The Pain of Stretching

As I snatched ten minutes quiet this morning in my favourite spot, I was thinking about a conflict between what I’ve been seeking from God, and what I’m willing to accept from God.

On the one hand, for over a year now I’ve been asking God daily to take me deeper, to reveal to me who He created me to be, to guide me into my destiny, His Plan and Purpose for my life, to fulfill my hopes and dreams.

On the other hand I’m well aware that I don’t even have the courage to pray a prayer each morning that says “OK who do you want me to talk to today?” or to ask “what opportunities do you want me to take?” because I know if I pray those sorts of prayers, God will actually answer them and provide such an opportunity.

It has taken me an embarrassingly long time to realise those two attitudes are directly in opposition to each other..

As I thought this through I felt God ask “what are you afraid of?”

The answer of course is failure.

God’s response was “Don’t you think that I know you?”

I didn’t have a response to that.

Instead (slightly petulantly) I thought “but the thing is, stretching is painful!”

Immediately I thought of childbirth.  You know, if you genuinely really understood in advance, as a woman, exactly how much it was going to hurt (especially a natural childbirth), really could understand, you would be much less likely to chose to go through it!  Because stretching hurts!

Even as I thought that, I heard God’s response “So why, having gone through that once, did you chose to go through it again then? Knowing the second time how much it ‘really’ hurt?”

Good question! Why does any woman have a second child?!  I guess because although you know it is going to hurt you now know you survived it once, the pain ends (eventually!) and you now know the reward is worth it.

At which point there was a sense of God saying “Uhuh. I’ll wait for you to catch up and realise what you’ve just said…”

The stretching may hurt, but you survive, and not only survive but find the rewards are great.  You  realize that actually the stretching and that hurt wasn’t as bad – or rather it wasn’t as significant as you thought it would be in the grand scheme of things.

The pain of childbirth, viewed now as a mother of four (the oldest of whom is 22), isn’t any less.  The pain of those births hasn’t diminished – they’re still the worst thing I’ve ever been through – however it doesn’t seem as important afterwards.  It wasn’t a barrier to doing it again.  From the perspective of having seen the rewards, the fruit, the pain doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue as it may be felt at the time.

I felt God reflecting that back to me, over my fears of being stretched in order to be who He calls me to be, who He made me to be, over stepping out in faith, leaning in to Him.  A fear that stopped me praying dangerous prayers because I know the answers may “hurt”.

So this is where I am.  Realising the truth that even if stepping out and praying those prayers may mean I get “hurt” that “pain” will not, in the grand scheme of things, matter. He promises me only good.  He promises that the rewards will be greater and the fruit sweeter than any discomfort I experience as I allow Him to stretch me.

Just for the sake of keeping it real, I still haven’t prayed a truly dangerous prayer yet. But it won’t be long…

Advertisements

A Childlike Faith

Children, especially young children, don’t get a say in what happens to them or around them.

A baby may express its desires (food, comfort, changing etc) but the when and the how of what happens in response to that is out of their hands.

A toddler is dressed by its parent. The parent chooses the food they want the child to eat. The parent decides to go out/stay in. Visiting friends, shopping, holidays – all decided by the parent.

A young child may get up by themselves in the morning, and get dressed. But the clothes were laid out by the parent the night before, and the child is told what is an acceptable time to get up (ignore the points where a child challenges these things – just bear with me here for the sake of a serious point).

By the time they are, say, 11, the child is choosing what to wear – but the clothes have still been bought by the parent. Even if the child gets taken to “chose” the clothes that are bought, it is still within parameters set by the parent.

What school to go to? Where to go on holiday? Moving house? Visiting relatives? All the sort of things that are still outside of the child’s control.

As we grow up, our involvement in the decisions that affect us grows. We learn consequences. We learn decision making.

When we are old enough to get our first paper round/Saturday job, we have money that we have a right to spend pretty much how we want.

By the time we reach 18, and certainly when we finally leave home, we are fully in charge of the choices we make. Even if circumstances remain outside our control (the flat tyre, the difficult boss, unrequited love) we are aware of the ability to chose how to react to them, and what steps to take in response to them.

This is how it should be. This is independence. This is maturity.

Christian maturity however is (like most things in the Kingdom of Heaven) completely back to front.

