His story, not mine. 

“Be content to be deeply satisfied with the will of God, to be happy with whatever story he writes for us.”

(Nancy Wilson)

We have been through very dark days full of pain and grief but God has kept us. He has taught us through our deep distress and It feels like we’ve been in his furnace. In the pain that the searing heat has brought, we have come to experience his severe pruning which will yield beauty in our lives in future days. 
This isn’t the story I wanted, and I have fought and wrangled with contentment, refusing to accept the here and now. To be deeply satisfied with a life I never wanted is a very hard thing, but it’s God’s story, not mine, and it’s only in recent days that I have stopped fighting and had the courage to ask God to help me accept the unacceptable.

Since I’ve submitted, I have had a song in my heart. As  I’ve been willing to stamp on my belligerence,  God has exchanged my discontentment for peace and joy. It’s his story, and I bow down in submission, asking that I will be deeply satisfied with whatever he has in store for us. 

Already his pruning is yielding beauty. As my husband and I attended a marriage course with our church last night, I felt no bitterness, only thankfulness; I was thankful for my husband’s restoration; thankful for his changed heart; thankful for all that God has revealed in my own life in response to being sinned against. God has revealed my own sin and that is enough to stop me pointing any fingers at my husband. I have no time to examine his heart and feel superior and judgemental because God sees me as I really am. We are all poor, pitiful and blind and we all need the healing streams of grace to wash and drink from. 

I’ve come into a rich place with the husband God has given me. I gladly hold his hand on our journey to heaven. I look forward to the years God will give us to love and serve him in whatever capacity he chooses; it’s his story, not mine. We humbly submit with thankful hearts, knowing that whatever story he writes for us will be the best story for us to act out. I pray that we will be content and deeply satisfied in the will of our Heavenly Father. 

Never ending grace 

Colossians 3:12-14 

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

I am in a happier and richer place. I know that letting go of shame and walking away from it has impacted my heart for good. 
Life isn’t how I imagined it to be and sometimes the pain of family not yet mended hurts me so profoundly I can’t breathe, but the path I’m on is no mistake. God weaves his golden thread of grace in and out of our sin, and through our deepest failings and heartaches. Adversity shows up all our selfish reactions and reinforces God’s constant grace and forgiveness. 
I love grace, I love the fact that we are given the opposite of what we deserve. Grace is the only explanation for any love and forgiveness I have been able to show. I pray that my love for Jesus overrules my self centred heart so that I can continue to do the same. 

I’m thankful to God every day for my husband. I’m thankful for his repentance and for the gifts God has given him. As we become ensconced in our new church family, his gifts are seen, his humility is seen, his fragility and pain are seen. I thank those who have loved him, those who have sought to support and befriend him. My heart is impacted for good when I see that he is being loved by others. 
So, we continue to mend, to knit together, to love and respect each other, striving to forget all wrongdoing and looking to the future knowing that God will go before. 

I pray for continued help and grace to follow the better way,  so that the ugly voice of selfishness won’t drown out the voice of grace and love. I pray for strength to keep on loving and forgiving, which is only possible by loving Jesus first and best. I Pray that as we come to God for continued grace, his Spirit would equip and help us on this road of love. 

 My God never sleeps.

Psalm 121:1-8 

” I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

As I’ve read this psalm I’ve been comforted by it. We are told five times that God watches over us. The God of all creation is interested in the minutiae of our everyday lives. While he is sustaining the universe and holding the planets in their rightful place, he’s not too weary to think of me in my need. As he watches me, he never slumbers or sleeps. As he watches, he protects me from any harm that can be inflicted during the heat of the day, and when the sun has gone down and I am in the shadows, he protects me from all danger that can arise in the night. He surrounds us, and hems us in so that it’s impossible for evil to triumph over us. 

So often I can feel forgotten or abandoned.  I need to remember today that he is a God who watches over us. God constantly looks out for us. He is a loving father whose eyes are always on his precious children, relentlessly and tenaciously protecting us from all harm which will continue into eternity. 

Through the difficulties of the last year, I can say with great conviction that he has protected me from harm. He has not let my foot slip but has hemmed me in with his love. I have come to appreciate the lessons he has taught me through pain and suffering. God never promises to give us an easy life, but he can use our difficulties and disappointments to grow us and draw us to himself. 

Kindness heals. 

