When God Makes a Dream Come True

Do you ever find yourself assuming that ‘God would never make that dream come true?’, or, ‘That’s just impossible?’, or, ‘It’s too late?’

I want to give testimony to the faithfulness of God.

Sometimes, you’ve carried a burden: an ache for something, for so long, and you almost don’t dare believe it could ever come true because it hurts to touch it.

The longing to make an album has been like that for me.

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I’ve always loved music. When I was a little girl, some songs would touch me so deeply that it almost hurt. They still do, but I’m used to it now.

I wasn’t very old when I starting writing songs. I came to know Jesus when I was tiny, and songs were growing inside me from when I was very small. They weren’t very good, but I’m learning they were probably precious to the Lord anyway! I was blessed with piano lessons, which gave me a way of growing in music. And the urge to write music kept growing.

I almost took GCSE Drama instead of Music. I signed up for GCSE Drama, and was all set to go. That summer, I lost my peace about it. I found myself composing music in my head, as I had done before, but more and more. I was young and inexperienced, but somehow it felt as though God’s hand was stirring up this music in me: that this was something I needed to pursue. So I switched to GCSE Music. I learned about composing and making music. I loved it… so much that I took A- level Music, too. But I knew I wanted to do more. I just didn’t know how… and I didn’t think it could ever happen.

I got older and went to University. Life was busy with other good things. Time passed and God called me into full-time ministry. Music is not the only thing I am called to do. But the songs kept coming, too: me on my little keyboard, trying to finds words and notes to express the things God was teaching me in my walk with Him.

The ache to make an album stayed with me. But I was busy in the ministry God has called me to. I learned about surrender, and how we need to lay our longings down and put Him first. Laying down the dream of recording songs hurt a lot. But surrender is so key to walking with Jesus. And it’s the only way to peace. We must never love anything, even gifts He gives us, too much. It’s a really important lesson, and one we always need to remember. I’m glad He asked me to lay music down first.

But He kept bringing it back. Songs came through the seasons, and the ache to record them never left.

The longing to record music was something I thought could never happen, because it seemed impossible. It was an ache that just hurt. I couldn’t quite give it up because it felt more like a call, and I prayed about it and tried to learn more about making music, but I didn’t really know what to do. It just seemed impossible, and my negativity said it would never happen.

I went for prayer about it at a conference. A lady prayed with me and she encouraged me. She said she sensed that I would see God opening up the way, providing, showing the way through. To be honest, I didn’t really believe her! But it happened.

After that, I went home and began to stumble upon resources that would help: books and online courses. I started to learn more, and I kept praying.

Last year, I was reading a book about goals. It contained stories of how God has been at work in different people’s lives, bringing to birth things they’d never felt was possible. As I was reading it, I found myself asking the Lord, “Oh, Lord, could I make an album?” I waited, and suddenly felt a deep sense of peace and excitement. It felt like a ‘yes’. I couldn’t quite stand on it, but I was pretty sure. I was amazed!

Then I carried on reading the book. The very next story (I am not kidding) was about a lady who had made an album in her 30s!! She shared how, though she had never thought it was possible, and though she thought it was too late, she and suddenly found herself meeting someone who offered to help her! And she made an album!!

Gerth, H. (2013). You’re Made For A God-Sized Dream. ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Revell. (‘God-Sized Dream Stories’, ‘It’s Not Too Late: Mela Kamin’)

It really seemed that God was confirming the ‘yes’ when I read that! And I was excited. I wrote it down. I was pretty sure God had just told me that I, too, would make an album in my 30s… when it felt impossible and too late.

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But I didn’t know what to do next. Life was busy with other things, and I didn’t know how. So I prayed about it… and a friend mentioned someone who helped Christians make albums… and I began to explore possibilities… and then God began to confirm the call.

I was in a meeting a few months afterwards when the speaker encouraged us all to take a few moments of quiet to ask the Lord, “What’s the next thing You are asking me to do?”

It wasn’t audible, but I knew what He was asking me to do. To make an album.

The ache was no longer just a longing. It was now about obedience. And He kept confirming that, giving stronger and stronger confirmation, leading me to people who could advise me… opening doors… I heard about Andy and Wendy Green (Cornerstone Productions), who live pretty close to me, who love Jesus and are very gifted at helping with recording music…

I had the chance to sing at an open mic night (another dream come true). The night before, I was praying about it, and I really sensed Him encouraging me that He is the One Who put music inside of me, and He was going to open up the way. I also sensed something else: anointing is far more important than being good at making music. What matters is that what you do comes out of relationship with God. That makes it powerful, even if the music isn’t perfect (and I know mine isn’t!). I gave it to Him again.

The next night, I sang at the open mic. Afterwards, my sweet friend Lucy encouraged me with pretty much exactly what I’d sensed from the Lord the night before: God’s hand is on me to do this, and it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. But it’s something He is asking me to do. And God was asking me to make an album.

