Posts Tagged ‘storms’

Sunflowers Still Blooming in November!

November 3, 2018

DSC_0877

“Those sunflowers will never grow,” someone told my daughter when she planted them. “They’ve been planted too late and many storms are forecast. It’s just impossible.” But miraculously, not only did they come out in full bloom but they are still standing after several storms; they have survived and we are now into November. Strong trees have fallen but the row of sunflowers have stood resolute throughout fierce gales and dashing rain. Only one fell, which perhaps had not been properly rooted. There is a spiritual lesson there somewhere…

This little encouraging event is synonymous with another much more serious event that has been going on in our lives. If sunflowers can stand through three major storms, then anything is possible. Indeed, as the old Wesleyan hymn goes… “All things are possible to him, that can in Jesus name believe.” If, as this hymn describes, the Lord can so transform our lives, not only in the new birth experience but to the extent where sin shall not have dominion over us, (Romans 6v14), then “all things are possible to me.”

Every new day in our lives is a miracle in itself. As the days draw in and winter lies ahead, inevitably the sunflowers will die – but their seeds are being used for something really good and beneficial. I remember my father saying… “There is no telling what the Lord can do with a life that has been totally consecrated to Him.” In Romans 5v3-5 we are told: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

I prayed that the sunflowers would grow – because it would have a deeper meaning for me. Not only did they bloom but they grew tall and withstood the storms. Just as I stood, opened-mouthed with wonder at the sight of the sunflowers still in full bloom despite the elements, people are watching those who know the Lord; watching their reactions to the full blown storms of life. “How can they bear it?” they ask themselves. And they look for the answer – and we need to reach them with it.

Praise God…

“All things are possible to God;

To Christ the power of God in me;

Now shed Thy mighty Self abroad,

Let me no longer live, but Thee;

Give me this hour in Thee to prove

The sweet omnipotence of love.”

 

(Charles Wesley)

 

 

Advertisements

Calm Before Hurricane Ophelia: Remembering “Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)”

October 16, 2017

20171011_130914

Just yesterday I took an enjoyable stroll in the lane that lies behind our home. Autumn leaves gently falling in the mild breeze carpeted the scene before me, while in the distance a pleasant sunlight glinted on the calm waves of the sea. Who would have thought that today would have brought such countrywide devastation? Yet, unfortunately I have no idea at this point what the rest of the day will hold as Hurricane “Ophelia” sweeps across Ireland. With many thousands of homes without electricity, we are most fortunate at this point to still have a supply at all – never mind internet access!

Today I recall my blog written back on January 6th 2013 entitled “A True Fireside Tale – The Night of the Big Wind – Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839).” It will soon be 180 years since this ferocious storm unleashed its fury, leaving widespread destruction and death throughout the entire island of Ireland. The full extent of this hurricane and some of the truly incredible things that happened are recounted in my previous blog at: https://readywriterpublications/thenightofthebigwind- Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)

This afternoon I felt a little frightened as the wind beat around our home. Like our two cats I have no desire to venture out into the wilds! Yet I trust the Lord on this unusual day, when schools, colleges, transport and businesses are closing or coming to a standstill. Who would have thought that yesterday’s calm and beautiful morning would result in the scene before us today – and sadly there were people who were alive yesterday but today have lost their lives as a direct result of this storm.

I hope to modify my original blog about “Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)” (which translated from the Irish means “The Night of the Big Wind”) and distribute it locally as a tract, in outreach. There is so much to say about storms in the spiritual realm and sometimes, even as Christians, we can find ourselves “in the eye of the storm” in another sense. Today, with more sophisticated forecasting equipment, we may have some warning of these hurricanes which are becoming so common in our times – but even then we often have no idea as to the extent of the destruction that will take place.

The one thing that struck me this afternoon is that I am totally helpless in the face of a storm. I can take precautions and secure my property as best I can and stay in as safe a place as possible – but at the end of the day I cannot control that storm. Property (and more importantly lives) may sadly be lost but the soul of mankind lives on… and there is only one sure refuge for the soul of mankind as the storms of life (whatever their nature) unleash their fury.

Yes, naturally I feel apprehensive as I look outside right now – or as I take a good hard look at certain circumstances in my own life. But how marvellous to know the only sure Refuge and Anchor to whom I can flee on the stormy sea of life! He is the Holy One of Israel: the Lord Jesus Christ who said to His disciples: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8v26&27)

The Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us is indeed our Hope, our only Hope in the eye of the storm, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 6v19&20)

 

“Be of Good Courage and He shall Strengthen Thine Heart”

February 6, 2017

dscf0464

On a recent journey for a hospital procedure I received a gift from an elderly Uncle of mine – a little “box of promises,” which he had left for someone else to give to me. Just before embarking on the next leg of my journey, I picked a promise… “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27v14)

