Posts Tagged ‘autumn’

“Like the Falling of a Leaf”

December 1, 2019

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By now most of the leaves have fallen and as I stroll along the country lane behind our home I watch the different scenarios in which leaves fall. Depending on the weather, some are blown swiftly far away in high winds, while others quietly flutter to the ground even when there is no breeze. As I gaze over the countryside, in the distance I can see the blue horizon of the cold sea, but nearer still are the ploughed fields which only a few months ago were full of golden barley. It seems like only yesterday that towering bales of gold were all over that field. How methods of farming have changed! These days massive equipment is taken into the field to complete the harvest. No longer do we “bind sheaves” by hand.
These reflections on swiftly passing seasons with “falling leaves” and “binding of sheaves” reminds me of William J. Kirkpatrick’s hymn “Life at Best is Very Brief.” Born in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1838 and later living in U.S.A., this hymn writer made a significant contribution to hymnody. Amongst these are “A Wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord;” “Away in a Manger,” “I am not skilled to understand,” “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,” “Redeemed” etc. But it is “Life at Best is Very Brief” which has been in my thoughts recently. A convicting hymn, it speaks of “being in time.” Whether we are in the spring, summer, autumn or winter of our lives, life has taught me with some very hard lessons that we have no idea what lies “around the corner.” I thank the Lord that I trusted Him all those years ago and He has been my constant and loving companion through it all. As I watch individuals who are going through stormy episodes in life, I long for them too, to have that “peace which passeth all understanding.” That peace is available to all who repent of their sins and put their trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.
I have seen a great tree with glorious leaves one sunny day, reduced to a stark silhouette against a gloomy sky the next… and so it is with life. We must be in time! Perhaps William Kirkpatrick’s lovely old hymn says it best…

Life at best is very brief,
Like the falling of a leaf,
Like the binding of a sheaf,
Be in time!
Fleeting days are telling fast
That the die will soon be cast,
And the fatal line be passed, –
Be in time!

Be in time…….be in time……
While the voice of Jesus calls you,
Be in time!
If in sin you longer wait,
You may find no open gate,
And your cry be just too late,
Be in time!

Fairest flowers soon decay,
Youth and beauty pass away,
Oh, you have not long to stay,-
Be in time!
While the Spirit bids you come,
Sinner, do not longer roam,
Lest you seal your hopeless doom,-
Be in time!

Time is gliding swiftly by,
Death and judgement drawing nigh,
To the arms of Jesus fly,-
Be in time!
Oh, I pray you, count the cost,
‘Ere the fatal line be crossed,
And your soul in hell be lost!-
Be in time!

Sinner, heed the warning voice,
Make the Lord your final choice,
Then all heaven will rejoice,-
Be in time!
Come from darkness into light,
Come, let Jesus make you right,
Come, and start for heaven to-night,
Be in time!

Our Little Pet Hedgehog – and a Spiritual Lesson

November 13, 2012

One late summer evening our elderly cat was sniffing curiously around some creature which was sitting at the back door. At first we thought that it was a rat… but then thankfully discovered that it was a little hedgehog! At that first sighting he ambled away like a small spiky ball rolling down the garden path. This autumn we have succeeded in taming both him and two stray starving cats – ‘Mini’ (barely more than a kitten) and ‘Maxi,’ (a white and grey Tom) with a view to getting the cats good homes. Meanwhile the hedgehog has been bullying the cats away from their saucers of food, while our cat has become angry and insecure about all the attention her fellow mammals are getting.

The chorus to one of my favourite hymns as a child is:

“All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.”

Yes, He made them all and I have a special love for them all! I also believe that there are many spiritual lessons to be learned from animal behaviour. At first the little hedgehog would run away from us and hide his head behind something; because he couldn’t see us, he assumed that we couldn’t see him. There is a widespread philosophy in Christian circles that ‘God cannot see us in our sin, if we have committed our lives to Him.’ While the ostrich buries its head in the sand and other creatures hide their heads in other ways, of course they can still be seen. The Bible tells me: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1John 2v1) Note the word ‘if’ here and not ‘when.

After Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden, we are told that they “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3v8) But of course God knew exactly where they were and what they had done, even though He called out: “Where art thou?” (v9)

The ‘hiding your head’ philosophy also ties in with the commonly held viewpoint that ‘all our sins (past/present/future) are forgiven, when we commit our lives to the Lord.’ Where in scripture am I told this?

