Mount up with wings…

This week I had the opportunity to watch one of my newly hatched budgies take the awesome leap out of the nesting box for the very first time. I had been observing these young birds for the last few weeks, ever since they hatched and I have been amazed by just how fast they have grown. The previous two days I found two young birds flying about the cage but yesterday I happened to be present as the last of the clutch suck its head out of the box, stepped onto the ledge and then took its first flight.

It was not very impressive, it didn’t last long, the landing was less than perfect but the second attempt was better. Within half an hour the young budgie was exploring the whole cage and was being welcomed by the other birds.

Throughout the course of the day his flying improved even more and it is more than likely that he will never return to the nest.

In the last few months I have been coming to terms with two of my own children ‘leaving the nest’. My son was married in September and my daughter is getting married in February. I am excited to see them ‘take flight’ but I am also a little conflicted, as I will miss the way things were. Life presents opportunities for growth but growth leads to change and change is a mix of exciting and uncomfortable.

Some of the birds in my aviary are very young and others (of course) are much older – for some, flight is a new thing but it is normal and even passé for the others. Flight is to a bird as walking is to us – you don’t even think about it until you cannot do it.

But if a bird gets too tired to fly, if weariness grounds it so that it cannot move, then it is in danger: Danger of predators; danger of starvation; and danger of separation.

Weariness has the same effect upon us all and tiredness can make everything seem hard and fraught with dangers, which can hinder us.

 

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary…but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”           Isaiah 40:30

 

So whether you have recently flown the coop or if, like me, you are an older bird – be refreshed as you wait upon the Lord!

Two-Way communication…

“If you require information on ADSL press 1; If you are having difficulties with your fixed line service press 2; if you are having difficulties with your mobile service press 3”…

The problem was I was having difficulties with all three!

I have had a strange time this week where I have found myself on the phone to Telstra every single day. We have just moved house and it has been a challenge to get the phones working – technicians, electricians and multiple phone calls got us to the point where there was a dial tone but no internet…5 more days of phone calls finally saw the internet working but then our mobiles had an issue (yet another call) and finally I got to my office to find that the phone there could make calls out but couldn’t receive calls coming in.

This was a particularly difficult fault to isolate because I don’t tend to call myself at the office when I am there and when I am not there I don’t call the office at all…

A couple of weeks ago someone mentioned that they had trouble getting through to the office but when I picked up the phone to check, it appeared to work fine – it was not until I realised that we had not received any messages for a few days that I really looked into it. It was a strange fault and very rare according to Francesco from Telstra who had become, by this stage, quite a close friend.   Finally, the fault was resolved, final tests were made and I can happily report that everything is working and I can actually start to get some real work done.

But this final fault got me thinking; the ability to send messages but the inability to receive them…is it actually as rare as was suggested?   In my experience I think the answer is no – I meet a lot of people who are very good at speaking but not so good at listening. Many desire to get their point across at all costs but rarely stop to consider the other’s point of view.

Having a ‘one-way’ communication strategy is flawed, a bias that leads to imbalance.

We need a regular ‘two-way’ communication or else we will fail to receive the information and input we require.

Prayer is designed as ‘two-way’ communication – not just a list of requests and requirements. Prayer also speaks of receiving guidance that is desperately needed.

Maybe it is time to check your service?

“Speak Lord, your servant hears!” 1 Sam 3:9

Double booked…

It doesn’t happen very often but when it does it can be quite difficult. This week I was faced with the challenge of having two appointments at the same time – both were important, both couldn’t be rearranged and both were events I wanted to attend.

Sometimes clashing appointments are great because it gets you out of something that you didn’t really want to do… ‘having’ to miss a dentist appointment because you ‘have’ to go to a meeting at work or; ‘having’ to miss distant cousin’s birthday because you ‘have’ to catch up with friends who are headed for the beach or; ‘having’ to miss an overtime shift because you ‘have’ to use your tickets to the cricket.

