What I love about God is that no matter how many times you mess up He never gives up on us. No matter how ashamed we feel of our actions and how much we beat ourselves up about them He is always ready to forgive us and we just have to be able to forgive ourselves. I hate it when I am reminded that I am only human. I hate having to swallow my pride and apologise. I hate the feeling of wanting to wallow in self-pity when i make mistakes, like I should have learnt to be perfect by now. Jesus made it look so easy didn’t He.
It takes lungs about seven years to regain a clean colour after someone gives up smoking and often i feel like my failures are like these lungs, the scars are still evident on me and I haven’t let God heal me but instead stay unhealthily attached to the darkness that sin brought me but God has been trying to remind me this week that trials will come, I will make mistakes and He loves me still. He doesn’t need me to feel shame and guilt. He has forgiven me by His grace and He does the same for you so if there is something, some circumstance or situation where you have given a human response and not a God response just give it to god and allow Him to forgive you and give you permission to move on so nothing gets in the way of worship, praise and opportunities to have your undivided attention which is all He wants.
I need to carve out time with God and I use the word cave on purpose. It is easy to be busy but God wants us to spend as much time as possible with Him, all day if we can. God created the world and us so we can be with Him. Faith is not about us climbing up to meet God but Jesus climbing down to Earth to be with us. Psalm 28:16 says “He reached down from on high and took hold if me, He drew me out of deep waters.” This poem shows how much he loves us and wants us to be communion with Him.
And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I’ll make me a world.
And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.
Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That’s good!
Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good!
Then God himself stepped down–
And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.
Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas–
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed–
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled–
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.
Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.
Then God raised his arm and he waved his hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That’s good!
Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.
Then God sat down–
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!
Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;
Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
James Weldon Johnson
When the snow melts, a shepherd will make a trip up the mountain to see where the flock’s summer grazing land will be. He will decide where the best ground is to bed down and the best places to graze. One on of his trips he will take salt and minerals and distribute them to make sure the sheep have all that the mountain lacks. The shepherd will remove poisonous weeds, repair dams for drinking water and clear waterholes so that the sheep have the best chance to thrive. When I think about how God goes before me this is a beautiful way to imagine it. God goes before us to prepare us to thrive. My son was crying last night because he felt overwhelmed by all that was going on in his life at the moment and I reassured him saying that like following footprints in the snow, God has gone before us and already know the path we will take tomorrow. Like the shepherd, he will provide everything that tomorrow may lack so we have nothing to fear. I didn’t fully appreciate this until I was reminded that we should have a joyful expectation that something amazing could happen so before Christmas when I went to support the church at the late night shopping I was feeling a little nervous and so prayed on the way and ended up having this amazing conversation with someone about being fit for god, in fact she is going to email me with some work she has done on the topic. God knew this was going to happen before I did. Often he goes before us to teach us how to be more like Him, when we are challenged by that icky feeling in our hearts when we haven’t done what you know He wants you to do. I had a run in with a Mum at school and have been discussing this issue with a non-Christian friend when God spoke to my heart to say “what should you be doing?”…praying for her and encouraging your friend to think how he can help her rather than being sucked into negativity. I didn’t like that feeling but I know if I don’t change my behaviour that icky feeling wont go away. Deuteronomy 31:8 says “the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged”. We dream of seventy years of happiness while God has eternity on his mind as is clear in Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” The Lord is our shepherd, he will look after us and so we can have the courage of a lion.
A man was asked to paint a boat. He brought the paint and brushes and began to paint the boat a bright red, as the owner asked him. While painting, he noticed a small hole in the hull, and quietly repaired it. When he finished painting, he received his money and left. The next day, the owner of the boat came to the painter and presented him with a nice cheque, much higher than the payment for painting. The painter was surprised and said “You’ve already paid me for painting the boat, Sir”. “But this is not for the paint job. It’s for repairing the hole in the boat”. “Ah, but it was a small service…certainly it’s not worth paying me such a high amount for something so insignificant”. “My dear friend, you do not understand. Let me tell you what happened; when I asked you to paint the boat I forgot to mention the hole. when the boat dried up, my kids took the boat on a fishing trip. Thy did not know that there was a hole. I was not at home at the time. When I returned home and noticed they had taken the boat, I was desperate because I remembered the hole in the boat. Imagine my relief and joy when I saw them returning home from fishing. They I examined the boat and found that you had repaired the hole. You see now what you did? you saved the life of my children! I do not have enough money to pay your small good deed.