Another statement which is nowhere to be found in scripture is: ‘We sin in thought, word and deed every day.’

There is no doubt that when I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour that all the sins of my previous life outside of Him were forgiven, because I had repented of them and turned to Him in faith, asking for His forgiveness. However, what of future transgressions? Surely no sin is forgiven – unless it is acknowledged, confessed and repented of?

A third statement which I have heard from a pulpit in recent years is that there are ‘saved sinners’ and ‘lost sinners.’ Nowhere in God’s Word are those who know Him referred to as ‘saved sinners.’

Psalm 1 sets the standard for those who are His followers: Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” (Verse 5)

I am aware of situations at this very moment where those who claim to be Christians are living in deep sin. The Lord Jesus Christ is returning, perhaps very soon. Like His children, all of “creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” for His return. (Romans 8v22) However, unlike the innocent animal kingdom who have nothing to fear from His return, the members of the human race must be ready for Him. We must not be under the illusion that God cannot see us in our sin and will disregard it, because of some past commitment we have made.

Just recently our little hedgehog has gone into hibernation. He had made adequate provision for the possibly harsh winter ahead, by consuming as much nutrition as possible during the summer and early autumn. We too need to be adequately nourished and built up by God’s Word – reading and digesting His message to us and being comforted by His Presence as the days grow darker, colder and hungrier spiritually speaking. However seemingly impossible your situation, He can lift you out of it, if you but only depend on Him alone to help you. Remember – He loves you, means you no harm and He wants to feed you spiritually. We can never depend on the words, philosophies and sayings of mankind when it comes to Judgement Day – but we can depend on God’s Word and on Him “That is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude v24)

November’s Doom and Gloom and Ireland’s Economic Disasters – but “Look Up!”

November 25, 2010

November can be a bleak month when lengthening shadows cast a gloom on the cold earth and autumn’s gold is facing certain death. I took a walk today away from the things that threaten to burden me – and to be alone with the Lord. Usually nature ‘lifts me’ but today it didn’t. The trees are almost skeletal now and yesterday I had discovered a young pigeon which had been shot and seriously injured. It sat alone, shaking in the cold hard furrows of the field; I knew that it was so seriously injured, that there was nothing I could do for it and so I left it there, wishing that somehow it would recover. ‘Why does mankind feel the need to kill everything?’ I had asked myself. Today I learned that the pigeon had been cruelly killed and I thought about the wonderful truth that God is aware of even a sparrow falling to the ground. (Matthew 10v29) As I listened to more news on the radio about economic doom and gloom here in Ireland, I also thought about what an ugly world we live in, with corruption at every level. Surely the weak and the vulnerable are cruelly exploited? In the middle of the recent gloom I received a call from someone, telling me that their neighbour had attempted suicide…

Then tonight I saw a great beautiful amber moon rise above the dark shadowy fields and I reminded myself that the sun is always up there too – even on the darkest, most depressing days of winter! With this in mind I suddenly remembered a little poem that I had written some years ago now, based on my own feelings of despondency at the time Furthermore, I also remembered my recent reading in Genesis… “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1v4)

That “God divided the light from the darkness” is truly significant and a recurring theme throughout scripture. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1John 1v5) Thank God for “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1v9-13) Praise God for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power to lift us out of any situation to new heights of joy in Him! If our happiness is solely dependant upon the material things of this life – we will be so miserable. Yes, it is possible to feel despondent on occasions but for those who know the Lord (and I tell myself this too) our eyes should look above and beyond the darkest night, for we have a sure light “that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2Peter 1v19)

 

Look Up! 

When you are despondent

Do not dwell upon the loss,

Look ever unto Jesus

And cling to the cross.

When all around

Seems bleak as darkest night –

Look beyond the clouds

For that Eternal Light.

This world’s pain and glory

Will soon pass away,

From the black of midnight 

To the dawn of Heaven’s Day,

And though you are oppressed

By sin on every side,

Look upon that face of Love,

For His grace will provide.

 

                                                                                                                 Elizabeth Burke

A Tale of Two Visits…A True Story

September 29, 2010

It was the very last evening in September and dusk was descending as I knocked on the front door of the little cottage. Although I knocked several times and also on the back door, no one seemed to hear me. I knew that the lady within was very elderly and her hearing had grown dull over the years. Also, she was totally engrossed in a television programme, for I could hear it and I could see the flickering screen through the net curtains. It was a pity because I had so much to give her; apples to eat and cook and I had some encouraging good news. How I wanted her to hear me knocking!

