Responding to Perfectionism

Wow, it’s a long time since I’ve blogged! Life’s been busy. God surprised me, and I started recording some more songs.

But God’s been encouraging me, and this is a great place to share. So can I share with you about one of those lessons?

Do you ever live drained by the weight of trying to do everything perfectly? Trying to keep up? Trying to hold it all together?

Me, I’m a perfectionist.

It’s a battle I fight constantly. And I decided it might be helpful to write it out. Maybe it could even help someone else.

It’s something I become aware of sometimes.

When Saturdays feel like chasing an impossible to-do list, trying to ‘catch up’.

When my list of jobs to do at my desk haunts me, because it’s too long and I immediately assume I’m going to fail, and carry the weight of the ‘to do’s with me all day.

I often catch myself living with a weight of ‘ought’ and ‘should’ and impossible expectations on these frail shoulders. Trying to over-achieve at everything, all of the time.

It wears you out!

And I’m beginning to realise it’s not what the Father means for me.

I think He means for life to be lighter than that.

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Ok, yes, God is a righteous God and His standard is perfection. He is perfectly holy and His perfect judgement is coming (and that’s a very big problem if we stay as we are). That’s why we need a Saviour. He does want us to be perfect… and we’ve all messed up. Big time. That’s why Jesus came. He’s the solution to that problem, for anyone who receives Him.

I belong to Jesus Christ. My sins are forgiven (and yours can be, too, if you come to Him on His terms). I turned to Him for His forgiveness and received Christ’s righteousness instead of mine. I am a child of God, accepted by the Father. It’s not up to me and my performance.

And I don’t think He means me to live weighed down.

Well, of course God wants His forgiven children to live pure and holy lives, and to give our best in all we do. It’s great to serve with all your heart, giving your best for Him.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.’ Colossians 3:23-24

But I’m not sure that’s the same as perfectionism.

Actually, perfectionism probably has a lot to do with pride.

And here are a couple of thoughts that have helped me:

Jesus did it all for me already. He lived a perfect life in my place. He paid for every single failure of mine. My righteousness is based on Christ’s performance. It’s not up to me.

God knows my limitations. The Lord knows I am only human.

‘For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.’ Psalm 103:14

Yes, serve Him with all my heart, but that doesn’t mean He expects me to do it all.

Recently, I came across this verse, and it really helped:

‘For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.’ 2 Corinthians 8:12

It’s a verse about financial giving, and I’m probably taking it a bit out of context. But I think there’s a principle there.

If you have a willing mind, I think the Lord receives what you can do, instead of the impossible perfect you think you ought to, but actually can’t.

As a friend pointed out to me, what did Jesus say to the woman who anointed Jesus with her expensive oil?

‘She has done what she could.’ Mark 14:18a

He knows how many hours I have in one day.

He knows I need to sleep and eat and rest.

He knows I can’t do everything I’d like to do.

He knows, far more than I do, that the super-high standards that haunt me just aren’t possible this side of Heaven.

Does that apply to me and my work? My use of time?

The Lord sees my willing heart. He also sees my limitations of time and energy. He knows my willing heart and what I can do, and doesn’t expect me to do what I can’t.

Actually, He sees Christ’s performance in my place.

He looks at me through Jesus. 🙂

Sometimes I get burdened down at my desk, thinking about how impossible it is to get everything done. But what if, instead, I focus on getting done what I can? What if I look at it positively instead of negatively?

So I’m adopting a new motto. Do what you can.

Instead of thinking negatively, thinking positively.

I can’t do all of that, but I can do something. Let’s see what I can do in the time I have!

It could even be a game: trying to get done what I can in the time I have, instead of focusing on the impossible can’t.

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How much can I achieve in this little window of five minutes? 

What unrealistic expectations can I cross off my ‘to do’ list so I can be more realistic, and achieve something?

It’s so freeing. It really helps. We’re short-staffed in our office. We can only do so much. But focusing on what I can do instead of what I can’t is really helping me. And I’m even surprised by how much I can done!

And it can bring freedom, and joy.

Like with blogging. I don’t have time to write a perfect post, but maybe I can write a little something that can encourage someone.

I can’t keep my house perfect, but a little bit of housework makes a big difference.

I can’t help everyone, but maybe I can help someone.

