Few Should Presume

Dear God,

I have decided that the only living thing that I ever want to be responsible for is a cactus.  I hear they’re pretty hard to kill.  I’m not good with other plants.  I gave up on goldfish after my third, and I don’t really want to be tied down by a cat or a dog.  Besides, I’m not fit to train them.  I’d end up with fat, lazy pets from bribery.

One thing I think I’m glad I’ve not borne is the responsibility for so far is teaching.

Bennie was over for dinner last night.  Dinner was delicious (as always), and we had had dessert.  Right before I went to get the coffee, Bennie spotted the books that Gina had given me loaned me.

“Are these the books that you were telling me about?”

“Yeah.  There’s some great stuff in there.  I’m working through it as fast as I can so its all ready to go back as soon as she wants it again,” I say.  I’m having a confident day for Gina.  “Take a look.  I’ll be back in a minute with some coffee and then we can go do some decorating…”

I came back a couple of minutes later and found Bennie with a book open to the front page where only Gina’s name was written in her lap, in tears.  I put the coffee down.

“Bennie?”

“My Genie …” She was sobbing now.

“Gina is Genie?” I ask, horrified.

Bennie nods.

Genie was a uni student that Bennie poured a lot of time and love and prayer into discipling when she was working in a part time ministry position on a university campus nearby.  Genie was a keen Christian, eager for mission, hungry to grow; she soaked up training in evangelism and how to teach and by the end of uni she was teaching and training others herself and contributing a lot to the running of the ministry.

Gina’s story.  It fit.

Bennie’s heart was breaking.

All I could do was hold her and pray.  Ready to pray with Bennie when she was ready too.

I thought again of Gina and the words I had been reading just before Bennie had come.  How James warned that those who teach would be judged more strictly and I wonder what lay in wait for her should she ignore the need to repent.

No – not many should presume to be teachers.

I looked at Bennie and thought of the other costs.  The joys and the depths of the heartaches.  It is a gift and a burden that God has only assigned to some.  Lord, may it be that this is Gina stumbling – that she will be righted once more to serve you.

Today I had the privilege of meeting a different kind of teacher.  I think Emily was even more excited that I.  We had visiting missionaries on home assignment at Church come to share their future plans with us.

It was the family of Hamish’s friend, Jonah.  It was so exciting to meet and thank Jonah for sharing the gospel with Hamish.  Jonah and his parents and Emily and I were very excited to meet each other.  I believe Emily was invited to play on Tuesday.  She and Jonah disappeared off to one side with much whispering and chattering – and I shall pretend that I don’t want to know what is going on so that I can tell the truth when Joel asks me if I know anything if anything is anything along the lines of my suspicions.

In the end, Paul and Jasmine and I are all invited to come Tuesday for dinner as Paul and Jonah’s father really hit it off, and his mother and I were not done talking about their work overseas when everybody needed to leave.

What a commitment to take on being teachers of the gospel overseas in places where it is barely known.  Where you have to learn a whole new language and culture to communicate with the people.  That has got to be a pretty frightening responsibility to look in the face at times – even if it is a joy.  I know that Kylie used to freak out about going to Scotland … let alone a place closed to the gospel (where people don’t speak English!).

Lord, thanks for the chance to meet these people who were behind getting the message of salvation to my nephew; for Jonah, who chose to speak as your servant and his parents who taught him to do this.  Please support him as he keeps supporting Hamish.

Help me to remember to pray for Kylie, for Jonah’s family and for other missionaries – that they may live blamelessly among the people they serve and honour you in all that they do.

Please help me to live blamelessly here amidst my world as I witness here also Lord.

Amen.

See today Hamish Johns’ Secret Diary for an update on his journey.

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Haunting Music

Dear God,

Thank you for a couple of days free from strange and unexpected occurrences.

