We have lived in our home now for over 55 years. In fact, it’s the only home we have had and we have enjoyed it all our married life. It's an old house, initially built in 1948 with two bedrooms, it was run down and badly in need of repair, but with potential! (in hindsight maybe a bulldozer would have been a better or quicker option.) over the next 35 years as our family grew, we added to it, improved it, and virtually re-created a home vastly different and almost unrecognizable from the original. A bit like us when we accept Christ and allow him to do work in our lives. We become a new creation. Maybe still recognizable on the outside but different on the inside. (2 Cor 5:17).
For me, this place has always been home. A place to come home to and enjoy the peace and love we have tried to establish here.
It's in a rural setting in Henderson Valley and we love looking out of the lounge or conservatory windows or standing on the deck. On a clear night, we can have a spectacular view of the stars and the Milky Way not distorted by city lights or street lamps and often hear the call of the little ‘more pork’ owls. By day we look across the paddock upon the neighbour’s sheep when they graze at our place along with wild ducks and Pukeko. Our boundary borders the Opanuku Stream that lies at the edge of the property. It’s here where I regularly feed the large eels that frequent the stream and in the early morning when it’s still, and the sun reflects the overhanging trees on the water and the dew drops on the trees sparkle, I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of God’s creation. Along our stream boundary grow several varieties of native trees such as kauri, cabbage trees, manuka ti-tree, Pohutukawa, Rewa Rewa etc that the wood pigeons(kereru), tuis, rosella parakeets, ring-necked doves, magpies, pheasants etc love to eat from, as the little fan tails (Paiwakawaka) flit about catching tiny insects.
Across the stream we look out onto part of the Henderson Valley Scenic Reserve. It’s a steep bush clad hill with so many different native trees it's hard to count them. In the winter on damp rainy dark mornings, the trees are dark and a dull green. The sun, if it’s out, sets early, around 3.30 pm at the top of the hill leaving us in the cold shade of winter. As the months progress, we watch the seasons change as the sun slowly moves along westward until eventually its setting over the Waitakere Ranges, often with magnificent sunsets and bathing our property in sunshine until late in the evening until it gradually moves to when Autumn and Winter return to set above the hill again. However, we know that in a few months the cycle will change until again we are bathed in all day sun again.
In the bright clear mornings as the sun rises, the hill gradually changes colour as the sun hits the different trees. As the bush warms the family of hawks that have in season always seemed to have been nesting there begin to rise up on the thermals in search of an early morning meal. We are amazed that although the trees are all green, that there can be so many different shades of green. From the bright emerald green of the Rimu, to the duller smoky green of the Kahikatea (White Pine), the dark green with black tinge of the Ti- tree and shiny green of the Nikau palms. The colours, shades and different shapes of the trees never cease to amaze us, nor does our inability to notice them grow.
Some are tall and thin like the Kauri reaching for the sky, to others that spread out like the drooping Rimu to even conical shaped trees. All different but all of one species… just like us humans really. As the sun shines on the trees, they begin, especially in the early morning, to sparkle and come alive. A bit like when we allow God's SON Jesus shines on our lives and we too can shine and sparkle for Him.
We are all created in the image of God, ( Genesis 1: 26-27) but we all look different, and like trees of differing shapes, shades and sizes, we are in Gods eyes all the same. We may look at our outward appearances, but God sees us differently… from the inside….our heart, our real character. (1 Samuel 16:7b)
In some respects living where we do, has been for us a little slice of Heaven, but we know Heaven will be unimaginably so much more beautiful. I guess then that our little piece of heaven here in Henderson Valley will pale into insignificance in comparison.
Getting older, at times I have wondered a little bit more about just what Heaven will really be like. The Bible speaks in Revelation 21 & 22 of pearly gates (v12) , levels of foundations of precious stones and gems, (most I have no idea what they look like) such as jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth & amethyst,( v 19-20) walls of jasper and streets of gold etc (v 18) , and a river like crystal bordered by the Tree of Life (22:2) but I do hope there are also fields of wildflowers to walk through with Jesus, sparkling streams to sit by and beautiful trees to sit under as we enjoy living in His and Father Gods presence and glory.
Meantime, although we can only dream and imagine, Jesus still has work for us to do here. Let us continue to outshine for Jesus in all we do or say every day and be a reflection of His amazing love, grace, compassion and mercy to those around us. Bringing Heaven to Earth one day at a time until He comes again and we will see Him in all His glory.
There is a song we recently watched on YouTube sung by Gordon Mote and the group called Canton Junction. It’s called Jesus Will Outshine them all. The lyrics tell of a bright city with such magnificent sights and scenes of rare beauty. Mansions that glisten on hills of glory, Streets of gold with angels singing glad praises for ever. A sparkling river, happy faces, a land of splendour where night never falls and the golden glass reflecting that cities perfection, but despite all the beauty and grandeur, one thing will outshine them all……JESUS.
What touches me as Gordon mainly sings this song, is not his great piano and keyboard musical skills, or as he sings his heart is obviously filled with the light and love of Jesus, is that physically Gordon lives in darkness. You see Gordon is totally blind. I don’t know what blind people see. Is everything just blackness? I don’t know but as he sings this particular song, how does he perceive what brightness looks like, what sights does he imagine when he has nothing to compare with here on earth? What does sparkling rivers and glistening mansions look like to him? But I do believe he does know the glory of Jesus and that one day everything will be revealed to him and what glory awaits him, as well as you and I when we get there, but no matter what it will be like, JESUS WILL OUTSHINE IT ALL.
Other you tube worship songs worth watching and singing along to is Holy are You lord Medley by Jesus Image. Also by the Gaither Vocal Band is How Beautiful Heaven Must Be and This is the Place.
Jesus WILL come back in His time and we need to be ready at any moment. Not just sitting around waiting but actively shinning for Him in all we do and say EVERYDAY. Take some time to praise Him today. A good song to remind us of that wonderful day when we will see Him coming on the clouds of Glory and rise to meet Him in the air is The Midnight Cry sung by singers such as Jason Crabb, John Starnes or Ivan Parker. All good renditions and with Christmas time looming fast being thankful for all He has given us…especially Himself and what He has allowed to experience in our lifetimes.
May you be blessed as you shine for Jesus and learn to appreciate the small things that we all take for granted but are able to see and do everyday
May you all be blessed and be a blessing to someone this coming Christmas and may 2024 be a year in Jesus that we all may never forget
God Bless you all heaps
Malcolm & Daphne