He loves me; He loves me not?

Will God still love me if I do not obey Him? If I know He wants me to do something, and I don’t do it, will He accept me?

If you’re a ‘good’ Christian, you will know the answer to this one. But, do you really know?

Knowing we should do something in a moment, but not doing it. Getting all the ‘feels’ as a prompt, yet not acting…

It was years ago. I felt tired, bone weary.

I had a happy, healthy, heavy toddler in a pram and had driven 1/2 an hour to a shopping centre to purchase ballet essentials. I hoped to get in and out. FAST. Bag ‘it’ and run.

Making my way through the centre, I walked past a young man with a perfume bottle in one hand, a sample in another. With a thick accent and a big smile, he invaded my space. Backpacker or international student, I surmised.

He waved the perfume at me, and I shook my head, smiling.

I felt the nudge.

‘Stop for him.’

‘No,’ I responded.

‘I’m tired. I want to get in, out and go home. If he approaches me again on my way out I will stop.’

With that, I walked on, hoping I could avoid the man on my way out.

Ballet items in hand, I headed back, hoping the young man would not approach me again.

I hoped I had ‘heard’ wrong.

Pushing the heavy, but happy, healthy one in the pram, with a weariness threatening to overwhelm, I noted the smiling, enthusiastic, perfume wielding, accent laden young man ahead.

Girding myself, while pushing the stroller more resolutely, I put my head down and charged.

Out of the corner of my averted eyes, I saw him head my way.

I veered left and kept veering until there was no more ‘left’ to go.

‘Cornered,’ I thought

I pleaded with God, ‘Ok, ok, he has approached me. I know I did a deal, but I just can’t…’

I was close to tears. Weary. I had stopped for so many, and I felt tired.

Although I knew, that I knew, that I knew, that God wanted to reach out to Him, through me, I did not stop.

The young man reached out his hand, speaking to me as he cornered me against the shop window. Yep, God had done a doozy.

A rush of emotions flooded me. God’s heart for him was intense. There was such a compulsion to speak to Him. Such a overwhelm of love.

Did I stop?

No, I veered away

And, as I veered, I felt God’s heart break for the man I would not stop for. A love so intense, a heart so for the one before me. Love intense…

Yet, instantly, simultaneously, there was a flood of love for me. A warmth, a kindness and a goodness reverberated through my being. The complete love and acceptance and adoration I felt from Him for ME was extreme.

I felt God’s heartbreak for the young man; as I felt and heard HIs word of love for me:

‘I love you; I’m proud of you; you are weary and tired…’ he said.

‘Yes, I want you to stop for this one; yet I love you regardless.’

His words of love and acceptance flooding my being…

And as the love poured over my weary heart and body, the reality that I did not have to perform for His love sank deep. I knew this; but I did not KNOW this.

Love silenced the voice of condemnation as I leaned into what He said to me, what He said IN me.

I will never forget.

To hold the ‘both/and,’ rather than the ‘either/or,’ is challenging. There is a duplicity we must hold in the tension of both being real.

To carry the extreme love He has for the ones we walk past every day; but to know that you know He adores you regardless, is a tough lesson to grasp in this time of Facebook, Instagram, Tweets, performance, likes, acceptance through behaviour.

It rattled the perfectionistic, performance driven girl to her core; but, in understanding and receiving it, I knew I was where He wanted me.

I was home in His arms of understanding. I am foremost His girl, His beloved daughter, in whom He is well pleased (Mark 1:11). There is nothing more I can do to earn His love; His acceptance… His approval is mine.

He loves, regardless.

Yet, there is a call. It is a privilege to hear and respond.

To partner with Heaven is sheer joy.

When He moves on our heart for the one on the streets, at the workplace, in our clubs and/or in our schools etc, there is responsibility.

Can you see the ‘both/and’?

He delights as we co labour with Him – loving the world to Himself. We be His arms, so to speak…

Ambassadors in a foreign land we re-present Him. His love is our armour, His acceptance, our embrace.

He invites us to co-labour, in His labour of love.

There is an ease in the dance.

‘Take my hand, Little One, let Me lead…’

Whispers released in the wind.

This story of ‘failure’, of acceptance, is powerful. This story of Truth must be told. I seek to tell the good; bad; and ugly – how else are we encouraged to fall forward into the arms of One who is Love.

I affirm there is no excuse for lack of obedience. I could have stopped, and refreshing would flow. It is not told to encourage a lack of forward movement. Rather, it shows that His love and acceptance will not shake loose. Who and What He will always be is in this three-word phrase…

God is Good!

If you enjoy reading please consider giving to support this work

How to grow deep in transition

Transition is an unusual and challenging time.

