Faith, Lifestyle

Hope with Habakkuk

We could all do with a little bit of hope right now. The world is unsettled and uncertain, nothing is sure and things feel a little bit hopeless. This is just how Habakkuk felt.

600BC Israel was being invaded, the fig trees did not bloom, the fruit did not grow, the crops failed, the flocks disappeared. Sound familiar? Right now we are being invaded by a virus, lives have been taken, jobs have been lost, income has stopped, food is scarce, the future uncertain.

Habakkuk had gone to God with his requests. He had watched to see what God would do, he had worked on his faith as he waited to see what God would say, and now he was faced with an answer that he hadn’t expected.

So what did Habakkuk do next? He worshipped.

His response astounds me, and challenges me. It is not easy to thank God when your prayers are unanswered. It is not easy to praise Him when your problems remains, yet this is exactly what Habakkuk did.

Yet I will celebrate in the Lord – I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! The Lord my God is my strength; He makes my feet like that of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights. Habakkuk 3:18

The key to Habakkuk’s response is in the first line of this scripture; I will celebrate IN the Lord. Not when He has fixed my problems, not if He provides the miracle, not once He has removed me from the place of danger. Habakkuk celebrated IN the Lord, right where he was, with unanswered prayers and an uncertain future. Why? Because he knew God and he knew Him to be good. He knew that God had his best interests at heart.

Even though Habakkuk did not understand what God was doing,
he understood who God was.

Do we praise God even when our problems remain? Do we sing of His goodness even when we are still surrounded on all sides? Do we raise our hands even when the rain is still falling down?

God doesn’t always remove us from the mountains that we face, but in verse 19 we see that He gives us HIS strength and makes our feet surefooted like a deer and ENABLES us to walk on mountains. Have you ever seen deer on a mountain side? They look so precarious on craggy cliff edges, just a step away from a fatal fall, but they are surefooted. Why? Because they were designed to navigate this terrain and because they know the terrain.

The mountain you face right now may seem unpassable to you, but know that the God of the heavens and the earth knows every inch of this terrain. He will give you strength, He will lead you forwards and He will show you where to place your feet.

Habakkuk had confidence in God because he knew Him. Even though, still God.

The book of Habakkuk is a story of waiting and it reminds us that we are not required to be motionless while we wait. Habakkuk encourages us that we need to go to God with our prayers then do three simple things;

WATCH + WAIT  |  WORK + WAIT  |  WORSHIP + WAIT

Watch and see what God is doing, how He is weaving this into His bigger story.

Work on your faith, deepen your relationship with God and download His peace.

Worship God for He is good, and He works all things together for our good.

I don’t know where this finds you today, but I pray that you would be encouraged and equipped to keep pressing in in prayer, keep pushing forward in faith and keep praising Him in everything.

R x

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Faith

Give me strength

Have you ever done Strengthsfinder? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it, even if only to use it to justify your individual quirks as qualities to be celebrated. My top five strengths read like this:

  1. Positivity
  2. Empathy
  3. Woo
  4. Achiever
  5. Activator

Sounds okay right? Well at first glance its pretty cool, I have always been a glass full kind of girl, happy-go-lucky, bubbly, and outgoing, so positivity wasn’t a huge surprise. Woo? Well lets face it what woman doesn’t know how to use charm to add gentle persuasion to a conversation. Achiever? Yep, I am the girl with the lists that only feels like she has a productive day if said list has at least three lines crossed through it. Activator? I have two children who are fed, dressed, watered and delivered to school (mostly) on time. Enough said.

But Empathy. Yep, that one smacks me right between the eyes every time.

You see, my other strengths are all forward thinking, go getting, lets-live-life-to-the-full kind of strengths. They require decision, motion, action, all of which my energetic caffeine fuelled self is happy to deliver – after at least one cup of the aforementioned coffee.

But empathy? Well that is an inward feeling, heart sinking, conversation stopping strength. Empathy is feeling another person’s hurt, disappointment, anger and betrayal as if it is your own. It stops you in your tracks and demands you to be still, to look at it, to touch it, to hold it, to feel it.

And some days I wish I didn’t.