So I booked my first day in a recording studio, with Andy and Wendy Green (their site is below), who love Jesus and know how to make beautiful music. 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/awcornerhouseproductions/

The first day in the studio was like a dream. Amazing. Real, tangible reality after years of believing it could never happen.

And now my album is almost finished, and in a few days, Lord willing, I’ll be holding it in my hands, probably half incredulous that God has really done it. I’ll be able to post it online very soon, and, though I don’t really believe deep down that it could bless anyone else, I think He’s telling me that it will… and that just blows me away.

The ache I carried was so painful that I thought it could never happen.

But God has made it possible. He has blown me away with His faithfulness.

Yes, following Jesus means we need to surrender our dreams. The Lord wants our hearts, after all, because He is worthy and He is to be our First Love. Yes, we need to do things His way. Yes, we need to put Him first. But don’t ever underestimate what God can do. Yes, in Heaven for those who love Jesus, but also sometimes down here, He really does make dreams come true. 🙂

“20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20

 

(More than any dream come true, more than anything, we all need the best gift God offers us: the gift of forgiveness for our sins, rescue from Judgement and eternal life knowing Him (the best of all dreams come true). That’s why He gave His Son. He offers salvation freely to all who turn from their sins, receive His forgiveness through Christ alone and surrender their lives to follow Him as Lord of their lives. It can be hard, but it’s an incredible journey of knowing Him, and it ends, for those who follow Jesus, in every dream coming true in Heaven).

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

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A Moment of Peace in a Crazy World

Do you ever get stressed out by life in this crazy world? I sure do!

I thought I’d share another poem I wrote about peace. Sometimes, in all the craziness  of life, you catch a moment where you can breathe; when you can glimpse beauty; where you can find deep, wholesome rest in the knowledge that God is God.

If you belong to Jesus and follow Him (and that’s the thing- we all need to), however crazy life may be, behind it all, you can know that God is God and, ultimately, eternally, all will be well.

I had a day like that the other year on a trip to America, a couple of years ago now, and I tried to put it into words. I thought I’d share it.

Well

Light sparkles on the shimmering glass,
Silver beneath a gleaming sky,
And sunshine breaks through gentle splash,
And catches rainbows in the light.

The brightness spreads all high and wide,
Just touched with gentle wreaths of cloud
And blue, blue lifts the world to heights-
Awakening you now.

And plash, plash- ripples, soft then still.
A thousand mirrors play with light
And move so gentle: soothing thrill
Of sunlight, wild and bright.

You breathe a moment, taste the scent
Of beauty’s glimpse at Heaven’s peace
And almost catch the hope unsaid:
An echo of His whispered kiss.

You look up, catch, unclench, arrest
And, with a sudden, unseen thrill,
Your soul hears truth your heart needs yet:
That God is God. All will be well.

 

(God offers the peace of knowing that, ultimately, all will be well… when you turn back to Him and receive His forgiveness. Yes, judgement is coming to this world, but there is hope for all who turn from their sin, receive God’s forgiveness because of Jesus’ death on the cross and turn to follow Jesus as Lord. He is coming one day soon (maybe even today) to put everything right, and all who follow Him have every reason to hope. Though life may be tough sometimes, following Jesus is the way to eternal hope and peace).

The Power of Hope

Recently, I’ve been reading the book of Ruth. And I have been seeing in it the theme of hope.

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In the book of Ruth, God shows us a contrast: two ways of responding to life’s hard knocks. Two women in deep grief, who respond differently. Naomi gives way to bitterness, whereas Ruth chooses faith.

Both Naomi and Ruth have lost loved ones. Both of them have been deeply hit by grief. But they respond differently.

Naomi has been battered by life, and it has made her bitter. She has almost given up hope that God could ever be good to her, even though she is His. She chooses to follow God, but she lives in fear, holding out only very little hope that God’s mercy will break in. She says it herself: bitterness has taken hold of her heart. It has become part of her.

’20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”’ Ruth 1:20-21

That’s what can happen when life knocks you down again and again. Bitterness takes root deep in your heart. You begin to see life coloured by the darkness. You can’t believe that God could ever be good to you again.

You look at the future with pessimism, anticipating the worst. Naomi’s bitterness causes her to discourage her daughters-in-law from following God. She cannot see any hope in their future either… or only a small glimpse of hope far, far into the future that could never really work very well.

Naomi has allowed bitterness and grief to take root so deeply that it has become how she sees her whole identity.

Ruth, too, has been knocked by life. Deeply. She has lost her husband. She has no child. She is largely alone and destitute in a very sad world.

And she does not know God very well: she has only glimpsed Him through her broken-hearted mother-in-law’s fading faith.

But Ruth chooses to bank everything on the faithfulness of a God she has heard of, and is beginning to hope in, in spite of what she sees around her.

