Wholeness in Christ

2 John 1:6

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

Time has passed and it’s now two years since I was confronted with the devastation that has changed me forever.

Two years is quite a marker, and as I write this blog today, I can testify to God’s grace. I thank God that he has  preserved us as a family, and I pray that his grace will continue to break through the hurt and damage that remains.  I long for complete healing for us all, and I pray that God uses this hurt to sanctify us and make us more like Jesus.  As we continue to work things through, my deep longing is that  Jesus would be exalted in our lives as we respond with love to one other. 

As I’ve come to understand God’s word more, I know that I desperately need God if I’m to respond in a way that pleases him. As I’ve thrown myself on his mercy he has changed my attitudes and desires to such an extent that my feelings have completely turned around.

Our wisdom often feels right but it is flawed and skewed on every level. It’s not till we come to Jesus and ask for his wisdom that we see how flawed we really are, and it’s a shock as we begin to understand how insidious sin is. We believe our reactions to being hurt are right and fair, and in the eyes of the world they are – but as we view our responses in the light of Christ we are found wanting.  The nearer we come to Christ, the more our hearts and attitudes shift towards him and our broken hearts begin to mend.

It’s been two years full of difficulty and challenge, but God has been with us at every stage, and healing has come with obedience. As we now step into the third year, I need God as desperately as I did in those first few weeks. As our reactions continue to show us the temperature of our hearts, I pray for ongoing love and kindness that can only come from him.

As we step into the third year of recovery, my husband’s ongoing repentance is evident. His sorrow, his tears, his love for Christ and his humility. As I look upon him, my heart is moved by his pain and his ongoing struggle. I pray that through his tears and sighs he continues to know God’s love and care for him as he begins to mend. I thank God for his gentleness and his consistent kindness which he has shown day after day and week after week. His repentance is evident and beautiful to see and my heart is overflowing with thankfulness.

I no longer care what the world thinks of us, only God. And God counts my husband as precious. How I’ve prayed for him over the years in his despair. How I tried to understand him, but felt I was living with a stranger. Now I can freely know him and love him, and my prayers over many years have been answered. I have a husband who is walking in the light and loving God first and best. I am blessed and as this third year begins we will continue to heal because God’s plans are never thwarted.

Love will continue to be the measure of our hearts, and the closer to Jesus we become, the more our hearts will respond with God in view.

Love is the key for our recovery.

If we love God, we must love one another, no matter what our circumstances, no matter what our feelings scream at us. As we continue to act out love and look to Christ, our feelings will follow suit. It’s never the other way around, otherwise we get into great difficulty.

His wisdom is so much higher and beautiful than the world’s wisdom, but at first sight so much more difficult to follow.

He will continue help us and give us his desires, The big question is : are we willing? If we are, it’s only by his ongoing relentless grace.

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Under God’s wings

The last 2 years have been full of heartache in many ways. The biggest heartache I’ve grappled with is how God has been grieved. I can easily panic as I see the consequences, and not fully believe that God will continue to hold us in his grip of grace. But God will work for our  good and his plans will never be thwarted. Getting a right perspective on all of this is sometimes very hard, and my sensitive disposition can hinder me as my emotions sway minute by minute, and hour by hour. Some days I know that God will use this sin to shape and mould us all, other days I feel completely panicked inside and feel defeated and despairing. I have no idea what the timeline for my recovery should look like. I’m not sure how I should be feeling, and when I have dark and gloomy days, panic can become all consuming as I fear that I will fall into that dark pit again. I am so thankful to God that I have recovered as much as I have, but lately I feel like the stuffing has been knocked out of me. I feel weary and I’ve lost the will to fight. I feel numb inside and have little energy to pray, which doesn’t help my situation. 

Time passes, life moves on, and some days, beneath my smile, I feel like I’m dying inside. 

In the midst of my struggles, a friend sent me a verse, it says this:
Psalm 57:1 

“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
This verse has been of great help to me over the last week. It’s such a beautiful picture of God’s care and protection. When we are in the shadow of God’s wing there is warmth and safety while the icy blast rages and the winds howl.

 As we seek refuge in God, and bury ourselves deep under his wings we are utterly secure as we listen to the raging storm all around us. 

My friend reminded me that as God’s children, we can stay under his wings until the disaster passes. God’s wings of protection are a continual place of safety which we can always run to. Our disaster may soon pass or never leave us –  we are never guaranteed an easy time in this life. The consequences of sin may roll on indefinitely, and Satan continually prowls, always seeking to harm us, and make us doubt as he tries to disillusion us and make our Christian journey so difficult we lose our faith.  Thankfully, God’s love is so tenacious that we will always be safe as we hide in him until the disaster passes.


Struggles and sorrow will continue on. I may feel low and feeble today, but I know that if I’m hiding in God, however I feel, he knows and cares about my hurt and my struggles. He urges us to run and hide in him … when the disaster ultimately passes we will enjoy eternity,  which will be free from pain and sorrow, and brokenness and sin will be no more. 

 Safe in the shadow of the Lord,

beneath his hand and power,

I trust in him,

I trust in him,

my fortress and my tower.
My hope is set on God alone,

though Satan spreads his snare,

I trust in him,

I trust in him,

to keep me in his care.
From fears and phantoms of the night,

from foes about my way,

I trust in him,

I trust in him,

by darkness as by day.
His holy angels keep my feet

secure from every stone;

I trust in him,

I trust in him,

and unafraid go on.
Strong in the everlasting Name,

and in my Father’s care,

I trust in him,

I trust in him,

who hears and answers prayer.
Safe in the shadow of the Lord,

possessed by love divine,

I trust in him,

I trust in him,

and meet his love with mine.

