Tag Archives: forgiveness

Whatever things are admirable

27 Mar

I have been hearing, reading and listening and writing on how many people within the church and the ministry fall into the worst kind of temptation. And I have to say that I have seen stories so full of grace. And judgement tempered with grace. I just wanted to point one out to you.

And another, so full of honesty and the willingness to be vulnerable and repeat the pain over and over and over again in confession and explanation because they wanted to make it work. They loved each other and they chose to.

I think vulnerability is such a challenge. And I pray that I get given it in spades – I run from it. But there is no way that I can honour God with the people around me if I am not entirely vulnerable to them, and willing to be hurt.

I am so in awe of the pouring of grace that God gives in the messiest stories.

And then I’m in awe of the wonderfully healthy marriages I know – one where wife or husband always runs to the door when the other arrives (so beautiful and it gives me a heart-longing), another where every argument however often is made up, another where you would never find one without finding the other (no, not unhealthily tied together but openness and sharing of lives like best friends. I only need to text one.)

And I am in awe again.

Who moved my grace?

10 Jan

I just got asked (well, in a virtual sense)… Okay, okay, I’m asking myself to answer this question. Do I have sensitive nerves?

Yes. I do not forget hurt easily. I remember how one birthday, someone said ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter what you want’ to me. It was my birthday. I’d worked myself up to a sense of entitlement. The words still hurt. Efforts that people make for my birthday – beautiful, loving efforts by the many people who love me even when they are several countries away – still bring up a lump in my throat. Efforts the same person who said that makes – they’ve forgotten – still bring a heavy lump.

I remember a designated ‘best friend’ in primary school who I am still in touch with and excited to see on the rare, random occasion. As we walked up the main, rather grandiose staircase at school, she turned down towards me and said we weren’t friends anymore because she wanted to be friends with someone else.

Ever since then I have intense social awareness. One of my friends called me ‘popular’ and I wanted to laugh my guts out. If I don’t get an inside joke, if I stand a little outside a circle – these are very few times. People are usually incredibly gracious even in their hardest times…

But I am intensely aware. Intensely analytical. And always overly conscious never to leave someone out. It doesn’t matter if I’m the only one explaining, and it doesn’t matter if the conversation has moved on – I’ll probably make the time to explain it to you. I’m not saying I’m that nice. Possibly OCD? 🙂

Because here’s the thing – my sensitive nerve is trust. Any slight erosion of it remains with me a long time. Unless it is directly addressed, I find it hard to forget.

And yet do I not serve a God who pours out his love into my heart? Who forgives over and over, and then also trusts me  to continue to fulfil his vision, do what he entrusted me with in the first place or more? I receive this grace time after time. And – as Angela reminds me – do I not set my hope fully on the grace that will be brought to me through the revealing of him? It’s there. Everyday. If I can just remember to reach across my unwieldy self to hold it in open hands…

Beauty is

17 Feb

Today, I am left without words.

Beauty is having a child run after you because she wants to hold your hand.

Beauty is having a child – a different child from a different home – ask you wonderingly if you would still play with him. Broken beauty, but beauty.

Beauty is an animal who trusts you so completely that she will sigh her frustration into the hollow of your hand, as she lays her head there, and licks you, while the doctor administers painful treatment.

Beauty is knowing that that is what God wants us to be like with him.

Beauty is a train ride through Snowdonia, knowing that my help comes from the Lord who holds the cattle on a thousand hills – and hearing this God remind you in his whispers.

Beauty is telling a friend about a God-encounter and hearing her words echo your thoughts.

Beauty is when someone knows you’re sad when you’re laughing, and no one else knows.

Beauty is the homeless man who will smile at me every time I pass outside the store he frequents. Beauty is when he recognises you and you smile back.

Beauty is when you write a kind email, an email hoping for a coffee one of these days, to someone who has slighted you.

Beauty is letting go of the hurts you’d forgotten you remembered, until God asked you to let them go. Beauty is knowing that an apology might never come, but that you are hearing God’s voice in the situation.

Beauty is pain that nobody else knows you’re holding until suddenly God looks you in the eye and tells you ‘I know it hurts. And I know how much’. Beauty is when you believe that and share the fellowship of his suffering in the smallest measure, that he may grow you into his image in disproportionate recompense.

Beauty is when it draws you closer to the sanctity of the cross and people know you’ve been with Jesus.

