Reflecting Unconditional Love

FMF: While

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’

The teacher in me questions the use of ‘while’ v. ‘whilst’ and I may have misquoted this. However, I don’t want to go into a discussion of grammar, but to look at that amazing truth of our salvation.

I don’t know about you, but my heart is often thinking that when I’m more gracious, more sorted, more healed, more holy, more… then I will be better placed to be fruitful in God’s Kingdom.

My head knows this is not true. My head knows that I can do nothing to earn His love; and nothing I do can make Him love me more, or can make Him love me less, but this profound truth, that

While I was still a sinner, before I knew or wanted to know Jesus, whilst I ignored Him and lived totally selfishly… even then, He loved me enough to die for me – that I might live, abundantly and eternally.

Isn’t that just WOW?

I want to have such patient, unconditional love as that!

I need the love of God to flood my own heart.

I desire to see others as God sees them.

I recently learned a prayer to help me to love those who I find more difficult to love – those who hurt me and irritate…

It places me, a sinner, with the one I struggle and grapple with, the one I am forgiving and trying to love as He loves… the one I am meeting there at that cross, both of us sinners, both of us needing the forgiving, transforming love of God to renew our hearts and minds and reconcile us to each other and to the Father.

If there is someone you are struggling to love and to see as the Father sees, I invite you to pray this Gethsemane prayer and to remember that

while you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you.

Lord, in compassion, identify me with the heart of my offender, with his hurts and wounds. Bring to death in me that which would declare him as sinful and me as righteous. I am not better than him. I am one with him at the foot of the cross. I cry out “Forgive us!” Set us free from the traps of hate. End all one-upmanship. Enable me to identify with the person you created him to be. Restore us, Oh Lord.”

(courtesy of Elijah House)

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is: WHILE

Image reflecting the beauty and glory of the heavens, in the still waters below.

In Our Gethsemane

In Our Gethsemane

How is it I should pray?”

– In my distress I often say –

But He has shown me the way,

– In His Gethsemane…

It was the night on which He prayed

– for in His flesh He was afraid –

Your Will be done”, he said.

He asked if we would stay

– An hour with Him and pray –

On this, His darkest day

– In His Gethsemane…

It was the night He was betrayed

– that was when He paid –

For the mess that we have made.

Thy Will be done?” I say,

– Not an easy prayer to pray! –

But I TRUST that YOU WILL stay

– In MY Gethsemane.

(Holy Thursday – 1st April, 2021.)

Reflecting on disappointment – when God says “No, dear child!”

In the hour of our greatest need – in fear, worry, hurt, pain and disappointment – this is when we face the greatest temptation and when the devil prowls…

In the hour of our weakness, we need to TRUST HIM

– to stay awake, alert,

watch and pray…

May we watch and pray with our brothers and sisters and support them in one another’s Gethsemane.


Obedience – How that word still heckles me!

It is not a popular word today. But it’s the word that came to mind today, as a source of peace and grace.

Let me briefly take you on a little journey… with 2 ‘icon’ style images – one is of Gethsemane (an authentic Greek icon) – the other is a photograph I took and stuck onto a block. This is a photograph of a painting I did and this is the story of the painting:-

In 2009, I was reading Revelation (1:12-20) and I felt the command to “paint what you see”. This was unusual for me; I didn’t enjoy painting and to paint something so prescriptive was just not my cup of tea. But the thought persisted, so 2 months later, I began to research various styles of menorah (golden lampstands) and to design some of my own and sketch out a composition… Then I bought a large canvas and began to paint the “one like a son of man” and the menorah and all the various symbols, till each one was in place. I didn’t like the painting; technically it was very weak and style-wise – just not my thing. But I was stuck. I didn’t know how to finish the painting. I hadn’t depicted the alpha and the omega nor what I kept calling “the glory”. I was in a bad place emotionally (and therefore also spiritually) in my life and kept crying to God that I no longer knew what “the glory” was! So I covered the canvas with a sheet and it sat in a corner gathering dust. In 2019, visiting my family in Orkney, I suddenly remembered the painting and knew I had to finish it. I heard the same patient command. No annoyance; no condemnation; no mocking; just a repeat… so I came home and added the ‘alpha and the omega’ and ‘the glory’. This time I knew what to do. I finished the painting, amazed that it took 10 years to complete! Amazed that God still cared for me to finish it. The painting is technically still not great, nor is it still ‘my style’, but now I love it. The painting hangs in my bedroom above the keyboard on which I plink-plonk the praise songs I’m learning… It reminds me that He will come again in Glory; it reminds me that He loves all His different churches and that His Glory shines on them all as they gather around Him. It reminds me that He’s so patient and is not finished with me yet, but the work He has begun in me, He will bring to completion.

Also, very briefly, the garden of Gethsemane icon – it spoke to me over and over for a year, saying,

Can you not watch with me for one hour?.. Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak .” (Matt 26:40-41)

Eventually I obeyed Him, and that hour is my daily life source and blessing. He was so patient.

He does not condemn. He knows what we need and desires us to receive, but He doesn’t force us. When we obey, we (and often others) receive the blessing. If we do not obey, He waits until we allow Him to bless us. We can never out-give God. Whatever we give Him, He multiplies beyond measure.

I saw today the other image of Him in Gethsemane – praying,

My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.”

Even Jesus did not always want to obey, but He chose to do so. He understands our weakness and temptations, but He overcome and He gives us a way out, in His strength. Take heart. Be strong and courageous, for He has overcome the world. He did it for the joy set before Him and now He intercedes for you and me in the Father’s throne room. Amen.

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”’

Revelation 1:12-20 (NIV)