I expected nothing less that to hear Gina theatricise (is that a word?) about her efforts with the computer today after yesterday’s lesson …

“…and the fingers on my right hand throbbed every time one of them hit the keyboard.  I wanted to spend the day writing things like ‘kill, kill, kill’ & ‘my polo pony’ because they only need you to use your right hand for a while …” grand sweeping gestures of the right hand working the keyboard … “but then – oh my right arm! The muscles just ached! Holding that bow just so …” again she demonstrates, “and manoeuvring it to play … Oh my ..” she stops short and looks at me, “… garden gnomes!”

And that finished me.  I laughed.

“Fine friend and teacher you are. Oh, yes – here’s the picture of sympathy!”

I keep laughing.

” You’ll live.”

But that only takes me back to yesterday ….

For the most part work was unremarkable – but then there’s always Scott.

When they were handing out patience I think Scott thought they were playing cards and decided to pass.  Seriously.  After Bible study (okay, so that was actually remarkable … but it doesn’t fit in the work box properly and I was too nervous to concentrate well) in Graham’s office Scott’s all,

“So what have you got planned for Gina for tonight?”

“A Cello lesson and dinner.”

“Yes, but, come on, an ideal situation for witnessing…”

“Scott, everyday is witnessing.  We witness by being godly and speaking when it is opportune.  But if I’m reading James correctly, if I’m not living righteously then I’m wasting my breath.”

“What’s so wrong about hitting her with the gospel while you’ve got her at your home.”

“She’s coming for a Cello lesson.  She’s invited to dinner, not an evangelistic programme.  She’s not coming for an altar call, Scott.  It’s dishonest to trick someone into a situation they don’t want – do you think it will make her open to listen?  Do you think it reflects how God wants us to come to him?  I’m not going that road.  I’m going to pray for opportunities and openings and boldness – but deception is not an option.  I’m not railroading her, Scott.  She has already said that she doesn’t want to discuss it any further than we have.”

Scott nodded and walked away looking slightly perplexed.

But it’s true.  I mean, I know that James 2 is talking about showing generosity and acting on faith in sacrifice – but its also about demonstrating by what you do that you trust God to be God and be prepared to act accordingly.

So – I will prepare myself to act, to invite, to talk, to comfort, to do whatever is needed to make her way back and be ready to make the most of opportunities, and I will continue to pray.  But I will go about doing as I have promised Gina that I would, and with God’s help I will act in a way that is godly in all I do as his witness that he is trustworthy even though she does not believe that at the moment.  To show that he is real even in the way he opens the way for the sharing of the gospel.

Gina’s lesson went well.  Her aunt’s cello is a beautiful instrument.  I can’t wait until she can play it well.  And she will – if she keeps it up, of course.  Very basic stuff today, but Gina picked up some quickly.  Apparently her Aunt was going to teach her when she was younger, but something interrupted before they got into it.  Still, she was complaining of sore fingers and having trouble holding arm in position to use the bow properly by the end.  She has a nice feel for the instrument and a good ear.  I hope she keeps it up, even if she decides to go to a different teacher after a while.

Dinner was great – as usual.  I hate cooking for just me – so I tend to pull out all stops for a visitor and enjoy myself.  There so much that’s more practical to cook for two or three than for one – even using leftovers.

Gina asked me over dinner what I’d been reading lately.  It was actually a novel that I had found among her books called  Bamboo and Lace.  Reading it now it surprised me that she’d been into that genre of book – I’d have picked her as more of a mystery lover than this book.  But then I’ve only ever met the dark, bruised Gina – not the idealist.  When I told her about the book she smiled at some memory, then let it go following it out through the window with her eyes with a distant expression on her face.

“I used to love that book.  Back when I was thinking of mission and so dedicated to Christ.  I always found the way that she was ready to give up so much of what she wanted – of what the world tells you is important – to do what she was convinced was the only righteous way to respond to her situation so inspiring.  I always hoped that I’d be able to do that if pushed.” She re-entered the room, her voice hardening, “Now look at me,” she added with a brief attempt to laugh at herself.

