home > Pastor’s Desk > 2023 > March 3rd > A Very Present Help

A VERY PRESENT HELP

Over summer I had the blessing of looking after my granddaughter Olive for a few hours.  I personally think she’s the best bubba in the world, but I suspect every other parent and grandparent may disagree.  They’re wrong, of course, but I won’t argue the point.  After a while she fell asleep in my arms.  Isn’t it one of the most precious things to hold a sleeping baby or child? To feel their warmth and closeness, to hold them securely, to see the way they relax into you. I always loved slipping into our children’s bedrooms when they were sleeping. Sometimes I couldn’t help myself and I just had to take a photo.  Too often I forgot about the automatic flash on my camera, and our poor children were woken from their slumber by a bright flash of light in their faces.  Oops.  I suspect they may still hold it against me.

I love this verse found in one of King David’s Psalms:

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2

It’s a beautiful picture of a small child with his or her mother, secure, calm, quiet, safe, relaxed.  It’s worth noting that it specifies a weaned child – the child is not there because they are seeking nourishment but quietly resting in their mother’s presence.

Have you noticed how often in Scripture God offers His presence as the answer to our fears or circumstances?

We see it when both Moses and Joshua were being called to lead the Israelites:

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you…”
Exodus 3:11-12

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

In Psalm 46 the Sons of Korah record these words:

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.

Psalm 46:1-2

This is not a promise that nothing will go wrong!  But it reminds us that in the midst of our circumstances, our Lord is present to help us. Because of His presence with us, we need not fear.

Just before His ascension, Jesus’ final word are recorded in Matthew 28, commonly called “The Great Commission”.  Jesus concludes His commissioning with the comfort of His presence always: 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20

When we think of the presence of God, there’s an important truth we must remember: God is always with us!  His presence is everywhere.


Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:24

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
Psalm 139:7

Our experience and awareness of God’s presence may vary, but He is always with us.

There are many helpful and easy practices we can do to increase our awareness of God’s presence in our life.  Practises as simple as thankfulness, reflecting on Scripture (you could pop sticky notes on your mirror or car or cupboard), praying for people as we watch the news or as we go about our life, pausing regularly to intentionally focus on God, breath prayers. I heard someone – a fellow tea drinker – share that whenever she was making a cup of tea and waiting with the teabag in her cup, she would pray that God would infuse her with the Holy Spirit just like the tea leaves were infusing the water. Sometimes when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I make myself walk s l o w l y – it’s to remind my spirit that God gives me enough time, strength and grace to do whatever He’s called me to do.

Brother Lawrence wrote a very well-known book “Practising the Presence of God”.  He made a practise of being aware of the presence of God in the everyday tasks of his life – washing dishes and working in the monastery kitchen.

Sometimes we are so very aware of the Lord’s presence in our lives.  Sometimes we get distracted, or busy, or caught up in life and find ourselves losing that awareness.  Sometimes God “feels” a long way away (remember that He’s not, though!).

As someone who longs to be aware of God’s presence in all my life, from my waking moments to retiring at the end of the day, through the mundane tasks and the special occasions, I find these words of Brother Lawrence encouraging:

“As often as I could, I placed myself as a worshiper before him, fixing my mind upon his holy presence, recalling it when I found it wandering from him. This proved to be an exercise frequently painful, yet I persisted through all difficulties.”

My prayer is that you and I increase in our awareness of the faithfulness and constancy of our Lord’s presence in our lives, that we persist in our intentionality of practises to increase that awareness… and that we learn to relax into our Father’s arms and rest like a child with their mother, safe, secure and at peace.

Amen.

 

 

Your Care Team Pastor,

 

Donna.

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

3 Comments

  1. Dr. Andrew Corbett

    Well done Donna. Always good to be reminded of God’s good presence especially when we are apprehensive.

    Reply
  2. LYDIA

    Such a beautiful, calming piece of writing Donna. Thank you. As I finished reading it, scrolling down this hymn came to mind by William D Longstaff 1882:

    1. Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
    Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
    Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
    Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

    2. Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
    Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
    By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
    Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

    3. Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
    And run not before Him, whatever betide.
    In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
    And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

    4. Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
    Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
    Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
    Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

    Reply
    • Sophia Saltmarsh

      Thank you Donna,beautiful comforting words as a reminder, we just need to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Lord makes it possible for anyone in any circumstance,to receive the peace that passes all understanding. Worshipping our God even in the fires of life,when He is with us still.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.