GOD OF ALL COMFORT – SONG 9 OF 9

Listen to song – God of all Comfort
It was a Sunday morning, almost 30 years ago, when my life changed dramatically. My beloved Dad suffered a heart attack at home, and while I watched helplessly on, my mum out calling the ambulance, he breathed his last. That traumatic time still impacts me today, but so does the comfort and grace of God that I and my family received at that time. I look back and say that God made it “the least worst it had to be”. There were many special moments we’d enjoyed with Dad in the lead up, even though we had no idea we were going to suddenly lose him. And I’ll never forget, the morning after that terrible day, opening our daily bible reading to hear

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor 1)

This verse, perhaps more than any other, has been proved true over and over in my life. The phrases are so precious to me, because they are life deep. God of all comfort, Father of compassion – what amazing relief to our souls to know these particular names of God. And, just like with the reservoir idea, once again we have that principle of God filling us, comforting us, caring for us – which then becomes the source of all that we share with others.

Can you think of any times in your life where you yourself have received the comfort of God? What forms did God’s comfort take, even in the midst of the tragic circumstance (or maybe before or after it occured)? On the other hand, have there been times when you have felt completely bereft – could you perhaps ask God now to show you how He was present with you in that terrible time?

The Bible makes clear that this life of ours will not be immune from suffering, in fact later in that same chapter, Paul describes his own suffering – “great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself”. In the light of all this, our worldview itself is a comfort – because it explains that though God’s kingdom is here, alive and active, for now it is in the midst of a dark, broken and at times evil world. We wait for the Lord’s return, for wrong to be made right, for every tear to be wiped away – but while we wait, He is with us – He is Emmanuel! Born into a dirty stable, under a local murderous regime, backed by a world-dominating power – having to flee as a baby refugee, as an adult harried by corrupt leaders and eventually murdered after a desecration of justice. That’s one side of the story.

But at the same time, throughout Jesus’ life, and in His resurrection, we see the Kingdom of God alive, pulsing with goodness and grace, bringing light to the darkness, compassion to the needy, healing and comfort to all who looked to Him. And of course, the final explosive turn around as his broken dead body comes back to glorious life and death itself begins to ‘work backwards’! This is the tension we live in the midst of.

Jesus, please give us the grace and the courage to look to you, and to open our hearts to you so that we may receive more of you. Help us to know that you are here with us, even in the midst of the mess.

THE SAFEST PLACE – Song 8 of 9

Listen to song – The Safest Place – if you want to skip straight to the song, it’s at 1:05.

Though it’s quite short and simple in structure, this song speaks of something deep and strong. I think I’ll leave you with the song itself, and if you have time to read more, there are some links below you could look into. I pray that God will speak to all of us this week, giving comfort and healing where we need it, giving His clarity and wisdom, reminding us to stop and remember who we are as His children… Will I let Him be the one I rely on?
The safest place in this whole world
is in letting go, and in flying free
cause it’s only then, when we lose control,
that we’ll ever know if you’re flying underneath.

The safest place in this whole world
is if we can risk it and choose to trust,
cause when we are held by our many fears,
we can never reach out to find how much we are loved.

The safest place in this whole world
is if all our shame can be flung aside,
and with all our failings and broken ways,
we can learn to live far beyond the reach of pride.

Oh help us see that you are who you say,
and to dare to come out from our hiding places,
and set us free from the many ways that we
use to try to keep ourselves safe…

The safest place in this whole world is in letting go,
and in flying free, cause it’s only then,
when we lose control, that we’ll ever know that you’re flying underneath.

EXTRA THOUGHTS:
A number of things I’d read and long thought about influenced the writing of this song… and it has been a helpful one for me and for some of my friends. If you have time to read a bit more, there are 2 choices below that are both linked to the song: A story – Made to Fly (find on my blog) is a fantasy story that I wrote a few years ago, and True Faith Brings committal linked here is a reflection by A.W. Tozer that has profoundly influenced my journey over about 20 yrs… still challenged by it now.

