Is There a Safe Place in this Crazy World?

Is there a safe place in this crazy world?

Do you ever feel frightened by the vulnerability; unpredictability of this crazy life? I do.

And sometimes things happen that shock you, and could paralyse you with fear.

Like what happened this week in Manchester.

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Manchester. The place I have learned to call home.

I took a tram through Victoria station the other day, right near where the attack happened.

And then this.

It’s shocking. Sickening. Heartbreaking. Terrifying.

But the horrible thing is that it’s real.

A group of us went to a peace vigil the night after the attack at a local church. Actually, the church had planned to hold an election hustings. But then things changed. Bigger things because more important. So the election candidates can along, and we had a peace vigil instead at the local church. It was precious; beautiful. All were welcome, and many came, including some who had probably never before set foot in a church. A group of people joined together by a common humanity. Normal people like me. Politicians. The old and young alike. We sat silent in God’s presence… While they read prayers… While our local election candidates read well- known, well-loved passages of Scripture about the Lord being our Shepherd; about the One Who knows us intimately; about God Who is our fortress; about casting every care upon Him. It was a precious time of peace in a crazy world.

And I was asking God a question: how can I ever feel safe in this unsafe world? How do I know there won’t be another attack right where I am? How can I not be paralysed by fear?

Is there a safe place in this crazy world?

The passages they were reading answered my question.

‘The Lord of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge.’ Psalm 46:7

Yes, there is a fortress. His Name is the LORD. He is the only truly safe place in this crazy world.

You get into the fortress by putting your trust in Jesus as your Saviour, turning from your sin and following Him as Lord of your life. And you really do need to be in the fortress. Not just because this world is crazy now, but because it will only get crazier. We don’t like to think about it, but God makes it clear in His Word. Judgement is coming… anytime. That’s why we need a place of refuge.

And there is one. As you come to Jesus as your Saviour, turning from wrong and trusting in what He did on the cross, placing your life in His hands as your Lord, you are forgiven… accepted… welcomed… no matter what you have done.

And you are in the fortress. The place of safety. The place of security. The place of peace.

God doesn’t promise we will never go through suffering, but He does promise that, when we trust in Jesus and follow Him, He will always hold us tenderly, abundantly in His hands and provide for every single one of our needs. As we abide in Him, placing our lives in His hands, our hearts will find a safe place.

(The Lord led me to a helpful sermon about this yesterday- I recommend checking it out!   https://www.preachtheword.com/sermon/safe01.shtml  )

And something else clicked in me as I sat in that silent church, looking round at all of the people who had gathered. Other people need what I have. They need to know the peace; the hope; the security of what I have in Christ. And, because I have Him as my safe place, I am free to reach out to them in love.

When you know that you are held safe by God, you are suddenly free to reach out to others, because your heart is secure and because other people need what you have in Him. They too need the peace; the comfort; the eternal security that can only be found in Christ. I need to know that I am secure within the fortress of God, so that I can lean hard on Him… and reach out to others. Even if it puts me in harm’s way. Because God’s hand is on me, and He is holding me safe.

Other people need to know that He is God; that He can be their (your) fortress, too.

I think it is a journey to feel secure in this. It takes time. It takes leaning on the Lord. It takes soaking in His Word. It takes prayer. Maybe sometimes courage is deciding to act even though you still feel afraid. But it is true, however we feel.

There is a safe place in this crazy world. And He is available to all who will take refuge in Him.

‘God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

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

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.’ Psalm 46

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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You’re Surrounded by Far More Love Than You Realise

One thing I have been learning recently, more and more, is about living in the Father’s presence, aware of His love.

Whether or not we realise it, the Father is always there with us; surrounding us; reaching out to us in love.

He gave His Son so that we can turn back to Him, be forgiven and receive the love that has always been reaching out to us…is reaching out to us now.

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Sometimes I am more aware of it than others. Sometimes He gives us a special sense of His presence to help us through a hard time (and we can ask Him for that- and for every other time, too!).

But, whether or not we realise it, He is always there with us, waiting for us, loving us.