Ruth lives with hope in a God she does not know. She chooses to follow Him, believing that somehow He will provide. She lives with hope; expectancy. She chooses to follow Him down the road of sacrificial faith, choosing to sacrificially serve another and trusting He will provide. She lives like God will be good to her.

And He is. God already has His provision prepared. It is just waiting for Naomi and Ruth to step out in faith, for Him to bless them.

Actually, God is good to both of them. Extravagantly, abundantly good. He is writing a story that is stunning in its mercy and kindness and extravagant grace. He is preparing the way for the Messiah, Jesus, to come into this broken world.

But it takes Naomi a while to hope in God’s goodness, and it is only when she begins to see God at work that she starts to believe His kindness has not forsaken her after all.

’20 Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!”’ Ruth 2:21

Hope is dawning. Naomi is beginning to hope in the goodness of God.

And God’s goodness is going to blow her away. Although, of course, Naomi has no idea that Ruth’s son will be in the family tree of the Messiah, Jesus, Who will be the salvation of them both (and us, if we follow Him).

Eternity alone will reveal the incredible things He was doing in and through their story.

I think we can learn from Ruth and Naomi. I think God wants those who trust in Jesus and follow Him (which we can all do) to hope in His mercy; to live like He will be good to us; to live putting His kingdom first, because we believe He will be good to those who follow Him.

‘Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,’ Ps 33:18

Hoping in His mercy. That’s not a glib, superficial thing. It can be through deep tears; deep pain. It can mean a long road. It can be choosing to trust Him when trust is excruciating hard (and He shares in that pain with us, in this broken world). It means letting Him comfort us; hold us in our tears, in His Everlasting Arms.

But it is trust in a God Who is deeply, deeply good.

And that hope in His mercy brings Him pleasure.

’11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him,
In those who hope in His mercy.’ Psalm 147:11

A God Who gave His own beloved Son for all who will choose to follow Him. A God Who loves us that much.

’32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ Romans 8:32

If you are trapped in the bitterness of the past, you are not ready for the new things God wants to do for you. Your faith is not engaged because you have given up hope. But God acts for those who wait expectantly for Him.

‘For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.’ Isaiah 64:4

God responds to faith, which is closely wrapped up with hope. And bitterness quenches faith. It snuffs it out.

Sure, God doesn’t always do what we expect. Ruth and Naomi didn’t expect Him to answer the way He did (it was bigger than they could conceive). And yes, it can be a broken road, with tears along the way (it certainly was for them). But He was good to them. Extravagantly, abundantly good.

And He will be to all who choose to follow Him.

 

(God gave His Son to give us all a way back to Him; a way to discover His mercy. We have all rebelled against Him and gone our own way. But God in His incredible mercy gave His Son to die in our place so that we can be forgiven. When you come to Him through Jesus, confessing your sin, trusting in Jesus alone to save you and surrendering your life to follow Him, He will forgive and accept you, too. It won’t always be easy, but He offers you eternal hope that ends only in good).

 

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

The Problem of Pessimism

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Something I’ve been thinking through lately is this: negativity, pessimism and gloom can be tools for Satan to use in my life.

They can feed doubt; fear; unbelief. They can be a breeding ground for worry. They can stifle my faith, and the power of my prayers.

Like worry, pessimism can feel innocent.

But pessimism, like worry, is not innocent because, like worry, it can stifle faith in God through Jesus.

If life has hurt you before, you don’t want to be hurt again. Understandably. But there is a danger of becoming negative and pessimistic, filling your heart with negativity and stifling out the truth of the promises that God has given Christians through Jesus.

Things in our hearts from the past, or fears of bad things that could happen, can cause us to always accept the most negative conclusion.

It can cause a negative, fear-filled way of seeing the world, which always expects the worst and anticipates it, long before it has actually happened.

It can be a way you learn to handle the world, for a variety of reasons.

Pessimism can squeeze out our faith in the promises of God, because we simply don’t dare to believe they are true.

So when God promises something good to those who follow Jesus, we are very resistant to believing Him.

Lots of things can take our faith in God. But this is one of them. Always expecting the worst makes it very difficult to hear God when He speaks encouraging promises to the hearts of His children.

We can be too afraid to receive them; to believe them.

And that’s a bad thing, because faith is very important in the Christian life.

Yes, the Christian life is costly. Yes, there is suffering. Jesus promised that (along with great rewards). But dwelling on the suffering, and anticipating it, or being stuck in the suffering of the past, can take our faith and hope for the future, and stifle out the power of faith in our lives. And faith in very important.

‘But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ Hebrews 11:6

I’m learning I need to bring blockages to my faith to the Lord, so that He can take care of them… so that they don’t hold me back.

