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!

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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).

More Thoughts on Trust and Peace

So, more thoughts on anxiety and worry:

As the Lord has been teaching me lately about resting in Him, I thought it would be a good thing to keep writing about!

The Lord has teaching me recently about trust: about the Lord teaching us; helping us quieten down the anxious flow of thoughts and plannings in our minds- just living moment by moment, abiding in Him through Jesus.

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I was praying recently about anxiety: about the anxious thought that so often trouble my mind.

A picture came to mind: a little child tucked up in her Father’s embrace, head tucked under His arm, quiet. Just resting in His embrace.

And isn’t that the answer?

Just resting in His embrace. Not needing to understand. Not needing to know what will happen: just resting in His arms, and letting His love be enough for right now… and for the fear, too, because what drives out fear is perfect love, and tormenting fear has been broken for all who follow Jesus.

’18 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

If you have been forgiven through Jesus and belong to Him (and that’s the key because we face God’s judgement without that and He longs to welcome us all when we come to Him, turn from wrong, surrender our lives to Him as Lord and receive His free forgiveness because of what Jesus did on the cross), you can learn and grow in the peace of living life with your Lord in control.

Living from His arms.

Moment by moment. Just doing what the song says: ‘Trust and obey’.

‘Lord, my heart is not haughty,
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

 

What can I do when something makes me anxious?

I can be that little girl again, coming back into her Father’s arms. Committing it to Him… and then nestling down, tucking my head under His arm, doing what He tells me to do and trusting Him to fight for me.

When the fear comes back, I can nestle closer; look up to Him more, and trust Him to work things out for me.

‘Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.’ Ps 37:5

Like going to sleep in His arms.

 

‘Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.’ Ps 127:1-2

It’s definitely a learning curve! Not that something that comes all at once. But it’s something I can grow in. I’ve definitely seen progress!

It reminds me of another picture that came to mind once, when I used to struggle more often with swirling thoughts.

It was a still, still lake, brilliantly blue, under a bright, bright sky.

Stillness. Perfect peace.

It was a picture of what my mind could be: of what He is doing in me.

I glimpse it sometimes. I suddenly notice that my mind is still: wonderfully, radiantly so. It’s incredible.

I can upset that peace with my worry. I often do.

But it’s growing. Sometimes I glimpse it.

Peace.

Because, really, God has me. I don’t need to know the answers. I can rest in Him.

‘You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.’ Isaiah 26:3

And, in Him, I am so very, very loved. And so many encouragements can hold me, because, through Jesus, I am His.

Those who belong to Jesus, look to Him for salvation and follow Him through our lives (as we all need to), have such confidence, and so many reasons, even when it doesn’t make sense, to be at peace.

Beloved

‘The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;”‘ Jeremiah 31:3a

You are My beloved,

Apple of My eye,

My treasured possession,

Precious in My eyes.

 

My child, My creation,

By My hand designed

For something so special

With just you in mind.

 

Fear not, you are precious,

Cherished in My sight,

Embraced in My presence,

Held fast in My might.

 

Never will I leave you,

No, never forsake.

I will be your shelter

For each hour, each day.

 

When you walk through valleys,

I will still be here

When you face deep waters,

You never need fear.

 

I’m here as your Refuge.

I’m here by your side.

Loving My beloved,

Longing for My bride.

 

I delight to use you

In ways you’d never dream.

My plan and My purpose

Are wide and vast, unseen.

 

So wide is My promise,

My purpose so great

To awake the nations

To praise My great Name.

 

So live out your calling,

Be all that I made.

I’ll not fail to use you

To honour My Name.

 

You’re loved. Everlasting,

My faithful pursuit.

My love will not fail you.

I make all things new.

 

My love is unending,

My promise to you. My Arms everlasting

Will carry you through.

 

Soon I will come back

To take you to Me.

Each tear I will comfort.

You’ll belong to Me.

 

My treasure, My darling,

Apple of My eye,

My treasured possession,

Honoured in My sight.

 

Arise, My beloved.

You’re precious to Me.

Come rest in My presence.

Come walk close to Me.

 

(To know that wonderful hope in Him, come to Him. Surrender to Him. Turn from wrong. Receive His forgiveness through Jesus. Give your life, all your days, into His hands as your Lord. It won’t always be easy, but He will be all you need and it’s entirely worth it. He will amaze you by what He does!)

How Trust Can Really Simplify Things

Do you, like me, struggle with fear and anxiety, feeling like you need to know what will happen so that you can make sure it will be okay?