In child birth, “transition” is a time of intense focus. Past comforts long gone; there is simply ‘here and now’ with (hopefully) the encouragement of others to carry you through.

The old has passed away.

The new is yet to come, with all its… all its… well, all its newness.

In this season, some may seem intensely judgemental, even harsh in their critique. Motives assigned; unfounded in Truth, yet views held tight all the same. Views, I add, grounded mostly in personal insecurity.

Transition can be a time when critics hit out. Words spoken behind backs of intended targets, causing sadness and pain when uncovered. Mutterings and actions have the power to curse. Christians rarely grasp the power held in their tongue. Or perhaps they do. Regardless, they take aim anyway.

Then there are people who fill us with a sense of love and wonder at their kindness. The ones that run by our side, even though we grow weary. You know not what to say anymore. They remain to encourage anyway.

Years ago, in a different time of transition, it was wildly windy as I drove out of a shopping centre carpark. As I drove, I noticed a tree, supported tightly on either side by wooden stakes. The tree was not free to move. Firmly secured by well-meaning council workers, it had no means of standing on its own. The wind was fierce, so you would think such tightly held binds would keep the little tree stable. You would think the tree had grown well with such support. Instead, both stakes and tree blew horizontally in the violent winds. The root system was non-existent because of the extreme confines of days gone before. Diligent protection afforded the tree had left it inept and incapable of standing alone. In its fall, it took the stakes with it. The entire system, well meant, had failed.

My gaze shifted.

Other trees, also staked, blown by the same wind, were free to move within the confines of looser supports tied to their stakes. These trees were being badly buffeted; however, tethered more loosely, they could remain connected to the strong wooden stakes. There was room for them to rock, yet there was support. They were not so tightly bound they created a fall for all. The gently staked trees bent in the forces, but could stand back upright once the winds subsided.

Being a gardener, I knew those trees free to sway in the winds, had developed the resiliency and depth of root system that allowed them to stand in the forces they now faced. However, I also knew that in such fierce winds they still benefitted from the supports provided by the strong stakes by their sides. In time they would standalone.

I also knew those trees had much stronger root systems than their external growth showed. I knew they would continue to stand in the storms of time. Because they had the strength of the stakes by their sides as they grew, they had stood in times of extreme winds, and because they had not stood alone, they had depths of strength yet unseen. This gave them the greatest chance of longevity. Their root structures, and strength to stand, meant in drought and flood they would be firm. They had not stood alone; neither had they insisted on being held up completely reliant.

Had the council planted either tree without a stake, they would have had no chance of either external growth or hidden root growth. They would have struggled and fallen either way.

It made me think of how, when the winds of change buffet us.

We don’t need people to fall over with us, or to climb in our pit when we fall. For if our supports bend with us too far, we all fall together.

Indeed, we need those that stand by us; ones who will give support while allowing freedom to move in the wind. It is those trees, being buffeted, yet supported in the winds, that grow strong and tall. As they grow they develop a canopy, which joins with others that create a network of support for all the ecosystem that coexists around.

The recent storms and winds that thrashed Melbourne last week have caused me to ponder these things again and again. There are thoughts and whispers of movement on the winds of change that suggest more to come. We need those that have been growing deep, growing strong. We need those who have grown positioned to drink deep of the waters that flow, which will allow them to grow tall into the trees, God has called them to be.

The current storm we all walk through is much like the extreme storms Melbourne has had to endure.

After our storms, fallen trees were everywhere to be seen. Most had little to no root system. These trees had clearly received much shallow watering for quick, superficial growth. In the test of time, they fell, having grown too fast for the depth of root systems below.

There is an urgent need to grow deep. Many have grown hidden, positioned with supports by their side, reaching into the depths of God. They have no perceivable growth, but there is a depth to them only the discerning can see. They hope to be ready for the structures to come.

In transitional times, it is critical to know God’s love and acceptance. In these times, He will bring others by your side to remind you of your worth.

So hold to the encouragement of the past, for it is essential to gird oneself for the race that will come.

And hold to the encouragement that comes in this season, especially from those we see by our sides, holding us fast.

In the transitional time of waiting, when the old has passed away, and the new is yet to come, we cannot overestimate the importance of standing with others by our sides.

Community is ever more increasing in its importance, so find those that will stand by your side and cause you to grow.

Seek the ones who will stand firm, like the stakes that stood by the sides of the second tree I saw in the winds. These stand firm in the Truths, and refuse to fall. These will give you the room to be you, to be strengthened, yet buffeted about. Their strength and grace is in their ability to stand firm in their faith, regardless of circumstances. Ones whose bonds allow you to shift and to move to find your feet, yet hold you steady enough until you are ready to grow tall into the tree you are.

