Month: December 2013

Freedom in Identity

Who am I?

Photo by Demi Brooke, sourced from everystockphoto.com under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Photo by Demi Brooke, sourced from everystockphoto.com under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

It’s something we’re supposed to figure out in our twenties, but in my case it keeps changing.

This time last year I was a journalist, I had just finished my third trip overseas and I was surrounded by terrific friends that I’d grown up with. I was also about to embark on a new adventure in a larger town. Pretty exciting.

Fast forward twelve months. Some awesome things have happened; I’ve written a book, started this blog, worked in a completely new job, met different people and settled into my new home.

But at the same time, at the moment it looks like my journalism career could be over. My book is still a long way from being published, and this is a fairly new blog so I don’t have thousands of readers hanging off my every word. And tonight (New Year’s Eve) all my friends are busy or out of town. So I’m just planning to pick up some of my favourite food on the way home and spend the night on the couch with two of my favourite men, Hamish and Andy. (To my international readers, they are Australian comedians – and some of the funniest guys ever.)

Suddenly I don’t sound quite so awesome.

Look ahead another twelve months. Things could go either way. I could land a journo job, get a publishing contract, and have a full social calendar. Or I could not.

But the thing is… none of these circumstances are in my control.

So why should they affect my identity? Short answer: they shouldn’t.

It’s something I’ve known for a long time, but every now and then I need to remind myself. My identity is in God. I belong to Him. Nothing more, nothing less. I can’t get depressed or puffed up about my position in life, because I know that it can all change. And there’s freedom in that.

If my identity isn’t found in my career, writing or friends, then I’m not afraid to change jobs, move towns, and start working from the bottom up on my writing. I’m not restricted.

So before I look ahead to 2014 and completely freak out that I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m not where I thought I would be, I can stop and take a breath. It’s okay. I’m valuable to God either way.

The Israelites didn’t know what would happen when they left Egypt, and they had several pretty big freak-outs. But God always came through. They only ever came unstuck when they refused to trust Him.

So I now have a reminder stuck up on the wall next to my bed. It’s in the form of a question.

“What’s the point of trust and faith if I never use it?”

Can We Know God?

This is an abbreviated version of the article by Johnathan Martin on http://www.relevantmagazine.com.

There is no conspiracy to keep obstacles between us and God.

When the mystery of God first struck the ground, crackling with the electricity of a storm on Mount Sinai, it was the people who said, “Don’t let Him speak to us directly or we will die.”

We are often the ones inserting ourselves in that space.We fill the space between us with everything we can get our hands on because, deep down, we know there is something terrible about staring into the mystery for ourselves and finding ourselves fully seen and fully known in return.

Even if we find a gaze of love staring back at us, we are uncomfortable with the wildness in that gaze. To encounter God is to encounter lack of control, to come to terms with our own ultimate powerlessness.

To encounter God is to discover both how small we are and how beloved we are, and we are not prepared either to be so insignificant or so desperately loved.

There is something tender about the presence of God and the voice of God, a tenderness that never fails to break our hearts. The the heartbreak of a relationship with God is not sentimental in the least—it is the sheer goodness of God, the tenderness of His heart that relentlessly shatters our own.

We have been presumptuous to think we know what God might be saying or what He wants in a given situation, smug in our judgments. And then comes the real voice of God, which always turns out to be more tender, more gentle, more loving than what we could have imagined. That unfathomable mercy that, more than any of the extraordinary things we might say about God, ultimately makes Him the most unlike us.

However broken we might feel or be, it takes a certain courage to stare into the whirlwind—to fix our gaze into the storm that knows us—without flinching, without covering ourselves, without looking away.

And when we stay there long enough, a figure emerges from the storm. Like the Israelites when God appeared on Sinai, we are tempted to cower in terror, to find someone to stand between us and Him.

And again comes the voice, as familiar on this new mountain as it was in the midst of the storm—except this time not just a voice, but a hand that reaches out to touch us. “Get up, and do not be afraid.” The same terror, the same glory, but with a tender touch and a voice that has always been familiar—telling us we have no reason to fear. From out of the whirlwind, from out of the storm, Jesus comes walking.

Nightmare

What use is God when we’re in pain?

It’s a tough issue.

I wrote this short story, Nightmare, as a reminder to myself of God’s character.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses.” Hebrews 4:15

Nightmare

It’s not your usual cheery Christmas fare, but hopefully it’s still good. 🙂

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Texts from the Queen

Yesterday I got a text message from Queen Lizzy (you know, the one who rules England). She said, “Tell me everything ur worried about. Hand the burdens over to me. I really care about u.”

disbelieving face stockxDon’t believe that one? How about this?

“Cast all your anxiety on Him (God) because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7 NIV

Even more crazy, but it’s true.

Personally, I tend to either take this completely for granted, or swing wildly the other way and feel like God doesn’t care at all.

What I should do is stay in awe of the fact that God takes the time and effort to share my burdens, and hang onto Him and not let go.

It’s the level of detail that really gets me, when I bother to properly think about it. The Bible says “cast ALL your anxiety on Him”.

Not only the big things, like my career (or lack of it). Whether my book will ever be published. Whether I’m saving enough money. Whether I’m making the right decisions.

All my anxiety. Every little bit of it.

How I’ll finish my Christmas shopping. How I’ll survive work today. Stressing that there’s no garlic bread left in the freezer (don’t laugh – we take garlic bread seriously in our home).

Why does God say ‘all’? Because He’s interested in ALL of me. He wants to know me. He wants to help me with my burdens. He wants me to trust Him. It’s all about intimate relationship.

Same goes for you.

And why would He want that?

Well, that’s a terrific question. We sure don’t deserve this kind of nitty-gritty attention. That’s what makes it so mind-blowing.

So, we have the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God willing to take on our worries and… we’re still holding onto them?

I often have to peel my fingers away from whatever is stressing me out, but I’m finding that it’s worth it. Pinky finger by pinky finger.

It’s Here!

The start of my novel is now online!

There’s a taster below; follow the link to read the first three chapters of Open Your Eyes.

Open Your Eyes

What if someone could see into your soul?
All your wounds. All your darkness. All your potential. All your beauty.
How would you react?

Nathan Scott’s eyes see more than most. Penetrating past flesh and bone, they slice down to the very soul.
So when he moves to the small Kansas town of Grangeville, Nathan sees that jealously, suspicion and fear are tearing the local church apart. What’s more, the minister’s intriguing niece seems determined to avoid him.
While the congregation knows about Nathan’s sight, no one is aware of his secret mission – to find his estranged father.
While tensions build and relationships grow more complicated, Nathan is faced with two of the greatest challenges of his life.
Can he love a father who has done nothing to deserve it? And can he unite his church before it self-destructs?

To read the first three chapters of Open Your Eyes, follow this link.

Open Your Eyes

 

The Big Reveal

The wait is nearly over; the first few chapters of my novel Open Your Eyes will be available on this blog by Sunday!!!

cover1

It will also be available on the Authonomy website; if you want to check out other new ideas from novelists around the world, visit http://www.authonomy.com.

And if anybody feels like logging in to Authonomy and adding my book to their bookshelf, that will help boost my ranking and be much appreciated!

If you can’t wait that long to read something, check out my next short story, The Kingdom.

Click this link or find it in the Parables section.

The Kingdom

The Kingdom youth group version