Gradually, I am finding more and more peace in life, and the reason is simple: knowing I am loved, and that I have a heavenly Father Who can be trusted.

I am forgiven. Because of Jesus Christ, my slate has been washed clean. I came to God by faith in Jesus, asking Him to forgive me. I gave my life into His hands, to follow Him, not to earn anything but because I am His. I am following Him. And now I have His promise to take care of me. Not because of anything I have done, but because of Jesus. And that security is available to all who will come to Him and follow Him the same way.

And something the Lord has encouraging me in recently is this: knowing the Father’s love through Jesus can really help with anxiety.

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You know, so often I think I need to know the answers: that I need to know why or how or what… or what will happen next…

But something has been clicking recently: I don’t need to know.

I am so, so loved. I can rest in my Father’s arms, and trust His heart when I don’t have the answers; when I don’t understand.

No, I don’t know the answer to  that.

No, I don’t know why. No, I don’t know what. No, I don’t know how.

But I choose to trust my Abba Father. I choose to trust His heart.

I don’t need to know. I don’t need to understand.

All I need to do is trust.

Because some things just don’t change.

God is good.

God is trustworthy.

God has promised to provide for those who trust in Him (and He also responds to our faith: to our trust!)

Ok, so it doesn’t always look like He is control- not at a superficial glance.

Ok, so it’s not always easy. Trust, and peace, are things we grow in. It doesn’t always come all at once.

But I chose to trust my Abba Father. I choose to trust His heart.

When I look ahead to the future, it doesn’t need to be in fear. Because fear does not take into account the loving heart of my Father God, Who has promised to give me all I need.

Living in the moment, from His arms.

Choosing to rest in Him.

Choosing to know Him now, because it’s only right now that I can know Him for right now.

Choosing to rest in His love.

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

Now, that could really simplify life!

What has God called me to do now? Then why am I worried about tomorrow?

’33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ Matt 6:33-34

I’m not saying I’ve got this! I haven’t! Actually, whilst writing this post, I fell far short with it again. But it’s what He’s teaching me. And I think it’s the way of very deep,  very precious peace!

I can commit my burdens to Him and He will carry them for me, and He will provide.

‘Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.’ Ps 37:5

And He will carry my burdens for me, and give my heart His rest.

’28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”’ Matt 11:28-30

(Whether you know Him or not, He is reaching out to you right now. Come to Him through Jesus, receive what Christ did on the cross, turn from sin, surrender your life, your burdens and your cares into His hands and find the way to abundant peace).

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

When You Think No-One Could Heal Your Heart

The other day, I was in a conversation with someone, which made me think. There’s something I want to share in response. So here goes:

Jesus can heal the broken-hearted. Nothing is too hard for Him. He knows us. He made us. He cares about every sigh; every tear. And He is able to heal our hearts, and to restore.

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No matter how intricate the problem or how deep the wounds of our hearts. No matter how confusing, or messy, or raw. He can heal, and He does.

If we come to Him on His terms. If we let Him in.

We need to surrender. We need to seek Him for His forgiveness.. turn from wrong… forgive others… let Him in… Let Him be first. We need to let Him to come in; to let Him help us. But oh, how He wants to!

He does it His own way. Sometimes He does it suddenly. Sometimes (perhaps more commonly) He takes time. Or sometimes it’s a bit of both: like waves that come gradually. It will culminate in eternity. It’s not all done here and now. 

But He can, and He does.

‘“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”‘ Isaiah 61:1

We need to do it let Him in, and surrender. He will work.

He is the tender Shepherd. He knows us intimately. And He knows each of His sheep as individuals. No matter how wounded. No matter how broken. The Good Shepherd knows how to heal.

And He knows how to care for us, too, while we are in His hospital. So very, very tenderly. He carries His little lambs close to His heart.

‘He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.’ Isaiah 40:11

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I remember being in a season when God was doing a lot of deep work in me. It was painful. I felt raw. I was afraid of things I needed to cope with through the day. I didn’t feel able to cope with much. And a picture came into my mind: a hospital, with clean white beds and a gentle breeze. It was reassuring. I was in God’s hospital. I didn’t need to over-try. He would take care of me. And He did.

He knows us each as individuals. And He knows exactly what we need. It’s not one-size-fits all. That’s why other people’s stories are not the same as yours (although He may well provide people who can help because there are deep similarities). You are unique. And He knows just what you need.

’15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”’ Ezekiel 34:15-16

He is so very tender with His little ones. He deals with us each in just the right way. He takes us at a pace we can handle.