Other times you are faced, like I was, with two things that you want to do at once and you are left with the dilemma of choosing one of them. At these times I find myself having to go through a process of elimination and evaluation where I try to work out which one is more important and which one I can afford to miss. I look at whether I can have someone go in my stead or whether I can catch up on what I have missed some other way – but when none of these are possible I have to look at which one is going to have a more lasting effect – which one will make the biggest difference.

As I said, I am glad that it doesn’t happen very often and I am glad that I don’t have to make this choice regularly but I am sure that you face this dilemma just as often as I do.

As I thought about this I remembered that there is a regular appointment that we all are invited to; it is the daily appointment of conversing with the God who brings life to us all (Prayer).

There are many different ways of having the conversation (I don’t think the method you choose is important), there is no particular time set for the appointment (some choose morning, others evening or ???) and there is definitely no particular venue you must use. But even with all that flexibility, it is amazing how often we ‘miss’ this appointment because something else is allowed to get in its way.

When you consider the benefits – the lasting effects – it is possibly the most important appointment you have today.

So whatever you have to do – don’t miss it!

Mind the gap!

The doors opened and I waited to step onto the train with a dozen or so others. When the disembarking passengers had cleared the path we moved forward and I noticed one young man looking intently at his phone as he stepped onto the train. The problem was that he didn’t manage to step all the way in and his foot found the gap between the station and the train and he stumbled and almost fell down.

He was fortunate because the ‘gap’ was not too large but depending on the station and the particular train carriage you happen to be on, the gap can be quite significant.

As the doors closed, I looked up and I noticed something else, there was a sign right there on the wall which read…

“Mind the gap!”

Watching this tiny drama unfold piqued my interest and so I did a little bit of research:

I found a series of disturbing videos showing people falling down ‘the gap’ between the carriage and the station; I found out that the first “Mind the gap!” sign was erected in the London Underground in 1968; I discovered that in Hong Kong the ‘Mind the gap!” announcement is made in three languages (Cantonese, English and Mandarin); I also found that you can buy a “Mind the Gap” Tee-shirt from the London transit authority; and, most disturbing of all, each year there are thousands of injuries reported world wide from people who have failed to “Mind the gap!”

As I said, each station and each train can be different so the ‘gap’ can vary significantly.

In the same way we can have ‘gaps’ in our lives which can be dangerous to navigate.

We can have gaps in our understanding.

We can have gaps in our experience.

We can have gaps in our circumstances.

The gaps we have may be present because of things we have missed out on or because of something someone has done to us. We may have gaps because we have been sick or injured or just because of the way the road of life has turned.

So there are two choices when you find a gap – step over it or close it. I am so thankful that I have found the One who is able to fix the gaps in my life so that I can walk with confidence!

How about you?

“And He shall be called the closer of the gap, the restorer of a home to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:12

Long Range Communications

“Hi mate, its Michael, how are you doing?”

It took me about 15 seconds to realise who was on the other end of the phone line. The voice was familiar but I wasn’t expecting the call, the other thing that threw me off was the fact that the reception was just so clear. Michael was calling from literally the other side of the world but it sounded like he was in the room next door.

I was watching the news yesterday and they crossed to Melbourne for a report and there was at least a 3 second pause between sentences – now here I was, talking to a friend in one of the most remote places in the world, without any difficulty whatsoever.

The quality of long range communications is based upon many variables: the sophistication of the equipment being used; the quality of the local communication lines; the capacity of the exchange that you are working through; and even the atmospheric conditions which are present at the time…all of these work together to determine whether your message will be instant, delayed or not even get to where you want it to go.

After the first surprise at hearing his voice, I was really pleased that we were able to catch up but every now and then throughout the conversation, I had to remind myself about just how amazing it was that we were even able to talk at all.

We live in a time where we just take so many things for granted and we never give them a second thought: We expect communications to be available and instant; we expect wi-fi; we anticipate at least 30 channels when we turn on the TV (even if 15 of them are shopping infomercials!): and we expect to be able to order a caramel Macchiato whenever we feel like one.