“Do you ever wish things were different?” I asked

She shrugs here.

“Sometimes.  I haven’t for ages.” she paused. “You can make it look real again sometimes.”

Silence.  I let her look at her own ghosts.  I’m not unsettled.  Now is a time she needs to listen to the Spirit moving moving in her – not to me.

“What?  No words of wisdom?”

“You already know anything I could say,” I grin at her. “You just want an argument so that you can talk yourself out of your thoughts.”

“You’re good.”  She smiles back at me.

“No.  God is good.  But you know that, too.  Coffee?”

Lord, please keep Gina second guessing herself.  Help her to keep questioning you again.  Father, occupy her thoughts – day and night – with your word, your truth, your gospel, your mercy, your hope.  Please bring her back to your fold.

Help me to be wise in how I act and speak, that my deeds will speak of my faith so that you may use me as your mouthpiece be it directly or indirectly.  May I bring honour to my Lord and my God in whom I pray,

Amen

Going Dotty

Dear God,

Back to work today.  Out of the castle.  No more castle-fever.

I had Chicken Pox when I was 16.  I got in my car and waved good bye to the three faces that were now becoming well enough to care that one of could leave while they remained imprisoned in the castle.

But, Father, I walked from one building full of spots into another.  There were spots on my desk.  There were spots on my chair.  There were spots on my floor, my stationary, my computer, my clock, my phone – you name it … there were spots.  I opened the desk drawer and there were spots in there too.  And somebody just plain gross had added pus leaking from the ones on the filing cabinet (Gina? no she’s more subtle than that – she did the drawer.  Scott).

My office space has Chicken Pox!

Someone – or someones had obviously brought in a tonne of target bags and catalogues and had a go at them with the scissors – in their breaks, of course …

One of the fun things about office life is that life goes on without you.  The problem is, that people still need things when you’re not there.  So – over the past three days there have been people ratting through my stuff looking for reports or files or equipment that I may or may not have in an attempt to locate it.  There have been people borrowing things and people borrowing things and then there has been Rodney.  Rodney has the equivalent position to myself (and to Kelly), but in yet another department.  This week he was hauled in to cover my spot on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning to complete something that needed to be sent off by Tuesday afternoon.  However, he needed access to stuff managed under a password that I hold to do it, so arrangements were made with IT to get him access which meant changing the password.  So Rodney goes on holidays to Scotland without telling a soul what the password is now rendering the computer largely inaccessible to me.  I offered to go to Scotland to get it from him, but they sent for IT at 3pm as I was leaving instead.

“Oh, excellent!  You’re here to fix up the computer so I can use it?  Just leave the information in sealed envelope with the Department Manager when you’re done and I’ll get it in the morning.”

“Sorry.  You’ll need to wait.  You need to sign for the password or I’ll have to come back at another time.  It won’t take long.”

So I wait.

And wait.

And wait.

“Look, I’m really sorry, but are you almost done?  I really have to go.”

“Just a couple more minutes, ma’am.  The password is in but I have a couple of minor adjustments that need to be made for security and then I can shut up shop and you’re right to go.”

“Again, I’m sorry to rush you, but I have kids waiting at home who are sick with Chicken Pox.  If you give me the password now, I will sign … ”

“But … ”

“Please … password – or I sneeze in your general direction and you take the risk that I have Chicken Pox a second time … ”

I got the password.

I finally got home to find that the household had gone mad.  Well, not mad.  Dotty.

“Auntie Alciana,” Jazzie runs up to me, “we’re having a dotty day.”

I would never have guessed by what I see around me … everywhere … dots.

Emily joins us.

“You’re only allowed to do things where there are dots in them.  We played Twister this morning, and dominoes …”

“We did join the dots and coloured them in with dots with colouring pencils and we had fairy bread for lunch!”

“And raw carrot cut in circles.”

“An’ Daddy found the twirly apple cutter so he made apple twirlies and they’re round with a big empty spot in the middle where the core was.  Isn’t that right, Daddy?”

