Category Archives: love

Everything

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Photo by 'chickpeafiend' on Deviant Art

I was just thinking and musing.

And then I realised that I was having a silent conversation with God and it was important.

 

When my earthly father can’t be everything I need a dad to be,

(and other ‘father figures’ move away or even pass away)

will you be my dad?

When leaders can’t be a perfect ‘covering’,

will you cover me?

When my house can’t always be safe,

will you be my place of safety?

When relationships with men evade me or don’t work out,

will you be my husband?

When my friends sometimes let me down and many are far away,

will you be my best friend?

When I’m no longer sure where home is,

will you be my home?

When I feel lonely and alone,

will you be my constant companion?

Tears run down my face as I silently articulate these questions

and as the answer comes immediately, clearly and so tenderly.

“I thought you’d never ask.”

– How extraordinary that He seemed to be lovingly waiting for me to ask.

“I will and that’s a promise.”

Can I take him at His word?

Can it be more than just song lyrics, can He really ‘be my everything’? Really?

Amazing that He doesn’t seem to mind me only really asking, really seeking when the first more visible and tangible options seem to fail. He knows I’m only human.

“They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

God, please forgive me for all the endless times I’ve looked to other things and people to meet my needs before I look to you.

How come I’m so slow to understand it in my heart? – that you are the only spring of living water and everything and everyone else are just broken cisterns that can’t hold water.

So then I guess His challenge to me is:

Even when your relationship with your earthly father is good,

will you still look to me as Dad?

Even when leaders provide good and wise ‘covering’,

will you still place yourself under my ultimate covering?

Even when you feel secure in your home,

will you still rest in me as your safe place?

Even when you are married,

will you still turn to me as your first love?

Even when you feel well loved by your friends,

will you still know me as your best friend?

Even when you feel at home somewhere,

will you still find your home in me?

Even when you feel content and connected,

will you still connect with me, your constant companion?

So that’s the “I will” I need to answer,

the bride’s response He’s waiting for.

I’m not as good at keeping promises as He is but I can try.

Amazingly, mysteriously my answer seems to matter to Him.

How can a mere mortal’s love and commitment impact the heart of the eternal God of time and space?

I have no idea how. But it does seem to.

And that’s the beauty of mystery.

So I say “I will” and I feel His delight and sense His smile.

Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Photo by ‘chickpeafiend’ on Deviant Art

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Learn this, my slow heart

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http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/nikolaos-gyzis/learning-by-heart-1883

Learning by heart. Artist: Nikolaos Gyzis
 

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”

God was pleased, well pleased

with Jesus his son.

Pleased, not with his ministry

he hadn’t started yet.

Pleased, well pleased

with who Jesus was,

as his son.

Nothing to earn.

Nothing to prove.

God is pleased, well pleased

with me

with you.

Already

not because of what we do

but simply because we’re his children.

My head knows that

but does my heart really know?

Why is it so slow to learn?

Any hints of striving and anxiety

give me away,

show my heart hasn’t got it yet.

Invited to sink back

into my father’s arms

to relax my body and spirit

into His embrace.

Invited to know and experience

abundant love

flowing out towards me.

Invited to live and feast

under the banner

that proclaims I’m beloved.

But so often

I hold onto flags, banners, labels

that others give me

defining me

both positive and negative.

As I drop those many banners

only then can I fully live

in the light of the delight

of my father’s loving gaze,

living under his banner

proclaiming I’m beloved.

Do I really know

this already acceptance

deep down in my bones?

I’m often reminded,

it hasn’t gone deep enough yet.

How can I teach

my slow heart?

A heart doesn’t learn

as a head does.

Repetition of facts

until it sticks.

The heart doesn’t learn that way.

How then does a heart learn?

Gently

Slowly

Silently

Imperceivably

Leaning into truth

Experiencing it

Being held in it

Until it becomes firm.

Until one day

you look back

with surprise

and realise

your heart

has learnt

and you hadn’t noticed it.

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”

– Matthew 3:17

© Hilary Murdoch 2014. All rights reserved.

Overflowing love and infectious joy in a prison

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love behind bars

My friend in Cape Town is an inspiring example of intentional love: sacrificial and overflowing. She carries joy with her everywhere and tells a story in her new blog about taking that joy and love right into prison with her and the impact that had. I want to share her story with you here.

About a month ago I walked into a coffee shop and the barista asked me, ‘Where do you come from?’

I responded, ‘I’m from here, why?’

He smiled and said, “Because you’re smiling like a European on holiday. Locals don’t walk around looking that!” We both chuckled; I grabbed my coffee and moved on.

I didn’t have time to tell him why I was walking around with this look on my face. But I have time to tell you…

My friend Sarah proceeds to tell a wonderful story about visiting her friend in prison, encouraging him and speaking life over him to the point where their joy and life spilled over into those around them. You can read the rest of her story here… I highly recommend you take the time to read it, such an inspiring story and mental image that goes with it.

