FIRST ..... OUR TRIP TO QUEENSTOWN
Well what a treat we enjoyed last month - a trip to Queenstown New Zealand! What a stunning place to visit! As we flew over the snow-capped mountains, we were in awe of the views from the plane and our awe continued throughout the entire eight day holiday. Wherever we looked, the scenery was truly spectacular! There is nothing like the beauty of creation to enhance our appreciation for God is there? He truly is the ultimate artist!
We awoke every morning to the most beautiful view across Lake Wakatipu and being Autumn, we were enthralled at the array of colours that surrounded us.
We took a lake cruise one day and hired bikes another and rode along the Kawarau river track. What spectacular views we saw across the valley to the mountains beyond. It really was lovely.
Apart from the cruise and the bike ride and a session go-karting which was lots of fun, the rest of the time was spent going on walks, sipping coffee in various venues, eating delicious dinners and just relaxing, which is exactly what we wanted and needed from our time away. Overall, a wonderful holiday!
I'll post a few photos for you.
NOW GALATIANS 5:6 ....
I would like to tell you a nice experience from last month. I was sitting on the deck enjoying a peaceful Autumn morning, having just finished my breakfast and thinking about things. I was a bit troubled actually as I still have the tendency to worry about whether I'm doing enough to please God and whether I need to do more to show my appreciation. I know in reflection that this is the result of decades of organisational conditioning where we were always told to work, work, work - harder, harder, harder. I remember hearing constantly about the need for us to be self-sacrificing and that a sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless it hurts and other such thoughts. Our love and appreciation for God were always equated with what we were doing in a tangible way - meeting attendance, witnessing both formally and informally, keeping up with reading the literature and cleaning the Kingdom Hall etc etc etc. It is easy to fall back into thinking that we need to be DOING something specific to show our love.
Well ... as I was contemplating this nagging feeling I had of not doing enough to show my appreciation, my husband Campbell, called to me from inside asking, "Would you like me to read a chapter of the bible to you?" "Yes please!" was my reply. He said, "I'll read Galatians 5 to you as that's where I'm up to in my own reading." I was happy to hear whatever chapter he was offering to read to me so Galatians 5 was just fine.
Well the opening words were, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." He stopped after that verse and said, "I think it is interesting that Paul says "do not LET YOURSELVES be burdened again.... it is our responsibility not to let that happen." What a good point that is! We must fight the inclination to go back to thinking the old thoughts that enslaved us.
He continued reading and when he got to verse 6, the words he read were of extreme interest to me. Paul writes, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is ........" Can you imagine how alert I suddenly became as the very question that had been troubling me was being spoken of? "That's exactly what I want to know," was my reaction inside. "Please tell me what the only thing that counts is."
The words continued, "The only thing that counts is ....... faith expressing itself through love." There it was!!! My Father was telling me right then and there what counts with him - FAITH....expressing itself through LOVE. How my heart overflowed with appreciation! My God knows how much I love him and want to please him. And he knows how brainwashed I have been through all those decades of being in the organisation where negative thinking patterns were ingrained in us. And now, in his great love and kindness, he was telling me through this verse that my husband chose to read to me, that all that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
It made me think of those I know who have accepted the invitation to be in the new covenant and are now my brothers and sisters. I don't know many of them but I love the ones that I do know and we encourage one another by writing to each other or speaking on the phone and keeping each other in our prayers. Isn't that what our God and Jesus want us to do? Isn't that faith expressing itself through love?!
It also moved me to write to you dear reader, whoever you are. Yes, this blog and this website are an expression of my faith but please know that it is faith based on love. I wonder sometimes as to who might be reading this and what their circumstances might be. I know how difficult and frightening it is to leave a high control group like Jehovah's Witnesses and I understand that making mental adjustments takes a long time. There are many hurdles along the way and much pain and tears. It is my hope that writing a post each month will help you know that you are not alone and help you build faith in our loving and glorious God and Father and his faithful son, our brother, Jesus Christ.
Well .... that felt really nice being able to express those thoughts and share what was a really faith-strengthening experience for me. Now every time my mind starts to question whether I'm doing enough, I quote Paul's inspired words to myself, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." I hope that this wonderful scripture can help others trapped in a cycle of negative thinking to be set free.