19th January ~ I’ve learnt that the active bit about trusting God is to seek his will and pray before you start making decisions, rather than afterwards; otherwise you just end up wasting a lot of time. I need to ask that his will should supersede my own right now. And always.
20th January ~
‘What if you can’t come to any sort of decision?’
‘When you’re doubtful about your course, submit your judgement absolutely to the Spirit of God and ask him to shut against you every door but the right one.’ Who said that?
21st January ~
‘And if things don’t work out?’
‘If life is not going to plan, look to the Lord for a creative alternative, another strategy, something different. Think again ~ achieve your dream.’ Hank Overeem.
It has been snowing again, but deeply and the whole world looks different. It sounds different too. Solomon the cart horse is wearing his smart green rug and, with his shaggy legs, he looks as if he’s wearing flared trousers underneath. A grit lorry with five men dressed in bright orange boiler-suits came down the valley and Mum got a wolf-whistle. She’s frightfully pleased.
I love walking in the snow but I think I should stay inside. Mind you, if I don’t get out of the house now I never will. ‘Lord, who can I go and stay with?’ It’s a funny time of year to go visiting.
22nd January ~
‘What if I still don’t have a plan?’ I still don’t know what God wants of me, and where he wants me. I could go to South Africa, the option is open, but what would I do there? I need to be certain it’s the right step. I’ve worked out one thing. When you need direction or confirmation to prayer:
A light shines.
A way opens.
A word is given.
A picture emerges.
An assurance comes.
An inner peace settles.
Sometimes we just have to take one step at a time. It can be difficult when the mist comes down and you can only see one step ahead of you.
23rd January ~ Cock-a-doodle-doo! My muddled dreams were split in two. My parents have acquired, not one but two cockerels and they’re living in the parrots’ cage right below my window. (The parrots are back in the dining room.) These roosters cry ~ or whatever you call the noise ~ crow, every thirty-three seconds. Cock-a-do-dol-doo! I’ve timed them. It’s driving me demented.
‘But darling, it’s a lovely country noise.’
‘Why’ve you bought them?’
‘We didn’t buy them. We were given them by a sweet man called Trevor who found them wandering around in a wood. He had them at his house but the neighbours complained.’ Cock-a-doodle-doo! One bird is called Albert, and the other Terry, after the local builder.
Gordon comes from South Africa. I keep thinking of the verse he gave me and looked it up:
‘...how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case? Have you never heard or understood?’ Cock-a-do-dol-doo! ‘Don’t you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.’ Isaiah 40 v 27-31 Yes, please.
I decided to ring him in London. ‘What do you reckon, Gordon? I’d love to go to South Africa.’
‘What’s that odd noise?’ he asked.
‘Oh, it’s a rooster.’
‘I’m sure,’ he said, ‘that God wants you to extend your experience and see the world.’
‘I do have the option of staying here and illustrating books.’
‘Yes, but it might be a distraction or an obstacle. If God clearly wants you to go somewhere, attractive propositions that pander to our egos tend to pop up, and later come to nothing.’ Cock-a-do-dol-doo! ‘Have you got a lot of hens?’
‘No just two; two males.’ I asked him if he ever felt unclear about the future despite asking God what to do. ‘Do you ever feel you’re walking in a fog?’
‘All the time,’ he laughed. ‘Sometimes it’s a matter of asking for strength as well as direction.’
‘My problem is I don’t know whether I’ll have the energy to go in any direction at all.’
‘You will. Don’t do it in your own strength. When I worked in the Cape I went climbing on the coastal cliffs once by myself and fell. There was no one around. As I fell through space I resigned my life into God's hands, knowing it was up to him whether I should live or die. I woke after dark on the rocks below with a sense of peace, like after a deep and comfortable sleep. I realised that God had chosen to give me life ~ and therefore had a purpose for me. To avoid hypothermia, I dragged myself to a cave where I spent the night and then staggered slowly back the next morning and got help. My only wounds were cuts on legs and face and hip, which were stitched up. I lost a bit of blood. My teeth required root treatment but this actually straightened them out. I spent four days in the local hospital and then had a beach holiday. I certainly learnt to draw on the Lord’s strength. It was quite a useful lesson.’