I can give Jesus the little I can do, and ask Him to use it. 🙂

Lord, thank You that my acceptance with You is based on Jesus, not me. And thank You that I don’t have to live weighed down by impossible expectations. Thank You that You can use the little I can do. 🙂

(He offers His righteousness in your place, too, when you come to Him, turn from wrong, receive His forgiveness and surrender to follow Him as Lord of your life. It’s the way to have your slate wiped clean, and a perfect righteousness given to you freely by God, so that you can be truly, freely accepted by Him, and given rescue and hope forever).

 

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

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Why Go Elsewhere?

Do you ever feel thirsty?

Longing for satisfaction that you just can’t seem to find?

The Lord keeps reminding me of something I so often forget: He is the One I really need; the only One Who truly satisfies.

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The One Who is always there for me, waiting for me, with open arms.

The One Who loves me more than my wildest dreams.

The One Who cares more than we could ever dream.

The One Who longs to hold us, wash our stains and free our hearts, when we surrender, turn from sin, receive His forgiveness and give our lives to Jesus as our King.

God has been taking me on an amazing journey of showing me something of His love for me as Father.

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And it’s incredible. He’s incredible.

I’m learning, again and again, that the Father’s arms are the place we have been craving our entire lives.

He’s teaching me that His love is the deep, satisfying love we have all longed for… and counterfeits always ultimately elude us when we look anywhere else.

The One Who is always waiting for me… now… to realise He is there, waiting for me to receive His love.

And, though I won’t always necessarily feel it (it’s deeper than just feelings), it is true. He loves me.

And to remember that, in the end, all my heart is truly searching for is Him… and through Jesus, He is already mine!

I think that could make life simpler. No more endless searching when you’ve already found the true Answer.

Only more of Him.

Drinking more deeply from the endless sea of eternal Love.

We listened to a message last night on the Samaritan woman in John 4. She was looking in the wrong place for satisfaction- in relationships that kept letting her down and leaving her more empty, broken and thirsty. What she really needed was the living water Jesus wanted to give her all along… when she came to Him.

’13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”’ John 4:13-14

I was reading through Ephesians recently.

I got stuck here:

‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:17b-19

Whaaaatt?!

Wow.

Why go on searching anywhere else when I can know LOVE THAT IS UNCONTAINABLE?! When I can be satisfied with GOD?!?!

How sinful my heart is! How often I forget!

‘“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

Again and again, He reminds me that nothing else truly satisfies apart from Him.

’25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ Psalm 73:25-26

‘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

Lord, help me remember that all my heart is truly searching for is You… and You are already mine! 🙂

(God gave His Son, Jesus, so that we can be forgiven from the sins that keep up from Him, be cleansed through what Jesus did on the cross and be brought back to the Father’s arms. Without Jesus, we all face the judgement seat of a righteous, holy God… and the eternal punishment we all deserve. That all changes when we come to Jesus, turn from wrong, receive His free forgiveness and surrender to follow Him as Lord of our lives. That’s the way to find the Love we’ve been craving all our lives… the way to knowing God, and the way to eternal life with Him). 🙂

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

Looking Back and Looking Forward…

So it’s almost my birthday again. How does that happen? Time really does go so fast.

And the Lord has been encouraging me of how faithful He has been through my life, and how encouraging that is for the future.

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Looking back over my life, I can see one strong, consistent, wonderful reality: a Best Friend Who has been with me and provided so very tenderly… so very faithfully… through thick and thin.

Even watching over me before I was born, alerting a seasoned midwife that I was in the wrong position in the womb and getting me safely out by emergency C-section.

And leading me to Himself. I was so blessed to go to Sunday School, where I learned that I was a sinner who faced eternal judgement and needed a Saviour- and that Jesus would save me when I came to Him and asked for His forgiveness, surrendering to follow Him as Lord. I did that, repeatedly, when I was tiny.

And I remember, one day, when He met me. He broke in with such love. I’d been at church that morning, listening to the children’s talk. Our faithful pastor was teaching us the words of a song about Jesus. That night, lying in bed, I started singing it to myself… and suddenly, I was aware of something so good; so pure: the presence of the Lord. I didn’t know what was happening. I was so young, and it had never happened before. But I know now. It was Him. That was probably when I fell in love with Jesus.

And He has been my Best Friend ever since.

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I’m trying to write a song about  it. It’s not done yet, and not all ready to share, but here are some sections:

I was just a little girl when I fell in love.

