Saturday, November 14 2020
Time of reckoning
I do not need to explain to anyone what The Pandemic is, do I? I know that some friends do not even wish to speak about it because it hurts.
We hear of vaccine coming like an angel from the sky in some distant place not yet here. In the meantime, we groan with our new way of life and its restrictions.
We have all changed now. We are different people since March-April-May-June-July... We understand a lot more about ourselves.
Protesting against the pandemic does nothing. Promising a vaccine to everyone does nothing to the ordinary person. Seeing the news globally every day brings pain upon pain. It is like watching a horror movie that will not stop. It reminds me of an old Dr Who episode when a horrible blob was tracking people, covering everything with its globby ugliness. I think it was a dark blue colour and looked like goo that moves. Nobody was safe. The Pandemic is the real version.
How can we cope? What can we do? One Christian neighbour says, "Be still and know that I am God" which is good advice to bring calm into our souls.
I read through Psalms 41 - 46 last night and I felt their relevance to this time on earth. David & descendants of Korah (musicians) are noted as the writers of these psalms.
Themes throughout these psalms are varied and all apply to our time. Kindness to the poor will help those in trouble. (41:1) If you are one of those, you have hope in God's eyes. If you have tears for food, you can now have hope (42:3) If you feel abandoned by God and cry out, you have hope (42:9,10) If you are sad and discouraged, you have hope (42:11). If you have a heart for God and trust in Him, you have hope (43:4). If you remember good things God has done for you, you have hope (44:1)
If you long for a victory over this pandemic, you have hope (44:7) If you feel covered with darkness and death, you have hope (45"6). If you think God is asleep, you have hope (44:23)
All of these psalms have a core that we can relate to, and thus relate to God as the Psalmist did 3,000 years ago. God never changes. God is here, right now, seeing everything that is happening and hearing our voices. In all these psalms there are heart wrenching words that stir God up. "Wake up O Lord...Get up! Rise up" (45:23 - 26)
God will rise up. We will rise up with God from this pandemic. How do I know? Because this psalmist and David had the same struggles in Biblical times, and God did answer when He was good and ready. In the meantime, read these psalms, talk to God and look to a brighter future. Psalm 45 shows what happened next! Poetry, writing (yeah) beauty, might, glory, majesty, truth, victory, humility, justice, inspiration, repentance, falling of nations beneath God's feet, (v 5 - in death/repentance) the throne of God (45:1 - 6)
This can be our story too.
Just as we feel isolated from our family, friends and daily routine and cannot bear it, so God has been isolated from our lives (in many ways), our friendship and our family lives. God has been lonely for a long time and now we have a taste of how God feels for eons. Since the Garden of Eden, men and women have ignored God, forgotten God, dropped God, and even forbidden God in their conversations. How does God feel about all this? Now we know because we are made in His Image.
Monday, November 02 2020
During the Covid19 lockdown we are restricted to areas of safety. This has been achieved rather well by the Premier of Queensland. Borders are good for situations. Because of our borders we now have a Donut Day in Australia. We just bought dounuts to share in celebratory mode. What a strange custom we now have. But, we like it.
I was reading Genesis 31 last night and I came across another shut down border, possibly the first in Biblical history. The map indicated the area of the event, Ramoth Gilead, where the Tribe of Manasseh/Gad eventually settled. This border closure and covenant happened when Jacob, the son of Isaac and Grandson of Abraham went to Haran to escape threats by his brother Esau. (Gen 27:41) Now Jacob seems to have made more trouble for himself and his family, with the ire of Laban his uncle getting roused.
Jacob had worked for him for 20 years and was sick of it, deciding to leave with his possessions, wives, children and animals. Laban followed him and negotiated his side of the story. It is always good to have the other side of the story. One sided stories are always biased because of human perception.
In this story, Laban and Jacob agree to make a Covenant together. The place was given two names. One by Laban ( Jegar sahadutha ) Witness Pile in Aramaic. And Galeed in Hebrew. (The name of the place is also called Mizpah (Watchtower) ) All very strange but that is how they sorted out borders in that time. A pile of rocks standing at a witness. That was not all. Jacob made a sacrificial offering on the mountain and invited everyone to a covenant feast. (People love to eat) After they had eaten, they spent the night on the mountain. Both men took an oath to observe this covenant by the God of their ancestors, Isaac's and Nahor. Both families worshipped the same God, The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also Nahor and Haran. Although we must note here that Rachel had stolen her family gods and Laban mentions them (Gen 31:30).
Laban threatened Jacob to keep his word and he did. In fact, Jacob had been told by God to leave the district and return to Canaan (Gen 31:13) and angels came along to guide him (32:1).
What can we glean from this incident that changed Jacob's life for ever? God literally took him to another district to raise his family.
If we think of our own lives, where are we now? Being in Australia feels like a very special place for those of us here right now. So many of us could be in another place, like UK, USA, Europe, Ireland or Cyprus. But, we are here. Can you trace God's hand in your life when you changed places to begin a new life?
With the Covid19 everyone in the whole world is reeling with wonder and fear, perplexed and confused by what is going on. Looking for a safer place to live. Unfortunately the world is now well populated and its borders are known and there are fewer places to be at peace and rest and especially safety from a pandemic.
In this Covenant and truce, God is right there. Jacob was a nervous man but street smart and he survived by praying a lot as God seems close to him. He had a big responsibility at this stage of his life (around 60 years of age) and he is only just beginning a new life. He is also fearful of his tough brother the hunter, Esau, so fear is still lurking in his perimeters.
In our new world of Covid rules, God is right here. We may be in lockdown, allowed less freedom than ever before, worrying about money, health, family. These are all genuine worries. To still our hearts, pray more, more often, read the bible to find treasures eternal (like this little gem) and remember, the Lord is still the King. I notice the road Jacob travelled in this story is called "The King's Way" on some maps. God the King of Kings went before him.
Maybe that is why we are so blessed, we keep praying for answers. Keep praying. YOU ARE SPECIAL TO GOD.
Link to other Scriptures and battles in this region. https://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/ot/ramoth_gilead.html
This map from Wikipedia. Link to image.
Please do not be offended by the portrait of an unknown Aboriginal man in my Blog.
No bad intentions are meant in any way if this man reminds you of someone you know. I show no disrespect to coloured people and ask that you forgive any indiscretion you think you may find here. I respect the original folk who lived in this land before others arrived. God bless you all.
Remember, I have an Irish heritage and being a portrait painter has been part of my life since age 3 or 4 when I drew girls in fine dresses. It is simply my artistic expression. I love bringing an image to life in my art and in books, so it gives me immense enjoyment. When I created this picture I loved every moment and learned a lot about skin colour, people's expressions and the difficult in bringing an image to life. I fell in love with this painting and will always treasure it.