Month: December 2014

How God’s Broken Through My Walls

Copyright Creationswap, by  Joey Sforza.

Copyright Creationswap, by Joey Sforza.

This year has been all about learning about the character of God, and also about the character of me.

Everyone has thinking patterns and world views that need adjusting; the biggest one for me this year has been, “God’s disappointed in me because I’m not working hard enough”.

If you’ve read this blog regularly, you will have seen how God’s been chipping away at that over a number of months. Last week, when I was having a hard time, I had a conversation with a friend. She basically summed up a lot of the points that God’s been teaching me throughout the year.

So here they are, to share with all of you. These are my four favourite life lessons from 2014:

1. God will convict me if I need to change something, but never condemn me.

God isn’t about confusion or guilt. He won’t make me feel bad for the fun of it. If I need to change, He’ll show me, we’ll deal with it, and move on. If I feel paralysed by shame and have a vague notion of rejection, that’s not God.

2. God does not whisper quietly in the corner.

I stress a lot that I’m missing something that God’s trying to tell me. It’s one of the reasons why I find making decisions tricky. And if I were a person absorbed in my own life, not concerned about God, that could be true. But for someone who asks God to reveal His will, I shouldn’t have to stress that He will whisper what He wants in a corner and then watch me strain to hear it. He will tell me, and he will make it clear.

3. If I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve missed something…

then I should take ten minutes, sit down with God and say, “OK, I’m listening.” If nothing comes up, then I should stop stressing. I’m fine. If the stress is hard to shake, go back and read point 2. Then read point 4…

4. God literally loves me more than life itself.

And that’s it!

 

To all my lovely readers, thank-you for a year of support, comments, emails and other interactions. It’s wonderful to know we’re all in this together!

I’m taking the next two weeks off for Christmas, so have a wonderful holiday and I’ll see you all in 2015. 🙂

When God Shows Up

Copyright Creationswap, by David Gamboa.

Copyright Creationswap, by David Gamboa.

She wouldn’t know it, but a friend of mine totally had God work through her on Wednesday.

That particular morning as I walked to work, I was really struggling. The start of my week had been challenging, plus I haven’t had a holiday in a while so I’m pretty tired. The tiredness plus the challenges meant that I was just dreading the day ahead of me.

I’m struggling to explain it here, because a blog can’t capture the emotions or the timing or the circumstances around it. The thing was, even though I know it’s not true, for the past few weeks… maybe even months… I’ve had an overwhelming sense that God is disappointed in me.

Even though I know not to believe feelings—they can be deceptive—this feeling overwhelmed me till I could sense its icy touch in the depths of my soul. I sensed that God had been accusing me for weeks, even as I told myself that it wasn’t God. But for every comeback I came up with, the voice answered, Stop making up excuses! Shake off that apathy and work harder!

I couldn’t win. God was distant and angry, and I had failed.

I know it’s not right. I’ve fought it all the time. But on Tuesday, I was just too tired to fight it off anymore. So I cried on the phone to Mum instead. Wednesday didn’t start any better.

Never in my life have I considered chucking a sickie, but as I walked to work that morning I reeeeeeeeeeealy wanted to. In fact, I was on the verge of bursting into tears and pulling out my phone when I looked up and spotted my friend walking ten steps ahead.

It’s not unusual for us to see one another in the mornings–our workplaces are close together. But the timing was ridiculously good, and I knew it had to be God.

I jogged a few steps to catch up to her, and she asked how I was. I was honest and said Tuesday had been rough, and she said she’d pray for me during the day.

That was the reassurance I needed.

It was just one simple sentence, but my mind went from I can’t do this, I can’t do this, to, She’s praying. It’s gonna be okay. 

I could face the day again.

At lunchtime, I was talking to Mum and mentioned the encounter to her. She said she’d been praying that morning that God would show me his love in a tangible way.  And he did.

Wednesday was like a ray of light broke through the clouds. Through my friend’s simple listening ear and offer to pray, God clearly said, I’M NOT DISTANT. I’M NOT ANGRY. THAT WASN’T ME. I AM HERE. I CARE. I LOVE YOU.

And I was so relieved.

 

 

Why Do I Try So Hard?

Copyright Creationswap, image by Charise Orozco.

Copyright Creationswap, image by Charise Orozco.

There is one really bad reason to put a lot of effort into things. And I’m the worst for doing it.

Let me give you some examples.

First of all, why do you think I aim to exercise regularly?

There are a few reasons: it’s good for me; and I feel happier when I get more exercise. And …

when I judge overweight people for their condition, I realise that I must exercise myself to avoid being a hypocrite.

It’s a pretty ugly thought, isn’t it? Not a fun realisation to have about myself.

My novel writing is another example. Why am I working so hard to make my plot the best it can be?

Well, I want to be a quality writer. And …

when I criticise other writers’ work, I realise that I had better be pretty inventive myself to avoid being a hypocrite.

The sad part is, I don’t think I’ve avoided being a hypocrite at all. I’ve just fooled myself.

Why do I judge anybody? Jesus makes his thoughts the matter pretty clear when He says,

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Matthew 7:1-5 NIV

He obviously hates these kinds of self-righteous attitudes.

Like a lot of the things I post about, this is a thought process that I didn’t realise I was doing. Now, it seems so obvious… and wrong.

How can I show Jesus’ love to others when I’m living my own life like this?

Please continue to clear my vision God, and help me to focus on You instead of others’ faults. Erase my pride before it lands me in quicksand. And please help me to live a life that honours You.