Is Your Soul Thirsting for Something?

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Are you thirsting for something more; deep; something real in your life?

I listened to a message the other day that reminded me of something I’d forgotten; the sweet, sheer joy of walking close to Jesus. It was a message about James Hudson Taylor, who was a missionary to China. Hudson Taylor lived a crazy, pressured life. But he learned the secret of abiding close to Christ, and it was the deep, joyful, satisfied root of his deeply productive, mission-centred life.

(You can find the message using the link below).

http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-ministry-of-hudson-taylor-as-life-in-christ

We were made for communion with God. All else is an empty, dissatisfying shadow that may promise much but will ultimately end in a nightmare. We were made to know God, and nothing can satisfy us apart from Him.

Every one of the longings of our thirsty, aching souls was meant to be first satisfied by God before being satisfied by anyone or anything else. He is God, and only He will satisfy, because He made us for Himself.

And He wants us to know the deep, sweet joy of living life with Him.

This is meant to be a moment by moment reality: the moment by moment of knowing God and walking with Him. Yes, we live in a broken world. Yes, we are broken by our sin. But He wants to help us learn and grow in walking, more and more, close to Him. Him. This is what life was like before people rebelled against God.

‘And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day’ Genesis 3:8a

We have a recorded example in the Bible of a man who knew something of this reality: the man Enoch. We don’t know much about him, but we know that he walked with God.

‘Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters.  So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.  And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.’ Genesis 5:21-24

Hudson Taylor’s life inspires me because he lived like that: he lived close to Jesus, even as he carried the responsibilities of running a huge mission organisation. He lived seeking to abide in the Lord Jesus: looking at Him with the eyes of faith and drinking from Him for each need, whether big or small. The simple trust of knowing that Jesus is Enough, and that He will meet every need as you look to Him, can bring a life of deep joy and peace, simply trusting in Him.

Again and again, Hudson Taylor would sing his favourite song, and find peace as he sought to live the truth of its words:

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

Refrain

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Refrain

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Refrain

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Refrain

(Words by Jean S. Pigott 1876, Public Domain)

This is how Hudson Taylor handled the heavy, pressing responsibilities of running a mission organisation; one that faced horrific persecution and great pressures. He learned that every burden can be cast upon Jesus, and then peace comes. And the sweetest, dearest pleasures are from a life of knowing Him and walking with Him.

Howard Taylor, Dr and Mrs (1995). Biography of James Hudson Taylor, Hodder & Stoughton Religious.

Jesus is always with those who are trusting in Him. He never leaves us. And He wants us to know that: to revel in it! He wants us to delight in knowing Him there with us; in walking in His presence; in the light of His face.

‘Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
In Your name they rejoice all day long,
And in Your righteousness they are exalted.
For You are the glory of their strength,
And in Your favor our horn is exalted.’ Ps 89:15-17

I was only a very little girl when I first had an encounter with Jesus: an encounter that would begin a relationship that is sweeter than anything else in my life could ever be. My family had been at church that day, and our Pastor had been leading the children’s slot. He taught us the words of a song about looking at Jesus. As I listened, I memorised the words, not understanding how monumental they were. That night, as I lay in bed, before falling asleep, I began to sing quietly to myself, singing the words of the song I had learned. As I did, I was suddenly conscious of… Him. His Presence, so real, so near, so loving… A tenderness, a love I had not dreamed of finding… A joy that was so wonderful, so good… I did not understand what was happening, but I had fallen in love that day. I would never be the same.

It was the beginning of a deeply precious relationship, but the whole of life is meant to be about growing that relationship- about knowing Him and pursuing Him, and walking close to Him.

There are times when we know glimpses of that.

I remember the months after graduating from University when I couldn’t find any job other than working as an ‘agency girl’ in various kitchens, washing countless plates and dishes and scrubbing at dirty pots and pans. I remember the struggle with doing such a mundane task as my job after just graduating from University… And I remember how the Lord transformed the task for me as He made real to me the truth that we can do anything as worship to Him, even washing dishes! There were times when I remembered that, and I joyfully determined that I would wash dishes for the Lord, even if no-one saw me but Him. And I remember the deep meaning and dignity that that realisation brought to my work, and how I often deeply enjoyed those times of washing dishes, because they were meaningful and not empty. It was deeply good to invite Him into my dishwashing, and to know Him in it, delighting in the One Who gives meaning to everything.

