Posts Tagged ‘beach’

Message in a Bottle – An Amazing Find!

May 5, 2017

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One fine evening recently two of my daughters were having a stroll on a local beach when suddenly they spotted what looked like a little note washed up on the shore. Clearly the bottle had broken but whoever had thrown it into the sea had made the extra precaution of putting it into a small zip-seal plastic bag. Fascinated by the contents (which were a little soggy despite the plastic bag) they proceeded to carefully peel it apart and dry it on the lid of our old Aga. Soon we had a full name and address – and the fact that the messenger was originally from Brazil and had been travelling on a cargo ship. In this era of internet, of course they were able to log in and see the very street (and house) where the person now lived… what a small world we live in!

As I watched my daughters delicately peel the pieces of the message and dry them out, I was struck by what a delicate process this was – and how long it was taking them to do it. Once dried out, the writing was fairly legible but it took a while to piece everything together. This interesting little incident brought to mind a simple spiritual parallel – God’s message to us, which is contained in His Word, the Holy Bible. Through the rough currents of the centuries, through opposition and the fact that (in this case) the forces of evil would have tried to hide it from those who needed to hear the message, it has survived – and today it is an open and clear Message for all who are willing to read it. We don’t need to go through a long process of peeling its pages apart – and we don’t need to attend a theological college, in order to understand God’s message to mankind today. Indeed, I know of a Christian who, although illiterate, has memorised much of the Bible by listening to it on CDs. If we are indwelt by His Spirit, sincerely desiring the truth in its fullness, He will surely lead us into all truth.

Through the ever-rolling tides of the ages, though tossed in many a storm, the Word of God stands resolute and sure and although some have tried to conceal it from the “common” people or make the message obscure by watering it down, or changing it, or twisting it to suit their evil purposes, it has survived. Men and women (some known and others not so well known) have died in the flames of persecution down through the centuries for that very survival. But the Lord knows them all and praise His Name: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21v7)

Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24v35) The sea casts up many an interesting object, as I have learned from walking by the rolling tide over the years and although I have seen a poor animal, thankfully never a human body! However, it is prophesied in Revelation that “the sea gave up the dead which were in it” and some day “the dead will be judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev. 20v12&13)

It is amazing how a little note in a bottle can be preserved and washed up on a beach in a different country, after a long period of rough seas, storms and treacherous rocks – and it is no small miracle that God can preserve His Word through the centuries, tossed about and attacked though it is, through the raging storms of adversity and persecution. This night, as I write, I am grateful to Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer and many others, too numerous to mention here, who have died in its defence. And above all, I am grateful to their Master, the inspired Author, who paid the ultimate sacrifice that they (and we) might have abundant life now – and forevermore in His Presence. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Peter 1v23)

Jesus said: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39)

“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)

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Just as I am – Without One Plea

June 27, 2010

Sitting on the promenade wall I watched the ebb and flow of the tide washing in over the sand. High up in the summer sky the seagulls cried as they floated on the drift of the wind, while in the distance the beautiful Mountains of Mourne stood timelessly and quietly against the horizon. I had always taken comfort in mountains; they were like permanent, solid and reliable old friends in a world that was changing too quickly. Tomorrow, perhaps, I would climb to their rushing waterfalls and we would picnic close to those cascading waters. The day was beautiful and I was young and healthy, but something was disturbing me. Was it that small group of Christians who were having an open-air meeting by the promenade? How many times in my young life had I been convicted by a little group of people like this? Over the years I had watched them, the faithful ones, singing and preaching in villages or cities and distributing tracts. Even the sound of their voices made me feel uncomfortable, but no, I would not commit myself to the life they were singing and speaking about. Perhaps some day…

What delightful childhood memories I have of trips to the seaside with my father, mother, brother and two sisters! In those days we did not fly off to exotic locations, but those trips to Warrenpoint or Sunday school excursions to Newcastle, Bangor or Portrush engendered just as much excitement. In the intervening years I have travelled to many distant places but to this day, perhaps one of my favourite spots in the whole world is “where the Mountains of Mourne roll down to the sea.” My aunt once had a caravan parked at the very edge of the beach in an area known as ‘Cranfield.’ I recall many days of sunshine there when we would splash in the sea or take long walks along the blue flag beach to the castle at Greencastle. At night the old lighthouse would throw out circling beams of light across the dark rippling waves. Even bad weather was enjoyable, creating its own special atmosphere. How I loved the sound of that foghorn, as the rain pelted against the windows and the tide surged in only yards from where we slept!

