Power In Weakness

When I’m sick I want to curl up in a blanket and wait to quietly slip away, I can never do anything for myself, even when I need urgent medical care I’m always reluctant to move. Last year I was ill on and off for months after repeatedly being prescribed the wrong medication, I eventually ended up with an infection that triggered a painful joint inflammation in my lower back, I was in so much agony I could barely walk. I was sat in A&E shifting positions every minute that went by. The pain was all consuming and as I tried having my head down to my knees I heard a woman agitated and wailing in distress as she returned to her seat. I’ve done my time in London, sit still long enough and pick a point to stare at, preferably have some reading material to hand and avoid all eye contact and before long, the commotion usually dies down. I heard the man opposite her tell her to try to smile and be strong but no one else budged. So I got up and shuffled my way over to sit next to her and asked her if she was okay. She looked straight at me, she had no face mask on, and the shock of what she answered at full volume made me gasp. Firstly because it was horrific and my heart was so sorry for her, secondly because the same had happened to me and thirdly because everyone in that room must have heard. I went out with her for her to have a cigarette and I looked her straight in her eyes and told her “I know what it’s like”. Without anymore words we both stood knowing we both understood each other’s pain. She had been left, stranded miles away from home, by the team who’d brought her in so I called her a taxi and while we waited I asked if she’d like me to pray for her, it was like I’d offered her a cool glass of water for severe dehydration, she responded with an unexpected eagerness saying yes she really would. She sat down and I crouched down infront of her stretching out my hand. As the Holy Spirit began giving me the words, an incredible prayer began to flow, details of protection around her home and powerful words spoken against any effects of trauma. Mid prayer I opened my eyes as I was speaking and looked at her, she had her eyes shut and silent tears were streaming down her face. Jesus was here and her spirit knew, in between the automatic doors, crouched down on the entrance door mat next to the vending machine, there is no where Jesus won’t go to find us. After I walked her to her taxi and returned to wait for my name to be called, I met a teenager who had been beaten up and thrown out of her house, after I was discharged I continued to sit and talk with her and helped her make some phone calls.

When I got home that evening I lay flat on my lounge floor absolutely empty, emotionally and physically drained and I still in so much pain. I lay on the floor and prayed simply “Jesus, give me a song”, the song was a song I’ve never heard before, “Closer” Lifepoint Worship. I was at my end and unable to move and the Holy Spirit began to refresh me, coolness and healing washed over me and through my body. There are no worldly words that can come close to describing the beauty of this moment.

Adventure awaits us every day we say “yes” to Jesus. I did not have the strength to tend to myself, let alone anyone else but somehow these two people in desperate situations had my full attention and care, which was Jesus’ love and care poured out in abundance for these rejected, attacked, distressed, abandoned, lonely and forgotten two people.

“But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

As the body of Christ, this life we are called to is not one of striving, it’s not our power that we live by. We lay our lives down so Jesus can have His way.

“My power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9

We marvel at what we can never do ourselves and as He’s working in others that we meet it is always a blessing for us because at the same time He’s working in us. He is our song in every situation, He’s is why we sing, He is our breath, our everything, He’s the reason we can not stop rejoicing.

“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!” Psalm 92:4-5

We Don’t Know God Until We Meet Jesus

My Dad used to drive me back to boarding school bellowing the most ridiculous made up song, a jolly song about going back to the boarding house. The song was purposefully jolly because my heart was not and it did work to make me smile only until I spotted the boarding house looming in the distance. I remember those journeys, at seven years old sitting in the front with the seat belt crossed over my left cheek (no booster seats in those days). I would inhale the smell from the seatbelt, trying to mentally stockpile every last homely scent I could before dormitory life. The seat belt always smelt of my Mum’s perfume.

A little over a decade later I watched my Dad’s chest rise, fall and rise with his final raspy breath. The ground went from beneath me, shock suspended me in mid air, a never before heard groan erupted from my inner most being, the pressure of grief forced the tears. My legs had broken into a run and when I was found, I was called back in to say goodbye. The curtain was drawn around us. He was gone but there was a glow in the room, a gentle warm, comforting glow. I’d been visiting my Dad in the cold, clinical hospice ward for weeks, there had been nothing warm or cosy about that building. I concluded this strange warmth was just what happened when people died, it was maybe how they said goodbye.