The wind shivered through the dry leaves as I stood alone, waiting. Tomorrow would be October, reminding me of those words in Jeremiah 8v20… “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Maybe if I waited for a while or for a very long time someone would hear me and open the door, for I knew that there was someone else there – probably her son. On the other hand it could be too late, for darkness descends quickly in autumn and it was quite possible that although they heard me now, they would not answer a stranger’s knock at this time. I felt as though I had been standing for a very long time indeed and yet I did not want to give up. Inside the cottage, the muffled voices and flickering screen were unremitting, even though my knocking had grown louder and louder.

To force my way in would be unthinkable, contrary to every law and although I prayed that they would open the door, there was no response. Maybe tomorrow – but tomorrow they could be gone. As the night drew on, I knew that I must leave for I could not stand all night, persistently knocking, since the people within either did not hear me, or did not want my presence. Even if they heard me and switched off what was pre-occupying their minds – would they answer the knock?  “How dare someone call at this time,” they would say. “It’s too late. Let’s close down the blinds, draw the curtains and go to sleep for darkness is descending – they’ll go away eventually.”  Total darkness did descend upon that dwelling and then, after knocking for the last time, I sadly made my way back to the car. Just then I remembered the faces of a family that I had known some years ago, and who had been on my mind recently. “I’ll call with them instead,” I whispered to myself.

Meandering narrow lonely lanes eventually brought me to their door. Their home was unusual; a converted old mill overlooking a beautiful valley where otters and foxes run by a river. ‘No street lights here,’ I thought, and glancing up at the night sky, I could clearly see ‘the plough.’ No sooner had I rang the bell, than I could hear footsteps running down the wooden staircase to the entrance. I was instantly welcomed up to the living quarters, where a warm fire glowed in the corner.  I was beckoned to sit down, make myself at home, and soon a pot of tea was before us, and we sipped as we recalled old times. How the children had grown since I last saw them! It was good to be in touch with old acquaintances.

Coming away from that home, I at once could see the spiritual parallel of the night’s proceedings. Jesus stands knocking at the door of each heart, for He wants to fill all our hearts with His presence and He has such good things to give us! “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3v20) Jesus, who died for your sins and for mine desperately wants to gain entrance into every life in this world, but often individuals are so pre-occupied with the things of the world that they cannot hear that spiritual knock at their heart’s door. Although He may continue to knock for a very long time indeed, the time will come when that knocking will cease if there is no response. “My spirit shall not always strive with man…” (Genesis 6v3) Furthermore, tomorrow (or today) our lives as individuals could end, or Jesus may return before this. Are you ready to face Him as Judge? To miss out on His offer of salvation would be disastrous, resulting in an eternity more awful than anything we could ever imagine. But praise God, there is no need for this to happen, for if you are reading this right now and want to get right with Him – He has opened the way.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Pet. 3v9) Are you concerned about your eternal welfare? Do you still hear that knocking at your heart’s door? If so, switch off from the world’s distractions just now, and listen to what He wants you to know… “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10v10/11) “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14v6) “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8v12)

I have described my visit to two homes – one door was closed, and those within were (I am sure) unaware of my presence, but having visited that second home, I knew that I must put these thoughts into words. Whatever your problems, heartaches or spiritual standing in life He knows it all. There is no one too sinful to come to the Saviour…. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I shall in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) And there is no one so “good” that they don’t need salvation… “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) Only He can forgive us, because only He has never sinned. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v8&9) He can wash away that sin, that guilt – and He can keep us clean. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1v7)

Why not trust Him today, right now, wherever you are? You may have reached an age where you feel that you cannot change – but remember that eternity lies before you and “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14v12). I was alone when I trusted Him, and my prayer was a simple one, asking that He forgive me, and carry me from darkness into His light. You too may pray in your own sincere words of repentance, or something along the following lines…

Heavenly Father, I come to you now, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His precious blood for me at Calvary. Please come in to my heart today, forgiving me for all the wrong I have ever done. Cleanse me, and help me to live victoriously each future day in your presence. Open to me the great truths contained in your Word, the Bible, and help me to find fellowship with those who share my experience.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24&25)

© Elizabeth Burke 2007