Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Cottage

A Cottage Meditation on Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God

Being at the cottage is good for me. I have found that usually I’m able to meet with God pretty quickly when I feel close to his creation.

This week has been special for me. It is the first time that I’ve been at the cottage and studying for a sermon at the same time. I’ve been able to enjoy God in creation and delight in him in his word. The comparison is worth thinking about.

I think sometimes we treat nature like the place we need to go to be near God. For example, when was the last time you saw a Christian retreat centre in an urban setting? And it’s not hard to see why. God is very present in the beauty and serenity of the water, the clouds, the open skies, the sunsets, the hills, and the beautiful vegetation. God is here.

Psalm 19 reminds us that ‘the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies above proclaim his handiwork.’ That’s true. In nature we see God. But we often stop reading (or at least remembering) the psalm there, even though it definitely doesn’t end there.

The second half of Psalm 19 goes on to recount just how amazing the revelation of God is in his Bible, over and above the revelation of God in creation. And David, who knew what it was to be ‘out in nature’, was writing that before most of your Bible was written.

From verses 7-11 the specific wonders of the Bible are made known:

  • It revives the soul
  • It makes wise the simple
  • It rejoices the heart
  • It enlightens the eyes
  • It endures forever
  • It is righteous altogether
  • It is more to be desired than sweet things or expensive things
  • It warns
  • It rewards

No glimpse of nature can cause me to discern my errors. No beautiful sunset can declare me innocent or keep me back from sin. No mountaintop experience could ever make my words and thoughts acceptable in the sight of God. Only God will do those things, as I meet with him in the Bible.

I’ve experienced that this week. God is good. I’ve met with him and enjoyed him in creation, but his word is better. It alone gives the pure joy of the knowledge of God. The place I need to go to meet with him is not some remote vacation spot, it is the book he has given me.

Am I thankful for sunsets? You bet! Am I more thankful for the word than ever before? Absolutely.

Letting My Love Serve Me

This week I’m taking something of a ‘working vacation’ at the family cottage. Last night as I was doing the dishes I was thinking back over the day that was. I got thinking about each of my children and how much I love them. Each of them owns my heart in a very unique way. Each of them has a smile, a laugh, a facial expression, some moment of pure joy on their face that is forever etched on my memory.

There is simply no love quite like a father for his children. There is nothing that makes me feel better than knowing my children are safe, protected, and provided for. And there is nothing that strikes terror into the core of my being like the thought of my children suffering. The thought of any one of my precious girls in pain or sadness makes me instantly recoil emotionally. I get a sick feeling in my gut and I’m instantly overcome with the awareness that I would do anything—anything—to end their suffering and to make them happy again.

I thought about that and I was overwhelmed by awareness of this love that owns me and moves me without me even being consciously aware of it most days.

And then I thought about the heavenly Father and his love. Filled with infinitely more love for his Son—a perfect love for a perfect Son—he willingly chose to ‘give’ him for a world of sinners. He gave him, knowing that he would be mocked, belittled, shamed, abused, scorned, rejected, beaten, stripped naked, and killed: publicly displayed as one bearing the curse of God. That’s a love I know nothing of.

But the love is greater still. Ponder these words, of the Son to the Father:

“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” (Mark 14.36)

My love for my children, being nothing like the heavenly Father’s love, would have been moved to give in, to compromise. But the Father of Jesus has bigger, greater love; his love for Jesus’s glory and for my good is too great to be moved. He was willing to deny his True Son’s request for the good of his soon-to-be adopted sons & daughters. The love of the Father was planned and determined.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief…. (Isaiah 53.10)

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,” declares the Lord of hosts. [I will] strike the shepherd….” (Zechariah 13.7; [cf. Mark 14.27])

His love is not just a love that would allow his Son to be sacrificed; his love is a love that would willingly crush his Son. He gave his Son, knowing that he himself would have to give full vent to his holy wrath against his Son on the cross. The Father who loves the Son, crushed the son… for me.

No matter how overwhelming my love for my children may be, it doesn’t hold a candle to my heavenly Father’s love, in scope, in purpose, in depth, in power, or in steadfastness.

I want to make it my prayer that whenever I think of my love for my children, I would let that love serve me by pointing me to the true love of the true Father who, in the gospel, has loved and who continues to love with a greater love than eternity will allow me to explore. Human love serves its best and noblest purpose when it doesn’t end with us, but points us to the one who is love, and who has shown us love in his Son, Jesus.

… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5.8)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3.1)

Interesting Comparisons

It was quite a delight when Nana recently loaned me some old photos of me as a baby at our family cottage. It was even more of a delight to compare me bathing in the cottage sink to my daughter (25 years later!) bathing in the same sink!

Of course, as baby photos often do, these ones sparked some other interesting comparisons in my mind. These two are of me and my favourite nephew, Wes. Both of us seem to like chocolate.

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Vacation Pics

My wife and I recently returned from a week of vacation at my grandparents’ cottage. Alas, the sun sets on yet another summer.




‘So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.’ — Ps 90.12

Gone (Again)

As the summer winds down, my wife and I have been able to work our schedules so that we get one more week away. We’ll be up at the cottage until Thursday or so. We’re looking forward to just being somewhere quiet together for a few days. On Wednesday night we’re seeing the play version of “Anne of Green Gables.” I hope to spend a good portion of each day reading, in preparartion for the module course on persecution and discipleship I’ll be taking next week at school. Needless to say, I won’t be posting until I get back.

Back from Vacation

Well, I’m back from a bit of a ‘whirlwind’ vacation that wasn’t really at all like what we planned. Oh well. Here are a few of the highlights. Obviously, highlight number one was just being able to get away with my wife (although our ‘alone time’ was more limited than we had originally hoped). I would post a picture of the two of us, but I somehow think she would disapprove, so here are some other highlights.

Me and three friends from church (including Jason and Jim) went on a gruelling, 11 hour canoe trip across the whole of northern Ontario (or so it seemed to my shoulders, anyway…) that just about killed us. But it was good times together, good weather, and a beautiful display of God’s creation.

But I learned that you’re not supposed to drink the water, even if you’re very, very thirsty. There’s something called ‘Beaver Fever’ around that I had never heard of before…

Since Josh got to brag about his niece, I figured I have every right to do the same with my nephew, Wes (my brother Ryan‘s son). I still think this cute little man resembles his uncle at that age, no matter what everyone else says. 🙂 Here he is enjoying a watermelon for everything it’s worth.

And, of course, God was very gracious to us by blessing us with a gorgeous display in the skies our final night before our return to ‘the big smoke’ we call home. They’re never the same in pictures, but the skies truly do proclaim the glory of God.

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