Of course, as the cliché goes ‘all good things come to an end,’ and whether it had been a day trip or a week-long holiday we knew that we must return home. Regrettably the ‘holiday’ had perhaps not been so idyllic for my mother as she had a great deal more work to do; in bygone days holiday cottages and caravans did not have the modern conveniences that they do today! As for those ‘return journeys,’ they are filled with special memories for me, for I recall that my parents very often would “sing on the journey home,” and always these songs would relate to their Christian experience. In those days their songs did not appeal to me – in fact I often felt irritated and convicted by them. Admittedly, my parents’ voices blended beautifully as they sang choruses and hymns on the journey home. Yet, underlying my feelings of conviction, I experienced a certain reassurance and inner peace in the knowledge that my parents loved each other and their Saviour, who was glorified in the words they sang.

So it came to be that as the years passed, I was to be convicted many times by the singing of God’s servants. There is something about joyful singing to the Lord that speaks to the heart – and even brings a tear to the eye! Then, one August Sunday morning in the year 1978, I was walking alone in a narrow cobbled street in Ostend, Belgium, when I heard joyful singing coming from somewhere on high. These were I believed, Christians who were singing hymns in the Flemish language but where were they? I looked up at the windows of tall narrow houses and I searched doorways for access but I could not find those singers, no matter how much I searched for them. Sadly I returned to the hotel where I was staying, feeling very empty spiritually. On the return journey I was terrified that the ship would sink or the train would crash for I knew that I was not ready to meet God.

After my return home, that deep conviction continued in my heart with intensity. Just hours later, on the bank holiday evening of Monday 28th August, 1978, a fierce spiritual battle ensued while I was alone in my bedroom. I have never felt anything like it in my life, either before or since. One power was telling me that I was ‘not that bad,’ and that I had my whole life in front of me; another was telling me to ask the Lord into my heart now for tomorrow may be too late. After much turmoil and struggle, I can only describe what happened next as ‘repenting of my sin and crossing that great divide from darkness into light.’ I felt a peace in my heart that only the Lord can put there – my journey to my real Home had only just begun! The years ahead were to be the happiest ones of my life for He had “put a new song in my mouth.” (Psalm 40v3). All my old ‘haunts’ began to lose their attraction and soon God’s Word and the joyful singing of His servants brought me more joy than anything in this world ever could. Now I had put my trust in the “Rock of Ages,” who is even more dependable than solid mountains, for even they shall some day be removed! And now with my mother and father I could sing the words of many lovely hymns, because they were so relevant to my new life begun in faith.

There is a hymn which always filled me with conviction in those days of my early childhood and youth. This hymn was often sung after appeals were made in missions or other meetings and I grew to dread the singing of it, because it made me feel so uncomfortable.  “Just as I am” describes accurately the experience I went through on that evening when I trusted the Saviour. Charlotte Elliott, the writer of this lovely hymn had a similar experience when she came to the Lord, for she was “tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt… fightings and fears, within, without…” I thank God that this lady was able to give words to her experience – words which have touched many a soul since the year it was written, in 1834. For me, the second last line of this hymn, “Here for a season, then above,” seriously highlights the brevity of my earthly life against the awesomeness of eternity.

Today I love that hymn because the Saviour did rid my soul of that “one dark blot.” I thank Him for His cleansing power in that instant when I trusted in His shed blood at Calvary. My prayer is that He will continue to work in my life and in the lives of other fellow Christians who have trusted Him to “cleanse each spot,” with the desire to be “His, and His alone.” Now I can claim this wonderful promise which was given by Paul to his fellow saints, as my own…  “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1v6)

(See also: My Testimony page) https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/my-testimony/

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/j/u/justasam.htm