April 12 and there was  a shocking setback,  a personal hit . No need to go into details; but there it was. It hurt and it was hard. But God.

That's one of my favourite phrases in Scripture.  BUT GOD ....

Because part of my daily devotional time includes reading the day's thoughts from a little Dohnavur book  - a collection of writings (notes, letters, thoughts) from  Amy Carmichael, entitled "Edges of His Ways." 


In the front, my handwriting boldly proclaims

Penelope J Walter. Cambridge. April 1975

I have been reading it on and off ever since then. Sometimes in the mornings, sometimes in the evenings. This past Friday, I read it in the evening. And read it again. And again.

I had had a shock; but God knew what I needed.  

Here's what it said:

April 12      2 Cor. 11:28  RV margin: Things that come out of course.

Sometimes things seem to happen contrariwise, on purpose. We are prepared for the usual trials of life, but these are not usual. They are things that come 'out of course,' and they are the most difficult of all to meet peacefully and to pass through peacefully. They are most upsetting things, as we sometimes call them, and they often continue to try to upset us.

It is very humbling to go through the list of ordinary things, as apparently they were regarded by the first missionaries - labours, prisons, stripes, stonings, shipwrecks, perils, travails, - and then stop and consider these added words, "beside the things that come out of course." What were they? We do not know, but judging by the things which were not counted as 'out of course,' they must have been a good deal harder than anything that comes our way.

Is there anything that you do not like and did not expect in your to-day?  If so, perhaps these words will help you to meet it with serenity.

So I went to sleep pondering those words.

And woke early to reach out and read them again. But by then it was Saturday and I needed new grace.  For Saturday was April 13 - the anniversary of my dear mother-in-law's death and my husband was feeling it right hard through the tears.

I read from Amy Carmichael to him.

APRIL 13  1 Kings 8:56 There hath not failed one word of all His good promise.

I have found in times of disappointment of any kind there is great help in these words. .....One of His good promises is, "Whatsoever is right I will give you." (Matt 20:4)   ..... Another is this: "The Lord will not withhold good things from them that walk in innocence."   (Psalm 84:11 LXX)  "No good thing will He withhold "  so that the thing not given could not have been good for us. He knows what is good.

It is just here that faith is tested sometimes very sharpely, and we begin perhaps to distress ourselves over the condition attached to the promise. Is it because of something in me tht this good thing - as I believe it to be - is not given? God, who searcheth the hearts, alone knows our need of the cleansing Blood for motive in prayer, but if by His enabling we will to desire His will, then we may leave all torturing thoughts and rest our hearts on Him. No good thing will He withhold - There hath not failed - nor ever can fail - one word of all His good promise.

We prayed for His good and perfect will. We  gave thanks for dear Granny Nancy and all she had meant to our family - and recalled the chain of events her death had started, which caused us to leave the USA , move to London and now on to Mays Farm, our new home.

No good thing will He withhold ... there hath not failed one word of His promise ...

Amazing grace, because all is gift, even if and when we don't deserve it. His promise will not fail; HE will not fail.

The blessings kept coming, all day,  in and through the hurt and the pain.

Ann Voskamp's blog with its photo

Someone wrote on Facebook: When you are going through something hard and you wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test.

Testing times for me; maybe for you too this week?  But God ..  ?

I'm in an impossible mess. I need a Messiah

Photo from A Holy Experience  - Ann Voskamp

"It's a remarkable thing that you have been given to do - and also understandable in the light of all that you both - and perhaps especially Penelope - has been through.

Let us believe that the power and plan of heaven itself is in this prospect, and that you are going to receive every encouragement and resource available to see its accomplishment."


So wrote a wonderful older clergyman to us just a few days ago. And our hearts cried out yes, we want to believe that.

But crazy have been the past weeks and months. Our faith that we are called to this, our patience in the waiting, our trust that God can make it happen, have all been severely tested and tried. So we have been to our wits end. I think almost literally for Kim, my husband, dealing with mortgage lenders and solicitors and planning permission officers and insurance brokers and bank managers. (let alone coping with a demanding large church and now the Christmas season) It's over three months since our low offer ( see the story here: www.ministriesbydesign.org/excitingnews all change) was accepted and our excitement levels nearly exploded.

But life happened. Things took place - or didn't when they should have. The mortgage offer was withdrawn, delayed, reassessed, remeasured, re-offered. And lowered. Considerably.

We had to make the decision to sell our beloved South Carolina home as well as the London flat (which too has taken over three months to exchange since offer agreement) and the Bolt Hole. The Bolt Hole was withdrawn from the market - no one wanted it.

But the Lord did - He knew we would need it to live in while Mays Farm is being renovated.

And through it all, personal stresses and illnesses. I spent two hours on Saturday morning being assessed  by an independent Consultant Psychotherapist for the insurance claims. It was exhausting, draining, emotional. It almost knocked me out for the rest of the weekend.

What can I learn through all of this? For none of it is life threatening, none of it comes near to the horrors of the shooting in Connecticut and what those families are suffering. My salvation is not affected either.

Then today, an email from Michael Hyatt listing all he has being going through over the past week or two. And so I know I am not alone in the daily demands of every day life. He lists what he has learnt and it resonates with me:


My Take Away

So in the midst of this, I don’t have any big life lessons, other than to lean into what I know to be true:

                  God loves me.

                  This too will pass.

                  Be grateful—if not for all things then in all things.

                  Do the next right thing.

                  Don’t push myself too hard.

                  Get plenty of rest.

                  Prayer matters.

Yes. Yes, I echo, these are my takeaways too.

So I know I need every encouragement and resource. And where do I find them?

In the Messiah - who comes into these impossible messes and makes miracles happen. Even with mortgages and exchanges and buying and selling; even with a car which today needs a miracle too.

In time for Christmas?

Even so, come Lord Jesus.