Personal god

New Adventure Starts

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My first ever guest blog post is now up on author Ada Brownell’s blog, Ink From an Earthen Vessel.

Click here to read the post, ‘I Don’t Want To Succeed’.

My next guest blog post will be on Emilie Hendryx’s blog, Thinking Thoughts, in a few days. Watch this space for the link.

Happy reading! 🙂

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The Parade

Does guilt ever affect you? Do you find yourself holding back from God? Do you find yourself envious of other people who seem so close to Him?

If you answered ‘yes’, check out my short story/youth group skit, The Parade.

And if you answered ‘no’, you should still check it out, because we can all do with a reminder every now and then. 🙂

The Dance Floor

Photo source: everstockphoto.com. Photographer: Zabara. Used under attrition license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Photo source: everstockphoto.com. Photographer: Zabara. Used under attrition license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

The dance floor in my heart helps stop the wrestling match in my head.

Huh? She’s been cooped up in her office for too long.

No, I’m not crazy. Let me explain.

For me, it is a constant effort to keep God at #1. There is a wrestling match going on in my head at all times – sometimes of WWE proportions.

I love God, but I also looooooooooooove my writing. And while I’m working to follow God and use my writing for His purposes, the devil is still trying to exploit anything I love.

The temptation comes all the time. The nature of writing means it is continually on my mind, no matter what I’m doing. I listen to novel-writing lectures while I wash the dishes. I invent plots while I drive. I think about blog posts while I do my devotions. And nearly every spare moment when I don’t have to be anywhere else (and a lot of moments when I should be somewhere else), I’m typing away at my keyboard.

Writing is hard to break into, so I need to put in these hours. But it’s so easy to get anxious. I feel like I’m not working fast enough. I want to hurry up and get published so I can start getting paid. The self-doubt creeps in and I wonder if an agent will scorn my manuscript.

I can see how easy it would be for God’s voice to fade away – especially if all I’m thinking about during my devotions is what verse to use in my next blog post. Yes, my writing is full of God. But just writing – or knowing – about Him is no good if I don’t know Him. If I’m writing an article on someone, I can read a book about them, interview their friends and look at the work they did. All good stuff. But it doesn’t replace sitting down with that person over coffee and having a chat.

My counter-measure – apart from sticky notes on my wall reminding me to trust God and be patient – is a dance floor in my mind.

It’s my version of that verse in Psalm 46:

Be still, and know that I am God.

No thoughts about writing are allowed on the dance floor. I approach, wearing my awesome lace gown. God is there, in His tux. Sometimes I’m so amazed that He’s always there, I bow to the floor before He picks me up and we start to dance. Other days, I just run and hug Him.

After a while I might start to tell Him about my book. But only if I’m talking to Him about it, not just writing it in my head. But we don’t always talk. Sometimes I just let Him hold me, and as we stand there it slowly seeps back into my brain just how much He loves me. It’s like the love is soaking through my dress, my skin, into the core of my being.

Then I feel better. That’s when I remember who I am. I am not just a writer. I may not even be a writer at all.

I am a person God loves. That’s all that matters

.

They will be called the Holy People,

the Redeemed of the LORD;

and you will be called Sought After,

the City No Longer Deserted.

Isaiah 62:12 NIV (emphasis mine)

I Don’t Trust God

I don’t trust God.

That’s the realisation I came to just over a month ago.

morguefile trust

Sure, if you had’ve asked me I certainly would have said I trusted God. But my mental agonising, internal temper tantrums and occasional whinge sessions with my sister said otherwise.

There was a very real reason behind my worry. I was at a point where my life could go one of two ways; lets call them Option A (for Awesome) and Option B (for Boring, Bad, etc).

Needless to say, I really wanted Option A. The way this panned out would affect my life in a fairly major way. But there wasn’t really anything I could do to force Option A to become reality.

So I waited. And prayed. And hoped. And day-dreamed. And stewed. And got frustrated. And worried. And grumbled.

For six months.

I said I was trusting God. And I was, to the degree that I didn’t throw my hands in the air and walk out on Him. I trusted Him enough to stay with Him.

But I didn’t trust Him enough to allow His peace to calm me down. No, instead I went through the up-and-down rollercoaster of trying to trust God for about four days, before something gave me hope that Option A really could happen. Then I focused my thoughts on that hope. Then something negative happened. Then I focused on that. And despaired. And the cycle started again.

One day I woke up and realised how ridiculous this was. And what it said about my real trust in God. I knew then that I had to decide. I either took God at His word and believed that He knew best or I didn’t.

I chose to believe.

It lasted four weeks.

After four weeks, I allowed myself to get distracted again. I took my eye off the ball – off God – and fell down again. I lost my peace. But this time, I realised something else.

Option A is never going to happen.

So now I’m living Option B, and again I have two choices. Trust God, or just watch TV for the rest of my life. (TV is my drug of choice when I’m upset.)

I’m finding that trusting God – and the peace that follows – is much better. I’ve also learned that I need to pray for help in trusting God, and remember to do it. It’s now written on a sticky note and stuck on my bedroom wall.

Moral of the story? I’m not as good at trust as I thought. But with God’s help, I can do it. And trusting God is way better than the alternative.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Swap my Heart for Yours

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I realised on Wednesday that I had to let go of something.

I can’t go into the specifics here, but suffice to say it’s something that I’d been hanging onto for a while. And I felt pretty sad about it. But I knew that it was time.

I talked to my housemates about the issue late Wednesday night, and finally went to bed about 11.30pm.

I often pray while I’m lying in bed. And this may sound strange, but I often meet with God on a dance floor in my mind. I wear a gorgeous dress. He wears a tux. We waltz and talk.

There was no dance floor on Wednesday night. Too tired and disappointed for that. But let me share what I wrote in my journal the next morning:

“Last night as I went to sleep, I lay in bed and held my bleeding heart in my hands. No dance floor now.

“But suddenly You were there too, laying there facing me. You pulled out Your own heart. It was bleeding too.

“You shed tears over my pain, and held my heart carefully in Your hand. You stroked it and kissed it.

“Then You put Your own heart in my chest, and placed mine in Yours.

“I knew my heart would heal there – in fact, it felt more at home with You than with me. And Your heart – which understood my pain – would sustain me, far better than my own ever could.”

And God is faithful. I’m healing; He’s sustaining.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

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.