Sixteen years later I met Jesus. I was at home on the landing stood facing at roughly a thirty degree angle to a chest of drawers. I was asking God how do I stay close to Him. The reason I was asking this was because it had just been the most spiritually eventful weekend of my life; I’d been baptised with fire, and witnessed a love like I never knew – powerful thunderous, cool, gentle, ferocious fire. I’d met with the source of love, love Himself and just like I recognised my Mum’s perfume on the seatbelt, I now recognised that the warmth at my Dad’s deathbed wasn’t my Dad but the loving, gentle presence of my Heavenly Father. I had also had the wind of the Spirit powerfully blow into me blasting my eyes and ears open and instantly filling me with truth, instant understanding about things I’d never known before. The once old, dusty, impossible to understand bible became alive, one whole love letter that now made sense, every word illuminated my spirit. I saw in the spirit realm – more real than everything we see with our natural eye, I saw the things that go on behind the veil. So after all these things happened I was longing to stay in the fire – to stay in God’s presence, so I was praying “God how do I stay close to you?” And the instant I asked this Jesus appeared in front of me with such joy and laughter, and the instant I responded “Jesus!” He was gone and everything began bursting into sense. My experience meeting Jesus was very similar to the two on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:31

“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.”

So I’m standing by my chest of drawers in shock, wonder, delight, amazement and with the fullness of joy. It was Jesus all along! Everything, even the most precious people and things in my life just paled into insignificance, every part of me began to ache to be with Jesus, I wanted to leave earth and be in heaven immediately. I saw my whole life laid out and instantly recognised where Jesus had been during it. The poem “Footprints” I’d had on a bookmark when I was a child at boarding school suddenly made sense. He’d been with me the whole time, I’d just never recognised Him. His fragrance had been left all over my life. The amount of love notes God had left me that I’d dismissed or ignored, I was simply too blind to see! Even through my wild years of devouring every earthly offering to try to fill my emotional, physical and spiritual desires, in my drunkenness, my drug induced highs and comedowns, my immense pride and uncontrollable lust of the flesh, wherever I was, whatever state I was in, He’d always been knocking on the door of my heart. I had always thought I was the one who was trying to find the answers or to work out what this life was all about but now it had become clear as day that He was the one who was chasing me, my whole life.

I was brought up in a Christian religious setting, Church every Sunday and Christian schools, all those droning services, chapel, assemblies and RE lessons, but I had never understood the cross or even had anyone explain it directly to me or even explain who Jesus is. I knew Jesus was a big deal but didn’t know why. My parents were religious church goers and they never once spoke to me or told me about Jesus (let that sink in – they went to church without fail every week!). I actually first heard the gospel watching “Jesus of Nazareth” on a VHS tape that someone had left at our home. At five years old I remember watching the crucifixion scene and I saw there was something more going on than the violence and bloodshed, I didn’t understand fully but somewhere in my heart at that really young age, I responded deeply because tears began to stream down my face. But it was only in meeting Jesus that instantly I knew Him to be God, His authority and power can not be denied. The light of His presence instantly revealed in me an understanding of the cross, His light had exposed the extent of my sin, the absolute rottenness and filth so permeated and deep at the core of my being. Sin that wasn’t able be broken down or even written as list, sin so beastly and all consuming which had felt completely natural to me and which I had absolutely no control over. Here I was, stood in Holy light and like Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” And just like Paul in Romans 7:4 “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” And just like “Amazing Grace” that goes “a wretch like me”, “I was blind but now I see”. I stood with my rottenness exposed by pure holiness but remained covered in love, the consuming fire of love, grace freely poured out over me, all because Jesus died for us at the cross. I understood the enormity of of my sin and the enormity of what He’d done to set me free and I was overcome with great joy and thankfulness.

And since that day I’ve been shouting His name from the rooftops and telling anyone who’ll listen. Jesus is here with you! He loves you. You are continually on his mind. There is no condemnation in His voice. Turn around and step freely into the full fragrance of His glory.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Revelation 3:20

Rejoice

From Moses, Hannah, David, Isaiah, Mary to the “numerous as the stars” people of the Lord, the song of our hearts has never changed because our God has never changed.

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” Malachi 3:6

Something not covered in nativity plays is that when Jesus was born, King Herod wanted Him dead. Unable to hunt down the messiah baby he ordered the death of every male under two years of age in Bethlehem and surrounding areas. Warned by an angel of the Lord Joseph took Mary and little Jesus and they escaped to Egypt during the night. Prophesy after prophesy was brought to fulfilment and night raged as Light came into the world, the war was on.