Of trust and tricycles

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image

Warm sunlight throws long shadows

I push the little one’s buggy

Permitting me ringside seats

To witness the beauty

Of a childhood memory formed

To witness the choices

Of a tired and weary mum

Sleep deprived but persevering

Pouring herself out

Bending over

Running behind the tiny bike

Steadying and steering

Cheering on

Reassuring and protecting

Letting go

As her daughter wobbles along

Grinning ear to ear.

An idillic picture

Weaving in and out of shadows

Cast by trees lining the road.

A precious and meaningful cameo

Imprinted deep in my mind and heart

Of a patient and affirming parent

And of a joyfully trusting child

Giggling and confident

Learning, making mistakes, growing

Totally assured of her safety

Because of her mum’s presence

Lord I want to absorb the beauty of this moment

into my own life

May I continue to love and serve when weary

But more importantly

May I be that joyfully trusting child,

confident that your presence with me is all I need.

 

All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013

Holy Ground

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This poem is related to a previous post about simply being present with those who are suffering.

Blood

So much blood

And a precious bundle in carefully folded bright blue cloth

Through the mess

I see my friend

My sister

Who I love deeply

She smiles and says she’s so glad I’m there

She clings to me

A safe arm I guess

A privilege to stay with you, to not rush away

To hold your hand tight

To stand with you

Through the shock, weakness, questions, pain, tears, grief

Nowhere in the world I’d rather be than right here.

A holy moment

The three of us,

You, me

And this tiny tiny baby

Red and not yet fully formed

Yet with perfect little finger nails

As you name your baby

And release his spirit to God

As you weep and I hold you

I am humbled that I’m allowed in

To be this to you right now

To show you love, tenderness, care

To give what isn’t my own to give

Nothing draining from me

To be a channel

Simply a channel

To be available.

Holy ground

And we both know it

God is here, with us

I can feel it

Your bed attended by angels

I sing over you gently

Peace abounds

Strangely peaceful

Unnaturally peaceful

Supernatural peace, in fact

A gift from Him.

 

All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013

Simply being present

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“How about this? How about when someone is before us, a real, live person, suffering, we be a person?…in that moment, when they are feeling their humanity so acutely or they have shown themselves to be a regular person like the rest of us, how about we surround them with the grace of being seen, being heard, and simply being loved?”

comfort

This is a brilliant piece by Sarah Bessey, which expresses something I so strongly believe in. The art of simply being present and being human when someone is suffering. I also love this post by Kathy Escobar about being ‘with’ and alongside people.

This is so hard to do. Everything inside us feels we should give some answer, some wise words, but usually there is none to give and if we try we just sound insensitive and trite. But what the person often needs is just other people walking alongside them, being present and being themselves. Some companionship on a dark road even if few words are spoken.

When a close friend of mine’s mum died suddenly, I felt maybe I should go and be with her. But everything in me was fearful. I didn’t know how to be with someone in such suffering. What would I say? Persuaded by a few friends to take courage, I decided to simply jump on a train and turn up, just the day after the tragedy. I stayed with her for a few days and then returned for more time later that month. It was easier than I thought. Lighter than I’d thought. I was just coming to be with her, not to offer answers or solutions, as I had none to offer. But I could offer myself: a shoulder to cry on, a friend to walk with, a praying presence in the house and a helping hand for the practicalities of living that have to continue, even when you feel the world should have stopped. And it was received and appreciated. It made a big difference to her and her grieving. It was a huge lesson for me that just offering myself is enough. I learnt that I carry peace within me because the ‘Prince of Peace’ is in me and so I can walk into a situation and inject peace and hope into it, often without even trying. That may sound arrogant but in fact it’s the opposite. It’s the realization that I have both nothing to give from myself and yet everything to give because of who is inside me.

But I didn’t always know that was the thing to do. I learnt the hard way. Another close friend of mine lost her mum a few years before and I mistakenly thought she didn’t need me or want me around. I was wrong and hurt her deeply. That’s one significant regret in my life.

Another situation happened more recently when a friend of mine who lives on the streets near my home had a miscarriage. I went with her to the hospital and simply stayed with her, prayed with her, held her hand through the pain, grief and bloody mess. It felt a huge privilege. We both knew we were on holy ground. We could feel the presence of God, bringing peace. I wrote a poem about that experience which I wasn’t sure whether I would share on the web but maybe I will. Watch this space.

A Time Such as This

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“How do we stand in this blurry line between expectancy and restlessness with an awe-struck sense of peace?”

I really love this beautifully written piece (link below) about living in the now, and sensing what your ‘time such as this’ is right now. I really resonate with the sense of God guiding by ‘the laying down of stepping-stones’ rather than showing the long term picture, by stirrings, ‘nudges, gentle in nature and laced with grace’ and the ‘creaking of doors opening’.

I feel like I can hear that creaking right now, and I’m intrigued to see where the doors will lead. I’m living in the expectancy.

I arrived home to Cape Town today with a bit of a cold. Having had an incredible re-connecting time in the UK with precious family and friends which was such a gift. I am laying low today, not ready yet to re-emerge. But I will be soon, and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.

You can read the full beautifully written post ‘A time such as this’ (which I hugely recommend) here.