Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chords and other adventures

Arthur is 17 now and more aware than ever of what is going on around him. After my discouraged and unsuccessful attempt to teach him how to play one chord on the guitar at the recent bluegrass festival, I regrouped. Armed with the encouragement from my happiness calendar that exhorts me to try something 8 times, I got out the ukelele chord chart bought a while back.

Arthur has had a uke for several years which he strums with great style. We've worked on ABC's and 123's for years too. Thursday, when I pulled out the chord chart, the Lord inspired me to bring those worlds together. I realized that music uses just the first 7 letters and numbers, so as we would focus on those  he would learn them out of order and every other way. We practiced writing and saying them, then I went to teach him G on the ukelele. But I soon realized that he did not really know what frets were, nor strings. So we pointed at them and said them out loud and wrote them out as words.

Next, I wrote 1,2,3,4 on our fingernails. One was on our left index finger, two on middle, three on ring, four on pinky. The chord chart shows the chord made with those fingers set on the strings at different frets. Then I showed him G on the chart and we built it one finger at a time. He did much better than he had on the guitar: he held the first finger in the right place right away! We'll work again this week, reviewing everything and adding as we can. This was super encouraging for me as well as him!

Arthur always helps me grocery shop and brings in the groceries from the trunk of the car for me. The trunk only locks when the doors are locked with the key fob. Yesterday, since it had rained, he was spiffily dressed in slacks, a long sleeved shirt, his bright red Kamiakin sweatshirt and driving cap. Dennis and I were getting ready to take him out for Saturday errands after we had told him it was time to go.

We gathered our keys, filled the water bottles and went out to the car, but no Arthur! He wasn't in his room or either bathroom. So we checked the basketball court, the trailer and the spare room, but no sign of him! This was getting serious!! He's not very good at hiding in that he always wiggles or giggles, but we looked everywhere twice. Then Dennis got in the car and drove around the block-- nothing. Arthur hasn't wandered away since he was four, so we were stumped! We prayed, searched behind the trees in the yard and were thinking we would have to call 911 when I asked Dennis if he had checked the trunk of the car. There he was! How thankful and relieved we were!!!!! His hair was dripping wet under his cap but he didn't seem afraid at all. We hugged him and told him how glad we were to find him!!! We are hoping he learned that you can get in the trunk and close it but then it gets hot and you can't get out by yourself so it is best not to do that again!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Andrew Murray, 1828-1917

So why write about this man who lived and died more than a century ago? Because he is a treasure, both what he has left us in his writings and the man himself as our example.

Back in the 1970's, we bought With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray. Because at that time we were only familiar with an Arminian approach to Christianity, where one chooses to accept Christ and then endeavors to follow Him as well as one can, this book was over our heads. We just couldn't do what he was suggesting! But after the first decade of the 21st century, when we got acquainted with Henry Blackaby, many more authors started making sense. The writings of Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, all of whom understood Christianity from a more Calvinistic viewpoint, where Sovereign God is both the Author and Finisher of our faith in Jesus, became rich food for our hungry souls.

Early this year, I finally picked up that small, old paperback by Andrew Murray again, the pages so yellow that my pencil markings barely show up, and discovered that each of the 31 brief chapters was a gem! He explains the whys and hows of prayer so simply yet powerfully in the context of our union with Christ. There was no way I could hold onto it all with my mind, but my heart was gently and lovingly encouraged to view and embrace prayer as a privilege and so much more!

I eagerly ordered more of his books online, astounded at the number of titles he produced. After reading  The Master's Indwelling and Waiting on God, and starting Abide in Christ, I had to know more about the man who knew and wrote about His God so intimately, with strong exhortations made so encouraging and compelling. So I ordered a book, Andrew Murray and His Message about him that was written in 1926 by a man who knew and loved him well, W.M. Douglas.

Murray was born in South Africa into the fine, large, godly family of a Scottish missionary to that country. Andrew and his brother Charles were sent to Scotland, finishing in Holland where the Dutch Reformed Church was headquartered, to be educated for the ministry themselves, which they both desired. Andrew was 10 when he went, returning at 17 with his Master's Degree and ordination! Already his giftedness was apparent as a natural leader of men, as a compelling preacher and as someone who genuinely cared for others.

But he was never content to rest upon his natural gifts. He writes, "The first ten years of my spiritual life . . .I was a minister, I may say, as zealous and as ernest and as happy in my work as anyone, as far as love of the work was concerned. Yet, all the time, there was burning in my heart a dissatisfaction and restlessness inexpressible. . .Here I am knowing that God has justified me in the blood of Christ, but I have no power for service. ..Though all around thought me one of the most earnest of men, my life was one of deep dissatisfaction."

One day a missionary encouraged him by saying, "The desire God puts in your heart he will fulfill." After the years of struggling, the Lord brought him to a new pastorate in 1860. "God poured out His Spirit there in connection with my preaching . . . and a very unspeakable blessing came to me. The first Dutch edition of my book Abide in Christ was written at that time. (What a blessing to me that God would have led me to be reading that very book at the same time!)  "I had not then experienced all that I wrote of: I cannot say that I experience it all perfectly even now. . . .I can help you more, perhaps, by speaking, not of any marked experience, but by telling very simply what I think God has given me now, in contrast to the first ten years of my Christian life.

"First of all, I have learnt to place myself before God every day as a vessel to be filled with His Holy Spirit. He has filled me with the blessed assurance that He, as the everlasting God, has guaranteed His own work in me. If there is one lesson that I am learning day by day, it is this: that it is God who worketh all in all. Oh, that I could help any brother or sister to realise this!

"..... believe that He was working out your salvation. . . . . believe that the everlasting God is working out the image of His Son in you. . . .And remember that not one minute of your life should be without God. . . .No, no; in the Bible we read 'Your sun shall no more go down.' Let me believe that I am God's child, and that the Father in Christ, through the Holy Sprit, has set his love upon me and that I may abide in His presence, not frequently but unceasingly. The veil has been rent; the holiest of all opened. By the grace of my God I have to take up my abode there, and there my God is going to teach me what I never could learn while I dwelt outside. My home is always in the abiding love of the Father in Heaven. . . . ". These quotes are excerpts from pages 166-170, where he gives his testimony for the first and only time.

One of the most memorable facts about Andrew Murray that has blessed me a great deal personally was his ability to get along with and even make life-long friends of difficult, disagreeable people without ever compromising his beliefs. He was even able to diffuse and avert a war in the South African territories at one point! all by refusing to take offense, sincerely caring, intently listening, truly loving, overlooking wrong attitudes, bringing out the best, allaying fears, lightening with good humor, etc. He explained one time to someone who asked how he could do this, that he had noticed how God used Jacob and Isaac for his purposes even though there was much wicked and wrong in their lives. He saw that not even stubborn, wicked people can get in the way of God's plan and divert His love and purposes from them, so he, Andrew Murray, was following that example. Walking in the love of God was habitual for him, so extending that love to others was a natural outgrowth: he wanted to give what he had received! Seeing others as in need of love rather than as disturbing souls to tolerate is a powerfully pro-active way to face life, I'm thinking.