This quote is on our bathroom wall, cause I want to keep being reminded (and for my family to be too) to live in that unceasing yes, that choice to trust in the love and goodness of God, as the bottom line…

GOOD GIFTS – Song 7 of 9

Listen to song – “Good gifts”
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

If you’ve heard me perform before, no doubt you’ve heard this song. It’s a celebratory, end-of-set, sing-along kind of song that has meant so much to me. Last year, my year 5 and 6 music class sang it near the end of the school concert, with their own made up lyrics in the bridge section: a gorgeous list of things they love in life, like ‘swimming in dams and freezing rivers’, ‘walking the dog around the farm’, ‘drawing pictures, making craft and watching too much youtube’! They sang it with joy.

I still remember the first time I read the words that inspired this song, in Henri Nouwen’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’. Chris and I were driving and as I read the section, The Father Celebrates, the tears began streaming down my cheeks. It was a life changing moment of clarity. Neuro-scientists are now writing about the value of forging new neural pathways by choosing to think in new directions and forming new thought habits. And these truths have saved me from falling into abysses of grief and despair, I know. Here are a few snippets…

Celebration belongs to God’s Kingdom…God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end, nor because thousands of people have been converted and are now praising him for his goodness. No, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found. What I am called to is to enter into that joy. It is God’s joy, not the joy that the world offers… The father of the prodigal son gives himself totally to the joy that his returning son brings him. I have to learn from that. I have to learn to “steal” all the real joy there is to steal and lift it up for others to see….This is a real discipline. It requires choosing for the light even when there is much darkness to frighten me, choosing for life even when the forces of death are so visible, and choosing for the truth even when I am surrounded with lies… There is so much rejection, pain, and woundedness among us, but once you choose to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all suffering, life becomes celebration. Joy never denies the sadness, but transforms it to a fertile soil for more joy…

People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God. Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, The Father Calls for a Celebration

May God give you the grace to ‘steal’ or treasure all the joy there is to be had in this coming week, and if you write your own ending to the song, I’d love to hear it!!

Much love to you,
In His unfailing love,
Nerida

KING OF LOVE – SONG 6 OF 9

Listen to Song – King of Love
There are many ‘hard calls’ on us as followers of Jesus, but I wonder if the hardest of all is the call to love your enemy. If we can’t immediately connect with the word ‘enemy’, how about “Love the person who really frustrates you”, or “Love the person you struggle to like”, or “Love the person who has hurt and wounded you, or has threatened someone you care about”. That kind of call pushes us to the end of ourselves – it’s too hard to make it happen by sheer willpower alone, impossible really! The only way we can do it (and know how that love actually works, what it would look like) is to come in our weakness and need to the King of Love. “Lord, I don’t have that kind of love in me… I don’t even want to love this person, but I do want to be connected with you, and I am willing for you to begin your work of freeing me of the bitterness, resentment, wounds and grief, and to do your miracle of love in my life – please fill me with your love, even for this person…”. This is the place of despair and surrender I was in when I wrote this song. And this is where our true mission to others in this hurting world can begin – in brokenness and real dependence on the Father, rather than on our own efforts, however well intentioned.
“We believe that God delights in His world and us. We want to trust in His love, and allow it to transform our lives and our neighbourhood, that we neighbourhood, that we may overflow His presence where we are…”

This was the ‘mission statement’ of a missional community I was a part of in Ballarat in 2000 and 2001, and it’s still a statement that holds a lot of meaning and relevance for me. We had the idea of a natural reservoir, that collects the rain and run off until it is filled, when it can overflow the needed moisture to the land around it. I found this beautiful photo online a few years ago, and based an artwork on it that I’ll share below…

It’s a great visual for our lives as Jesus’ followers. As we grow more and more in our trust in the reality of God’s love, His love for US – that “never stopping, never giving up, unfailing, always-and-forever love”** – as we let our broken hearts rest in that truly safe place, as we bring our broken ways to the only one who can heal us, as we open ourselves to the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, to bring His truth and light into our darkness – He fills us with what we need to share with others around us, even those that are beyond our own capacity to love.
Let’s open our hearts afresh to Him today, and ask Him to show us His deep, unfailing, miraculous, resurrection-working love. It seems to be a very important step of growth when we can come to Him in desparation and throw ourselves on His gracious ability to free and grow us.

