Posts Tagged ‘mountains of mourne’

Snow on the mountains – and a Song within My Heart!

November 29, 2010

On Friday last (26th November) I travelled up for the carol service in the Disabled Christian Fellowship Centre, in Newcastle County Down, Northern Ireland. ‘Early for a carol service,’ one might say and I suppose it was, but in carols such as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley, there are words which are joyfully relevant at any time of the year…

“Christ, by highest heaven adored,

Christ, the everlasting Lord,

Late in time behold Him come,

Offspring of a virgin’s womb!

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

Hail the incarnate Deity!

Pleased as man with men to dwell,

Jesus, our Immanuel.”

 

What truths are proclaimed in this carol! The virgin birth, the Deity of Christ and then in the third verse – His death and resurrection, whereby mankind can be born again to an inheritance incorruptible!

That night after the carol service I travelled back through the ice and snow to the mountain house where we would stay the night. I hate driving in this weather, but the Lord took care of us throughout the entire journey. During the night we were wakened by a thunder storm, followed by hailstones pounding off the roof and windows but the fury of the weather during the night was replaced by a beautiful and peaceful scene next morning, as I looked out to see white capped mountains glistening in the sun.

This heralded a most encouraging and interesting day when I was able to visit little towns and villages that were new to me. We stopped briefly at the St. Patrick’s Centre in Downpatrick which provides an outlet for my first book “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” and then we moved on to the small town of Killyleagh. Here we spotted the fascinating 12th century Killyleagh Castle, complete with turrets and believed to be the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland. Strolling up to its great doors we discovered that there was a craft fair being held there that day.

Our next ‘port of call’ was the small town of Comber, home to “Revive Books,” a Christian Book and coffee shop in Castle Street. Along the journey I could not help but wonder at the diversity of Ireland as a whole. How the Lord loves its citizens – from the glens of Antrim to the rocks of Mizen Head. From the families who live in ancient Castles and ancestral homes – to the families who live in crowded conditions in the cities of Limerick, Dublin or Belfast. He is no respecter of persons and it is His will that all souls would put their trust in Him as Saviour, whatever their backgrounds. How He loves the souls of Ireland in their rural and urban communities, with all their differing customs, dialects and denominations!

At last we arrived in the much larger town of Newtownards, home to around 30,000 people and also home to another Christian Bookshop: Ards Evangelical Bookshop, Crimond House, in Frances Street. Both of the Christian Bookshops listed kindly facilitate copies of “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year,” “Singing on the Journey Home,” and “God Made You, God Loves You, God Saves You.”

We started the terrifying journey home from the mountain house that night. I say “terrifying” because of the weather conditions that prevailed close to our home in County Meath. I prayed before the journey, I prayed during the journey – and then I prayed, giving thanks to the Lord for His protection when finally we slipped through the entrance to our home. It was a short but memorable trip – and one that increased my resolve to serve the Lord by distributing the words that He gives me throughout the spiritually needy land of Ireland with its diverse cultures.         

Link to this hymn: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/h/h/a/hhangels.htm

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