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, Lifestyle

HIIT with Habakkuk

Do you love HIIT? I do because I don’t have time for hour long workouts and need something that is going to give me the most impact. I have discovered that approaching my Bible as a HIIT workout right now is super helpful too. Let me explain why.

I have been studying the book of Habakkuk in the Bible and learned so many lessons about life in lockdown. Habakkuk had to wait. A LOT. Much like us right now.

Here is a recap; In chapter 1, Habakkuk complained to God about the Assyrian takeover that was causing chaos all around him. He waited for God to respond but God’s reply was to send an even crueller race – the Babylonians – to sort the men from the boys. Habakkuk was horrified, and complained a second time, before watching and waiting to see what God will do. In Chapter 2, God responds to Habakkuk and says that the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Another way of saying this would be that those who remain faithful while they wait, who don’t give up or give in, will survive this season. Why is this important? Because being faithful requires hard work.

Being faithful requires hard work.

I don’t need to tell you about hard work. You are already doing it. From navigating social distancing in supermarkets to teaching kids a curriculum, while managing businesses, keeping in touch with relatives, and trying to hold it altogether, you are already doing a lot of hard work. But I believe that above all this, God needs us to keep our eyes fixed on Him while we wait this out.

Right now, we are under pressure. We are facing a global pandemic, a crisis like the world have never seen before. People are losing their lives, their loved ones, their jobs, their homes. There is utter chaos all around us as everything that we took for granted now slides into uncertainty. While under pressure, it can be so easy to cut corners, to compromise, to let standards slip.  But God tells us that the righteous live by faith, so we need to exercise our faith while we wait for God to move.

We need to exercise our faith while we wait for God to move.

The best way I know to get to know God, and find out what He wants us to do is to spend time reading His Word. Time is precious right now, especially if you have a tribe of toddlers or teens in tow, and this is where HIIT comes in.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training which shocks your mind and body into action. HIIT workouts increase your metabolism and your energy levels, while strengthening your muscles and cardiovascular system. Each workout typically takes 15-30 minutes max and are designed to repeated daily.

I believe that God wants you to approach your Bible like a HIIT workout, getting the maximum impact each time. He wants His word to shock your mind and body into action in order to strengthen your spiritual muscles. How can we do this? Here are some tips:

Be Intentional. Create a welcoming space somewhere in your home, with a candle burning, essential oils diffusing, coffee brewing, music playing; whatever works for you. Grab your Bible, a notepad and pen then set a timer for 20 minutes.

Bring Intensity. Pick a book and begin to work through it one verse at at time. Don’t just snack on the Bible or skim read through passages. Take your time and use different bible translations or commentaries online to help you draw the most out of each verse in a chapter. If you don’t know where to start the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are a great place!

Show Integrity. Make a commitment and stick to it! By choosing to show up with God each and every day you will discover the transforming power of God’s word for yourself. Because when we do the hard work, He does the heart work.

When we do the hard work, God does the heart work.

I believe that by bringing our intentions, our intensity and our integrity, each day, even if only for 15-30 minutes, God will reveal Himself to us. As we stretch ourselves He will strengthen our hearts. As we get into the Word, God will give us insight in to His plans and this will get us through the next few weeks of waiting.

It’s time to dig deep into the Bible so we can start flexing those muscles of faith.

R x

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Faith

No more drama, no more pain

I daren’t rest my fingertips on the keys for fear of what I will type, yet I can do nothing but type for fear that my rising emotions will simply overwhelm me. I find writing cathartic yet insanely frustrating as my head tries to disentangle the jumbled thoughts, words and sentences spilling out of my heart.

Last week I messed up. Yep, the smiley, happy-go-lucky, girl-who-has-got-everything-sorted spat her dummy out and once again engaged her mouth before her brain.  It wasn’t the first, second or even third time, more likely the hundred thousandth since I became a follower of Jesus. Being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect, it doesn’t make you better than anyone else, if anything, the constant pruning and shaping only serves to highlight how very imperfect we are in comparison to a perfect God. Yet all too often my faith is either flung in my face by people thinking that my stance on life is because of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, or they remind me that I should know better, because, well that’s not a Christian thing to say/do now is it?

No, it wasn’t. Yes, I messed up. Yes, I got angry and frustrated, and rather than bite my lip, my bruised heart screamed that it couldn’t take anymore and I screamed with it. I threw my toys out of the pram, I threw a tantrum that would make most children stop and stare. I sent the words flying through the air like daggers, and then I hung up the phone.

Why? Because hurt people hurt people.

There are no excuses for bad behaviour, Christian or not, and I have wrestled with my conscience and apologised for my outburst. I don’t like drama, other than a Friday night movie with my husband, but somehow drama always seems to find me and after several months of smooth sailing I find myself being battered on the rocks once again.

2016 was a year of soul-searching, stock taking, and stripping back for me, and I am learning more and more about what I need. I have realised that I ache for a simple, inclusive, family focused life, and have strong opinions on how to keep it that way. I long to include, but I won’t waste time trying to accommodate agendas that could jeopardise my walk with Jesus or my fledgling family.

Family is at the core of who I am, being a wife and a mother is undoubtedly the greatest joy I have ever known. A self-confessed optimist and romanticist, I love to love and I long to embrace. But, to quote R’n’B queen Mary J.Blige,  I dream of a day where there is no more drama, no more pain. I desperately want to wash off the words that have stuck like glue, I want to feel accepted despite my belief, not excluded because of it. Rather than celebrate our uniqueness, different paths can create islands separated by oceans of tears. Our strong wills can build impenetrable walls that keep changing tides out and challenging emotions in.

I am all for saying embrace difference, embrace life, embrace love, but sometimes this all-in, exposed and vulnerable love has a cost. Are we willing to pay the price? Sometimes love looks like holding hands into the future, and sometimes it looks like forgiveness and moving on.

No more drama, no more pain.

I daren’t rest my fingertips on the keys for fear of what I will type, yet I know that I can do nothing but type in order to open the floodgates and calm the storm raging inside my heart. So I will write and write, and pour and pour, and cry, and rest, and write some more.

And I know that my God will hear my cries and He will whisper; Don’t worry my girl, I have got this, I have got them and I have got you, and tomorrow is a brand new day.

R

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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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