Tag Archives: patience

Just enough light for the step you are on

22 Aug

Isn’t it amazing when God gives you vision? When prophecies or dreams give you that peace that surpasses understanding, or things just seem to fit beautifully into place? Sometimes God works like that…. but what about when he doesn’t?

What about when you have a summer stretching ahead of you, no job and an overdraft to pay back? What about when you have left uni and the post-recession workplace offers little comfort for your career plans? What about when you face being at home for 3 months, and you don’t quite know how to navigate those tough family dynamics?

I was reminded of childhood afternoons of treasure hunting. Little pieces of paper would direct us to the next clue until eventually we reached the prize. Those little scrawled messages coupled with perseverance were all we had until we reached the next stage. Sometimes it was fun – the mystery, the searching… however sometimes it was frustrating and I yearned to bin the cryptic clues and just hunt for the prize.

Sometimes God gives us just enough light for the step that we are on

This statement keeps catching my eye from the spine of a book on my shelf at home. In a season filled with uncertainties about finance and jobs, it’s a reminder that although God doesn’t often reveal the big picture, he gives us what we need for the month, week or even just the day! This could be insight, money or a sense of peace over a decision you need to make. Matthew 6v34 (NLT) echoes just this: ‘So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today’.

In the Lord’s prayer, we pray ‘Give us today our daily bread’. Sometimes we skim over it without thinking, especially when we feel secure that the paycheck is coming, our friendships are ticking along nicely, we feel secure in love, and the fridge is full. But sometimes that line is said as a heartfelt prayer in itself, perhaps loaded with desperation.  So what do you do when life finds you scrabbling for clues as to what’s next? If you, like me, are in that place right now, try these tips for size (along with some verses to look at in your quiet time… or moments of panic:

– Take some time to think over your testimony, stories of forgiveness, moments of revelation and miracles of provision. Remind yourself that your God is faithful. Read 1 Corinthians 1:9

– Pray for peace that transcends circumstance. Not only will this quieten your heart, but what an amazing witness to others as they see you calm in the face of uncertainty and storm. Read Romans 15:13

– Share testimonies and stories of how God has worked in your life. It is inspiring and affirming. What a way to raise expectation. He’s done it before, he will do it again. Read Hebrews 2:4 

– Be expectant. Wait confidently in the assurance that God knows the complexities of your situation, he knows what you need best. Read Micah 7:7

– Don’t be afraid. You are hemmed in by God. He has gone before you and will be with you, no ground you tread on has been un-trodden on by your God. Read Deuteronomy 31:8

I want to finish with God’s words concerning the future in Revelation, the unknown, the mystery of what is to come are these:

‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’ (Rev 22:13 NLT). 

He is already in the future, and he is good.

 

When the rug is pulled from under your feet

14 Jun

“We aren’t going to be able to keep you on I’m afraid”. That sentence came from my boss last week as he explained that they wouldn’t be able to work around my new university placement. Part of me had braced myself to hear this – it was expected – I felt peaceful. The other part felt like the rug had been pulled from beneath my feet as I held back tears at the thought of losing a secure job that I loved. Questions flooded my mind – how will I afford my course fees? How will we pay the bills? How on earth will I find a job to fit around my clinic hours (I’m a trainee Psychotherapist)? Will we be able to stay in our flat?

We have all had moments like this. A phone call or an email that sharply changes the direction of our lives or our plans. I remember being told at the age of seven that my sister had a cancer –  in that moment life as I knew it was to change forever. Many of us have have been the receiver of a simple short sentence that feels like a punch in the stomach or instantly finds us asking huge questions about life and scrabbling for new coping mechanisms. They can find us running to God, or away from him in confusion. 

I have had five simple words in my mind for the past few weeks – I think God has been preparing my heart for the uncertainty of what is to come.  He does that sometimes – he paves the way, prepares us. I want to share them with you in the hopes that they too can be written on your heart – Nothing takes God by surprise

So what do we do in the face of uncertainty, unanswered questions, shaking foundations or circumstances that simply don’t make sense?

1- Know that God has not been taken by surprise. He has gone before you, he has paved the way, you are not walking on untrodden ground. I find such comfort in the Psalms 139 v 5 which says ‘You hem me in, behind and before. You have laid you hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty to attain’.

2 – Be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46v10). When you study the Hebrew translation of this verse, it translates to ’cause yourself to let-go, to become weak’. Let go of your own plans, your own desire for control on the circumstance, and ask God for the strength to trust in his all-sufficiency, his all-knowing, his love for the detail. What a testament to all those around you, when they see you calm in the face of a storm thanks to a peace that surpasses all earthly understanding.

3- Trust what you know of God. Reflect on the ways he has intervened in history (your own history and biblical history) and share faith boosting stories of when God has more than showed up.

So, I am trying to live this out right now. Oh I have moments of anxiety and fear – wondering how this awkward looking jigsaw is going to fit together. But a calm peace quietens them as I reflect on the fact that my God is able to move mountains, and he has faithfully got me this far!

It’s all testimony in the making.

Watch this space – he’s gonna pull it off… again!