From the moment we are “born again” we start a new life. A new journey. However, unlike our physical journey and life progression, this is all about losing our independence.

Bear with me here.

Jesus said “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3)

Remember the child who is dependent on the parent?

Each morning, from a very young age, my boys would ask “what are we doing today?” Even as teenagers and young adults, they still come to us (only now it is last thing at night!) and ask “what’s the plan for tomorrow?”

When they ask this, they aren’t asking about the big things. They don’t want a 6 month or 5 year plan. This isn’t a philosophical question. No, they are asking about the plans we have made for the day so they know how they will affect them.

My 10 year old knows he will have clothes to wear each day and he knows they will be cleaned when they get dirty. He knows there will be food in the kitchen and a hot meal prepared for his dinner. He knows the bills are being paid which means there are lights, heat, water and (because he is a modern 10 year old) internet connection!

He doesn’t fret about those things.

When he asks me in the morning what the plans are, he wants to know if anything different is happening. Anything exciting. Anything that will give a structure to the day, give him focus.  He has an expectation that I will take care of the big stuff, he just needs to know about the day to day stuff.  That day.  Today.

When you give your life to Jesus, and you are born again, the single hardest fundamental thing you are likely to spend the rest of your journey grappling with is losing your independence. Becoming child like.

Surrender.

Not my will but Your’s Lord. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done. Not my way but Yours. Not my plans but Yours. Not my righteousness but Yours.

Slowly but surely you need to learn how to give up the need to know, to be in control, in charge.

Doesn’t that sound tough? Weak? Are you feeling threatened and argumentative in response to reading this idea or challenged? I know I felt genuinely stunned by the picture God gave me earlier this week in response to some serious (and right motivated) prayer time over issues to do with our future.

There is a lot of stuff going on in our lives and the lives of those around us in the church that is making things seem “out of control”. There is a lot I currently don’t understand! A lot of seemingly unanswered prayers. In some cases, we seem to have had the completely opposite answer to the one we were seeking!

It’s tough. I don’t like it.

It seems right and correct to “seek His Will” for our lives, but sometimes we misuse this “seek ye first” attitude and, if we are truthful, it becomes an excuse to justify our constant drive to KNOW, to understand, to control.

That was what hit me – like a spiritual truck – when once more I cried out to God “Why?! What is going on?!”

I have to tell you, I did not like the picture I received.

But it made sense. Total sense. I have to abandon myself to Him. Surrender all. How often do we sing those words in church on a Sunday or listening to worship in the car? “You can have it all Lord!”

Really?

I challenge you to become more childlike this week. Go to your heavenly Dad in the morning and thank Him for the new mercies of the day. Be thankful for the clothes set out for you. For the food provided. For the material comforts around you.

Acknowledge that He pays the bills. I don’t just mean the obvious big one, THE price He paid for us, but also I recognise that the financial provision in my life – job or benefits – ultimately come from Him.

Chose to live this week as if you truly believe He has charge of the big things. He has a Plan. He has a 6 month, 5 year, 50 year Plan for you and all of His creation. He knows the beginning from the end and He can work ALL things together for our good – if we let Him, if we leave the big stuff to Him.

Ask each morning “what’s the plan for today?” Who does He want you to talk to? Where does He want to take you? Is there anything exciting on the cards?! Be expectant of the good Father has for you.

Don’t sweat the big stuff. Focus on the small things. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

This isn’t an unhealthy dependence. This is truly living.

Can I ask one more thing? Can you pray for me? You see, I’m trying to respond to what God has shown me, and I am purposing this week (surely I can manage one week?!) to be more childlike. However I am aware of my flesh rebelling against the very idea. I am a list maker. A planner. Organised. I like to be in control (oh BOY do I like to be in control). I like to be prepared.

At the moment I am none of those things and apparently that is how it is meant to be!

Even as I write those words though, Holy Spirit is whispering in my ear, reminding me that I CAN be prepared. That it is still ok to be organised. But, His ways are not mine. I can be prepared by reading His Word. By listening to Him. By trusting. I can be in control by subjecting my will to my spirit – which is partnered with His.

Guess you’ve been praying already? 🙂

Know Thy Enemy

“Satan can’t read your mind so when you take a stand against him, it is important to declare it out loud”

I’ve heard that taught many times over the years and understood the truth behind it, and seen that truth in action in spiritual warfare, and in seeing people set free from bondage and lies. There have been times however when it has been something that has troubled me.