He knows just what we need. He knows the intricacies of our hearts. Sometimes we need to cry. His arms are a safe place. Sometimes we need Him to help us access the pain first (like having an operation). Sometimes we need to let Him take us back to the memories, so He can set us free from them as we forgive and He comes and pours in His love. Sometimes we need others to help us, so we are not alone. He can provide them if we ask Him to (and He can heal us up when they hurt us, too, if let Him… if we forgive them). Sometimes we need freedom from demons who are attacking us. He knows about that, too, and nothing is to hard for Him. No power is bigger than Jesus. Sometimes we need conviction of where we are wrong. He will show us, forgive us when we ask Him to, and work to change us from the inside out.

And He can heal, and restore, in ways we just couldn’t imagine.

There are things I used to think I’d never be free from. Now, I find it hard to remember how they used to be a problem. Because He has worked so amazingly, and so well. He is thorough, yes. But He is also very, very kind.

It can take longer than we think. His ways are often not what we expect. But they are so very, very good. Don’t ever underestimate what He can do.

Come to Him. Come to Him in faith.

Just like this lady, who had tried everything and nothing had worked:

’25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in herbody that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’

32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”’ Mark 5:25-34

She reached out to Jesus, and He answered her.

In His own way, yes. But He did.

And He interacted with her, too, because healing is not an end in itself.

The end is not healing, but relationship with Him. It’s about knowing Him; loving Him; being loved. Finding the Love we have been looking for all our lives. Living this life from the Father’s arms.

Turning from the idols that let us down, and letting Him be all in all.

‘For my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.’ Jeremiah 2:13

‘3 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.‘ John 4:13-14

He can fill the broken places in our hearts with His love; with His peace; with His joy.

This is a broken world. Our tears don’t all get fixed now. But He shares them with us, if we let Him. He is with us through them all. And He promises to wipe them all away one day, if we follow Him now.

‘3 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

And He can restore… over and above anything we ever expected Him to do.
‘7 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

There are things I look back on now, amazed at what He has done. Hope can spring up from our deepest tears. Restoration can come in ways we never expected. We will look back one day and be amazed… if we let Him in.

There is always hope with Jesus.

Why not ask Him to come in?

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

The Faith That Delights God’s Heart

Something God has been teaching me about lately is faith.

I think that faith brings joy to the heart of God. Simple, childlike faith. Faith that believes God is good, trusts in Him and follows Him through Jesus, and chooses to live like He is good and run with it.

I belong to Jesus. My sins are forgiven. I am trusting in Him for salvation, by faith. And God wants me to live by faith, too.

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Trusting the Father’s loving heart.

I can find myself so negative, dreading what could go wrong; assuming the worst. Praying but not trusting the Father’s heart.

But something hit me the other day: I think God is thrilled when those who are His forgiven children through Jesus (as we all can be when we come to Him on His terms through the cross) choose to trust in His goodness: to expect Him to be good. I think that kind of faith thrills His heart, and makes Him smile. I think it’s a faith He loves to draw out; and to respond to.

I was chatting to a friend the other day. She was telling me about her little girl. Simple, childlike prayers from a little girl too young to understand all our doubts.

She was two. “Jesus, please heal Mammy’s sore throat.”

Gone. Just like that. No sore throat anymore!

Her mum was shocked. But she wasn’t. To her, it was simple. She was sure Jesus would answer. And He did.

I think that’s the kind of faith God delights in. The kind of faith that just expects Him to come through with something good.

The kind of faith that trusts in the love and goodness of the Father’s heart, and believes that He will answer in a wonderful way.

I know it’s tough. The Father doesn’t always answer the way we want Him to. This is a broken world. It’s messy down here. Sometimes there are long delays; obstacles we didn’t expect; difficulties that threaten to choke out our faith.

Pain that God longs to comfort, if we let Him, because He knows, and He cares so much.

And that’s when we get to choose. And then when our faith means the most. Will we believe that God is good then; choose to trust Him then when it doesn’t make sense what He is doing?

I think when we choose to trust then, in spite of our breaking hearts and our deep-rooted fears and all of the things that don’t fit into what we expected Him to do, it really makes Him smile.

Choosing to love God even when our hearts are breaking, because we love Him more than the things we want from Him.

Choosing to trust Him because He is good, even when it doesn’t make sense.

Like the woman in this story:

’21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

23 But He answered her not a word.

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”

24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.’ Matthew 15:21-28

She needed something from Jesus. She knew He could heal her demon-possessed daughter. She asked Him to.