It is easy to feel proud of ourselves when we do something big for other people, something that we can get credit for, something others will see we have done but how hard is it to do the things that noone sees, like praying for a friend or not doing something you know God would not be happy about. I can get frustrated when I don’t see seeds i have sown bear fruit but the song “Way maker” reminds us “Even when we don’t see Him He’s working. Even when we don’t feel it He’s working”. God does so much more for us than we can ever do for Him and his glory so this week I want to encourage you to sew the seeds with people around you even if you never see it bear fruit and even when you get no acknowledgement. John 5:17 says “God is always at work for us” so let us find opporutnities to work for Him.
I have felt tired this week, almost like I need a recharge button somewhere, I don’t know if its the need for half term but I do know that nowadays I know when I need a God recharge. I haven’t had a lot of time so I have been for a run with worship songs on, I’ve prayed outloud, I have studied one verse in the Bible, I have spent time with fellow Christians who fill me up rather than sap my energy, in essence, I have tried not to flap like a pigeon! Isaiah 40:31 says “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and no be faint.” We are meant to soar like eagles not flap like pigeons. If we are used to flapping it can be so hard to soar like an eagle but you can reset. You can be reminded that God has got you. God knows exactly where you are at. He knows if you are joyful and rested or the exact opposite shattered and feeling low. All we need to do is open our hearts, worship Him and be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can soar and in soaring enjoy the view, enjoy the moment, be present with God and allow Him to speak to you and reassure you that He’s holding you, He loves you and will give you only as much you can deal with. All circumstances have to pass across God’s desk before it is allowed to happen so rest in the knowledge that you are ok and God is holding You.
Why am I so quick to forget God? I read a book that likened it to a movie. The world from before creation to when Jesus returns is all about God. He is the main character from the start to finish and yet we make it all about ourselves. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “so whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”. We are but a mist in time. Throughout time, between 45 billion and 125 billion people have lived on this earth and we should be making sure our tiny fraction of time is used in the best way possible to glorify God. So would your life look much different if you stopped believing in God.
I decided to write down the answer to this question. I would have loads more time. Sunday mornings would be free to laze about. I’d have Thursday nights free to watch rugby and more time to watch Netflix and more sleep as I wouldn’t need to wake up earlier BUT I would lose my purpose, the reason for my gifts, no excitement of wondering what adventures God may give me, no faith, no best friend, no one who knows me inside and out, no belief that there is someone who wants the best for me and has plans for my good and no Holy Spirit to make me a better person. Sounds like the main character of the movie i.e. God, is an imperative part of my story too and worthy of all our worship and praise.
It is so easy to fill our loves with activities and leave the Lord out of it. then activity become dull and boring and we can begin to believe that this energy sapping activity has to do with God when actually life with God is an adventure. if we wake up each morning and invite God to join us in our day to day life we begin to see God’s hand in everything from answering prayers to little blessings you know only God could have done. Joh 14:13 says “anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. you can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Can you believe that? you can ask for anything. when you truly see God at work in your life and see the rich tapestry of life all connecting together, it is so exciting. It takes obedience and trust to take steps but it so so worth it. And when we do this we feel joy in so much more. One of my friends who is struggling at the moment said I made her cy when she was thinking about me and how excited I got over a drive through parking space. She said she saw how I take every opportunity to see good in everything and she would put money on that I feel God sends me those moments. This friend is not a Christian but if my joy convinces her that God is real and working then maybe she will ask God into her life. I was thinking about the film Peter Pan and how the adults stand up to thanks Wendy for changing their lives. How amazing would it be to see people finding God because our joy has convinced them that there has to be truth in it. I want to be so full of joy that it spills out to everyone around me!