It was a little glimpse of something that can be more and more of a reality: knowing Him in the everyday. Not that it’s always easy. There are seasons of darkness when He doesn’t feel close (believe me- I know about them). But there can also be a deep, close walking with Him- and it’s really what we are all searching for, deep down.

I often forget, but sometimes I remember: the answer is always Jesus- knowing Him and seeking Him. Working in ministry, again and again I have found it to be true: the answer is always coming away with Jesus. It’s the secret for every problem; the solution for every need. He always has what we need, and He is always Enough, and will never, never let us down if we belong to Him.

And He wants us, more and more, to know the sweet joy of living like that.

Don’t think I’m living this perfectly. I am not! But it’s what my soul thirsts for. Actually, deep down, I think it’s what we all long for: Him.

And the crazy thing is that He longs for fellowship with us, too!

‘The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes
Leaping upon the mountains,
Skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold, he stands behind our wall;
He is looking through the windows,
Gazing through the lattice.

My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.”‘ Song of Songs 2:8-10

(And He is waiting for you to come close to Him now). 🙂
(If you don’t know Jesus yet, you can- and you need to! He offers you forgiveness and eternal life if you will come to Him, turn away from your wrong and receive His free and generous forgiveness, submitting to Him as your Lord. The things of this world are so empty compared to knowing Him. He is waiting for you).
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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More About Living Free From Worry and Fear…

I feel a bit of a hypocrite blogging so often on trust when it’s something I so often struggle with, but it’s helpful to write about it, and hopefully it can help you, too. So here are some more thoughts for the Christian who is struggling with fear and anxiety…

(As children of God through Jesus, Christians are so secure in God’s love. If you are not trusting in Jesus as Saviour and Lord yet, you are so welcome to read this post, but I need to tell you that you do have something you need to worry about- your eternal future. But God will change that as soon as you put your faith in Jesus as Saviour and surrender to Him as your Lord. He cares for you so deeply, and longs for you to come to Him… and then you will experience all the blessings of His loving care for you, too).

Do you live in a cage of fear, afraid? When you remember the love in your Father’s eyes, love deeper and stronger and wiser and more tender than you could ever begin to conceive, the fear will fall away. As you learn to trust His heart, the fear will begin to lose its power over you.

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I have often felt afraid. Fear has been a normal part of everyday life for me. But sometimes I remember to meditate on the Word of God… remember to think about how protected I am. And sometimes, in that place, fear begins to fall away.

The reason that we don’t need to be anxious about the future is that our Heavenly Father loves us. Really loves us. He cares so much. No detail is too small for His tender concern. No situation is unknown to Him. He loves and He cares, and that is why we can be sure that we have nothing to be afraid of. He has promised never to fail us, and He never will. He will never break His promises to us. He is God, and He never breaks His word. And… He loves us! His love will never change.

‘”For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.’ Isaiah 54:10

Your anxiety about the future begins to fall away when you realise that there are the strong arms of your Father around you, holding you secure. You are no longer so afraid when you realise that your Father is strong and able and will always protect you and provide for you. You’re not alone anymore, and there is Someone so strong and faithful, so tender and yet so powerful, Who has promised to protect, cherish and provide for you. The present is no longer threatening, because you know you are safe and secure. And the future loses its fear, because you know you are not alone. Again and again, the Lord tells us in His word, that He is with me, and not to be afraid of dismayed. Why? The world is big and scary and anything could happen. But He is with me. When we realise Who He is, that is all the comfort we need!

‘”Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”‘

Isaiah 41:10

God’s grace is not given in advance- you only get it as you need it. But you never need to be afraid that it won’t be given. Your Father’s tender, yearning, oh-so-strong love is the certain assurance that He will always give you what you need. It is your Father’s job to provide for you, and He delights to do so! So you have no need to be anxious!

‘”Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
Who have been upheld by Me from birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.“‘ Isaiah 46:3-4

Does He want His precious, forgiven child to live afraid and burdened down, always clouded by worry and fear about what might happen? Of course not! He is good and wise and loving big and generous and powerful and in control, and He would have His children rejoicing and at peace, trusting in His tender Father heart! Have a look at the Psalms and see how many verses you can find exhorting you to rejoice! This is the full life: the life of rejoicing in the Lord always (Philippians 4), anxious about nothing but giving thanks and bringing every concern to Him, and trusting Him to meet every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

There is a condition to all of this. The way of peace, joy and blessing is the way of total surrender: the way of taking up the cross and following Jesus with all of your heart. It’s the way of seeking to lay down your life and live out the call of Christ in every decision, little and big. It’s not the way of perfection: none of us will ever live perfectly whilst we are on this earth, and we all need God’s grace! We are sinners who need a Saviour! But it is the way of seeking to live fully in the light that we have, and giving Him our hearts. You cannot live in willful disobedience and know His peace. But what kind of attitude do you think a tender, loving, providing Father wants His children to have towards life? Anxiety? Fear? Gloom? Dread?