We all need those that will stand by our sides and see us for who we are…

There are tethers that bind, and then there are tethers that cause growth.

 

 

 

Those that cause growth will stand by your side and say:

‘Stand! Grow deep! Now run!’

They will see that though you are the smallest of all seeds, yet when you grow, you will be the largest of garden plants and you will become a tree that the birds may come and perch in its branches (Matt 13:32) because…

God is Good!

Fire burns all the time…

In soaking group this week I recalled a truth and a ‘coincidence’ that at the time kissed my tired heart alive. It still leaves me in awe of a good God.

In 2008, I attended revival meetings in the USA. It was a big deal leaving my family. Master M was 15 months, and Mistress R not yet 5. I was home full time with them, and I missed them dreadfully. There were tears all round at the airport.

I came back from the US more on fire for God than I was before, if that was possible. I was already blazing hot, but I believed that the revival had set me more alight somehow, and I felt it was my job to keep that flame burning hot. Those women with oiled up lamps were onto something! (see Matthew 25:1-13)

I had already started to ‘stop for the one.’ I was seeing miracles, healings, and experienced profound encounters on the streets and in my own life. All unexplained by ‘logic,’ but none-the-less real. I would not have believed it if I had not experienced it myself.

As a young mum, life got busy, and the vigour seemed to settle somewhat. On the surface, I was running hot, but this striving perfectionist was not burning as hot as before, and it bothered me.

One afternoon, with the youngest asleep in bed, I sat at my desk and cried. R (5 years old by this time) sat on the floor quietly drawing. Deep in thought, she asked me how to spell a few words. Nothing profound. Nothing out of sorts.

Moments passed. I was miserable. I was so sad and knew I had somehow missed ‘it.’ I sat and struggling to work out how I could ‘fix it, fix myself’.

As I sat, a little person gently came to my side placing her masterpiece before me.

‘This is for you, mummy,’ she said with eyes shining. ‘God wants you to have this.’

And there, in red, orange and yellow pencil, were 5 words:

FIRE BURNS ALL THE TIME

I looked at her incredulously.

I had said nothing to her. I had kept my thoughts quiet in my mind.

Fire burns all the time…

The blaze may not be discernible, but it burns.

It does not take much to fan into flame.

Perhaps you are feeling the same?

If so, listen and look for God’s kisses through your days.

Spend time with Him (come for a soak with us even) and learn how to lean in.

A dry piece of kindling will catch fire and blaze hot if it leans into the flame; so too you. More kindling; greater flame. Community matters.

13 years on I reflect and see with some perspective. If I had kept the pace, I would have burnt out. I know some habits that help now, that I impart in teaching and in my writing. Longevity matters.

A wise man counselled me recently. He said if I have been able to keep doing what I have been doing for the last 10 years, then that was a sustainable Christian lifestyle. It has been a lifestyle that has space for the miraculous and family, friendship and community.

Fire burns all the time…

I believe 1 Samuel 3:3 holds one key.

The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was.

(1 Sam 3:3)

The lamp had not yet gone out. Samuel was lying down, positioned where God’s presence was. He did not recognise God’s voice at first, but with the help and guidance of a wiser, older one, he could respond when God called him a third time. Interestingly, Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord – where God was in those days.

These days God is within you; around you; and face to face with you at all times.

So, we are the Ark of God, but are we listening well?

Will we position ourselves to hear?

 

We may be a lamp but if we’re not plugged in, we can’t shine the way we’re designed.

Fire burns all the time…

Will you kindle it into a flame? Lay your head upon His breast and listen to His heartbeat for you, for your family, for the nations?

I retold the testimony briefly in this weeks Aussie soak time. You can have a listen here:

 

Beth’s testimony Fire Burns All the Time (from the mouths of babes):

Fire burns all the time, it will never go out because…

God is Good!

Our story is HIS-story

As I write my God is Good stories, I am reminded of how He scatters His love throughout our lives and the communities in which we live.

I encourage you to write about your adventures with God. Even the so called ‘insignificant moments’ matter.

Through the years of my own testimonies, I see scattered gold dust; invitations into upgrades (missed in the moment); and a generosity of heart in His kindness.

I reflect and am saddened I have not captured more.

His extreme love for all those around us is palpable.

Every story matters for they form our history. Each story serves as testament to God’s nature and His character. Together as a whole they show a Truth, indisputable to those that read them.

We must treasure each story as our children’s inheritance, for that is what it is. In written (or spoken form) they serve as precedent, and create a foundation from which the next generation can draw to gain perspective and faith.