The One who spoke the universe into being walked the earth as one of us. And right on time, night was allowed it’s way, Jesus was innocent but attacked, the One who was sinless was put to death by the schemes of religious leaders because of His authority, the threat to their religious traditions and for being the one before Abraham, the “I Am” – God himself. Then the time came, the time that was predestined before the beginning of the world. Jesus hung on the cross taking the battering of God’s punishment for the sins of mankind. All our sin, the depths of our depravity, the filth of our hearts was put on Him. Only until He could proclaim “it is finished!” did He choose to give up His spirit. He battled with death, leaving it defeated as He was raised to life, powerfully fire paving the way for resurrection life for all who believe.

We rejoice everyday for the gift of Jesus coming as one of us (John 1:14). We rejoice everyday that our sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We rejoice everyday that death has been destung, death has lost its poison that is sin and sin’s increased power through the law; (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). We rejoice at the fulfilment of the law in Christ, that we don’t strive to do God’s will but we have a new nature, and now it come easy, freely and lightly to us (Matthew 5:17 & Ezekiel 36:26) We rejoice everyday that this life is not the end, that we have a future better than we can ever begin to imagine (Hebrews 13:14). We rejoice everyday at the magnitude and goodness of God’s love (Romans 5:8) and the multitude of ways He shows up, time and time again in every area of our lives. Christmas and Easter are two days that highlight what God has done but we carry all he has done in our bodies, every single day blazing the glorious good news through our lives. And not subject to time, circumstance or even death, from generation to generation the Spirit continually causes our hearts to rejoice.

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

Angry at God

Why did God let this happen again? Was the pain of my first not enough? Again! Really? And like a toddler throwing the best strop they can, I wanted to lay rigid on the floor daring any loving hand on me so I could kick out. I was quietly wild with distress, not allowing the only one who could loosen the snare near me. God, the perfect and loving Father He is, allowed me my space. I understood very clearly I grieved Him as I took that space and wallowed in reading online gossip, perfectly distracting me from the horror of my life and the bloodiness of birthing the dead. I gave the Holy Spirit, my Comforter, the cold shoulder and I’ll always wonder about the beauty for ashes I lost in rejecting God at that time.

I’d had five children, one hadn’t made it past early pregnancy. I reasoned, from the statistics, that was it for me, ridiculous I know but I needed to steady myself. I knew I would never experience the breezy days of pregnancy again as I had with my first three daughters. I now recognise that deep down I always know the baby has gone, their presence leaves. I notice I bristle when people mention the baby during this time, it’s like my soul is grieving way before my confirmation is signed in red.

A single fear-pressed tear rolled down my cheek as I blurted out “blood” to my husband. Heaviness already weighing my body down, I got myself to A&E. I waited. When I noticed the waiting room was full of new faces for a second time I was assured by the receptionist I’d be seen soon. I went back to my seat protectively cradling my blood covered baby in my arms desperate for someone to tell me if he or she was alive. We sat and waited.

They asked for a urine sample but there was no way I was going anywhere else but home. After a two hour wait I was told the scan department wasn’t open till Monday. I pleaded so there was a phone call. I heard the GP repeat the question from the doctor on the other end “Why is she crying?” and give her a muffled answer “well she’s distressed”. When I was handed the phone all I remember was shouting “you don’t care about these tiny babies!” I left shouting the same to the receptionist on my way out. Months later I found myself waiting at the same A&E and I had the biggest panic attack, I couldn’t breathe or speak and was frantically pointing at my throat to the receptionist mouthing the words “I have to go”, she insisted I fill out a discharge form, I barely scribbled a signature before running out to try to fill my lungs with fresh air as the world imploded around me.

Back to that Sunday afternoon which I spent at the playgym with a friend. I didn’t want to cancel, the children could play and I had a welcome distraction as a waited for the doctor to call with a scan appointment.

The next day I reluctantly lay on the bed and looked at the monitor. I began sobbing before the darkened image came up, even more as I searched the screen and couldn’t find my 9 week baby. The sonographer impatiently flung two tissues at me and said something about an internal scan. My throat had closed up so all I could do was nod. She sternly told me “you’re going to have to speak” so I managed to gasp the verbal permission she required. I had to work it all out myself, there were no explanations. The conversation that took place as I was leaving will stay with me. I’d remembered being offered a scan picture the last time so I asked if it was possible to have one. The sonographer turned to me and looked utterly disgusted and said “there’s nothing there”. I looked at the tiny round shape sitting in the bigger dark sac the on the monitor, which was still on, she looked too.

“That’s just a yolk sac” she snapped. I quickly understood her stance on life and gently met her with “But it’s the beginnings of a baby?”

