Apples of Gold

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I am not better than my fathers

‘I am not better than my fathers.’

1 Kings 19 Verse 4

One of the experiences that I went through in the last couple of weeks - while changing my medication – was a time of reminiscing. It proved to be very emotional.

I started with the fond and precious memories that I have of my parents. This coincided with emails from Cape Breton Island and New Zealand requesting village photos of ‘grandparents homes’ in various parts of the Island.

Folk, looking back and wanting to know what the village where their grandfather or even great-grandfathers came from looks like now. Much of course has changed but my loving family memories remain stronger than ever.

Part of the process that I went through was worrying that I had not and was not bringing up my own children with the same measure of love and instruction that my parents, especially my father had shown me. I wondered if my children will ever respect me the way I respected my father?

There were times last week when I was sitting under my own juniper tree and dwelling upon all my faults and failings I did not see the point in the Lord keeping me here any longer. After all, if I remained here all that would happen would be that I would simply add to my faults and failings.

I imagined my father looking up from his croft in Portvoller and perhaps catching a glimpse of my mother as she milked the family cow, or of his future father in law opening up the village shop in Aird each morning. I listened for hours on end to old Gaelic songs that I heard as a child, little realising then that the places mentioned in the songs were where my parents were born and brought up.

I also thought back to the time that I went forward to face the Kirk Session of Garrabost Free Church at the communion season when I became a member of that congregation. Well do I remember the fear of facing these men! (Please drop me an email for a further explanation of how things work in our church if you are not understanding what I am saying here and I’ll gladly try and explain.)

The biggest hurdle being that I was not a Gaelic speaker, did not attend Gaelic services  and this was a Gaelic charge with only one English service a month!

To cut a long story short, having satisfied the Elders that I was suitable, one of them took me, put his arm around my shoulder and led my out of the church, across the road into a ‘gathering’ (a group of Christians meeting together in a house for fellowship) in his own home.

It was November and I was wearing my best suit and a heavy overcoat. I was led into the living room hugged by the elders wife until my bones creaked – a woman I adored in Christ, a true Mother in Israel – and was then seated in front of an roaring open peat fire surrounded by perhaps 40 or 50 older Christians from various parts of the Island. It was quite a crush.

There was a fear within me that was neither good nor healthy, yet I understand it better today. I held these people in awe. I couldn’t join in with the sometimes ‘heated’ debates because they were all used to arguing their case in their native Gaelic tongue.

Although I had been born and brought up in Glasgow, my parents spoke Gaelic all the time in our home and I understood conversational Gaelic very well, but the Gaelic of Scripture was different.

Perhaps I should say that there are words in Scripture that I had never heard of before, simply because they were not part of our everyday language. The Gaelic word for Shepherd for instance is one that baffled me. I had never heard that word before. I dare not risk trying to spell it!

The evening was brought to an end with a couple of lengthy prayers in Gaelic, followed by a Gaelic reading from Romans Chapter 8 and a Gaelic singing of the last few verses of Psalm 72. The Psalm singing that night to the tune Torwood (still my favourite Gaelic tune) lifted my soul to the very borders of Beulah’s land.

It was then that my world turned upside down!!!!!!!!!

The Elder leading the worship handed me an English Psalmody Book and invited me to conclude the meeting by leading the singing of Psalm 23 in English. I stood up, and just as well for me that I knew the words off by heart as my hands were shaking so much that I could not read the words.

I sang the Psalm to the tune of ‘Amazing Grace’ while shaking with fear and pouring with sweat from the heat coming from the open fire. By the time I had reached the last verse, everyone had joined in and we raised the roof with praise to our God.

I remembered the instructions and advice given by many of my elders in the church in those ‘good days.’ Sometimes it would be a loving embrace from an old Christian women, tears streaming down her face as she hugged the young lamb.

There were other times, times of rebuke from elders for reasons that are still beyond my comprehension. I was reminded of this yesterday as I took photos of the spring lambs. I caught a ram butting a lamb out of its way for no particular reason.

Today, I do not wish to emulate my father, nor these men that I once elevated to positions in my own mind that I know now to be sinful. They were men, sinners, just as I am.

Many an emotional tear I have shed over the last 2 weeks, however as the stronger painkillers start to kick in they have given me a new lease of life. A life I want to dedicate to the God who was with me in my troubles and the God who delivered and is delivering me from them. Just as He promised me that He would do.

Today, I do not want to look back, I want to look forward. I do not mean looking forward to next week, or next year or a forthcoming holiday – (Huh I wish!). No, I mean looking forward to what God has in store for me today.

I find myself having to discipline myself more and more.

Getting up in the morning I cannot wait to get outside with my camera. I confess now though in having a determination not to start doing ANYTHING until I spend quite time alone with my Saviour. He has proved to me time and time again that without Him I can do nothing. He has instilled within me a confidence in Himself that perhaps the following illustration may help some to understand what I mean.

This morning I looked out of the window and the clouds were big, white, puffy and beautiful. The light was perfect and the sky a wonderful shade of blue. For a moment and just for a moment – as though tempted – I thought of grabbing my camera and heading somewhere to take advantage of today’s skyline.

I stopped myself, aware of such folly.

If I am to get a good photograph taken today then it will be when this is finished and not before. I could have left my devotional time alone for another time and driven 30 miles to take a photograph, only for the Lord to cover the scene that I wanted with dark clouds.

Some may think such action is foolish, yet today this is how I want to live my life. God first and my assurance of His companionship for whatever this day may hold for me.

I may not be better than my own father, or my ‘fathers in the faith’ and yesterday is gone like water under the bridge. I cannot change the mistakes that I have already made, however I can commit myself wholly unto my Lord for today and hope and pray that I will honour His name and do a measure of good to my fellow man.

It all boils down to this. I do not want to be like anyone else but Jesus!

What is that I hear?

‘Arise and eat.’