He cares so deeply for us in our suffering. This world is broken, and He knows that. He yearns over us. He longs to comfort us. He can minister into the wounds of the past. He can comfort like no-one else can. He can counsel us. He can share our deepest tears (and there is abundant space for them in His arms). He can heal our hearts up in amazing ways when we let Him in on His terms. He wants to!

And He wants us to hope in His goodness.

And I’m learning that it’s not helpful to be negative and pessimistic. I have an overactive imagination. I been a worrier for many years. I imagine the bad things that could happen long before they happen… and, most of the time, they don’t.

The life of faith is not a life based on seeing, but on trusting what God has said.

Pessimism is not more powerful than the promises of God.

God calls us to live by faith. The life of faith does involve suffering. It does involve pain this side of Heaven. But that does not need to include the anticipated pain that may well never actually happen, and will only haunt us when we don’t need it to.

The Christian life of faith down here on earth can be painful, but it can be positive, too.

God may answer prayer in ways and at times we don’t expect. It can be a journey we don’t expect. Our boxes are way too small for Him to fit into, after all. But I’m beginning to learn that that’s because His ways are bigger and better, not because they are bad.

God is always good, and He is always doing something amazing in answer to the prayer of faith through Jesus.

Because God always keeps His promises.

And prayer and faith are a powerful, powerful combination, which pessimism has no right to stifle out.

 

(There is a way to have hope, for this life and for eternity. It’s found in new life through Jesus Christ. Yes, we have all messed up, and all face God’s judgement. But God gave His Son to give us a way out: a way of hope forever. Jesus died so that we can be forgiven. When we come to Him as Saviour, confessing our sins and accepting His death in our place, surrendering our lives to follow Him as Lord of our lives, we are forgiven and given His Spirit to live within us, giving us strength and help for this life… and hope of new life with Him for all eternity).

 

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

 

 

A Very Powerful Force That is Available to Us All…

Something I’ve been learning about recently is prayer.

I’m learning that prayer is a powerful, powerful thing. Because God is all powerful and and prayer is God acting in answer to the words of feeble men and women.
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Those who come to God through Jesus (which we all can do if we come on His terms) have at their disposable an indescribably powerful weapon: the power of prayer.

I remember a quote I read from Charles Spurgeon, about prayer being like lightening, cutting through things with power.

“I do believe there is as much reality in a Christian’s prayer as in a lightning flash; and the utility and excellency of the prayer of a Christian may be just as sensibly known as the power of the lightning flash when it strikes the tree, breaks off its branches, and splits it to the very root.”

Spurgeon, C. (1993). The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life. ed. Lynwood, Washington: Emerald Books, p.69

And I believe that the power of prayer is greatly increased when you start to believe it really works, and you start making use of it in faith… and expecting God to answer.

 

I’ve heard a preacher say that Mary Queen of Scots was more afraid of John Knox’s prayers than the armies of her enemies.

And she was right.

Because prayer is more powerful than any army.

It’s like in 2 Kings 6:

’16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

19 Now Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” But he led them to Samaria.’  2 Kings 6:14-19

The enemies could not touch the people of Israel, because they were depending on their God for help. God’s people were surrounded by the army of Heaven: far more powerful than the forces of their enemies. And God defeated their enemies in a way that was amazing!

And, if we are following Jesus, we too have incredible protection on our side.

If only we could see.

There are some powerful, powerful promises about prayer in the Bible.

And we can so easily water them down; reason them away.

But they are ours, not to be watered down, but to taken and used and claimed.

Sure, our hearts need to be in line with God’s will.

Sure, He gets the final say on how He acts.

Sure, we need to be surrendered to God’s plan and way of doing things.

But let’s not lose the power of the blank cheque we have been given.

Let’s think about some examples we have been given about what happened in answer to prayer.

God stopped the sun.

God stood up the sea.

God defeated huge armies.

God intervened in incredible, astounding ways.

Spurgeon also said this to believers in Jesus who pray with faith:

“You have power in prayer, and you stand today among the most potent ministers in the universe that God has made. You have power over angels, they will fly at your command. You have power over fire, and water, and the elements of the earth. You have power to make your voice heard beyond the stars; where the thunders die out in silence, your voice will wake the echoes of eternity. The ear of God himself will listen and the hand of God himself will yield to your will. He commands you pray, “Your will be done,” and your will, will be done. When you can plead his promise then your will is his will.”

Spurgeon, C. (1993). The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life. ed. Lynwood, Washington: Emerald Books, p.67

I found myself thinking last night what my life would be like if I could not pray; did not know how. I couldn’t imagine it. It would be too awful for words! Not to have the joy; the freedom; the relief of being able to lift my burdens up to my Father, and know He will act on my behalf. Life would be so very, very different.

It made me long for others to know this reality, too: the joy of bringing our hearts and burdens to God.

Maybe you already know Him too. Let’s make more use of this unlimited gift He has given us! I know I need to!