He seemed to say no.

She asked again.

He seemed to say no.

But He did answer.

He was drawing out her faith.

And she kept on believing.

Because she knew how good He is, she banked on His goodness anyway, and pressed in in prayer because she trusted.

And He answered her.

‘“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”’ from Matt 14:28

It means surrendering to Who He is, and His way of doing things. It means choosing to love Him first; more than what we are asking for. It means seeking His Kingdom first. It means letting Him decide how He answers, and when. But, if we are doing that and following Him through Jesus, I think we get a blank cheque and a broad, wide, wild invitation to ask… and to trust Him to answer in a way that is so good.

And to choose to trust His heart in the midst of it all.

Sometimes we are doing that, and we’re doing well! But then, like Peter, I think we can start looking at the waves instead of at the Lord:

’29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.’ Matthew 14:29-31

Peter was doing well! He didn’t need to give up! He just needed to keep his eyes on Jesus.

Keep going. Keep believing. Don’t focus on the waves. Focus on the Lord.

Keep going! Surrender your heart and your desires, yes. Surrender your ideas, yes. But keep pressing in in faith.

He does answer. I think it’s generally with something far, far better than we asked for, because He goes to the heart of our prayers and answers on another dimension.

‘“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”’ from Matt 14:28

And He wants to help us grow in that faith, too. 🙂

You can’t expect Him to be better than He is, because He is better than our wildest dreams.

And I think it thrills Him when you trust Him. 🙂

 

(God loves to be good to us, even though none of us deserve it, because we have turned away from Him. He is so good that He gave His Son to provide a way of rescue from the eternal judgement we all face. Jesus paid the price on the cross so that you can be forgiven. Turn from wrong. Ask Him to forgive you. Choose to follow Him, with His help. Surrender your life into His hands, and His way. Let Him be in charge of your life. He will rescue you for eternity, and blow you away with His goodness).

 

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

When You Can’t Sleep

Do you ever struggle with not being able to get to sleep? I do!

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A battle I go through regularly is a battle to get to sleep. I’m so blessed not to have full insomnia, but getting enough sleep is something I struggle with often. It often comes back every few days, more depending on how much is going on around and inside me! I’m not sure how much wisdom I have on it yet, but I thought it might be a good idea to blog about it, if that’s okay. I pray it blesses you too.

So here are some of the things I think I have been learning…

Normally, I can’t sleep because I am tense: anxious about something, trying to figure things out, or else just too busy processing everything that has happened until my heart can get to a place of quiet. Good things keep me awake as well as bad ones, especially if I am processing them.

It’s generally anything that is not yet quiet in my heart and mind- and often, if it is becoming an issue, tension because I’m anxious that I’m not asleep yet! Then, of course, I get more and more tense, and I lay there for a long, long time… until eventually all goes quiet… and I’m asleep.

I think sleep comes when your mind goes quiet.

And I think a big part of the solution is to relax.

And the foundation for that is knowing that, ultimately, all will be well. That root of that is being forgiven; accepted; lovedand secure in the love of Father God (which happens when you come to Him, turn from wrong and receive His forgiveness through Jesus, following Him as your Lord).

I’m an expert at overreacting to things; assuming the worst and getting upset… when things probably aren’t that bad.

And lack of sleep probably isn’t a big a deal as I think it is when I’m lying awake.

I’ve learned by experience that I won’t die if I have a night of no sleep at all. It doesn’t happen often, but it does sometimes. It’s not great, but I’ve survived.

I’ll feel pretty rubbish the next day, but I’ll be okay. I’ve also learned by experience that the insomnia will break eventually. In a few days, if I just stay calm about it, one day soon I’ll be surprised by a good night’s sleep, and I’ll feel more strength come back again, and I’ll feel loads better. And, the more I just relax and stop stressing about it, the more quickly that will happen.

I’ve also learned that being very tired is not necessarily a bad thing. It does make me more sensitive, more easily upset and more easily stressed. It does make it hard to get through the day. But it also makes me very dependent on God because of that. I know I can’t do an exhausted day on my own: that I need God in a special way. And so I’m more intentional. I pray harder. I lean on God more. I ask others to pray for me (I’m so blessed to work in an office of believers). And I find deep peace and strength coming in. It’s more of His strength, and less of mine. It’s beautiful.

I’ve also learned that often I just expect too much of myself. I stay up late and try to do so much because I think that must be what God wants to do. A few years ago, the Lord spoke to me deeply through Ps 127:

‘Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.’ Psalm 127:1-2

It was a breakthrough realisation.

