Tuesday, 19 July 2016


I was comfortably seated in the lounge of Prior Park, this prestigious mansion where we had gathered for the reception of a very special wedding. But I wondered why a friend was asking if I had been outside? I presumed he wanted me to be part of the taking of photos, but - I was not anxious to be included, even if I did have a new outfit. But once I had stepped outside, I understood.  To think I might have missed this magnificent view! As I gazed in awe as the spectacular scene I was reminded of the final book, and indeed final chapter of the Narnia stories.
‘It’s further on!’ This was the cry they heard as having come through the stable door of death, they were urged to run, gallop or fly ever onward, ever upward. Finally they came  to realise that this  was heaven itself.
For our newly-weds it may have felt like heaven as they stepped outside, but they had not needed to be urged to go further on. As I gazed in awe at the glorious scene of the valley which fell away before us into glorious vistas, I saw that far in the distance, central to the picture, they were already there, with the photographer, of course, to make sure the scene was one never to be forgotten.
What a wonderful day; such a homely, yet awesome service, with friends and family making it a time of joyous celebration, and the newly-weds dancing out of the church together into newness of life. And now enjoying such a wonderful time of fellowship and feasting too in this grand mansion, with old friendships renewed and new ones forged. But we may be assured that neither bride nor groom will have to look back on it as the best day of their lives. I am sure they will remember it as God’s very special gift to them; their entrance into a life of joyful service, but always knowing that God has more, and hearing the call,  that it is ‘further on and further up.’
And as I stood there, on the balcony, I knew that God was challenging me to remember we have none of us as yet arrived. There are more mountains to claim, more challenges and difficulties which he wants to turn to a testimony, more weaknesses to be turned into strengths, and above all the promise;- ‘You have shown us the path of life. You will make us full of joy in  your presence.’

May God  bless our newly-weds as they have stepped into abundant life together and as they, with us, answer the cry, ‘Further on and further up.’     

Friday, 8 July 2016


It was a very little prayer, but what a great answer. I was returning home after a wonderful holiday with ‘Bridgens Tours.’ It wasn’t just the weather, the food, but especially it was the fellowship which makes me describe it as wonderful. We were nearly thirty in our party, - some have become part of my history, and others newly discovered, but all members of my family through Jesus. So now, yes, I would be glad to return to my own bed, but how could I face an empty house?
When I was so happily married, I had felt I could never stay in my bungalow if Joel were not there. He always filled it with sunshine. But as I faced returning to an empty house for the first time, -thirteen years ago now, Jesus brought a memory to mind. Out in the highlands of New Guinea, I was standing on the veranda of a mission house, watching the truck driving away with my colleagues. I would only be alone for the weekend before my sister would be there to keep my company, but oh, as I looked at the grass lands stretching to the distant mountains and no house within earshot, how desolate it seemed. ‘Oh Lord,’ I sighed. What kind of a prayer was that?
Turning to go into the house, suddenly I knew Jesus was there, beside me. Filled with joy, I began to sing, and then I was dancing. He was keeping his promise, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’
As ‘this same Jesus’ reminded me of this story from long ago, I knew he would do it again. So now, every time I put the key in the door of my home I ask him, ‘Be there for me, Lord,’ and every time I step into joy. Every time, Jesus is there to greet me.
But now, having waved goodbye to all my lovely family, I was drugged with tiredness after the long bus journey. Would I fall into a pit of depression? Again I prayed, ‘Be there for me.’
‘Hello Pauline, I’ll help you with your case.’ I had not had to ask. My lovely neighbour had seen me drive in, and soon had my case on the mat and was giving me a hug of welcome. And, oh yes, as I picked up the mail (that had always been our first job) I found not one, but two very special snail mail letters, -what I call ‘proper’ letters.
Two very ordinary happenings, you may think, but because I asked, and God had answered, it became a very special welcome home.

I am so thankful that we have a God who hears and answers prayer, and who has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us. Yes, it does say, before you call I will answer, but I know he loves to hear his children call out to him.    A very little prayer, and a very special answer.