How clear is your vision?

I couldn’t put up with it any longer and so I stood up to do something about it…

I number of years ago I joined the ranks of those who wear reading glasses and along with each of them I have come to find myself frustrated by how often you have to clean them.  I am notoriously slow at fulfilling this task because I rarely carry a handkerchief and most of the time I do not have another option available.  Often my wife will look at me and laugh and will take my glasses off and clean them because she can’t bear it any longer – I always feel surprised at what a difference it makes and I generally tell myself that I should do this at least once a day.

The other day I was in the office doing some financial spreadsheets and I realised that I was working hard to look past the smudges and grime which had built up over the previous couple of days – (my wife obviously hadn’t looked at me recently!) I stood up and crossed the room to the box of tissues and proceeded to clean my glasses.   I returned to my computer and put on my glasses only to find that I could see even less than before – figuring that I had just moved the dirt around and not removed it, I walked across the room once more to grab another tissue.

This time I made certain to be diligent to give my glasses the thorough clean they required.

Back to my desk and on with the glasses only to find that I couldn’t see at all!  There was a milky residue smeared on both the inside and the outside of the lenses.

I walked back across the room and had a look at the tissues – I read the side of the box – “Now with gentle aloe-vera” – so I hadn’t been cleaning my glasses as much as massaging them!

I found this quite amusing as I headed to the sink to wash my now completely useless glasses but afterwards I was again surprised by what a difference clarity can make.

Part of Jesus’ mission to earth was to bring ‘the recovery of sight to the blind’ but this exchange with my glasses and the aloe-vera tissues made me think – blindness is not only physiological but can be emotional, mental or spiritual.  The cause? Objects or substances which we allow to get in the way.   So the question for you is…

How clear is your ‘vision’ today?  

A shard of glass…

I was summoned to the kitchen with a request for a little help.  My wife had her foot up on the bench (an effort I wish I was able to accomplish!) and was looking at it trying to work out why she was in pain.  On closer examination there was a tiny shard of glass that had lodged itself in the ball of her foot.  I could only just see it and it was only when I changed my angle of view that the light reflected off of it and made it clear.  I took a pair of tweezers and carefully removed the glass and we were all good to go.

The reason for the current minor injury was something that happened the night before – as I was making a cup of tea I knocked a wine glass off of the bench and onto the floor.  All the pieces were picked up (so I thought) and the kitchen was thoroughly swept (so I thought) and all potential for injury was removed (so I thought).

The problem was that shattering glass, especially fine glass travels an astonishing distance and it is very difficult to identify all of the fragments or remove all the risks of future injury.  Bare feet are very adept at finding the glass that the broom or even the vacuum will tend to miss.

As stated, this was not a serious injury – but minor or not, it points out a strong reality that we all have to live with.  Many things which happen in our lives cause a sense or a reality of ‘shattering’ – relationships change, hopes and dreams are unrealised, options are removed or people let you down.  You do your best to recover and ‘clean up’ after these experiences but often, down the line, we will find a splinter or a shard which reminds us of the residual pain we carry.

Although my wife was able to get her leg up on the bench she needed assistance to remove her pain – knowing you have a problem is one thing, asking the right person for help is another.  Over the last 3 and a half decades I have found one who is willing to heal all my pain and is able to remove splinters both small and large.

Perhaps you are in need of His help today?

 “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved”  Jeremiah 17:14

Wake up!

The sound of a waterfall doesn’t work, bird noises have no effect whatsoever, gentle music makes the situation worse so I have had to settle for a piercing tone that will cut through my consciousness and force me to wake up.

Most of the time I don’t use an alarm clock in order to rise – more often than not my body clock knows when it is time to be upright – but once or twice a week my schedule can change and I need to wake at an uncomfortable hour in order to make an early flight or to deal with Sydney traffic so that I can get to an early meeting.