Beauty is when someone on a random protest day, in the central square on the shopping street, walks up to you and asks if you are Christian. Then beauty is when you nod and they say they saw it.

Beauty is an old friend’s unexpected call or email.

Beauty is a new friend you haven’t yet made decides to ask you to listen and pray.

Beauty is when God sees the ugliness and decides to use it. Like me.

Today, I am in awe of this beauty. I know His name. And all I can bring myself do is to curl up into him and say one thing. If my words fail, and I choke up inadequately, then I can look at the face I know. And let Him look on as I confess it.

This: Jesus, I am so in love with you.

 

God, Exods 15, Exodus, Bible, beautiful God, awesome God, God is awesome, love God, love of God, Jesus, Christ, Father, Holy Spirit, miracles, wonders, Snowdonia, faith, worship, love, beauty, beautiful



Expect love

4 Feb

I write as I learn, and as I hear. Like anybody else, I suppose.

I used to have a dog called Misty. I’ve written about her before. Ah, Misty was a beautiful German Shepherd, with the friendliest grin and mischievous eyes.

She was very loyal to my father, and she bullied me because, of course, I was Little Sister. Her name for me – and this is true! – was ‘Yawooooo’. A sharp yelp-like Ya with a howl, which I have transcribed here ‘wooooo’. Er – best I could do, peeps! But truly, she would stand outside the house and call for me whenever she wanted to go upstairs to play or when she wanted to be let out of her kennel and had been put in, in the first place, by the parents. She knew I’d take her side.

She was lovely, naughty, mean, generous, loyal, amusing and intelligent. All the things a good healthy, growing dog should be – right?

I love dogs. I have had so many in my life so far and they have each been an indispensable part of the family. But I also love them for the lessons I learned from them. God always uses examples. I mean, get a load of all those parables! 😀 But jokes apart, every time the Lord wanted to teach me something as a child and often now, he would point to something around me and teach me in baby steps. Hey, what can I say, I’m slow!

Misty, although pretty familiar with the house and the sofas too, had a leash and a collar that we tied to the gate on her kennel, as an alternative to shutting her up. We rarely ever did need to shut her up. This only occurred when (annoying-in-my-childhood-world) visitors screamed and ran at the sight of a dog. Yes, where I grew up, dogs weren’t common to most households and some people – er – flipped. Then, or when we needed to keep two or three dogs out of each other’s food bowls so we wouldn’t see any fur fly when they got catty.

When we did tie her to her leash, she wasn’t very miffed about it. She took it like a good dog. Still, what has always stayed with me, more than ten years after Misty went, is the way she reacted to being free.

When one of the family undid the clasp on her leash, Misty would still sit in her kennel. Patient in the area of her captivity. She had this quirk of having to sniff the end of the leash, as it hung from a particular spot on the gate. She knew the circumference of her bondage well. And she would sit there, as if she didn’t know she was free. The thing is no one ever tried to loose her surreptitiously like some prank we were playing on her. I distinctly remember afternoons when I, teasing this creature of habit as dogs are wont to be, would say to her ‘Go, Misty, go! I untied you, go!’ And she’d good-humouredly thump her huge, shaggy tail and sit on the edge of her kennel. Waiting. And look at me as if to say ‘Who’re you kidding, missy?’ She had to sniff the end of her rope every now and then to remind herself that freedom had come. She had to keep going back to the thing that kept her in captivity so she could tell herself she was free.

Like me. Sometimes. I keep having to remind myself that I am free. I forget that God has forgiven me, forgotten my sin. I rehash. Oh, I rehash. Over and over again, as if I have not taken his deliverance seriously. As if I am denying the sacrifice on the cross that gave me life. The sacrifice was sufficient. It has swallowed my sin, my shame. It is gone, it is finished! But I forget so often. I act more righteous than God, I wait to see proof of my deliverance, my redemption, I doubt myself and expect me to fall.

My dog now is called Tassi. Well, one of my dogs now! She is a little Dachshund – see a German pattern emerging here? Yeah, I don’t know what that is about. Our other dogs have been a Dobermann, an Alsatian-Great Dane mix (er, also German and, in fact, sometimes called German Mastiff), several other Dachshunds, and a Pomeranian-Cocker Spaniel mix (phew, we got one half of a different nationality in!) Definitely something there to investigate! The German dog inclinations of the Writeroo family. Although… I have always wanted a Bassett Hound…

But, I digress.