‘Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!’ Philippians 4:4

One of my favourite books is “Pollyanna”, by Eleanor H. Porter. It’s a beautiful story about a little girl whose dad was a pastor. Pollyanna and her dad lived a hard life. They were very poor, and often had to go without. But the Lord was encouraging Pollyanna’s father with how many times the Bible tells us to rejoice. And so Pollyanna’s father invented the “Glad Game”- in which the game is to find a reason to rejoice, no matter what is happening. After her father’s death, Pollyanna continues to play the game, and teaches it to many others, who find their lives transformed with sheer, simple, beautiful joy.

Porter, E. (1994). Pollyanna. ed. Ware: Wordsworth Editions Ltd.

It’s a beautiful story, and it’s so helpful, too- a remember to find a reason to rejoice, because He is always good. I don’t mean to trivialise it- sometimes it’s hard to rejoice. But it’s a helpful game to play, and even the smallest things (such a beautiful flower, the smile of a friend or a glimpse of sunshine) are all from Him.

He longs for us to know His peace; His presence; the tender, sweet release of simply being still and knowing that He is God.

God is the God of the detail, and He doesn’t make mistakes. He works everything together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), conforming us into the image of His Son. Nothing is wasted. He is using it all for good, whether we see it or not. It’s like the illustration someone told me of a tapestry: from the back, it looks like a mess, but, from the front, it will one day look beautiful!

In the book of Daniel, God tells Daniel through an angel that his prayers have been heard because he is greatly loved. What a wonderful reality! He is loved. No matter what happens in life, that assurance can give you strength!

I remember once when I was feeling afraid. I was looking at things that were happening in the news, afraid of what the future will bring. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be afraid, but I couldn’t work out how to stop the fear that was knotting me up upside. I was flicking through my Bible, trying to find peace, and I stumbled upon those words to Daniel.

Daniel lived in crazy times. God’s people were in exile in Babylon because of their rebellion. Daniel was living in a pagan land, where everything was opposed to God’s way of doing things. And God was speaking to him about the world’s future: about future kings and empires and events. It was crazy stuff! Scary stuff, too. Yet Daniel is given reassurance that he is loved.

Just before Daniel 9, Daniel works out that the time of exile for God’s people in Babylon is almost at an end. God had said he would judge them in exile for seventy years, and the seventy years are almost up. So Daniel prays to the LORD and asks Him to have mercy on His people, forgive them and bring them back to their own land. And an angel brings a reply.

‘”At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:”‘ Daniel 9:23

Daniel’s prayers have been heard, because he is greatly loved.

In the midst of a crazy, mixed-up world, where things are changing and God’s people are under pressure, God reassures His child that his prayers have been heard, because he is greatly loved.

As I thought about the craziness of this world, I too was reassured as I read that. Yes, world events might be frightening. Yes, the thought of persecution is frightening. But there is no need for me to be afraid, because I am greatly loved.

I remember a day when I was being irrationally anxious. I was out in Belfast, in a city I didn’t know with a couple of friends, and I was feeling irrationally afraid of something bad happening in a place I didn’t know. We couldn’t find anywhere to go, and were walking around, and I was feeling haunted by anxiety. I was praying and trying to calm down, but it wasn’t really helping.

And then God did something amazing! You see, we weren’t the only ones in Belfast that day. Other friends were also in the country, as we had all been over for a wedding. But the chances of groups of us bumping into each other were very small. Only, as we are walking along, me feeling anxious and afraid, suddenly, randomly there were two more of our friends! It felt like such an encouragement from the Lord, and I suddenly felt protected and safe. Except, that wasn’t even the end of it! The five of us began to walk, chatting… and ‘randomly’ bumped into two more friends! Suddenly, there was a big group of us, laughing and going for coffee together.

It was a lesson from the Lord for me. He knew I felt alone and vulnerable, and so He sent friends to surround me. But it wasn’t really about them: it was about Him and His fierce, tender protection of me, His anxious child. As we walked back to our car, we passed an advert with words telling me that I would never be alone. And I knew God was encouraging me that it’s really true.