Our story is our history which, when considered collectively, becomes HIStory and HIS story is worth telling… it’s the story of Jesus in our time.

 

If you enjoy reading please consider giving to support this work

Reaching into an empty barrel only to find more than enough

Sometimes we have nothing left in the tank. The sense of tiredness is real. Self care is essential, so as you read, balance the message with permission to rest.

We reach into the empty barrel believing we have nothing to give; only to find an abundant flow.

I was at kindy pick up for my 3-year-old son when I saw a mum who I had prayed for previously at a play date. She had asked why I was fasting. I explained Australia was in revival and a mighty move of God was afoot across our wonderful nation. As we spoke, she shared some of her private and very painful history, after which I prayed for her. While I prayed, she felt electricity running up her arms, and she cried, feeling His presence course through her body. She had encountered a good and loving God.

On this day, she looked tired. I asked her about this, and the tears flowed. I gently placed my hand on her shoulder and prayed, releasing peace and rest. She reported her sleep was ok, but she was not feeling refreshed from her sleep. I prayed again, asking that one hour of sleep would be as four. I hugged her, nearly crying myself, and said to call if she wanted prayer again.

With said 3-year-old in tow, I planned to head home. Instead, I ‘knew’ I needed to go to a local shopping district. It was close to Christmas, so shopping was not what I felt like doing. However, hearing the nudge, I headed to the store I felt compelled to visit.

Uncertain why I was there, I looked. Feeling exhausted, I did not believe I had anything to give.

My barrel was empty.

Wandering about, I feigned interest. I noticed a woman with a brace on her wrist.

‘Person found,’ I thought.

I approached her and asked about the brace.

She had torn tendons in her wrist and thumb, so I offered to pray. She agreed and as I prayed she felt tingles, which continued long after I finished and she completed her shopping.

I turned towards God once more, knowing I had not completed the task. I felt tired, so I argued a little, but ultimately decided I would stay.

I could not shake the feeling I had not found who or what I was there for.

A woman had watched me closely as I prayed. I was aware of her, but I had ignored the feeling. I felt her watching me again and wondered if she was stalking me through the store.

 

Crossing her path, I smiled and turned to pass politely, but she suddenly stepped forward to speak.

Earnestly she said she felt stressed. She explained the stress was because she was hosting her son’s wedding reception at her home, followed closely by Christmas.

I agreed that would be stressful.

‘Thank you,’ she said.

The exchange puzzled me. Perhaps she needed to be seen.

I wandered on with my son, but there she was again…

I was sure she was intentionally placing herself in my path.

She engaged me in further conversation.

Tired, I did not want to chat. Small talk is a gift, a gift I do not posses. I have to work at it.

I stopped the sour grapes and simply threw caution to the wind. I offered to pray.

Excited, she readily agreed. She said she saw me on the other side of the store, praying for the other woman.

‘Ah, she had been watching me,’ I thought, ‘and she wanted prayer.’

Her name was Joy, so I prayed for Joy. I prayed for Joy to be released into her destiny; for joy (the Spirit of Joy) to come upon and within her; for Joy to receive ‘joy’; and for Joy to be Joy and all that entailed. In fact, it was the season for JOY!

I also prayed for the other circumstances she had shared.

As I prayed, I looked at her.

‘You can feel that, can’t you?’

She nodded, close to tears.

When I finished, she stared at me and asked if I knew some Christians on her street in a nearby suburb.

‘Oh no, here we go,’ I thought, but then she told me their names.

They were my pastors!

She said I was just like them – she told me she had been watching them.

‘… and now she had been watching me too,’ I thought wryly.

It was clear in that moment God was on her case. It was not a coincidence I was in that store. I was there for no apparent reason other than a hunch. My pastors’ witness impacted her. She was the one God had set His heart upon and sent me. She had a hunger to encounter the God my pastors knew; the God I knew; the God she wanted to know too- the one we all called ‘Lord,’ the one we all called Jesus.

I was there for her!

I explained I had not known why I had come to the shop. Yet, it was now apparent to me I had come for her.

It was apparent that God was on her case.

I wished her well and finished up in the shop.

My barrel was empty today-but God.

Life is busy at Christmas time. Children are excited, their behaviour can challenge. People make demands; others can be unkind. We can feel our barrel is empty and we have nothing to give.

However, God’s barrel is never empty. Despite me and my circumstances, as I reached into my empty barrel, God came through and touched three women – all in the space of an hour. Each woman needed a touch of God; all for different reasons.

As long as I will stop for the one, regardless of how I feel, regardless of me, my God will move to touch a hurting world.

Today I saw His arm long enough to embrace others through me; His grace sufficient for my needs to be met and His desires fulfilled. My barrel may feel dry, but His barrel is always full – His power is ever present.