Ephesians 4:32

” Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
More knots have unloosened and are unravelling . The shame and grief I have been clinging onto I am now slowly letting go of. My mindset has changed over the last week, and my warped paranoia is diminishing as we’ve been affected by the kindness of others. Kind words have been spoken and that kindness has soothed and comforted and begun to bind up my broken heart.

As we’ve met with many from our past, the first awkward and terrifying meeting is now over and our anxiety and fears have been allayed. Kindness has impacted and is the glue which is putting the broken pieces of my heart back together again. 

The gospel is so wonderful. The way we react to one another under pressure reveals our heart issues. There is no room for an unforgiving spirit, no room for grudges, no room for distance, no room for walking on the other side of the road. There is such beauty in the gospel when it is really worked through. I thank God for the kind words that have touched us last weekend. 

The gospel is radical. It’s relentless in how we respond to others and refuses all excuses. But although the response that is demanded from us is so costly, there is such comfort in it. Christ always responds in that way to us. His kindness never runs out. His kindness impacts to such an extent, that by his stripes we are healed. ( Isaiah 53 : 5)  

Kindness = healing.

This was my experience last weekend. Kindness has impacted me and changed my whole mindset.  Kindness has changed my outlook on life. Kindness has brought about such relief and help to my struggling soul it actually can’t be measured. 

One thing I’ve learned through this experience is that a text or an email with just a few lines breaks the silence. When the silence breaks then so does the isolation. We have already experienced that particular kindness from many lovely friends, but after this weekend we know it more fully and we are overwhelmed with thankfulness. 

For any Christian reading this. Be kind. Look out for the hurting. The repentant offender, the isolated. Don’t just pray for them, Verbalise it too. Those words will impact them for ever and give them great comfort and help.  The gospel is beautiful when it is fully worked through. 

Is it now time to heal? 

Ephesians 2:8-9 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I’ve been tied up in all sorts of convoluted knots. Knots that are tied so tightly they seem impossible to untie… it’s taken a lot to coax these knots out and unloosen them, the string is thin and the knots are as tight as they can be. 

 bit by bit the knots are loosening but wrong thinking is ingrained and hard to change. 

A few weeks ago with my job, I went to see quite a feisty old lady in her nineties. As we casually talked about Easter she suddenly became animated and threw her arms in the air. As she was gesticulating she demanded:

” if God the father loved his son, why on earth did he abuse him in such a way?”

This was such an amazing gift which I wholeheartedly accepted. We talked about sin and the need of a perfect sacrifice. We talked about God’s overwhelming love in sending his son and how Jesus willingly obeyed his father’s will. As I got her into bed, I asked her if she wanted to pray. Her prayer was:

“Lord, teach me the things that I just don’t understand.”

As I think about my situation and the knots that I’ve got into which seem impossible to untie, I have prayed the same prayer. Why did God allow my husband’s sin? Why such hurt to the church? Why did he allow such a catastrophic thing to happen when my prayer was that we would be above reproach? 

These are questions I can’t answer but the prayer that Doris prayed says it all. But rather than asking God to teach me all that I don’t understand, my prayer is:

“Lord, help me to accept all that I don’t understand. Help me to accept all the things that up till now I haven’t wanted to accept.  It seems a disaster to me, it seems like nothing good will come out of it. I feel hurt that I prayed to be above reproach and you have given me the opposite of what I prayed for…”

And there it is…. the knot that is tied so tightly. The knot that hasn’t yet been confronted. 

I have been hurt and angry. I prayed for so many years for something that I perceived was right and good. I prayed that we would leave our church family rightly. That we would always be welcome to go back. Never barred. It seems that God has dealt with me harshly; it seems unkind that God ignored my heartfelt plea. I prayed that we would never sin and disgrace Christ in the church in which we served. But we have. 

All I can pray is: 

” Lord, help me to accept what I don’t understand!”

This morning I found a dead bee by our back door. I got a spoon mixed with sugar and water and pushed the bee onto it. To my delight I saw it move and drink the liquid. It revived and flew off. 

This is what I need today. I’ve been so overwhelmed and beaten down. I need the sweet nectar of grace to revive my soul. 

I’m thankful that God has revealed this to me today. It’s painful to confront, but maybe now, like that little bee, God can begin to heal me in a way he never could when I was fighting him.

I didn’t want this situation to happen, but it has. God is bigger than our mess and I ask God for healing  as I go forward, and to help me accept the things that I will never understand.

