The Secret Place

As the glimmers of a new season start to appear with the first snowdrop or copper coloured leaf, the Lord leads us into the new. What a gorgeous time it’s been waiting on Him and reclining in the secret place. Refreshed and renewed.

Eighteen months ago I wanted to write on Truth in time for Christmas but I found I couldn’t write and share from a place of overflow so I didn’t. One word that breathed into me during that time was “rest”. “Okay Lord,” I said “I’ll rest for January, that’s really sweet of you. I’ll have a newborn, it’s good to rest.” But then I struggled to write again. Okay I’ll write on Truth for Easter. Again no overflow. I questioned whether the Lord had left me, (of course not! Deut 31:6!). Of course I could have written on Truth from my intellect, but that never measures up to writing from wisdom. I wanted nothing less than to write from the complete overflow of Jesus. Months of wilderness, moments of thick blackness and a rising of deep issues. Jesus was stripping away the world from me, He was gently untangling the deep knots I had made into his perfect knit. All the moments I believed Jesus had pushed me away (because life had got hard) he was actually drawing me in to be near to Him. To just be still.

As I live, breathe and sing the gospel, I’m amazed at the extraordinary encounters he sets up in my very ordinary life. Humbled when total strangers start to talk about the deep issues on their heart. I’ve spoken to so many people over the years telling of his great love for all and reflecting His passion for the hearts of all people. Through it all the Lord was letting me know he hasn’t forgotten me, He delights in me, He leads me to meet him in the secret place. As a mother calls her children in from the garden, he was calling me back in to tell me how much he loves me. He wipes my face, tends to my wounds, builds me up and makes me ready for new places. He places scriptures in my heart as I sleep peacefully then He wakes me up with songs.

I was throwing my son up in the air the other morning and always for the first throw his eyes are wide for a split second when he realises he’s left the safety of my hands and then he squeals with joy to fall back in them, again and again with less and less fear, putting his arms up for me to throw him up one more time. He was giggling as I squidged him and kissed his cheeks and neck over and over. I saw so clearly how God loves me. Where ever He throws me, He’s got me. He just can’t get enough of me. In His arms, in the secret place, it’s the relationship that matters and comes first. Everything then overflows from the beauty of just being with Him.

The Church

Who knows that terrible boredom in a church service? The type of boredom that makes you want to peel your skin off and the dread that rises as you realise that the sermon may actually never come to an end.

We walked into an old church a few months ago and the children had such fun playing in the pews, singing round the alter and reading from the pulpit. It was a lovely sight as only a few days previously I had been praying that I wanted my children to always feel at home in any church they entered. I was brought up very familiar with church environments and my children are not as we don’t go very often. This long season of my life has really taught me to keep my eyes on Jesus. Not to rely on tradition, religion, nostalgia; the smell of old hymn books, the creek of oak pews, soft light through the stained glass. All lovely and good but the church is not made from mortar and stone, it is made of people (1 Peter 2:5) Church is not an activity to be done each week but it is who we are. My place in this season is not within the physical walls but outside of those walls ready with the Good News. Good news which everyone is invited to receive, those inside nightclub walls, sat beside supermarket walls, hanging around sitting on walls, surrounded by marble walls, trapped behind prison walls, confined to religious walls, those who have built their own walls and everyone who is yet to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalm 34.8) because through Jesus, God has smashed down the wall that kept us from him, the wall that blocked our hearing, took away our sight and darkened our hearts to Him. Once we receive His gift of salvation we are given a new heart, a new spirit, (Ezekiel 36:26) our hearing and sight is restored and His word is then welcomed balm for a softened heart and not painfully boring arrows rebounding off a hardened heart.

For a long time I thought Church was about weddings, funerals, Sundays, Christmas and Easter. But Church is every day, every second of the day; hallelujahs in the car, blessings in the street, forgiveness all round, lavishing love on enemies. Bringing healing to the hurting, grieving with those who grieve, worship in hospitals, singing praise in crematoriums. The church is one family that spans across continents and denominations, breathing in scriptures, speaking His word, living life spirit led and fully free, walking in power over all darkness. Hearts blazing in inextinguishable light. Our brokenness exposed. Shedding our old nature and walking in the new. Having everything in common with someone we just met because we have the same Heavenly Father. Praying for each other. Pouring out gifts that have been poured into and over us. Overflowing with immeasurable joy through all circumstances and always ready to give an account of the hope we have to anyone who asks. (1 Peter 3:15) Church is new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), coming boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) , thankfulness for every blink and breath and fully resting in and reflecting His glory.

“ But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-18