Monthly Archives: September 2016

Hebrews 12:11 

” No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

It’s very easy for us to turn in on ourselves and feel that we will be forever defined by the sin which has been committed. 

This morning I have been reading about Moses. It was because of his failure that he ended up as a lowly shepherd. It must have seemed a great fall as he looked after Jethro’s sheep in the wilderness. 

I thank God this morning that it wasn’t the end of Moses’ story but the beginning. It was the start of God molding and  shaping him and making him useful. 

I thought too of Joseph. I can’t begin to imagine how overwhelmed he became with life’s struggles. Hated and badly treated by those who should have loved him, sold into slavery, wrongly accused and imprisoned and left to languish. And yet God had not forgotten him.


In order to grow and mature us, sometimes we have to undergo God’s boot camp. By experiencing hard circumstances, we start to understand that the things we hold dear, actually aren’t as important as we first thought. It seems as though God has taken us through his boot camp where we have experienced many hard things. It has appeared harsh and severe, but rather than finishing us off, it’s produced in us many good things and made us love God even more. His discipline has shown us how much God loves us. 

God often uses hard and impossible situations to make us more like him. In it all, God has used it for our good. As long as we trust him and submit to his will he will continue to grow us and give us peace. 

My husband and I have both undergone boot camp. It’s the same process but for different reasons. For my husband, I pray that God lifts him up in due time. I don’t know when that time will be. Maybe it will be decades. Maybe  it won’t be in this life. But we can be sure of this; We will stand before the throne faultless. We will cling onto that robe of pure white and wrap it around ourselves – in eternity, the consequences of all our failings will be forgotten and gone. While we are here, the consequences will continue to shape and mold us. 

Proverbs 3:11-12 

 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

My prayer is that in the years to come,  the past will be so buried and forgotten, and lessons that have been learned will be precious because we have been drawn nearer to Jesus. I pray that we will both look back and thank God for everything he has shown us through it. 

It’s all grace. His grace covers all our wrong, however small or however huge. Once we come to the cross we can shed the burden of guilt, and the pain, mess and the disorder that ensues. The cross rights it all. It rights our blackness and hurt and overwhelming grief. The cross takes away the burdens that threaten to overwhelm us. 

My prayer is that we will be able to live our lives grasping that grace and letting go of all of our shame and all the debilitating emotions that go with messing up and offending God. 

Grace is an amazing word. God treating us as though we have no sin. Treating us as sons and daughters even in the aftermath of rebellion and hurt and bad consequences. There is nothing that the cross does not cover. Nothing. 

So my prayer for the future is this: That my husband and I will love each other as much as is humanly possible with God’s healing and restoring grace. That as God’s grace covers  all hurt and all pain we will experience streams of healing grace which are so vast and so wide and so long we won’t be able to see the end of it. 

This isn’t a pipe dream. This is a reality if we love God and trust his promises. I pray that God has the glory in the days to come. 

Today has been a much needed day off.  I met with an old friend and we chatted about tiredness and our frailty. This led to reflecting on Elijah, and how God responded to him when negative emotions overtook him.  As we sat by the sea in glorious sunshine, we thought about 1 Kings 19 and how Elijah flees to Horeb after seeing first hand the amazing things God had done. Elijah had been brave and fearless on mount Carmel confronting the prophets of Baal and King Ahab. He exposed the prophets of Baal and God got the victory. The prophets  saw the true  God at work and witnessed fire and rain from heaven. Yet after this momentous event, a threat from Jezabel makes Elijah run for his life.


The way God responds to Elijah is beautiful. Elijah is hiding in the wilderness and God meets him there. Elijah is overwhelmed, overwrought and exhausted. He can’t think straight and his emotions got the better of him. God responds to Elijah with such gentleness and care by sending an angel to feed him again and again, and granting him much needed rest and sleep. God doesn’t reprimand Elijah and tell him off for his lack of faith, he recognises his frailty and physical need and attends to him. It’s only when he’s fed, watered and rested that God commands him to do the next thing. 

He is the same God. He is kind and gentle and knows that we are dust. Elijah faced an insurmountable problem which was so overwhelming he ran. He forgot how big God was. He forgot how God had provided for him in the past.  He forgot that God makes a way when it seems impossible.

I know I’m in the hands of the only true God. He helps us in our weakness and frailty. This has been a wonderful reminder today of his care and his interest in each one of us. We can rest in the knowledge that he will continue to love and take care of us and he sympathises with our weaknesses.