**(thanks Sally Lloyd Jones, Jesus Storybook Bible)


KING OF LOVE
It really is true,
that without love I am nothing,
I can do nothing,
worse even than that,
all of my efforts are merely noise,
in the way of …

CH: The King of Love who breaks apart our delusions,
our pretensions,
Conquering, humbling, setting free our truest selves.

My arrogance and criticism have to die, please help them die!
How can a blind one such as I think to see more clearly than the King of Love (… Ch)

Don’t let me stand in the way of your life-giving love,
Don’t let my fear of pain block your way of life,
Don’t let my pride pervert your life-giving love,
Don’t give me my own way lest it block the way of your life-giving love…

Oh King of Love, please break apart my delusions, my pretensions,
conquering, humbling, setting free my truest self! AMEN!!

JESUS – song 5 of 9


https://youtu.be/wtkh6fuKn6Y
I’ve been thinking today about what life would look like if Jesus never lived. Rather than me rattling out a long list of the ways Jesus’ life, death and resurrection have impacted humanity, why don’t you ponder the question yourself for a little while? I mean once you start wondering about it, there’s so much in our life and thinking that would be completely different if Jesus never existed – as individuals and as a culture (even though some in our culture blindly want to throw out what they can of Jesus’ input into our worldview and value systems). I know the reality is that we wouldn’t be here at all if Jesus didn’t exist, but we’re trying to activate our imaginations here! It’s just that the story, the teaching, the example and the work of Jesus are all so woven in, we can take it for granted. Asking questions like ‘What if Jesus had never existed?’ is one way that I can try and get past all the debris in my head about Jesus, to be able to look at Him afresh.

That stack of images and ideas in our heads can sometimes blur our view of Jesus and even cause us to lose our sense of connection with Him – like in that old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt”. It’s important to keep coming back to the source – reading the gospels as if we’ve never seen them before, allowing ourselves a fresh encounter with the one who was called Emmanuel – God with us. Maybe that could be something to do over the Christmas break? And of course, we can keep asking Jesus to clear away some of the rubble to give us a clearer view of Him and a deeper connection with Him.

Please Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to more of you…

If you’d prefer to have some more visuals with the song, I made an audio-visual version, with lots of these kind of art history images of Jesus, for a high school Scripture class. It is made with the studio version of the song, rather than the live recording. You can find that version here

May you know God’s grace and care for you this week.

Much love, Nerida

“And now, just as you received Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Col 2:6-7)

The Temple

A breath-takingly beautiful temple stood in the city, obviously made as a masterpiece; with gold leaf expertly placed over the doorway, and bas-relief carvings surrounding it. The roof was a marvel, shaped to intrigue the eyes into following its beautiful lines. Stained glass windows sparkled in the light – a gorgeously rich array of colours and tones in intricate and beautiful designs. One could imagine the large, cool interior, with hundreds of reflected shapes of coloured light dappling the walls and floors.

It was built as a temple of the Lord, a Dwelling Place for the Mighty Creator. It had been designed to be a house of prayer; a place of rest, comfort, peace and reconciliation where people who came in would find themselves loved and cared for, their own uniqueness discovered and known, their spirits lightened and inspired. The owner had gladly given the land and magnificent building to the service of the King of Kings, asking the Creator to dwell there and do whatever he wanted to, in it and through it. It had been formally dedicated to the Master’s use in a beautiful ceremony where water, words, song and prayers had all symbolically recognised that the life and light of the Loving Father God would be free to dwell within, as long as the building lasted.