I encountered love so strong and true.

You wooed me when you came to me 

And called me to Yourself

And ever since that moment I’ve been Yours.

And through the joys and the tears of childhood,

I always knew where to go.

That the answer is always to trust in You

Cos Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

 

And faithfully You’ve stayed with me

With love beyond my dreams.

You’re mine for now and You’re mine

Forever. I am Yours eternally.

 

And as I grew I came to find

A Rock beneath my feet.

This messy girl knew where her heart could hide.

Through every trouble, every trial, You were always there.

Lord, I found the answers in Your arms.

And through the mess and confusion of growing

There was a love that never let me go.

You loved me and counselled me. You never let me down.

Cos Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

 

And faithfully You’ve stayed with me

With love beyond my dreams.

You’re mine for now and You’re mine

Forever. I am Yours eternally.

 

And as I walk forward through this life,

I know Your hand in mine.

You meet me. Lord, You comfort me. You care.

You open up Your loving hand. You meet my every need.

Through every tear and trial, Lord, You’re there.

And I know that the secret of living

Is to look up and live from Your arms.

Your love and provision amazes me

And Jesus is the Best Friend in the world

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

 

(And the hope of those who follow Him…)

 

And I am living for the day

When I will see Your face.

You’ll meet me and You’ll wipe my tears away.

You will be the Joy of joys. You are the Love we’ve craved.

Forever and forever, we’ll be Yours.

And the skies will split open with glory

As You reign- as You come for Your bride.

And we will be with You forever.

You will be the light of our eyes.

Jesus is the Love of our lives.

 

And faithfully You’ve stayed with me

With love beyond my dreams.

You’re mine for now and You’re mine forever.

I am Yours eternally.

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A few weeks ago, I was back in the old bedroom where I grew up, in the same spot where I encountered the Lord when I was tiny. I was feeling a bit afraid of the future. And the Lord encouraged me. He reminded me of that memory of when I encountered Him as a little girl. Haven’t I been faithful ever since you met Me? Haven’t I always been with you? Haven’t I always been all you need? Don’t you think I will be all you need for the future?

And it’s true. He has. Amazingly.

And that’s my confidence for the future.

32 years of the Lord’s faithfulness. And that’s my confidence that He will be just as faithful through the rest, so I can go forward in the same way, leaning on Him, hiding in Him, and knowing His faithfulness will never end and never, ever let me down. 🙂

‘For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.’ Psalm 139:13-16

(Come to Him. His arms are open to you, too. He’s the Rescue we need from the judgement we all face… the way to forgiveness… the way to peace… the way to eternal hope. And He really is the Best Friend in the world).

 

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

Remembering to Say ‘Thank You’

I’m learning, more and more, that it’s good to just say ‘Thank You’: to celebrate the good things God has done.

We’ve started taking a few moments to do that every day in our little GFA UK team in the office where I work. It’s helping us to notice His blessings.

I know things can be hard. There is suffering in this world.

But God is also very kind.

I saw that last week. I knew I needed to get away for a break. I was getting pretty exhausted, but I didn’t know where a proper rest could come from. When plans fell through more than once, I prayed, with faltering faith, that He would provide.

I went back to verses He’s shown me often recently.

‘The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31 and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ 32 Yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God, 33 who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day.’ Deuteronomy 1:30-33

I am His. Forgiven through Jesus, I am a child of God. Just as He provided for His Old Testament people every step of the way, He has promised to go ahead of me and provide for me.

And He did… amazingly.

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Through a friend’s suggestion and generosity, God opened the way and provided for me to have a week in a lovely Christian B&B in Llandudno ( http://www.betheden.co.uk/ ) … complete with new friends, abundant, hot sunshine, a gentle beach with bright blue sea, beautiful scenery… Bible teaching and encouragement every evening… Even a love heart in the sky from the Red Arrow display at a military parade, which I watched from the beach!

red arrowsIt couldn’t have been easier, really. There was even a coach a friend knew about that took me quickly and smoothly there! So many details just came together. And I had a week soaked in sunshine and God’s blessing. 🙂

For all my worrying, there was His abundant, tender provision.

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He is so, so kind.

Sometimes we forget that.

He throws in blessings we don’t expect.

