Sunday, 24 September 2017

Be still.....and know that I am God!





I have always loved this verse of scripture, and in my mind it often conjures up images of mountain tops or views like the picture above.  It has convicted me to practice the Sabbath properly and to take a break from the business of life in order to meet with God.

However

In the past few weeks it has taken on a whole different meaning to me. Four weeks ago, whilst away in Herefordshire for a couple of days, I fell down one tiny step and broke my ankle pretty badly. After five hours in surgery and a lot of plates, screws and wires, I was told that I am unable to bear any weight for six weeks. I have to keep my leg elevated and pretty much unable to do anything!

Those of you who know me will know I am always on the go. Our church centre is a very busy one and I am often seen running around in business. I am at my happiest when I’m out in the countryside with Paul and my two dogs, so this period of enforced rest has, at times, seemed impossible! At present I am unable to do any of these things, my life is looking very different!

God has a great way of getting his message across, and over the past week or so, the same message been popping up for me…. ‘Be still and know that I am God’

One morning, after hearing this message again, I got very frustrated. I exclaimed to God ‘I am most certainly still!’ I felt in my spirit God say, ‘But do you really know I am God?’

Even in my time of stillness I have begun to fill my time with all sorts of things, the TV, internet shopping, reading magazines etc. But was this really what God was asking of me?

I came to realise that this time of stillness, is a great opportunity, an opportunity to really come to know God. An opportunity to go deeper in him, despite the circumstances I find myself in. God is taking me on a journey. A journey of faith, a journey of stillness and contemplation, a journey to really know who God is.



A couple of days ago as I was reading the book ‘Dejunk’ by my good friend Gary Lacey. It is an amazing book, well worth a read, (it can be found by clicking the link:  https://garylacey.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/dejunk.html?spref=fb)

As I read the book, I was completely struck. It says this:

‘In fact, I knew God was speaking.

“Just stop.”

“Be still.”

“Stop doing, stop worrying, stop summarising, stop day dreaming, stop feeling bad, stop hurting”

Just stop.

I felt the yearning of a God who loves us to the moon and back.

I felt his longing for us to connect with and hear his heartbeat, hear his voice, feel the feelings, experience what he is experiencing. He desperately needs us to hear from him’


So this Sunday morning, as people are getting ready to go to church to hear from God. 
I am here, in the stillness and seeking that I may know God better.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Retreating and Encountering God

Saturday was a really special day for me and a day of great encounter with God. I travelled from sunny North Wales to Coventry for a retreat day with other women who are walking down the road of childlessness and infertility.

The devil had really tried to stop me going, so I knew it was going to be a good, God-centred day, but I never expected it to be such a beautiful day where I would feel so loved from the second I stepped through the door.

It was a day with a Myriad of emotions. Each one made me feel more accepted and taught me something of the character of God. I share them today in the hope that they may bless someone who may be feeling grief, loss or loneliness or may be searching for a community who understands, they are out there and God will lead you to them

Companionship
It was amazing how in a room full of strangers I could feel such a community with those women. We weren’t all just sisters in Christ, but we were all fighting similar battles, with similar struggles and all looking for people who will help us feel understood. It was amazing to be told you are not alone, and know it to be true!

You see God made us for relationship. He wants us to do life with each other. That is why the early church proved to be successful. As acts 2:44 says
“All the believers were together and had everything in common.”
‭we are called to journey together, to share our ups and downs and walk the road alongside each other, and with every step we take, God will be right there with us, smiling as we support each other.



Relief
A surprising emotion for me was one of relief. As I listened to the story of Lizzie, she articulated some of the battles she faced so beautifully and I felt the relief of knowing that someone else has felt that too. In society, and even church, those who are journeying through infertility are so often alienated and feel alone, but there was a great relief in shared experiences.

That morning, as I sat in the chapel clinging to my holding cross, I was able to let go of feelings of guilt and failure that I had carried for some time, and I felt the love of Jesus wash over me as the music playing beckoned me to:

Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling
O come to the altar
The Father's arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ



Grief
There was time in the day where grief was discussed and shared. This was a beautiful tie. To understand what grief was and to be told that the grief we felt was ok.
It’s OK to grieve for the life that might have been, the things that never were and the loss that we feel.

We tasted the bitterness of saltwater and remembered the grief we all felt.  I felt God’s comfort and as I looked to the cross I was reminded he is no stranger to grief and I felt the assurance that he grieves with us all.



Joy
The day was surprisingly full of joy. As we shared together with people who ‘get it’ we shared in joy as we made connection, swapped stories and found people who could truly say ‘I’ve been there too!’ We were reminded of Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”
‭‭
After we had tasted the saltwater, we then tasted the sweetness of honey and thanked God for the joy and laughter that is also experienced along the way.

Unrest
For me, another thing I experienced was an discomfort in my spirit as God spoke to me. As a minister in The Salvation Army, I have people in my church and in the wider denomination who are also experiencing the pain and grief of childlessness and infertility. I have been placed in a position where I can influence not only my church, but The Salvation Army as a whole. Over the past few months God has really been guiding me to consider what this may look like and has kept reminding me of that famous verse in Esther 4:14:

And who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this?”

As I ponder my beautiful day with such a gorgeous-inside-and-out women, my heart is full of gratitude, joy and excitement. Gratitude that I was able to share in such a special day, joy that I am not alone and excitement at what God is going to do in the days and months ahead.