Posts Tagged ‘Diary’

Genesis 37:36 – DIARY OF AN OVERCOMER – Part 7 

Victim or Overcomer? © Image by Ross Cochrane

I imagine that this is the diary of Joseph, writing about the events of his new life in Egypt, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative, and with my personal reflections.  

Diary of Joseph: I am still alive. That’s something, I suppose. No amount of pleading, either with my brothers or my distant relatives, the Ismaelite and Midianite traders, would persuade them to let me go. We may have a common ancestor but obviously business is more important to them than blood ties. I am now twice sold.  

I have been sold to a man called Potiphar. He is some kind of high-ranking officer in this land called Egypt. I am picking up the language quickly. There is no means of escape and I am missing home and even my brothers more than I could have imagined.  

Egypt 

It seems as if my dream of leadership is on a journey in a strange land. God is all I have left in whom I can trust. What is He trying to teach me? What lessons of leadership and service am I to learn from these strange circumstances in which I am found? 

This place and culture is truly amazing. There are beautiful homes, great pyramids and a sophisticated form of government. Most Egyptians are farmers. They are not nomadic.  

Egyptian homes are constructed of mud-brick designed to remain cool in the heat of the day. The walls are painted white and covered with dyed linen wall hangings. The floors are covered with reed mats. It’s all very clean and ordered.  

I am expected to bath in the Nile river using a pasty soap, and to shave all hair from my body for cleanliness. Then I must use perfumes and ointments to cover any body odor. My clothes are very simple, bleached white material. Potiphar and his family wear wigs and jewelry and paint their faces.  

The food is good and varied, bread, vegetables, fruit, wine and meat. 

There is obviously a well-organized trade between Egypt and other lands. Egyptians depend upon merchants for many different kinds of supplies, including slave labor.  

Learning and intellectual pursuits are valued by the Egyptians but their religion binds them to continually think about death rather than life. I have never before seen such craftsmanship, carvings and idol worship. They have an idol for every sphere of life and a dark spiritual blindness that pervades their thinking. 

Victim or Overcomer? 

I think I have good reasons for feeling victimized, but I will not be ruled by such unhelpful emotions. Yes, I was obviously not liked by my brothers. Yes, they rejected my overseers role given to me by my father. Yes, they were negative and cruel and I was thrown into a pit. Yes, they sold me as a slave. Yes, I am miles from home with no way of getting back.  

I could become negative about my circumstances but I will not. I still have God, who loves and cares for me. I still have a God-given dream, and a bent towards leadership. I will seek to line up with the destiny God has chosen for me, not get depressed about what I don’t have. I will lift my thinking to the level of my belief and seek to serve Him and others around me rather than build my life around my problems or my past.  

So rather than continually trying to get free and asking why, I have chosen to live free and ask what God is saying.  

Lord, help me wage a war on my negative thoughts, the strongholds of my human reasoning that try to enslave me and to war against every obstacle that keeps me from trusting in the freedom I have in knowing You. Just as I have been captured physically, I pray that You would help me capture my rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey You. And after I have become fully obedient, I will truly live free inside. 

What will happen to me? I don’t know. Only God can answer that question so I will not be ruled by what may or may not happen. Today I decide to fix my thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. I will think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. I will not be conformed to this world in which I find myself, but I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind as God shows me each step of the way ahead. 

TO BE CONTINUED… 

Pastor Ross 

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GOD’S PHOTO BOOK OF ENID FLORENCE SHEDDEN

IMG_1472Julie produces a photo book every year. She writes so beautifully about the journey of our family and as the year is captured through her eyes and words I always see and read of the intertwining stories of the generations. Perhaps it is most obvious when Julie visits her Mum with our grandchildren in the Donald Coburn centre, an aged care facility in Sydney.

I have read some well-crafted fragments beautifully woven together from the fabric of our lives in her books, and now our grief will also be shepherded gently into the pages. Enid, my mother-in-law, Julie’s Mum, our children’s Nan and grandchildren’s great nan went home to be with the Lord on Saturday morning, peacefully slipping away in her sleep.

She valued the book Julie made about her husband Colin. She loved looking at his face on the cover and the treasury of photos within became a source of reminiscing of days gone by.

Enid and Colin’s love story, in fact, was like a beautifully crafted novel, but for us it now seems like the last page has been turned, and although we worked out what would happen, the ending still took us by surprise. Perhaps that’s because the story is not quite complete. The Author expects us to capture the moments and write the end of the story.