I pray that with this prayer, healing and restoration will come. 

It’s time to start living. By God’s amazing kindness we haven’t blown it, but I do need to accept the rich gift  of grace and forgiveness that has been given us through Jesus. 

Grieving with hope 

Grief is so unpredictable. It strikes when we least expect it. A thought, a reminder, or news through the grapevine can start a rollercoaster ride, full of overwhelming emotions that are difficult to handle. Our grief marches on. I’m not sure when it will end. It catches us out and knocks us over. 

I’ve been knocked over this weekend. Meeting with friends and hearing news of my past life. I felt as though I was drowning and longed for what has gone. Ups and downs, peaks and troughs. 

It takes many years to build relationships. Longer to really know people and be understood. It’s difficult to feel part of a new community, hard to infiltrate and get past the superficial. Time has gone by, yet I’m still not known and understood by many. 

Grief is hard. It isn’t predictable and catches us out. As my mind wanders, I think about the fellowship that I’ve been plucked from. I still feel displaced, isolated, lonely and unknown. As I stand in church, sometimes my grief is so raw I can’t sing. I stand rigid with tears rolling down my cheeks. Such a strange and dreadful thing that’s happened. I’m so grateful that despite my sorrow I have many days  which are  full of hope and joy which fill me with thankfulness. 

There will never come a time when thoughts of the past won’t bring sadness, but by God’s grace, acceptance will eventually be given. One day we pray that dreadful sin will be turned around to help others, and as we look back we will thank God for the growing that went on in the wilderness. No experience is wasted and our pain keeps us near to our saviour. 

Im learning that grief doesn’t  have a timeline and can never be managed. We learn to live with the sadness caused and look to our Heavenly Father to help us all through. 

When our identity is dependant on our goodness. 

It’s been a few days since I commited my thoughts about shame onto paper. Since then I’ve teased it through with my husband and I’ve grudgingly had to acknowledge that in the medley of emotions that wrap up this whole shame issue, pride is in there. It’s a bit like bindweed, weaving its way through hurt and sorrow, grief and displacement. There are so many emotions that are still so raw that it’s hard to really see it all clearly. But the evidence is overwhelming and I stand condemned. The problem I’m now presented with is knowledge. Ignorance is bliss. If I’m not realising my folly, then I can continue in it. Once it’s recognised and named, It has to be dealt with. 

So where’s the pride? How is it manifested? It’s painful for me to admit, but here goes:

  • I’ve had a hard time accepting this unacceptable sin. I have balked at it, and it’s hurt me to think of how people are now viewing us.
  • The shame I’ve been feeling hinges on our failure and not Christ’s forgiveness.
  • My self worth and identity are tied up in our performance and not Christ’s righteousness. 

So what’s the answer? 

The cross yet again. ❤️

Sin is so subtle and deceitful. I didn’t mean to be full of pride, but in all of this failure it was my default position and I have been in bondage over it. In order to recover and heal, I need to cut out the rottenness that’s causing me to be sick. It’s time for me to recover, to be well and live my life in a new way. The shame and pride have to go, and as I look up, I ask God for his grace as I acknowledge my guilt before him.

It’s a battle that continues to rage. But in the debilitating knowledge of revealed sin, confession will always bring healing. There is no sin that’s outside God’s remit. There is always life and healing for those who look up. 

But as with all habits that are ingrained and hard to budge, I pray for much grace to change, and thank God that his bank of grace is never exhausted and that we never have a limit on how much we can spend.

I pray that I will no longer be kept in bondage. This whole journey has been excruciating. God has used this whole experience to show me my own failings and they just keep on coming. 

I look forward to heaven, no more sin, pride will have gone and replaced by real humility. God is kind when he exposes our sin. It’s like a knife wound but when we cut out the rotten and the gangrenous, we are saved from death. We must be grateful for such radical life saving treatment.

I thank God for his patience today. I pray for the humility to really accept  my situation, and not be overwhelmed by shame. I pray for help as I go forward and help as I deliberately forget the shame I feel about this whole situation. I pray that God will enable me to live under grace and not under law, so that I will  experience the freedom that only grace can give. 

Our debt has been paid, the price was costly and we now owe nothing. I pray that I will have the humility to fully accept the huge generosity of forgiveness, and no longer live as though I have a debt that I can’t pay.  Our identity can never be wrapped up in our own performance, when it does, disaster is looming. 

James 4:6 

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”