Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Fare ye well, September and early-October

17 Oct

These past four and a half weeks have been pretty vulnerable. Just a bit over a month.

Someone I cared about died, at the start of it. Her being sick for a while was a little ease-in. I cared about her, but she wasn’t immediate family. She was a missionary in India, had led an amazing life and told me she could be my grandma. I told her I’d like one – we visited every week. She was Welsh and 92. Then I left the country. And came back, very far from her. And I had refused offers from this wonderful lady to buy tickets for me to visit. I couldn’t – I would visit when I had the time and money. It was £200 and so I had to think about it, as a student.

Well, I did – in her last week, after several reports of her failing, I managed to visit her.

And came home. A few days later, she’d gone.

Then a couple days later, boy and I went to boy’s trial session for a job that I thought would answer a few questions. And despite incredible confidence, it suddenly felt like God didn’t want it. I cried.

Sure enough, a week later – no.

Then my top candidate for ‘people-who-might-like-to-employ-Writeroo’ called me for an interview. And rejected my application.

Then I went to this place that really doesn’t work for me, but to help a friend and old employer. I generally cry there. I did. The usual 14-hour working day doesn’t help either. Then I lost my railway card and tickets. I cried some more. On my way home, I fell sick predictably. Stayed sick for the whole week, still sick and have a few worrying things I ought to go to the doctor about but have NO time to. (Try teaching to earn a living, and making intensive job applications and struggling with stuff at home and living at a distance?)

I have to say at this point – I am SO grateful for God keeping me in amazing ways in this limbo place!

Dropped my laptop, and fell with it again. Major repairs – major money.

God was so good though – he provided just in time, and then I got some more teaching. This story is a testimony on my Facebook. So I don’t simply rant.

That week, someone fairly close to me simply cut me off. We had had a conversation which I thought was challenging to both of us on many levels, and would induce us to re-evaluate our decisions about how to live a Christian life. My friend, though, felt severely criticised.

I still pray for grace in my talk. I need it because I struggle so hard with this. Few people get you so that you don’t have to filter when you talk – that is, if you’re a Writeroo. Some of my best friends will say I already have that grace – when clearly I don’t. But what is it they say? Love is blind.

But I ended up hurting them incredibly. And I worry about healing it. God is absolutely redemptive, so he will heal this. But I struggle. Because I’m just not that lovable any more, am I? 😉 We are so silly in our fallenness – us. People. Human beings. I more than most! Hearts of flesh, all of us. We choose hearts of stone sometimes. Even when they lie heavy (and interfere with our digestion, in some cases!!!). We distance ourselves from the places we are most vulnerable in. I do it, to God’s presence, sometimes. It just hurts too much to be that challenged, to be seen honestly and to be treated as an ‘equal’ and a friend by God. And when he tells me what I am doing, reveals myself, convicts me – I run. I hide. And we do that in our relationships, too. I do.

Clumsy, silly me. So clumsy I hurt them more than I imagined.

Anyway, long story short… After ‘week of hard things’, another week of hard things followed.

This time – friend-related. Because being completely alienated from a friend, who then is depressed for various reasons including your ‘honesty’, and knowing that none of the others in the circle of friends has any access either – this is difficult. And he is such a dear friend and pretty much spot on, in so many ways!

And me being me, I prodded and prodded. My friend. My other friends. My friend’s friends.

And cried every night, because I didn’t know what was happening to this person.

And so clumsy, that we allow ourselves to be hurt and live in a sorry state for self – like me. Right now. This blog post.

It is my confessional, as all of these virtual presences seem to be becoming.

Housemate upset with something I said. Little thing, right? Still hurt a bit. Then I didn’t even get called to the interview of another job I had on my list of ‘most likely’ and this one was also on ‘most wanted’. This, despite speaking to people on the board, and being guaranteed an interview. Sounds like God. Yes. But at the time, I almost wished he wouldn’t. Funnily, he told me the afternoon of the evening I heard that… he would.

Managed to have another friend erupt on me. She then apologised and I smiled. But guess who doesn’t erupt, smiles, keeps it all in and comes home and wants to major-erupt?!