He wants us to reach out to Him. He is always there, waiting for us; reaching out to us; offering us His love.

He wants to take our cares from us and give us His peace.

He wants to comfort us; sweeter than any false comfort we try to turn to for relief from life’s hurts.

He is there to forgive us when we go astray.

He is there to hold us while we hurt; and while we heal.

It can be a journey of beginning to believe it. It has been for me. The moment I gave my heart to Jesus as a very little girl, my relationship with the Father, which had been broken by my sin, was restored, but it has taken years for me to come to a place of deep peace in the Father’s love (and it will probably ebb and flow while I am on this earth). I used to think it wasn’t possible; that I would never believe He truly loves me; truly delights in me.

I asked Him to help me believe it, and He has done a deep work in me. I believe it now, at least a lot of the time. But, in Jesus, it was true all along, whether I knew it or not.

And it’s still true now, on days when I feel like it and days when I don’t.

Because my identity is in Christ. I am forgiven. I am accepted. I am so very, very loved. My Father sings over me; holds me in His grace.

I am His because of Jesus.

And I am not the only one! If you belong to Jesus, it’s true of you, too.

And, if you do not belong to Jesus yet, you can! He is there, waiting for you, offering His loving and gracious forgiveness when you come to Him, turning from wrong and believing that Jesus died in your place. It’s the way of following Him as Lord of our lives, and it’s not always easy, but it’s the way to know the love of the Father we all long to know… and it’s the way to an eternal Home with Him… the way to the love that has been surrounding you all along.

You are surrounded by far, far more love than you realise.

And He is waiting for you… loving you… right now.

‘Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.’ Psalm 103:1-14

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

Have you ever longed for a friend who will never let you down?

Have you ever longed for someone who would always be there for you? Who would listen to you and never say the wrong thing? Who would love you no matter what you had done? Who would help you perfectly through every season and never, ever let you down?

When I was a young girl at primary school, one of my school friends asked me who my best friend was. She tried to guess, and couldn’t. When she found out my best friend was God, she laughed. She couldn’t believe it. Really? Yes.

Years later, it is still true. He is the most faithful, faithful Friend you could ever dream of. And He constantly amazes me with how amazing He is.

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The Lord has stayed with me through thick and thin. He has held me through tears. He has forgiven me for so many things. He has comforted me through fear. He has answered my prayers about things big and small in astounding, incredible ways.

He has led me and carried me with a faithfulness I could not have imagined if it wasn’t real.

And He continues to amaze.

There is a verse in Proverbs that says this:

‘But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’ Proverbs 18:24b

I could say that of the Lord. Maybe you could too.

He is there, with me, through it all. Sometimes it’s more apparent than others. The times I have known it the most have been the hardest times. But it’s been always true, whether I have been aware of it or not.

One thing that has amazed me about Him recently is how He counsels. He really is the Wonderful Counsellor. He is not just wise; His tone is perfect, too. I am very sensitive; easily hurt. I hear the tone something is said in sometimes louder than what is said. And what amazes me about the Lord is how gentle He is with me. He doesn’t just give His counsel; He gives it so tenderly, so lovingly, especially when I feel fragile. He is just so, so kind.

Like with Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah was exhausted; so worn down that he wanted to die. He walked miles because he needed to meet with God. And God did speak to him. But, first, God took care of him in a very tender way, and He also established the tone of the conversation by emphasising how gentle He can be. It was not a strong wind. It was not an earthquake. It was not a fire. It was quiet; gentle; tender, for Elijah’s worn down spirit.

’11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.’ 1 Kings 19:11-12

I want to encourage you to come to Him; to meet with Him; to cast your cares on Him. He loves. He forgives. He comforts. He consoles. He is just incredible. And Hereally is there for you.

Are you troubled? Take it to Him. Are you burdened? Take it to Him. Are you troubled by guilt? Take it to Him. Are you lonely? Heartbroken? Desperate? Take it to Him.

He is the Best Friend you could ever find, and it is amazing what He can do.

