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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Where is God leading you?

 

 

This week I asked a friend, who has been involved in mission work for many years with various organisations and on different continents, why she followed such a challenging lifestyle… why she did what she did. “This way of life is what has always seemed to be in front of me,” was the essence of her reply. She didn’t choose the calling. It chose her, and she felt compelled to follow what God was presenting to her.

In my post You are a gift to the world I wrote that because we are unique God has unique purposes for us to fulfil, and if we’re listening to Him, He will give us dreams for our life and will help us bring them to fruition.

Sometimes those dreams start as an inkling… a thought… a sense. Often, you can’t immediately put your finger on it. Perhaps it’s a quiet dissatisfaction with your current circumstances. Or a vague sense of being unfulfilled. Or the belief that there might be more you could be doing.

In the Word for Today (Winter 2011/12 November, December, January) Bob Gass says that God often “leads by an idea or an impression that begins to grow inside us, and as it strengthens and persists we start to think, ‘Maybe this is what God wants me to do.’”

Getting to grips with the dream

Bob adds that it’s up to us to take the steps God is showing us towards the fulfillment of the dream or vision. We need faith to bring it to pass. “If our dream is from God,” he says, “we’ll have the necessary gifts and talents to fulfil it. And what we lack, God will provide in additional relationships and resources.”

God doesn’t usually give us all the details or show us the whole picture. He expects us to be faithful with the bits He has shown us and to step out. As we go, He will reveal more of the dream to us. Joyce Meyer notes in Promises for Your Everyday Life (a daily devotional on the YouVersion Bible app) that having a vision doesn’t mean we’ll see instant results. “God’s as interested in the process of vision as He is in the end result… [He] will help you live the dream He’s given you, step-by-step, one day at a time.”

Simply hoping that things will turn out the way we desire, isn’t helpful. We need to be intentional about what we’re doing, and to work towards it. Bob Gass cautions, “Too many of us stand on the dock waiting. We want the ship in place, the gangplank perfectly positioned, the weather right, and an engraved invitation before we’re willing to launch out. It will never happen! Dreams don’t move toward us, we have to move toward them…. Instead of saying, ‘I can’t,’ say, ‘By God’s grace I can!’”

Has the Lord given you a dream? Are you taking steps of faith towards it? What are you learning?

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Goodbye, Elephant Whisperer

Two weeks ago, on 2 March 2012, South African conservationist and environmentalist Lawrence Anthony died of a heart attack, aged 61. The world has lost a remarkable man.

He was known to South Africans as ‘the elephant whisperer’ for his amazing ability to communicate with the seven traumatised elephants he rescued from certain death when he gave them a home on his game reserve Thula Thula (meaning ‘be still’) in beautiful KwaZulu-Natal.

This week the South African press reported that the reserve’s two elephant herds, which hadn’t visited Lawrence’s house for over a year, arrived at the lodge days after his death. They had walked for 12 hours to get there and stayed, milling around the house, for two days. Finally they made their ponderous way back deep into the bush.

Were they ‘saying goodbye’ to the human being they had come to trust? Were they mourning his death? We cannot know. The connection they shared with this extraordinary man ran deeper than human understanding can explain.

Lawrence’s best-selling book, The Elephant Whisperer (co-written with brother-in-law Graham Spence), is a heart-warming and moving (though sad at times) tale of his relationship with the herd of wild elephants. He says in the prologue:

“Make no mistake, the title of this book is not about me for I make no claim to any special abilities. It is about the elephants – it was they who whispered to me and taught me how to listen…. To understand how they taught me so much, you have to understand that communication in the animal kingdom is as natural as a breeze….

In our noisy cities we tend to forget the things our ancestors knew on a gut level: that the wilderness is alive, that its whispers are there for all to hear – and to respond to.

We also have to understand that there are things we cannot understand. Elephants possess qualities and abilities well beyond the means of science to decipher….

My herd showed me that… understanding and generosity of spirit is alive and well in the pachyderm kingdom; that elephants are emotional, caring and extremely intelligent; and that they value good relations with humans… They taught me that all life forms are important to each other in our common quest for happiness and survival. That there is more to life than just yourself, your own family, or your own kind.”

Lawrence was probably better known to the rest of the world as the man who rescued the animals in the Baghdad Zoo during the 2003 Coalition invasion of Iraq. By the time Lawrence reached the zoo, only 35 of the originally 650 animals remained. The others had been killed during the fighting or stolen by looters. Those that remained were starving, dehydrated and traumatised by the shelling and looting.

In unbelievably difficult conditions, and using his own funds and equipment, he and zoo staff (with help from sympathetic US soldiers) risked danger to feed and water the animals, fight off looters, close down a horrifically cruel black-market zoo, rescue lions and Arabian horses owned by the Hussein family, and bring the Baghdad zoo back to a place of peace and order. (You can read about it in Babylon’s Ark, also written with Graham Spence.) He was awarded a United Nations Earth Day medal for his work, as well as the US Army 3rd Infantry Division ‘Regimental Medal’ for bravery.

Lawrence’s last book, The Last Rhinos, is due for release in April 2012. It addresses the new scourge affecting Africa – rhino poaching – both in South Africa and as far afield as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

Lawrence Anthony was indeed an inspiring man, and the world is a poorer place without him. Sala kahle, Lawrence.

 

 

 

(Video produced by London creative agency TANK Form Ltd. From YouTube)

Oneness in Marriage

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. (Matthew 19: 5-6)

Last month my husband and I participated in a five-day Love After Marriage workshop led by Barry and Lori Byrne from Bethel Church, Redding, in the US. The teaching has revolutionised our view of marriage and helped us understand what God intends for marriage. We are now on a journey of living out the truths we have learnt.

Oneness in marriage, as expressed in Matthew 19: 5-6, is God’s awesome design. It’s a beautiful mystery that we’re only just beginning to understand. As Barry and Lori explained during the workshop, the oneness between a husband and wife has the potential to imitate the oneness of the Trinity more closely than any other relationship here on earth. In addition, I believe, God intended oneness in marriage to be an example of the closeness of the relationship Jesus has with us, His church. It is God who joins us together in marriage, and we become one by being in Jesus and by learning to keep the Lord our highest priority.

It is an amazing truth that when we are fastened together ‘in a single yoke’, as in marriage, our pulling together in the same direction produces greater power than each of us could generate individually. What potential!

God has also been teaching us that while our personal, individual relationships with Jesus are vital, our connection with Him as a couple is equally important. God sees us as one! And it’s sobering to realise that whatever spiritual atmosphere we are carrying – positive or negative – affects our spouse.

Like the oneness in the Trinity, we need to become united as a couple in heart and in aim; in our purpose and goals and in the direction for our life together. Just as we have a destiny and a calling as an individual, God has a calling for us as a married couple too.

If you’re married, ask Jesus today what His desire is for your marriage, and what He has for you as a couple. Then listen to what He says.

(We’d like to thank Barry and Lori for the amazing teaching we received through the Love After Marriage workshop, and for blessing us during the Couples Counselling. It was liberating! We believe we have moved up a gear in our marriage, and are looking ahead with anticipation to all that God has for us. For more information about Love After Marriage, go to: http://loveaftermarriage.org or to the UK site: http://loveaftermarriage.org.uk)