Lent- a howling in the night!

Scary noises reverberating in the dark.

I have been pondering much in recent days. I think that first steps in the desert is maybe one of the worst, most challenging part of the journey, because it is new and unfamiliar. Being in the desert at night, hearing the rustle of an ibex in the acacia trees, or the sound of hyenas in the distance and feeling vulnerable is a scary experience. That is when your imagination works overtime, and you can fear the worst.

Dealing with new situations generally can be like this. There is a deluge of new facts and information to deal with, and we have to reorient ourselves. It takes a lot of energy and focus. In times of transition in our lives, when things are changing on different fronts simultaneously, it is easy to get overwhelmed.

In the darkness in the desert, the most innocent of sounds can be built up in our imagination. We can become paralysed with fear, pumped full of adrenaline, hyper aroused, waiting for the next noise, working out if it is near or far, and what kind of threat it might pose.

In these times of disorientation and fear, we remember that God is with us. In psalm 3 verses 3 and 5, ( NLT translation) it says;  ‘But You O Lord,  are a Shield around me, you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. ……………                               I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.’

In the night, when we cannot sleep, and our thoughts run riot, we remember that God is our Shield and Protector, that he keeps us safe from the predators of darkness. And in the light of morning, we see things more clearly, our fears diminish, and our trust in our Faithful God is renewed. May we pray.

Gracious God, sometimes we fear the terrors of the night, and we need to be reminded that You shelter us under the protection of your wings, and that You keep us safe. Lord Jesus forgive us that we so quickly become worried and fearful. Help us to remember the words of psalm 91, that you will protect those who trust in You. Help us not to focus on the scary sounds of the night, but on Your faithful promises. In times of change and challenge, may your holy spirit help us to take a breath, to refocus on your love and truth, and then to confidently take the next step in our journey. For Jesus sake, Amen

God’s heart…….

full of love……

This is such a reflective time of year- a time to think about what really matters, about what is important. We often have new year resolutions and ideas of how to change our habits, and these things themselves can be good.

For me, I have been asking God to show me what I need most of all at this time, and he has reminded me that I need to know, trust and feel that God’s heart for the world is full of love.

I can know that God’s heart is full of love and goodness as I read different bible passages. In Romans chapter 5, I am reminded that God shows His love for us through the death of Jesus His Son. For some one to give their life for my sake is extraordinary, never mind the Son of God. Because of his death, and the cleansing and forgiveness He brings, I can ask God to cleanse my heart and restore a steadfast spirit within me. I know that God’s love is powerful, merciful and open to forgive.

I also trust in God’s promises and His love. This is more tricky, because life is tough- we go through disappointment, illness, trauma and bereavement. I have to choose to keep trusting, even when I feel forgotten or life doesn’t make any sense. The verses from Proverbs 4 resonate: ‘ ‘Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life’. The temptation is to become bitter or to quietly give up. God calls us to look to Him, and see that His love is unchanging, slow to become angry and full of mercy. This steady self giving love heals our brokenness, and rekindles our trust.

I need to feel God’s love too. I know that feelings can come and go, and not to rely on them entirely. But I am probably my best self, when I live close to the Father’s heart. God’s heart of love melts my heart of stone, and makes it tender. His Holy spirit ministers to me, helps me forgive, gives me strength to start again, and inspires me.

I love worship songs sbout God’s heart. Remember the old Graham Kendrick song ‘ Teach me to dance to the beat of your heart,’ or Zach Williams’ There’s only love in the heart of the God’ or Tell your heart to beat again’ by Danny Gokely. Sometimes music speaks to our souls in a profound way.

For all of us, if our heart can beat to the heartbeat of God, everything else will flow from this. What more can we ask.

Gracious God, we are so delighted that you reveal the Father’s heart though Your Son Jesus Christ. In Him, we see your goodness and grace, your wisdom and beauty, and we bow down with humility and wonder. We know our hearts are so easily polluted with envy and greed, with pride and selfishness. Please cleanse us by your spirit, and bring renewal so we might have pure hearts, and be able to see Your hand at work once more in this world. May we not become weighed down by cynicism or negativity, but be open and receptive to see that You are doing a new thing. May we know Your love, may we trust You, may we receive your love and mercy very personally in our lives. Heal us, bring renewal, and then may the Father’s heart of love radiate through our lives, and touch all those we meet, for his is His will, Amen.

So fed up feeling helpless!

Sorting things out?

It has been raining much of the day. It feels like it has been raining in my soul too. It is easy to feel downcast- the news from the Ukraine is searingly awful, along with news from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and so many other places. I feel pretty helpless.

It seems a common theme. Today I went through some old papers of my late husband’s, and it just felt overwhelmingly sad. Rereading diaries, reawakening old memories and wounds. It was depressing.

There are so many times in life when we feel helpless. I remember when I had broken a bone in my foot, and I had made a doctor’s appointment asking for a ground floor appointment. Of course when I got there, it was an upstairs room that was allocated. I sat on the bottom stair,so frustrated, and thinking I am going to have to crawl, which is going to be just a bit undignified, but there was nothing else to be done.

Maybe this is a season of helplessness. Lent is the time when we think of Jesus alone in the desert, resisting temptation. It feels like a time of confronting reality, and it is so stark.

And yet, when we feel helpless, we know that Jesus is walking with us. Just as he came alongside Cleopas and his dejected friend on the road from Jerusalem, Jesus comes alongside us, and somehow we find strength.

We might feel helpless, but it is not the truth. When faced with the violent darkness of war, we keep praying for peace and doing what we can. When I reread old journals, there are some lighter memories also. When I was stuck at the bottom of the stairs, some one switched rooms, so I could have a downstairs appointment. It was just a struggle, but these moments of despair passed.

When we feel under pressure, or unable to do much, we remember God’s words to us: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will strengthen you, I will help you. I will hold you with my right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Gracious God, these feel like dark days, where we feel helpless to combat all the sadness and suffering in the world, whether personally or internationally. Lord Jesus, please come along side us, and through your loving presence may we find strength. May your holy spirit remind us that we are not powerless, for with You nothing is impossible. Help us to wait upon you, and to pray and to trust, and to know that help is on the way, Amen