“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you,
who leads you on the directed way.”
(i. Isaiah 48:17)
Since I was a teenager I had the dream of once visiting Ireland. And now having no longer thought about it I got the chance to journey to Ireland. So on this sunny afternoon I go for a long walk through Irish green meadows. But in inhabited areas it isn’t that easy. The field roads or walking paths most of the time end quickly at a gate or fence, fields and pastures, framed by bushes and trees, as so often seen on typical Irish pictures. A walk therefore looks like the following description:
Climb over the gate (if you do not manage to open the rusty handle), wander along the meadow, jump somehow over a electrical fence (which is powered even though there is not a single cow on the pasture), cross a field with stubbles, crawl under a barbwire fence to the other side, at the next decide which ones of the three or four barbed wire lines are the furthest apart, try to squeeze yourself through by holding the upper one up, jump over a brook (prevent yourself from falling in if it holds water), walk along the meadow on that side where the bulls aren’t, climb over the little rock-wall which luckily enough has steps for people like you, search for a path through the tiny woods (be careful, usually there are thorny long branches of blackberries across the path which love to catch your foot) ... and yes, don’t forget, that even with the brightest sunshine there is hiding a rain-cloud around the corner. Try to coordinate it so, that there is a tree with lots of leaves around to protect you when the rain hits.
Finally on my way home after I spent half an hour under a tree with lots of leaves I discover a wonderful rainbow, and I hear Irish folk-music from afar, as the Irish sunbeams warm my face, and I eat blackberries right from the bushes on the roadside whose sweet taste I can enjoy now.
And isn’t it somehow the same way with our life? Sometimes they days are like sunshine and green meadows before us. But more often we have to fight our way through thorns and thistles. If we stop at the obstacles on our way and are angry about them we won’t progress very far. But if we overcome our hesitations or fears, and we look away from the difficulties and lift our eyes to Jesus, He can give us confidence and his help, to overcome obstacle. Every difficulty we solved will be a little victory on our walk with God. He wants to encourage us to see the good and beautiful things He presents us daily and to keep them in our memories, things which deeply move us, or things we enjoy or make us heartily laugh. We do not need to concentrate on the barbed wire, which has hurt us, and not on the thorny branches across our way, which made us stumble and fall. The worst thing is not to fall, but to keep lying on the ground. God gives us the strength to rise again and to discover, that the thorny branches hold sweet blackberries for us, since through a life with God we grow and become mature. We shall know that everything will turn out for our good, as God promised. Nobody can take from us these experiences we make with God. And then we see again his rainbow, no longer the rain ... and we see how much God presents us as a gift the colours of his love.
‘The rock which went with them was Christ.”
(i. 1.Corinthians 10 :4)
It’s a dim morning in June. It is hard to rise, especially if the previous days weren’t easy ones. I would like to pull the blanket over my head and stay at home. But I know it would be good for me to visit Church service. I take my Bible to read some verses as a thought for the day. Having opened my Bible I read some lines: ‘And then they shall destroy the walls and break down towers. I will also scrape the dust away, and make it like the top of a rock in the midst of the sea, says the Lord God.’ ¹ These text doesn’t tell me anything, so I turn over to the New Testament and I read there some verses: ‘In those days John the Baptist came. The voice of a messenger crying in the desert. Prepare the way for the Lord.’ ² But this doesn’t help me much either...
I get up, to get ready for Church service. After I left the house lost in thoughts I pass the roses along the way to door of my parents. In that very moment out of the rosebushes an orange-red arrow flies with a loud “meow” at my leg. It makes my heart leap in surprise ... but in the next moment I have to laugh about the little fun-attack of Tiger, my sister’s tomcat. Meowing he looks up to me. I sit down and stroke his reddish striped coat, “Hi, my dear. What are you doing here this early? Scaring poor people?” He purrs satisfied and watches me with such an innocent and cute expression in his face that I have to smile. I think it is the first smile today that touches my heart, and immediately softens it to the degree of the velvet-like coat of Tiger. Obviously God didn’t give up when I closed my Bible. He still had a plan in mind to reach a heart hidden behind walls. Now He has conquered it by the love of a little cat. So Tiger became a little messenger in the desert of my days to prepare the way for the Lord, that He may be able to break down and remove the walls and towers of sadness. Suddenly the Bible- verses I read earlier this morning make sense...
In the meantime it has become evening. I go for a walk in the woods. The peace of the lofty trees embraces me, and the birds sing their carols. Reviewing the day I have to think, how God surprised me also at Church with some happy experiences, which lightened my day. Therefore I say thank you to Him: “Father, you began to do it by a little Tiger left a smile in my heart.” And I know again, He watches us with compassion. By sending us his little messengers He tries to prepare a way that He may be able reach our hearts. My prayer is, that we may not overlook these little messengers, and that we give our heavenly Father the chance to remove the walls in our hearts and to scraped even the dust from our soul, all of what hinders us to see clear. Only then we will discover beneath us our solid Rock of all Ages as a peaceful place standing firm in the raging sea of our life – the Rock which is our Savour. And we find out, that actually He was there all the time. Since your Father cares for you. And since He honestly cares He always will be there.