“But it’s not a baby, there’s no fetal pole” she replied, she sighed as she retrieved a picture for me. I respected her point of view with the silence of mine. As I made my way back through the corridors I bumped into a friend and fell into her arms, that hug was a gift. I didn’t understand how much my experience in this little room affected me until months later I had to call the chaplain for cremation information and he said “your child”, at this my legs gave way, collapsing on the floor in tears that our baby had been recognised as such.

The days that followed were difficult as the hospital didn’t know whether my dates were just off and also the location of the pregnancy. I had a blood test and went home. I knew the baby was gone and these days were spent in hope everything passed with no complications. I spent gentle days at home, I went to the beach, talked with God, the Holy Spirit filled me with hope and in the sky I saw an amazing sign. Some birds caught my attention because they were flying unusually high for their kind. As I watched they formed the letters RZW which came with a strong sense to look ahead; a promise, a hope and a future. Four years ago as I was leaving the room where I was gently told our baby had no heartbeat, God made me a promise, this time an audible voice (in the natural) in my right ear (which has only happened once before), the exact words – “I will give you twin boys” this came with the powerful revelation that there was a time ahead, a time to look forward to, this was painful now and I would grieve but not to be consumed by the distress of the season. I’ve treasured and held on to all these things.

There were more walks, tea, cake and then one day at home very gently the sac came. I didn’t cope with the grief well, I was so angry with God. I shut down, spending hours online pickling my mind reading gossip. He allowed this for a time and then permanently freed me by speaking two words to me “sully” and “scuttle”. When I looked at the dictionary definition, I never went back to reading that worthless trash again.

Sully – damage the purity or integrity of.

Scuttle – Sink (one’s own ship) deliberately by holing it.

When I went for a follow up appointment I mistakingly went to the day clinic, the midwives weren’t sure who I wanted to see so they directed me to another waiting area. I sat looking up at the tiny hands and feet casts and the thank you cards, then a woman holding her newborn was wheeled through. Such a beautiful moment but then suddenly stab, it’s like reliving a nightmare of the moment with your child that’s been ripped away from you. Yes I did go back ranting and blubbering about “yet another blunder” to the midwives for seating me in the delivery suite and yes, she did tell me off for the accusation infront of a waiting room full of women cradling varying sized bumps clutching their folders.

Every pregnancy and birth announcement we received I was instantly so over joyed but then out of the blue would suddenly be reminded and knocked over with an avalanche of grief, it was like being pulled in two directions. I’d be so angry at the grief and how it would mercilessly barge in and interrupt these special and joyful moments in life. I’ve now seen so clearly how we can live with two immensely strong and polar opposite emotions running along side in our lives. Scan pictures would come without warning and I’d be unwillingly rushed to that small dark room again fearfully staring at the monitor, the loud clanging of dread hurting my ears. Sometimes joy would immediately charge in and rescue me to the present moment and I’d be so thankful for these little lives and cheering them on, they were a reminder of everything good, wonderful and how amazing life can be. Other times I would get taken at random to a dark vacuum of swirling questions and confusion by innocently mentioned words that fired at me like gunshots; “scan”, “viable” and “heartbeat”, which blasted deeper into the wounds of “no fetal pole” and “nothing there”, leaving me terrified and breathless.

The “Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby),“ John 14:16

So many gorgeous babies arrived this year, eleven from family and friends near and far. As I wrapped up three newborn gifts to post my daughter said “why is it that our babies die?” I put my hand on her cheek and the only answer I could give her was a sad smile. She came with me when I met my two good friends, with a little one not long born and one not far off being born, my baby would have been a couple of weeks and three months age difference. I didn’t know how I would face this day, I was terrified of the grief that would break me and force me into a public break down. But Jesus. He filled the day with such love, peace, joy and grace. It was such a gentle, beautiful day with so much excitement and a special sparkle in the air. There was also grace for a baby shower and grace over a congratulatory hug, two women tummy to tummy, one beautifully round with life and mine in the final days of emptying the dregs of death.

When we lost our fourth baby, God gave me a vision. I was so distressed with the longing just to see my baby, I had asked the nurse to open the sac but that wasn’t allowed, I just wanted a glimpse, a touch, just something to be near to my baby. I remember praying that I didn’t even know if the baby was a boy or a girl. Then one evening as I drifted off to sleep, suddenly I was more awake than I’d ever been, I saw right there in front of me a man, I knew him instantly as my son. He was beautiful, shining, strong and healthy. He had the colouring of my third daughter; dark eyes, hair and skin but resembled my husband. Instantly, the fact that he was boy or girl became unimportant. This vision and a magnificent pouring of the spirit in A&E meant I had so much inner joy. But this time I’ve had to cling to a steady quiet hope.

