Rethinking love 💕

God is kind and wise in all that he allows, and through this trial God has grown me. As the weeks and the months have rolled by, God has been at work in my heart changing my desires and my perspectives so that I can now say that I’m thankful for all that he has taught me through adversity.

I’ve learned more about love in the last couple of years than at any other time in my life, and I thank God for it.

I am understanding that the depth of God’s love doesn’t hold anything back for itself. True love is willing to give up the right to remember the wrong that’s been committed, and demands that I now respond in a way that shows I have deliberately forgotten those sins that have wounded me.

1 Corinthians 10:24

“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

And as I remember how unfair it feels, my love for Jesus has grown. As I have felt the injustice that’s been meted out to me, I have felt embarrassed and small as I have meditated on the magnitude of Christ’s injustice. All I can do is run to him for safety.

The response to my own hurt is the measure of my love for Jesus. As I react to those who have hurt me, I thank Jesus that he covers me with his righteousness.

As I reflect on my weakness and failure, I have come to rely on the strength that only God can give which enables me to love my husband more and more. He has become increasingly precious to me, and as I remember the past, I’m now filled with thankfulness that God is continuing to show me a better way – I will always be a work in progress, but by God’s grace he will continue to shape me to become more like himself.

Ephesians 5:2

“and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Love brings healing to our souls and is a gift that will never end. God broke me in order to grow me, and the lessons I have learned are so rich, I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.

I love my husband with all my heart and I am so excited as I see his love for his saviour grow and grow. God has blessed us more abundantly than we can ask or imagine and my job now is to wholeheartedly love him until death parts us.

Love is not feeling, but a conscious decision to do another good: no matter what… But wonderfully and gloriously my feelings have more than caught up, and I can once again delight in the husband God has given me.

Advertisements

Hopes, plans and fears…

A new year has dawned. As the past becomes more distant with every month that rolls by, the assumption is that everything is now okay and no longer needs to be addressed. In some ways that’s right, but it’s hard to communicate the sense of sadness that remains. It’s left me with a heart that is still deeply bruised, along with a deep sense of loss and sadness that I always carry around with me; Sometimes it lies sleeping, but when it wakes, I feel the pain and displacement as acutely as if it happened yesterday. As I live with shattered dreams and overwhelming heartache, God is with me.

There is a growing contentment in my sadness and a deep understanding that God knows all. God has shown me through his word that I can be quiet while I wait upon him because He knows every hurt I have experienced, and It can all be left with him.

In my brokenness I can still live for him. In fact, my brokenness gives me a door to help others in a way I never could before. I am filled with sadness as I look back and remember my own inadequacy when others were in so much pain. My own pain has given me an opportunity to say sorry to those I failed to love in the past, and has given me more capacity to love in the future.

So what are my hopes and plans for this year?

  • To love Christ more
  • To have a deeper understanding of how Christ was broken so that we can be made whole
  • That God would use my brokenness for his glory
  • To know more contentment in a life I never wanted.
  • To be more and more thankful for my husband as I continue to run the race with him.
  • That my heart would be softened not hardened through disappointment and failure.
  • to be able to minister and show kindness to the hurting, understanding that the kindness of others has brought healing and comfort to me.

Isaiah 40:31

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Growing through suffering

Over the last few weeks I have been reading the book of Job. As I’ve read through it, I’ve been impacted by Job’s pain as one tragedy follows another. As his ten children die, along with his servants and livestock, his pain is all consuming. As he protests his innocence, his so called friends arrogantly conclude that it must be his sin that has brought ruin upon his whole household. Job is judged by his friends and treated accordingly. His misery is compounded even more as his health is taken and dreadful debilitating sores break out all over his body. Job’s suffering was great and his isolation too painful for words, and there was no comfort to be found anywhere.

God was aware of every aspect of Job’s suffering.

Job never understood why God allowed his suffering and he must have felt forgotten by God as he languished in his misery, but God was aware of every word that was uttered, and every forlorn emotion that Job experienced.

not one moment of our pain is hidden from God.

In his distress and pain, Job’s so called friends judged him. Job needed his friends to listen and then show him compassion and love, but all they did was compound his misery and heighten his pain as their “wise” counsel hurt and distressed him. God seemed far off, but he wasn’t. God was aware of every wrong accusation against Job which would eventually come to light.

God’s ways aren’t our ways. When it’s dark we need to trust him.

We may not understand why God allows suffering, and as we see from Job’s experience, God doesn’t owe us any explanations. Job was oblivious to the conversations which were taking place in the heavenly realms. He was completely unaware that he was the topic of conversation between God and Satan, he was also unaware that his response to suffering would silence Satan and bring honour to God. Satan says to God:

Job 1:9-11

“Does Job fear God for nothing?Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Job clung onto God as he is stripped of everything, and says:

Job 13:15

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.”

And:

Job 1:21

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Job didn’t lose his faith. He hunkered down and trusted God. In all our suffering we are called to do the same. Like Job, we have no right to know why God allows us to feel such utter abandonment and pain, but in it, he is working out his plans and purposes for our good and for his glory, and he will give us grace to endure and shine for him through it.

Job clung onto God as everything turned against him, and trusted him as death loomed. As he faced a miserable end he said:

Job 19:25-26

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.”

God brings our impurities to the surface through suffering.

Job wasn’t sinless in his suffering and God addresses it. Suffering brings our hidden impurities to the surface. As we grapple with self pity and resentment, hurt and revenge, God reveals our hearts before him. As we look upon those who have hurt us and silently judge them, God reveals the truth of our hearts to us. We disobey God in so many ways when we aren’t joyful, or thankful. We disobey God when we refuse to find contentment in the situation he has placed us in.

Job’s response to suffering points us to Christ

Suffering always points us to Christ. As Jesus suffered in darkness, despised and rejected, alone and forsaken, he obeyed and did his father’s will. As we hunker down in the darkness, God understands our pain and isolation, he sees when we are misunderstood and wrongly judged, and He will give us grace to honour him in each trial if we draw on his mercy. As we look to Jesus who went before and suffered without sinning, we have this confidence: God turned his back upon his Son and left him utterly forsaken so that we will never be. As we suffer, God is with us. In our darkness there is always light. In our pain there is always comfort. In our loneliness and isolation there is a knowledge of injustice and hurt and an understanding that God will deal with it. Whether on earth or in heaven we know this: every deed good or bad will come to light in God’s spotlight. God uses suffering for our good, even when it feels like the opposite is true. Suffering is an opportunity to grow, but how impossible that is without God’s grace and help covering us.

Romans 5:3-5

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

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.