Friday, June 29, 2012

Horatio Spafford

Do you know who Horatio Spafford was?
             I didn't. I know his words, but not his name.

There is always a life story behind words we read, even if we don't consider it at the time of reading.

"When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul."

              Horatio Spafford wrote that.

Do you know when he wrote it?
              I didn't. I know his words, but not his event.

There is always a story behind what we read.

Considering that he wrote this on a ship, sailing across the ocean at the precise spot where the ship that was carrying his wife and four young daughters sank and  all four daughters drowned.....

......Suddenly the hymn means a little more, don't you think?
                                                        There is always something we don't know.

* * * * *

I have been reading this book which summarises the lives of a couple of great hymn writers. Horatio has particularly grabbed me for two reasons - which I can summarise in one verse:

"There is nothing new under the sun"

So the 2 reasons it grabbed me:
1.  The similarity to Job's experience
2.  Questioning and debating one's faith is not new and the results are often the same.

1. A remarkable similarity to Job.
He was born in 1828. Long ago hey? :)
  • He lost his son to scarlet fever.
  • His four daughters drowned when their ship collided with another.
  • People thought that their children had died because of sin they must have in their lives.
  • He also then lost his nephew who had moved with them to Jerusalem, and was like a son to them. 
  • Yet, in none of this did he doubt the goodness and kindness of God.
"When Horatio's life had flowed like a smooth, tranquil river, he refused to let others
shape his course. Now, amidst an ocean of suffering, neither did he bow to their expectations
or their theology. Horatio asked questions of God, not people. He reviewed Scriptures,
wrestled, analyzed and deduced.... "God is kind," said Horatio. "I do not know why
my children drowned. But our sin or lack of it had nothing to do with their deaths.
My girls are in heaven. I shall see them again."

What friends said of them after their son died:
"If the Spaffords were true Christians, God would not allow such a thing a second time."

What miserable comforters their friends turned out to be.

* * * * *

2.  Questioning and debating one's faith is not new and the results are often the same:

The book describes the event where he realises that he is short sighted. A bunch of friends are admiring the stars in the sky and Horatio said:

"Now Charlie, be candid. Be honest.
Do you really see enough beauty up there to warrant your outburst?"
Charlie lent him his glasses and suddenly "he stood transfixed by the
hundreds of diamonds that sparkled above him in clean, crystalline beauty."

The book goes on to say:
"Once his physical vision was corrected, Horatio wasted no time in scrutinizing his intellectual vision. He no longer swallowed traditional viewpoints, those of others or himself, without inquiry. He examined issues, loosening and peeling away layer of conventionality with sharp questions. How do we know this? Why? ... 

He says to God:
"All my life I had no inkling of the beauty or complexity of Your creation, God.
What else have I overlooked because I never questioned my own limited view?"

He became close friends with Dwight Moody and sometimes diasgreed with him:
"he felt the evangelist placed too much emphasis on God's judgement and not enough on his love.
As usual,he made his position clear to his friend and spiritual mentor (Moody).
But Horatio believed God had used Moody to change his own life and viewed
him as the means to help others change, too."

At some point he was asked to resign from his position in the Church due to his desire to question convention and tradition, though he never doubted the atoning sacrifice of Christ and the love of God.
The book goes on to talk about how newspapers "publicized and often distorted his views."

They, together with a group of friends, moved to Jerusalem after the death of his son and formed what came to be known as "The American Colony". Their lives embraced friendships with Jews, Muslims, Spanish priests and Sheiks (amongst others) as they embraced their culture. Their love and friendship had infiltrated a community of people whose lives were affected because of the their love for Jesus.

He died from malaria in Jerusalem in 1888.