Despite me, wine will always flow.

Since this day I have discovered people are watching. I know if they watch for long enough I will disappoint them because I am mere human; but if they will see through me to Him… that will not disappoint.

I have prayed for many who have yearned for a touch from God. There have been many such occasions. In my daughter’s school, a young teacher cried when I offered to pray. She explained she had been waiting, hoping for prayer. This shocked me, because I always felt so awkward in offering. But here was a woman desperate for the moment God saw her heart’s cry. Through her tears she said she thought she was going to miss out; I assured her God saw and loved her- she would never miss out.

We may think we are at the bottom of our barrel, there is nothing more to give. But, in the empty barrel, there is always more.

Wine will flow regardless of me because…

God is Good!

 

Pulling back; stepping through… God is Good!

Collecting my 5-year-old son from kindy, I felt to pop up to the local shopping centre for a coffee and a donut. A regular ‘treat’ for the two of us.

I had thought we were heading straight home. I was feeling tired, but sensing the prompting of God to go to the shops, I asked my son,

‘Do you get Southland or home? Ask God.’

My son, knowing how to ‘play the game,’ piped up from the back seat, ‘Southland.’

Continuing the ‘game’ I said, ‘do you get DJ’s or M?’

I was sensing to park at the Myer end of the shopping complex.

He instantly responded, ‘M! What does that mean, Mum?’

I steered the car toward Southland and explained where we were going and what “M” meant.

We found a carpark, and I quietly hoped the trip was just a ‘treat’ for the two of us, rather than an ‘assignment’, but as we walked into the centre, I saw a man in a wheelchair and felt a familiar prompting from God.

I ignored it.

I know, but I am being honest here!

I told you I will share the good, the bad and the ugly. Being human, I falter. I simply did not want to stop for anyone. I just wanted a treat with my boy.

I had been told the day before that I was ‘stressed.’ My doctor must know, right?

Pathetic reasoning, but I am being honest.

I walked on, ignoring the wheelchair; ignoring the knowing; ignoring the invitation.

Feeling sad, I apologised to God.

He loved me all the same, regardless of my ‘performance.’ Knowing this, I still felt sad at my response. There was no self-condemnation (not for long anyway) but there was a sense of deep sadness. There was God’s sadness and my sadness intermingled. I spoke to myself, bringing to mind my own testimonies of a good God who had seen me through time and time again when I had stopped for the one, yet I just did not want to risk failure and stop for the one yet again.

Regardless of my choices, my son and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

On our way out of the centre, we walked past another wheelchair. Well, it was not a ‘wheelchair’

per se, it was a person in a wheelchair. It was a person loved and seen by a good God. It’s important to remember they too are people He wants to touch. If only He can get through us!

I noted the gentle prompting as I walked past.

My little boy looked up at me and said quietly: ‘there’s a wheelchair mummy’.

From the mouths of babes!

I looked at him and said, ‘should we pray for him? You ask God.’

My boy got a ‘no’ but I looked back at the man and knew. I knew my boy knew too.

‘Come on,’ I said.

We approached the man, said ‘hello’, and I explained what had happened. I added the testimony of the broken legs being healed, and I asked if I could pray for him.

‘You’ll have to be quick because my wife is in the toilets,’ he responded.

With that I introduced us and asked what the problem was.

His name was Dave.

He had muscular dystrophy.

‘Incurable,’ he said.

‘But for a miracle,’ I said, ‘so we will pray for a miracle!’

I held his hand and prayed, feeling the anointing flow.

A few moments passed, and as I felt the release I finished and I repeated the testimony of little A’s healing, explaining that her healing came over two weeks.

I thanked him for allowing me to pray, and he thanked me and as I turned and walked away with my son.

As soon as I turned, I faced another wheelchair!

My boy looked and said ‘maybe we should pray for him too!’

‘Maybe we should,’ I thought.

I wish I could say I did.

I didn’t.

Sometimes it can be all too much.

In those times, we push back at the resistance to walk through to the Promise.

 

These are the times we feel we have nothing to give – BUT GOD!

(See When my barrel was empty… then God for such a story).

There were many invitations on this day.

I answered just once.

I look back and recognise it was an invitation into an upgrade…

We are always free to choose.

A friend said to me later that day,

‘We are not Jesus, we are being transformed.’

I agreed.

She followed up with, ‘That, of course, does not excuse us from not walking as Jesus did.’

And with that, she had called me to the standard.

She was calling me to be who I am in Christ.

Yes, we are all human – we are not Jesus. Yet, we are all called to be like Him, to believe Him when he says:

“I tell you the truth anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) (emphasis added)

 

I believe God invites us into encounters. God invites us to co-labour with Him to achieve His purposes, for the world, for others, for the one, but also for us.