Don’t lose hope. Sure, there is suffering in this world. But I’m learning, again and again, that He is kind, and He loves to provide and to bless. 🙂

(What we all need, most of all, is His forgiveness. We all face eternal judgement without it. He loves us so much. That’s why He gave His Son. When we come to Him, turn from wrong, surrender to follow Him as Lord and accept the free forgiveness Jesus bought for us on the cross, we find a loving Father Who, through all the trials, meets every need abundantly and offers abundant hope for all eternity for all who follow Him).

 

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

How Looking Back to God’s Faithfulness Can Help With Faith

Recently, something clicked in me. We listened to a message, which encouraged us to look back at the past, at what God has done, so you can have hope for the future.

And I realised that blogging to testify to God’s faithfulness is a really good idea.

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That message was a helpful reminder. Sometimes you can feel stuck in the middle of something and forget that you won’t be in it forever.

Looking back, God has done an awful lot for me. Is it ok if I share some examples with you? I pray that will encourage you in your own battles that He can do far more than you ever thought possible.

I can see a pattern in my own life… in my own story. I guess we are all different, and God knows that, but I’m beginning to see a pattern in how He works with me. God often tends to bring an issue to the surface and deal with it deeply, slowly and thoroughly for a long time, until one day I realise it’s not there anymore… and He has done it so abundantly that I know what to do if it tries to come back… and I have a bit of wisdom for someone else struggling with the same thing.

I know we don’t get free from everything in this life. Those who follow Jesus are waiting for our ultimate, eternal hope. But I’m amazed by things He has done down here, which amaze me!

Like my battles with assurance when I was younger.

I was only a very little girl, maybe 4 or 5, when I gave my heart to Jesus. I was so blessed to be taken to Sunday School, where I heard that we have all done wrong, and we face God’s judgement… forever. But Jesus died so that we can be forgiven when we come to Him, surrender, turn from wrong, ask for His forgiveness and give our lives into His hands. I did. And I can honesty say that He has been my Best Friend, and so very faithful, since then.

But it took years and years and years before I knew I really was His.

When I was a younger version of me, I struggled, over and over again, with assurance of my salvation. Looking back, I knew Jesus since I was tiny. But I wasn’t sure I was really saved. Again and again, for years, I prayed for Jesus to save me. Worried and worried about whether He really had. Lived in deep confusion about it. Read my Bible and, though it helped me deeply, at times it felt like I was reading through a fog of confusion, coming across things I didn’t understand. I kept praying He would save me… and I lived in deep fear that He had not.

Freedom came later, when I was at University. God unlocked my Bible for me. I went to a course at my wonderful church about how to understand the Bible. I learned that, if you use some key tools, like the genre and purpose of a Bible passage, and where it comes in the Bible timeline, you get some big clues to understanding what it means. My Bible came alive to me in a new way. I heard some teaching on passages like Romans 6-8 and 1 John, which talked about the changes that happen when you come to Jesus. And things began to click into place.

The Bible was opened up in a new way for me. And, in a gradual process, my battles with assurance fell away. These days, I know I am a child of God. I have done for years. And it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing! 🙂

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There was the journey to believe God loves me. I used to think I could never believe God really loved me. Others would try to encourage me in God’s love; in His grace… and it felt like they were speaking a foreign language. Years of prayer and teaching and being prayed for and hearing from others and reading books and soaking in the Father’s love… and it’s a deep, deep conviction inside me. I know I am loved by my Heavenly Father. Now, it’s a gut knowledge I love to share with others.

There was the journey into full-time ministry. Looking back on the seasons, you see them differently. Sometimes, hindsight really helps. When I graduated from University at 18, I knew I wanted to serve God. I just had a lot of confusion about how. I went through a long, hard year of seeking, doing temporary work and Bible study and struggling with different things. Looking back, it was a year in God’s presence. It was a year of a lot of time… rest… rebuilding… preparation.

During that year, I did a Bible course and I sat next to Alison. A lovely friend who was doing a job I would have loved to do, working as a student worker at her church. If I could have had any job right then, it would have been Alison’s. Time passed. That year passed too. And God surprised me near the end of it by an invitation to do Alison’s job myself! The next August, Alison’s job was mine! And I loved it.

And now, I’m thankful for that year of preparation. Along with Alison’s job came the spiritual battle of being in ministry. It was good, but it wasn’t easy. And I’m so glad now I had that preparation year. I needed some time to learn some lessons; to get alone with God. I did go into full-time ministry, and I loved it. But hindsight shows me that God was just getting me ready for the next thing. And I’m grateful for that preparation year first. And it wasn’t just preparation for Alison’s job.