There is no need to be anxious about the big things, and there is no need to be anxious about the smaller things, either. The gaps in our minds can quickly become filled with anything we feel we could be afraid of; anything we don’t have control of. But the promises of God’s Word, and surrender to His plan, trusting in His goodness, can bring a sweet, strengthening peace. Because He will never, never ever let us down, and we will never, ever, ever walk alone.

And it frees us up to reach out in love to others, too.

What a way to live: to live loved, and knowing it; to live secure, wholeheartedly living in the love of your Father, fulfilling the purpose that He has for you, peacefully and joyfully loving and giving and being loved. This is a truly beautiful way to live- and it can have a powerful impact on the world. And it is rooted deeply in knowing that you are really, truly loved.

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When the road has seemed just too hard…

Has your story felt too hard? Has your hope been stretched too thin?

Have you begun to think that there’s no way you can find hope again?

Give space for God to work.

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If you are a Christian, belonging to God through Jesus Christ and following Him, then you can be sure that God has an amazing, astounding plan to bless you in the end.

Sometimes, this life is so tough. Sometimes the road takes you into far darker places than you ever thought you’d go. Sometimes, following Jesus and sharing Him is the very reason it gets so hard.

But that’s never the end of the story.

He can restore in wonderful ways. Don’t underestimate what He can do! The deepest, darkest places of your story, the places where you felt forsaken by Him and stretched beyond what you could bear, can become places where His light shines the brightest… if you let Him in.

Offer yourself fully to Him, scars and all, and let Him work. Let Him shine His healing love into your darkest places, filling you with new peace and freedom.

When things are hard, and have been hard for a long time, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that God’s heart is not kind: that somehow He is being cruel, or maybe overlooking your suffering, because He doesn’t really care. But that is never, ever our Father’s heart. He is always plotting something good for those who are trusting in Christ. And, more than that, He is hurting with you. It hurts Him even more than it hurts you.

And I think maybe it hurts His heart even more when your heart doubts His love.

‘You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?’

Psalm 56:8

God has a bottle in which He holds all of your tears. That’s how much you mean to Him. He has seen your suffering, and He knows what He has been through. He does not waste anything.

And your story is not over yet.

Oh, how God wants to comfort you with His love!

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.’

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Ever wanted someone to hold you close as you cry?

‘As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.’

Isaiah 66:13

And don’t you believe that any tear will ever be missed. He is waiting to wipe every one dry, not just comforting you now, but soothing indescribably with His tender love in eternity… when He will put everything right.

‘And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”‘

Revelation 21:3-4

In the Old Testament, we see how God’s people, Israel, suffered in their exile. This was their own fault. It was punishment for their idolatry and rebellion. They had disobeyed God, and He had warned them that judgement would come. But, even so, God bled with them. We see His heart in Lamentations, as Jeremiah pours out God’s heart of grief for His people’s suffering. And then we see His tender, wholehearted yearning to do His people good. He cannot wait to restore! He even tells them about it in advance, before the suffering has even properly begun, because He is so keen for them to have hope, and not to give up in despair. He is so good that He will not spare the good that must be done through allowing the suffering, but He is longing for the time when He can bless them and do them good. In fact, He says that He will delight in doing them good! He is our Father, too, and surely He has this heart for us, too.

The darkest places in your life can become places of double honour, and double joy, in God’s amazing ways of turning brokenness in beauty. Offer them up to Him, and for ask His help. He can bring joy into the hurting places, peace into the pain and even double joy!

Look at what He said to His Old Testament people in Isaiah:

“Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.” Isaiah 61:7

He can transform the wilderness and the waste places in your life. He can make them like Eden: like that first, tear-free garden of the Lord, when all was pure and good. He can fill the dark places with gladness and joy. He can replace the tears with songs of hope.

‘For the Lord will comfort Zion,
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in it,
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.’

Isaiah 51:3

Freedom begins when we surrender: when we let go of our plans, our ideas and our holding onto things, and we let God in, turn things over to Him and let Him be in charge.

And, yes, there is a cost. Sometimes God cuts deep into our hearts; takes things from our clinging fingers; cuts deep like a wise Surgeon; take us deeper than we really want to go. But it’s always for a good reason. It’s always to do something good. And the greatest good of all is knowing God Himself.

Sometimes we are clinging too tightly to other things, when God wants to give us Himself.

‘For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.’

Jeremiah 2:13

We can’t truly know the joy until we let go of what we are clinging to, surrender and let Him be All in all.

That’s when the healing begins.

