Faith

Finding your voice

When you have been in a fight you walk differently. Your overstretched muscles are sore, your hands and face are bruised, your mind reeling and your body exhausted. The relentless onslaught all but took you out, and you hold on to the very walls you were thrown against just to steady yourself.

Being pushed and losing your balance is one thing, but when you are knocked flat out you have to regain composure. When you are on your feet you can dodge, duck, you can see the blows coming and you are more nimble to escape them. When you are flat on your face you can’t see anything but the cold ground inches away from your nose, and you have to concentrate all your energy on just getting back up.

I recently got back up.

I experienced one of the biggest fights of my life and it left me breathless and scared, staring at the cold, hard floor. We are told to speak out, to claim God’s promises, to stand on His victory.  On the darkest days, I didn’t have the words to cry out to the God I thought had forsaken me.

But I could worship.

I couldn’t utter a single note from my vocal chords, but I found my fingers playing chords on the piano or the guitar. Haunting melodies washed over me, and as I sat wondering how in the world I had found myself in this situation, the Holy Spirit kept stirring my heart and soothing my soul.

When you can’t lift your head, lift your voice.

Worship is a weapon. I was reminded of this at Cherish Conference last month. When you can’t lift your head, lift your voice. When you have no words, worship. When you cannot pray, praise. Whether you worship in a song, a dance, or in other creative expressions, open your bruised, battered heart to heaven and let God heal it.

Anger, disbelief, disappointment, devastation, grief, sadness, bitterness. A torrent of emotions that whipped around me and threatened to take me out. There was nothing left of me, all I had was Jesus. I shut my eyes against the raging seas that smashed against me and clung desperately to the rock, waiting for Him to pull me out.

When you are at your end, that’s when Jesus begins.

When I was face down, staring at the floor, broken and bleeding, that’s when Jesus did what I could not.

There is power in a prostrate posture. Sure laying out on the floor isn’t the least bit dignified, but it is powerful nonetheless. You may think that a broken heart is no use to a perfect God, but a submissive spirit is. By laying at His feet and saying “Lord I’m all out, I’m done in”, we are giving God permission to take our brokenness and make something beautiful, by His strength and power, not our own.

Perhaps you find yourself in a storm too, perhaps you are watching the clouds roll in ominously, maybe you are already in the waves, clinging to the rock by your fingernails, or maybe you are picking up the pieces of the chaos left in its wake.

We all have a story, a storm that we have battled through or are currently facing. But the beauty of storms is that even they have to obey Jesus. The winds and waves were created by Him, so when He speaks the storms stop. When He commands, the chaos ceases.

When He speaks the storms stop. When He commands, the chaos ceases.

And as children of God, heirs in Christ we too have the authority to speak to our storm. We can end our exhaustion, defy our desperation, by allowing Jesus to fill us with His strength; renew us, restore us and reshape us.

Wherever this finds you today, I want to encourage you that you are not alone. The One who flung the stars into space is right beside you. The One who rose from the dead will not let you sink. He will pull you out of the waves, He will call the waters to calm and He will walk you right through them.

You just need

R x

 

 

 

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Faith

Raised to life

Have you ever felt that your dreams have died? That your ideals have become nothing more than ideas? Have you ever felt so utterly forgotten and forsaken, and wondering what happened and where on earth you went wrong?

Mary and Martha must have felt the very same way when their brother Lazarus died. The three were dear friends to Jesus, and when Lazarus became sick, his faithful sisters Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, knowing that He could heal him. But rather than come immediately, Jesus chose to stay where he was for a further two days and Lazarus died.

Mary and Martha must have been devastated and dumbfounded. Where was Jesus? Why had He left them? Why had He failed them?

When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been in the grace for four days. He was already starting to decay. The sisters were speechless at Jesus apparent lack of concern and lack of action, yet they were about to witness His greatest miracle.

Jesus raised Lazarus to life.

He woke his friend from his sleep and returned him to his amazed and overjoyed family. Sure, healing Lazarus would have been a marvellous miracle in its own right, but raising him from the dead was a straight up supernatural event. Seeing the hopes and dreams of a life with Lazarus die before their eyes, only to watch Jesus breathe life back into their brother must have been the most life-changing, faith-affirming moment of their entire lives.