That’s why it was curious the day the owner installed a large screen in the centre of the building, with an aerial stretching up from the exquisite domed roof. Where once the cool interior had been a quiet and peaceful place, with tasteful art works, and gentle music from time to time, now a thousand images a day flickered onto the screen. Mostly they were commonplace – photos of children, animals, families and food – with a few wonderful and only the occasional questionable images. Even so, the pictures did have a habit of drawing the eye, and you couldn’t help but want to read the accompanying text – humorous, angry, sad or banal, it kind of drew you in and before you knew it you’d been staring at that screen for half an hour or more at a time.

After a while, the owner had rearranged the seating to give a better view of the screen; and while there were still open spaces and little nooks and crannies where you could sit and think, it definitely changed the feel of the place.

Then one day, a traveling salesman knocked on the door. No salesperson had ever dared to do that before, knowing it was a sacred space and that they wouldn’t even get a look in. But this guy had seen the aerial, and knew it signified a change within, so he thought he’d try his luck. He couldn’t believe it when the owner actually gave him a smile of welcome, and stood for several minutes listening to his spiel. The next time he was in the area, he knocked again, and this time the owner welcomed him to come in and sit for a while so he could properly explain his products and open his suitcases. Well, before long, he was being invited to put a poster on the wall, and not too long after that, a static display of his wares. Within a few months, he had commandeered a small space against the southern wall where he could stay and demonstrate his various wares, selling bits and pieces to those who wandered in and out of the beautiful, but slightly noisier temple.

It didn’t take long for other sales people to hear about the concession made to their colleague. Being a fair-minded person, the owner couldn’t refuse them the chance to have a go at setting up a little stall or wheeling in a market display. It was a colourful, eclectic hive of activity; you never knew what new wonder would be brought in, and it was quite exciting to find objects and curiosities you didn’t even know existed, sourced from all over the globe, and reasonably priced, too!

The owner wondered from time to time how such a change had come about in the formerly peaceful, open space. Occasionally, he longed for that sense of stillness and rest, that now seemed almost like a dream in this flashy, busy, buzzing place. And when trucks backed up to the double doors to unload their latest goods, it was actually a little jarring to his nerves.

Sporadically, dancers and actors had asked if they could be allowed to present their latest show in the beautiful temple building. At first, the owner pointed to the theatre just down the road, a purpose-built locale for the arts where he himself had enjoyed the creativity of skilled performers. But after a while he thought it was silly to say no – why not enjoy this entertainment right here, relaxing on his favourite chair, and able to share it with whoever else was there at the time.

So, it became quite a regular thing – often just a short performance: a new song, or a compelling short act, even a whirling, scantily-clad dancer might leap onto the stage to show off their latest creation. Occasionally, the shows went for much longer, and everything else shut down for a while, as everyone there was absorbed in the action.

Needless to say, people who had enjoyed visiting the temple for many years found the gradual change of atmosphere surprising. Where once they had found solace and restoration within the gorgeously designed space, feeling the cool still air bringing its own presence into their souls, they could hardly recognise the new exciting hubbub that seemed to excite all the senses at once! Some people turned around and exited, and never came back. Others were drawn into the colourful array of experiences that were on offer, embracing this new expression of the temple’s life with gusto. Some even brought in their own displays or performances, sharing their own favourite images, shows or purchases with the owner, who was always ready for something new.

It was a day just like any other, when a quiet and thoughtful looking visitor stepped through the ornate doors, which these days were propped open from first light til well after dark, the owner figuring that whilever he was awake he may as well see what new attraction might pop up to pique his interest. (Occasionally, he even got out of bed to answer the ping of the doorbell, and sometimes he was very pleased that he had done so, happy to sacrifice a bit of sleep for something that intriguing!). The owner looked up at the visitor; but since people of all types were constantly coming in and out, he didn’t take much notice of individuals, until they managed to grab his attention.

