Posts Tagged ‘winter’

“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!

Primroses, New Life – and Showers of Blessing!

March 23, 2011

My favourite wild flower of spring is the primrose. Its delicate fragrance and colour is a joy to experience, tastefully decorating the ditches and hedgerows in this part of Europe. I love those verses in Song of Solomon 2v11&12… “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;” These lovely words fill me with optimism, although it must be said that Solomon had never experienced an Irish winter, which often lasts longer than we would wish!

When we entrust our lives into the Creator of all life, we inherit something special – a deep appreciation of the beauty of His creation. Although tainted by man, we can still experience something of its wonder and beauty when we visit some unspoilt countryside. How glorious is spring; that newness of life, which is not just a renewal, but new vibrant and budding life – a victory over death!  Just as spring emerges from the pessimistic gloom of winter, our lives can emerge from a spiritual death, as cold as winter itself – when we repent of our sin, asking Jesus to forgive us and take control. I once wrote the following, a simple acrostic verse that children may appreciate, which expresses my love of the flower and my joy in God’s creation and in the knowledge of sins forgiven through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Primroses in the Gloaming

(2Cor. 5v17)

Perfume so fragrant at the dawn of spring

Rose to meet me one twilight evening.

I hummed a tune as I strode along,

My heart as content as a bird in song.

Red was the sunset through clouds of the west,

Over the trees flapped the last crow to nest,

Silently, gently, I picked one pale flower…

Enraptured my soul after the shower!

 

Elizabeth Burke

 

Today I Saw a Rainbow!

February 7, 2011

After weeks of weary wintry days, I looked up to see the beauty of soft light filtering through the clouds and then I looked down to see these words on an old calendar… “Great is thy faithfulness!” I subsequently remembered the words of Lamentations 3v22-24… “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.”

Recent days have been dark and depressing for many reasons but I have felt the Lord’s presence with me in some of those darkest hours. This afternoon I also saw a rainbow, its colours strong and vibrant after the rain shower. The birds are singing, buds bursting out of the soil and “I hope in him!” Yet my hope must be in Him whatever the prevailing circumstances. Even if thick black clouds of misfortune drift my way, to whom can I turn but my Lord and my Saviour? “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” (Psalm 62v7)

Strangely, it is as if nature itself has mirrored my life over the past weeks and now with the promise of spring, I see a fresh ray of hope in the improvement of a loved-one’s health – like that rainbow emerging from a brighter sky. I am also reminded of a verse from Thomas Chisholm’s lovely hymn “Great is thy faithfulness…”

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above

Join with all nature in manifold witness

To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

Yet, whatever bleak outlook awaits those who are walking with the Lord in this life, he or she is in a “win win” situation because the future promises joy beyond death itself…

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth

Thine own dear Presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”

With Job I can say: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” (Job 19v25&26) May the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ be praised!

Link to this hymn: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/g/r/e/greatitf.htm

Homeless in the Bitter Cold of an Irish Winter

December 9, 2010

Last night I heard a pitiful “Meow” and glanced out to see the most beautiful ginger and white cat, his green eyes shining in the icy darkness. I left some food out for him and closed the door again, watching from the kitchen window to see that he licked the plate completely clean. This beautiful cat is wild, clearly homeless and ravenously hungry – still hungry after four plates of food.

At that point I started to think about homeless people. For such a small country, Ireland has more than its fair share of them and I was shocked to hear some news at the weekend about homeless people who are actually sleeping outdoors in this weather. Some of those who were interviewed said that they were afraid to stay in hostels which were run by charities because they have been attacked and their limited possessions stolen in such places. One young man said that his mother had thrown him out because of his drug addiction. How terrible!

How many needy souls there are in our own communities! There is a world of work for the Christian to do in this world; we can pray for the immediate needs of those around us but if we have the opportunity to help in a practical way we should do so. Homelessness may not be the fault of the victims of it and I don’t believe that it is God’s will for my fellow human beings to live under these circumstances. Drugs, alcohol and poverty abound – but His grace is greater. I remember hearing the story of a young woman from the Ukraine who was homeless in Northern Ireland. One night she suffered from severe frostbite and as a result had to have her lower legs amputated. The town where this happened was, I am told, full of Christians. Did anyone see her alone in a cold doorway, as they passed by? If only she had known; there was no need for this terrible thing to happen, because if she had even gone to the police, they would have made sure that she was properly accommodated. And if only those who are in need right now would realise that there is a God in heaven who cares deeply about their situation and wants to give them good living conditions and a life that is pleasing to Him.

“I wonder where that cat sleeps at night?” I asked my daughter. “I wish that we could tame him and give him a home.”

“In that old deserted farmhouse at the end of the lane I think,” she said.

If the Lord can provide for His creation in such a manner, it is surely His will that men, women, boys and girls for whom He sent His Son to die, would have all their basic needs met in this life – and above all that they would possess those spiritual gifts of joy and contentment which only the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, can impart to human hearts. Surely…“my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4v19) is His promise to those who come to Him by faith for all their needs, whether spiritual or material!

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