Tassi is short for Pocahontas, which means ‘playful girl’. She is a playful princess, indeed! She was, in many ways, a Writeroo dog. I carried her home, and she slept in my shirt sleeves and lost herself in my laundry and cried under my bed every night, as a puppy. She’ll eat the bread I give her without butter. She’s a spoilt miss though and won’t take unbuttered bread from anyone else. She is very loving, loves pampering, purrs like a cat, keeps imagining she’s preggers and plonks herself on your feet inconveniently. She’ll go to sleep the moment you pick her up in your arms. She sometimes snores.

puppy dog cute cute dog dachshund black dachshund

The thing that broke my heart – in a very good way – about the Tass when she was getting puppy-trained was this…

One afternoon, she bit me pretty hard. We were rolling about on the floor having a romp. She bit my fingers – not too painfully – and ran away, playfully daring me to get her. While I was encouraging her gnawing at the bone I held, and gripping my hand… she knew, by this time, that a hard nip through the skin was not in order. Having suffered this a couple of times, and needing to show the dog what she could and couldn’t do, I gave her a tiny rap with two fingers on her back. It must have hurt. It wasn’t more than what I would do to swat a mosquito away, but I was stern and she knew from my tone that I was not pleased.

Tassi squirmed from the gentle rebuke and came running back to burrow her head with its too-long ears in my waiting lap.

loyalty trust trust trust

Coming up for the cuddle she knows she's gonna get!

She made me cry. I picked her up and held her close and thought about what God wants from us. How do your children react when they are disciplined by you? Do they trust you to come back to you with the problem? That’s exactly what God’s father-heart longs for. For a repentant child to come back expecting grace. Expecting justice, but knowing the love that is constant already.

trust trust faith God is good lessons

Expect forgiveness. Expect redemption. Expect grace. Expect the God you know. Expect love – don’t you know it by now? He is your father.

Know his love. He knows you, he singled you out and loves you crazily. Trust him today. Remember your love for him. Remember your trust.

Lessons from a father

24 Jan

Today is for my dad. You might already know that my dad and I have a fraught relationship. I have learned so much from my heavenly Father, that I sometimes forget what I have learned from my father. Growing up, he did love me… and I have learned good things, beautiful things from him. I will not show this to my father because although he has talked about our relationship to others and to me, he would feel it presumptuous in me to do so. He has said this before. But too often, I have held on to the barbs that hurt, the little lines, the marks of childhood, teenage and womanhood… because it was hard to forgive, but it is so hard to forget. Today, I’m ignoring the thorns that came with the plucking. And I am opening a box of pressed petals… birthday cards, lessons, laughs.

“Always read a chapter of the Bible in the morning, before you do anything.” That has come to be translated in my life as beginning the day with God, so you’ll get through it with Him. Every morning, to this day, I try. And if I don’t, I know nothing feels right.

“Keep your eyes on the ball. Don’t move them anywhere else.” Philippians 3: 13-14

“Got to put a shirt on to pray.” OK, this one’s funny. It made me laugh and it annoyed him that it made me laugh :). But it reminds me to give God my best and on the other hand, it reminds me of why I smiled too. I want to be naked before God, open to Him, vulnerable to His probing my heart and my hurts. But I also want to make every effort to give Him everything, to give Him my messy best. I don’t want to reduce grace to an excuse, but honour it as God’s greatest gift.

Generosity. My father never liked to be caught out without being able to give to people who asked. It irked him if he couldn’t, like duty undone! It has taught me to not be proud of my giving and let my ego be hurt by having less, but to trust God to bless me to give more. It has taught me also that giving is important. I have learned that giving is for closed doors, and that need is more obvious than we want to know. That not all who ask need and not all who need ask. Would that we did all ask our heavenly Father! I have learned more from his actions than my father ever sat down to teach me, but I have learned it well.

One day, when I was 15, my father said he was sorry… to me. That was the only time. I asked him not to, and we both cried. That wasn’t the end of our fraught relationship – I’ve said ‘sorry’ too for unthinking, reactionary words but it wasn’t. Yet it is one of my most precious memories.

It has taught me to say sorry, even when it is such a bitter thing to do. It needs to be said, and if you were wrong or unloving, you need to love again and seek peace. It. IS. Necessary. Even after healing, sometimes not always, hearing someone say that they know you were hurting is comfort. And you could give that to someone.

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