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 

 

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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. 

 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, 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 people from our past, the first awkward and terrifying meeting is now over and our anxiety and fears have been allayed. Kindness has impacted us, and is the glue which is putting the broken pieces of my heart back together again. 

The gospel is so wonderful.  It shows us that 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  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 is limitless and sacrificial:, By his stripes we are healed. ( Isaiah 53 : 5)  

As we faced our fears, kindness impacted us and comforted my struggling soul. 

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 and give 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.