The stranger gazed intently around the crowded space, and tried to scrape from his shoe the sticky mess he’d accidentally trodden on. There was quite a bit of garbage lying around these days, the inevitable result of so many going in and out, eating and unpackaging their purchases. Sometimes even the shop owners were careless with the wrappings and cast off goods, and the owner occasionally burst out in frustration at all the mess they seemed to leave behind.

With careful steps, the new visitor walked around, taking in the various items for sale, the dancers and clowns and orators all waiting for their turn on the stage. He saw the images on the screen, sometimes held for several minutes, other times flicking through each second. He looked in vain for somewhere to settle quietly to rest his tired feet. All the seats and benches had been commandeered by the salespeople, or dragged up close to the small stage that had been installed. He even bought a brown loaf from one vendor, but after one bite re-wrapped it and looked in vain for a bin. The bread had been a disappointment, somehow looking fresh but with a stale taste and some hidden mould underneath.

After quite some time, he managed to get the owner’s attention. He spoke quietly with him, and in fact the owner had to bend quite close to even hear what he was saying above the crowd and the noisy salespeople, not to mention the blaring music of the dancers. The owner’s face reflected several feelings at once – shock, sorrow, fear, confusion. As the stranger slowly spoke, the owner looked around him, the colours and shadows reflected on his skin. He spread his hands in a gesture of resignation, shrugging his shoulders. He tried to point out some of the more beautiful and useful wares to the stranger, also indicating with despair some of the less savoury sellers whom he’d tried unsuccessfully to evict.

“You know I could help you with all of this, don’t you?”, the stranger finally asked. “I would happily send all these away – back to their own places, so you could still easily get what you needed, but they wouldn’t all have to be right here, crowding you all the time.”

The owner’s shame and regret was evident. He was torn between the man’s offer, and all that surrounded him, that he quite enjoyed and in fact, relied upon. His own repeated efforts to bring a little order to the chaos had never really worked, but the thought of quiet, empty space had become so foreign it was almost frightening.

It seemed an age before he hesitantly turned back to the earnest face of the unusual visitor in front of him. “I’m sorry. I do know you are right, but this…”, gesturing around him, “…This is my life now, and I can’t see how I could be without it. I would still love you to come and see me again though.”

The stranger nodded sadly, and looked around the building again before grasping the man in a strong hug, and then turning to go, after assuring him he would definitely visit again, to see if the owner had changed his mind.

He walked calmly to the doorway and through it, turning as he went to look up at the half broken sign dangling over the entrance: “A House of Prayer”. He himself had lovingly carved those letters, and put the beautiful sign in place, all those years ago.

With a heavy sigh, he pulled at the wood until the only remaining nail gave way. He rubbed the dust away with his craftsman’s hand, and placed the sign carefully behind a column, with the writing up against the wall. With one last longing gaze at the owner, whose back was visible amongst the crowd, the stranger brushed off his hands and slowly walked away.

(Short story, c. Nerida Cuddy 24/11/18 – a few days after my smart phone broke!)

Song 4 of 9 – The More I Know

This week’s song has been one that has influenced and comforted me greatly over the last 15 years, and I hope and pray it might minister to you wherever you are this week.

Last week we had a look at the Beatitudes, and how we can unwittingly live by quite a different set of expectations and ideals that lead us away from trusting dependence on the Father. We can be driven by our need to feel in control, to appear perfect, or to “have it all together”. Over many years, God has graciously continued to allow this tendency in myself to smash up against life’s realities, trying to rescue me from that ingrained habit of self-reliance. It’s interesting that the writer Paul Young used the word ‘independence’ to describe the essence of sin, in the context of how we relate to God. That’s worth giving some thought to.