“It is,” grins Paul, looking tired.  “Then, after lunch we all had a spot of sleep.”

“We played dot scotch!” piped in Jazz again.

“That’s like hopscotch, but with dots like the dominoes instead of numbers in the squares,” Emily explained.

“And now we’re building domino houses.  Lots of them”

“That’s right,” nods Paul.  “Because domino houses fall down with a great big crash every now and then, don’t they?”

The girls nod at me while Paul pulls a face that says he’s had enough domino houses for today, please? over their heads.

“Are they places where dotty people live?” I grin as I ask them.

The girls giggle.

Then Emily looks over her shoulder at her father, receives a nod, then turns back to me.

“Auntie Alci … ” she looks like the child that she is, disappointed not to be able to bring me a surprise. “We don’t know what we should do for dinner … ”

A thought comes just in time.  I smile.

“How about spaghetti and meatballs?  Spaghetti is long and round, and meatballs are just big round dots!  And … while you’re clearing up the dominoes and today’s games, I’ll go to the shops and get a surprise for dessert!”

Before setting out to make dinner I set them up with one last – probably the messiest – activity of the day.  I set them up with old magazines and coloured paper, a hole punch, scissors, glue, scrapbooks and a pencil each and introduced them to the ‘Dotty Mosaic’.  The idea:  draw a picture (try for one that has circles or dots included in it like wheels or wrapping paper), then instead of colouring in with pencils or paint, stick on coloured circles of paper the colour that you want things to be … “like this…” and made a tree.

Off they went.  Very content in a very spotty mess.  Hands sticky and too busy to be scratching …

I made dinner which went down very well.

Doughnut holes were a hit for desert – hooray!

I’m going home tomorrow.  If Paul can manage a “Dotty day”, visits will do from here-on-in.

Lord, I finished the last of James 1 today.  What a challenge to lay down.  Yet again and again, you challenge me to take up and show my faith by action.  Lord my control over my tongue is generally an ongoing and mutinous war.  Time and time again it brings me to my knees before you in humility as the only place to go.  I struggle endlessly to filter the pollution from the good while living in this world so spoiled by sin.  But Father, thanks for the chance to look after a widower and his two daughters in their time of need this week.

Amen.

Spotting

Dear God,

By today I had thought that Paul was going to be okay if I went home.  But he’s not.  He’s a mess.  He still needs someone to ‘spot’ for him.

He’s as grumpy as a teenager when it comes to the itches.  The girls are – for the want of a better word – scratchy; and squabbling all the time.  I spend most of my time as peacemaker because Paul has either been unduly abrupt with them or ignores the squabbling altogether until it escalates as though he hopes things will go away.

Jasmine spoke pitifully for all of us when she said very quietly into what became a sea of silence for what felt like hours afterwards, “I want Mummy”.

The girls and Paul have taken to slapping at the ‘spottos’ (Jazz’s term) – but every now and then I find someone looking at me with guilt and hand over spots … and then they slap.  I figure everyone’s afraid that I’ll tape the oven mitts onto them.

I got some good reading in this afternoon while they were all asleep.  One of Lisa and my favourite books – a very well thumbed edition.  Emily is nearly old enough for it now.

Paul appeared, tired and rumpled after sleeping and headed straight for the pills and potions.  He nodded to the book.

“Lisa loved that book.”

“I know.  She wanted Emily to read it next year.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“When she was eleven.  Same for Jasmine.”

“Why eleven?”

“That’s how old we were when we bought it – our first brand new book.”

“You’ve got one too?” he smiled.

“No.  We pooled our pocket money and bought this one together.” I smiled back, remembering.

Paul looked like he didn’t want to say what he was going to say next, and I knew already what it was.

“Don’t, Paul.  We’d already agreed that it should stay here for Emily and Jasmine.”