We planted wildflower. I was angry at the wildflower. I was angry at the planter we planted the wildflower in. I was angry for months, too angry to even recognise I was angry until I read ”Grace Like Scarlett” Adriel Booker. Every page I read made me furious, I was angry that I was even reading the book. And only at the last page did it dawn on me that I was angry. And when I realised it, I was able to take it to Jesus and one morning I found I was able to breath easier, I felt lighter. It was such a significant shift that I told my husband I felt better and had turned a corner. I had peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

I’ve found with losing my babies there’s the very raw physical longing of an empty womb and empty arms. With my first baby that didn’t make it past early pregnancy, it wasn’t long till I was was pregnant again so the physical ache was quickly distracted with carrying another child and as I already had so much overflowing inner joy, peace and hope, which has never failed to blanket me every time the internal grief has hit. This time the night of weeping lasted months but as sure as the morning comes, with it came joy (Psalm 30:5). There is always the oil of joy for mourning (Isaiah 61:3).

By His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). The work done at the cross covers for the sin of mankind and in that covers for every single detail of our lives. We can take it all to Jesus and find healing in return. I was so overcome with grief during worship at church one Sunday I couldn’t stand up. I sung slumped on the floor, every last ounce of my energy I sacrificed it all to God, and His goodness wrapped around me and filled me. Months later I was sat at church, socially distanced at the baby and toddler room surrounded by four women holding small babies in their arms and I found I was holding healing in mine. I had rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

God is with us every step of the journey, the Holy Spirit is our great Comforter, where ever our grief takes us he is there. The church prayed for me continuously during this time, a sanctuary where I openly wept, where I was laid hands on, where I was contended for in prayer, where I was encouraged. Snotty mess and strengthening happened on that church floor. It was where one day someone, who had been boldly and fearlessly standing with me through the grief, reminded me to name our baby. She is called Eden. No great heavenly vision this time but just a gentle quiet knowing. I’m so thankful for the few short weeks I carried her. She is an absolute blessing to our family. She can’t be ignored, she’s full of resurrection power, beauty and light. The world called her a “nothing there”, too small to be significant, but she’s blazing in glory in her rightful home and I can’t wait to join her soon.

Years ago I noticed how beautiful wildflower were for the first time. No one tends to them but they just naturally fill fields and cracks in stone walls with staggering colour and beauty. I had been so terrified of a burial because I couldn’t come to terms with swapping my warm, cosy womb for dank soil. After the prospect of complicated hospital paperwork for a cremation and two staff members who were unable to hide their shock and disgust that we still had the remains, in the end our options were limited. On a happy sunny day we gathered the children and we all pottered around each other with handfuls of soil and seeds. The moment springing up with a strange beauty weeks before we saw the beauty of a colourful bloom.

“Look how the wild flowers grow! They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of these flowers. God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. Won’t he do even more for you? You have such little faith!” Luke 12:27-28

Now, is God still who He is when he allows you to go through the same devastation again? Is God still who He is when we see no great spiritual revelations, fire fall or miracles? Is God still who He is when we turn our backs on Him? I have found nothing changes who God is. He remains the same in our doubts, fears and trauma as He is in peace, joy and hope. Through this I have seen the steadfastness of God. On the morning of my scan I messaged friends at church group to pray and sent a song link “Nobody like you” (Redrocks Worship). Highs or lows, mountains or valleys there is nobody like Jesus.

“My lover is like a gazelle or a young deer. Look, he stands behind our wall peeking through the windows, looking through the blinds.” Song of Solomon 2:9 I just see Jesus in this beautiful verse; His kindness, His mystery, His gentleness to catch our attention. This season has taught me that I love to go after the big displays of God’s power, I love the fire, the trembling, the welling up of the Spirit, I love the tears, I love His undeniable presence that thunders into the physical realm. I love when God blows my mind, when the mighty wind rushes into rooms, when I see in the Spirit, when I see snowfall indoors and buildings and believers on fire. But we can only tell how sharp our spiritual senses are when they are attentive to His gentle whisper. God is never not speaking, He is speaking to every single person, all the time. The big displays of God’s power are marvellous but is our relationship with the Lord so intimate that we recognise and are led by His gentle voice?