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matt 5:3). Other translations explain the phrase by using words like “those who only depend on Him”, “those who are poor and know their need for Him”, “the spiritually destitute”, or those who “recognise that they are spiritually helpless”. Jesus illustrated this truth by pointing to a little child and telling us that we needed to come to the Kingdom just like a child. The psalmist also contributes some deeper imagery, in psalm 131. I memorised it a while back, in the Good News translation:

Lord, I have given up my pride
and turned away from my arrogance.
I am not concerned with great matters
or with subjects too difficult for me.
Instead, I am content and at peace.
As a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms,
so my heart is quiet within me.
Israel, trust in the Lord
now and forever!

Sometimes all we can do is rest ourselves in the grace of God – mentally, emotionally, even with a physical action (like opening our hands, or writing out our burdens as an act of hand-over). He is the only one who can carry this world’s burdens. He is the one who knows our deepest hearts, and is unfailing in His loving commitment to us. Sometimes we can’t understand Him, we can’t understand our lives, and the pain that we or our friends are carrying seems overwhelming. In that time, the choice is still ours’ – to ‘soldier on’, or to rest ourselves and our burdens in the hands of the only one who can bring light into the darkness.

May you know His grace and care for you this week, here’s the song: The More I Know

Song 3 of 9 – The Great Doorway

Sometimes songs spring out in the most surprising ways. I wrote “The Great Doorway” in a circumstance of great heartache, and it’s referring to some deep matters of theology, and yet it came out as the “hokey-est”, daggy-est protest song I could imagine! I originally wrote it on a banjo-guitar, even! You may remember the folk singer/songwriters in the 60s and 70s writing a lot of ‘protest’ songs; and as a folky songwriter I find the protest genre quite a helpful way of processing frustration and disappointment with our culture. It’s a little more unusual to write a spiritual protest song, but that’s what happened here. So please don’t get hung up on individual lines or phrases, but try and take it as a whole and see if anything catches your attention. Sometimes even something that makes you feel reactive or confused is still worth giving some thought to. Also, sometimes exaggeration is a way of trying to look at something more clearly.

That’s what I did in the song: exaggerated certain beliefs and perceptions about God, ourselves and life that have been unhelpful to me and to people I love. I’ll never forget the protest in my spirit one time in church as I heard a beautiful old man of God pray, “Lord you know I’m nothing but a worm in your sight”. It grieved my heart, especially because in my own spiritual journey, for all sorts of reasons, I had often found it so hard to really trust that God could actually love me; that His forgiveness is real, and that he really does see me as His beloved daughter. In the intro to the song, I share some of those warped beliefs that I somehow grew up with about God and what He expected of me. Again I used exaggeration to help myself see more clearly where I was thinking wrongly. I wrote up a set of false beatitudes, that contrast glaringly with the real and beautiful teaching Jesus gave about us being poor in Spirit, being able to mourn, hungering and thirsting for His goodness, etc. I’ll put a copy of both sets of beatitudes below for your reflection, but feel free to go straight to the song. And if you want to skip the spoken intro, just jump to 2:25 on the clip.

When this song jumped out of my mouth & banjitar, I laughed and said, “God what the heck do you want me to do with this song?!!”. I still feel the same about it, so I’m just trusting Him in putting it out there to you guys and others. Maybe you can just laugh and leave it, or maybe it might get you thinking, or maybe you might even want to write back and let it be a discussion starter… Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s The Great Doorway

PS: Here are the beatitudes:

NERIDA’S (FALSE) BEATITUDES
Blessed are those who ‘have it all together’, for they have ‘arrived’, spiritually…
Blessed are the emotionally invulnerable, for they will never need comforting…
Blessed are those who control people and circumstances, for life will work out for them…
Blessed are those who know they are righteous, for they will never taste failure…
Blessed are the nice, for they will be liked…
Blessed are those who never do anything wrong, for they can feel sure of God’s acceptance…
Blessed are those who avoid conflict, for they will never offend.
Blessed are those who persecute anyone with a slightly different theology, for all Christendom is theirs…

CHRIST’S BEATITUDES (Mt 5:3-12)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven….