Some days I wish I was unable to feel the incredibly cruel twist of fate suffered by my loved ones. Sometime I wish I could not feel the searing pain of a knife going through their back, I wish I could not sense the unbearable weight of grief placed upon their shoulders. Sometimes I wish the tears didn’t fall from my eyes as I watched them welling in the eyes of others. Sometime I wish I could be objective and offer practical solutions rather than stifling my own outrage.

But I can’t. Because that is not how I am wired. And if I couldn’t feel, then I wouldn’t be able to act out of my anger to see justice, I wouldn’t be able to cover the wounds of betrayal with soothing words, I wouldn’t be able to replace the heartache with healing love.

Even Jesus empathised. He wept with Mary and Martha over the death of Lazarus, He was moved when He met Jairus who begged Jesus to heal his dying daughter, He sensed the pain of the widow burying her only son.

And because of His empathy, Jesus acted.

Because He was hurting, He brought healing.

We are all given gifts, ‘strengths’ if you will, by God. Some of us are born leaders, able to strategise at the drop of a hat, some can teach, bringing a subject alive like no other, some can host, some can illustrate, some can manage, some can counsel…. the list is endless.

I love that I am positive, I hope that I am fun to be around, that I woo in the nicest way and that I encourage and equip others as well as myself. But I think that these strengths only seek to support my most challenging and yet my most rewarding element; empathy. I can only operate in my strengths because of the strength I find in Jesus, and in Him my positivity will help others to look on the bright side, my woo will persuade them to lift their eyes to the King, and my achiever and activator elements will encourage and equip them on their journey, holding their hand every step of the way.

R x

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Faith

Are you listening?

The Lord spoke to me powerfully through a scripture today. I was listening to a sermon on YouTube whilst working at my laptop, and as I heard this verse read aloud, a wave of emotion swept over me.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 ESV

I have heard and read this scripture many times, yet it reverberated in my soul so powerfully that I had to look it up in different versions of the Bible.

The Message says My sheep recognise my voice. I know them, and they follow me.

My favourite, the NLT says My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.

I stopped and thought; well Lord I believe, I pray, I worship… but I felt the Holy Spirit quicken my heart as He whispered;

But are you listening?

You see it is not enough to just do church, to talk to God, to read His word. Yes these are all good things, but first and foremost in God’s heart is that we are in relationship with Him, and this is a two-way transaction. If I talked to my husband only when I want something, if I gave him a two-minute download then bustled past him to move on to the next thing on my to do list, if I didn’t ask him how he was or if I hurriedly thanked him for something then turned to walk away, I would not be entering in to a relationship with him. In order to be in a relationship there has to be a two-way conversation, both parties have to speak and be heard, and in order to know a person intimately, you need to regularly spend time with them to watch their face and hear their voice.

Are you listening?

My husband can call me on the phone and tell that there is something up as soon as he hears my voice. He recognises the slightest crack, the sharp intake of breath, the slightly too bouncy tone trying to belie my inner turmoil. He knows I am hurting because he knows what my voice sounds like. He hears it every single day, he has heard it when it laughs, when it sings, when it sobs. He hears it and he knows it. The frustrating beauty of him knowing my voice so well is that even my bravest efforts to fake a smile are futile, because his knowing look or discerning ear disarms me instantly.

Are you listening?

God wants you and I hear to hear His voice. Every. Single. Day.

He wants us to become so used to hearing His voice every day that when we changes His tone we listen and lean in. He wants us to be so in-tune to what the Holy Spirit is saying that He doesn’t need to keep repeating Himself over and over again, the minute He changes tone, the minute He speaks with urgency we recognise it, because we know His voice and recognise the change. He wants us to be ready to be disarmed by His love, by His grace, by His presence, by His voice.

Are you listening?

God is challenging me to stop look and listen. He hears my prayers, and by His grace He answers them, but He wants more for me than that. He wants me to hear His whispered words above the noise in my busy world, He wants me to lean in close and listen to His agenda above my own, He wants me to pick out His voice in a crowded room.

Can I encourage you today to join me on my knees, crying out to the Lord saying,

“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 NLT

R

 

 

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