“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

I feel like a rabbit stuck in headlights at times but my weakness urges me to go after the deeper things of God. Four years ago along with words of sympathy someone said “everything happens for a reason”, my grieving flesh took objection to this because what good reason could there be facing a loss. But in spiritual wisdom we know all things work together for good to us (Romans 8:28). Jesus is working in ways so intricate and powerful. In me he’s demolishing strongholds, refining me, increasing my faith, lessening me and increasing Him. Outwardly distressing seasons destroy us – (and good riddance to our flesh!) but inwardly we are being renewed, strengthened and built.

“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5

The hard seasons shouldn’t surprise us; Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) because He has overcome, we overcome every battle time and time again. We are always stood on victory ground no matter how bleak our situation looks.

Many times during worship in this season the revelation kept coming to me that “I’m being poured out.” My very life poured out as an offering to whom I belong. Jesus can have it all, everything I am, everything I have, my every thought and desire, He can take my stubbornness and every last scrap of rebellion that goes against Him. I am not my own. I was purchased at a price, God did a marvellous work at the cross, Jesus laid his life down for the rescue of mine and yours. His resurrection blazed the way for mine and yours. I was a wandering, lost, heart of stone voiceless woman with no sight or hearing, staggering around in thick blackness on the fast road to outer darkness, helpless just like my babies who never saw the light of the sun. He thought mankind precious enough to save, to be given the free gift and choice to be born of the Spirit and to see by the light of the Son, on earth and for eternity. We see on earth as it is in heaven! How awesome is that!

“Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” John 3:6 NLT

I am His, born of purifying water and the life giving Spirit, I’m blazing with light, I’m filled with the breath that woke me up, my heart is ablaze with a consuming fire, my eyes firmly fixed on heaven, I have ears only for my Shepherd and my voice will never tire of proclaiming the name of Jesus, now and for eternity.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-11

The Big Question

The most important question in the existence of humanity.

“Who do you say I am?”

In Matthew 16:13-16 Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

On a walk during the Summer the children and I kept coming across these words in chalk “Jesus loves you”. It seemed someone else had added “hates” and “is not real”. It brought the verse above to mind.

Is he a character in an ancient fairytale. A historical figure who died a long time ago. A magic man. A wise man. A mad man. A good fellow. A liar. The leader of a religious group. A statue. A good example. The butt of many jokes. A worn out doll in a manger. A popular swear word. A stained glass figure. A mysterious man at the centre of religious icons. Some guy on a crucifix on jewellery. The false messiah. The son of God. An angel. A God. A prophet. The messiah,

the Son of the living God.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

I Lack Nothing

How good is our God, the living God. The God who sees, hears and speaks. Not like the gods of our fleshly imaginations or works of our hands. He is bigger than the universe and the buildings of worship, greater than our minds can conceive. No one escapes troubles in this life but in the midst of trouble He is here, our Immanuel, not asking a single thing from us but giving us everything we need and more than we could ever ask for.

We have big brutes of enemies, relentless demons whose only mission is to steal, kill and destroy. Enemies too powerful for us to withstand, but the Lord, right in front of their wicked eyes lavishes us with such great love, putting them to great shame.

His goodness follows us around, literally chasing after us! Love, light, peace, joy, hope, wisdom, understanding, healing, faithfulness, kindness, and life chasing us every second of our lives even to the decrepit places we love to hide. How He is so powerful, so mighty yet at the same time so patient and gentle is beyond me – a soft cosy ferocious consuming fire.

As my heart was singing this morning I saw that it’s the revelation of God’s love that changes everything, when we know and hold on to how much we are loved by Him everything falls into place, our souls become steady, we find ourselves in lush green pastures. The valley of the shadow of death is like quiet waters to us.

For some of us God’s voice is a distant echo in our noisy hearts. Turn and run with all your might to His call, allow Him to thresh all the thorny distractions and smash down the hardened wall. Come into the beauty of His voice, in full surround sound glory. Every child needs and longs for the voice of their perfect Father. We try to listen for it in our earthly fathers, they may let us down. We seek it in our lovers, they may desert us. Maybe we try to find it in our friends or followers but they don’t even know everything about us. But there is One who knows every intricate detail of hearts and it’s only His words, like healing honey that reach the depths of our souls with His words “With you I am well pleased”.

Amen

Breakfast or Fire?

As I charge into the throne room clutching new mercies, with books full of accusations falling behind me out of my oversized upturned rucksack, breathless, I fall down on my knees before the presence of God. This is Holy ground, right next to my washing machine, my heart is filling with fire. Heavenly chorus surrounding me, spiritual sounds erupting from the depths of my soul.