Had the Director in the school I’m temping in tell me I wasn’t as qualified as other schools thought I was, payment-wise – this after um 6 years of teaching AND and AND BEING director, before starting graduate work!

Two close friends (I will just call them friends) in the past two weeks have told me of having nearly suicidal thoughts, because they were depressed, and acting on it. Both after years of being friends – and I am shocked, and scared… and mad.

They went through more – I know this.

I don’t think one of them sees how much it has scared me and continues to scare me. It is something I must take on – not just put up with the knowledge of. Other friend, who is lovely, told of her friend who trusted her support when she felt like that in faraway China! Relationships matter.

Aunt got super-sick like she did a couple of years ago, and they predicted dire predictions. And God basically made her live. Like he does all of us.

Boy and I have argued over nothings – I LOVE discussion, and I love it when two people can challenge each other, and question each other and be a strong man and woman who forge and carve their ideas with faith and strength and confidence in each other. No, no – THAT I totally love. But little arguments that leave you feeling unlikeable or unresolved – Gah.

And finally, I am home alone. It is raining.

On the other hand, I love the rain. And maybe I’ll take a long bath, with entertainment in tow (iPlayer and book!). And forget about all this, and all I haven’t said.

Yes, maybe that’s what I’ll do. And if you’ve read this far, pray for me. Pray for the friends, boy, the family, the lovely, loving, wonderful aunt and a job. Yeah – actually, unashamedly – here it is: please pray for me ;). And I promise to return the favour ;).

Love.

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Wilderness woes and wistfulness

11 Jun

In the coach station at Birmingham. I’ve decided to give my very forgiving blog some context and character. It’s a grey, windy day in Birmingham this morning, as I head home. I’m sitting in a cafe across from Starbucks (because they have better armchairs) with coffee from Starbucks and considering a refill.

I’ve had a bit of heart-wringing from Him for a few weeks. The way that I’ve been seeing the next couple of years has fallen through. I always knew it could – but you always know things can change with that superiority of a Christian who’s been there, done that, learned her lesson…

I think to myself: I got this faith thing down pat. I have waited and trusted so often, over so many, closely intervalled seasons, that I don’t need any more testing. 10 stars for me. 


And then halfway through one of those sentences, God pulls the rug out from under your feet. And you’re in a test again. At first, you don’t even realise. In my little boxed-in, ‘churched’ worldview, change means doubting my calling. But God said I would live here, do this, give my tuppence to this part of the world. God talked to me about this relationship. God talked to me about planning my finances. So how can this happen?

See, in my head I have a plan. I know what God wants (at least some of it) and I know how to get there. And I am incredibly stubborn about the way that it’s going to work. The problem is if it doesn’t work that way – if he asks me to leave, if he brings me back to Canaan after a 40-year detour in the wilderness but he’s only ever told me the Canaan part of his will and not the wilderness part… I’m a screaming, kicking mess. Because I *never* get that the wildernesses are not detours. It took me 15 years of my life to work out that although God promised the promised land, he actually first moved Abraham FROM the promised land. And then brought him back.

Nuts.

I’m writing this. But I STILL don’t get it. I don’t get the sovereignty, I don’t get the need to relinquish control, I don’t get the concept of doing all I can see and all that will keep me sane and giving the rest to God in confidence that he’ll work it.

Because seriously – who does that?! Who drags you miraculously into the place you think you’re going to be for the rest of your life, hints to you that that is a place that’s a pretty major part of your life. Ok, tells you this is what he wants for you. And then drags you out of it?!

And yet – he does. And it’s not simply a lesson in the wilderness. It’s God in the wilderness. Just like God in Canaan. And you shake your head and shake your head and say ‘No, no, no – this is where I’m meant to be for life. You told me. You told me.’

But all he really said was to obey.

I feel like I’ve been in the wilderness for a little while – and usually, when I expect it… you know, that’s okay! I’ve got my little survival bag and contingency plans. But I’ve been in this weird place for a few days now (yes, nothing dramatic) and I should expect that God never gives me expected things! And every time I have time to myself, my thoughts and my God – I remember all the promises, all the hurts, the little things, the big things, the distance, the slight distance from God – everything that the wilderness, if not the cause, is a reminder of. A big hulking symbol, unmissable because I’m in it dead centre.