Every time we say ‘yes,’ He celebrates.

I feel the Father’s joy every time I say ‘yes,’ but His joy is not about our obedience. We are not automaton. His joy flows every time we say ‘yes Lord’ because we step more deeply into our identity in Him when we do.

It’s a ‘win-win.’

The world gets touched; we get transformed!

He loves us, regardless of whether we say ‘yes Lord.’

However, we will feel the Father’s delight when we choose to step in, up, and out. As we do, we reach further into the promises of God for our own life, and for the lives of those around us. When we co-labour with Him, we are connecting with a Father’s loving heart, for us and for the one we stop for. That heart is full of splendour and glory simply because…

God is Good!

Special education her passion; Heaven her destination, God is Good!

With a new school term upon us, my daughter and I made a dash to our local shopping centre to ensure shoes would fit properly for the coming days.

As we ducked through the department store, a jumper (sweater) caught my eye. In a flash, I felt to buy it. On checking size and colour, I proceeded to the cashier’s desk.

A beautiful young girl called ‘Alicia’ came to serve us. We chatted as she processed the sale, and I knew I was to ask if I could pray for her.

Words of knowledge rapidly came to mind, so I gently felt my way through what I was hearing as we talked. I mentioned that working for the store was not her destiny. For some it is, I knew a girl years ago who loved retail and went on to a very successful career, but it was not for Alicia. In sensing this, I asked her about it, and she told me she was studying to become a teacher. I explained I was a Christian, and asked if I could pray for her, for her destiny to open up. She readily agreed. So I took her hand, listening for what God wanted me to pray. My 9-year-old daughter by my side.

The word ‘travel’ came to mind, and I sensed it was for overseas travel. I asked her about this and she said she was saving up to travel overseas. And so with the start of my ‘assignment’ I blessed her finances and declared ‘open doors’ to her destiny.

As I prayed, I ‘heard’ the words ‘special ed’.

 I queried her again, saying: “I know you are studying to become a teacher, but I sense that your heart is in special education, is that right?

She took a breath, responding that yes, special education was her passion.

So I prayed open doors into the field of special education, and I blessed the desires of her heart. I told her she would be a marvellous special education teacher. I did so because I knew she would. Indeed, I declared she would bless many ‘special ed children’ and their families, and she would alter destinies of those she taught for the better. I told her what I knew, and I stated as I prayed she would be a great blessing. It all encapsulated her heart’s desires, and I knew because it was God’s heart for her too.

I then heard the words ‘UK’ – ‘United Kingdom’

Again, I clarified by asking her if she was travelling to the UK. She said she wanted to travel to the USA to meet friends that were ‘having a blast.’ Smiling, I encouraged her to her to consider the idea of travel to the United Kingdom, explaining there might be opportunities and open doors there for her to teach in special education. I said to her that the UK was a wonderful place to live, but I also said:

I could also be wrong in that… just don’t discount the idea,’ and I smiled.

My daughter looked up and grinned at me, tugging my arm in excitement. Alicia stood in awe, amazed I would know these things about her. So, I explained I knew these things not because I was special but because she was special. God saw her. God wanted me to know them about her, so that I could pray them for her, that they would come to pass. In my knowing these details about her life, showed her that there was a God that knew her, saw her, and loved her enough for me to stop for her.

I then felt the nudge to ask her if she wanted Jesus Christ in her heart.

‘You haven’t asked Jesus into your heart yet, have you?’ I asked,

She replied no.

On the unction, I asked her if she wanted to do so.

She thought for a moment, ‘yes, I do!

So in the women’s clothing section of our local department store, a young woman gave her heart to Jesus Christ, accepting what He had done for her on the cross, and asked Him to fill her heart.

Once finished, I felt to give her my mobile (cell) number and name. I briefly explained my background so she would be comfortable to know I was not a Fruit Loop, and I left – my daughter’s face shining; me thoroughly washed in the love of Jesus (because that which flows through you, leaves a residual Presence, which is why it is so much fun to do this); and with Alicia staring at us as we left.

Anyone watching would have seen an ordinary mum and daughter, off to buy school shoes, hand in hand, leaving behind a beautiful and much-loved young woman, a bright destiny open, and a gift of salvation received.

‘Did she call?’

It would surprise me if she called.

There was no surprise. There was no call.

Some have criticised me for this, for leading someone to Christ but not following them up personally, taking their phone number, buying a Bible etc. Those people rarely stop for anyone as they go, so it’s easy to criticise. Some do stop and always follow up – I honour them. The year I had this encounter, I would have stopped for over 1000 people on my way. Some I mentored, others I prayed for and released to God.