Maybe you have never prayed before. Oh, dear friend, you are missing out! God is waiting right where you are, waiting to hear you speak to Him… in your own words… from your own heart… because He wants to meet with you, and to answer.

This same God, Who did incredible things in the past, is waiting to do incredible things for us today.

Okay, so we need to do things His way. We all mess up. That’s why we need the blood of Jesus for forgiveness. That’s why we need to turn from the things that offend Him and follow Him His way. Sin blocks things up and gets in the way of what God wants to do for us.

But God is calling us  to speak to Him: the One Who did incredible things in the past, Who does not change, and ask Him for whatever we want, so long as our hearts are surrendered to Him. Whatever we want.

‘The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.’ James 5:16b-19

So why do we limit God?

Why do we hold back from asking?

Sometimes I sense Him asking me, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

Well, I think He’s always asking it. But, sometimes, I’m more aware of it.

I guess He’s asking me right now.

I guess He’s asking you right now, too.

What do you want Him to do for you? For those you love? For the nations? In your wildest dreams?

Yes, we need to surrender to Him and His ways. Yes, we need to align our hearts with His. Yes, we need to allow Him to be God in the way and the timing He answers. But let’s not lose the power of this very, very powerful and effective blank cheque that God is holding out to us.

What do you want Him to do for you?

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

Without reasoning it away, holding back or limiting what He can do.

What would I like Him to? What would you like Him to do?

Why not ask Him now?

He’s waiting for you. 😉

 

(The most important prayer we all need to pray is the one that opens the door to knowing God as our loving Heavenly Father: when we surrender to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. Although we have all rebelled against Him, He loves us and longs to restore that relationship with Him. He gave His Son so that we can be forgiven from the judgement we all deserve and have the hope of living forever in His Heaven, when we come to Him, receive His forgiveness and surrender our lives to follow Him. He longs to meet with us, hear us and answer our prayers. He longs to give Himself to us).

 

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

Why Worry is Not As Innocent As it Seems…

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So, again, I think the subject for this post is worry… and trust. It’s the subject I feel God wants me to write about again, and it’s definitely one I need to grow in!

Do you ever catch yourself fretting about something you’re already committed to God through Jesus?

Over and over again?

And do you ever think that worry isn’t that big a deal, really?

The other day, I was spending time with the Lord, seeking Him about some things I was, yes, worried about. And He encouraged and comforted me. I could sense Him so gently encouraging me. It was so tender: as if He was saying, “Let go of your fear, Caroline. You can let go of your fear.” … and I kept fretting.

And then I felt Him, very gently and tenderly, encouraging me. It was so encouraging that it wasn’t really a rebuke… but I knew it was what I needed to hear. The sense of it was something like this: “Stop fretting, Caroline! You have given it to Me… over and over again. I know about it and I’m taking care of it! Just relax! You will see My answer soon!”

It was bang on. It was right. I had given my worries to Him. Now all I needed to do was stop fretting, and trust (and even praise Him for the answers that are on their way!).

And I, as I prayed into it, I felt Him showing me how often I fret about things. I allow anxious thoughts into my mind, and I play with them and try to solve them, when I’ve already given them to the Lord, and He’s already encouraged me that He’s taking care of them. And I felt Him encouraging me that this way of thinking needs to change. Yes, He is gracious. Yes, He still loves me when I worry! But I can change, and I need to if I want to achieve all the things God wants to do through my life and ministry. Worry will hamper my ministry and steal my faith in the Lord. Because God responds and does amazing things in answer to faith.

And fear chokes out faith.

Worry will hold back things that God wants to do in answer to faith in Him through Jesus, because it will choke out the faith. If I let Him change me, faith will rise up in new, wonderful ways, and He will do much more than I ever thought possible in answer to the faith that is left after the worry has begun to fall away.

Worry is not an innocent, harmless habit. Not only does it weaken us (and could even make us ill), but it chokes out the faith that God wants to use to do amazing things in and through our lives, when we come to Him through Jesus.

God led me recently to a sermon about how Satan wants to use fear and anxiety in our lives. It was a powerful message. I knew it would be- my computer kept refusing to play it, and so did my phone! So I guessed the enemy didn’t want me to listen to it! And I was right about that, I think. It was really helpful. Satan will try to get into our lives and hold us back in various ways. And one of those is worry and fear. It’s pretty subtle, too- worry doesn’t even feel like sin, and it seems so innocent! But the enemy can really use it to hold us back and keep us down, holding us back from what God wants to do in and through our lives. You can hear the message here:

https://www.preachtheword.com/sermon/life06.shtml

Because what children of God through Jesus really need to do is to stand in faith on God’s promises: to commit our worries to God, and believe that He will act in the best way and at the best time- as we trust in Him.

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

But how can we stand in faith on God’s promises if we are letting anxiety take our faith?