During that wilderness year, I had begun attending prayer meetings at the UK office of GFA World. God had been stirring my heart for the nations for a long time… and I found myself being drawn to GFA. I was in York, and so was the UK office. I only went to learn to pray, but it linked me to a loving family who wanted to share Jesus’ love who have never heard of Him, in Asia. And those prayer meetings were a big part of a process that led to the realisation that God was leading me to work in the GFA UK office full-time, linking national workers on the field with supporters and pray-ers here ( http://www.gfauk.org ). After Alison’s job came GFA. And that was amazing, and a huge blessing … but it brought with it an intense spiritual battle. I don’t think I’d ever have made it without some preparation time first… and a whole lot of God’s faithfulness and provision since then.

And there was OCD. OCD that, in my life, manifested in different ways at different times, and came as a cloud stirred up by the enemy when I went into full-time ministry. Yep, I know OCD. OCD all tangled up with confusion and a deeply sensitive conscience. I didn’t even know what it was for a long time. It wasn’t obvious to me. I just knew clouds of darkness and confusion about little things, accompanied by a heavy sense of spiritual oppression. I remember crying desperately before God, pleading with Him to bring freedom. And He has! Through many different things, freedom came. It took a long, thorough process, and, in the middle of it, I could not see what God was doing or any way out… but it’s not there now. Hasn’t been for years. God used it to draw me closer to Himself: to show me more and His love. And He also set me free.

God took me on a thorough journey through and out of OCD, which has not only largely set me free from it but has taught me what to do on a tired day when it tries to come back. It does, occasionally, but it doesn’t really freak me out. I have learned what to do. OCD? Yes, I remember it. But it doesn’t really bully me anymore. It’s amazing. And, when I hear about someone else battling with it, I even have some hard-won wisdom I can share. And that’s a gift from God. 🙂

And there are aches, too, that have been birthed into joy.

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I’ve put a picture of a butterfly here because it’s a picture someone encouraged me with a few years ago: a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. At the time, it felt impossible. There were things I was carrying…. things I longed to do… and I just could not see how. How could I ever learn to fly? These days, aches are beginning to turn into joys.

Like songwriting. The ache to make music: to record music. The ache that was so deep it hurt. Sometimes I would listen to others singing at concerts and love it… but the longing to do the same would ache so deeply in me that I would almost despair. I remember going to a music event and leaving early to write songs, because the ache was too deep. Little did I know that, very soon, at a similar event soon after, I would be singing too. Little did I know that in a year or two I would have an album of my own. I still can’t really believe it because it feels too good to be true… but it is. 🙂

And the ache to write. Oh, the ache to write! I carried it for years, writing on the side, pouring out my heart in a journal or on a computer screen. But the idea of having a blog seemed to distant; too impossible… until, the other year, God encouraged me to start one. These days, the ache is not really an ache, but a joy. And I have confidence that other writing dreams will, at the right time, if they are from Him, come to fruition too. Why not? If it’s from Him, it will. He is faithful. 🙂

I could go on. There is more. Much more. But it’s true. Looking back at God’s faithfulness gives you hope for the future. It encourages your faith in Him.

He has been faithful. He will continue to be faithful.

You don’t always understand it in the middle of it all, but it’s true.

He does amazing things. He is doing amazing things.

And, if you belong to Jesus (and you can when you come to Him like I did when I was a very little girl), He will be faithful to you, too. 🙂

What If I Really Believed God Will Answer My Prayers?

The Lord has been speaking to me recently about hope, and faith, and His promises.

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To be honest, I can tend to be negative; pessimistic. Anxious.

I have an overactive imagination. Imagining extreme things that could happen.

Imaging the worst.

Even though I am praying about things.

Even though I am His. I am forgiven. God has forgiven my sins and made me His child. Because of Jesus Christ, I can be at peace. Trusting in Him and following Him, the sting has been taken out of fear; of death; of disaster. God is on my side.

Yet still I fret.

Even when God gives me promises that He will take care of things.

His Word is full of them. Those who follow Jesus (and God gives no promise to answer us if we are living in deliberate sin) have a lot of wonderful promises we can claim.

