“What God can prevent in His power, He permits in His wisdom” – Arthur Burt.
Childlike faith, it would seem, does not just happen for everyone. Like me, you may have many unanswered questions. Why didn’t God prevent this from happening? Why hasn’t He changed this situation? Sure enough, we have questioned why our path has led us through pain and sorrow, why should we have to suffer this way? After all, my husband and I have honoured and served God in all the ways we know possible, so how come things worked out this way? Did Jesus sit on His hands and let our babies death top the broken heart charts for my husband and I?
Many times people are perplexed that I choose to glorify God, they have questioned how I can still believe in God, let alone trust in His goodness? They perceive that when I was trusting in Him, He let me down?! I have grappled in my mind with these arguments for the past five years. Is God good? Does He love me? Why do bad things happen to good people? In fact, why do bad things happen at all? Finally, I grew tired of trying to figure it all out and made the choice to trust in the Word of God and as a result, my faith has been renewed and I have entered His rest. I rest in Him and choose to believe that God holds all of my tomorrow’s and come what may, He is good all the time… and all the time He is good. x
I find as often as the seasons change so to does my reading genre. As Spring is upon us I am drawn to the life in the air… flowers in bloom, bees are buzzing and resurrection life is apparent as buds of life burst forth from the barren winter branch of the old Wattle tree in our front yard.
The thought of new life, of resurrection life, has me seeking a deeper heart revelation of His resurrection… what does it look like to live on the resurrection side of the cross? Why is it that many Christians have a reputation of living their lives as though He isn’t risen, lives that are joy-less, hope-less, grace-less? Pondering these thoughts has led me to re-read Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace” , in the first chapter I am captivated by a quote that Yancey has cited, rather it is a column written by humourist Erma Bombeck:
In church the other Sunday I was intent on a small child who was turning around smiling at everyone. He wasn’t gurgling, spitting, humming or rummaging through his mother’s handbag. He was just smiling. Finally, his mother jerked him about and in a stage whisper that could be heard in a little theatre off Broadway said, “Stop that grinning! You’re in church!” With that, she gave him a belt and as the tears rolled down his cheeks she added, “That’s better,” and returned to her prayers…
Suddenly I was angry. It occurred to me the entire world is in tears, and if your not, then you’d better get with it. I wanted to grab this child with the tear-stained face close to me and tell him about my God. The happy God. The smiling God. The God who had to have a sense of humor to have created the likes of us… By tradition, one wears faith with solemnity of a mourner, the gravity of a mask of tragedy, and the dedication of a Rotary badge.
What a fool, I thought. Here was a woman sitting next to the only light left in our civilisation – the only hope, our only miracle – our only promise of infinity. If he couldn’t smile in church, where was there left to go?
On that note… time to go be with my children (they leak joy all over the place)! x
Most of us, at some point in our lives, find difficulty in believing our prayers or more so even just making time for prayer. Life is busy, we hurry through our prayers (when we remember to pray), our minds drift to thoughts of what’s for dinner etc. our focus is scattered and everywhere but on God. Prayer is simply conversation with God, no set time or location and minimal effort required and yet so many believers struggle with taking time to talk with God.
Lay aside all prayer formulas and simply be yourself with God. He has uniquely created each one of us to interact with Him as individuals and your prayer style should be consistent with the way He designed you.
Be yourself, approach Him with your own personality, your strengths, weaknesses and everything that is you. In the book of 1 Samuel we read a story of Hannah heartbroken and grief stricken as she was childless in a society that considered not having a child the ultimate failure. When Hannah cried out to God I imagine, she wasn’t on her knees with head bowed and whispering her petitions, rather the Word says she was ‘in bitterness of soul and wept in anguish’ (chapter 1:12) . God wants to meet with you, He wants to take you just as you are.
I recall a time of desperate prayer on my knees in the pouring rain as I ‘wept in anguish’, God answered and my journey of healing began in that desperate moment. God loves that we come to Him with our emotions, our hurt, our true self, just as a parent does with his child. I want my children to feel they can come to me with all manner of problems, not hide their emotions under a veil of fear.
