Long Covid

Long Covid

Like a flag flying at half mast.

Like a leaky tank.

You fill up the engine, you expect to get from point A to point B.

But you run out of fuel halfway through.

Suddenly the tank is empty and you have to stop.

You have to sit.

You have to rest.

You have to breathe.

Like a prematurely aged body.

Achy joints.

Odd, variable myalgia.

Unexplained headaches.

Dizziness and feelings of faintness.

Slow movement.

Tiredness.

So tired.

Tired of being tired.

Short busts of energy.

Short-lived optimism.

Like the feeling of lockdown 3 when you thought we’d be over this.

Another breathless day.

Low oxygen saturations.

Easy fatiguability.

Like an elderly heart in heart failure.

Symptoms, but no plain radiographic changes.

If only it were all psychological.

If only I could talk my way out of this. Think my way out if this.

Reason it out.

Maybe use well-learned CBT techniques.

If my will-power alone would only get me up those stairs when my legs and my lungs refuse to go along.

If only.

For now I plod on.

I move forward.

Sometimes dragging my limbs forward.

Like walking through treacle.

Many setbacks.

Just keep inching forward.

Somehow I know in my heart there’s hope.

I know my redeemer lives.

Maybe Medical science will help.

And I know even if medical science has not found the answers yet.

I still have a living hope.

I’m still alive.

I’m still living in hope.

Hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

Even if yesterday disappointed.

There’s still tomorrow.

Hope.

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The explanation for it all

“He is the God who made the whole world and everything in it. He is the Lord of the land and the sky. He does not live in temples that men build! This God is the One who gives life, breath, and everything else to people. He does not need any help from them. He has everything he needs. God began by making one man.

From him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they must live. God wanted them to look for him and perhaps search all around for him and find him. But he is not far from any of us: ‘By his power we live and move and exist.’ Some of your own poets have said: ‘For we are his children.’ We are God’s children. So, you must not think that God is like something that people imagine or make. He is not like gold, silver, or rock.

In the past, people did not understand God, but God ignored this. But now, God tells everyone in the world to change his heart and life. God has decided on a day that he will judge all the world. He will be fair. He will use a man to do this. God chose that man long ago. And God has proved this to everyone by raising that man from death!””

(Verses lifted directly from the Bible)
‭‭The Acts‬ ‭17:24-31‬ ‭ICB‬‬
https://www.bible.com/1359/act.17.24-31.icb

Scripture taken from the International Children’s Bible®. Copyright © 1986, 1988, 1999 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Broken promise

“Then Peter began to curse. He said, “I swear that I don’t know this man you’re talking about!””

Mark 14:71 ICB

“And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.”

Mark 14:72 NLT

Peter was confronted with his failure. Sometimes all we can see is our failure. We can see the broken promise, the conformity to other people’s expectations, our bowing to peer pressure. Peter had just sworn and cursed to deny knowing Jesus who was his best friend, his teacher, Jesus who he loved dearly. And he couldn’t stand it. He wept. Yes, Jesus had warned him this would happen. But that didn’t lessen the sting of failure, the despair associated with knowing you have betrayed your loved one or family or friend.

Yet when Jesus saw Peter again after the resurrection, he looked at him and loved him. He restored him and expressed faith in him. He wasn’t holding Peter’s failure against him. Instead he singled him out for promotion- ‘Peter, feed my sheep’ ( see John 21). He was saying, Peter, I’m putting you in charge. I believe in you. I love you. You can do this.

That vaccine

Covid-19 vaccination

I received the coronavirus virus vaccination in the first week it became available for use in the UK. Why did I get the vaccination? I did because I think it’s the right thing to do. Covid-19 has defined 2020.