This week has been trying to find a fitting way to fill the empty pages, and so we, by way of a eulogy and what we share in conversations, create some kind of conclusion to a story that encapsulates Enid’s life in the words we say and the memories we have of her.

IMG_3224For me what is written in my memory is a woman who didn’t like me much when she first met me. My hair was too long and I was too quiet. Still, almost imperceptively, I remember times in the little country town of Tumut, there in her kitchen, opening up to her as she cooked.

Mostly we talked about the Bible, faith and family. She loved Colin so much and I have never seen a couple more in love with each other or more dedicated to their relationship with Christ.

Her faith in Christ was genuine and she had an assurance that she would one day be with the Lord in heaven – “absent from the body, present with the Lord”.

I had never known that such a family existed and wanted to know more. She came to love me as her favourite son-in-law. I know it’s written differently in the memory of the other son-in-laws, but that’s how I felt. Loved. I value that gift.

GOD WRITES A DIARY

God also writes. He has an ongoing diary, especially of our grief. He sees more significance in our sorrow than we do, perhaps because our attention is drawn to eternity.

Psalm 56:7-9 says “You Lord, keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have RECORDED EACH ONE IN YOUR BOOK.”

I was thinking of the way God writes last night, about how God has written a generational diary called the BOOK OF TRUTH, the Bible, and the BOOK OF LIFE where the names of those who believe in Christ as their Saviour are written.

His Book of Truth made such a difference in Enid and Colin’s life and it inspired them to make an investment in the lives of many people. I remember the string of missionaries they supported and the way they were always willing to help us on our journey in life.

Psalm 139:13 speaks of yet another book, a DIARY. It says that “You (God) saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was RECORDED IN YOUR BOOK. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Our life before God really is an open book.

LOVE STORY

IMG_9576When God wrote Enid’s life, perhaps it was an historic novel, a long book to depict the 87 years of a full and fruitful life. Many chapters.

Somehow I think God had a love story in mind, a romance novel, love for Colin, love for her children and their spouses, love for her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren, but undergirding all that was her love for Christ.

The Holy Spirit wrote into Mum’s marriage words such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” The fruit of the Holy Spirit characterised their life together. It is expressed best by the words of the verse Julie chose to characterise her Mum. She had “… the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4 NIV).

THE DEDICATION PAGE

IMG_2730The dedication page of a book always catches my attention. The Romance novel of Enid’s life includes a dedication page. As you would expect it is dedicated to the Lord, to Colin and her family.

She leaves behind the pages of a legacy of faith and love for us, as her children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She prayed for every one of us to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour. Enid and Colin would pray every day for us.

THE LAST PAGE

Have you ever read a book that you just couldn’t wait to finish but when you got to the last page it was missing? I once read a version of The Pilgrims Progress and the last few pages had been torn out. It was years later that I finally discovered the ending.

From our point of view, that’s what Enid’s book looks like. We have read only the first part of the book. God holds the other pages for the next chapters of her life. He has totally restored the book, crafted to last for eternity.

THE FIRST EDITION

We have only the first edition copy. It’s way out of date, constantly being revised. The rest of the book will never be finished for us, but God is a prolific writer. There is no ending, no tears, no more crying in eternity for Enid and Colin.

PLAGIARISING

I don’t think that Mum would mind if we plagiarise some of the material for our own lives, especially her faith in Christ. What God writes on the remaining pages of our lives has now become of vital importance and significance as we step up.

I wonder what Julie’s Photobook diary will say about our family this year. Perhaps more significant is – I wonder what it is, in the way we live out this year, that will move God’s hand to write another page of the heritage we share.

Pastor Ross – son-in-law to Enid and Colin

Matthew 7:13 – 14 – DESERT DIARY – A Parable

U-Turn permitted.

DIARY ENTRY – MONDAY – DAY 1: It is all a MIRAGE! I can see that now. Up until now I have been travelling with this huge throng of people without even considering the inhospitable wasteland around us. We are in a DESERT! Unless we reach a waterhole soon, all of us will die!

TUESDAY – DAY 2: I know that we have plenty of provisions but our water supplies will not last forever and I am surprised that even our leaders don’t seem to know where we are going. When I ask one of them about what lies ahead, he says “Eat, drink and enjoy life while you have the opportunity and don’t think about tomorrow.” Another took me aside today and assured me that he knows what is best for us. He placed his hand on my shoulder and in a rather autocratic, controlling, patronising tone of voice said “Don’t cause any trouble or you may regret it!”