And this is why this lesson is so hard. I can only obey. I cannot predict the obedience of others or the obedience of time and circumstance and the weather, for goodness’ sake. I cannot predict that the picture will come true. I can only simply fit my piece into that puzzle clumsily.

Clumsily is really all I can do. You might be able to do perfection. Today is one of those days I can’t even try.

And this is why I’m sitting here crying in a coach station, having cried through church, having cried through conversations, having cried through being told off, having cried through defending myself, having cried through being a pain in other peoples’ sides, because I have NO way to explain why I’m crying. So I have a Mac, a coffee, a tissue held to my face like I have a nosebleed, gratitude for the rain because it covers up crying people, and the funny urge to write a song and these two quotes from two favourite books, one of the books life-giving, one of the quotes rather like a hug and the other rather like a pat on the back and a reminder to get on with it. Because the wilderness is a blessing. Canaan is a blessing. Both are – in the strictest sense – merely wanderings until we see Him face to face. I would say “The show must go on” but this is much too life-like and God-like for that to be fitting.

This:

You Yourself have recorded my wanderings.
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your records?

Psalm 56: 8

And then this reminder from Anne Shirley that puts a smile on my wet face.

“Gilbert darling, don’t let’s ever be afraid of things. It’s such dreadful slavery. Let’s be daring and adventurous and expectant. Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring to us, even if it brings scads of trouble and typhoid and twins!” – LM Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

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.

How to get work done – fall in love

26 Mar

I was listening to this video on friendship with God and he quotes someone else (whom I had to look up and found was influenced by the 24/7 movement), who says “lovers will always get more work done than workers.”

You tap into something else when you have the complete, total love of someone. When they have yours. You’ll make things happen, you’ll follow, you’ll lead, you’ll make time for them, and for the things on their heart – if you have to lose sleep, lose everything else. You’ll do it. No?

My students are always good examples because they’re the people I live with 🙂 They’ll be up at 5 am in the morning after a 2 am goodnight from writing a paper. I see them toiling on their work and then suddenly a couple of them – not all, but the ones who are in committed relationships and miss-miss-miss their girlfriend or boyfriend. I’ll hear them outside my hallway again for a quiet spot to talk to the one person they wouldn’t miss for anything.

The thing is God means so much more.

Doesn’t he?

Shouldn’t he?

I don’t know, but I’ve shortened prayer time so often. I’ve slept instead of staying up and praying. Not even one hour. And I’ve always known it is wrong – that the first thing to be taken for granted, the first thing to be cut in on is the thing I love more than life itself.

Is this what happens to relationships even if it should not? You’re in love for about three months – depending on who you are, you stay in love for about a couple of years… Because that was how I was for years after being saved. And then you love but you’re not quite a lover anymore? You haven’t tapped into the intensity the speaker talks about.

You’re on track, you’re doing the things you have to do… You take the garbage out, you give a goodnight kiss, you hold the door but – you wouldn’t give anything up for it. You wouldn’t let yourself get uncomfortable. You’ve never denied love or lost it but your serving the other is a little… off the map, shall we say? My last post is part of all this thinking on the subject… As you can see, I fail.

I don’t know how grace extends to me but it does. And I know that I have never stopped loving and can only be more and more shocked and blessed that God loves me, and how. And yet – I easily forget falling out of my comfort zone into his arms. Feeling his presence for the first time. Knowing that there is nothing I wouldn’t do to keep this. Knowing there is nothing I could do.

And knowing that he could. He wanted to. And there was nothing he wouldn’t do.

What’re you looking at?

17 Mar

I listened to Steve Farrar on this through a student’s Facebook post. And I was completely convicted by his three reasons for how often people fall into sexual immorality (yes, the Biblical meaning of this word).