The critic always plays a perfect game from their place of comfort.

I used to follow up every single one that I led to Christ, and in the early days I would follow up every one I prayed for too. I ran myself ragged. No one would help me from my local church, and I simply could not do it all on my own with two young children. By this stage, I had peace.

If God prompts me to get their number and chase them up, I will. If not, I know and trust He has their best interests at heart. I trust He will call them into His Church, into His Body, and I leave them free to contact me as and when they wish. It is their journey with a loving Father, and hence literally their call if they reach out to me for more for:

…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor 3:17)

Regardless, I do what I feel I am required to do. I ‘go about My Father’s business’ (Luke 2:49), as best can, and as I do, I am certain that they will know, that Alicia knows that…

God is Good!

 

Towards Fresh Wine

Water’s Edge
©Beth Kennedy 2020

Some need renovation; others deconstruction. Some are renovating; while  many are consumed with the build.

Yet others, the quiet ones with no meeting place of sorts, know it is time to meet at Water’s edge for it is there that ancient pathways head towards Fresh Wine.

 

 

He sees the one

A beautiful person house sat for us while we were away for the Easter break. She is dangerous to darkness because she will listen and respond. She shared the most lovely testimony after we came home, a testimony that continues to show that God is the God that sees and cares for the one.

© Andrey Kremkov on Unsplash

Easter Sunday morning she knew she was to head into St Pauls Cathedral in the city. She got herself organised and caught the train into town.

As she stood on the station, she realised she did not have a mask (masks are mandatory on public transport) so she quickly checked with the stationmaster who informed her she could jump on and risk travelling without one. Many do. She thought twice and caught the train, believing she would be late if she went back for her mask.

Arriving ‘on time’ she stood outside the church with another woman and mentioned she had forgotten her mask. The woman looked at her and promptly produced a spare. A God provided the solution.

Mask situation taken care of, she then realised with a level of frustration that she had forgotten daylight savings ended that morning – she was an hour too early.

Irritated, she considered heading off for a city jaunt. However, as she walked she kept finding herself drawn back to St Pauls Cathedral.

Go to the service she would!

© Sincerely Media on unsplash

Sitting in the large church, she estimated that there must have been approximately 2000 people in attendance. It was not the usual type of service for her, and so she was interested to know what God was up to in the moment.

She tells me she enjoyed much of the service until she heard a loud snoring emanating from a source behind her. Turning with the many others, she noted a woman about 2 rows back whose bowed head was in deep sleep.

The noise irritated many around my friend. People ‘tut tutted’ and nodded at each other while glaring at the snoring perpetrator. Yet, not a single soul got up to waken the slumbering woman, regardless that the service was being drowned out with the sound.

My friend said she watched, waiting for someone to awaken the woman gently. Sure someone would help, she watched the ushers wander past to count the crowd. Not a single person moved to wake the sleeper, to help her avoid embarrassment.

© Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Becoming certain that this was why she had been told to head into town, she argued with God.

Someone else closer would surely interrupt her…

An usher will surely come to her help…

Surely a Church full of Christians would gently engage with the woman to help her wake and avoid the shaming she might feel upon waking.

My friend prayed someone closer would help.

Not a soul moved.

Compassion flooding her, my friend got up, walked back the 2 rows, and sat quietly next to the woman. Once seated, she whispered to the woman who woke with a start. My friend told her gently that she had been snoring, that she was not there to condone, but to sit by her side. The woman did not look at her and said nothing. My friend continued to sit by her side.

As a trained nurse, she recognised the woman was suffering with some form of mental illness. She had perhaps had too much sleeping tablet the night before; whatever the cause, she did not know that she had been making such a noise.

The beautiful thing was that once awake, the woman fully engaged with the entire service. She sang at the top of her voice and listened with intent. God was clearly engaging her heart.

Who knows the outcome of that single act of inconvenient obedience!

© Ben Eaton on Unsplash

My friend sat, now understanding why she had gone to the service.

God knew.

God had seen this woman.

A kind-hearted Father wanted a lone woman to hear, engage and most importantly be protected from the shame that would follow had she realised what she was doing.

God had seen and sent my friend on an inconvenient journey because…

God is Good!

The God who sees (part 2)

© Sam Manns
God gave me kisses on Thursday. I had been flat, I needed encouragement.
He is the God who sees…

The next day, I saw a great friend. You know the type: encouraging, positive, loves your quirkiness and knows you well enough to brush the dirt away gently to reveal the gold while calling you higher. Community matters!

Home again, I sorted daughter responsibilities, and felt to take our dog for a quick walk. Her life long buddy died recently, and she is more needy these days.