I am sure that you have had the same experience that I have when you have chosen the wrong alarm tone.  I once tried bird noises but ended up just rolling over thinking that the outside of my house was being attacked.  Waterfall sounds were slightly more effective but only because they made me uncomfortable because I needed to go to the toilet.  Gentle music lulled me into a deeper sleep and I was almost 30 mins late. I tried waking up to faster and louder music but my dreams took me into the middle of an action adventure sequence which ended badly and I was still running late.  So I have had to settle for a ‘claxon’ like sound which is both uncomfortable and unmistakable.  The outcome is that whenever the alarm goes off my heart jumps a beat, I sit up wildly in bed and fumble to switch it off – but the desired effect is achieved in that I am awake when I need to be.

There are other times in my life when I need to wake up but there is not an alarm clock to achieve the task – sometimes I need to wake up to the relationships I am in – sometimes I need to wake up to the hurt that I have caused others – sometimes I need to wake up to the fact that I need to rest and look after myself – sometimes I need to wake up to the fact that there is something new to learn or something I need to experience or change.

I wonder what you may need to wake up to – perhaps it is personal, emotional or spiritual?

I hope that you do not stay asleep to it all day! The Lord is speaking to you today…

“Awake, you who sleep,

Arise from the dead,

And Christ will give you light.”

Ephesians 5:14

Locked out!

As the lock clicked behind me I thought nothing of it until I returned from the bathroom to find my door firmly locked and myself on the wrong side of it.  It was close to midnight and I was on the third floor of an army accommodation block 1.5km from the front gate.  I know it was 1.5km because I had to walk there in my boxer shorts, long sleeved shirt and socks…I am just happy that I didn’t head to the bathroom in my undies or a towel!

I tried to look inconspicuous as I made my way to the gate and then I tried to look inconspicuous again as I walked back, to wait for security to unlock my door.  It was a foolish mistake and from then on I made sure that I always had my key with me.

I had only one task during this conference – I was responsible for the collection and distribution of the 30 or so sets of keys for the participants.  Some stayed for three nights and some only for one and on the second day there were lots of comings and goings… some how in the confusion my key got mixed up with the others and was returned to security, whilst I had a key in my pocket it was not the key to my room!  This time it was about 10pm and I hoped that a different security guard was on duty! I walked to the font gate – thankfully this time fully clothed…I just made it look like I was out for a nonchalant walk in the middle of the night.

As the security guard unlocked my room for the second time I pondered how important having the right key and freedom of access can be.

For me it was the difference between having somewhere to sleep and not, having access to my phone and possessions, being warm and comfortable rather than being caught outside and exposed.  But locked doors can separate us from many things – doors of opportunity if locked can keep us from our potential – doors of relationship if locked can leave us lonely and confused – doors of satisfaction if locked can leave us in despair and depression.

Jesus told His followers I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven”          Matthew 16:19

The most important door is the one which leads you to God’s purpose and plan for your life – and the good news is that He holds that key ready for you!

Too many leaves…

Right from the start I was fighting a losing battle but it had to be done…

I have two very large trees in my garden and because I am by no means a horticulturist I cannot tell you their species or genus but I can tell you that once a year they shed every one of their considerable number of leaves, blanketing my house, garden and driveway.

This of course happens as one of the defining aspects of autumn as the weather starts to turn cold and as the days grow steadily shorter.

I mentioned that the trees were sizeable but the number of leaves which end up on the ground always amazes me – if left, they will kill all of the grass on my property, clog my gutters, block my drains and even hamper access through my back door.  They have to be dealt with…

But I have found that I cannot wait until all of the leaves have fallen – they don’t all fall on the same day and over a period of a few weeks the trees start to ‘thin out’ like the hair of the head of a man with a questionable ‘comb-over’.

So I started clearing up – I raked, mowed, collected, compressed and blow-vacked my way around my front garden and I was impressed – not a leaf to be seen!