Before I go on, I have to say – I do not know Steve Farrar, and in fact, this is the first time I’ve heard of him. I am not surprised as his mission is to “raise up men to Biblical masculinity” (thanks, Google). Or in his own words his mission is ‘Don’t screw up’. And I also feel obliged to point that I still cringe at the words ‘Biblical masculinity’ as if God designed a set of codes for how manly or how womanly one can be. He made us man and woman. And that suffices for me. No trying to be…

In fact, Farrar was mainly talking to them. And it convicted me. For both the kind of temptation he was talking about, as well as the general moral shortcuts he referred to.

In a nutshell, he pointed out that the people in his experience who have ended up in this quagmire have been people who have fallen out of touch with the word of God. That’s number one. And the word of God is the Bible.

It’s been a while since my Bibles have fallen apart. I remember the first two – I was racked with guilt that I let the pages go that far… But I couldn’t imagine how not to. But now… my Bibles are pretty. It might have something to do with internet reading instead of print reading. True. But I suspect I can still do more about that.

And then number two. He said most of those men were liars. I think you can lie by omission too. And this kinda convicted me. It doesn’t start with a conscious decision to lie when you’re mid-life. Did I lie in school? No. But college – yes. In social circles – yes. Simple things.

Are you going to come see us like you promised? – No, sorry, I have unexpected work at my job. —> But I didn’t. What I had was a volatile situation with a friend.

Why are you walking this side of the library? (Catholic schools/colleges in India and irrational top-down discipline). Oh, sorry – I didn’t know I couldn’t. –> But I did.

And he brought that down to a lack of accountability. It’s easy to feel that you have the right to choose where to be, to choose what to do. But after a point, you don’t feel like you owe anyone anything even in your closest relationships. And your closest relationship is God. I used to tell myself for a long time that I would not do anything I couldn’t tell my parents about. I’m… 27. And I think I’m heading back to that rule or some semblance of it. (My parents are in a different country, and sometimes might not understand what I’m telling them. But at least I’m going to have to see myself able to tell.)

Number three was something I feel so strongly about with so many of my young-ish friends in leadership and myself. Counselling someone of the opposite sex on your own. I am a pretty blocked-up-heart person. You can’t touch me if God doesn’t do some touching of his own first. And I mean in the emotional sense. Yet I know and I can feel myself feeling this! When I am on my own with someone, and they happen to confess how they feel about their own relationships or they happen to talk about loneliness or they open up to me and look at me with something like hope in their eyes – look, that’s powerful. They’re looking at me like I’m bringing hope. And of course, I warm up to them. And it’s fairly certain they warm up to you too. Which is fine.

But I, me myself – the me unit is often alone too, cries over relationships too in joy or sadness, longs for some things too, misses home too, LOVES hope too. And you put that together, and you have yourself one pretty explosive pot.

I analyse these things – analyse my emotions, everyone else’s wonder why. And that’s why I said I could feel myself feeling… Part of the reason for this is an ongoing conversation with God. But what happens when I forget that conversation?

Steve Farrar had 4 practical suggestions – stay in the Word, stay close to a friend, stay away from the women you’re not married to (his choice of genders), and stay alert. Agreed.

But I have one suggestion. And I argue that it is just as practical. It is also the title of his sermon.

Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Amen.

Humour dissection

12 Mar

I read this today. And I’m taking it on.

You – who read my blog, wise tribe – may not be recipient of my frequent sarcasm. Usually it is directed at myself. And for people who can take it – they get some too. I suppose this is a place I’m pretty gendered in my categorisations. Read: I think boys can take it, girls can’t.

Someone close to me asked me once if that was my modus operandi for flirting – and shocked me. Me? Good little Christian girl, know how to flirt? He only barely got away with that one being a good friend… 🙂 But it made me examine myself – perhaps and I need to be accountable there. BUT if it were, it would be sweet and gentler? Haha, I don’t know.

Sarcasm is funny. It makes people laugh. I love making people laugh. I use sarcasm.

Logical? Mostly. Except sarcasm is not all funny.

The same friend also asked me if my humour was my defence mechanism. Why did I joke about something that could hurt me?

I told you he was a good friend… That was just it. It could hurt and so I diffused it with humour. But I end up diffusing every potentially vulnerable situation with humour.

And what is the problem with having a coping strategy that works every time, you ask? This.