There is a song that has been well-loved in my family; an old, familiar hymn that you probably know. It’s stood me in good stead… even before that day when I told my friend my best friend was God. He still is. And He wants to be your Best Friend, too, through thick and thin.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Joseph M. Scriven, ‘What a Friend in Jesus’, 1855 (Public Domain)

(If you don’t know Jesus yet as Saviour and Lord, He is waiting for you to come to Him. We all need His free forgiveness from the judgement that is coming. We all need to turn from the wrong in our lives; the things that hurt Him, ourselves and others. We all need to surrender our lives into His hands; to choose to believe in His grace; to follow Him. It’s the way to eternal life, and it’s also the way to the best Friend you could ever, ever find. He longs to be your Best Friend, too).

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

The Day That Changed History Forever…

What does Good Friday mean to you?

To me?

How easily it can become routine: to remember the cross where He died. How easily it can become normal to take bread and wine; taking it lightly that He gave His life. But it isn’t light. It’s earth- shattering. It’s shocking. It’s life-changing. It’s real.

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He did it for me… For all of us who will receive it. His wounds should have been my wounds. His death should have been my death. His tears should have been my tears. He was taking my place.
The death I should have died, He died. The blood I should have shed, He shed. The pain I should have known, He knew.
He took my sins. He bore my shame. He paid it all.
Now He clothes me with His stunning righteousness; receives me with His grace.
Why did He die? For me.
Not just for me. For all who will receive Him; for all who will turn from their sins and receive His salvation.
‘It was for Caroline.’
It was so she could know Me. It was so I could have her with Me forever. It was because I love her.
It should have been me, but it was Him. It was Him taking my shame.
I can’t change it. I can’t add to it. I can’t do anything… Only receive it. That’s all.

‘He said, “It is finished!”’ John 19:30b

There’s nothing else to done. The price has been paid. God’s love is poured out on all who receive the shed blood of His Son in their place.
All we can do is surrender… turn from our sin… receive… Receive being forgiven. Receive being free. Receive being loved.
Peace. Joy. Hope. Life.
Forever.
Because He has done it all.

But I can’t help living differently because of it. Because it’s earth-shattering. Because it’s life-changing.
Because His blood changes absolutely everything.
Everything.
Nothing can be the same again.
I am forgiven. I am free. I am whole.
I am His.
I am covered by His blood, and I am so, so very loved.
And I can never be the same again.
Bought with a price… Such a price.
The price of His broken body… His given life.

‘Love so amazing, so Divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.’ (Isaac Watts, ‘When I Survey’, public domain).

I found this beautiful old hymn a few years ago:

O Love divine, what hast thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father’s co-eternal Son
Bore all my sins upon the tree.
Th’immortal God for me hath died:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Is crucified for me and you,
To bring us rebels back to God.
Believe, believe the record true,
Ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood.
Pardon for all flows from His side:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Behold and love, ye that pass by,
The bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Savior die,
And say, “Was ever grief like His?”
Come, feel with me His blood applied:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Then let us sit beneath His cross,
And gladly catch the healing stream:
All things for Him account but loss,
And give up all our hearts to Him:
Of nothing think or speak beside,
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Charles Wesley, 1742, public domain

The other year, I wrote a poem that borrows the last line, thinking through what it means that He died for me… that He is mine.

Crucified

My soul has found her All in All,
Resting in love immeasurable,
Passionately by grace pursued;
Intimately by mercy wooed;
With tears of blood, cost of His life,
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

My heart is singing, tears of joy:
Deeply secure, my soul is full.
Despair to hope, with pledge of blood,
Tears become peace, promise of God,
Laid down His life to draw me nigh,
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

Why all these doubts? He paid in blood.
Why these quick fears? My debt secured.
My soul can sing, for I am free.
It is now finished. All is peace.
He pledged His love. He gave His life.
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

New hope of life with Him to share.
His blood the pledge of future care.
Passionately by grace enclosed,
Intimately by mercy known,
Promised in blood. Forever mine.
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

(To receive this incredible love and forgiveness for yourself, come to Jesus. We all need Him to rescue us from the judgement that is coming… that’s why He died. Turn from your sin. Receive His forgiveness. Give yourself to Him. Surrender your life and your future into His hands. He longs to pour His love into your life and set you free…. forever).