And sometimes you just know. You just know you have committed something to the Lord, and that His answer is on the way.

‘Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.’ Psalm 34:5

And, somehow, trusting Him; having faith in Him, is significant in it all.

I know God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we want or expect. This world is broken. Things can take time. His ways, in my experience, often seem to be on another dimension to what I expect.

But why does that need to take my hope, when His promises are bigger than the mess and the pain and the waiting and the tears, providing for all of my objections?

Through Jesus, I belong to the Father. He has promised that all things work ultimately for my good.

’28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28

I know my prayers have weight in Heaven.

There are so many promises I can claim as my own.

And there is also provision. Every time. Abundantly.

Even for the waiting… the tears… the times when we don’t understand.

He always has a good plan in the end for those who follow Him.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11

So what about this?

What if I lived in the light of the answers to prayer that are coming?

The solutions that I don’t see yet that are on their way?

That may not look the way I think or expect, but are God’s provision?

What if I lived like God is always going to come through in the best way?

Like He is going to answer my prayers?

Like even suffering works for good for those who trust Him?

Like He hears me?

Like He promises to take care of me?

Because He does.

I look back on things He has done in the past. Abundant provision. I really didn’t need to worry! His provision was so good… so kind… so thorough, I had no reason to fear.

Trusting in His provision could change my attitude. Free me up to care more about others, because I’m less consumed with myself.

’33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’ Matt 6:33

Because the Father’s children don’t need to be anxious; fretful; torn up inside.

Of course we suffer. It’s a broken world, and we’re on a collision course with the direction of the rest of the world, which is in rebellion against God.

But we can also know deep joy, and peace.

We can live like the Father’s listening, and He has got our backs. Because He has. 🙂

He showed me this recently:

‘I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;’ Psalm 17:6a

What an encouragement not just to pray, but to believe that He will answer, and to stand in faith for the answers that are on the way.

To pour out my heart and actually believe He will answer. 🙂

That means I don’t need to carry the burdens anymore.

I can be at peace, trusting His Father heart.

You know, sometimes I find myself suspicious of Him. His ways are higher than mine. I can be suspicious of what I will do.

‘8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.’ Isaiah 55:8-9

But He is good.

trees with pathway

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Actually, the verse before that gives context. He is kinder than we think He is. He is merciful.

‘Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.’ Isaiah 55:7

He is better than we think He is.

Our ideas of Him and His ways are always too small.

‘5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;’ Proverbs 3:5

He is good. He is kind. He is faithful.

So I can commit my cares to Him, trust… and rest in Him. 🙂

(We all need to have God on our side. We all need His forgiveness. Judgement is coming. That’s why Jesus came. He came to bring us back to God, when we come to Him for His forgiveness, surrender and follow Him as our Lord. There’s nothing we can do earn His favour… He calls us to receive His free gift of mercy, and find love and faithfulness we’d never dreamed possible. This world is broken, but eternity is coming. Come to Him, follow Him, surrender to Him, and you’ll find help for this life, even through the tears, and hope for all eternity).

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

 

I Get to Live

I guess this is a continuation from my last blog post: about realising how precious right now is.

The other day, I went to the doctors, to check out something I was worried about. It was fine. I should have known, really. I worry far too much!

But that ‘all okay’ changed the day for me. Driving away from the doctors and realising I have so much.

It kept coming back to me through the day: this sense of gratitude; joy; new life.

It’s like life’s a gift again; like I get to live it again.

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I have a healthy body. I have life. I have health.

I get to live.

It’s a gift. Not everyone does.

Our team spent time that day praying for people who really are ill. I remembered the doctor’s visit again. I felt so deeply, deeply grateful.

Other things happened that day. Me coming down with a cold. It makes me feel a bit rubbish. Big deal! I’m alive. I’m healthy. I’m so, so blessed.

At lunchtime, I prayed for someone who’s suddenly been given a few weeks to live… and doesn’t know Jesus.

That made me so grateful, too. I’m forgiven. I’m a child of God. I have eternal hope. I’m His.

Then, later, I heard about people who spend big chunks of their time worrying about possible illnesses, researching on the internet just in case.

Ok, yes, I can relate a little. I worry far too much!

But not that much. And the truth is that I don’t need to.

Because I have Jesus. Because I’m forgiven. Because God works all things for my good.

Even if I was ill, even if the doctor’s visit had turned out differently, it would be okay.