I am my real-est, I am myself with nothing else when I am at my most vulnerable. This is the kernel of knowledge that I (or the other person or both of us) have allowed to survive, inside the contexts and interactions of any of my best relationships. At my most vulnerable, I am also welcoming to God. It is when I stand there, that I can open the door of my heart. I run away from vulnerability until there’s a ringing manufacturer recall.

And that is the other problem with some of my humour. Even when it is targeted towards myself, self-deprecatingly, it is because I fail to honour what God has put in me. I fail to have the courage to speak boldly. With modesty but no fear. With security in the identity and love that comes from a relationship with God.

I can’t stop!

8 Mar

I have so much.

There is quite a long list of things I want in my head. My mind is like a schoolgirl, easily distracted. Research article – reading – reading – God time – oooh, Facebook – I’d love some mango. There’s my ridiculously fragmented thinking ^.

But then I got to thinking. Actually – actually – there is more that I have than what I want. It’s not quite that I have more than I want – at least, that is not what I’m trying to say. But if I listed what I have that I am grateful for, and what I want that I would really like to have… do you know what? That first list would be longer! And not because I am gracious and content or anything like that.

Because He gives.

Because He gives, I have…

a relationship with Him, His love.

a course I am enjoying

the ability to read and study

a job I love and a possible extension of it for next year

Marmite, and peanut butter, and golden syrup, and definitely more chocolate than I ought to have

people who give me all of those things too

and then those people for themselves

a mother for a best friend

more best friends in my life in far away places, which means I get to dream about visiting!

resources to read my Bible and study it

the Holy Spirit to convict me of what it means to me

a bike to get home and save time!

several different kinds of perfume

and the smell of vanilla!

the cushions I wished for

a week in Paris 😉

love

TWO pairs of boots (two!)

THREE if you count the ankle ones

Skype dates for the weekend

dinner and photography date for tomorrow

FaceTime date tonight maybe? (no, they’re not all boys :P)

three friends getting married

more shoes and one red pair (I am so lucky :D)

someone who sends me flowers 🙂

parents who brag about me rather erroneously 🙂

two yummy, cuddly dogs

flu-lessness!

an apartment to myself

in a beautiful house

a camera I enjoy

friends who care to protect me, make sure I’m okay

friends who’ll rescue my hard drive for me when I’ve been an idiot about saving my data

someone who’ll meet me in another city when I announce I’m going to be there in one hour to run an errand

friends who’ll offer to pay for my hard drive if other friends can’t rescue it

a conversation in which I was literally asked to share the gospel

redemption for even such as I

everyone who preaches and teaches in this wonderful city

the debates, the freedom to question, to seek the truth

the freedom to know that God is above our seeking and we see darkly

longer hair 😉

salvation

gifts of the Spirit

slowly the fruit, in spite of me

forgiveness for failure

forgiveness for failure from my family

patience from God

patience from people, despite my lack

a toaster and kettle of my own

tea and toast.

I could go on but I think I’ll go get some of that last, because it has become so obvious my nose is in it tonight 🙂 – His love keeps on giving.

No conditions

22 Sep

Today was a pretty ‘ouch!’ day.

Our hearts are so vulnerable that it makes it an even greater wonder how God loves us. Even when he tells me what I do not want to hear at the time, I trust him. Because my heart has known no firmer centre, and never will. This covenant is mine.

We are so clumsy with each other and in our interactions. And yet, God meets each of us in our most vulnerable, off-guard moments and still holds our hearts, emotions and his relationship with us as infinitely precious as an old, pressed leaf that would crumble if the faintest vein does not rest on firm fingers. He never lets go.

Unconditional love. It’s the most beautiful assurance in the world, and we’re called to give it.

Ecce, Dominus.

I don’t want to go outside

23 Jun

My shoulders tensed slightly in anticipation of the coming drama. It had been played out enough times before for me to know the script… *Johnny would fist his hands, and tauten his muscles… a plump, little slouched figure standing in what my bodybuilding friend would call the crab pose! I loved working with these kids. It was a special class in vacation Bible school. Special because its number was fewer, and the challenge different. And somehow, year after year I got slotted with these kids.

I had little or no training. I was an undergrad, or starting, or finishing. So I don’t know why except that I did.

I knew the routine too. We would tell them once, twice… usually a couple more times. It seemed like the same tone would work, because it was familiar.

Johnny, go outside and play. It’s recess!

NO. Johnny was NOT going anywhere. Uh uh. He stubbornly refused to go get the snacks and drink the church provided for every child, he refused to play running-and-catching or any other game. He refused to play with me either. He sat on the black and white triangle-squares of marble that tiled the floor of the side altar. It wasn’t the aisle – it was a little chapel to the side with an enclosed seating area that made it easy for us to keep the church’s very youngest members.

I took in a deep breath and said it again:

Johnny, go outside and play. I nudged him this time.

And I went over the routine, familiar, slow and dreading a tantrum.

It didn’t come. Instead, Johnny, still with his chubby arms flexed and taut, lifted his head a little and asked:

Why?

Stumbling a little, I explained: It’s recess. Go outside – as if the higher my voice, the more sense it made – and play with your friends.

I stressed the friends; I hoped it would be incentive.

Don’t you want to play with your friends?

He shook his head and I was giving up because it appeared that he understood and he had made his choice. Anyway, the food was on a little paper plate and one of the older kids had brought it to us, at my request.

But Johnny wasn’t finished with me. He had an answer to my most recent question.

But – but Jesus is my friend.

My tears were quick. It was what we had been learning after all – that He is our friend. Not a stranger, not just a distant God but – and I had told them – that He was really everything our hearts could desire, the bestest friend, and He didn’t need telling twice about anything we wanted or that hurt us or excited us. And He absolutely LOVED spending time with us – wouldn’t you? If you loved someone? And they’d all nodded their heads – wisely, dutifully.

Afterwards, I did cry. With my friends, in the cathedral’s garden after the children left. Johnny was minimally verbal but very aware of the most important lesson. And he seemed to talk quite well with the holy Spirit.

Sometimes I forget.

I want to go outside.

I want to leave the altar, shut the door on it, put my shoes back on and play the games.

I don’t remember my best friend – and he really is my best friend. And father, and lover and everything. And I am ridiculously lame about it showing it.

I want to fellowship with the church, and forget about the one we worship, and why we’re one.

I want to pursue his ministry – and I forget to pursue Him.

Or let Him pursue me.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  
I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.

The love of God

12 May

The love of God is brutally honest in its claim of your everything. God never wanted a casual relationship – ever. He has never once, in all of history, asked for it. You will never ‘date’ the bridegroom of your soul. He knew, he purposed, he chose, he sought!

When I was a young girl – 13 or 14? – I asked his Holy Spirit to know human love from this example. I wanted purpose from the start of a relationship. I still do. I didn’t want the other way around because we only compare the two loves because God made it a metaphor… And this example was so pure and so perfect and so undeserved and yet so indispensible to me.

Indispensible for survival. I cannot imagine my world without Christ in it.

It has never been a passion of a moment. He knew before we ever remembered him that he would find us. It’s never been the fluttery, heart-warming, giggle-worthy emotion we now, sadly, often associate with love. To show you I am not on a high horse, I will say this – human love is a beautiful thing. It is a metaphor of God’s love for us. No less.

This God-variety of love is a love that courts your utter vulnerability because he has become irreparably vulnerable.

The veil was never un-torn.

The stone was never rolled back.

And in his eternal, willing vulnerability – a God that I can wound, a God that I can reject, a God that I can embrace with all that I am and in whom become fully who I am – I am now always, unchangeably, and forever, myself… slowly understanding there is no fear. Not in such perfect love.

He is strong enough in his desire to prise open my closedness. To draw out the aching, gaping shreds of flesh that I choose to hide under old gauze. There is pain in that release, but only because I hold on so hard. Until, gently as he holds me and unfurls my clenched fists, clenched in fear and unbelief, the realisation hits me that I am home and I can let go of the props of sojourn that I have foolishly turned into my weary foundations. Bag, shoes, the inertia of motion, the tokens of travel – down. I am home.

If, in this love, you will touch and taste and leave behind because you find the pain of release too hard, I have learned this – God would only have your all. It is a choice.

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