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

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

Mountains

Mountains. We all face them at various points in life. How we choose to climb these mountains will make the difference in how much we enjoy the difficult journeys.

Most of my life has been a series of treacherous mountain ranges, I’ve wearily travelled through the black valleys of depression, faced the frightening jagged edges and avalanches of PTSD, the sweeping storms of self destruction, the fog and mist of abandonment and numerous blizzards of grief. My problems governed me, ruled me with fear, held me hostage, dictated how I lived and convinced me the best I could ever have was to work on myself to be able to manage my pain for the rest of my life. What a self-centred life sentence! But the wisest of man or darkest of demons can not contend with the supreme power of our Lord.

When we stand at the foot of a mountain, we beg for it to be got rid of or we plead for a way around it. We tend to limit God by our limited understanding. Impatient for answers. We ask why a righteous, powerful, loving God allows us to go through these terrible times. But our Almighty God doesn’t move our problems out of the way because he IS mighty. He shows us he is by safely, joyfully and peacefully leading us through them. When we put our trust in him, these difficult journeys allow us to experience his awesome power. A power that is far greater than can be described by human words.

It’s often these difficult times that break down our barriers and leave us so helpless that they push us to go from depending on ourselves or others to depending solely on him. When we open our hearts to know Jesus, not only in part with our problems but trusting him with our whole lives, we are set free. He freely gives us the fullness of life. He takes our burdens, extinguishes our worries, he shows us the footholds, pitches our tent, shields us from the storms, provides an abundance of healing and comfort, we can rest always safe and warm in his unfailing love.

God absolutely delights in every single one of us. He wants nor needs absolutely nothing from us. Love is not earned, it is freely given. He will never let you go, he will never leave you and he will always carry you through the storms.

 

Truth

Truth brings peace, calm and security. When I have lied; it made me feel guilt and shame. When I have been lied to; it was confusion and anger. Lies always need and breed more lies, this causes even more confusion. Some money went missing at work once, it caused suspicion, division, blame, anger, conflict, worry and unrest amongst colleagues. Even though I hadn’t taken it I found myself filled with fear that someone might think that I did. When the truth came out it restored unity and calm and no doubt brought freedom from fear and guilt to the person who had been dishonest. Only truth opens a way for forgiveness. Lies don’t allow this process, a lie keeps a person a prisoner in shame and guilt. When I’ve told a lie, I can see that my initial feeling is wanting to appear as truthful as possible. A lie always tries to imitate the truth. When we’re conned we have no idea we are being lied to until we find out the truth, only then do we see the trail of deceit and destruction. 

Unrest, division, panic, confusion, anger, fear, guilt, shame and insecurity are all symptoms of lies. In life, in relationships, our marriages, our families, in society, in how we feel about ourselves or in our behaviour. These feelings, however mild or intense should never be tolerated as a normal part of everyday life.   

By my pathetic self judgement and preconceptions about Jesus I thought I knew the things I had done wrong but I could never even begin to comprehend the extent of my sin, until I was shown. When I decided to put all my trust in God he breathed truth into my life, only then was I able to see my trail of destruction. I was able to see how utterly imperfect I am. Despite this God forgave me, drenching me with love, mercy and grace the instant I asked for forgiveness and gave my life to him in the quiet of my bedroom. By choosing to have a relationship with Jesus, he helps, teaches and makes it possible (by instilling a desire) to always walk in truth whatever our weaknesses and whatever situation we face. What a wonderful peace, calm and security he gives because He IS the truth. 


“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6