There’s a decision to be made at all times, sin or life, breakfast or fire, the world or Jesus. Choosing Jesus is always worth it, in every detail of our lifetime. He is the bread that truly fills, everything this world has to offer is a bitter taste to me, every dream I ever had for my life has been trashed as worthlessness. The world doesn’t fit me anymore, it has become so itchy on my skin, I grow increasingly uncomfortable here as my heart continually aches for home.

For now there is oil for my head and a joyous laughter in His voice. I stand straightening my helmet of salvation, I pick up my shield of faith, I tighten my belt of truth, readjust my breastplate of righteousness, I look at this sword of the Spirit in my hand. My weakness has been filled with His strength. My weary feet now bathed in the sweetest of songs. Gospel ready. I am breath-filled to pray and blazing with light to illuminate the way in this dark dark world.

Love, Light and Life

If you have seen a light yet cannot distinguish it from the darkness, you have not seen the true light. The light always exposes the darkness and its deeds, exposing what is unholy. A false light bounds you still in darkness unable to distinguish between the light and the darkness.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

We are taught and given power by the Holy Spirit to test every spirit, (1 John 4:1) we are to test every word that comes out of the mouths of people, including those who preach to us in church. We don’t just receive everything that is spoken to and over us. If a preacher veers away from the truth, we know it immediately.

Now we know the devil does not appear as the worldly depicted menacing pitchfork wielding figure. We know he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Beautiful, powerful and blazing with light. The giveaway essence of his character is that he is a liar (John 8:44), unable to speak the truth but instead takes it and twists it. And just as with light and darkness, we recognise lies because they are exposed by the truth. We know the truth because we know Jesus, who is the truth.

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:16

Every morning Jesus wakes me up with songs, one morning I woke up with a beautiful melody, nothing strange there, but the words of the song were “guilty as the rising sea, you are guilty, you are guilty” I immediately knew this wasn’t the truth (Romans 8:1, Psalm 103:12, Isaiah 1:18) in fact, it was an accusation using part of the gospel (the heart of God displayed in Christ and written in His word). Yes we have been found guilty for our sin but, even though religious folk would like the story to stop at condemnation, we have been redeemed in Christ through His death on the cross and by His resurrection we have been powerfully breathed in to new life. It really is good news!

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

When we make the decision to turn from our ways to Christ (repentance) we pass from eternal death to eternal life, being born again (born of the spirit – John 3:6) and immediately we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). The Holy Spirit highlights all things ungodly. We are given a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) natural desires we once revelled in suddenly become unnatural and repulsive to us, these changes continue to be revealed in us for the rest of our lives here on this earth. He opens our eyes and ears so we see things as they are in the daylight, both in ourselves and the world around us (natural and supernatural).

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”John 3:16-21

Signs and Wonders

What a season this last year has been. I went to church one Sunday late 2019 and I was so distressed I could not even stand, my legs were so weak and all I could do was sing with my arms up from a sobbing heartbroken crumpled mess on the floor. Worship is never as sweet as when we are given every earthly reason not to. There is nothing better than to be wrapped in the goodness of our Heavenly Father.

There was a moment in the weeks earlier I had just wanted to be numb and I chose to drown myself reading online gossip, which worked to distract me from my own life. It surprised me how very much like drinking this was. I know I totally grieved the Holy Spirit at this time, I deliberately chose to reject the Comforter. But even in our faithlessness He is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). He allowed me my choice for some time and then He permanently freed me from it by speaking just two words to my heart; “sully” and “scuttle”, I had to look up the words in the dictionary and when I did, there was no going back.

Earlier than all that I went to the beach to pour my heart out to God. I was looking at the sea and Holy Spirit was reminding me to look to the joy ahead (breathing Revelation 21:1-4 into my heart) As I was looking at the horizon I looked up and some birds were flying overhead, they caused me to look intently because they were small birds but they were flying at a height that was not usual for that type of bird. They were flying the height that birds of prey soar, I watched them and found it so strange they were so high. As I watched they flew and formed the letters R Z W , I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and all I could do was gasp the word “what!”. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was a vision with my spiritual sight, but this was taking place in the natural with my physical eyes!

There have been so many moments this year that I’ve thought of those letters in the sky, I think I know what they might mean because four years ago God spoke to me of something that will happen, He began “I will give you ….” In the midst of all the chaos and pain these tokens of love are something I’ve held onto, they have helped me look ahead, to look forward to a better time. Everything, and I mean everything, seems and has seemed to go against His promise. But hey this is God, the God of the impossible! We know how this goes!