 

I’m not sure why, but today I feel completely overwhelmed. I feel like the past months have caught up and overtaken me. I feel battered and bruised and I would  like to switch off and recharge my brain. I’ve never experienced a mental weariness like this before. I feel so incredibly done in. Exhausted with little capacity to take anything else on. There’s been so much processing, so much to take in. So much change in so little time. It’s left me overwhelmed. 

When I’m feeling like this I know God understands my fragile state. One thing extra and the balance has tipped and Its all too much. When we are exhausted and weary with life, there are many verses which give us help and encourage us in our weakness. These verses have helped  me:

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Psalm 62:1 “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.”
Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Isaiah 40:29 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

All I can do when I feel like this is to look up. To choose not to panic and leave everything with a God who is in control over all. He has brought me through so far and I can be secure in his constant loving care. This  I know for sure. The only place of real rest is in him, so that’s where I will continue to go. 
 

Psalm 16:6-8 

” The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

God’s word has marked out my boundary lines. God has shown me  what is acceptable and what is not. 
I am a wife who is understanding how to forgive.  Obedience brings peace and contentment. It’s a shame we don’t recognise it as the best way and fight before we submit. After submitting, all I can say is: “Thank you Lord for enabling me to forgive, because you have forgiven me first.”


I consider myself blessed. So many lessons learned and my sin has been revealed in all its ugliness. There is so much I am learning through his word.

Today I am just thankful. Thankful that he has used adversity to change me, shape and mould me. Adversity has made me appreciate  his grace more than I ever did before. What a saviour. 

As a result of my struggles, two friends have given me books which are daily devotions. Today, on September 11, both readings are on joy. These are the verses: 

Philippians 4:4 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:12

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Psalm 102:27

 But you remain the same, and your years will never end.

Philippians 1:12 

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.


All these verses are a wonderful encouragement that remind us that our joy is not dependant on outward circumstances. We can always be joyful because God remains constant and his years never end. God fills us with joy that the world does not understand, and I thank God for all he is teaching me on this  journey I’m on. Joy is not dependant on our spouses, children, jobs or health. It’s dependant on Christ’s unfailing love for us which is unchanging, steadfast and solid, and never ends. God is leading me on and showing me many riches. 

When our treasure is taken.

The journey of forgiveness has been an enlightening one. My own response to hurt and pain has shown my heart in its true light. I have come to understand that under pressure when our desires and wants are thwarted, we tend to think of self before Christ. I am thankful to God for this whole process because it has focused my mind and heart on the eternal, and not on the temporary. In a very strange way, this whole experience has been a gift from God, as He has shown me many things that can only be born out of adversity. God has revealed  how pain, pressure and hard circumstances can grow us.

My treasures have been stripped away. My lovely home which made me feel safe; my church family that I presumed would always be there for me; everything that goes with being rooted in your community; my marriage which was my security and meant everything;  my identity of being a pastor’s wife,  loss of finacial security, loss of friends that understood me and shared history with me. The list could go on. 

My whole life has been stripped back. I have lost much without warning. If an actual tsunami had swept over us, my loss couldn’t feel greater. My husband has not died, yet I am bereaved. I am living with hurt and betrayal and there isn’t any constant that I’ve been able to cling onto that is earthly.


If this blog ended here, how depressing life would be. 

This experience has been awful, but it’s also been a gift. I say this with great caution. It’s brought pain, heartache, distress and hurt. My distress at times has felt so acute, I’ve felt unable to  breathe. Humanly speaking there’s nowhere good to go from here.

BUT, in all of this agony,  this situation has brought me closer to my wonderful Heavenly Father.

God has taught me that obedience and trust and going  His way leads to life. I am still here, I am surviving this ordeal and spiritually gaining. I’ve come to understand that forgiveness brings healing and restores relationship and  brings closeness to God.

I’ve learned that God’s word is alive and active, sharper than any double – edged sword, which penetrates and divides soul and spirit,  joints and marrow; that it does judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart ( Hebrews 4: 12)  

God’s word has been brutal in my life. It hasn’t sugar coated anything at all. It’s never given me  any time and space to wallow, but has relentlessly convicted  me time and time again until I ask God for help to go his way. 
I don’t know the future,  but I know that God is changing us; That he is in control and has given us a desire to go his way. What a gift this is. This life is preparing us for the next if we are willing to listen. I’m beginning to see that it’s precious to have trials. Anything that pulls our hearts away from self  and helps us to focus on God is  a gift from him. It won’t feel like a gift at the time, but I’m learning that God’s wisdom is the ultimate wisdom, and we need to be still and listen to what he’s teaching us through it.