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken says Psalm 62:2. I don’t know about you but sometimes I try and get help from places other than God first. Where have you been trying to get strength from recently? What have been your ways to cope with what life throws at you? God is our fortress but fortresses are not built overnight. They are built brick by brick. What bricks have you built this week? Have you spent time with God? Have you spent time listening to the small voice? Maybe you haven’t experienced that voice yet and it does take time to tune into it. It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you know what you are doing or not doing isn’t what is the best for you and others others. It can be little acts of obedience like picking up a bit of litter or praying for a friend and it can be big acts like coming to Worshipcise when you could have stayed at home or stepping out in faith. I just want to spend some time before we start in silence to reflect on what bricks we still need to allow god to build into our fortress. Ask Him tonight to become your rock in every area of worry or concern. Start with this day, what are you worrying about? What are you losing sleep over? What is hindering you from feeling joyful?
Now I know you won’t believe this, but I was a bit of a geek at school! I really struggled with having good friends who would stand by me. My Mum used to say I was an old soul and I guess that is still true now. I know I am a bit eccentric with the things I like and do and sometimes I still find it hard to feel at peace about this. I went away with a group of girlfriends last weekend and felt on edge a lot of the time. They are not Christians and I felt that during the weekend. I laughed a lot, but old insecurities reared their ugly head and I have been praying about this this week then God reminded me that he is my best friend and I am so lucky as he is the only best friend I actually need. I can go to him with every problem and know he won’t turn me away and will always listen to me. Jesus will always be honest with me. Jesus will never abandon me, or leave feeling lonely or let me fight my battles on my own. He will encourage me, lift me up and help me through good and bad times. I know that He will accept me for who I am because that is exactly how he made me…completely unique and that isn’t something to worry about, but something to praise Him for. Jesus wants the best for me and to become the best version of myself. It is safe and awesome to be different. A friend can only communicate with us in a few ways but God is able to manifest his love of us through countless ways like the wonder of nature and what I call nods from God, little things that happen in my day that only God can do like this weekend there always being a car park space easy to get into when driving Jim’s massive van or when the sun shone in my face when I was doing something for God. I have started to keep a journal of these little things so I don’t overlook the wonder that is having God as a best friend.
God is our best friend and that we don’t need anyone else except Him. Hebrews 13:5 says “God will never leave us or forsake us”. We can pray for God to help us to remember that we feel insecure or afraid that we are unique but that is how you created us to be. Help us to know we are loved and feel safe in that love to be completely ourselves. We can learn more about God so that we may become better friends and more like Him.
I had a client this week who said that she doesn’t have any time for herself each week. Another client said that she doesn’t have fun anymore, she can’t think of anything she does that is fun in her life anymore. It has really stayed with me all week. I then read a facebook post that I loved. It said,
“Sometimes I just want it to stop. Talk of COVID, protests, brutality. I lose my way. I become convinced that this new normal is real life. Then I meet an 87-year-old- who lived through polio, diptheria, Vietnam protests and yet is still enchanted with life. He seems surprised when I say that 2020 must be especially challenging to him. “No”, he said slowly looking me straight in the eyes. “I learned a long time ago to not see the world through the printed headlines, I see the world through the people that surround me, I see the world with the realization that we love big. Therefore I choose to write my own headlines. “Husband loves wife today” “”old man makes a new friend”
His words collide with my worries, freeing them from the tether I had been holding tight. They float away. I am a left with a renewed spirit. My headline now reads “Woman overwhelmed by the spirit of kindness and the reminder that our capacity to love is never-ending.”
It echoes the bible verse “the thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly”. What are your headlines this week? You choose them. You choose your mindset. You choose how much joy is in your life? We choose whether to be a Mary or a Martha! We can be so busy doing things, even doing things for Jesus, that means you don’t spend time with Him. It made me think about the goal to do 10,000 steps a day that people seem to create as a goal but are those 10,000 steps for God, or for you. I want my headline to be “Jo takes every step with God” and “Jo feels joy in every step she takes”. Take a moment to decide what your headline will be for this week.