Globally nearly 73million people have been infected, and over 1 million have died from the disease. We have lockdowns and continue to have restrictions but as we have seen, we are still struggling to control the spread of the infections. So a vaccine is inevitably the way out. When I look back to my childhood growing up in a third world country, polio was a blight on our humanity. I think everyone knew at least another child who had their ability to walk, run and play impacted on by the fact that they were not vaccinated as babies. We have measles, TB, chicken pox, (small pox is thankfully now eradicated), tetanus and several other infectious diseases which remain a big issue in countries with limited access to vaccination. Hepatitis, some forms of meningitis, seasonal flu are all diseases which we battle the spread of – mostly successfully- every year in the UK.

Vaccination is an effective tool to combat the spread of deadly, infectious illnesses. Why would we not want to have a vaccination against the coronavirus infection that has killed so many people already? I acknowledge that this vaccine was developed quicker than we are used to. However I don’t think we have had a virus spread so quickly and tenaciously to affect Prime ministers, Presidents, celebrities, CEOs, royal families, the richest and most powerful players in business world, as well as medics, and researchers themselves!

It becomes quickly apparent why there has been the biggest push, and innumerable resources invested in finding and developing a vaccine in the shortest possible time. Who wouldn’t want this pandemic to be over as soon as possible? So why would I refuse to be vaccinated when offered one at no cost to me?

For information on coronavirus vaccination in the UK please visit:

England: NHS guidance on the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine

Wales: coronavirus vaccination information

Northern Ireland: coronavirus vaccination programme

https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/immunisation/vaccines/coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine/

Plague

Plague

On November 11, 2020 the UK passed 50,000 deaths from Covid-19. Globally over 1.2 million people from 191 regions or countries have died. There have been more than 52 million cases of the coronavirus pandemic already.

Whenever the plague came upon the people in the Old Testament, it was always due to sin. The ten plagues came to Egypt when pharaoh refused to acknowledge or obey God’s command to release his people who were unjustly enslaved and oppressed. Each time, Moses prayed and the plague would resolve until the tenth one.

In the wilderness the plague came when the people of Israel worshiped idols (a gold calf). “Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.” Exodus 32:35 ESV

The plague also came in the wilderness when they were grumbling against God in their demands for meat and a return to slavery in Egypt. Moses made a bronze serpent and they looked up, shifted focus and were saved (Numbers 11).

Aaron intervened to stop a plague after the people rebelled against God and Aaron’s leadership, against God’s choice of Aaron for the priesthood.

“So Aaron took it as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. And behold, the plague had already begun among the people. And he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped.” Numbers 16:47-48 ESV

David sinned by organising a self appointed census, having been warned not to do so. The plague came and David prayed and offered up sacrifices in the field of Ornan the Jebusite (1 Chronicles 21:26-27).

Phinehas intervened (see Psalm 106:30) to halt a plague which came because the Israelites worshiped Baal instead of worshipping the living God. The Israelites were breaking their agreement with God and instead followed prostitution and the practices of the Midianites which were in direct opposition to God’s instructions for them. (See Numbers 25).

We as a people need to seek God’s face and intervene on behalf of our nation again. We have sinned, the nations have turned away from the living God and we can pray and ask for his forgiveness, his mercy, his compassion to stay the plague, to heal our land.

‘’if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land’’. 2 Chronicles 7:14

“The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,”Revelation 9:20 ESV

Simon’s lunch

The little boy and his lunch

Simon was only 12 but he was the most excited he had ever been in his life. He had just watched his simple lunch of tuna sandwiches for one, mega-sized into lunch for 5000 men and many more girls, boys and women! Wow! Now he was very glad he had listened to his instinct to volunteer his lunch. He remembered the 12 Followers asking if anyone had any food to share. He had looked longingly at his lunch, feeling his tummy rumble even as he thought about giving it all away. Eventually he had decided to do what his mom and dad had always taught him: share with those who need it. So he did. And look what happened! Not only was he super full, but he and 11 other lucky winners were going home with a basket each of sandwiches! He could have a party for his friends with all that food! Most of all he had made 13 new friends, Jesus and The Followers. He felt so happy and excited and content. From now on, he would never hesitate to share again with someone in need.