There is an old saying that “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and the corollary is also true. Having things always available stops us appreciating them.

Hearing from my mate made me stop and think about another communication line that I often take for granted – it is the open door of prayer that is waiting for us every day. Some days the reception is not so clear or a little delayed but I have worked out that the problem is always on my end. When I follow the simple instructions the delay disappears and real communications can start. So how’s your reception?

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” James 4:8

My New Friend…

Over the last two weeks I have found myself with a new friend… we have seen each other every day, interacted sporadically and, I think, we have got to know each other quite well.

It is a relationship with mutual respect and a high level of understanding but it is not what you would call a ‘functional friendship’. All the power in this relationship belongs to only one member and the will of that member dictates the terms of the relationship to the other.

Truth to tell, I have no power in this relationship at all but if I keep to the rules I will be OK but if I don’t, then watch out!

My new friend is a Plover.

It took me a few days to realise that my new friend was even there – I would walk past my office and I would see it out of the corner of my eye and think nothing of it. It wasn’t until I took a call outside my office that I realised that it was sitting in the same position as the day before. That afternoon it was still sitting there, in the middle of the bowling green, outside my office. This is when I made my first mistake – I walked over to the Plover because I thought it may have been injured and as I approached it began to squawk loudly. As I took another step it stood up (revealing three eggs), another step and it was in the air flying right at my head!

I ducked and turned around only to be swooped by the bird’s partner who, unbeknownst to me, had been keeping guard!

The last two weeks have been interesting – each morning I walk past my friend and it gives me a noisy welcome – occasionally I have taken a step towards it just to see the reaction – not a wise move! I have watched as the pair have warded off Cockatoos, Magpies, Dogs, small children and other Plovers – nothing has been allowed near…

I have also watched this Bird faithfully sit on her eggs throughout 7 days of continuous rain – not taking a break and never shirking her responsibility of care to safely ensure her chicks hatch.

It reminded me of the scripture which promises that the Lord will keep us safe under the ‘shadow of His wings’ – it is great to know that He cares for us so much and is willing to defend us as well. Our future is assured if we allow Him to care for us!

Did you sleep well?

It started out as a few muffled noises but fairly quickly grew into the distinct sound of raised voices and raucous laughter.

It was 3am and I had just been woken from what had been, up until that moment, a good sleep.

I rolled over and tried to ignore what was going on outside but things were escalating.  I heard the sound of breaking glass as a couple of bottles were smashed on the road, a car engine was revving and all chance of sleep was chased away.

I didn’t get out of bed until I started to hear the screech of brakes as now cars (plural) were being hastily manoeuvred around the carpark.

I looked out of the window and things were really hotting up.  About 5 alcohol fuelled guys were mucking around attempting to do burnouts and feeling very self satisfied regarding their antics.  I am certain that every guest in every room was now awake and the police had no doubt been informed.  But before the authorities arrived another voice entered the now, out of control, environment.  This voice was angry, swearing and telling the others, in no uncertain terms, to ‘push off’.  I watched as a bit of ‘argy bargy’ ensued and then a noisy game of ‘chasings’ followed and it all culminated with the two cars spinning their wheels for one final time as they drove off to hassle the next sleeping venue.

The police arrived with flashing lights about 15 minutes later and while statements were taken, I went back to bed.

As I lay on my bed trying to capture what was now an illusive hope of sleep, I thought about what had just happened and other things which interrupt the normal ‘peace’ of our lives.  It is rare for me to lose sleep but for many I know it is a common occurrence.  Concerns about work, family, finances and health can rob you of calm and can fill you with anxiety which rings in your ears as loudly as the sounds of hoons doing a ‘donut’ in a carpark.  Our internal voices can keep us awake as we replay the concern of our heart and mind leaving us no hope of comfort or rest.

Into this circumstance I would suggest an answer…

“You will keep them in perfect peace,

Whose minds are fixed on You,

Because they trust in You.”               Isaiah 26:3

Think on Him and I hope you sleep well…