When my daughters come to me and show dependence on me as the role of a loving parent, I feel fulfilled, my heart bubbles with love in that they trust me with their deepest hurts.
In similar ways, the parent child relationship defines the attitude we ought to have in prayer an attitude that focuses on God and expresses absolute dependence on Him as Father, the One who gave us life and who loves, cares for, provides for, and protects us.
Sometimes at night I hear my little girl praying, not some mechanical script, but words that flow from a heart of thanksgiving and faith in a Heavenly Father that ‘makes everything okay because He loves me’. God is not manipulated by long-winded, rehearsed babbling, but rather He is moved by our heart attitude, an attitude that seeks His presence… not His presents. Give it a go, He is waiting to chat with you x
It is of great comfort to rest in the thought that pain, trouble, calamity, in whatever form it may come, brings with it great blessings that we might not ever have had were we not willing to walk a mile with Sorrow. L.B Cowman writes;
” Many of the richest blessing’s which have come down to us from the past are the fruit of sorrow or pain”
I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me.(cited from “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman)
May you be encouraged to stand fast on the promises of God that while there may be pain in the night, joy comes in the morning. x
It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
Lamentations 3; 21-24 (MSG Version)
In recent times I have come across many people that are busy with performance, busy with measuring up to the worlds plumb line of success, busy people pleasing, wearing ‘busy’ like a badge, like it’s a status to be coveted. In prayer and pondering I asked the Lord to speak to me about this busyness… should I be more busy so as to soak in the success pool? Here’s what I believe He whispered; ‘they keep themselves ‘purposely busy’ while I have created you to be ‘busy about your purpose’, your purpose is to love and be loved, Kingdom success is measured by how well you love’. This brought such a peace to my soul, and reminded me of the words penned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13;
The Way of Love
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (MSG Version)
This is by far my favourite song at the moment; “Blessing’s” by Laura Story , I believe the trials of this life are His mercies in disguise, I have doubted His goodness, I have doubted His love and many times after I have shared my journey with others, they are perplexed that I choose to glorify God. They have questioned how can I still believe in God let alone trust in His goodness? They perceive that when I was trusting in Him, He let me down?!
I have grappled in my mind with these arguments for the past 5 years, ‘is God good? Does He love me? Why do bad things happen to good people?, in fact why do bad things happen at all? Finally I grew tired of trying to figure it all out and made the choice to trust in His Word and trust that He is a God of Mercy and deep, deep Love for us. My healing has come through tears and a thousand sleepless nights were what it took to know He is near, my faith has been renewed and I have entered His rest.
I still have painful memories and even present day sorrowful situations, but I am learning to transcend them by pursuing the heart of God in prayer and reading the Word. Proverbs 3:5-6 implores us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths”. Day and night I have meditated on this truth. Trusting in the Lord means, rather than blaming Him for what happens, rather than doubting His love for us, we relax and rest assured believe that our Heavenly Father has our life in the palm of His hand and never shall He loosen His grip, no never. x
The most courageous decision I have ever made was the moment when I decided to take off my masks… my social mask, my school-mum mask, my corporate trainer mask, my church mask and every other ‘face’ that was not the real me.
Max Lucado, in his book Six Hours One Friday, describes our desperate desire to disguise our true -self…
“We are masters of the masquerade. Cars are driven to make a statement. Jeans are purchased to portray an image. Accents are acquired to hide a heritage. Names are dropped. Weights are lifted. Yarns are spun. Toys are purchased. Achievements are professed”.
In the depths of despair I had no energy for playing charades, the blessing of this desperate place was that the real me, the amazing strong woman I was created to be, was finally allowed to come out of hiding… it was literally a case of being strong enough to show my weakness. For most of my life the real me was hidden behind a painted smile, I believe we all spend our time wearing costumed faces. The fear of rejection, fear to be ourselves pervades out thoughts until the real self is forgotten. May I encourage you to remove your masks, silence the fear and step into the freedom to be you. You do ‘you’ perfectly!