Looking Back and Looking Forward…

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

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

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

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

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

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

And He has been my Best Friend ever since.

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

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

I encountered love so strong and true.

You wooed me when you came to me 

And called me to Yourself

And ever since that moment I’ve been Yours.

And through the joys and the tears of childhood,

I always knew where to go.

That the answer is always to trust in You

Cos Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

 

And faithfully You’ve stayed with me

With love beyond my dreams.

You’re mine for now and You’re mine

Forever. I am Yours eternally.

 

And as I grew I came to find

A Rock beneath my feet.

This messy girl knew where her heart could hide.

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

Lord, I found the answers in Your arms.

And through the mess and confusion of growing

There was a love that never let me go.

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

Cos Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

 

And faithfully You’ve stayed with me

With love beyond my dreams.

You’re mine for now and You’re mine

Forever. I am Yours eternally.

 

And as I walk forward through this life,

I know Your hand in mine.

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

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

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

And I know that the secret of living

Is to look up and live from Your arms.

Your love and provision is truly amazing

Cos Jesus is the Best Friend in the world

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the Lord.

 

(And the hope of those who follow Him…)

 

And I am living for the day

When I will see Your face.

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

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

Forever and forever, we’ll be Yours.

And the skies will split open with glory

As You reign- as You come for Your bride.

And we will be with You forever.

You will be the light of our eyes.

Jesus is the Love of our lives.

 

And faithfully You’ve stayed with me

With love beyond my dreams.

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

I am Yours eternally.

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

And it’s true. He has. Amazingly.

And that’s my confidence for the future.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like my battles with assurance when I was younger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He does amazing things. He is doing amazing things.

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

What If I Really Believed God Will Answer My Prayers?

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

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

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

Imaging the worst.

Even though I am praying about things.

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

Yet still I fret.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know my prayers have weight in Heaven.

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

And there is also provision. Every time. Abundantly.

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

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

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

So what about this?

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

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

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

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

Like He is going to answer my prayers?

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

Like He hears me?

Like He promises to take care of me?

Because He does.

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

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

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

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

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

But we can also know deep joy, and peace.

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

He showed me this recently:

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

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

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

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

I can be at peace, trusting His Father heart.

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

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

But He is good.

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

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

He is better than we think He is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I Get to Live

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

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

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

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

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

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

I get to live.

It’s a gift. Not everyone does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It makes me think of other things, too.

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

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

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

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

I get to live. 

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

I get to live it.

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

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

I get to live. 

Living.

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

The devil lies to us.

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

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

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

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

Because of Jesus, I get to live life abundant.

Now and forever.

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

Wow!

I am so, so blessed.

God has given me life.

And, so, I choose to live.

 

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

 

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

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).

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.

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.

image

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.

 

 

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.

image

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.

heaven-blog-post

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 Andy was such a gift- he knew just what to do to make the music come together in an amazing way. God’s provision is so abundant!

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.

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.