As I walked I thought about two random moments from years ago. Both these moments involved drunk guys. Andrew had stopped for them. One was a homeless man whom Andrew took shopping – he had cried tears in delight as Andrew ‘just happened’ to pick up his favourite foods and load up the trolley. The other man wept in the dark as Andrew sat by his side in the local football stadium, talking about his broken marriage.

These ‘random’ memories should have pointed me to what would happen next – but I was none the wiser.

As I walked into the local footy oval, I saw a man to my left. At his feet was a wine box, with a couple of bottles of champagne.

© Michael Odelberth

He averted his gaze. I sensed sensed his shame and as I did my heart went out to him. His despair and sadness was tangible. With a nudge to acknowledge him as I walked past, I smiled gently.

‘Hello,’ I said.

A quiet ‘hello’ came back.

I continued to walk, and I ‘saw’ in my mind’s eye a picture of me sitting next to him on the park bench, talking.

I never choose to sit down next to drunk men at parks.

I prayed instead.

The image in my mind stuck.

‘I will stop for him and sit if you like. Just let me know if I stop on my first or second lap.’

As I came near to where he sat, he got up.

‘Oh, he’s leaving,’ I thought, ‘missed it.’

However, to my surprise, he merely shifted along to the next park bench. Some men had been working on the turf, so I reasoned he was perhaps uncomfortable. He seemed a gentle soul. He later told me he had become too hot in the sun.

His shift of seating made it difficult to join him, so as I walked close to the boundary fence instead and said, ‘Are you ok?’

‘No, I’m not, I’m actually really struggling,’ he replied.

His vulnerability was raw.

© Alicja Gancarz

‘Wow, that must be tough. Do you want to talk about it?’ I asked.

He did, and he started talking.

After a little while, I mentioned I was a Christian. I explained I had felt prompted to come over to see if he was ok. Note: I have great local non-Christian friends who would have done the same.

I told him about the picture I had of us sitting and chatting. He said that sounded nice.

We sat side by side on the park bench. I listened some more. He spoke. I prayed for him. He wept.

I told Him about the God who sees him, who loved him right as he was. I spoke briefly of my messes…

I told him God did not judge the drinking, the pain, the mess, the self medicating; instead, I explained, God adored him. I responded to a comment that God did not judge him, that Jesus had dealt with all that, but then I said I was not there to preach.

I repeated God loved him so much and merely hated the drink because it hurt him. I also said that God sees and hates the hurt that he was trying to stifle, and like a good Father wants to see him set free in order to have a wonderful life.

© Jen Theodore

As I prayed, I saw a picture of a little boy. The boy was so full of joy and excitement about football that his eyes shone with delight. Speaking to the broken dream in his heart, I prayed for the boy who had played football and cricket at the very oval we sat beside.

I told him he could not be any more loved than he was right now, just as he was. He shared his struggles to believe in a God that could ‘allow’ such pain in the world. I told him he had good questions, and I responded by telling him of my own struggles with faith when faced with the brutality my refugee clients had survived.

We kept talking, he wept, he drank, and my dog sat patiently by my side.

Eventually he said how much my saying ‘hello’ had meant to him.

It was a tiny, yet significant, act of kindness.

I shared how God prompted me to sit by his side, and how I had prayed for him as I walked all around the oval.

‘Really?’ he said…

© Natasha Ivanchikhina

I said simply, ‘He is the God who sees, He loves you, He cares’ and I thought of my encounter the day before.

He is the God who sees…

Eventually I stood, I needed to leave. I had to return home to help my mother, whose sister (my aunt) had just died. Promising to leave Andrew’s number at the reception of his accommodation, I said we would love to see him for a coffee. Drunk or not, it was ok; he was welcome just to catch up.

He said he would like that.

I felt the urge to give him a hug; but ignored it the first time. Feeling it again, I offered him a hug. He immediately responded ‘yes’ and threw his arms around me in a way that he was desperate for love. He was hungry for the acceptance that only human warmth can provide. As I hugged him, I hoped he felt the Father’s heart. I could feel his basic human need to be seen and to be loved.

I hope he calls for a cuppa.

I also hope he can kick the addiction and step into his inheritance. I had prayed a future I saw.

He has kicked the habit before. I believe he will again.

Yet, even if he can’t, he knows there is a God who loves him, right where he is at. He knows there is a God who sent a random female stranger to sit and talk on a park bench for an hour.

Yesterday, God gave me kisses…

He was the God who sees…

Today God gave him kisses…

He IS the God that sees…

I hope and trust that this man at the park tasted to see that…

God is Good!

© Suhash Villuri