Posts Tagged ‘belfast’

Reflections on World Book Day – and the Book that Counts

March 3, 2016

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“World Book Day,” despite the title of the event, is primarily associated with encouraging children to read. I was somehow not surprised by a comment on the site today: “Many children do not have access to books in their homes…” These days technological influences have brought about a situation where books, certainly in their traditional form, are becoming a thing of the past in some homes.

Most modern homes have a massive television and in the evening family members have either their eyes ‘glued’ to its overpowering cinema-like screen or are similarly transfixed to their smart phones etc.

My childhood, lived in a much earlier era, is full of memories of being curled up beside a flickering log fire in our old farmhouse, engrossed in some mystery or adventure book that I may well have purchased in a second-hand book store. Some of my earliest memories revolve around family visits to “Smithfield Markets,” an area of Belfast where old cobble-stone covered walkways were lined with numerous second hand bookstores. Sadly, that area of Belfast was destroyed in Northern Ireland’s recent ‘troubles,’ in the early seventies.

In those early days we would all arrive home with a car boot full of books of every description and I would dive into my armful of books, carrying them straight up to my bedroom, where they would be voraciously ‘devoured’ in the days ahead. In fact I was so fond of reading in those dreamy childhood days that I would actually look forward to having the ‘flu’ and then ‘prolong my recovery’ in order to spend time with my books!

These days, despite the introduction of electronic book-readers like Kindle and others, I have not succumbed to this new technology… even though my bookshelves are bursting! How life has changed since those early days of old books and shared stories around that flickering log fire… The art of good conversation, storytelling and even caring have become rare in this modern age. Certainly, some old stories from local history have a truly moral basis, with a spiritual significance and should never be forgotten. Good and true stories from long ago, like “ancient landmarks” (Proverbs 22v28) should not be removed and discarded.

Try as I might, it is difficult to imagine a world without books… but imagine a world without God’s Word, that massive and magnificent work, the Holy Bible. Above all the books that I have ever read in my life (and there are many) this is one Book which means much more to me than any other possession. I have some antiquarian and rare books… but none of these compare with my precious Bible. Here is a book containing many books: books of historical accounts, books of poetry, adventure, wisdom, the history of our very existence – and prophetic books about future certain happenings on our planet.  Above all it contains a love story; the story of the Lord Jesus Christ who, even if I had been the only one, He still would have died for me.

Many adventures, miracles and wonders that Jesus wrought can be read in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and yet, even these do not tell it all, for in John 21v25 we read: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”

Oh that today’s children and adults would search within and prayerfully read this most victorious of all books, which contains the answer to life’s dilemmas, comfort in life’s heartaches, the cure for sin in this life – and the key to a life of eternal joy!

 

“Jesus Saviour Pilot me Over Life’s Tempestuous Sea”

June 10, 2011

The night before I embarked on a recent lone trip to bring my student daughter home with all her belongings was a restless one and next morning I was worn out before I even started to drive to the Stena Line port in Belfast! Gale force winds had been forecast for the day and the sea looked as grey as the sky, as I drove the car through driving rain on board ship. But thankfully the winds seemed to die down as the journey progressed and soon I was standing on deck admiring the first faint glimmer of the Scottish coastline across the pale blue sea. Now, the next hurdle (thoughts of which had kept me awake the previous night) was on the horizon. I knew that I would enjoy the trip along country roads by the sea as far as the motorway which led to Glasgow but driving in a strange city was not something I was looking forward to! As anticipated, I felt at home in those first rural roads; the sea spray lashed off great rocks and sheep grazed peacefully here and there as I drove slowly along the rugged coastline. At one point I stopped briefly to eat a sandwich and drink some water, while watching the rolling waves foaming into a lovely sandy cove. But then as I continued on my journey, the country road led to a fast dual carriageway and soon the latter became an even faster motorway with many lanes.

I now felt ill at ease because I wasn’t quite sure about the way to the part of the city my daughter had been living in for the past year; it is impossible to study a map while driving – and I don’t entirely trust satellite navigators! Soon I came to overhead signs which left me in no doubt that I had missed the turn off the motorway that I was supposed to take. Eventually I found myself in the city centre, parking here and there to ask people for directions. Nobody was able to help me and by now I felt exhausted, so I decided to call my daughter who thankfully agreed to come around to where I was parked. Meanwhile an angry looking traffic warden tapped on my window. “This is a tow-away zone. Move it!” He barked unsympathetically when I told him about my journey, my uncertainty, that I was a stranger to this city and the fact that my daughter would be there at any minute. Just as I was beginning to despair (even though I wasn’t obstructing anyone) I looked in the mirror and there she was – running towards the car! How I thanked the Lord for bringing her there so quickly in answer to my prayer! My daughter jumped into the passenger seat and after giving me a hug was directing me through all these streets which had become so familiar to her.

Further mini-dramas awaited me on the journey and I began to think about how impatient, angry and unwelcoming some people can be to visitors to their country. I resolved there and then never to be impatient when driving behind someone who looked a little uncertain… Next morning while packing all the belongings she had accumulated over her Erasmus year, I noticed some onlookers watching as my daughter and I carried them down to the car. After packing her laptop I said: “I think I’ll stay in the locked car while you bring the remaining things down here.” I simply didn’t trust those who were watching us and later that evening I breathed a sigh of relief as we drove the car on board ship for the return journey. Yes, the sea was more tempestuous than it had been on the way over, but somehow I felt at peace amongst those rolling waves – just as I had while sitting alone in that little sandy cove watching the foaming tide the day before.

Somehow I feel more at peace with God’s creation than with mankind in the cities they have built; yet I know that the Lord wants me to reach these souls He loves and for whom He died. I could spend the rest of my days avoiding people and admiring the Creator’s handiwork – but how wrong this would be! I love the hymn: “Jesus Saviour Pilot me…” Yes, life’s seas are tempestuous but I must keep my eyes fastened on the Master Pilot and while doing so, He will assist me to throw out the lifeline for others so that they too can some day be at peace in that Haven of Rest. There is a lovely story associated with this hymn; a dying soldier was being visited by Major D. W. Whittle who felt led of the Lord to sing it. The soldier was touched as it reminded him of his sister who used to sing it for him before he entered the army. He requested that the hymn be repeated over and over again for him and finally asked: “Will Jesus be my Pilot into the Haven of Rest?” When told that He would, the soldier said that he would “trust Him with all his heart.” Next day when Major Whittle called to see the young soldier, he learned that he had passed away during the night… into that Haven of Rest, to be with his Master Pilot. Praise God – He is better than all the satellite navigation systems that were ever invented! 

Link to this hymn: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/j/s/jspilotm.htm