The battle with worry is really a battle for faith in God.

And we are called to fight that battle in our minds.

‘casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,’ 2 Corinthians 10:5

It won’t feel good to break the thought patterns. I guess it will be a healing process, over time. But I think the Lord is encouraging me that the process will be beautiful: like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. As less fear is there, in the silence that remains in my mind, faith will rise up. And He will answer that faith in very beautiful, powerful ways.

My friend was wearing a t-shirt the other day: “Dream Big!” You know, if we’re following Jesus, there’s no reason not to dream big! There is no limit to what God can do in answer to the prayer of faith! All things are possible with Him! Sure, it may not look like what we expect. It means surrendering to His way. It may take a while. It may be unexpected. But that will be because He’s doing more, not less. If we let go of our fears and trust Him, I think He will amaze us by what He does!

As He says,

‘”Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”‘ Psalm 81:10b

And worry will only limit that faith; limit the beautiful, amazing things God wants to do through our faith.

So, yes, it’s time to let go of the worries… Over and over again, if necessary!

Because we really can cast our cares on Him.

“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

It’s as if He is reassuring me, “You can let go, Caroline. You can let go. I’ve got you safe.”

If you’re following Jesus, He’s got you safe, too. And you can let go too!

(When you know Jesus as Saviour and are following Him as Lord, there really is nothing to worry about because you are His. But that pre-condition is really important, because we all have a big problem: our sin and the coming judgement. That’s why Jesus came, died on the cross and rose again. And He offers forgiveness and new life to all who will receive His forgiveness, turn from wrong and surrender to Him as Lord of their lives. When you have done that and are following Him, you can know that He will take care of you… now and forever.

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

A Moment of Deep Peace…

The other week, I was blessed by a few days staying with a dear friend. My friend has a beautiful garden. One afternoon, I was sitting in it, reading and enjoying the sunshine.

In the peace and beauty of that moment, I could feel the sweetness of resting in God; of basking in His love; of knowing all is well for me, His child through Jesus, whatever may come. Yes, I get anxious, and yes, there are trials, but His reassurance is so real. For I belong to Jesus. I am forgiven. I am His. I am following Jesus. My future is in His hands. The One Who made the garden beautiful is the One who is doing beautiful things in my life, too, even when I don’t see the whole picture yet; even when it’s hard. I can trust in Him.

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I took up a pen and tried to put it into words.

In the Garden

Richness in a garden basked

In life and colour, warmth and light;

A breeze that ripples, silky; bright

Beneath a vast expanse- wide sky.

To rest within a Father’s arms,

To sit and smile; to know His care;

To hear; believe that all is well;

His love surrounding; everywhere.

 

I feel the kiss of shivered breeze.

The shadows dance; light moves; I hear

The rustle of the vital world.

I sit in beauty’s gentle bower.

To know the One Who made all this;

So loved; surrounded; endless care.

Soul happy in the loving gaze

Of Him who smiles and soothes each fear.

 

Fat flowers bob; their purple balls

Rise, dancing in this joyous light.

The wealth of rippling shapes and forms

That grow within this place of life.

Though I know not the way He leads,

His tender whispers quiet fear.

I soften as a weaned child

And smile; He holds me gently here.

 

All around, the things that grow

Sprout and bud their wholesomeness

And burst with all this rising life

And richly flower their ripening feast.

I know the One Who makes them grow.

Live in the care behind. Deeply.

He feeds each tree; each flower; each seed.

Yes, my Lord holds the world, and me.

 

My Lord tends to the tiny flower,

All pink and lovely, softly sweet;

So frailly flitting; tender; kept.

Her fragile beauty delicate.

I feel my smallness; know His care.

His touch so very gentle here.

And know that, as the smallest flower,

I am so safely kept; no fear.

 

In the garden, I can taste

The beauty of His offered grace.

The Hand that holds the world around;

The care that breathed it all awake

And know, behind the awesome power,

The tender love that gives me rest

And sit and still and breathe awhile

And know, soul deep, that God knows best.

 

(That peace of resting in God’s love can be yours, too, when you know Jesus as your Saviour. He offers each of us forgiveness from our guilt when we turn from our sin, trust in what He did for us on the cross, and choose to follow Him as Lord of our lives. It’s the way of knowing the peace of a Father’s care through all the trials of this broken world, and the way to life forever in His Heaven).

 

Do You Ever Put God in a Box?

Do you ever underestimate God?

Expect Him to act in a certain way? Limit what you think He can or will do?

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I remember a friend at University, who used to talk about ‘putting God in a box’.

Yup, I do that.

And then He bursts the boxes apart by doing far more than we could even ask, dream or imagine… usually on another dimension, with lots of extra thrown in!

I think I often underestimate my Heavenly Father.

Well, that’s an understatement!

Not just in what He can do.