“But … What if you …? You know … ”

“Paul there is nothing and no-one on the horizon at the moment and even if there were, I’m sure that they can let cousins read a book when they’re eleven if it comes to that.  They’d be at least eight years older than them to start with if anything ever came to pass and hopefully more than that.”

“Eleven, hey … ” he nodded.  “Anything else – rites of passage I need to know about now?”

“I don’t know.  I suppose I’d better think about it.  Some of them will need to stay secret womens’ business – and you won’t want to know; but you’re right … there might be other things.  You should think about whether you’ll want my help with anything in particular or at particular times too – if you don’t remarry or anything”

“I should be okay.  What would I want help with?”

“I don’t know.  Some men are comfortable talking to their daughters about their period and sex and boyfriends and stuff and some go green at the gills, give the girl a pack of pads and run then stand at the door with a shotgun if anything male walks near; others like the girls to get both male and female perspective on the stuff (not the period – the other stuff).  Things like dressing nicely, but appropriately; doing hair and make-up – but friends may do that; formal dresses, weddings … .  The girls will decide lots with you as the time comes when they get older.  Did you and Lisa have a plan about that kind of stuff?”

“Some of it.  But you’re right, I’ll have to re-think it and get back to you.  Some people would suggest that I get Karen to do things because she’s a mother – but I think you’re a better fit.  You get the girls.  Besides, she’s got boys anyway.  If she had daughters, maybe I’d look at things differently and talk to both of you, but you and Lisa were close.  You will think about what Lisa would have said and share stories about Lisa if I need you to do any of that stuff.  I think the girls would like that too.”

Lord, reading your word today you say that we should be quick to listen and slow to anger.  That’s really hard to do with a house full of whining sick people, whinging about being itchy and biting at each other, making complaints about each other’s words and actions.  Especially when all of us are at our most vulnerable and missing someone for whom we are still grieving and would have normally been doing this job.  Thanks for helping me keep my temper most of the time, but please forgive my attitude at times – for I too found myself became a whining complainer and was poor tempered for most of the morning.

Please help me to be humble so that I can live and serve in a manner that is righteous in accordance with the gospel by which I have been saved.  Help me to remember this lesson tomorrow and to work towards change so that I will be someone who does not become caught up in whinging and ill temper when surrounded by it and that in this change I may humble myself to the gospel and so be blessed.

Amen.

A Spot of Bother

Dear God,

Thank you for sustaining me through the last three days.

I woke up on Sunday morning feeling bright and cheerful and alive.  The sun was out.  The garden looked great.  Sure, the girls had been a bit tired Saturday night, but today was a new day and we had adventures aplenty in store.

I snuck on my tippiest of tippy toes in to greet them, thinking what a rare treat this was – normally by now they’d have been in to wake me and I’d have read them at least two stories.

So I sneak through the open door and find two little girls lying in bed.  One is asleep and looks very pale under a rosy flush on her face.  The other is bundled firmly up in her doona shivering and sweating and pale.

“Auntie Alciana, I feel sick.”  I feel her skin with the back of my hand.

“Yep,” I nod, “I think you feel sick too.  Think you can stand a glass of water to start with?”

Emily nods.

On the other side of the room seven-year-old Jazz groans and calls out in a teary voice, “Auntie Alciana, I feel sick.”

“You too, huh?  How about I get you some water too and then I might ring your Dad and see what he wants me to do with two sick chicks?”

Both nod miserably.

When I finally get to ring Paul he sounds awful.

“Alci?  Is that you?  That’s good, I was just about to ring you.  Do you think you could keep the girls for a few days – Mum could help a bit before and after school while you’re at work …”

“Paul, the girls …”

“… I’m really worried about what else to do with them until I’m sure I’m not contagious anymore …”

“Paul, …. the girls are … ”

” … I swear, I was so off last night – but Alci – I’ve got Chicken Pox.”

Chicken Pox … Lord, why Chicken Pox?

“Fan-tas-tic!”  Paul misreads my sarcasm.

