Proverbs and Promises
Some while ago, I came across the book As they say in Zanzibar by David Cristal: (OUP) a delightful collection of proverbs and wise sayings from around the world. We have included one or two here as starters for brief meditations.

Wider reading
A good book is the best of friends.

After three days without reading, talk becomes flavourless.

Last week, I asked ‘who or what is most inspiring you at the moment?’ it is also worth being aware that if we are not receiving fresh input into our lives we risk living ‘off the hump’ – in which case we will gradually begin to endlessly repeat ourselves.

What books are blessing you at the moment? What can you do to share them with others? Do pass on any particularly good recommendations!

A fault denied is twice committed

“Is it I, Rabbi?” (You surely don’t mean me, Judas asked!) “Jesus said to him, ‘It is you who have said so.’ (Matt 26:25)

When we make mistake, we often prefer to suppose that it is no more than ‘one off’ aberration. In reality, however, it may be pointing to an area in which we are more at risk than we care to admit.

Reflect for a moment on issues that have not worked out well for you, looking more at the reasons why you slipped rather than just at what happened. What does this suggest? Judas Iscariot was actually asking the right question when he queried, ‘Is it I, Lord?’ – but since he had no intention of lowering his mask and reforming his ways it  did him no good.
Thomas was likewise speaking the truth in one sense when he said “Let us also go [with Jesus] that we may die with Him” (John 11:16) – but in the wrong spirit, as well as being completely mistaken about the timescale!
May we be quick to learn from our mistakes, and not insist on denying the undeniable!

That which falls in the snow comes to light in the thaw

Some years ago a man was knocked down by a car in the Nevada desert and lay dying. In his intense agony he remembered how, in Sunday school more than forty years earlier, he had heard that he could be saved by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus. In that most precarious moment of his life, he did just that – and was healed! He is now an active preacher.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal. 6: 6-8)

You will have heard of the remarkable species of bamboo, which requires faithful watering for five years without any sign of life at all, but which then sprouts up at an incredible pace. The Lord is such an expert at bringing fresh life to seeds that were sown many years ago. We never know what we are sowing – but it is so important that we go on doing so!

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.  (Ecc. 11:6)

‘Hear me, O Israel, and give heed to my words, O descendants of Jacob.  For behold, I sow My law in you, and it shall bring forth fruit in you and you shall be glorified through it for ever.’ (2 Esdras 9:31 RSV) Esdras is part of the Apocrypha. 2 Esdras chapters 9 and 10 contain some fascinating apocalyptic insights.

Silence and Conversation
Conversation is a ladder for the journey . . . But too much discussion will lead to a row!

It’s wonderful to enter deeply into silence; it’s also true that we derive enormous benefit from sharing ideas with people who sharpen and inspire us. Ponder the paradox that is hinted at in the proverb above.