I am only called to do the things the Lord is leading me to do, and, even then, it won’t work unless His hand is on it and, if it is, He’ll be the One carrying the weight and opening up the way. I am not called to do everything. And it’s okay to take time to sleep. Sleep is a gift from God.

That means that an early night isn’t a crime. Making time to ready a book to wind down is okay. I am not called to do everything, and it really is okay to make time to rest.

I’m called to serve God for the long term. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.My salvation is dependent on what Jesus did for me, not on anything I do. And sleep is a gift from God.

But, I also think something that would be really helpful with getting to sleep is to receive the peace of God into my spirit. If I can tune into the spiritual reality of my Father’s love for me, quietening me, reassuring me, my heart will be quieter; more at peace.

I realised that the other day: I lay there, trying to get calm and go to sleep, and I sensed that Father there, loving me, wanting to pour peace into me; wanting to hold me in His arms and soothe my restless thoughts.

‘”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 3:17

‘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,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.’ Psalm 139:7-12

‘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 139:16

Actually, I suspect maybe the Lord allows the sleeplessness to show me the tension in my heart, because He wants to comfort it. If He gave me sleep straight away, every time I asked for it, I wouldn’t learn how to receive His peace for the things that are keeping me awake. I wouldn’t discover the peace He wants to give.

Realising that my God is with me, for me and in control. Because I am a child of God through Jesus, I have no reason to live in fear anymore. Realising that the things I have not yet resolved in my mind are secure in His hands. Realising that I am loved and, in Christ, because I am forgiven through Him, everything is ultimately going to be okay.

I think the Lord has also given me a key that I’m still learning how to use: His Word. If you repeat a Bible verse to yourself, over and over again, your mind and your spirit will go quiet. It’s like a muscle; I forget to do it. I struggle to do it. Sometimes it feels like it’s not working. But there have been lots of times when it’s really helped… when I’ve woken up in the morning and I realise I had decided to think about a verse… and then I woke up, and it was morning.

My dear friend Jane recommends this verse:

‘I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.’ Psalm 4:8

It speaks peace into your spirit; as well as your mind.

And there are others, too:

‘I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.’ Psalm 3:5

‘“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

‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ Matthew 6:34

‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ John 14:27

There will be grace for tomorrow, however tired I am. There is grace for lying awake, too. I can use the long moments of sleeplessness to pray; to receive rest into my spirit: to lift my heart and concerns up to God; to rest in His arms; to receive His love.

And, whether I sleep or not, I can rest in His arms, knowing He will give all the grace I need and fill all the exhausted gaps with His love. 🙂

 

(There is so much comfort and help we can draw from God, and He longs to give it to us. However, the first thing we all need to do is come to Him for forgiveness and rescue from the eternal judgement we all face. We need to come to Him, turn from wrong, surrender to follow Him and receive what Jesus did for sinners on the cross. That’s the way back to God: the way to His forgiveness and grace and eternal life. On sleepless nights and all the time, He is waiting for you to come to Him).

 

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

How Knowing God’s Love Can Help With Fear of a New Year…

Do you ever feel a little bit of fear about going into a new year?

To be honest, I do.

I think one of my greatest weaknesses is fear and hesitancy. There’s generally some low-level fear going on in my heart about something or other.

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I know Jesus. I am forgiven and accepted in Him. I have eternal hope. But, when I look at a new year, I find a little bit of fear rising in my heart, especially if there are things I’m worried about.

My sweet friend Ellen encouraged me a while ago with something like this: ‘Be strong. Don’t be afraid.’ It was wise advice. Ellen knows me well. And it’s advice I generally need- to be strong and not be afraid.

My friends prayed for me the other day about my fear of the new year. Dear Brenda encouraged me to live one moment at a time, and take one day at a time. Wise advice! We also prayed about a situation where someone needed help with a stair lift. And I realised going forward with God can be a bit like getting on a stair lift: you get on and you are carried.

And I sense my Heavenly Father encouraging me with something like this: Because I am forgiven through Jesus (as we all need to be), I have such peace and hope in Him. I am surrounded by His love. His loving arms are always round me. I am His precious, dearly loved child. His provision will always meet me (maybe in ways I don’t expect, but it will). It doesn’t mean there won’t be suffering, but it does mean I don’t need to be afraid of it. He will give me all I need, tenderly and abundantly. So long as you are trusting in and following in Jesus (and that’s the big condition), everything is ultimately going to be okay.

