That other option…

Many times, my personal troubles refused to go away. No matter how creatively I tried to reduce their effects, they persisted. No matter how I tried to relegate them to emotionally ‘unimportant’, they kept resurfacing. So, I thought that maybe I should give up and accept them as my inevitable lot in life.

There was another option, however. Expose them. Tell God about them. But I didn’t want to. Maybe God would think less of me. Maybe he would reject me. But then it occurred to me – he already knew, because he knows everything about me. And he still loved me!

It was probably the most liberating moment in my relationship with him. I didn’t have to hide. I didn’t have to pretend. I could tell him all my troubles in detail, and God was interested – deeply.

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The two halves to every promise

God knows how lost we feel in our dark times, so he calls out promises to guide us. Yet, when God gives a promise, like, “They have greatly oppressed my from my youth… but the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked,“* I tend to focus on the first half. I stay there, remembering the injustice and pain. I forget the second half of those verses.

God want us to acknowledge our grief. He does. Yet it is essential to read on. For in every oppression God gives the freedom to move on. In every entanglement he cuts us free.

God’s promises always come in two halves. Our fear – his faithfulness. Our pain – his presence. Our confusion – his compass, leading us on.

* Psalm 129:2-4

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi:

Always upward…

No matter which way someone holds a burning match, the flame always points upward.

No matter which way a tree may be unnaturally twisted, its new branches will reach upward.

And no matter how topsy-turvy our lives might seem, how out of control things might feel, we can always reach upward. For each of us can know that, “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.” (Psalm 18:33) We can always focus up.

Photo by Pixabay: fire-match-macro-matches-39257 Photo by Jen Healy: green-leafed-tree-2542311

Broken light…

“You are the light of the world,”* Jesus says.
But I reply, “I’m not. Look at me. What good is a broken light?”
I point to myself, to the mess at my feet. I want to hide in the dark.
But he says, “You’re mine. Your wounds don’t define you. Please, be a light with me.”

And I learn that to shine, being me is just fine…

* Matthew 5:14

Going back…

Just recently I went back to visit a place where I experienced great pain. I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly didn’t think I would come away amazed. For, I learned that a place has nothing to do with pain – it is the person who caused that pain.

It was such a simple and obvious realization, yet it helped me narrow down my grief. For, grief has a way of taking over life, of putting a dark filter over our eyes, but grief is much more specific than a general sad fog. And I learned this because the place where I had been hurt was now beautiful and loved. It was cared for. A place where people lived in peace.

I am deeply thankful to God for this experience and wanted to share it with you. Maybe you too have found the same…

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So why do I still cut myself down?

Many of us grew up being told, “You can be whatever you want to be!” But I have found that it isn’t quite true. I dreamed of becoming a ballerina, but instead I worked on a farm. Later, I wanted piano lessons… then to become a doctor. But none of these happened. Did I fail?

Over the years I have learned that God’s opinion of us never changes, whatever we accomplish. And he always loved us, whether we do important things or not, whether we are overweight or not, whether exhausted while caring for a crying baby or having a dream job. No matter what we do in life, or what we look like, he always considers us his beautiful children.

So why do I still cut myself down?

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Who are we?

I keep encountering messages out there, ones that offer us other identities. Knowing ones who try to pigeon-hole. Powerful ones who desire to re-create. Caring ones who say we can re-create ourselves. They speak often.

Over the last months I have been thinking much about who Jesus says we are – “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). He doesn’t demand of us different talents, looks, or position in life. He simply asks us to be who we are – a light. He reminds us to be unwavering and bold. For that is what light is.

And light is wonderful. It doesn’t change – it simply reveals. It enables freedom of choice as it shows up hidden things. It brings God great pleasure and glory.

photo by guilherme-stecanel on unsplash

Take courage!

Moving to another country isn’t easy. It means leaving the familiar. It means letting go of one identity and carving out another.

I experienced this when moving to England as a young wife. I didn’t understand the culture. Every person I met was new. And I wasn’t understood.

But as I walked the city of London in a daze, on every pub I passed, there was the same huge sign – “Take Courage”. Only later did I realise that Courage is a beer, but God used those two words to get me through.

God told a man called Paul, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”* Whatever our transitions, God will give us strength.

*Acts 23:11

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Hand-made by God

The question is – who knows me? I have met those who told me I was not enough. They vowed that they could remake me… Sadly, I trusted them.

But there was always another voice calling out, one that took me years to hear. For, “This is what the Lord says – he who created you…, he who formed you…: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.'” (Isaiah 43:1) How I cried when I finally grasped that I had been following the wrong creators. But God picked me up and hugged me. He said, “Do not fear.”

And as I have gone on with him, I am relearning who I am. For God made me, not factory-style, but hand-made. He knows me.

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What is important?

You have heard the saying, “When God closes one door, he opens another.” But to me it has always felt a second best. A consolation prize. Something I didn’t really want.

But the other day I saw it differently… I had to cancel an important meeting because of a Covid incident. I felt disappointed. But now with free time on my hands, I took a long walk with someone. It turned out they were asking the question, “What is the point?” And this conversation was SO IMPORTANT, God had to clear my diary!

Could it be that when God shuts a door, it is because he has an urgent need for us to be his heart and hands, his feet and voice?

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