When you’re striving and all you really need is to be still…

picture-peace-blogThe more I go through this life, the more I’m learning that the answer is always to come back to my Heavenly Father: to come into His presence and wait on Him.

In His presence, we find all we need.

There is a place where we can find comfort for our trials; peace for anxiety; forgiveness for our wrongs; healing for our tears. It’s in the presence of Father God.

If we belong to Him already, this is where we always need to come back to in everything: back to Him. He is always the answer.

And if you don’t know Him yet, it’s where you begin- coming to Him as Father, receiving His forgiveness through Christ, surrendering to Him as Lord… and finding a love you never dreamed of. It’s the way out of the eternal judgement we all face without Christ, but it’s far more than that: it’s finding what our souls have yearned for all along. Come into His presence. He is waiting for you.

In the presence of Father God, surrendered to Him, we find all we need.

Wisdom for the confusion; peace for the striving; a safe place for the tears… what we are searching for is found in God.

And sometimes what we really need is to come into His presence, to surrender to Him and to be still, and let Him minister to us.

Sometimes, what we really need to do is to just to come away with Him; to be still and receive from Him; to, as my friend put it the other day, ‘soak’ in His presence: to be still and know that He is God.

‘Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!’ Psalm 46:10

A few years ago, a lady shared something with me. I still need to remember it, because I so often strive, and forget. It was this: “God just wants to hold you.”

Sometimes, I think He just wants to hold us: to spend time with us: to comfort us; to minister to us; to be with us. Not to look at the clock and rush away, but to just wait in His presence. Not to hold on to our sins, but to bring them to the cross of Jesus and know that His forgiveness is free. Not to stay in the confusion of our minds but to read His Word, and listen to Him speak. Not to stay all locked up inside, but to let Him in to bring His healing; His freedom; His comfort; His release. Not to look to other places to find our souls filled, but to look up at Him and love Him; to drink from Him and find all we need in Him.

And, yes, sometimes it’s not easy. Sometimes He seems far away and the feelings don’t always come. But it’s not about feelings. It’s about Him.

And yes, sometimes it’s a process. Sometimes it takes time. He is wise and thorough and good.

But, whether we feel it or not, He is always there, and He is always waiting to meet with us, and to help us.

‘You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.’ Psalm 139:5

‘Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.’ Psalm 139:7-10

I can often be pretty restless, trying to come away with the Lord but still striving. But I sense that He wants me just to come to Him; to surrender; to receive.

The poem below isn’t perfect and it’s not Scripture, but it’s me trying to encapsulate something of this, and I think that maybe the Lord wants me to share it. I hope it blesses you.

No matter what the need, He is always the answer we really need.

Still

Cease striving and be still,

For I am LORD of all

And my deep love will heal.

Be still, My child, be still.

 

Wait humbly and be still.

I do not need your strength.

I only want your all.

Be still, My child, be still.

 

Don’t carry. Just be still.

The burden is not yours.

Just lay it down. I’m All.

Be still, My child, be still.

 

You’ve walked a painful road

And I have shared it all.

I care. I’m here to heal.

Be still, My child, be still.

 

You cannot change what’s gone.

The work has all been done.

It’s finished. I have won.

Be still, My child. Just come.

 

Don’t rush away. Wait on.

I want to hold you, long.

Oh, hear my tender songs.

Be still, my child. Hold on.

 

You’re loved, My child. I’m all

You yearn for. I can fill.

Secure and all is well.

Be still, My child. Be still.

 

Look up, My child. Hold on.

You’ll be Home before long.

The morning light will dawn.

Be still, My child. Hope comes.

 

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

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Did this little boy touch your heart, too?

Did you see little Alex on the news?

Did he touch your heart, too?

I want to tell you about him. But first, let me go back a bit…

Sometimes I need to write the ugly stuff… the stuff that isn’t nice or pleasant or encouraging, but it needs to be said, because so few people are saying it… because we can all get wrapped up in our own lives and forget. And I think that breaks God’s heart.

There’s horrible stuff going on in the world out there. And I don’t think it should be forgotten. And that includes by me.

Right now, people are starving and dying and being bombed. Most of them have never even heard the Good News that Jesus died so that they can have forgiveness and hope, in this life and the next.

