Month: May 2015
At the beginning of the year I decided to take a break from my university studies. The semester away from my studies was a route I needed to make to help my academic year, focus on myself, but most importantly embark on strengthening my relationship with God. It was really hard for me because I really wanted to get my degree over and done with. Very long story short, let’s just say that although I enjoy not being a stressed out student, my faith that there is a greater purpose to this leap in God’s direction hasn’t been the easiest to hold on to.
In the last couple of weeks especially, and possibly a good reason why I didn’t update the blog, I’ve found it extremely difficult trying to comprehend this direction God had taken me in. It’s been hard because, even though there have been really amazing moments of my growth with God during this time away from the busyness of the ‘student life’; these were matched with plenty of challenges physically, mentally and spiritually. I’m going to be honest and share that I had a moment today where I questioned how much faith I had left to offer God because the challenges kept coming. But just as I was ready to let myself go in a whirl of emotion lol, I was lead to read the story about ‘The Amalekites Defeat’, told in Exodus 17: 8-13. Reading it really encouraged me to see Victory through Faith.
(…and yes please, I really encourage you to read the passages now if you haven’t already)
Moses, against all odds and with an enduring faith gained the Israelites a victory against the Amalekites. He did this by leaving his second in command in control whilst he climbed a hill to pray. The story is beautiful in the sense that it showed how faithful Moses was in our God who is able. Instead of being a strategist in the battle that was happening between the Amalekites and the Israelites, he decided to retreat in prayer. He saw that when his arms were outstretched the Israelites were winning, but when he lowered them the Amalekites were winning. Imagine what would have happened if he lacked faith? Moses, in human terms, and according to military strategy could have fought as the head of the army and because of how devoted the Israelites were to Moses, his leadership would have encouraged the Israelites to fight a strong battle. But instead, he committed to his faith in God in prayer and trust.
The story is as humbling as it is encouraging to me. Moses silently disappears to a hill and prays, like that was all that mattered. You could imagine how clueless the army must have felt watching him make an absurd decision to leave whilst they were being attacked. Not only did Moses have an encouraging faith to go off and pray… He endured his prayer until sunset, to the finish line, with his arms still outstretched.
..When I think of what Moses did to glorify God through his faith, I sort of felt silly about my lack of faith in a situation that I have uplifted to God many times. But thank God for Grace, I get it….
To have enduring faith is to have a faithful heart to pursue God not just when it’s easy too, but through adversity, and to the finish line. When we do so, we claim the victory through faith (Heb 10: 36)
I know it’s been a pretty lengthy read, and I’m totally thankful to anyone who reads these major long posts through lol. As you can see, my journey with God is a roller coaster… read through my previous stuff and you can see how challenges come and go for me, it happens to everyone actually. I get that it’s easy to think of a life walking with Jesus as a journey that pwill always feel good, and be okay. Truth is, that’s far from fact. A relationship with God involves a whole lot of growth, and sometimes that means a whole lot of challenges. Faith is slightly complicated for me to explain, because it means heaps of things. Faith in love, faith in God’s timing, faith in suffering etc… I found that what’s even more important about faith, is that it has to be enduring, it shouldn’t cease even during desert seasons.
Thanks for reading, and hope you had a good weekend!!
Frederick Buechner said this about grace:
”The Grace of God means something like: Here is your life….Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”
It’s been a while since I’ve been captivated this much by poetry. For a while now, I’ve had Isaiah 61: 3 lingering in and out of thought. Had a moment with God about this verse, and it was convenient that He lead me to the poem. (Click here for full length ) I’ve only posted some of the poem that really spoke to me.
“I kept my fist closed in secret, hating those ashes yet unwilling to release them. Not sure if I should. Not convinced it was worth it. Marring the things I touched and leaving black marks everywhere, or so it seemed.
I tried to undo it all. But the ashes were always there to remind me that I couldn’t. I really couldn’t. But God could.
His sweet Holy Spirit spoke to my heart one night in tearful desperation. He whispered, “I want to give you beauty for your ashes. The oil of joy for mourning. And a garment of praise for your spirit of heaviness.”
I had never heard of such a trade as this! Beauty for ashes?
My sadly stained memory for the healing in His Word? My soot-like dreams for His songs in the night? My helpless and hurting emotions for His ever-constant peace?
How could I be so stubborn as to refuse an offer such as this? So willingly, yet in slow motion, and yes while sobbing, I opened my bent fingers and let the ashes drop to the ground.”
When I think about God’s love, among all the other things God has stepped in to do for me, I also find the most majestic comforting from the verse Isiah 61: 3. I haven’t quite looked at this verse as raw as I do now after reading that section of poetry. There is something about the verse that is so refreshing for the soul.