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

Where We Can Find Everything We Need…

Ok, so this is a bit of a crazy week- another day in a recording studio is coming up, Lord willing! There hasn’t been much time for blogging.
So I thought I would share another poem with you: a poem I wrote for my parents about our shared faith. I hope it is an encouragement!
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Everything We Need
Through the joys and struggles
Of life’s winding way,
We have found the Answer:
Peace in Jesus’ Name.
Yes, in Jesus only
Is our only plea.
We find in our Saviour
Everything we need.
At the cross of Calvary,
Forgiveness is free.
Mercy found in Jesus
Meets our every need.
What a Friend in Jesus
Through each joy and care,
Coming to the Saviour,
We find comfort there.
Just looking to Jesus,
Just letting Him be
Every needed Answer:
All the peace we seek.
Though our sins and failures
Bring us to our knees,
Still we find in Jesus
Grace. Abundantly.
Though it may be costly
To take up His cross,
There is Life abundant,
Joy in every loss.
Though the road may wander,
Though there may be tears,
Still looking to Jesus,
Faithful through the years.
Onward down the pathway,
Forward to Glory’s shore,
Waiting for the Morning
When the wait is over.
Then- to wake with Jesus,
Safe on Mercy’s shore.
There to find together
Joy forevermore.
He will be our anthem
Through eternity.
Yes! We find in Jesus
Everything we need.
Hope it’s an encouragement! God bless you!
(If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Saviour yet, He waits for you with open arms! Turn from your sin, receive His wonderful forgiveness, accept Him as Lord of your life… follow Him and you, too, will find Him as everything you need… for this life and for eternity).

Are you wondering where the world is headed?

I had a blog post pretty much planned for this week, but I decided to change it. Because it’s been a bit of a crazy day or two in the world, and there’s something I feel compelled to say.
 It started with a conversation I had recently,about where the world is heading. About how things feel a bit out of control. About how everyone’s talking about where the world is headed.
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Maybe you’ve asked that question, too.

It sure feels a bit like the world is unstable at the moment, doesn’t it?

I don’t want to get into politics. I have my thoughts but I could be wrong! I’m no politician. But things this week have made me think.
Because, to be honest, it sometimes feels like the world is shaking… like things are getting a bit out of control.
People ask where the world is headed.
People ask what the world is coming to.
To be honest, I’m sure I know the answer, and I need to share it, because it matters very much.
Where is the world headed?
Well, to be blunt, Judgement Day.
Is that my opinion? No, it’s what Jesus said. You can take it up with Him.
Things do shake in this world, and they will. This world is on a collision course with eternity, and things will get more and more crazy until the end comes.
Deliberately.
They’re supposed to wake us up: to make us think about the future. They’re supposed to shake us up. Not in cruelty, but in love.
They’re supposed to act as a wake up call… To call us to repent. To turn from our rebellion. To turn to God for mercy and a clean slate. To surrender to Him as Lord, and receive His salvation.
Because He cares so very, very much, and He wants to rescue us before it’s too late.
‘Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.’ Revelation 1:7
‘And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”’ Revelation 7:15-17
That’s why we need to come to Him.
Not just a token coming for forgiveness and a free ticket to Heaven (which He offers, by the way), but surrendering to Him as Lord, following Him with everything- with your whole life. Taking up your cross and following Him, no matter how much it costs. Because He loves you. Because He gave His own life on the cross to buy your forgiveness. Because He wants to rescue you from what is coming on the world.
Before it’s too late, and you have eternal judgement to face.
Then, when you have that sorted, you don’t need to be afraid, no matter how much things shake. Instead, you are free to live at peace, living for eternal things, not to earn salvation but in peaceful gratitude for what He has given, because you are loved: because you are held in His hand.
God’s been encouraging my heart with that.
If you are His, you are secure.
If you’re on His side, you will always have His help. You will always have His grace. You will always have His provision. You know what the end will be: eternal life with Him.
‘Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10
‘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
We don’t know all the details, but do know the end of the story.
Jesus wins.
If you’re on His side, so do you.
You don’t need to shake, no matter how things shake around you.
He will keep His little ones safe.
‘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
You can be still, and know He is God.
‘God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah’ Psalm 46:1-3
‘Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!’ Psalm 46:10
My heart still quakes a bit when I look at the news, but it doesn’t need to. I am His. 🙂
And you can be too!