I mirrored my efforts in the back yard to the same outcome only to walk back to the front yard to find that in the last 2 hours almost half the amount of leaves had fallen again!  Over the last few days since working on the yard it looks as if nothing has been done even though 1000’s of offenders had been removed.

This weekend I will make another attempt and the outcome will be the same but eventually the leaves will run out and the task will be done for another year.

Seasons come and go and sometimes there is nothing you can do but weather them… you may be facing a season in your life that is challenging or stretching you beyond your normal capacity – it might seem that you are not making headway and the more you sweep away the problems the more they remain – I want to encourage you that you do not have to face this alone and that seasons give us an opportunity to make change.

Remember Jesus said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”                        Hebrews 13:5

Pass it around

My family have been very generous this week but I wish they hadn’t. Most of the time when people share what they have you are pleased about it…when they offer to share their Easter chocolate you have no hesitation to accept; when they ask you to be their ‘plus 1’ at the movies when they have won tickets you are happy to oblige; or when they sit down to tell you something fantastic which has happened to them you listen with genuine enjoyment.

But my family has been sharing something that I didn’t want any part of.  It started with a sniffle and was followed by a cough; groans and moans ensued as individuals ‘soldiered on’ and headed off to work. Tissue boxes were emptied; flu tablets and throat lozenges were consumed but slowly first one, then another and finally everyone in the house started to show the symptoms.

The common cold is ultimate act of sharing…it seems that no matter how careful you are, how much antibacterial spray you use, no matter if you cover your mouth, avoid physical contact or even isolate yourself from everyone else, you can’t help but share it around.

It is just a pity that it is such a negative thing and that it spreads so well…imagine if positive things did the same: Imagine if your positive attitude automatically transferred to the jaded shop assistant who barely acknowledges you; or if you are particularly good with money, just being around you made your fiscally inept relatives and friends suddenly careful and responsible; or if your confidence and security could be passed along to those who have no sense of purpose or self-worth.

Colds seem to spread easily because we create the right environment for them, we live busy lives, our diets often lack nutrition, we work in close quarters, we live in air conditioning – all of this adds to the potential for illness and for passing bugs around.

Passing around positives is a little more difficult but we should not be put off this enterprise because if we all could catch ‘the good’ that each of us was passing around then obviously things would only improve.

Jesus lived as a great example to for us to follow… “He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed…” “So do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased”  (Heb 13:16)

What do you need to remember

Something would have to shift!

A birthday present of a new bike for one of my kids triggered a chain reaction which lead to the reorganisation of my garage.  To make things work I had to make decisions about what needed to be here, what needed to be there and what needed to be thrown away.

I find that it is great to have a reason to have a ‘clean out’ now and then, otherwise clutter and the disorganisation of life will stifle your ability to move and even to breath.

 

Things were sorted in three piles:  Things that need to be in the garage; things which need to be somewhere else; and things which need to be thrown out. However, during this process I came across an archive box which I had not seen for a while and it needed to be placed in a pile all of its own.  It contained a conglomeration of different items from years past: football pennants; awards; special nic-nacs which immediately caused me to travel through time.  There was a diary I wrote on my first trip overseas, a program from the first Theatre Show I ever attended, my high school year-book and other personal gifts and remembrances.

I ended up finding a secure and dry ‘hid-e-hole’ for the box to remain.  It will be safe there until I next come across it or I next move house – the memories will be intact and precious and they form a small part of who I have become.

 

April is a time for remembrance – around this time we have already celebrated Easter and this week we remember ANZAC Day.  In both events we celebrate individuals who were willing to ‘lay down their lives for their friends’.

We honour all those who have given so much and the least we can do is remember.

It is a little like the opening of my archive box; we force ourselves to recall, we contemplate what was and we celebrate what we have because of what has gone before.

I don’t know how organised your life is, how much room or time you have…but I hope that this weekend you take the opportunity to look back and celebrate the past and look forward in expectation of the future.

“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,”                      Isaiah 46:9