A leader like David

David had leadership skills. I am going to use some references from the book of 1 Samuel chapter 17 and refer to some verses from this chapter to demonstrate this.

1. He rescued the sheep from the lion and the bear’s mouth. He took responsibility and wouldn’t let the little guy go. He cared for each sheep and had decided each sheep mattered. See verses 34-35

2. He was brave. He put his trust in God. Going after a lion and a bear is not a cowardly job. See verses 34-36.

3. He delegated when it was necessary. To visit his brothers, he left the sheep in the care of a shepherd. See verse 20.

4. He was not put off by other people’s opinions or criticism. His big brother criticised him unfairly but David answered him briefly and then just kept focused on what he was doing, what he believed he should be doing. See verses 28-30.

5. He used what he knew to do what he needed to do. He tried on Saul’s things, tested it out, and decided it wasn’t for him. He reverted to what he knew: his staff, his sling and stones. He reverted to his own tried and tested weaponry. He did not bow to (Saul’s) pressure to do it the way someone else would. He did it his own way. See verses 38-40

6. He ran towards the enemy. He was not afraid of or put off by Goliath. He was not intimidated by Goliath’s disparaging remarks or his great size or the big weapons (sword, spear, javelin) that Goliath carried. David spoke back God’s word to Goliath. He believed God’s word and he acted out what he believed. He spoke, he ran, he struck. See verses 41-50.

Note verse 47:

“All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:47 NIV

That statement was deliberate. At that time, the Philistines, Israel’s enemies had banned them from having blacksmiths or swords or spears. Only Jonathan and Saul (the prince and the king) had swords. (See 1 Samuel 13, verses 19 and 22). So the Israelites must have felt disadvantaged going into battle without proper weaponry. David was encouraging them. And David was right. God rescued them without the need for their swords or spears.

“So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.” 1 Samuel 17:50

The book of psalms describes some of David’s leadership qualities: integrity of heart, and skills.

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” Psalms 78:72

David took care of them with unselfish devotion
and led them with skill. Psalms 78:72

David was persistent. He didn’t give up in the face of adversity or challenges. He pressed on with confidence in God.

David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. – 1 Samuel 30:18-19

God is not social distancing

God is not social distancing from us. He is not self isolating or shielding himself from us. God has not changed. He is eternal. His love and kindness and mercies remain. God’s got this. Do not be afraid. Do not despair. You’re not alone.

Coronavirus has not changed God. God is true to who He is. He is unchanging. He is eternal. He is sovereign. He remains loving. He is King of Kings and Lord of lords. He is God Almighty. He is just. He is kind. He is full of mercy. He is love.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

I’m Not Good Enough

Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.”

Exodus 4:2-3 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/exo.4.2-3.niv

God used what Moses already had in his hand. He didn’t ask him to go look for a stick. He used something Moses would always have in hand. Your staff was like your identity, your signature ( remember the story of Judah and Tamar)

God asked Moses to throw it on the ground. Let it go. You have to let go of what you have so God can turn it into something big.

Moses ran away from his staff turned snake. His first reaction was ‘this is too much for me. I’m not enough.’ God used Moses mightily despite his insecurities and his feelings of inadequacy. He used Moses to rescue a whole nation of people which included about 600,000 men and even more women and children from a tyrannical king (Pharaoh). God can use you too even when you think ‘I’m not good enough or qualified enough’.

Prison to Palace

From prison to palace. From home grown to world fame. It took 13 yrs from when Joseph had his dream aged 17yrs to its fruition aged 30yrs. It took another 7 yrs or more for it to actually come true. But come true it did. God’s word comes true. ‘And it came to pass…’

“And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.”

Genesis 41:57 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/gen.41.57.niv

Knowing when to leave

Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.””

Genesis 31:1-3 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/gen.31.1-3.niv

He will turn it around for you

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

I read in the book of Ezra about people plotting to stop the Jews rebuilding the temple. They wrote a letter to King Darius, thinking that would threaten and stop the work. But King Darius replied that those same people must not get in the way of building of God’s temple but must in fact help sponsor the build.