If the enemy can’t hear my thoughts, why does it seem that he can? I know I’m not alone in experiencing time and time again when the lies that he whispers seem to match what I’m thinking.

When I’m feeling unlovable, he whispers to me that no one cares, that I’m all alone. When I’m battling temptation he tells me I’m a sinner and God isn’t going to forgive me.  Whatever the battle in my mind, he is there whispering a lie designed to hurt, confuse, rob and steal.

If he can’t hear that battle in my mind, how does he know what to say?!

I had a bit of a revelation today. Like all revelations it is immediately so obvious that you wonder why it has come as such a big deal when it was surely plain to see all along!

Have you ever heard of mentalism? Mentalism is not magic, but a clever use of science that revolves around understanding human behaviour and predicting different outcomes to mimic the act of reading somebodies mind.  Mentalists use social engineering, reading body language – 55% of all communication is non verbal – (called cold reading), hot reading (having some prior knowledge of the subject), the Forer effect (taking vague and general statements and using them in a way to make the reader feel they are specific – think horoscopes) and various other aspects of human psychology.

We understand that a person can learn to “read” another person and appear to know what they are thinking and we understand that this isn’t magic but science (well at least I hope you do dear reader!).  So it seems pretty darn obvious that satan and the other fallen angels can do this.

They were there when we were created. They have had thousands of years to study us.  Thousands of years of experiments to work out what motivates us.

The first such experiment was the Fall.  If you think about it, satan – as an angelic being created for worship – was most jealous of the fact that God gave man free will – something the angels didn’t have.  Knowing how it made him feel, he could surmise that man would also see not having control was unfair.  He suggested to Adam that surely God didn’t mean for him to not be in control, surely He didn’t mean to restrict his choice, surely it would be ok for him to make his own decision about what to eat and what knowledge to have…

The enemy does not know the specific plan, purpose and promise God has given you until it is declared out loud over you, but he certainly knows The Plan and The Purpose. The enemy knows Scripture (probably better than many of us) and he knows God’s promises to us and over us.  He knows that God uses the weak, the poor, the despised and the downtrodden to confound the wise and bring His truth to the world.  This shows him who to target, shows him who is likely to be the most useful, key people in God’s plans.  He knows that the love of money is the root of all evil so he concerns himself with keeping riches where he predicts it will do the most harm.

The enemy can read our body language. He can hear our words.  He can “sense” our emotions by the vast experience he has gathered on what makes us tick and how we react. Using that knowledge, at any one point, he can appear to know what we are thinking and strike with just the right lie, the right weapon, designed to find our most vulnerable parts.

That is one of the reasons the Psalmist learned the importance of telling his soul (body, mind, emotions) to rejoice and to be subject to his spirit.  We can take authority over those things and so rob the enemy of his source material.

It is also vital to appreciate that, because he isn’t omnipotent, the enemy cannot tell you the future.  Certainly, like the writers of the horoscopes, he will find the right vague statement, a fitting outcome, to suggest to you as your future.  But he does not know.

Satan only knows your past.

Jesus knows your past and still chose the cross, thereby assuring your future.

Don’t ascribe the enemy a power he doesn’t have.

Those thoughts you have?  That mental struggle?  The battle in your mind?  It isn’t the enemy IN your mind, but it is definitely his work.  When we take his lies (whether through direct attack or via the words or actions of people around us) and we internalise them, they do damage.

A bullet can’t hurt you until it penetrates – and the deadliest bullets are those that are designed to ricochet or disintegrate inside the body thereby doing so much more damage than just making a hole in us.

The lies of the enemy are bullets.  They can hurt us but the real harm lies in when they get in and rattle around.

Focus on renewing your mind, learning the promises, declaring them out loud at every opportunity and taking a stand on the Scriptures.  Find ways to spend time in His presence, and feed your spirit by spending time in worship, by speaking in tongues, allowing your spirit to communicate with Holy Spirit, and draw from that the strength to take authority over your mind and your emotions.  Remember, they are yours to control not the enemy’s.

Relax… You are in safe Hands

A child grows in the womb, wrapped, enclosed, touched and held on all sides in that snug place. At the moment of birth – wow is it any wonder they cry! Torn from that place and thrust into space – like free falling almost – a sudden sense of nothingness all around, released, uncovered..