I hear this phrase in my head often these days: Do not be afraid. 

And it’s spot on. What reason do I have to be afraid when I have such a kind, faithful Father leading the way?

God recently encouraged me with the words He spoke to Jacob when he was about to go to Egypt.

 ‘So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.”

Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.’ Genesis 46:1-60

The Lord was moving Jacob forward in His plans for Jacob’s life, but there was no reason for Jacob to hesitate or be afraid. The Lord knew why He was sending Jacob back to Egypt, and it was for a good reason. And Jacob was going to be carried all the way there, tenderly provided for in a wagon by Pharaoh himself. It was time to move forward, but it was not time to be afraid, because God was going with him, would bless him and would carry him all the way there and meet him when he got there.

I like to take time before a new year to seek Him for goals for the year. It’s a really helpful way to focus. It’s a big reason why I managed to make an album last year (I knew it was one the goals for the year that I felt God had given me). But sometimes I need to seek Him for His encouragement, too.

Do not be afraid.

Why? Because the Lord is going with me all the way, and He will abundantly be all I need.

If you trust and follow Jesus (and you need to, and can!), He will be abundantly all you need too. 🙂

God bless you in 2018! 🙂

(The way to find true peace and hope (and the rescue from judgement that we all need) is to follow Jesus: to believe He died for what you have done wrong, to turn from sin, believe in Him and surrender to follow Him all your life. It’s the way of rescue from eternal judgement and Hell we all face, and it’s the way of true peace and hope through this life… and the way to eternal joy. It’s not always an easy path, but it’s the way of true blessing as you find your true hope in God and His incredible love for you).

 

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

 

 

What Does it Mean?

What does it mean? We take it so lightly; sing it so familiarly.

But it’s breathtaking. Astounding. Life changing.

God came down to earth as a baby.

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What did Charles Wesley write? Our God contracted to span. Incomprehensibly made man.

He spoke the world into being. Forever, He has always been there, in an endless reality of abundant, loving life.

His voice holds all of us together.

He placed the stars in the sky; knit me together in the womb; holds all of our days in His hands.

The awesome, eternal, infinite God.

Think of space: the huge, wide, stunning expanse that goes on and on and still cannot begin to contain the God Who made it all.

Think of eternity.

Think of a Voice that spoke the universe into being.

Contracted to a span.

He grew in the womb. The cells divided. The embryo was formed. He grew there: His brain; His hands; His heart.

But He was God.

God Who was born in a mess of blood and tears as all of us were… the King Who was born into dirt and dust in a smelly stable.

But He was God.

God contracted to a span.

The words are so powerful: talking of hope for all who believe and follow Him:

“Let earth and Heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.

He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s Name.

See in that Infant’s face
The depths of deity,
And labor while ye gaze
To sound the mystery
In vain; ye angels gaze no more,
But fall, and silently adore.

Unsearchable the love
That hath the Savior brought;
The grace is far above
Of men or angels’ thought:
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh t’appear,
Widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near,
And make us all divine:
And we the life of God shall know,
For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,
And sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove,
And see His glorious face:
His love shall then be fully showed,
And man shall all be lost in God.”

Charles Wesley, ‘Let Earth and Heaven Combine’, public domain

God Who is not just infinite and vast and eternal (though He is).

God Who was willing to be made small.

God Who cares so very tenderly.

God Who is love.

So when I feel the pain of this world’s sting, so has He.

So when I feel alone and misunderstood, so has He.

So when I think no-one understands, He does.

He is God.

But He came close; was made small.

There He lay in the manger, with tiny lungs; tiny hands. Tiny cries of a newborn child.

God reaching out to us.

Coming so small; so vulnerable. Placing Himself at the mercy of this cruel, heartless world. Reaching out in a way that you and I could never have imagined.

‘6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.’ Philippians 2:6-7

The Son of God became one of us, because He loves us that much.

Take time. Make time. Kneel at the manger.

Gaze at Him; think of Him; love Him.

Baby Jesus lying in the manger. Your God, Who loves you that much.

Who gave Himself to make a way for you to come back to Him.

The God Who is with us now.

No matter your circumstances, may you meet with Him this Christmas and ever afterwards… and find all your heart has ever truly craved in Him.

Happy Christmas and God bless you!

 

(He gave Himself in the manger, and then on the cross, that you might know Him. When you come to Him, turn from wrong and receive the free forgiveness He offers, surrendering your life to follow Him, you will find the hope, forgiveness and eternal life He offers. He is reaching out to you now).

 

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