Tag Archives: friendship

God’s got it covered

17 Apr

Rejection, betrayal are the two greatest fears women have. And you have had to deal with both. So many women can identify with you, including me (Let’s have coffee one day and I’ll spill the beans) But this didn’t sneak up on God; He has a plan for your future – I am living proof.

That’s a comment I read on a blog post over at (in)Courage. And it fell into place for me today.

At the moment, what’s on is probably what most other people might not recognise as major in my life. But everyone near me and/or who hear my daily outpourings are generally bringing me flowers and chocolate and little notes. My colleagues too – and one of them has had to go be with her family in London. The rest of us don’t have that luxury. But we get chocolates and visits and all that.

Oxford exams are really that big. Exams generally are a pretty big deal, being Asian and all…

Digression: In some parts of Asia, the suicide rates spike up in April and I have research to prove it. Still, taking as I do, my identity in Christ rather than cultural boundaries, I’m very grateful for my relationship with him and with the family I do have!

In addition though, I’ve had a student affairs spike. I’ve also had to negotiate a petty crime, and its fallout in the community. Plus a couple of personal hiccups as you’ve probably figured from that last post of mine 😉 For the record though, I haven’t had personal betrayal – no, not that.

And yesterday, God gave me a much-needed ‘moment’. I called a friend and prayed with her. And she kinda demurred at the prayer… This is a friend with whom I went to church, and we’ve been to a fairly charismatic (you know, pentecostal but not Pentecostal and a fairly traditional Anglican/Presbyterian church together. We’ve been in small group together. We’ve known each other for nearly seven years now. We’ve travelled together, visited each other’s homes. Um, you would assume that we’d be free to pray with each other. But I knew that she wouldn’t actually be so free to pray out loud, even with her family. She told me yesterday that I was important to her and the least she could do is take a day off and buy me lunch – in another city! I’d depend on her to listen in my horrible moments too. But all of this friendship-boasting to show that – no, it wasn’t the easiest thing to pray together.

But hey, I was feeling pretty selfish. So I got online, grabbed a hold of her and said she had to pray with me. That she had to try, and that doing it out loud was a token to ME not even to God, and that He knew her silent prayer but I didn’t. I was at a point of need. So could we please do that? You know – you get the point. I repeat myself generally, but I think this time you got it.

I wanted her to be there and.to.pray.with.me. It wasn’t a major thing. But it was something I didn’t want to do without – the beauty of communion and shared love for Jesus, the vocalising of trust in His provision.

Still I didn’t think it was such a big deal. I thought she’d stumble and pray but she’d pray and I’d have my… silly little token.

Actually, she didn’t stumble. I prayed. She prayed.

Then she said this:

I think you’ll appreciate a random of sequence of events without which this might not have happened.

And the story was this. Over the weekend, her boyfriend had told her she needed to practice to pray out loud. I mean – we all know she doesn’t. We all know she loves God. So then she was amused and didn’t understand and she probably rolled her eyes at the boy. But he made her practice AND pray about it and then said ‘You never know when you might need it.’

And there I was the next day – I wouldn’t have really grabbed a hold of anyone else, and said friend might well have said no, if she hadn’t been made to think about it and consider it necessary. And God showed her how he’d got me covered. And he showed me how he’d got her covered.

And that brings me back to that comment. While facing rejection, fearing it, or uncertainty or betrayal or hurt or simply even just the unknown – I’ve got to know this…

It didn’t sneak up on God.

And now, I’m sitting here thinking how un-random life is in some ways. How very God-like life plays itself out. And how, in a time I needed Him, He put a hand on my shoulder and said ‘I’m watching. I’ve got you covered.’

Shoqed.

Advertisements

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



Book Talk

13 Feb

I found this interesting article http://harvardmagazine.com/breaking-news/orhan-pamuk-norton-lectures-report

The writer concludes by saying a book can become a part of one’s soul. I agree.

But I have another proposition. Academics, like me on Sundays 😉 , are taught to read and re-read, to write and revise – and revise and revise and revise. To deconstruct, to compare, to contrast, to parallel, to liken. Still, I think – yes, even with the sentimentalisch side of me – that it is possible to ‘recognise’ a book. That even before a book becomes a part of one’s soul, one recognises a part of one’s soul in the book.

The first time I read an excellent work, it is to me just as if I gained a new friend; and when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting of an old one…

That’s Oliver Goldsmith on books. When I was in school, I decided to write about reading as my favourite thing to do, for a composition. I remember writing then of what I still enjoy experiencing now in my reading rambles, of the joy in

… recognising the germ of your idea, having taken root and grown in someone else’s mind.

And there is that almost kinesthetic subsumption of the reading material. Like you have done that before, and you know the perceptions, the senses, the feelings that correspond to that thing you encounter in the book. More present than déjà vu.

Most often, for me, this is an idea, a worldview, a framework of analysis of a certain action, emotion, interaction – and I instinctively recognise where the author is coming from. I am tempted to say it is a comfortable feeling – but it isn’t, always. Sometimes it is distinctly uncomfortable. C.S. Lewis, for instance, can have that effect on me. An old, familiar ideal that I have forgotten to uphold. Or a new, yet-strangely-familiar ideal that I wonder why I have not thus far espoused. So I cannot relinquish this feeling to familiarity merely.

Bible study, Bible, the word of God, soul-searching, conversation, friendship, books, literary criticism, book, books, reading, read, favourite books, favorite books, God, Bible reading,

But in fact, C.S. Lewis acknowledged this hankering in us for books ‘on our side’. This kindred spirit process in our reading choice. He wrote that

We read to know we are not alone.

For in this ‘inside’ interaction that some books manage to have with you, there is that essence of true conversation. It is almost hard to pretend that the book with which you are having the conversation in your head is not present in the room. Some novels do this to me. I found this fantastic – and telling – quote that Anne Frank scribbled, in her diary:

If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly in hand before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer.

It makes me laugh :D. It is so true… But then again, there are some books you do not want to ‘take yourself in hand’ about. You know the product of your conversation is not only a better you, but a more real you… a you that is more yourself, than any other. In that light, as books go, the Bible is my biggest source of ‘conversation’. I want it to be, and I wouldn’t change that. That is the best conversation I’ve had and it isn’t over yet. But hey, I think that book was designed to be.

Bible, quiet time, Bible reading, Bible study, conversation with God, conversation, God, hearing, faith, the word of God, the Word, Rhema, logos, Word, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, Spirit, listening to God, taking time off,

I love this moment

Now – before you begin to think my mind is rather queer 😀 – go ahead! Go have some fantastic ‘conversations’ yourself 😉 – and I would be honoured if, some day, you tell me about them.

%d bloggers like this: