Tag Archives: love of God

Joy Comes

30 Mar

I nearly finished a poem today about the things we lose and hold on to, the pictures on our wall… How memory loves pain and we question ‘why, me?’ all the time… But even though I wanted to write that to comfort and to say that God gently holds all your pieces together, holds you until you are whole in His arms, I couldn’t write it today somehow. I will write this instead:

When I think of all the wondrous things He has done, the ways in which He has held me from falling apart… When I consider His faithfulness when we are faithless, even when I doubt relentlessly, hurtfully, like a millstone on a thread… my eyes well up, and spill over. And I want to shout and dance, but as I move to do so, I break down in tears on my knees once again. I am humbled by the extravagance of grace.

Before you ask – no, nothing has happened today except His extraordinary, everyday love.

I pray that that amazing love washes over you. Wave after wave of it, until you cannot feel the salt on your cheeks any more.

Churched Christianity

24 Mar

This happened several days ago. She told me I was getting old. For certain things in life… Most of my friends in the workplace and at university were/are older than I. I am older than her by a year. Everyone in the course last year that I want to join next year was four years older than I, at least. I say these things not to defend myself. My first reaction – like yours – was to wince and nod. It was to accept the constraints. I do think I am getting old. And I know with another part of me that that is untrue. There is a difference between realism and this willingness to believe the least of yourself. But it hurt to hear it because most other people outside of church do not think so. Most of my friends don’t normally share this view either!

But I have a pretty convenient system of half-forgiving things and forgetting about them – I mean things interfere less with your to-do list that way. I don’t know if ‘forgiving’ is the right word or if there is such a thing as half-forgiveness either 😉 I mean, what I did was basically be ungracious in my own mind.

I simply decided to think this friend was perhaps not as mature as I was, had different definitions about culture and society than I did, had different constraints on what it was to be a woman and different ideas about “having life and having it to the full”. ← That’s all. All beautiful things to have, and all rather easy for me to think and not remember this little commandment.

Ah but look at the new NIV’s rendition of this, which sometimes – some very few times in my life – does make sense.

I think it does especially for people who are used to considering themselves below everyone else, less than average, less than ideal, not anyone’s idea of beautiful… So many women I know do this. I know some men do too, but I don’t know enough who will tell me to say ‘so many men’ 😉 We forget how much God has planned for us and we cut ourselves short. We imagine we’re incomplete without that house or that car or that husband.

We accept the constraints that people give us.

What is horrible about all this is that nowhere does it grow as much as it does in the church. We live in accordance with the church, not God.

We worry about how ‘churched’ we look and are. Our witness fails to be about God’s calling on our lives.

NO – I was not equating a husband, a car and a house but I am trying to point out that we do equate them. To often. As if everything in life is about planned acquisition, the next step, moving on, the natural stages.

Who gave us natural stages? Not God. Not really. Isaac was born well beyond natural, people laughed at Noah’s idea of building a home, Eli’s sons didn’t pick up on the whole dynastic paradigm of churches today… they went pretty wrong and God saw it, unlike our churches… Jonathan would rather have put his life in danger, let God’s purposes be fulfilled than be his father’s son. David chose to follow God out of the expected life of Jesse’s son, out of his sheep and his music, to building up a nation that needed it.

In my generally three-cornered conversations, this was one of the times I managed to stop and listen to God and to be honest with my friend. To be more gracious. Oh – that does not come naturally for yours truly as it does for her friends 🙂 ! Sigh. I told her we were only too old/frumpy/inadequate/whatever other excuse for some ‘Christians’ – it was the saddest thing I had to say. She agreed. Because, of course, it’s not ‘good’ to want more, it’s not ‘good’ to want to change the world, it’s not ‘good’ to be loud about poverty and homelessness and illiteracy and oppression, and it’s not ‘good’ to be discontent with wrong and injustice… Oh, discontent is sin… of course.

Think again. Pray. Again.

These ideas we have about a person’s possibility in the world – they come from a limited idea of what God can do.

You know that willingness to believe the least of yourself? It sounds to God like you’re believing the least of Him. And He’s fighting for you because he thinks

you

are

wonderful.

Stat.

Happy things

21 Mar

This is random. Not information you really need to know, but if it gives you a happy little cuddle as you think ‘me too!’ – why not? 😉

These are the things I remember that have made me or generally do tend to make me smile 🙂

1. Light from behind the clouds.

2. Rain, rain clouds, thick skies making everything a different colour. Yeah – don’t ask me to explain that!

3. Puppies, and wet noses, and grunting noises for belly rubs.

4. Poetry I ‘get’. But this also makes me cry.

5. Funny English! Bloopers, spoonerism, anything… Always has! [Disclaimer: Spoken. Grammar errors simply bother me. No, this is not just a teacher thing!]

6. Worship music, in the distance. It’s how I found my church in N Wales, and fell in love with it and made it home.

7. Chocolate. Totally. Gets me every time.

8. Old conversations – relived.

9. Someone I didn’t expect to miss me, saying they missed me. Like some of the people at OGCU, especially some of the guys (truly friends in Christ)… you don’t expect them to miss you.

10. Every time God speaks – to me. And I hear something unexpected, or old and true. This too can have the double-effect of making me cry. This isn’t even comparable…

11. Code words, in-jokes, harmless family puns. *giggles*

Keeping It Wise

20 Mar

I had a Skype date with one of my best friends – she’s pretty close to being best, except there’s God and all that 😉 and there might be a guy in the offing, ya never know! And I’d like him to be a best friend too… I’m conscientious about these things 😀

Anyway, the K-dawg and I got down to it and sniffled our way through her early Sunday morning and my powdery face mask, with video off and on… We talked among (MANY) other things about passive-aggressiveness and intimacy (however minimal) before marriage. Now the one only relates to the other in this: a mutual friend entirely disagrees – or equally possibly, resents – K’s closely held views on the subject, but instead of confronting her disagreement, she makes jibes at the invalidity of her position… And I share it in the hope that any one who reads this will disagree or agree (phew!) without discounting it 😀

Well, before we go further, I shared K’s position. We might have minor differences but in general, we agree on that one. I’m not in agreement entirely with some of the theology in this subject but there is validity, although it is highly personal.

We were talking about a couple at Oxford that we knew that had a no-kissing policy until marriage. I actually know a few others like this – and I think it’s awesome. Quite simply, I do not want to be able to compare an experience. K shared how she was glad that a friend she’d known had held to that policy for her and him, when she was new to Christ. She is so grateful although she wasn’t then… It isn’t just kissing – haha, I am neither so legalistic nor trivial. It is a personal judgement we make for ourselves of course, but it is something we do need to think about and too often we have forgotten to think about it, deliberately. And I think it depends on the person entirely. If you can shrug off the intimacy, and you know that there is a different level of emotional giving that is solely for the woman or the man you marry – hey, go you 😉

I know that I regret every moment I spent not seeking God, before he found me. I know I would regret every moment of seeking someone else, who wasn’t it… I am entirely in favour of relationships with the opposite sex where we get to know them, socially, in mutual contexts, interactionally, as a friend and people we share our thought lives with. These help us grow. I am even in favour of seeking each other – taking one man and woman now – with intention, honouring each other but asking to know more about the every day person, the interests, the thoughts, the ideas and the passion for God in the other person. The relationship they have with God that defines them – because it defines you. These help us grow and mature, and love within Christ, honourably. But to imagine more without a God-confirmation, to give covenantally without a covenant… It isn’t just physical, it’s emotional and to that extent, spiritual.

If the relationship of a man and woman on earth is a metaphor of that between God and us – take it seriously, take it personally. I have to remind myself: Stop abstracting it. He wasn’t looking just for a dating relationship, he wasn’t looking for a maybe. He wanted us and he asked us to choose. It’s God, you know – he’s a jealous God… You just – you just don’t touch that.

Fighting for you

19 Mar

Hey you!

You are worth fighting for. Yes… you.

Has anyone ever given up on you? Have you given up on yourself? Ever had a conversation where someone simply throws their arms up in the air, and walks away? Have you been that person to walk away? Maybe you’ve even forgotten these moments… maybe you didn’t even think they were giving up on you, because they never even tried.

Were you that kid at school whom no one bothered to ask how his college applications were going? Or sports scholarship? Or dance auditions? Did they assume you weren’t trying? There is that little twinge every time someone passes over you, refuses to talk to you – has nothing to say… to you. Are you the one no-one ever fought for?

Have you been the friend whom I stopped talking to? The friend whose conversations were getting so hard I didn’t want to try? Or were you the friend who hated my humour so much, you never called back? Or the friend who never returned my texts because life got busy? Were you the friend I grabbed hold of once school was over for that last crazy summer, but then forgot about as soon as I found different friends? That friend who stayed in grad school while I got a job and. neither of us. even. tried?

Sometimes we look in the mirror and we think ‘ordinary’. We look out of our window in the mornings and there’s hardly any excitement we notice in our hearts and our spirits. But it’s wrong because there is this wonderful love story that’s been brewing in our lives since forever. And we slip past it because we aren’t looking at his face. Imagine that?

Imagine this.

Someone did stick around and wait for forever – just so he could have you. Someone never gave up on you, they never stopped trying – in fact, you weren’t even visibly in the picture when he started.

Someone is urging you to try, get up, off of the floor. Dust off the powder, gather your bags – it’s time. He is watching for you, watching out for you all the time. His eyes never leave you – they can’t. He’s never let you go, and he longs to hear you. And he’s always listening, always caring, always.

He is fighting for you. I come to the end of my strength, and I think: He’s never going to let go. Really. He wants me that much. He will

keep us from falling,

present us perfect before his throne with overflowing happiness,

show us his glory…

He will. We don’t even have to fight – he’s done it all.

Ever been in that moment of worship, lost in just how breath-taking he is?

Imagine this, just imagine – God looks at you when you’re with him, and he goes W-O-W. He really thinks you are beautiful.

See him. See yourself.

Admissions Decisions

26 Feb

I woke up to a pretty happy email today. *Shrug* I don’t know what it means but that’s okay 🙂

I have bantered with God so long about what to do next. We’ve laughed and cried over it. I’ve had things He whispered to me so long ago pounding in my head, making me wonder how I could ever have forgotten them. I still wonder. And I put that all together, with the things that seeking a career – in the detached ‘progress-only’ kind of way that the structures around me taught me, because foolishly I was paying attention – have led me to…

And I’m trusting God to work it out. In His way, in His time. Because that is how He makes all things beautiful.

Admissions decisions – have you heard from them today?

Love, Berries, your Facebook status, and God

25 Feb

Sometimes Facebook statuses that pretend to be public awareness campaigns do annoy me. When I put them in my status box, I know I’m doing it for the attention. There isn’t a single one of my friends that does not know of breast cancer or the importance of regular check-ups. What if the effect of these statuses (stata!) tends to be inciting overweening (ha! used that word!) teen male curiosity? Boo. 😀 But perhaps the point is to gradually make it so common an idea that everyone will one day say ‘Of course’ to ‘Have you had a mammogram?’

Well, at least, all the ladies.

The latest Facebook status rubric involving berries, no less, goes somewhat like this.

Blueberry: I’m single
Pineapple: It’s complicated
Raspberry: I’m a touch and go woman
Apple: Engaged
Cherry: In a relationship
Banana: I’m married
Avocado: I’m the “other one”
Strawberry: Can’t find the right one
Lemon: Wish I were single
Grape: Want to get married!

Pretty arbitrary, huh?! Although I do agree pineapples are complicated. Also that avocado simply shouldn’t be in there! If you know you’re the other, then you stop thinking about yourself as the other. You get out of it. You might even say ‘I was nearly the other, but I let go when I found out’ but seriously? Avocado?! Third – I’m pretty sure most women are a chunky smoothie of sorts on that list 😉

For the record (or actually for the lack of it, in this context) I’m a cherry. In the biggest relationship ever, with Christ. I’m also a blueberry. I’m also an unconcerned strawberry because I just believe I cannot. It’s God who’ll do the finding. And that’s fine by me. He has a pretty detailed list from me anyway, which He probably already knew 😉 But I love that it will make Him smile because of my silliness and trust.

In fact, for what it’s worth, my Facebook status is ‘in a relationship’ and has been for a long time! I guess I’m stubborn about the semantics, and reluctant to change the fresh, naive, smarty-pants answer a much, much younger me gave years ago. Because really nothing has changed from this status quo. It never will!

PS I just got the tag in my inbox 😉 Nice timing.

Jonah Chronicles

21 Feb

So the last time I revisited Jonah Bar-Amittai, he was running away from God in fear. If you missed that, here it is

Get this: Not fear that he was inadequate and wouldn’t match up, that he would not be able to do what God had called him to do. No. Fear, instead, that he would. That God would do exactly as He had promised and it would be too hard for him to confront. He also feared that God would be who He is.

He knew God and he knew himself too – pretty darn well, I’d say, seeing how the story turned out! Check out this part in particular. Isn’t that an amazing story?