Now, my Uncle had no idea that I was going for a procedure on that particular day or that I was driving close to his house around that time, or that I had received the “promise box” – although I called with him later and told him! How lovely were those words – and how comforting to know that the Lord was with me “and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8v28)

How He was with me on that day – and how I felt His love and compassion surround me and uplift me… and how He answers prayer! I quote from an inserted leaflet in the little promise box: “Dating back over a century to the 1860’s and each containing 140 extracts from the Authorised King James Version of the Bible, Promise Boxes were widely used by our Victorian ancestors. Seeking comfort and reassurance from God in times of trouble the ladies would draw a scroll, replacing it carefully after use. Given as keepsakes by the men going to the front, to their wives and sweethearts during the First World War, they gradually faded into oblivion and the actual date of origin is unknown. The few which have survived the passage of time have been handed down from generation to generation and become treasured family heirlooms. Used with respect and reverence these charming, unusual gifts are appropriate for any occasion, happy or sad, for their message and purpose are timeless.”

Yes, the message of God’s Word is indeed timeless. Sometimes, indeed, as we go through life we face situations which are tantamount to “going to the front” in a war situation. That battle can be a physical or a spiritual one – or sometimes both. None of us; no, not even those who faithfully serve the Lord, sail peacefully through the seas of life without some storms and testing times. Of course the ultimate testing time is death itself, for “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1Cor. 15v26)

“Have you anyone with you?” the nurse asked me, looking somewhat surprised when I said “no.” But in a sense I did have someone with me – and that ‘Someone’ is always with me and will be with me, for as long as I serve Him here below… “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28v20)

Praise God for every one of His precious promises, of which there are thousands in the Bible. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for inasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Cor. 15v55-58)

Gloomy Forecasts from the Meteorological Office and World Health Authorities but… Look Up!

February 4, 2014

004

It has been said that ‘no news is good news’ and perhaps there is some truth in that phrase. Rarely will good news on the front of a newspaper create the sensationalism that sells – but bad news will! This morning as I listened to the radio, I was confronted with two very gloomy pieces of news. The first was that we are to expect high winds, high tides and severe flooding resulting in damage to property in many parts of Ireland over the next weeks. The second was issued by the International Agency for Research on cancer which has predicted that within the next two decades the number of new cases each year will rise to 25 million. The agency referred to it as a ‘tidal wave.’ A gloomy forecast indeed! Apparently some of this increase can be attributed to the fact that people are living longer, while another contributing factor is population growth. However, this agency and other spokespersons also claim that tobacco, sugar and alcohol are all contributing factors.

Today (4th February) as it happens, is internationally known as “World Cancer Day” – a day on which awareness campaigns take place for all types of cancer. To people who have had a cancer diagnosis, though, it can seem a little simplistic to attribute the cause of their cancer to tobacco, sugar or alcohol, particularly when many of them (a) have never smoked a cigarette in their lives, (b) don’t have a ‘sweet tooth’ and would honestly prefer savoury/healthy options and (c) don’t drink! Strangely governments and organisations rarely cite environmental issues as a possible cause of cancer, even though our General Practitioners do. Could it be that if certain elements were to be exposed, then big companies (like those who produce carcinogenic artificial sweeteners) would stand to lose out financially? For example, we are rarely told the full truth with regard to radiation levels at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant which lies directly across the Irish Sea from my own home. Only today I learned that it has been partially closed due to recent elevated levels of radioactivity. Surely the “love of money is the root of all evil!” (1Timothy 6v10)    

Another little piece of news which caught my attention this morning is the fact that at least 75% of people in Europe think that their Government is dishonest and that corruption is widespread. Following that interesting (but unsurprising) news, came a statement from the Irish Minister for Energy and Communications to the effect that ‘pylons pose no health risk.’ Apparently 750 new pylons are to be erected between Leinster and Munster, despite raised objections and international prestigious organisations voting by a vast majority in favour of the view that pylons should be considered possible human carcinogens.

So, here is the news… bad weather, a gloomy world health forecast, widespread dishonesty, disregard for the health of citizens and distrust in those in our governments!

If these were the only prospects on our horizon, how miserable we would be! From a personal point of view, when I look around me I see dishonesty in many quarters; the horizon is so dark spiritually but I must, I must…look up! As the storm rises (and it surely will) those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour have the great privilege of knowing that our sojourn here is but a temporary one. Oh what joy to know that when earthly storms are over, whatever their nature, if we love the One who gave His life for us, we can rest assured of peace and everlasting joy in His Presence. And indeed, we can know something of that joy and peace today…

Today I was reading the verses where Peter, at the Lord’s invitation goes to meet Him on the water… “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14v30) Above all we are exhorted not to take our eyes off the Saviour when we are in the midst of troubled waters, or depressed by evil forecasts, for if we do – we will surely start to sink.