( Timothy Dudley- Smith) 

Beauty out of ashes 

Whenever God is at work, beauty will follow. 

On Wednesday we both woke up with a deep dread in our hearts, paralysed at the thought of meeting everyone. But as the  gospel was acted out, we were overwhelmed by God’s kindness to us. As we were hugged by our church family, my heart was impacted for good and 
the barrier has now been smashed and fears allayed. 
As barriers have come down we can now freely love those in our past without guilt or  fear, and for this we are thankful. 

But as this barrier has been removed, there is another barrier I now need to get over. I need to embrace my  new church family. I have held back, and found it so difficult to embrace another family.  My reticence is apparent and I pray that God helps me as I go forward.  I pray that I find  a niche,  a sense of home and rightness here. I pray that God enables me to find contentment in something that I’m quietly fighting against. 

Despite my reticence and difficulty going forward, beauty is emerging from the ashes. 

We are wretched sinners, but God’s love covers and restores. Where God is at work, beauty will shine. That’s the essence of his character.


What now? 
  We’ve both been called to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. My husband and I will continue to run this race. Our injuries are healing, and we are aware that we will have dark days in the future as sorrow will undoubtedly overwhelm us. As my husband reflected on  Titus 1 this morning, he was overwhelmed with sadness. As he read about the qualifications for eldership his heart is broken. He will always live with regret  as  he acknowledges how blinded he was by sin. He will always have to live with the consequences of his actions which will cause him ongoing pain and hurt. But he is forgiven, loved, and precious to God and to me. His penitent attitude is evident, and in this, beauty is seen. 
No matter what our sin is, when we completely own it, when we are willing to stand exposed and naked before God saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner! ” true beauty will shine as forgiveness is granted. 

Isaiah 61:2-3 
We pray that God will: 

” bestow on “us” a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.”

Our journey continues 

Today feels like an impossible day as we return back to our church for the first time. We feel overwhelmed and distraught inside as we face the church that has been so hurt and wounded by my husband’s sin. Where sin abounds, grace super abounds, and we thank God that he is in control. We have felt compelled to go, as many have asked us to return, so with trembling and feeble hearts, worn out with much sorrow, we go back and face this overwhelming prospect.
I have had verses pinged to me via whatsapp by friends today, one was in Isaiah: 
Isaiah 41:10 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

My verse of the day is this:
Matthew 19:26 

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Sin has been committed, sin has been owned, confessed, repented of, and now our journey continues today as we take this terrifying step forward. 
Thankyou Lord that you are kind and compassionate. Thank you that you forgive and receive back those who have rebelled and wandered from you with open arms. Help us today as we face our much loved church family that has been so hurt and impacted by sin. I pray for grace and love to flow as the gospel is fully acted out, that beauty may be seen and Christ honoured as love swallows up all wrongs. 

Help us as we make this hard journey and give us courage as we go forward.  Amen 

 

Grace from beginning to end. 

I prayed that I would be able to accept the unacceptable and be deeply content in the life I never wanted, and God has heard my prayers. There have been many layers to get through to come to this point, and with each layer that has been shed, sin and wrong thinking have been exposed first. It’s been a long hard 20 months but necessary to root out my own wrong thinking and expose my blind spots. 


So I’ve come to accept in fuller measure the unacceptable, and in so doing, know a contentment that I haven’t experienced up till now. With contentment, happiness has come which has been a surprise and welcome after the hurt and misery of the past. But even in my deepest misery, God was doing his wonderful work with his chisel and hammer, and unknown to me was loving me as much as he ever has by shaping me more like himself; chipping away at selfishness and pride, anxiety and bitterness. As I look back I see his hand of grace in every detail:

  • Grace taught me that God loves repentant sinners and I must love my repentant husband. 
  • Grace revealed my bitterness and resentment and self pity 
  • Grace brought me to repentance when I thought I had the right to drown in negative emotions 
  • Grace enabled me to understand that my wisdom is not God’s wisdom
  • Grace has shown me what it means to deny self and take up my cross and follow Christ as I have understood forgiveness and love in greater measure 
  • Grace taught me how to love when my feelings didn’t match
  • Grace shouted that obedience really matters in the big stuff and the small 
  • Grace softened my heart, and enabled me to see Christ’s obedience to his father and how beautiful and challenging that is for us in all of our responses to him and each another 
  • Grace taught me that denying self was the only route to true peace and contentment 
  • Grace has sought me out, bound up my wounds and given me great hope for the future
  • Grace means that a broken and smashed marriage can be more beautiful than it was before as hurt is swallowed up by forgiveness and love 
  • Grace has brought  life and eternal hope that nothing in this life can thwart. 

God has lavished his grace upon my life and I am blessed beyond measure. Grace will continue to shape and mould us, showing us our failings and sins in the future. God is faithful and He promises to keep us, and because of this we have hope and security. 

I am aware that there are many pitfalls if I take my eyes of Jesus.  Negative emotions can rise from nowhere and if unguarded can swamp me  and cause me to sin. I pray that as I look up to Jesus, and not down at the waves, we  will journey on together as husband and wife and give him the glory. God’s grace has saved my soul and it’s saved my marriage. We have a great saviour. 

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.