I know what Jonah’s about, you know… I am the queen of non-confrontational. I hate the conversations where I have to talk about something that’s not right. I especially hate it when I’m not actually doing the wrong thing. Not because I haven’t messed up – I always have, and, eeerrrrmmm, I don’t care to elaborate on that point just right now :-o! But sometimes I do believe God uses you from the periphery of a situation to speak into it, to intervene.

Imagine this. If you’re in a research team, and you know that one of your colleagues is manipulating data specifically recorded by another of your colleagues, what would you do? That’s not so bad. Let’s step it up a bit. Two friends of yours in a teetering relationship and you know that they are hurting each other. And you know it isn’t of God.

Let’s up the ante a bit more, shall we? Your accountability partner with whom you share a totally equal relationship is on the brink of something actually unbiblical. Usually, with my friend, my contributions are along the lines of ‘Do you think that you are acting in accordance with what you believe the Bible to be saying?’ – ‘Well, then, good on ya!’ *cringes* I guess you pick the people you are accountable to… Mine is amazing, beautiful and tells me what’s wrong without me even feeling the tiniest twinge of smallness or pain. Ha – let’s see who tops that 😉 *I jest.* And I would never feel the need to say that to her – I am certain. Yet, what if I did? I do know there was one friend I did feel I had to say something to, when she was asking advice and expecting a certain response from me – one I couldn’t give if I was to truly reflect my feelings on honouring God in the situation.

I know what I wanted to say was the cop-out line.

Then there was that other time when I had to – just had to – tell a good friend and housemate I really felt from God for her. We’d been discussing a relationship she was struggling with for a long time. We knew from the start that there things that did not honour God in it. And still, she and I were both tempted to sigh and wonder how beautifully romantic it would be if certain things were straightened out. Yet in prayer, I knew that ignoring things that had happened already would not be putting God first. It would be compromising on what she was waiting on God to prove Himself faithful about.

So… I did tell her. After feeling heavy and compelled one morning, I did. I huddled in my cold Oxford room with only glass doors and curtains to keep it insulated. And I waited for her to put the kettle on for her breakfast. I could hear the kitchen perfectly, from the adjacent room. And I wondered what to say to her.

I padded out in the huge, fluffy kermit flip-flops I’d adopted and fumbled through what I’d been feeling. I had respect for both of them but I had to get this out. I was pretty scared. But God made another of his miracles that morning. I think coincidences are designed.

But that is a story for another Jonah day.

For today, in what ways are you running away from God’s will for your life?

I ask this because I have been running too.

See… Jeremiah said ‘but‘, Moses said ‘but‘, Jonah definitely said ‘but’.

If you know you have said ‘but’ more times than you care to remember hurting him, then I think you want to experience this.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth”. Jer 1:9

What an incredibly intimate, evocative picture… The Father looking into His child’s troubled face, full of her awareness of her inadequacy and worthlessness. And God’s first impulse is to reach out and gently stop those words that belittle His beloved. And give you His precious, infinite words instead.

I know that God has a specific purpose for you. A calling that only you can fulfill. A place for you to speak into. Words that only you can say. And they aren’t your words – they are His. He can fill those lips that are trembling with tears with the song He wrote.

And then if you but let Him, He’ll hold you and sing softly over you, hold those broken pieces back together.

The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing. Zeph 3:17

Whatever you’re afraid to confront, let Him hold you. Like Jonah, we have a God who cares passionately enough to be persistent.

I know that God has a purpose for you. It may not be comfortable at all.

But

it will

be

God.

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.

 

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God is beautiful – Part 1

2 Feb

I think I should re-name this blog ‘God is beautiful’. After all the sifting and the raking, after the ploughing and the draining, after everything is stripped away from me, and I have nothing left but God’s voice to hear, as I stare into my hands… this is what I will be left with:

God

is

beautiful.

There is nothing higher or deeper than His amazing love for you, and His persistence in saving you from your own fears and distractions. Nothing. And when you ask Him how He can forgive so much, He says to you ‘Forgive what?’.

Your sins I will remember no more.

There is no way that I can ever deserve that love. Today, as I was sitting in my chair at work, I asked Him how I could ever be worthy of His calling.

I cannot. But He makes me beautiful because His beauty is sufficient.

He is able to keep me from stumbling, even stumbling, and to present me – me! – faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

And there is nothing to indicate it is only when the body has been stripped off. Not just when we think we’re not human any more and we are ethereal beings in some kind of new dimension… No, it is now.

Worship him. There is nothing else to do.

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