, Baby, it’s cold outside!’ I haven’t been singing it but I’ve certainly been feeling it. Some mornings it’s even zero degrees or less. Brrr!
Roll on next Thursday, September 1! Why? It’s the first day of spring here! Then December 1, officially the first day of summer.
Not just the weather!
But it’s not just me looking for change… lot of people are, and I don’t mean just the weather. People are still concerned about covid and other ‘bugs’ around at this time (wise folk wear masks when mixing with others); TV news usually has more bad news than good…
- Continued Russian missile barraging of Ukraine
- Jihad danger – children being weapons trained
- Increased crime including firearm usage
- Robbery of seniors, even elderly veterans
- New health dangers
- Covid continues, with many deaths
- More young’uns catching it
- Increased hospitalisations
- Troubled ambulance systems
- Increased grocery, fuel and other costs
- Business setbacks, financial losses
- Wildfires in various countries
- Fierce weather, black ice…
- And more…
Overall peace is a current heart cry of many!
Wanted: Peace like a river
Robert and I enjoy watching Songs of Praise on Sundays… there’s something special, satisfying, refreshing and relaxing that comes on you when watching and hearing old hymns and songs worshippers sing from the heart!
I recall those old worship numbers from childhood: whether slow or lively they touched my heart (still do!). They so bring peace and comfort to one.
One is slow, but very meaningful if troubles are bothering you – it begins ‘When peace like a river…’ and goes on to assure us that even ‘when sorrows like sea billows roll’ everything will be well with our souls!
Let’s be honest here – life has its problems, even for Christians. I’ve certainly had mine and I’m sure that you’ve had your sorrows… troubles… maybe still have some. It’s good to know that we can rely on God to bring us through, as we call on His Holy Spirit to fill our hearts – our souls – with peace.
The refrain of that old 1875 hymn is precious:
‘It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.’
Mark 4:36-39 is also encouraging! A furious storm suddenly arose when Jesus was crossing the lake and His disciples were so scared! Petrified they awakened Him from sleep, and verse 39 relates that ‘He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.’
Despite the trouble around them, Jesus was with them! So He is with us when some furious storm hits! We only have to call out in prayer and He will answer in some way, simple or miraculous. Sometimes we don’t even have pray… we just know that we know that we know we’re in good hands, His hands, no matter what is going down around us.
Paul was aware of this in the perilous storm that hit the vessel he was in (Acts 27). Having heard from God, he confidently told the sailors, ‘So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God’(v25). Paul’s confidence in God emboldened him to prophesy ‘Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head’ (v34).
In due time, even though the ship was lost, everyone made it to safe ground. And Paul moved on into the next phase of his ministry, moving in the supernatural on Malta shores (Acts 28).
Are you feeling sad at this time? Aware that the world is in bad shape, that many things are not right. Does everything around you seem dark at the moment? That billowing waves are drowning you? Your ‘ship’ is in peril? That you’re stuck in some kind of rut?
That… as that song goes, it’s cold outside?
I encourage you to think as God would have you think! That He is still in charge… that your future is in His hands. Isaiah 49 was Israel’s comforting scripture! God is a big God; His hands are larger than this little illustration – they can hold and look after all of us. Through Jesus you are a spiritual child of God… read and claim verse 16a – ‘See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.’
Jeremiah 29:11 is a well-known scripture to remember at this cold, dark time too: ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ As is Isaiah 40:31, ‘But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.’
Want some New Testament scriptures to encourage you to both look ahead and move on beyond whatever may be bugging you at this time? How about hearing from Paul? He knew some cold, hard, uncertain times. See 2 Corinthians 11:27, which I’m not typing out so that you have to turn it up!
But I will type you these… Philippians 1:6, ‘And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’ And Philippians 3:14, ‘I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’
Have a hot Holy Spirit drink!
In 1 Corinthians 10:4CJB Paul reminds us of Israel’s arduous journey of life, ‘… they all drank the same drink from the Spirit – for they drank from a Spirit-sent Rock which followed them, and that Rock was the Messiah.’
And in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that ‘For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body… and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.’
First thing every morning Robert and I ask God for a fresh touch of the Spirit as He knows what’s up ahead… a fresh anointing so that not only will we be strong in ourselves, but strong to help others. A great hot drink if you like, of the blessed, all-powerful Holy Spirit.
I encourage you to take a fresh drink too! Trusting God, standing on Jesus our Rock, and refreshed by the Spirit even though it may be cold outside, we’ll be refreshed inside, ready to move ahead. One can experience a hot glow of the Spirit within that enables us to come through these cold times.
Pastor Maureen McQuillan’s link for questions and encouragements is OnlinerConnect@gmail.com
Maureen, that lovely hymn ‘It is Well‘ by Henry Spafford is still very popular here in Northern Ireland. Spafford lost his children when the ship in which they were travelling sank, his wife survived the tragedy. The music for his hymn was written by an American musician, Philip Bliss, both he and his wife died in a tragic train accident. Both Spafford and Bliss under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have left a wonderful legacy of faith in word and song on which we can focus even ‘when sorrows like sea billows roll’, or the chill of adversity touches us.