After prods and touches, random movements, the baby feels itself tightly wrapped again as it is swaddled and then – marvelous moment! The baby is placed into arms that encircle it, and there is the voice, the heartbeat, that it has known from the very first moment of conciseness, held, safe, secure…

“I am humbled and quieted in your presence.Psalm 131 verse 2

Like a contented child that rests on its mother’s lap,

I’m your resting child, and my soul is content in you.”

( Psalm 131: 2 The Passion Translation)

When  the day is long, the circumstances tough, the pain great, the fear overwhelming, read that Scripture, ponder the image, and let it speak to your soul.

“So then, my soul, why would you be depressed?
Why would you sink into despair?
Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior.
For no matter what, I will still sing with praise,
For living before his face is my saving grace!”

(Psalm 42:5 The Passion Translation)

Renew your mind, rob the enemy of his plan to harm you, and CHOSE to focus on the goodness of God, and rest in the knowledge that you are in safe Hands.

“The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath you are the everlasting arms”

(Deut 33: 27 MEV)

Kingdom First

At this time of year people begin to feel conscious of their over indulgence during Christmas. It is a time to consider a change of diet. Reducing calories. Eating more veg.

It is also atime for reflection on the year as it ends, and a time to look forward to a new year, a new start, fresh slate.

For some people this is a positive experience filled with happy memories and bright expectation.  For others it is a very negative time full of regrets and hopelessness.

Following the principle of “Kingdom first” though, any reflection should first and foremost be spiritual.

What indulgences have I had this year? What worldly habits or temptations have I succumbed to? Things I know are “bad” for me, that make me “fat” in the ways of the world?  What harmful thoughts do I need to stop feeding myself?

Just as going on a diet is not the way to get fit and lose weight (we don’t really need the experts to tell us that they don’t work, don’t last, and don’t make lasting change!) but instead one must make lifestyle changes, tackle habits and triggers for poor eating choices in order to make changes that are permanent, so it is with our spiritual health. If you are making poor choices on what to feed your soul – who you hang around with, what you watch, what you read, what you are focusing on, the actions you take – then a “diet” of some guilt based fast, a “giving up” is not going to help.

You need to look at what makes you vulnerable to those bad choices. You need to look at feeding yourself with “whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report” (Phillipians 4:8 MEV).

Focus on the right things rather than trying to give up the bad. That’s the Kingdom way. The Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness not sin (John 16:8)

Look at your spiritual “activity” levels. Are you lazy? Do you make an effort to pursue the things of God? Are you active in your church? In your community? Do you use your gifts or have you buried your talents in the ground rather than take the time and energy – and risk – to use them and therefore multiply them (Matthew 25:14-28)?

What spiritual lessons can you take from this year and how can they guide you in the new year?

Look back on the ways God has worked in your life throughout the year. See how He has turned all things to your good – and be honest enough to see where you have stopped Him from doing that by your wilful actions.  Those times when, if you are honest, you knew you were going against His best plan and purpose and stepped out from under that covering promise.

Let’s before God over the next few days with our honest evaluation and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate any areas we have missed.

Lay it all before Him and just spend time with Him, letting the Holy Spirit minister to you, to the hurts, the pains, the disappointments.

Let God have those desires of your heart, the hopes and dreams for next year.

Lay down the burdens and let go of the things that have been holding you back. Write it out if that is it what works for you, or speak it out.

Instead of making New Year resolutions, make a list of Scriptures that proclaim God’s promises over your life and consciously purpose to start 2016 firmly holding on to them. Have a list of 10 Scriptures and resolve to confess them and stand on them in faith. I can promise you that that will be a far more powerful and effective way to make changes in your life that any resolution!

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you” (Matthew 6:33 MEV).

Hope Does Not Disappoint

“Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” (Romans 5:3-5 TPT)

“Not only so, but we also boast in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces patience, patience produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 MEV)

And….. Breathe…

I’m sitting here. Again. Finally. In my spot. Quiet. Alone before God.

I’m cold. I’m tired. I didn’t sleep longer than an hour at a time last time. I am battling the symptoms of a headcold and a week long sinus related headache.  The beautiful view is not here to soothe me: it’s raining. Did I mention it is cold?

But I don’t care. I’m here.