Song 2 of 9 – MUTAWINJI

Last century (I just had to write that!) my close friend Sonja & I went camping in the Mutawinji National Park near Broken Hill. We would eat brekky then go our separate way for the day – she to do art, me to write. It was a very special few days – as you can see in the photo above, it is a spectacularly beautiful spot. I’m sitting up on the edge of a gorge, writing a song about a tiny tree nearby that was growing out of an enormous chunk of rock. Little did I know that Sonja took an amazing photo of that tree and rock from below, while walking through the gorge… Anyway, here’s that picture and the lyrics for this week’s song. I’ll write a few more thoughts, and give you the link, beneath it…

MUTAWINJI (c. Nerida Cuddy, Mutawinji National Park, 1998)

May my life be blown upon by your relentless Spirit,
laying bare the surface of my soul,
tearing out the trivial, exposing petty thrones
that blind me to all the truth I’ve known.

Like a windblown tree anchored in rock,
standing against a barren sky,
Let it be made clear that my life is in you,
that your massive strength is all that is holding me.

In the days of suffering the hope is growing clearer
that your love will decimate my pride,
in the pain of struggling against my rebel spirit
I will rest with nothing more to hide.

Beauty from ashes is your delight,
mending broken pieces,
bringing life back from the dead,
this is the wonder of your creating hand.

This is such a relevant prayer for me at this time. Today our house is a pretty good reflection of my state of mind – after several busy weeks it is full of random clutter and needs a lot of help! My mind and heart are also quite cluttered, distracted, a bit numb. I’d like to specially remind myself and all of us of how the screens/phones can be a ‘petty throne’ that can quite powerfully blind/deafen us – or just use up the time/focus we might need for prayer.

Usually I would start to feel panicked, stressing about what I should do to ‘fix’ my state of mind. But the past few days I’ve just been turning back over and again to the one who can actually bring the clarity. I’ve tried to thank Him that He is at work in me, and that He is able to speak to me regardless of how well I might feel I can listen. I’ve asked Him to continue to do what is needed to help me through this place I’m in, to ‘tear out the trivial’ and reveal the things that are blinding me. I’ve been thanking Him that He is doing the long slow work in me, and choosing to trust Him to continue it.

The fact is, our lives are in Christ – He is the one who is holding us, whether we feel aware of it, whether we are in a strong or weak place, whatever the circumstance. That photo is so powerful isn’t it, and I’m so grateful that my friend was prompted 20 years ago to take that picture, so that you can see what an incredible image it is of our life in Christ. He is strong, beautiful, and able to be depended on. Even though that tiny tree looks so weak, and like there is no nourishment there for it – it is alive and well, rooted in rock.

Much love to you all,
and enjoy the song – MUTAWINJI
in His unfailing love,
Nerida
… I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph 3:16-19

A live concert


Last month, I released the first in a set of 9 songs which were filmed 4 or 5 yrs ago in a live concert at the Surrender conference in Victoria. My brother Warwick filmed and edited the songs, and my brother Andy did the sound. Some of the other songs feature a few backing musos and are particularly lovely.

I thought it would be a good thing to release all the songs one by one, a week at a time. Most of the songs have a one minute or so intro – the concert was aimed at a Christian audience, and the aim of it was an encouragement for people to encounter God more deeply, even though there are hard things in life and even hard things in faith, that we need to encounter. I’m going to post each song here at my blog, together with the reflective thoughts that go with that song.

It was a very special concert of some of the spiritual songs that are closest to my heart – the forerunner of my Prayers album, and I’m so pleased to finally be able to share it with you. The filming has turned out really beautifully, thanks to Warwick putting a whole lot of time into it recently!

Anyway, hope you enjoy this first song, PEACE and thanks for your prayers and support in general. Love to you and yours,
xo Nerida