Lord,

Do whatever it takes for us to be right with you. Strip us bare if it means we become closer to you. If we have treasures that we value too much, that hinder our walk with you, take them away. Help our lives to be taken up with you alone, and help us to put self to death. Help us to identify those things which pull us away from you, so that we won’t hurt you by putting other things  before you. Help us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses and follow you, which will show others the beauty of Jesus.

For your glory, Amen. 

 

Last Wednesday was our 25th wedding anniversary. My husband wrote me a poem, and although painful to read I am thanking God for where his heart now fully lies. He is in the light and walking in the truth, and I praise God for this. 

Forsaken 

It’s 25 years since I promised I’d love you,

Forsaking all others, be faithful and true;

Cherish and care in the bright and the blue,

Serve you in all that God called us to do.

 

Before God we stood on that life changing day.

And it’s him I grieved most when my promises lay

Broken in pieces as my heart turned away;

Forsaking God and the love he’d displayed

 

I had to confess how unfaithful I’ve been.                        

How deceitful, evil and blinded by sin,

Forsaking, failing you time and again,

Serving idols that belong in the bin.

 

But God has responded in love to my plea,                        

And his powerful grace has now set me free.

For my Jesus himself instead of me

Endured all my hell to forsaken be. 

 

In this dark valley you have had to walk through; 

The one solid comfort I have clung on to 

Is that Jesus has been the Forever True,

Keeping his promise to not forsake you.

             

And as we now go forward together, 

These are the words I mean now more than ever:

I promise you only death will us sever, 

Forsaking all others I’ll love you forever. 

 

This  blog I’ve been writing has really helped me through the last nine months. At the beginning, I didn’t think it would be possible to feel any lasting positive emotions, I didn’t understand that following God would heal and restore in the way it has.

Betrayal and adultery often end  acrimoniously, full of bad feelings, with bitterness and anger and hurtful arguments. 

The bible shows us another way. It’s a path full of difficulty because it denies self, and puts Christ at the  centre.

Going God’s way at first glance may feel too difficult. It’s hard to let go of debilitating hurt and leave it at the cross without clawing it back. We feel we have the right to hold onto it.

There are two options which are both full of difficulty. I’ve tried them both. When I’ve hung on to hurt and anger, It’s caused me to lose joy with my Father. I believed Satan’s lies which put me into the deepest darkest pit. 

The longer I continued  on the road of anger and bitterness, the harder it became to  respond rightly to God. We think we have the right to hold onto anger, but like all satan’s lies the only thing it really damages is ourselves. 

The second road is just as difficult. After experiencing betrayal and heartbreak, society tells us it’s all about looking after number One. Self is up there, exalted, loved and worshipped. Self is often put before all else and even as Christians we can be drawn into this mindset. 

So to go God’s way and to deny Self is truly swimming against the tide.

 To walk on God’s road is like doing a bungee  jump. We know that we have a harness on, but it’s so unbelievably frightening that we procrastinate, cling onto our hurt, and tremble on the platform. We know that if we take the plunge and jump, we will  be glad we did. But as so often in life, the first step is the hardest. We have to take God at his word. Believe that every command is because he loves us. That nothing he tells us to do is because he is harsh or uncaring. 

When we jump off that platform we realise that the harness is secure. With obedience comes joy. Those debilitating emotions dissipate and are replaced with peace and  liberty  because we know we are going God’s  way.

Total submission to God’s rules will bring liberty and peace like nothing else can. It gives us an understanding that forgiving others has wonderful symmetry with God’s forgiveness of us. When we step out of satan’s kingdom we feel the sunshine that only comes from walking in obedience to God’s word. 

As  we make those feeble attempts to put Christ first, he will honour us and help us, and keep us on that amazing road which leads to life. The more we deny self, the happier we will be. Loving self is not the best  way, it’s a lie which ends in despair. 

Last week it was our 25th wedding anniversary. I praise God that it was a happy day. We acknowledged the hurt, we were so sad over the damage caused. As we look forward, we are excited to see what lies ahead. We are on the road of obedience and we pray that the next 25 years will be full of faithful service. It will most probably be unseen, at the back. That doesn’t matter in the least. We are both on the road to heaven. We want to serve him well together from this point. No doubt our responses will be full of inconsistency, but we look to God for his help and grace to bring us through.

There are still so many unknowns. Jobs, security, finances. But God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and he will provide all that is needed for his children.