‘Of Benjamin he said:

“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him,
Who shelters him all the day long;
And he shall dwell between His shoulders.”‘ Deuteronomy 33:12

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

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

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

In His presence, we find all we need.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still

Cease striving and be still,

For I am LORD of all

And my deep love will heal.

Be still, My child, be still.

 

Wait humbly and be still.

I do not need your strength.

I only want your all.

Be still, My child, be still.

 

Don’t carry. Just be still.

The burden is not yours.

Just lay it down. I’m All.

Be still, My child, be still.

 

You’ve walked a painful road

And I have shared it all.

I care. I’m here to heal.

Be still, My child, be still.

 

You cannot change what’s gone.

The work has all been done.

It’s finished. I have won.

Be still, My child. Just come.

 

Don’t rush away. Wait on.

I want to hold you, long.

Oh, hear my tender songs.

Be still, my child. Hold on.

 

You’re loved, My child. I’m all

You yearn for. I can fill.

Secure and all is well.

Be still, My child. Be still.

 

Look up, My child. Hold on.

You’ll be Home before long.

The morning light will dawn.

Be still, My child. Hope comes.

 

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

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

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

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

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

heaven-blog-post

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

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

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

But this isn’t the only life there is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And how can that change the here and now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s all ours, if we are His.

This is shadow land. That is the reality.

Diamond rings? Cars? The moon?

Your wildest dreams?

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

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

‘But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”’ 1 Corinthians 2:9

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

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

We glimpse it sometimes, don’t we?

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

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

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

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

For eternity, it will all be satisfied.

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

‘”For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”‘ Jeremiah 2:13

Because everything is empty compared to knowing Him.

And, forever, He will satisfy.

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

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

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

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

Pray about it. Dream about it.

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

‘Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”’ Revelation 21:1-4

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

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

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

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

Is Your Soul Thirsting for Something?

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Are you thirsting for something more; deep; something real in your life?

I listened to a message the other day that reminded me of something I’d forgotten; the sweet, sheer joy of walking close to Jesus. It was a message about James Hudson Taylor, who was a missionary to China. Hudson Taylor lived a crazy, pressured life. But he learned the secret of abiding close to Christ, and it was the deep, joyful, satisfied root of his deeply productive, mission-centred life.

(You can find the message using the link below).

http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-ministry-of-hudson-taylor-as-life-in-christ

We were made for communion with God. All else is an empty, dissatisfying shadow that may promise much but will ultimately end in a nightmare. We were made to know God, and nothing can satisfy us apart from Him.

Every one of the longings of our thirsty, aching souls was meant to be first satisfied by God before being satisfied by anyone or anything else. He is God, and only He will satisfy, because He made us for Himself.

And He wants us to know the deep, sweet joy of living life with Him.

This is meant to be a moment by moment reality: the moment by moment of knowing God and walking with Him. Yes, we live in a broken world. Yes, we are broken by our sin. But He wants to help us learn and grow in walking, more and more, close to Him. Him. This is what life was like before people rebelled against God.

‘And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day’ Genesis 3:8a

We have a recorded example in the Bible of a man who knew something of this reality: the man Enoch. We don’t know much about him, but we know that he walked with God.

‘Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters.  So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.  And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.’ Genesis 5:21-24

Hudson Taylor’s life inspires me because he lived like that: he lived close to Jesus, even as he carried the responsibilities of running a huge mission organisation. He lived seeking to abide in the Lord Jesus: looking at Him with the eyes of faith and drinking from Him for each need, whether big or small. The simple trust of knowing that Jesus is Enough, and that He will meet every need as you look to Him, can bring a life of deep joy and peace, simply trusting in Him.