Fortunately most of our community leaders are more democratic and inclusive. I am drawn to a man who has a very charismatic, inspirational and likeable character. He is studying the mirages and has written a book on how they relate to our lives. It’s a fascinating book, but somehow I doubt that this will get us very far.

WEDNESDAY – DAY 3: We eat, sleep and travel in community and over time all kinds of leaders are emerging. I met a man today who is very task oriented, and he has achieved great success and fame by his accomplishments. Others have set the culture of our community by focusing on our values, building our worldviews through consensus over time. But still, there are no ABSOLUTES. No real direction! We are still living in this desolate place.

THURSDAY – DAY 4: At School today I was taught survival techniques for desert life, and how to be cross-culturally relevant and politically correct because all of us are on the same road. That is true. We never deviate from highway 666. The direction is set and no one questions where we are headed. Perhaps it’s because life is tough enough to bear without asking the big questions.

FRIDAY – DAY 5: No-one really wants to CHANGE! We have gifted leaders who are creative, problem solving, improvement oriented, innovative change agents, but we are still in the desert and our resources are running out. No matter how visionary they are, none of them have any really clear view of what is happening and how to get to a waterhole. We are on a highway to hell, abandoned by common sense in this austere environment. Today I saw some vultures circling above.

SATURDAY – DAY 6: I am feeling so INSECURE today. Not that we don’t have people who are here to serve and protect us. We have our own security force, armed men and women who are always planning strategies to keep wild animals away and how to deal with the riots of those who are running out of provisions.

SUNDAY – DAY 7: Some religious leaders practise meditation to empty their minds, others pray. Some organise provisions, buying and selling. Some help the poor and do good works. But it is all a MIRAGE! I have never really seen this before and I am secretly looking for a way to escape. I think about it all the time.

I think about the big picture. What will happen to us? We need to find an oasis, a way to life. Maybe if I can find it then I can show others the way. What are the signs? Is it only me that sees that we are lost in this forsaken place, travelling down a road leading to nowhere but destruction? I am so motivated to find a way out, but so few people are convinced and they think I’m strange. I met a leader today who said that if I continue to speak like I do I will be rejected and ostracised as a fanatic. I am in the minority.

MONDAY – DAY 8: Today it happened! I found the pages of an ancient book beside a creosote bush on the side of the road. I read from a book called Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT) which says “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

Just there, where I found the book, I also found footprints leading away from the road we are travelling on, indications of another path. It is barren and difficult, narrow and dangerous, but perhaps this is what I have been looking for and I have decided to leave the community and set off, following the footprints of whoever it is who has travelled the path before me. Today is the day! I am intent on my quest. Today I begin my journey.

TUESDAY – DAY 9: It involved persistence to find the trail, but leaving everything behind me today I entered a difficult narrow gorge and into the whistling canyons of the way. Somehow I know that this path will lead to life. It’s not something I would normally do. It’s just that I finally see the truth that I have been lost in the crowd, going nowhere fast. I had to do something. There is always a choice and I have found the way of life and I have chosen to take it!

WEDNESDAY – DAY 10: Today I found other pages from the ancient book as I travelled. They tell me that the footprints I follow belong to a man called Jesus. His words in John 14:6 (NLT) call to me as He says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” In Luke 9:23 (NLT) Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me” Acts 4:12 (NLT) speaks into my heart and tells me that “There is salvation in NO ONE else! God has given no other Name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

THURSDAY – DAY 11: What have I learned so far? I have discovered that to be a follower of Christ involves turning around and going against the flow. I need to follow His footprints in the sand and His Word. It doesn’t necessarily make sense to anyone else (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17). And yes it involves discipline, commitment, determination, self-control, and self-denial. It’s not always an easy road, but today it led me to an oasis! I drank for the first time the water of life, living water (John 4:10) and this wonderful adventure in life will last forever. In John 10:10 (NIV) Jesus says “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

FRIDAY – DAY 12: My community continues to choose the wide road where there are no obstacles, plain path, easy going. The freeway is wide, many lanes, no potholes. The highway to hell is not a bumpy road, but smooth sailing. It’s easy, level ground, great to travel on. Easy to get caught in the traffic and enjoy the trip. No toll-ways, no price to pay. All traffic accepted (all philosophies, beliefs, lifestyles, all accepted). But today I am putting up SIGNS along this road. U-turns and warning signs. One sign I got from Proverbs 14:12 (NLT). It says “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

I still carry that ancient book with me. I have all the pages now. Listen to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT), “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Jesus is giving the same invitation to you today.

Pastor Ross