When God is on your side, he turns plottings and negative circumstances around to victory for you.

Similarly in the book of Esther, Haman plotted against Mordecai and the Jews. He thought he would wipe them all off the face of the earth. In the end, he was the one who got wiped off, and all his sons and fellow enemies of the Jews. His estate was given to Mordecai, who was then promoted to second in command to the King Xerxes.

Don’t underestimate God’s power to bring about change in your life. Just pray and keep trusting in him.

‘’That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.”

Esther 8:1-2 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/est.8.1-2.niv

Trust and commit

Live your life with commitment to God’s word.

Remember- God loves you and will remain your strength when you don’t feel able to carry on. He’ll carry you. Rest in him. Let go of your burdens. Let Him.  He’ll bear you on his wings. He won’t let go of you. He’ll do it, not you but him. Not the strength of your prayers but his mercies, his continuing love, his faithfulness, his constant, steady, reliable love.

Trust it all to him. He will work it out.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honour. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11

The successful immigrant

Joseph was an immigrant in Egypt. Not by his choice, he had a loving father at home, and he was his father’s favourite. He was well provided for at home.

1. It was tough. The circumstances under which he arrived in Egypt were tragic and tough. He was betrayed by his closest relatives (his big brothers) and sold off as a slave to foreign traders.

2. He adapted. God was with them and gave him success. He did his duties exceptionally well and he stood out for all the right reasons. So his master trusted him and ‘left everything in his charge’.

3. He acted with integrity. Even when no one was looking he stayed faithful to the God of his fathers. Although he was in a strange land where, technically no one knew him or his godly past, he stayed true to his convictions and what he learned as a child. He stayed faithful to God in the face of temptation (Portiphar’s wife). It cost him his freedom but he stayed the course.

4. He was consistent. Even in prison, his light shown. Again God was with him and he had success. He could be trusted with the other prisoners and he was left in charge. He did his duties exceptionally well, no matter how unglamorous or unpopular those duties were. He didn’t need a flashy job to show his abilities. He was consistent even in the most unfavourable place you can find yourself (prison).

5. He was fair and he was honest. When he interpreted the dreams for the baker and the butler, he didn’t lie. He didn’t couch the truth to curry favour or gain popularity. He was direct. ‘This is what the dream means: this is what God has said’. He was not bowing to popular culture. He spoke the truth without worrying about how it would be received. Again this is consistent with when he was 17, and had the dreams he told his family about.

6. Going back to point 2, he grafted with the community he was in. He learned. He was made to look presentable before he was brought before Pharaoh. When his brothers came to Egypt, they did not recognise Joseph. They very likely thought he was Egyptian. He probably dressed like an Egyptian and probably had an Egyptian haircut. He probably had on Egyptian style clothes. He certainly didn’t look or dress or talk exactly like he used to, or they would have recognised him. He didn’t totally throw off his culture because he still ate separately from his Egyptian household staff but he had gone some way to adapt to living in Egypt so he fitted in somewhat.

7. Is it worth picking out the good bits of the community you are in and grafting, and leaving out the bits that are ungodly? You could import the godly parts of your culture and leave the unnecessary or unedifying bits behind. Joseph had an important position in Egypt. He became the 2nd in command to Pharaoh- the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt. Some people would have said ‘the prime minister’ in today’s context. Pharaoh left everything in Joseph’s hand. He was ‘lord of all Egypt’. He went in and out before Kings and world rulers because everyone came to Egypt for food as the ‘famine was severe everywhere’.

Maybe your circumstances are not as drastic as finding yourself in a new country. Maybe you find yourself in a very different environment or very different circumstances from what you planned or initially wanted. Maybe life has taken some unexpected twists and turns. Be rest assured that God has you covered. That dream he gave you will still come to pass. Hold on to your convictions, hold on to what he has taught you. Hold on to your faith. God’s plans for you are of good, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Joseph

Joseph

Genesis 37-45

When God promotes you, and is with you, it doesn’t matter what the whole world does or think, you will succeed.