The good news is that this privilege of knowing that you can look above and beyond the temporary gloom of this life can be yours too today! If you do not already know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, then He lovingly beckons you to come this very day; to repent and put your trust in Him, for He can lift you out of the darkest and deepest troubled waters known to mankind.

Then, with your brothers and sisters in the Lord you can say with joy… “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13v14)

 2

 

 

A True Fireside Tale – The Night of the Big Wind – Oíche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)

January 6, 2013

This January 6th and 7th will mark the 174th anniversary of the “Night of the Big Wind,” known in the Irish language as “Oíche na Gaoithe Móire.” This ferocious storm was one of the worst in our history; there had been nothing like it for all of 300 years and no one was prepared for the widespread devastation and death that it would cause. These days people complain of inaccurate forecasting, although our sophisticated weather forecasting would normally tell us of an impending hurricane of such magnitude. Such hurricanes nowadays are given names like “Charlie,” “Katrina” and “Irene” long before they reach our shores.

Oíche na Gaoithe Móire began on the night of January 6th, traditionally known in Ireland today as “Little Christmas” and in the rest of the world as Epiphany. In those days Ireland had no border and this storm certainly knew no borders for it raged through many counties destroying property, churches and even great houses and large buildings to be deroofed and a total of 42 ships to be wrecked at sea. According to Irish folklore, Judgement Day would occur on the Feast of Epiphany and as the severe storm raged on in the darkness of the night, many began to believe that the end of the world was near. Indeed for around 300 people who lost their lives, that storm meant the end of the world for them as they were swept into eternity.

All around the country the vicious winds wreaked havoc, from the houses of Armagh to the houses of Athlone. In Ballinasloe great woods were felled; Belfast saw fatalaties and much destruction; in Carrickfergus a tree in a graveyard was said to have been uprooted, forcing many bodies to the surface; most property in Castlebar was affected; Drogheda had never seen such devastation in its history; Dublin saw death and terrible destruction; houses were burned down in Kilkenny; barely a house was left standing in Longford, while places as diverse as Mullingar, Sligo, Tralee and Waterford were badly struck.

Such severe weather has always been most unusual in Ireland. We complain mostly of our dreary grey skies and boring constant drizzle but we rarely face any extreme weather conditions, yet like the city of Babylon referred to in Revelation 18, in just one hour we could be “made desolate.”

Yes, even our advanced weather forecasting may not announce the reality of  the fact that some day every island will “flee away” and the mountains will not be found. (Rev. 16v20)

Jesus said: “When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16v2&3)

Jesus also said: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matt. 24v42) Do you know Him today? If not – His desire is that you repent and trust in Him who loved you and gave Himself for you.

Do you profess to be His servant today? Be not like “that evil servant” who shall say in his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” (Matthew 24v48) “The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Verses 50&51)

There are many things in this world which have the potential to make His servants angry – but we must never lose our love for souls and for reaching the lost. “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24v12&13)

Whatever injustices you face today, that have been caused by life’s evil winds, if you are His servant, leave it all in His hands and He will put matters right, “for vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12v19)

Ferocious storms created by the evil one may seek to destroy us spiritually, but there is nothing that cannot be vanquished by our Saviour’s rebuke.

“And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8v26&27)

2

Remembering Fanad Lighthouse, Donegal, Ireland: A Spiritual Analogy

September 10, 2011

Resilient in the face of stormy winds, lashing sea and cold cutting rain, it stands through good times and bad. Throughout the seasons, resolute against the skies, whether cloudless blue or black and threatening, it shines brightest on the darkest night and remains a symbol of comforting light and warning to those on peril on the stormy seas.

It is firmly founded upon the rock, for if it was built on sand, it would long ago have fallen to the crashing sea, storms and rain.

Like the lighthouse, the Christian’s life can receive a very personal battering and sadly sometimes when we are seriously attacked, we can also be lashed by tongues. At times like this we can understand something of the lot of Job whose ‘comforters’ (for the most part) were very quick to pass judgement in an unwise manner.

Thank God for the Book of Job which illustrates how God can draw us closer to Himself through the trauma of life’s bitter storms, for our latter end (like that of Job’s) will be victorious and enriched as He moulds us to be the individuals that He wants us to be. And we can also be now more equipped to counsel and comfort those who suffer too, as is illustrated by the words of 2Cor. 1v3&4… “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.”

The Psalms, too, are full of exhortation to confide in Him, our Almighty Confidant and Counsellor… for who greater than this can we turn to? Psalm 91, which begins: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” is a Psalm of victory for the Christian who is on the receiving end of something which is challenging his faith.

And so the lighthouse remains strong in the face of bitter lashings and vile winds, because the rock is its foundation. Yet even this rock is not imperishable for some day, with every island of the sea, it will flee away. (Rev.16v20) But the Christian’s life is built on that Eternal Rock; the Rock of Ages, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord, the Rock of my salvation, please help me to remain calm in the midst of life’s fierce storms and enable me to love thee more and more…

“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