I just wanted to leave these letters here. He is so good. He is so so kind. All the time, in our doubt, in our fear, in our faithlessness, in our pain, even as everything is falling apart around us, even when we are falling apart ourselves.

I’ve been through a painful refining fire this year, I’ve been tested in ways that have broken me. My saviour has done battle with my pride, my pain, my self pity, my anger. And my faith has been greatly strengthened, there has been a greater intimacy in my relationship with Jesus. The living God is not far off, he is right with us in the many storms and He delights in revealing heavenly secrets to us because He calls us friends (John 15:15).

Ruin Me Then Build Me, Lord

Shortly after crashing to my knees on my bedroom floor and saying to the Lord “I’m ready for you to take the lead in my life”, I began saying prayers like “Lord you have my heart, take anything that is not from you away”. I also cleared my room out from all my wild living paraphernalia and had this strange urge to go to church. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was the Holy Spirit at work in me.

In the years after there would be both slow and dramatic transformations, like when, overnight, I surprisingly lost the desire to include swear words in my speech and after I was baptised with fire I was given a supernatural understanding of the bible and I began to tell everyone and anyone about the love of God found in Jesus. I also began explaining the scriptures to every Jehovah witness who knocked on my door, telling them all about Jesus – I think it was more of a surprise to me to once have these two ladies sat at my dining table, listening intently at the scriptures that were effortlessly just flowing out of my mouth.

I recently took a look back to the last year in my prayer notes and saw these prayers-

“Ruin me then build me Lord. I give you permission to strip me, take it all and reform me”

“Lord purge me”

“Lord make yourself so irresistible to me that everything else dissipates – take it all, strip me, ruin me”

I know this yielding is not my own doing. I look at these prayers with such excitement as I know God is moving in my life. There is more, there is always more. What an adventure!

I always say that the fact you even turned from your ways and towards God is HIS miracle. That you even sometimes gaze heavenward and wonder about Him is his loving kindness to you. The fact that you even desire to know and hear from God, it’s all His doing. He draws us to Him (John 6:44). Our flesh doesn’t do that, our flesh is stubborn, rebellious and doesn’t want anything to do with God. Our flesh rejects, despises and denies God.

“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Romans 8:7

Our flesh wants to be lord of our lives – a false power because what do we even have full control of in this life? Everything we have, everyone we know/love and our very lives can be taken from us in a breath.

“The heart is deceitful above all things

and beyond cure.

Who can understand it?”

Jeremiah 17:9

We don’t even understand the depths of wickedness in our hearts; full of envy, rage, bitterness, anger, malice and all kinds of evil. “Good” you say? Nice? Kind to others? Help those in need? That’s great, it really is but if you were to lay bare everything you ever did, everything you ever thought and said, yes, even all the things hidden deep and wrapped up in shame.

Good?

But God doesn’t call us to just do good, he calls us to be Holy and he does the work in us. We can’t do it.

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

Even in our destitute state, God in his loving kindness leads us to repentance. We bring our filth to the finished work of the cross and are met with forgiveness, mercy and grace. The flesh proudly professes “I am enough” and it professes it loud because it knows the gaping hole it tries to cover and soothe, the hole of insecurity, loneliness, shame, guilt, dissatisfaction, self-loathing, emptiness. This hole can’t be permanently filled with stuff, relationships, religion, therapy, achievements or good works.

I know I am not enough, I never will be enough, nothing I can gain or do in this life will ever be enough. This place of total surrender is messy, it’s painful and it’s so so incredibly beautiful, it’s beautiful because without fail the God of the living meets us here.

Matthew 5:3 tells us “blessed are the poor in spirit”

Blessed are those who recognise their spiritual lack. It goes on “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

When we realise that the riches of earth can’t fill us and we turn to Jesus we are filled with the riches of Heaven. Riches that are eternal, riches that no one can ever take away.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21

There is nothing for me on this earth. Nothing compares to Jesus, nothing. Even the very best food or drink tastes rotten in comparison to the bread of life and living water. The finest clothes don’t compare to my robe of righteousness and my garments of salvation. Any value in my intellect is rendered useless under the wisdom and understanding of the Holy Spirit. I’m even saying all this as a mere baby in Christ, so how much better does this new life get!

It’s just in my heart now to add the following scripture, that there is someone reading this who is so gripped and paralysed by a fear that the Father is displeased with her – “Stop being afraid, little flock, because your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32.