“Yeah, I know.  Bummer, hey.  So, what do you say?  I know its not ideal with work and your own health and all, but…”

“I say that I’m taking Emily & Jazz to the doctor to confirm that they probably have Chicken Pox too, and then I’m packing a bag and coming out to look after you all while you’re still off colour.  I’ll go home when you’re just spotty and not sick.”

“What?”

“They’re sick.  Both of them.  Burning up like little steam engines.  Like when I had it when I was sixteen.  Paul, I’d say you, Emily and Jasmine all have Chicken Pox.”

Then Paul said a word that I’m not writing in my journal.

By lunchtime there were spots on their tummies.

Paul and I decided doctors could wait til Monday, so I picked up calamine lotion and stuff to put in the bath that everybody was glad of.

I cooked dinner to the disinterest of all but myself and the dog.

Monday came and I called work to arrange time off to care for family – no problems.

Next on the agenda saw me driving all three miserable specimens into the doctor’s surgery.  One, two, three spotty persons along the wall.  Everyone coming in (or already there) took one look and made for the other side of the room.

“Give me a bell and I’ll walk around yelling ‘unclean! unclean!” Paul mumbled out of the side of his mouth.

I giggled.  And then thought.

“Where did you pick that up?”  I asked.

He shrugged.  “I’ve been reading bits of the Bible now and then – though it’s hard to make sense of some of it.  A guy at work who explains some bits to me if I ask him said some people had to do that if they had diseases and stuff that were considered ceremonially unclean by the Jews”

Interesting

“Cool.”

Lord, Paul’s been reading your word and has been talking to another believer about you.  I never give you enough credit for what you without me … I always seem to think that my family getting to know you depends upon me – but it’s really all you, isn’t it?  Help me keep my role in perspective.  This is not my job, but yours.

Medical certificates for school and Paul’s work fixed up … although Jazz was reluctant to part with hers until she at length grasped the fact that it was not an achievement award.  (for getting the chicken pox????)  We assured her that we would be keeping a copy anyway.  She has already shown her certificate (still seen as one of merit) to the school office ladies, the groundsman, the pharmacy assistant, old Mrs Hargraves, Bennie – who was at the pharmacy and to the post man (she waited for him … I think she has cabin fever already).

Tuesday

Lord, after two days of chasing my tail I am so dizzy that I am seeing spots.  No.  Actually.  The spots are real.  They are still there.

So are the grumbles.

The normally good-humoured Johns family of the brother Paul are scratchy.  Scratchy of mood and finger.

I resorted in a moment of impulsive frustration today to taping Jasmine into oven mitts today.  They were handy and I couldn’t stop her from scratching.

Poor kiddie.  She looked a bit like an American basketball fan with those big foam things on.

Emily, seeing what I’d done to Jazzy when she couldn’t leave the spots alone went upstairs for a while – and just as I was about to go looking for her  – down the stairs she came in a balaclava with socks on her hands.

I looked at her.

She looked at Jazz’s hands, then held up her own and shrugged.

I’d have loved to have seen the expression on her face.

Paul – Paul just scratches when he thinks the girls aren’t looking; looks at me and says, “what? I can’t help it … Don’t you even think about it!”

Never brother dear.  You may bear your scars manfully.

But I noticed him letting the girls talk him into putting socks on his hands.

Gave me a filthy look over their heads as he melted.

Thinking about scratching makes me think of the way James talks about temptation in chapter one.  First there’s the itch.  Nobody makes you scratch it.  But the desire is there.  You scratch when your desire to do so is enticed by the itch and you make the choice to – (and make chicken pock scars?)… and then it’s harder and harder to stop.

Lord through James you make it clear that a Christian is to be steadfast and reaching for the ultimate prize of eternal life.  Please help me to resist temptation.  May you strengthen me so that I may not allow sinful desire to be enticed, but that you will replace sinful desires with good and perfect ones from you.  Father please protect me from habitually ignoring sin and discounting it, but make me long for your truth and the way that you have set forth in your word as wise and righteous and godly.  Forgive me for the times when I want to or try to lay responsibility for my sin at your feet – for you are a good God, holy and righteous, perfect and just and have been for all time.  You are unchanging.