* * * *

Things I can take from his story:
  • My faith will hopefully be as strong as theirs if tragedy befalls me.
  • I am thankful for my family and friends who love me unconditionally. 
  • That you can question tradition and convention
  • You can see things differently from other believers (Like he and Moody
  • Give one another room for their conviction and respect them.
  • There will always be those who are "willing to be companions" on your spritual journey
  • There will always be those who choose to "camp" and frown upon your spiritual journey
  • God is kind and is fully invested in making our journey as adventurous as you allow him
  • That all people from all faiths are to be respected and shown the love of Christ
  • A committed community of Christ followers can make a difference
  • One person started this. So never think that I, being one person, can't make a difference where I am.
We really do 'stand on the shoulders' of these amazing people who went before.

A very edited version of a wonderfully inspiring story.

* * *

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Big Clean (or big scream?)

I am not, by nature, a hoarder.

My Man on the other hand, has a garage full of planks, random brackets and other paraphanalia that he says he will keep "in case he needs them" - he doesn't need them  ;-).  However, I don't feel I can go and ditch things from the garage!

It's school holidays and I thought that this would be a perfect time to rearrange cupboards, get rid of things I have not used recently, and store the "Random-Sentimal-Stuff-That-I-Love-But-Don't-Want-To-Ditch".

Day 1:  I was a machine. I rocked! Enough said.

Day 2: Gave my mom a call to say Hi, and in chatting, told her I had lost touch with yesterday's mojo to which she said:

"It's like being a child and deciding to clean your toy cupboard and then playing with all the toys and not wanting to put them away.

I had to laugh - it is exactly like that.  Except that when I was little, at least SOME of the time, my mom would end up tidying up the scattered toys.

Ain't no mama gonna clean up this mess!

Day 3:  (Today) My mojo is further away than ever, and I am doing everything I can think of to avoid any and every room in my home (I'm even blogging about avoiding it!). Eish.

You need to understand that I don't work in one room at a time like I suspect organised people do. I work in one room, take something from there to another room where I think it's better suited, get side-tracked in that room, and so the process unmercifully repeats itself until every room shows evidence of my skill in being perfectly present in that room.

Now, I suppose, I should go and get on. No fairy is coming to wave their magic wand - and like many things in life, the sooner you face up to them and deal with them, the sooner you can move forward. 

Since I do want to go out and play these school holidays,
let me be a good kid and pick up my toys.

* * *

Friday, June 1, 2012

Eating my Words

The first blog I ever wrote, other than my "introductory one" was to complain bitterly about the puppy my daughter brought home one day.

As time has gone on and the puppy has been growing up, she has become more and more adorable, watching her learn commands, and getting her used to walking on a lead has been such a treat!

Jack, our other dog, has been going to run on the beach for a few weeks now, but more and more I have been feeling I need to be brave and take Tigger. I wasn't sure if she would take off at the smell of freedom, or if she would want to eat any other dog that passed by - but because she is just the most loving and soppy pup ever, I could not believe that she would do that.

I had popped into the vet for her to have her annual shots and asked his advice and he was very sweet and even offered to meet me down there if I wanted help. He suggested a long lead and to take Tigger without Jack initially.

I went down the next day with Tigs on the long lead and she was so good. She just ran along around me and was very friendly. Just one little dashund decided to be bigger than it was and Tigs looked more bewildered by her aggression than showing any herself.

Today, my sister and I had planned to meet down there with the aim of trying her with no lead. At the last moment plans changed, but I decided I would go anyway and went with her on the lead deciding to judge it as I went. Walking along, I bumped into our vet with his dogs and Tigs began playing with them, so I did it. I took the lead off and she was awesome. She played with them and just ran along with me and never was more than 10 ft from me.  I wish I had a camera with me, but I didn't even think about it - next time!

It's such a nice feeling to know that we can take the dogs down now and know that they will be fine and have a ball. (Probably not literally - but figuratively!) 

I can't believe that if I had really decided to pass this puppy on, that I would have missed out on a loyal and beautiful friend who brings me so much joy.

I can't think of our home without her and Jack in it now.... funny thing that.

(Cannot believe I wrote that much about a dog - my family better not laugh and point at me!)