I’m forgiven through Jesus. I’m in my Father’s hands, and He turns everything in  my life to good in the end, because I’m His.

It makes me think of other things, too.

God has been doing a lot in me over the past few years, doing a deep work of pouring in His love.

As part of that, He’s been teaching me about comfort: about the Father’s love. As His comfort fills up the scars of the past and He pours in His love… and it begins to overflow, I think you suddenly find yourself free to live in a new way, from His arms. With a whole lot less fear, because you are held. With a whole lot more joy.

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It’s beginning to click in me: this freedom to live, because of the overflow of His comfort and His love.

And the day of the doctor’s visit helped me to realise that joy.

I get to live. 

This life is a gift. Every moment. A gift.

I get to live it.

Because of Jesus, I get to live it in a way that matters. A way that will have impact far beyond my lifetime.

I get to know God. I get to live soaked in His love, and I get to share His love with others and help them know hope forever (and if you don’t have that hope yet, please, please seek Jesus and find it- it will change everything).

I get to live. 

Living.

Not perhaps in the way our culture thinks. Life is not satisfying our superficial desires all the time. The devil lies to us. That way of life is so empty, and it will come and bite you in the end… it’s not nice to talk about, but Judgement really is coming, anytime.

The devil lies to us.

‘He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’ from John 8:44

Life is belonging to Jesus. Life is knowing God. Life is giving our lives away because of Him.

The devil lies to us, but Jesus gives us life that is abundant. Through pain, yes, but through pain that is more like labour, leading, for all who follow Him, to eternal life beyond our wildest dreams.

‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.’ John 10:10

Because of Jesus, I get to live life abundant.

Now and forever.

‘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

Wow!

I am so, so blessed.

God has given me life.

And, so, I choose to live.

 

(The way to truly live, and to be rescued from the eternal judgement we all deserve and have hope of eternal life forever, is to find forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Come to Him. Surrender your heart. Ask His forgiveness for where you have gone wrong (and we all have). His forgiveness is there for the asking, when we let go of trying to earn it ourselves and just receive. Give your life to Him as Lord. Follow Him. No, it won’t always be easy, but it’s the way to love beyond your wildest dreams, and life… and life eternal).

 

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

Why Right Now Matters

Do you ever catch yourself wondering where the time has gone?

One of my friends got my thinking recently… about time.

About how fast time goes.

About how you can’t get it back.the-eleventh-hour-disaster-alarm-clock-clock.jpg

 

His wife had to go to hospital. In the end, she was fine, but it made him think.

What if she hadn’t been fine? What if her time was up? She’s in her early thirties.

Like me.

It made think, too.

Why do I live like I will have now forever?

I won’t.

The biggest deal is where we will spend eternity (and it’s the question we all seriously need to face before it’s too late). Jesus Christ is my hope for eternity. He has forgiven me, accepted me and made me His own. Trusting in Him alone and following Him, I don’t need to fear the judgement that is coming on the world. I belong to Him (and you need to as well, before it’s too late. Come to Jesus. Receive His free forgiveness as the way back to God. Turn from wrong. Surrender your heart and your life to Him. Follow Him as your Lord. Find love… forgiveness you’d never dreamed existed… and eternal hope).

Yes, Jesus Christ has given me hope for eternity.

But, precisely because He has forgiven me, I don’t want to waste the life He has redeemed… because He is worthy of it all.

Right now, I have a body that works. Time that I can use. Freedom in my single life to choose how I will use big chunks of it.

I can take that for granted. Assume it will always be the same.

But it won’t. Our lives seasons to them… and they don’t last forever.

My Grandma is 98. By God’s grace, she’s still here. But there’s so little she can do by herself now.

In a few years, if God gives me that long (and He may not), that could be me.

It makes me think. How am I using the precious moments God has given me? The talents? The opportunities?

Am I buying them up?

Making the most of them?

Or letting them slip by; frittered away; wasted?

And I don’t think that means doing everything what I want to in this life.  Our culture tells us we need to do everything we want to do now, because life is short.

It is… but I don’t need to live for this world.

I’ll have all the time in forever, when God makes all my true dreams come true.

Those who follow Jesus have hope that is eternal.

But we have only one life in this world to use to make an eternal impact.

To help others know Christ.

To bring Him glory in this world.

It makes me ask some searching questions.