It has been a struggle lately. I’m just being honest. With a kind of horror I have seen the inevitable vicious circle develop where I am too busy to get out for my daily quiet time, too stressed, always too tired to get up early, too easy to make excuses, but thereby getting spiritually and mentally weaker without that space – which in turn leads to more stress and tiredness.

If the batteries in a child’s toy are running low, and the toy getting slower and slower, it is of no use to you that they are rechargable batteries if you don’t take them out and charge them up! It has been like that. A gradual inevitable slowing down until finally, here today, I’m plugged back in.

I don’t know how I am going to get back to a daily visit here but I know I have to try.

So what has all this got to do with the Scripture above? A Scripture that I actually put down as a draft post just days before it all went south, just before (it seemed) life, the universe and everything conspired against me? (Perhaps I should have recognised it for the warning it maybe was!)

This weekend, and coming week, we are blessed at our church to be hosting Pete Lyne who is part of the story of our church, a faithful friend to the eldership, a guide and inspiration to the body here, and a faithful servant of the Lord for fifty plus years. Yesterday evening at our “Kingdom Come” service, we all pressed in to seek God’s Word over our lives, with Peter prophesying over every individual, and with others in the church gifted, or learning to hear from God through prophecy, also ministering.

I was blessed by two Words. The first reminded me of two things God had previously told me over twenty years ago. He said that my experiences have built up an armour, built strength, spiritual protection. That instead of hardening my heart, my trials and tribulations had soften my heart each time, and that state of being soft hearted towards God and people, whilst secure in my “armour”, was meant to be. His plan, or rather His outcome (as He doesn’t bring the trials, just works things out to His glory and our good).

It reminded me of a Word from a dear friend when I was a teenager, and a standard bearer for the Royal British Legion. He said that I was called to be a standard bearer for God. The standard always marked the place of the King in battle and was the rallying point for the troops – and a target for the enemy. He drew me the most beautiful picture of myself, in full armour, on horseback and carrying the standard of Christ.

The Word I received last night also noted that I chose to put myself in difficult positions “for God” and that this was to continue. In fact the person said there were going to be new, tougher situations!

After sharing the Word with me, the person then prayed for me (I definitely needed it after that!) and one of their main prayer points was that God would make and protect a place for me, somewhere I could come in peace and safety, somewhere to withdraw and be with Him.

So here I am. I can take a hint! This place is special, sacred, set apart, God planned, needed. Without making it in to a religious action that obsesses over times and timing, I see I MUST withdraw regularly to this place.

Having been reminded (just before it all got too much) that I am gifted with discernment, words of knowledge, prophecy and mercy, and gifted so because I am called into a specific position of spiritual warfare, and now having God remind me, encourage me (and frankly shake me!), I know I need to make this place a priority in order to work out my calling faithfully.

Back to the Scripture therefore.  C H Spurgeon once wrote “Blessed be any wind that blows us into the port of our Saviour’s love!” I agree! As I sit here and can just make out the ships sheltering, moored, off the coast as they brace for the forecast gales, as I meditate on all God has spoken to me in the past 24 hours, I can only chose to rejoice in past and coming tribulations, with “joyful confidence” knowing that this Hope does not disappoint.

NB: It occurs to me that I should differentiate between the sort of trials and tribulations that are to do with suffering for Christ (ridicule, opposition, persecution etc) and what we tend to think of as trials ie having a bad day/hard time.  Scripture of course refers to the former as the sort that we are to “rejoice” in and NOT the latter.  I have chosen to take strength from this particular Scripture for BOTH kinds, as these past 6 weeks or so have been full of both and I have also been aware that some of the latter kind have actually been rather overtly from the hand of the enemy and not just the standard, every day, “living in a fallen world” kind of troubles.  For an excellent teaching on this point, I encourage you to read Roarke’s post over on The Father’s Heart.

Taking Hold of the Blessings

My view today is different from usual.

image

Instead of the expanse and vastness of God’s ocean, I am surrounded by trees in the midst of woodland. Instead of watching ships at sea, I’m watching waterfowl in the pond near our chalet (a goose has just wandered up to my feet, accepting to have its photo taken but hissing when I moved).  Squirrels instead of cyclists race by. Instead of the crash of the waves, I have a cacophony of bird song and calls, even the sound of deer, and in the background the overhead planes from a nearby RAF base.

