Monday, 9 June 2014

A Spring of Joy

It took faith for me to begin publishing this blog (with my pastor’s patient help) believing it would somehow prove a blessing. How thrilled I was then to hear that it is now being read by friends I worked with in Papua New Guinea over forty years ago.

Knowing I had a missionary call but not sure where God was sending me, I read a scripture that said that if I came with all the desire of my heart to the place God would choose, that I would serve with all those who are already serving the Lord there.(Deut.18:6,7) And I did come, leaving my own family and people behind, to find that I was accepted and loved and part of a very special family.

So now, how am I to write anything worthy of such an auspicious company? Of course, every one of you, my blog readers, is special.

The other day I was asked, ‘Are you still writing poetry?’
‘Oh yes,’ I replied, then I laughed and told them, ‘I have a little fountain inside me. They just keep coming.’

It is many years ago that my pastor in Ilford visited me. Off sick, I was sitting in the garden sewing and he told me, ‘You should be writing poetry or something.’ I didn’t think I could possibly write poetry, so I decided on the ‘something.’ I wrote some short stories and I’m sure it contributed to me regaining my health. (And just to encourage you writers, yes, some of them were published, though not until thirty years later)

It was after I was married that I knew God was calling me to write. I took courses and I had my first stories and then books published, but it is comparatively recently I found the confidence to write poetry. No, I am not a great poet. Far from it. But God makes my poems a blessing and now I am often asked to write one for a special occasion. And yes, there is a little fountain, for they just keep coming.   

So now the Lord is reminding me, that that fountain is not just for poetry, and more that poems, or blogs, or even novels, we need his well of joy to spring up day by day.

It was while we were in New Guinea that we were challenged to praise God in all circumstances. It was a lovely Lutheran missionary who asserted this to us. We brought out our arguments but she countered them all. Sometime later we read the book, ‘From Prison to Praise.’ Our lives were transformed.

Now, as I was wondering what to write that will prove a blessing, I came across a story, - yes, from the Bible. The best stories of all are found there. It is a very short incident towards the end of a very long story – the story of a nation wandering for forty years in the wilderness. They must be nearing their destination for now they are in the land of Moab. We know on two occasions God had given them water out of a rock; water which flowed on as a river, providing for this great nation as they travelled through the desert. But now it seems that source had ceased.

The leaders are called to dig a well. They must have known water was near, for they were digging with staffs, not shovels, but Moses declared, ‘Spring up O well, sing ye into it.’

Singing is a wonderful remedy for depression, and it is so important to praise God, and to speak and sing out his word, somehow to activate the spring of joy Jesus promised those who believe in him..

It was while I was in Laiagam, New Guinea, that the Lord taught me to apply a verse to my own situation and to say, ‘I am delighting myself in you and you are giving me the desires of my heart.’ (Psa.37:4) Recently I’ve needed some revision on that one. Being a widow doesn’t get easier as the years pass, but God still has wells of joy to open for us, but – yes – we have to do our share; to take our stave or shovels, or bibles even and  dig and sing.

I’m going to bring this rambling blog to a conclusion by adding my latest poem.
I got home from preaching Sunday night feeling depressed, - or maybe just worn out, but  Monday morning, as I tried to praise the Lord I felt an up-springing of this fountain and collected some paper to write. I hope it will make you laugh, and yes, bless you as it blessed me.

‘How are you feeling?’
  Oh, what shall I say?
Just tell them your fine
  And then go on your way

But I’m not feeling fine
  It’s a lie to say so
My legs feel like lead
  I’ve lost my ‘get up and go.’

Oh, just tell them your fine
  No one’s wanting to know
If you’re down in the dumps
  And are struggling with woe

Yet – yes, I am fine
  And I’m glad that you ask
And to know that you care
  Gives me strength for the task

God’s still in His heaven
  He’s my strength and my song
I’m alive and still breathing
  So there’s not too much wrong
 s heaven
  He’s my strength and my song
I’m alive and have breath
  So there’s not too much wrong

So yes, ask how I’m feeling
  And I’ll say, yes, I am fine
For I’m still climbing mountains
  One step at a time

Sorry, - here is a P.S.
It was years before we came to PNG. Mary’s marriage was on the rocks and her husband now was happy to blame all their marital troubles onto the fact we were going to a Pentecostal church, though it was her unhappiness which had driven her to  Lord.

Having left her, he had now come to try to convince our parents that we had gone to the devil. Not knowing the outcome, we felt oppressed. Huddled in my bedroom,  Mary suddenly started to sing,
‘I’ve wondrous peace through trusting,
A well of joy within’

It leads on to the chorus,
‘To the uttermost Jesus saves.’

We sang the hymn right through. The well of living water was springing up in our hearts.

It was many more years before God healed their marriage, but we didn’t have to wait for this to know God’s joy.

Whatever our circumstances, may we all know this same well springing up in our hearts – yes, even today.