How am I using the time I have today; the opportunities I have right now?

Sometimes we can wish our time away… wish the season was different.

Wish away what God has given me right now.

Seasons do change.

But the opportunities they provide change, too.

I won’t be here forever.

And nor will the people I could impact today.

The doors won’t always be open.

How am I using what God has given me now?

Sometimes, I say to myself, “Blink and I’ll be in tomorrow… or next week…”

Of course, it’s not entirely true. Blink and I’m not in tomorrow or next week… quite. But live a few more hours and, well, I am. Suddenly, it is tomorrow. It is next week. And today’s opportunities have gone.

Lord, help me be intentional with this life You’ve given me now… to make a difference for eternity!

Here is Love

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Here is where life starts.

Here is where it all begins.

This was the moment when God gave His life

And people are born forever.

Here you kneel in your stains.

Here you learn what love really is.

Here rebels fall dressed in tatters and rags

And they rise as white as snow.

As they find…

 

This is the place of victory.

This is where chains fall.

Here, in the weakness of wood and nails,

Here is the heart of it all.

This was the moment God took the shame

As Love willingly bore the cost.

Here are the arms of your Father.

Here is love at the cross.

 

Here is where things change.

Here is where you start again.

Here you fall at the end of yourself.

He lifts you up; makes you a child of God.

As you find..

 

This is the place of victory.

This is where chains fall.

Here, in the weakness of wood and nails,

Here is the heart of it all.

This was the moment God took the shame

As Love willingly bore the cost.

Here are the arms of your Father.

Here is love at the cross.

 

 

Won’t you come and kneel?

Come bow down.

Come and surrender.

Come and adore.

Come find hope.

Come find life.

Come find forgiveness.

Come find Christ your life.

As you find…

 

This is the place of victory.

This is where chains fall.

Here, in the weakness of wood and nails,

Here is the heart of it all.

This was the moment God took the shame

As Love willingly bore the cost.

Here are the arms of your Father.

Here is love at the cross.

 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Come to Him. Turn from wrong. Give Him your heart. Let Him in. Surrender to follow Him with your life. His forgiveness is free, because He paid the price long ago on that Good Friday. He will give you a fresh start. In Him, you will find all you have longed for all along. There’s a cost to following Him, yes, but it’s worth it. He is all the Love you have ever longed to find, and He waits to give you Himself and His hope… for all eternity.

 

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

Lyrics: ‘Here is Love’, written by Caroline Abblitt, Jennifer Casby, Wendy Green.

The Hope of Spring

How do you feel about spring?

I love it! It fills me with such joy to see the first snowdrop… the first daffodil… to hear the birds sing…

After the long, dark days of winter, though it comes gradually, spring keeps coming… and it feels like such a gift.

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Below is a poem I wrote one spring, when I’d been going through a rough time. Spring encourages me that, for those turn from wrong, follow Jesus as Lord and trust in alone Him for salvation (and we all need to), there is always hope ahead. Hard times do come to an end… and those who follow Jesus have an eternal hope awaiting them.

Spring

When hope comes sparkling, lifts cold mist

And sunshine beckons through bare trees,

And wind once silent trills with song,

The hope of spring has come.

 

When white buds peep through tired soil

And trees grow little, pregnant buds

And winter, old now, bows her throne

The hope of spring has come.

 

Then bouncing, laughing yellow life

And madly singing, thrilling world

And sunshine spilling, warming glow

The hope of spring has come.

 

The rush of colour, laugh of song.

Joy’s dance of rainbowed, flowering world.

Strong balm of beauty. Kiss of dawn.

The hope of spring has come.

 

Forget the long, dark, heavy days.

Gone are the hopeless, weary groans.

The old has gone. The new day dawns.

The hope of spring has come.

 

And oh! He calls me. Oh, He comes!

“Arise, dear one. Rise up and come!

The winter’s past. The rain has gone.”

The hope of spring has come.

 

I lift my weary, heavy head;

Look up with hope now, up to God.

I hear His voice; look up; live on.

The hope of spring has come.

 

(God is with you right now, waiting to give you hope. He gave His Son to provide a way of rescue from the judgement we all deserve. Jesus died on the cross so that we can be forgiven when we come to Him for forgiveness, turn from wrong and surrender to follow Him. It’s not always easy, but He is always there for us and it is the way to endless, eternal hope).