Last Sunday was my first day back on the worship team in 8 months. A lot can happen in 8 months. We sang a song called Raised to Life by Elevation Worship and as I reflected on the words, tears sprang to my eyes.

What does it mean to be raised to life? We might think of the literal translation of being raised from the dead like Lazarus, but as I pondered this phrase my spirit stirred. In order to be raised, something has to die. I am not talking about a physical death, but more the death of a dream, of an ideal.

You may have started 2018 too scared to dream at all. You may have arrived with dashed hopes, plans in tatters and a battered, bruised heart. I want to encourage you that if your dreams seemed to have died, if your ideals are seemingly impossible, just wait on the Lord. If they are the dreams and plans He has for you, He will give you a peace about your situation and lead you to something new. But maybe, just maybe, He is waiting in the wings, biding His time.

Because only when a dream is dead, can it be raised to life.

“Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” ~ Jesus
John 11:40 NLT

R x

 

 

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Faith

God is faithful in our failures

So I am supposed to be working but my heart is so full and my mind is racing after an amazing morning at church. Today I was invited to speak at our church and it gives me such a buzz, I can’t even tell you! As a writer, I know how to write good content, however, when you are writing down words whispered by a Holy God, that is a whole different ball game.

Just to be clear  – I am nothing ‘special’. Okay, I know that is controversial because we are all special and unique in Christ, and we were created by a loving God for a heavenly purpose. But seriously, day-to-day I am just a working mom of two, going about my ordinary everyday life like everyone else. I arrive screech up to the school gates late, sans makeup and hair scraped back in a ponytail, and usher my charges into class before slumping back at the wheel of my car, thinking; did I really go out in public looking like that? I get angry at life and throw tantrums that would make my kids proud when things don’t work out. I am impatient, I jump in with both feet when I should only be dipping my toe in the water, and the proverbial dummy is well and truly spat out when my well laid out plans disintegrate in front of my eyes. I get distracted by things of the world when I should be in devotion to my heavenly Father.

But do you know what? God is faithful even in our failures.

God will use us even when we aren’t at our best, He will be faithful even when we are not. Some of my most profound moments of witness for Jesus have been in most profound moments of pain and pouting. Some of my biggest testimonies have been off the back of my biggest tantrums, some of my most defining hours have followed my most undignifed days.

No one is perfect, least of all me, yet God so graciously pours His love and grace into my soul and whispers His words into my heart. None of us set out to mess up yet we still manage it, but my friend, never doubt that God can use you. Your biggest mess could be the biggest miracle for someone else, as God uses your experience to enable you to help others.

If God can use a murderer like Moses, an adulterer like David and a prostitute like Rahab, then He can sure use you and me to fulfill His purposes on earth and bring glory to His name. The very idea that God would speak to me, and give me a word to share with others astounds me. The fact that He would choose to use my imperfections and idiosyncrasies to illustrate His perfect love and grace is unfathomable. Yet He does so, day after day.

Have you had a tough day?  a tough week? a tough year? Are you circling the same old sins and battling the same old demons? Have you failed to quit something you should never have started or failed to start something you should never have quit? Are you tired of trying and failing?

God is saying; “My child, don’t give up.”

You have not failed, you are not on the scrap heap of life, you are not second best. God keeps no records of wrong and His mercies are new every morning. He has not forgotten you, He is working behind the scenes and He is going to use this trial for your good and His glory.

Keep going.

R

 

 

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Faith

Happy Dependence Day

a-declaration-of-dependence[1]Yes you read right, the title is not a typo on my part!

Across the pond, our fellow American friends (and many others scattered around the globe) are celebrating Independence Day, to commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on 4th July 1776.

The 4th July is a date very dear to my heart but for an entirely different reason. You see on the 4th July I publicly renounced my independence and ran headlong in to the arms of my Father in heaven.