Father thank you for choosing to grant me new life through the gospel and a place in eternity.

Amen.

Grow Up

Dear God,

When does anyone actually grow up?  I’m not sure that I have yet.  Nor my father when your name is mentioned.  And I sometimes I don’t think I want my nieces and nephews to grow up … although I wouldn’t want them acting like selfish, infantile adults either.

The young guy on the bus was there again today.  James (should be easy to remember since this is what I’m reading).  He sees me and comes bounding up to say “Hi!” and collapse into the seat beside me.  He’s a little like a Labrador pup without the tongue hanging out – big, oversized feet; baggy clothing over a gangly body that he’s yet to fill out; and an animated face looking for any response that it might draw from yours.  Ready to interact, ready to enjoy life, enthusiastic.

“Where’s the lady?” he asks, looking around him.  “That’s two days she hasn’t been here.  She’s always here.  Even before she started talking to you all the time.”

“I don’t know.  Maybe she’s on holidays.”

“Holidays? No.  She doesn’t need holidays, she’s old.  It’s not like she’d still be working.”

“She might.  It’d be pretty boring sitting at home all day.  She looks pretty fit.  Maybe she’s visiting family.  Maybe she’s sick.”

“I think we should pray for her.” he says. And he does.  On the bus.  Full of people.  Be not ashamed.  So I join him.

“Guess what!” he says when he finishes.  “I bought a book.”

He pulls a book out of his bag about knowing and telling the gospel, together with a leaflet about a course by a Christian group on campus about sharing the gospel.  “And see,” he adds, “they’re running a course.  How’s that for an answer to prayer!”

I tell him how fantastic I think this is and how I want to hear all about what he’s learning – which I do, but then tell him that now is my stop and I have to get off or catch buses all over the city.  He gives me a blank look and I tell him I’ll tell him tomorrow.

Work looked like it was going to be uneventful – and was for most of the day.  Except lunch.  Kelly and I were in the lunch room talking about what we had planned for the weekend – mine’s full of family since Emily & Jasmine are sleeping over on Saturday night, Kelly’s busy planning a girls’ night out for her best friend – and it sounds like a great fun, she was just reaching her grand finale when

“Hel-loooo everybody!”

“Hi Scott”

“Scott” Kelly nods.

Then we made the mistake of making eye contact – Kelly, who thought I wasn’t looking finished rolling her eyes.

I held my breath.

Kelly coughed.

“Kelly, did I show you the …”

“No. Not yet.”

And we walked out of the tea room.  Down the hall outside, and made for the front entrance, bolted round the corner, started giggling like we were fifteen and could not stop.

Lord, maturity is hard to grow into in this life.  Maturity in Christ – I’m glad that you are willing to work with me on that.

Father on reading James, I am reminded of Paul in Philippians who rejoiced in the opportunity to suffer as Christ did for the sake of the gospel, an opportunity to grow more like Christ.  Father  James speaks also of joy in facing trials because the testing of our faith develops perseverance – a perseverance that must finish its work that a Christian may be mature and complete and not lack anything.  It seems to me that these writers are saying very similar things – if not the same.  Lord help me learn to stick by faith in you and develop perseverance and to consider this a joy even when it comes in the form of trials and troubles.  Father I want to be mature in you.  It is hard enough to become mature in this earthly life all the time – please make me mature in the new way that you are teaching me day by day.

Lord you say that if I lack anything – like wisdom (especially wisdom) – I can ask you for it and you will give it to me.  You say that I need to ask without doubt – as a single minded, single-souled follower and not someone who will not commit my life entirely to you.  Father, I don’t want to be like the double-souled, double hearted person with one eye on your goal and the other somewhere else.  Please grant me your wisdom that I might become mature in you.

Amen