But His kindness. His gentleness. His tenderness. His care.

He much He loves.

How deeply He knows me, in a way that no-one else does. How deeply I understands what I need.

How much He cares.

You see, He cares so very, very much more than we realise. He loves so much deeper than we could ever dream of.

Sometimes I think of Him in a certain way… and then He does something that blows my mind… and I realise… He is so, so much bigger and better and more wonderful than I could ever think of in my wildest dreams! He is real and He is there and He really answers and He really acts… wisely and wonderfully and powerfully, but also tenderly for His people, too.

In big ways, and in little ones. To be honest, it’s often the little ones that get me the most: things that only He could do; things only He could know about. Answering prayers I haven’t even realised I’ve prayed. Doing things I’ve forgotten to even ask for.

And He delights to do so!

He blows my mind, again and again and again.

And I find myself encountering the One Who is so much bigger; so much better than my wildest dreams.

But it’s not just in the big answers. It’s in encountering Him in and through it all.

He cares so much more than we realise when we are hurting. We forget; we go on our way; trying to keep strong; thinking He must want us just to push through. And, all the time, He is there, waiting for us to come to Him; because He wants to comfort us; because He wants to hold us close.

 ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,’ 1 Cor 1:3

He will fix the problems one day- ultimately, in eternity. Those who follow Jesus down the narrow road (and we all need to) have every reason to hope. But He also wants to pour His love in now. He wants us to find Him in it all.

He knows this is a broken world. He never meant for it to be like that. We are the ones who broke it, and He is the One Who is going to put it right when Jesus comes back to judge the world and collect His people: His bride. But even now, in the middle of all the mess, the Father longs to hold us; to pour in His love; to comfort us through it all.

To minister to us in ways we’d never even dream of. To counsel us. To protect us. To give us peace.

To answer our prayers. But, more than that, to give us what we never even realised we longed for: God.

Yes, He loves to amaze us by what He does. But He loves to amaze us in the process, too: by showing up; by pouring in His love; by giving us Himself.

It may be a painful process to do things His way (like labour). But He’ll burst our boxes apart in the process if we let Him in… as we find Him… and discover that He is really all we are looking for, anyway.

I’m learning that it means letting go of our ideas about how we think He should answer… and our timetables, too.

It means letting Him do things His way.

But it’s not because He’s cruel, and it’s not because He’s going to let us down. No way.

He is Love. Pure love.

It’s because our boxes aren’t big enough to hold what He wants to do.

‘”Then you will know that I am the Lord,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”’ Isaiah 49:23c

And, when He bursts our boxes apart, we find Him waiting there… real, wonderful and beyond our wildest dreams.

Love.

God.

The One we have been looking for all along.

The One Who is waiting for us with open arms. 🙂

’20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’ Eph 3:20-21

 

(He is the One Who cares so much that He gave His one and only Son to bring us into His family. Jesus died in our place, so that we can be forgiven… the slate washed clean… when we come to Him and receive His forgiveness, turn from our wrong ways and surrender to follow Him and do things His way. He is better than your wildest dreams, and He longs to receive you with open arms when you come to Him in faith. He is waiting to rescue you for all eternity: to give you an astounding, eternal hope. He is waiting for you now).

(To receive free encouraging emails, click ‘follow’. I’d love to keep encouraging you!) 🙂

 

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

The Love That Can Truly Set You Free…

Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about His love for me as Father, and what that means. It’s so precious; so beautiful; so healing; so freeing. And I want to share more with you, if that’s ok. Because I think it’s crucially important in setting us free in all kinds of ways.

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You see, all of us are searching. We are searching for peace; for security; for significance. We have caught glimpses of these things sometimes; in our families; in good things; in things that make us, for a few moments, feel secure; feel loved. We spend our whole lives searching for more, in all kinds of places, good and bad. But it never truly lasts, does it?

What we are all truly longing for, deep down, is our heavenly Father.

And the truly amazing thing is that He is longing for us, too! He made us for Himself, and He longs to fill the holes in our hearts with His love. He has infinite, amazing, incredible, endless love, offered to each of us without limit or measure.

He waits for us to come to Him; to let go of the other things we look to, to surrender our hearts with Him, so that He can fill us up with Himself.

He longs to comfort our tears.

He longs to take away our guilt and fill us up with His peace; hold us in His eternal embrace.

He longs to fill the aches with something deeper; something better; something sweeter than the things we think we long for.

He loves to pour in love, and more love, and more love, until we are so full with Him that it overflows out of us to a hurting, broken world.

If we seek Him on His terms; if we let go of other things; if we wait for Him, He will meet with us.

‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.’ Jeremiah 29:13

His dreams for us are far bigger and more wonderful than our dreams for ourselves. And the best dream of all is knowing this Love that has been reaching out to us all along; the Love that we were made for. He longs to fill us up. He longs to give us joy. He longs to set us free to be ourselves in Him.