¹ i. Ezek 26:4-5 ² i. Mt 3:1,3
‘Like the appearance of a rainbow was the surrounding brightness.
Thus the Lord showed to me his glory.
And He said to me, “I want to speak with you.”’
(i. Ezekiel 1:28; 2:1)
Yesterday the sun was shining through my kitchen window flooding the room with light. And the three little crystal-drops decorating my window caught the sun rays. By the facets of the crystal glass the sun rays are refracted, and therefore the crystal-drops make little rainbow-dots dancing on my kitchen walls. I enjoy seeing those colourful light-dots. Usually I try to detect them wherever they appear, counting them, to find out how many they are.
These rainbow-colours on my walls do have a very special meaning to me, since the rainbow is the token of a promise our heavenly Father has given to his children, reminding us that He is with us, and will be with us wherever in this world we may be.
But yesterday I suddenly noticed something and said to God: “You know, Father, the rainbow-dots, and the rainbow too, are only visible with the sun appearing. When there is anyway sunshine in my life then I am able to watch the rainbow-dots. But what about dark days, when the sky is veiled and not one sun-ray is able to pierce the clouds? What about those dark times in my life, when I would need that reminder of your promise most?”
It was as if Father would answer quietly, “Do you think, I have no solution for this? Wait and see.”
It wasn’t really an answer to my question, and after a while I forgot all about it ... until today in the afternoon ...
Today the sky is completely covered with grey clouds. Not even the trace of a sun-ray manages to twinkle through that blanket of clouds. I am sitting on the sofa in my kitchen writing. Lost in thoughts I lift my head. By chance my eyes are wandering to these crystals, and completely stunned I stop in the middle of my thought! Unbelievable! One of the crystals carries the rainbow inside of it! The crystal itself sparkles in all rainbow-colours! And I almost can hear Father’s soft voice whispering to me:
“You wanted to know, what will happen on dark days.”
What an amazing answer He has given to me by the rainbow-crystal. On cloudy days the rainbow glows in the crystal itself! And in those cloudy dark days of our lives Father wants to remind our hearts of his covenant-promises even more than on any other day. Especially then He wants us to remember, He is present. He does not leave us. He is close to us, even though we might not see the rainbow in our lives. But the rainbow-promise He wants to let shine in our hearts, telling us along with it:
”You are not alone. I am with you all days until the end of the world.”
That is the answer of a Father who has bound himself to us by a promise, that we may believe it: He is here ... always.
‘The Lord God planted a garden
and the Tree of Life also in the midst of the garden.’
(Genesis 2:8-9 Nasb)
“Shall I really do it?” I wonder while I look at the old plum tree. It stands in an overgrown orchard with a wooden hut in the midst of fields, meadows and bushes. In my childhood days I was often here. Back in those days, this orchard was surrounded by a fence and was kept in a better shape. But now the fence is broken, the hut is rotting, and the trees have a whole retinue of wildly growing stinging nettles.
“Okay, Lord, the stinging nettles shall not prevent me from climbing a tree again, which I haven’t for a long time!” Cautiously I find my way to a small open space between the stinging nettles and there I hold onto the lowest branch with a strong grip. But unfortunately with the first jump I do not manage to pull myself up, and I have to step back on the ground ... of course right into the stinging-nettles! Shaking my head, I laugh. I have read, sometimes for regaining health it is good to get stung by stinging-nettles. What a comfort!
But with my second jump I am successful and I climb up to the next branch. There I comfortably sit down and rest my head against the tree trunk. As a child, in the late summer days I often sat in such fruit trees and enjoyed the juicy sweet plums. I felt safe and secluded from the world. And now I feel that way too: Being just together with God. Nothing else around but just the whispering leaves and moss-covered branches. Golden sunrays transform the roof of leaves above me in a shining green dome. Hoverflies are buzzing around unripe green plums, and singing birds flutter from one twig to another. I draw a deep breath. All of this means peace.
The peace in Eden must have been a little bit similar. The Tree of Life in the garden must have borne fruits which even the sweetest plums cannot match. Since ancient days humanity has searched for that legendary Tree, which grants eternal life. But haven’t I found it already? Jesus said, “I myself am Life.” When we receive Him, we have eternal Life. He is my ‘Tree of Life’, and I may eat the fruits He earned for me. He wants us to come to Him daily and receive the bread of life through His Word. He fills us with His peace far away from the stinging nettles of this world. This quiet time with Him is crucial for our heart and mind to survive. There with Him we learn that He is always around us, wrapping us in in his safety, just like the dome of leaves surrounds me. And when we eat of the fruits of Jesus, we will bear fruits too. Already to the Celtic Christians of ancient days He wrote through Paul, that He will grow the fruits of the Holy Spirit in us, fruits with the names ‘Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.’ ¹ Already today Jesus gives us the best fruits of Eden. He gives us Life. And yes, even today we are able to find the Peace of Eden and the wonderful Tree of Life – since Jesus is our Tree of Life! He truly is our wonderful Savour!
¹ Gal 5:22-23 (Net)