Again and again, Hudson Taylor would sing his favourite song, and find peace as he sought to live the truth of its words:

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

Refrain

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Refrain

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Refrain

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Refrain

(Words by Jean S. Pigott 1876, Public Domain)

This is how Hudson Taylor handled the heavy, pressing responsibilities of running a mission organisation; one that faced horrific persecution and great pressures. He learned that every burden can be cast upon Jesus, and then peace comes. And the sweetest, dearest pleasures are from a life of knowing Him and walking with Him.

Howard Taylor, Dr and Mrs (1995). Biography of James Hudson Taylor, Hodder & Stoughton Religious.

Jesus is always with those who are trusting in Him. He never leaves us. And He wants us to know that: to revel in it! He wants us to delight in knowing Him there with us; in walking in His presence; in the light of His face.

‘Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
In Your name they rejoice all day long,
And in Your righteousness they are exalted.
For You are the glory of their strength,
And in Your favor our horn is exalted.’ Ps 89:15-17

I was only a very little girl when I first had an encounter with Jesus: an encounter that would begin a relationship that is sweeter than anything else in my life could ever be. My family had been at church that day, and our Pastor had been leading the children’s slot. He taught us the words of a song about looking at Jesus. As I listened, I memorised the words, not understanding how monumental they were. That night, as I lay in bed, before falling asleep, I began to sing quietly to myself, singing the words of the song I had learned. As I did, I was suddenly conscious of… Him. His Presence, so real, so near, so loving… A tenderness, a love I had not dreamed of finding… A joy that was so wonderful, so good… I did not understand what was happening, but I had fallen in love that day. I would never be the same.

It was the beginning of a deeply precious relationship, but the whole of life is meant to be about growing that relationship- about knowing Him and pursuing Him, and walking close to Him.

There are times when we know glimpses of that.

I remember the months after graduating from University when I couldn’t find any job other than working as an ‘agency girl’ in various kitchens, washing countless plates and dishes and scrubbing at dirty pots and pans. I remember the struggle with doing such a mundane task as my job after just graduating from University… And I remember how the Lord transformed the task for me as He made real to me the truth that we can do anything as worship to Him, even washing dishes! There were times when I remembered that, and I joyfully determined that I would wash dishes for the Lord, even if no-one saw me but Him. And I remember the deep meaning and dignity that that realisation brought to my work, and how I often deeply enjoyed those times of washing dishes, because they were meaningful and not empty. It was deeply good to invite Him into my dishwashing, and to know Him in it, delighting in the One Who gives meaning to everything.

It was a little glimpse of something that can be more and more of a reality: knowing Him in the everyday. Not that it’s always easy. There are seasons of darkness when He doesn’t feel close (believe me- I know about them). But there can also be a deep, close walking with Him- and it’s really what we are all searching for, deep down.

I often forget, but sometimes I remember: the answer is always Jesus- knowing Him and seeking Him. Working in ministry, again and again I have found it to be true: the answer is always coming away with Jesus. It’s the secret for every problem; the solution for every need. He always has what we need, and He is always Enough, and will never, never let us down if we belong to Him.

And He wants us, more and more, to know the sweet joy of living like that.

Don’t think I’m living this perfectly. I am not! But it’s what my soul thirsts for. Actually, deep down, I think it’s what we all long for: Him.

And the crazy thing is that He longs for fellowship with us, too!

‘The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes
Leaping upon the mountains,
Skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold, he stands behind our wall;
He is looking through the windows,
Gazing through the lattice.

My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.”‘ Song of Songs 2:8-10

(And He is waiting for you to come close to Him now). 🙂
(If you don’t know Jesus yet, you can- and you need to! He offers you forgiveness and eternal life if you will come to Him, turn away from your wrong and receive His free and generous forgiveness, submitting to Him as your Lord. The things of this world are so empty compared to knowing Him. He is waiting for you).
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.