Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Truth will set you free

I have been marvelling at many things these last few days. “Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvellous deeds.” – Psalm 72:18.

I marvel at the way in which God shines new light into your life to give you eyes to see. I am reminded of when Jesus healed the blind man in Mark 8:22-26, and after Jesus put his eyes on the man’s eyes, the man could see the people looked like trees walking around. After Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes a second time, the man’s eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. The new light God has shone into my life has shown me that I have been living in a land of walking trees for my whole Christian walk.

I marvel at the depravity of my own heart – maybe “marvel” is not quite the right word, but you know what I mean. How I can think I am following wholeheartedly after God and His ways….and then suddenly more light falls across my path, and the darkness in which I have been walking is exposed.

Truth. We worship the God of Truth (Psalm 31:5), Jesus Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), the Spirit of Truth has been sent into our hearts (John 16:13), God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17), we are sanctified by truth (John 17:17) and one day we will dwell in the City of Truth (Zech 8:3).

Deception and truth are no friends. And yet I have found myself swept up into a world of deception as I have sought to protect my sister from knowledge which I have believed would cause her pain in her world of rituals, as she seeks to find her security in a “contamination-free world” and I have tried to reassure her that we are keeping things “clean”. (This post explains more). And the new light I have been given has shown me that in my desire to protect my sister, I have unwittingly been causing her to rely more and more on her rituals and the false security these can give her, rather than placing her trust in the One True God who has the power to set her free. I have also brought dishonour to the precious Name of my Lord and Saviour by not proclaiming truth in all circumstances. These last few days have been intensely painful.

I marvel at the forgiveness we have in Christ. That in Him ALL our sins are forgiven, that we can come before Him at the foot of the cross, and know that because He is the Truth and His Word is Truth, when we confess our sins God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.

I marvel at the steadiness and confidence I now know, now that I have God’s belt of truth buckled firmly around my waist. He has given me a boldness to speak the Truth to Helen in love.

I marvel at the way God is speaking to Helen and unsettling her confidence in her rituals and showing her that it is wrong for her to place her trust in these rituals and not in God.

The prayer of my heart: That I will marvel at God’s deliverance of Helen from her rituals and at Him giving her a new song in her mouth and a hymn of praise to our God. I am under no illusions – I know the walk ahead will be a difficult one for us as a family. God has reminded me of the fact that when Moses approached Pharaoh to ask him to let God’s people go, initially things became much more difficult for God’s people. But when God revealed His Name to Moses He told Him the significance of His Name – “I am the LORD (Yahweh) and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:6).

May God have mercy.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

You are not alone

The world of online friendships has brought with it so many blessings but surely the hardest aspect of this world is the lack of physical contact. There are times when all you want to do is sit with a dear friend going through a time of suffering and hold them close and weep with them. Words on a screen seem so inadequate at such a time to convey how you feel, how your heart is burdened for them. “Mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

When I have walked through dark valleys myself, I have always had a desperate urge to know that I am not alone, that there are others who can understand what I am going through, and can identify with how I am feeling, who can show by a look in their eye that they know.  Yet this has rarely happened, for as the Proverb states, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy” (Proverbs 14:10). We all share in the burden of suffering, but each one has been given their own load to carry. Lack of identification with a particular sorrow has not meant a lack of compassion however, and it has been a profound blessing to me to have been given the gift of compassionate friends over the years.

Yet surely the greatest gift of all has been the understanding that my Creator and my Lord is One to whom I can turn for comfort and solace, for having been made in human flesh, he is able to empathize with our weaknesses. He understands. He knows.

So instead of being able to hug my dear friend and weep with her, I point her to Him, and I lift her up before Him, carrying her burden to the One who “goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

I AM NOT ALONE (written in 1999)

The greatest fear I have is that I’m on my own
That no-one can truly understand what I am going through
Dark nights of my soul, deep anguish in my heart
From this agony I long to be set free

I needed a friend, someone to stand with me
Who’s suffered the pain and can encourage me
Will I ever comprehend this amazing truth -
My Creator and my Lord can empathize with me

As I look into His eyes
My heart skips a beat – I have to look again
Compassion in His eyes clearly says “I know”
I am reassured that I am not alone.

The pain I feel is nothing when compared with His
The Father turned His back on Him, could not bear to look
Will I ever comprehend the torment of His soul
As on that brutal cross He hung, my sin upon His back


Thursday, 7 July 2011

My Cup Overflows

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken - Ecc 4:12

A lot happens in 17 years. A lot of growing takes place, many mistakes are made, much forgiveness is given, foundations are solidified, love deepens – and grace abounds.

Except this story begins 19 years ago, when I first set eyes on my future husband at our church’s youth group where he was a leader and I was a helper on my Christmas holiday from university. Yes, it was love at first sight :) But reality then hit home – this man, 8 years my senior, with a faith in God I admired, and eyes I could drown in, would never be interested in me, he was out of my league. So I returned to university and started dating a young man there. Not the best start to a love story…

6 months later, I was back home again from university, single, and Pete was still leading the church youth group. We began dating, 7 weeks later were engaged, and married the following summer, much to the youth group’s delight! Whirlwind romance indeed.

I was a very young Christian when we were married, just over 2 years, and carried a lot of the world’s views into our married life. It never crossed my mind that I might vow to “obey” my husband before God, and as we entered married life my career in a top accountancy firm was uppermost in my list of priorities. I had good intentions of not allowing myself to get sucked into working too many hours. 5 years later I crashed and burned, the pressures of aiming for promotion and the regular 12-hour days I was working taking their toll.

Looking back, that was the best thing that could have happened for our marriage. Resigning my career and losing the company sport’s car were a severe dent to my pride, but the blessing gained from repentance and reordering my priorities to home and family, and more importantly realising my identity is based on who I am in Christ alone, and not the idol of career, has transformed my heart.

The blessing of a child 6 years ago has certainly brought us closer together as a couple, as we recognise our inadequacies at nurturing this little boy’s heart in the ways of the Lord, and lean on Him and His grace for this awesome task. And witnessing the wonderful bond between father and son grow stronger year by year has been a pure joy to behold – I shall never forget the day Harry couldn’t hold back the emotion and wept as he told me how much he loves his dad.

Last week, it struck me that verse 5 in Psalm 23 “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows” can be a prayer for a wife – that God would anoint the “head” of the wife, the husband, with the Holy Spirit, pour His Spirit into him, grow him in the faith, and then the blessings overflow onto the wife and the whole family. I have seen this to be true in our marriage. These last few years, God has grown Pete’s faith, love and knowledge of Him, and my cup has certainly been overflowing as a result. I pray I never lose sight of this and cry out to God on behalf of my husband daily. For my husband has sacrificed himself so much for me over the years. After I crashed and burned from my career I went through a period of deep struggle with my faith – and for a number of years Pete set aside his work in the church so that he could support me. In the last few years we have both experienced something of a spiritual revival, as God has brought our focus back onto Christ and Him crucified, and by His grace has built for us a much stronger foundation for our faith, and so too, for our marriage.

As we celebrate 17 years of marriage together in a couple of weeks’ time, I am much aware that marriage is a sign and a symbol given by God, placed within the fabric of society, pointing to the glory of Christ, the mystery of Christ and the church. And I am so aware that neither of us have the ability to live up to that calling. Instead, my confidence is in the grace of God. May God’s grace sustain us through our weaknesses, and may He be glorified as a result.