Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem[a] singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
Meg and I fly home from New Zealand tonight. As I read this writing by Henri Nouwen, I was struck by how much of our lives involve letting go. We are filled and then emptied, and then filled again. It is a deep blessing to make/share these memories with Meg. We hold deeply to each other, as we move ever closer to eternal time with God.
“Joy and Sadness are as close to each other as the splendid colored leaves of a New England fall are to the soberness of barren trees. When you touch the hand of a returning friend you already know you will have to leave each again. When you are moved by the quiet vastness of a sun colored ocean, you miss the friend who cannot see the same. Joy and sadness are born at the same time, both arising from such deep places in your heart that you can’t find words to capture your complex emotions.
“But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched by a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence. It can do so by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy in God, a joy that no one shall take away from us. “ Henri Nouwen
Ohope calls itself the “sunshine capital of New Zealand.” Frankly, I would call it the “sunrise/sunset” capital. The Bay of Plenty was named by Captain Cook in the 1770’s after he found abundant provisions to replenish his ships along this coastline.
Since it faces northwards, Ohope Beach benefits from both sunrises and sunsets. As you can see, the colors glow magnificently. At sunrise, the mountains of the East Cape of the Bay of Plenty are often blanketed with clouds. This cloud cover creates a mystique to the land behind these mountains. Beautiful coves and beaches lie beyond the East Cape. It was the filming site for the excellent New Zealand movies, “Whale Rider” and “Boy.”
O Lord my God, how great you are! You are robed with honor and majesty. You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds.
During this Easter week, it is good to remember and reflect upon the incredible unfailing love God shows us despite the evil and chaos that never seems to end. Indeed, we have sound reason NOT to let our hearts be troubled!
“Hope and faith will both come to an end when we die. But love will remain. Love is eternal. Love comes from God and returns to God. When we die, we will lose everything that life gave us except love. The love with which we lived our lives is the life of God within us. It is the divine, indestructible core of our being. This love not only will remain but will also bear fruit from generation to generation.
“When we approach our deaths let us say to those we leave behind, “Don’t let your heart be troubled. The love of God that dwells in my heart will come to you and offer you consolation and comfort.” Henri Nouwen
One of the great joys of visiting family in Ohope is watching the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, the ever changing morning and evening light. Ohope Beach lies on the eastern end of the Bay of Plenty, an eighty mile curve of sea three hours southeast of Auckland. Because of its north-south location, this ocean expanse, unlike the Oregon coast, receives both sunrises and sunsets. The light is unique. Enjoy these pictures.
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” Psalm 91:1,2
“Do I look at my life as being in my Father’s house? The only abiding reality is God Himself….I must learn to live every moment in my Father’s house.” Oswald Chambers
When my thought life is focused on His shelter, His house, and not my fantasies or memories. I find I live much more fully in the NOW of His presence and protection. That is where I find peace, not in the variability of my “feelings.”