There are so many heartbreaking examples. Here are a few:

I saw this on the news the other day: babies starving in Yemen, because there is nothing to feed them with. Precious people on the verge of starvation.

http://www.itv.com/news/2016-10-13/the-starving-children-of-toheita-yemen/

I’m sure you’ve seen the images of Aleppo in Syria. Bombs and starvation, grief and carnage and broken  hearts.

There are millions of children on the streets in many places, not even knowing who their parents are.

There are refuges much closer to home, too, in need of help and struggling because maybe we cling so closely to what we have.

I was talking to a friend the other day. He made friends with a refugee who came to his church after a harrowing ordeal getting to the UK. He was going to be kicked out of where he was staying in the UK and he had nowhere to go. My friend and his wife talked about it. What if one of their children was in a foreign country with nowhere to turn? So they took him in. Since then, he’s been staying in their spare room.

Doesn’t it refresh your heart to see people responding to an appeal for food or toys or clothes in an emergency? Doesn’t it warm your heart to see the things pile up and the sudden joy on the people’s faces as they share?

And then there’s Alex.

Maybe you saw the news story a few weeks ago: a little six- year old boy called Alex wrote to President Obama, offering a home to a little Syrian boy called Omran he had seen on the news covered with blood and ravaged by war.

http://www.itv.com/news/2016-09-22/boys-letter-to-president-obama-offering-home-to-syrian-refugee-read-out-at-united-nations/

Alex offered the little Omran his own family… a bedroom… toys… Of course, it will most likely never happen. But Alex’s fresh innocence and willingness to help touched hearts across the world. It made many cry. I think it made God smile.

Because we all know, deep down, that Alex is right.

Why shouldn’t he share what he has with another boy so desperately in need?

Maybe God raised up little Alex as an example.

…”that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack”- from 2 Cor 8:14

I know we can’t do everything. But surely each of us can do something to help someone. Little things, after all, do much more than we realise.

How could I learn from Alex’s example? I can’t write to the president and magic away all of the suffering, but is there something I could do?

Could I skip some meals and fast and pray for those who are starving?

Could I sacrifice something and give a little bit (or even a big bit) to help?

Could I look for a moment at all that I have been given and somehow find a way to share?

And, most of all, they need my Saviour.

Could I ask God if there’s anything He would like me to do? Maybe it’s just a little thing- an offered prayer. Maybe it’s not what I expect. But, whether it’s offering a little prayer or a few pence or my whole future, I bet He’d like to show me.

‘Deliver those who are drawn toward death,
And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”
Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?
He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?
And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?’ Proverbs 24:11-12

I don’t mean to be condemning. I don’t have this sorted. Maybe these things are complicated and messy and maybe we can’t help everyone.

But let’s not lose Alex’s wisdom. Maybe it’s not as complicated as we make it out to be.

And surely we can’t do nothing. Especially not when we realise how much God loves us.

Maybe I can’t do much, but I do have words, and I know that there are people out there who don’t have a voice.

Just because they are far away (if they are) doesn’t mean they don’t matter. They matter so much to God.

And doesn’t it feel so good when you know you helped someone out?

Please, please, let’s not forget them.

Let’s talk a moment to talk to God and do something for them now.

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

What if there was something astoundingly, mind-blowing good in your future… forever?

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a bit about my eternal Hope. My friend Angie has been encouraging me for a while to read the book ‘Heaven’, by Randy Alcorn, and I’ve been dipping into it. And it’s been speaking deeply to my heart.

Alcorn, Dr R. (2004). Heaven. ed. Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Knowing you have a certain, amazing, satisfied, beyond-your-wildest-dreams eternal future because you belong to Jesus sure changes your attitude towards life in the here and now.

heaven-blog-post

This is, after all, a disappointing world. We glimpse little bits of satisfaction, only to leave us craving for more. Our bodies wear out and grow old. We never have the time or the opportunity or the energy to do all the things we wish we could do. Dreams can crumble to dust. And sometimes life breaks our hearts in ways we never dreamed it could.

And that’s for us over here in the west, who, in some ways, have it so good. What about those in Syria right now, facing bombs and starvation and heartbreaking grief? What about those who lost everything in the earthquakes in Nepal? What about those who live on the streets of Mumbai, never knowing who their parents are?

If this life is all there is, it would be easy to be cynical… or to try to squeeze out everything from it we can… only to find ourselves disappointed and endlessly craving more.