Joseph was an immigrant in Egypt, a Hebrew slave, a prisoner. He had a past. In one day he was promoted to be the 2nd in command in Egypt, aged 30yrs. Within a few years ( 7+ years) he became, arguably, the most powerful man in the world😊!

“You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.””

Genesis 41:40 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/gen.41.40.niv

“So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.””

Genesis 41:41-44 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/gen.41.41-44.niv

“And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.”

Genesis 41:57 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/gen.41.57.niv

“Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay.”

Genesis 45:9 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/gen.45.9.niv

The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed. – Genesis 39:23

The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. That same God is with you today.

No hiding

Even when I feel uncertain, I know that he loves me. When I feel vulnerable and oh so human and not really on top of things, his grace covers me. When my imperfections are all too obvious, when my reflection in my mind’s mirror is less than shiny, I know I’m accepted. When my decision making prowess is just shy of precise, when the path ahead is a little bit blurry, I know he’s walking beside me. When life itself feels overwhelming, the daily grind feeling harder than usual, I can rely on him to work things out for my good. When I forget to be grateful, I can remember how many times he’s come through in the past.

Psalm 139:1-17

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit or stand. When far away you know my every thought. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say before I even say it. You both precede and follow me and place your hand of blessing on my head.

This is too glorious, too wonderful to believe! I can never be lost to your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, your strength will support me. If I try to hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around me. For even darkness cannot hide from God; to you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!

How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!

Psalm 139 verses 1-17. TLB

The centurion’s story

He was a changed man.

He believed. He couldn’t not, after what he’d witnessed. Seasoned veteran that he was, he’d never felt so shaken as he did this afternoon watching him die. How could you explain away the unprecedented darkness from exactly 12noon to 3pm, or the mysterious sudden ripping of the great temple curtains in half with no human hands?

How could you put into words the heaviness he felt in his heart watching the man’s face as the blood dripped from his limbs and his side? He’d always suspected there was something about that man. The way he looked at you, kindly, yet shrewdly like he could see right through your defences, like he could hear your thoughts and feel what you were feeling.

Even as they’d tortured and teased him that morning, he’d kept silent. The silence was notable as he and the other soldiers mocked him, and hit him with a stick and spat on him. He’d looked right at them but without rancour as they’d placed that dreadful stinging crown made of rose thorns on his head. He’d said nothing when they pressed it down on his scalp so they could see drops of blood mixed with beads of sweat running into his eyes.

The soldiers had gone overboard with the cruel jokes, even he knew he should have cautioned his men as they mocked and laughed and placed bets over who would inherit the condemned man’s clothes. Again he’d just looked at them with those far reaching eyes and said nothing. He didn’t grumble when he was made to carry his own execution pole. He said not a word when those spikes were slowly driven into those calloused hands.

The stories he’d heard about this man calling dead people back to life from the grave, miraculously restoring sight to visionless people, making wine from water alone, and multiplying bread with just words of prayer. Surely no mere mortal could do all that? Now all those words he’d heard about the son of man coming to seek and to save the lost made sense. The son of man was the son of God. He, the prestigious leader of a group of soldiers and all his men, and all the civilians were ‘the lost’. Everyone was lost. They had killed the son of God. Or perhaps the son of God had given up his life for them. Surely this man was he.

And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” – Mark 15:39

Princess Pharaoh 

She was young and pretty. Okay youngish (well at 19, she wasn’t the youngest princess in the palace) but she was definitely the prettiest. If you didn’t count her 15 year old stepsister who already had the most adorable baby girl and was married to the governor.