It may take time. It may take tears. Sometimes it can feel like a long, hard process. Sometimes it gets harder before it gets better. Sometimes God feels far away, and the process is deep and painful. But our Lord is thorough in His love and His healing because He really wants us to be free. He really wants us to have joy! And, if we do things His way, surrendering to Him, seeking His kingdom first and choosing to pour out our lives for others, sowing through our tears, no matter how had it feels, there will be a day when we know joy that we never had imagined.

‘When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad.

Bring back our captivity, O Lord,
As the streams in the South.

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.’

Psalm 126

Sometimes we see it in this life. Sometimes there is God’s afterwards, where Heaven breaks in with amazing provision, and we stand stunned at what God has done. Sometimes we must wait for eternity before the tears are wiped away. But we can be sure that He will not fail us, and He will never give us more than we can bear. His plans are good beyond our wildest dreams: so good that we couldn’t begin to imagine what they will be!

‘But as it is written:“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”’ 1 Corinthians 2:9b

‘For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.’

Isaiah 64:4

Wait for Him, and He will work for you. Oh, He will work for you!

Don’t ever underestimate Him.

Oh, and, by the way, the greatest good is knowing Him. Sometimes, the sweetest places are the darkest, because it’s where we meet Him. When you have nowhere else to go, you can find Him. Jesus is always Enough.

Seek Him in your sorrow. Bring it to Him. Turn towards Him, not away from Him, let go of what you are clinging to and let Him be God. He will amaze you by what He does.

So don’t let your enemy take your hope.

Look up to your Lord, surrender, and He will blow your mind!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’

Ephesians 3:20-21

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thoughts from my tent..

I just got back from another week of camping. These are thoughts I wrote while I was there…

So I’m back in a tent for another week of worshipping Jesus with many others and sharing about what He is doing across the seas in Asia. And, again, it has made me think.

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There is something so, so good in lifting up our eyes and remembering the glory of the One Who reigns above all: about realising that it’s really all about Him. True, lasting joy is found not in the blessings of this world, but in revelling in Who He is and what it means to know Him. And it’s so good to lift up our eyes and know that God reigns. Beyond the suffering, beyond the trials, beyond the tears, the Lord is on the throne, and He is worth it all. There is no joy like worshipping Him.

There is something so precious about worshipping Him together: about forgetting for a few moments the tough, narrow road to Glory and remembering why it’s worth it to follow Him: remembering where we’re headed: remembering Who He is.

Because there really is a living, loving God, and He really is on the throne. He remains supreme and He is stunningly, astoundingly good. At the cross, He made an intimate, tender, crazily beautiful way for us to know Him as Father. And, for those who trust in Christ and follow Him, the ultimate reality is stunning and astounding and unbelievably good: the satisfaction of the deepest, yearning longings of our hearts: the marriage of Christ and His people for eternity.

This is a broken world. It’s not how it was meant to be, and sometimes it’s very, very tough. But there is a plan… An ultimate, eternal plan of everlasting, glorious Hope with God forever…With the One Who reigns and rules and loves… and Who saves all who come to Him through Christ.

We stood last night, rejoicing in a big tent, singing together in different languages to celebrate our unity across the nations in Christ. We sang about our eternal Hope. We sang it passionately, full of joy, anticipating our eternal future with Him.

One day, not too far away, God’s people be with Him forever, where there are no tears or pain, and He will wipe our tears away… And we will realise more than ever that all our hearts have ever really longed for is Him.

‘And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”’ Revelation 21:3-4

He is the ultimate Reality. He is on the throne. And He is the One Who really satisfies, and is worth it all.

‘You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’ Psalm 16:11

It’s so good to lift up our eyes and worship and celebrate in revel in that.

If you know Jesus, the Reality is so, so, wonderfully, freeingly, eternally GOOD!!

(And if you don’t know Jesus yet as your Saviour and Lord, you really, really need to get to know Him before you meet Him as your Judge. He is waiting for you with open arms).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

More on anxiety… How being loved changes everything…

Our Father always knows what’s best. Sometimes that’s easy to see. Often, it’s very hard. But it’s true, just the same. If we are following Jesus, we are so, so secure in God’s love (and if you’re not a Christian yet, you can find that security by becoming one!).

God has been encouraging me in a lot of thing lately- and I’m struggling to grasp them, and live them. But they’re still worth sharing, because they’re true… and I think they could be life-changing!

As Christians, we are surrounded by more love than we could ever dream of. As God’s children, we are secure in His love.

Because He loves us, we can have peace that His plan is best.