 

Botch-jobs and fast-food

10 May

Botch jobs go wrong – sooner or later. TV programs are devoted to lazy surgeons operating without truly knowing what they’re doing, and cowboy builders doing jobs worthy of announcing your home as a hazard.

Your God isn’t a God of the botch job

I apologise lads, this is about to get a tad girly. Because what better picture of the anti-botch job exists than a Pearl? I have lots of ‘pearls’; my current favourite are huge – the size of sweetshop gobstoppers. Most people own cultured, processed, farmed or plastic pearls, but very few people own real, natural pearls.

Real pearls are expensive and rare (1 in 10,000 oysters) and cherished. So cherished in fact that in Matthew 13:44 a man sold all he had to buy a field containing one.

How many of us want fast-food-style responses to our prayers. Prayers quickly answered with obvious effect.  Botch-job answers.  We pray for those we love, our students, our campus and we want answers NOW.  If we don’t see the fruits of our prayers in days, weeks, months, we begin to ask questions of God. Is he listening? Does he care? Surely our prayers are in line with him

The natural pearl is formed over ten years; layer upon layer is built around an irritant or a tiny speck of sand, encased in a fleshy oyster in the secret depths of the seas. And God works in those secret places, in the depths of identities and spiritual strongholds. He works in people from the inside out, from the secret depths, moving through to the outside behaviors that we see and often use as a measure of ‘where people are at’.

I want to encourage you in your prayers – prayers for your friends, your situations, your campuses. Prayers that you might not have seen answers to yet and perhaps you are disheartened about. Keep praying – trust that your prayers are that speck of sand that form the irritant for the change, habit or the heart behind the campus. An irritant that provokes dis-ease, and questioning at the very core, questions that shake foundations and shine lights into dark places.

Plastic pearls loose their value and shine, real pearls are of value throughout. Just as quick change can loose it’s shine if the real groundwork and foundations aren’t there, deep, timely change can last a life time.

It’s in the discomfort of the process, the confusion of the patience and the gentleness of the Father that true pearls are formed, and true, deep change comes about.

‘We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised’ Hebrews 6:12

Bake my dreams

27 Sep

Waiting is hard.

If you saw the ‘Great British Bake off’ you will have seen bakers crouch eagerly at their ovens, watching their creations slowly rise (hopefully). All impatient for the moment that the alarm buzzes and they can nervously take out their cake to face the scrutiny that awaits.

It’s all in the baking!

If we were to skip the process, even shave off valuable minutes or in some cases seconds, then the results could be completely different. The result would be either an odd looking cake, or a rather sore stomach.

The bakers are caught in this odd tension of wanting to get their cake out – aware of each second that ticks by, whilst recognising the importance of what happens whilst it’s in the oven. It can’t be rushed by turning up the heating dial (why I end up with burnt rice), or quickened by stolen glances (the culprit for my pancake flat cakes).

I find myself in this funny tension in life sometimes. You know, when you have dreams, hopes and goals that you have held for weeks – years – decades maybe? Sometimes the passion and excitement can be too much to bear, yet you know you have to wait.

It reminds me of being a child in the run up to Christmas. That sense of anticipation and excitement, the irritation at seeing all those unopened doors on the advent calendar that are getting in the way of me and my Christmas day.

I want it ‘NOW’

But if I had had my Christmas when I had desired it (probably before the calendars even hit the shelves), then it wouldn’t have been the same. The weather wouldn’t justify a cosy open fire, the presents wouldn’t have been wrapped, there would be no seasoned Christmas pud, or hope of snow.

It’s in the waiting that these things come about.

Not just any waiting – proactive waiting.

For if we were just to sit and wait for the things we hope for – we may risk not being the person we need to be when we get there.

A little part of me wants to click my fingers and be 4 years down the line where I am really able to use my skills as a therapist and see lives changed, and people freed and empowered. But – if I was if I was there now, right this very second – I may be more damaging than helpful. I wouldn’t have the knowledge and the skills needed that grow through time and learning.

It would be like taking the cake out of the oven early.

Sometimes waiting isn’t inevitable. Sometimes our inactivity is the only thing stopping ‘it’ from happening. We can be the barriers to our futures, our dreams. We can spend our lives waiting and devising new ‘as soon as..’ excuses. Waiting for our lives to start.

Become the change, the movement. Be decisive. Your decision to move could be the decision that changes the course of your life.

~
Start that business
Make that phone call
Schedule that doctor’s appointment
Take that trip
Have that difficult conversation

~

When circumstance requires a wait – don’t sit still. Grow, challenge, and develop into the you that will make the wait even more worthwhile.

Bake.

For in the oven happens a miracle. A flurry of chemical reactions, a busyness that the eye cannot see. A critical process.

Be the cake in the oven – not the one sat on the side waiting to be put in. Focus on the present, live in the now but in knowledge of your future – live your life story.

If I you were to pop a polaroid picture, a snapshot of my future as it could be, into my hand right now. I might say – wow! THAT is what I want, I will do whatever I need to do to get there, to live that, to be that change. No matter how long, hard, high the mountain top experiences, or low the valleys will be – it will be worth it.

So, bake my dreams.

And I will try my hardest not to waste my time staring at the oven.