But this isn’t the only life there is.

Eternity will follow, much sooner than we realise, in one of two destinations.

If you are trusting in Christ as your Saviour and following Him as Lord (and you can do that now), this life is only the very beginning. As C.S. Lewis put it in the last battle, it’s only the first page of the story.

“But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

p.172, Lewis, C.S. (1996). The Last Battle. ed. London: Diamond Books.

Those who are trusting in Christ have an endless, eternal future of bliss awaiting us.

And the heartbeat of that eternal joy is knowing Him: the One Who can satisfy our deepest longings with Himself in ways we could never dream possible.

And how can that change the here and now?

If you know that all of our your dreams will come true forever and ever, you don’t need to be discouraged if they don’t come true now. You can focus your heart on building God’s Kingdom, knowing He will take care of you.

If you know that you are, in Heaven’s terms, a multi-millionaire in what really matters, you are free to live simply and give extravagantly because you are eternally rich.

If you know that you have an eternal hope, you don’t need to be jealous of anyone else. You can pour out your life in free and abandoned service of others.

If you belong to Jesus, you don’t need to let the most excruciating pains of this life take your hope. You never need to despair. They are working for you an eternal weight of glory.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

If you belong to Jesus, you don’t need to guard your life. You can give it away. Giving it away will only multiply your eternal blessings, anyway.

The more you think about it, the more you realise that having an eternal hope changes everything. Knowing that you are rich beyond your wildest dreams frees you up to live with a light hold on this life, giving yourself away, because you are eternally secure in hope.

As Paul tells the believers in Corinth, ultimately, it’s all theirs.

‘Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours.  And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.’ 1 Corinthians 3:21-23

Really? Like, all things? We learn in Psalm 37 that the meek will inherit the whole earth. The whole earth? Really?

‘But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.’ Psalm 37:11

It’s all ours, if we are His.

This is shadow land. That is the reality.

Diamond rings? Cars? The moon?

Your wildest dreams?

It’s all too small. Our dreams aren’t big enough.

We won’t even begin to imagine what He will give us.

‘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 2:9

‘Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.’ Psalm 37:4

And don’t buy the lie that God’s people will just sit on clouds and be bored forever. Really? If you look into the Bible, you glimpse something very different: a real, physical, curse-free reality. A real, physical reality where all the brokenness has gone and everything is astoundingly, unimaginably, crazily good.

We glimpse it sometimes, don’t we?

Have you ever stood on top of a mountain and wanted to somehow eat the beauty; to taste it forever? I bet you can in the new earth.

Have you ever been touched by stirring music and tasted something you never wanted to let go of? Maybe it was an echo of something eternal.

Have you ever known moments of precious relationship with others that suddenly felt free and honest and safe? Relationships will be wonderfully perfect there.

And, most of all, have you tasted moments of being in God’s presence? The amazing joy and love and peace that suddenly satisfies your deepest soul? In Heaven, God will be our portion forever, with nothing in between.

For eternity, it will all be satisfied.

But, actually, none of the stuff of this life really matters after all. If we only want things in Heaven, and not God, we don’t really know what it means to surrender to Christ as Lord, because He is really the Prize. If we only want the blessings, maybe we don’t truly know Him. He is the Fountain that satisfies.

‘”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

Because everything is empty compared to knowing Him.

And, forever, He will satisfy.

‘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

Yes, He will give blessings, too. In crazy, astounding ways we could not begin to dream of now.

But, most of all, He will satisfy with Himself.

Think about it a bit (and make sure that it will be yours!).

Pray about it. Dream about it.

I bet it will change how you see the here and now. I know it’s helping me. It isn’t all about this life. But this life is about investing in the next. And knowing that the next is so good can sure bring joy and hope into this one!

‘Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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 21:1-4

(Getting to Heaven isn’t automatic. And there is an alternative that is automatic: Hell. As astoundingly good as Heaven will be, Hell will astoundingly horrific… forever.

‘But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.’ Revelation 21:27

There is a way to have your name written in the Book of Life and to escape Hell through the forgiveness God freely offers because Jesus Christ died in your place, taking the punishment you deserve… if you will turn from your wrong and receive His forgiveness, surrendering your life to Him as your Lord. This life is nothing compared to eternity. Don’t risk it! Come to Him today).

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