I was baptised on the 4th July 2004 after finding Jesus in the May of that year. I was a broken young woman, fresh out of a long term relationship break up, suffering with low self-esteem and such doubts about who I was and what I was doing that shook me to my very core. I was miles away from home (The Midlands) living in St. Neots, Cambridgeshire, unable to drive and much less able to afford rail fares to visit family.

It was in my loneliness and desperation that my loving God met me. He saw a fragile heart that couldn’t bear to be handled any more, and He picked it up with such tenderness and held it close. He saw the tears streaming down my cheeks and wiped them away with His gentle hands and He carried me in His arms until I felt able to stand on my own two feet again.

Miss Independent was something of a motto for me back then as I had always felt that I need to prove myself, to be fiercely independent, reliant upon no body and no thing, for fear of being hurt, betrayed, let down or disappointed. I put on the persona that I needed no one and wasn’t afraid to let the whole world know it, but in reality I was desperate for love, for affection, for relationship.

I first experienced God through the love of a dear friend and colleague, Beckie Gilbert, who saw in me what I could not. As we got to know each other better, I found out she was a Christian and held a weekly bible study group called a ‘Cell Group’ in her home. Being curious (read nosey) about such a young, cool chick who was so passionate about church, I wanted to see what the group was all about and I eventually asked to attend her Cell groups and my first experience has stayed with me for life.

The members of the group were a mixed bunch of singles, divorcees, couples and parents that you would probably never put together, but they had one thing in common; this tangible faith that I could almost see shining out of them. Even as they talked, and made tea, and passed biscuits around, there was just something different about them. They just had ‘something’. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but it was attractive and I wanted it. We met each week and sang some worship songs (that felt weird initially!), then shared the highs and lows of our week, discussed the word and prayed together. I was encouraged to participate whenever I wanted to or simply sit and observe the meeting, and I felt so very welcomed into this group that I quickly opened up to them. I have never felt so completely and utterly loved, accepted and embraced just as I am by any other group of people in my whole life.

After a few weeks of going along to the Cell group I figured I had better go along to church to hear the message first hand as that is what we were discussing each week, and so I first stepped over the threshold of Open Door Church in St Neots and was overwhelmed by the presence of God. There was a lot I did not understand, and some things that I found pretty unnerving, such as the gifts of the Spirit, but what I did know was that this was a place of love, a place of goodness, a place of healing and restoration and ultimately a place for family. Open Door was part of New Frontiers, and I went on to attend the Start course, which is very similar to Alpha, for new Christians or people exploring the faith. Four weeks in to the eight week course and I just felt the proverbial penny ‘drop’. I got it. I believed that this Jesus was real, that He loved me and that He died for me, and I wanted to know more. I prayed the prayer of salvation with three beautiful friends and leaders in the church on the lawns outside the school building where we met each Sunday, and as we prayed the clouds broke and the sun shone down in the most glorious moment. I was saved!

Shortly after the course finished, the church was scheduling a water baptism Sunday and I was all in. To some, this may have been to fast, but I knew that this was the right thing for me and that I needed to do it there and then. I felt so peaceful about it, so ready and most importantly so excited! From first experiencing the love of Jesus through a cell group in March, to completing my Start course and surrendering my life to Jesus in May, I then sealed the deal with a publication declaration to the world that I belonged to God, that I was saved through the blood of Jesus in the July.

So the 4th July was, and still is, a big deal for me. It is the day that I said to the world, I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to walk with Him, to rely on Him, to trust in Him and to serve Him with all that I am. I am no longer trying to do it all my way, but rather yahweh, I don’t want to be Miss Independent, but instead am proud to be dependent on the one who made me. 11 years on I am still learning, but wow, how Jesus has transformed my life!!

If you haven’t met Jesus yet, I encourage you to attend an Alpha course at your local church. Meet Christians, ask questions and most importantly ask God! Pray to him, you don’t need a theology degree to open you heart and your mouth and ask Him “God are you there? Are you listening? Do you care about me?” I guarantee He will answer you, He will speak to you through His word, through a song on the radio, through whispers in to your spirit. All you have to do is ask.

R

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