Because He loves us, we can trust in the dark, when we don’t understand.

Because He loves us, the sting of fear of the future can be gone.

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“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

In Him, we can find peace, because He loves us. We can rest in the Lord- trusting, and therefore at peace. No hurry, because God’s timing is perfect. No care, because God is our heavenly Father. No worry, because God cares for us.

Do you,like me, live in constant low-level anxiety, afraid that everything will fall apart, afraid that you won’t be able to cope; afraid that you won’t have what you need? Being in control will never resolve that, because little human beings are never ‘in control’ enough to silence our fears. Knowing what will happen will never resolve that, because there are always new things we could worry about in this world (and God knows we can’t handle knowing too much).  There is really only one resolution, and that is grasping more of the Father’s love. The more we meditate on His love as Father, the more we can be at peace, because we know that He cares so much.

“As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14

When we begin to understand that our Heavenly Father cares for us so tenderly, and that He reigns sovereign over circumstance in our lives, our fear begins to lose its grip. If He shows tender compassion to His children like a father for his child, then we can be assured that He is watching over us so very, very tenderly; so very, very lovingly… and we can trust that He always has our best interests at heart, and will never make a mistake.

The more we trust in His love, the more we will find peace. This is the life He wants for us: the life of simple peace and quiet trust, abiding in our Father’s love.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding“. Proverbs 3:5

As we meditate on what He is like, we realise that He is tender, compassionate and kind. He will not let your needs slip through His fingers. He never forgets how frail you are, or how much you need His care. If you belong to Jesus, Jesus is always interceding for you, and He will never forget your need. You are dearly, dearly loved and cared for, and in that you can find abundant hope, rest and peace. Where is the place for fear in the light of such loving care as this?

He often asks me a question: “Do you trust Me?”

It’s so simple. Will I actively decide to believe: to rest in His goodness: to trust that He is in control: to trust that He will be good to me?

If I trust Him, the fear, anxiety and striving will go away. The weight comes from thought patterns I practice so that I will be control. But He asks me to lay down my understanding and simply to trust. In that, I will find peace, joy and strength to face whatever He sends.

“Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

Trust. It feels such a good, wholesome, comforting thing to do that I somehow think it’s a luxury that is just too good… But it’s not just a luxury. It’s a command. And it’s help and healing and peace: actively resting in the peaceful assurance that He is Who He is, and that He will do me good. And He wants to give the sweetest, most incredible peace that He wants to give as we trust in His goodness, wisdom and love.

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b

Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.”

Ps 131.

 

“Underneath us, O how easy!

We have not to mount on high,

But to sink into His fullness

And in trustful weakness lie;

And we find our humbling failures

Save us from the strength that harms;

We may fail, but underneath us

Are the everlasting arms.”

(‘Art thou sunk in depths of sorrow’, Albert B. Simpson: 1843-1919 (Public Domain))

This is the place of freedom: the place of being little: a little child with a big Dad. When you are little, you don’t have to know the answers. You don’t need to be in control. You don’t need to understand anything at all! You can just be still and let Him be God. And we see in Psalm 131 that this place of humility, of not lifting up our hearts or eyes too high, is not a difficult place to be but rather a place of peace and rest: a place where we can just rest in our Father’s embrace… and just be loved. It reminds me of Zephaniah 3:17:

‘In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.’ Zephaniah 3:16-17

What an encouragement! It’s a picture of our Heavenly Father singing over us, rejoicing over us with delight as He holds us close to His heart. What a reason to hope! As human beings on this little planet, we see very little. We have no idea of the heavenly realities going on around us, do we? And, yes, there is the reality of spiritual battle… of the demonic… of the angelic… of lots of things we have no idea about. But there is this, too: there is the Father’s song of loving delight over His children in Christ! And we can be little, and rest in that!

Oh, how your Heavenly Father loves you! If only you could get a grasp of His wide, vast, unending love, what a difference it would make to everything! He is there, waiting for you to realise how much He loves you… waiting for you to realise that He is waiting for you, waiting for you to realise that you can come… just as you are… that all of your trying is only keeping you away… that all He wants is you: humble, surrendered, just as you are… and He will meet you there. And oh, oh, His love! His wide, wonderful, astounding love… His love that satisfies… His love that we can never understand because it is so, so big! Let go of your trying. Just look up. Look at Him. Receive. Let Him meet you just where, just as you are. His love will meet your every need… will set you free, if you will only come to Him.

 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

No, I haven’t ‘got’ these things yet. But I think they could be life-changing… don’t you?

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.