And this beautiful journey has all kinds of beautiful implications. As we come to Him on His terms and surrender and let Him pour His love in, we will begin to be truly more ourselves. We will begin to find freedom from hurts we have carried maybe all our lives. Fear and comparison will begin to fall away. Our lives will have meaning in ways we never could have imagined. We will become vessels who can impart life and love to others.

It’s not a once-for-all thing. It may take time. It’s a journey of knowing Him; surrendering to Him; letting Him be God; letting Him in. In my experience, He often doesn’t do what I think He will- it’s better, and deeper, and harder, and more beautiful, and more wonderful and more healing and more worth it than that.

And it does mean doing things His way. It does mean surrendering our hearts. It does mean doing what He tells us to do in His word: things like turning from our sins, and forgiving others, and following Jesus down the narrow road; and surrendering to let Him do things His way.

But it’s worth it. It’s good, not bad. It’s amazing!

It’s the way to life that is truly life… forever.

And, yes, it may involve a process of suffering. This is a broken world after all. It’s not the way it was meant to be, and it’s not the final word. Eternity will change everything, when He comes to judge the world and put everything right (which is why we need a Saviour). For those who follow Jesus, the future is ultimately only full of hope.

But knowing His love changes things here, too. He brings comfort. He brings peace. He brings deep heart healing. He brings hope. He brings joy. When will let Him in on His terms, there’s no limit to what He can do in our hearts and lives.

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,’ 2 Corinthians 1:3

He is always there, waiting for us, longing for us, yearning for us to come to Him.

And He can bring transformation and beauty in incredible, life- changing ways. The verses below talk about the ministry of Jesus:

“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;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3

Whether you’ve known God for a long time or this is the very first time you let Him in, He is right there with you right now, waiting for you to come to Him and surrender; waiting to pour His love into your heart.

‘Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.’ Isaiah 30:18

 

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

When you Want the Very Best Gift of all…

What do you see as the best gift you could ever have in life? The thing you long for most of all?

Something has been clicking in me recently, and I want to share it with you, because it’s life-changing.

It’s something I should have realised a long time ago, and maybe I did, but the Lord has been showing me again.

The greatest gift God can ever give us is Himself.

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Knowing God. Knowing His love. Knowing Him as Father.

There are many good gifts in this world, and they all come from God.

‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.’ James 1:17

But none of them can ever truly satisfy the deep longings of our hearts. Only God can do that.

‘O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.’ Psalm 63:1-8

 

Only He can heal the deep wounds of our hearts.

Only He can truly meet our longings for love; for peace; for significance.

Only He can truly satisfy our souls.

We all have empty, thirsting hearts. We live in a broken world. We are broken too. Our sins have broken us, and the wounds of this life have knocked us down. Some of us are very broken. And we all search desperately for something to fill the ache. We all look in different places, but there are some common ones we look in- like other people, relationships, approval, money, pleasure, quick fixes…

And yet, none of these truly, deeply fill the ache.

‘“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

What we are really looking for is God Himself.

The Father we have been looking for all our lives.

The only One Who can truly satisfy our souls and make us whole.

Sometimes, God breaks in and gives us good gifts; things we have longed for for a long time.

But they are not the best gift (and seeing them as best will actually hurt us; not help us).

The very best gift God can ever give is Himself.

That dawned on me recently. God has been taking me on such a beautiful journey, revealing more of His love for me as my Father; pouring His love into broken places in my heart. But still I look for other things. But I realised this the other day: knowing Him and His love is the best thing He could ever give me.

This journey of discovering the love of my Heavenly Father is the best gift of all.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be other blessings. But none of them could be better than knowing Him; than delighting in how good He is; than discovering His love; than the outpouring of love into my heart from His Father heart.

It’s even worth going through tough seasons, when the tough seasons draw you into His arms, where He pours out His love.

There is peace in that. The more you know His love, the more you can stop striving; stop searching. Sure, good things will come in this life. Bad things will come too, until we (those who follow Jesus) make it to Heaven. But they never need to touch the deepest thing: I am loved by my Heavenly Father. He can satisfy every longing. He can quench every  thirst. He can fill every ache with Himself.

Whatever life brings, I already have the best gift of all, because I have Him. Drinking from Him, I am full to overflowing… and more and more as I discover more of His love.

Because He is the One we have all been searching for all along.

And He is reaching out to you with His love, too. He gave His Son so you can be forgiven and accepted as His dearly loved child. He longs to sweep you up in His love… whether for the first time, as you surrender to Jesus as Lord and Saviour, turning from your sin and receiving forgiveness through Jesus as you surrender to follow Him, or again and again as you get to know God more and seek Him to let Him fill and heal up your heart.

God is the One we need, and knowing Him is the best gift of all.

 

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