I wanted to feel the captivation the author of the poet felt when they found light in the verse, so I looked into it. I probably only scratched the surface of the meaning. The word ashes is defined traditionally as a grayish-black residual left after something is burned. In parts of the old testament, ashes were a symbol of contrition. Don’t fully quote me on this, but in some parts of Isaiah it’s as if ‘ashes’ was a sort of simile to worthlessness, or shame.
- “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes”
I had to really think about the beauty of this verse before I realised why it resonated with me, and all the levels of my experience of Godly, fatherly love. I think about moments of my past, and the the enemy’s exploit of my vulnerability and openness to harm. I think of the times I’ve traded His care and mercy for the petty things. Considering all that, with any type of feeling of unworthiness, and any more slips and falls; it is almost unfathomable that here is a God who readily trades for all of that, in order that I wear this crown of beauty. To wear and show the world that I am a product of this kind of grace, that nothing would or could ever limit God’s love for me. There is a healing to this that, with many other things, keeps me in awe of God.
Had to share this, because I know somewhere, someone reading is needing the same sort of comfort or a reminder of what they have gained by allowing love, forgiveness and joy take over life. The verse is awesome, but so is the poetry piece.
Thankyou Jesus, and thankyou poetry, hehe
Have a good weekend! God Bless xo
Thank You for my mum! Thank You for the journey she has walked with you that has planted the foundation of who I am in You. Thank you for the challenges she experienced as a young, first-time mother. Those were the years that sharpened her strength in You. Thank You for equipping her to handle the duties of a single-parent. From Your love and grace, she found security in You that has taught her the qualities of a faithful parent. The way You showed unto her favour, allowed me and my siblings to appreciate the struggles of this life. Thank You for answering her prayers. Thank You heavenly God for through my mum, I get to experience a love from You I will not get any where else.
May Your favour be unto every woman, and single-parent dads You have blessed with this amazing gift of ‘motherhood’. May the trust and obedience that Mary Your Mother showed throughout Your ministry on earth, encourage all mothers to nurture their children into a life dedicated to seeking You.
I love You, and I am so thankful for my loving, sometimes crazy, other times funny, beauty of a mum! 🙂
In Your Holy, and Mighty name
Don’t you love that verse? The amount of comfort and reassurance Jesus shares in these words to make us stop life, and rest on Him who is life. …. how refreshing!
I want to share some encouragement, inspired by Luke 10: 38- 42. If you haven’t read the story, I really encourage you to read the passages before reading on.
Anyways, the passages tell the story of sisters Martha and Mary, who had welcomed Jesus and His disciples into their home whilst they were passing through the village. Martha was busy and distracted with serving, whilst Mary sat at the foot of Jesus. Martha, in her toiling, questioned Jesus as to why He wasn’t going to tell Mary to help her. But Jesus said:
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Instead of being still and rested, Martha was unaware her busyness was distracting her from Jesus, at the centre. When I read the story, I think Martha genuinely cared for Jesus and His disciples, but perhaps had her priorities mixed. Here she is, being so busy and distracted with serving, she doesn’t realise that Jesus, the Son of God, was in her home, in front of her very eyes. As it is beautifully described, Jesus tells her not to worry, or be upset, because all He needed was her attention, and all she needed was sitting in her dwelling place, in front of her very eyes. #heartmelt
Think about this for a bit and ask yourself, are you a Martha or a Mary?
I find that a lot of times in my journey, especially as a university student, I’m a Martha in many moments. It’s so easy getting caught up in the moment, and being bombarded with everything moving fast or happening all at once. When this happens, I get like Martha, and miss the blessings and Grace in the moments of the day. Or sometimes, I get so tired I hit the bed straight away, and forget to give God thanks for whatever it is that happened that day, or surrendering to Him whatever had occurred.
You can look at this story from many angles, and also ask yourself if the busyness you are in now needed? Are you making Jesus the centre of your life? Is it worth being so caught up in something that is distracting you from what the main priority is?
That’s why I like the verse in Matthew 11: 28. It speaks in so many ways to me, and one of them is this reassurance that when we die to the world, and allow Jesus to lead the way, we will always find rest in Him. Being busy is a gift, its great! But, in between all that is moving with life don’t forget to pause for a sec, and keep Jesus updated. Take Him with You in the morning before You start, or pray throughout the day… don’t let a busy life distract you. God, I’m sure, is capable of running the world without us, but He makes it His whole purpose, to make sure we embrace the warmth and life of His love (Ephesians 2: 4-9).