Oh, why oh why was she still unmarried? Why did she not have her own little beautiful baby to put the royal seal on and show off to all her friends and around the palace? For goodness sake, even the scary looking, intimidating palace guards broke into smiles when they saw her sister’s baby Tahpenes. And who wouldn’t smile at the sight of her curly black hair falling into her sooty eyes, and her soft, smooth chubby cheeks with that wide, sweet gum less grin.

Princess Pharaoh pondered all these as she was carried to the stream for her morning ritual on her majestic carriage by her royal entourage. It was a beautiful spring morning, the air crisp and fresh, the sun shining down hotly already at that early morning hour of 7am.

Her female servant noticed she was preoccupied and smiled shyly at her, ‘you look troubled Princess, can I be of assistance in any way?’. ‘I’m afraid you can’t help this time Naomi, unless you can pray to your gods to send me a heir. I fear I am the oldest princess in the palace and I may never get to hold my own precious bundle. Oh how I wish I had a baby to love, my very own son’ the princess wept. ‘May the God of Israel,the only true God, hear your cry and grant you your wish’ Naomi replied kindly. 

They had reached the edge of the Nile river. The guards quickly secured the area around the waters edge. The female servants swooped around in a circle with the royal curtains to provide Princess Pharaoh some privacy as she got washed by her trusted maids, the team led by Naomi. As she stepped out of her shelter in her freshly worn gown, the sun caught on a little basket floating on the river.

‘What’s that I see over there?’ She called out, ‘Quick, Naomi, Guards, fetch me that basket before it floats too far away! And be gentle, I think it’s got precious cargo’. Assisted by the guards, Naomi soon got the basket with its priceless treasure safely to Princess Pharaoh.

The guards were smiling, Naomi was cooing, and Princess Pharaoh could not wait to peep into the basket. The poor little mite was crying. Then she saw one eye blink and open, then the second and she stared into huge, hopeful, brown eyes the colour of the sand on the seashore. Impossibly long lashes like the silk threads in her mother’s most ceremonial dresses brushed gently against velvety milk chocolate skin. Perfect heart shaped face tipped upwards as he gazed innocently out of his rustic shelter.

This was surely the most beautiful baby in the entire world. Out stretched a tiny little hand to hold her finger, and she heard the cutest little gurgle of laughter. Those dimply cheeks stretched into the biggest, most delightful smile she had ever seen. It was as if the heavens were smiling down at her. ‘I shall call you Moses’, she said. Perhaps Naomi, her faithful servant was right, perhaps the only true God had granted her wish.

Apples of gold

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. – Isaiah 50:4

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. – Colossians 4:6

4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! – James 3:4-5

God has given us a powerful tool which is the tongue. We can choose to submit it to him, and allow him to teach us daily the right things to say. He can show us how to encourage others, if we are willing to listen and learn from him, like students. We can use our words graciously, even when we disagree with others, even when we have to defend our actions or our faith.

On the other hand, we can allow the tongue to be a destructive tool, a fire, spreading harmful words, wreaking havoc and leaving a trail of ashes in its wake. Think about the big forest fires, some of which have happened in recent years in Australia, and in Canada. They may have started with a spark, or a small fire initially.

7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,
8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. – James 3:7-8

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. – Matthew 15:18

A heart surgery- that’s what we need. The way to control the tongue is to let God work on the heart. When we submit our hearts, and in turn our words and actions to God, then our words and actions will reflect his love. If we let God teach (and tame) our tongue, and if, every morning, we listen for his instructions, we will become his instruments for good.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. – Proverbs 25:11

Comfort

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. – Psalm 94:18
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. – Psalm 94:19

God’s word comforts and cheers us when we are in need. He’s our loving father.

He has said in His word, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Heb 13:5).
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1

He is right beside us when we need a hand to hold. He carries us when we are too weak to walk. He’s the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He’s our help in time of need, a very present help in trouble. He’s never too late, His timing is impeccable. God is our loving father.

We can trust God to take care of us. There is no hurt too deep that he cannot soothe, no wound too big that he cannot heal. His word says that He heals our brokenness. Psalm 146:3. -He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.