All very different but still very much a blessing.  These few days’ holiday were an unexpected gift to our family from someone and we are enriched by their generosity.

The holiday is a blessing – but we have had to take action to receive it, to get the best from it, and to accommodate it.

There is a spiritual parallel here that does not escape me.

Our accommodation here is paid for – but we had to pay to get here.  We couldn’t enjoy this holiday without going to where it had been provided. Often, like Elijah, our provision and blessing is provided by God, but we have to listen to Him and obey Him and MOVE in order to receive it.

Once here, we could just enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the free indoor pool however the facility has more to offer – if we are to pay for it ourselves.  Again, sometimes the blessings God provides for us can be multiplied by us putting effort in, not counting the cost. He can provide a harvest but we have to work to collect it.

With three of the four children and one of the adults in our family being wired uniquely (within the autistic spectrum) there are challenges involved in being in a new place, new building, new bed, new routine, different sounds, different experiences. It would be true to say the first evening and night have been tough! But we all know and recognise that if we push through the “different”, if we ride out the tough emotions, get a handle on the “newness”, then there will be great benefits.

Recieving all God has for us isn’t always easy.  The blessings of Abraham are ours now through Christ’s sacrifice but we need to press in and take hold of them.  Despite the challenges, despite the doubts, pushing through the obstacles, stretching our faith, until we step into the fullness of those blessings.

Today, wherever you are, don’t just stop to “count your blessings” but look to make sure you aren’t missing some, hidden because you are looking in the wrong place or need to move, failing to grasp what you need to do, to sacrifice, to make the most of what is at hand, or maybe failing to experience blessings because all you see are the challenges between you and them.

“Oh, how great is Your goodness,
which You have laid up for those who fear You,
which You have done for those
seeking refuge in You before people!”

(Psalm 31: 19 MEV)

Make Your Requests Known to God

Waves are very complex.  Sitting every day by the sea watching the tides, and the waves as they crash against the seashore, one quickly gets fascinated by them and I’ve become quite a geek about the science of waves. This morning however their complexity resonated with me in the context of a discussion we had last night in our church community group.

Our church has small groups that meet during the week, mainly for the purposes of giving people a chance to connect at a real, “doing life” level with others in the body – something hard to do in a large church, or only once a week on a Sunday.  At the moment we are working through an excellent study on prayer from 24-7 Prayer and Alpha.

One of the things we were talking about was unanswered (or apparently unanswered) prayers.  We agreed often it appears we haven’t had an answer because we haven’t actually brought the real issue to God or not prayed specifically, so His “answer” doesn’t actually scratch the itch.

It is similar to when, in a relationship, one of the couple will ask something of the other (for example the woman asks the man to help with dinner) but when that request is fulfilled (he comes out into the kitchen and starts getting the plates out) the person is unhappy.  Probably in this example because what the woman REALLY meant was “can you do the dinner as I am feeling tired and it would be a great way for you to show how much you love me for doing this for me”.  She didn’t actually say what she meant however because she thinks “he ought to know what I really mean”.

It might sound extreme but we do this with God!  Our group discussed those type of prayers last night, acknowledging that most of us at some time or another have had the attitude “why do we need to ask God when, because He is God, He already knows what we need?!”

There is an even more complex aspect to unanswered prayer though.

“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 MEV)

Have you ever stopped to think about our prayers from God’s perspective?

I have four children so, along with my husband, that means we are a family of six.  When we want to do something as a family it can get quite complicated and as the kids have grown and developed their personalities it has become even harder to find something we can all enjoy.  As a parent, planning things to please them all is hard!

I remember from my own childhood, family holidays (with just four of us) was all about accepting that we had to do things we didn’t particularly enjoy for the sake of each other. On a week long holiday one day we would visit a stately home (for Mum), one day a military museum (brother), one day a nature reserve (Dad) and one day something with a miniature railway (for me!)  plus a day on the beach and a day in the town. It isn’t that we didn’t enjoy the other days but we each had a special thing we wanted to do.

With our family now there are only a few things that please us all – eating out (I’m a chef so food is a “thing” in our family!), playing dominoes or having a NERF battle in the back garden (don’t ask….!)

What’s the point I’m making here? If I struggle as a Mum of four to work all things out, how much more complex is it when God is doing that for all of us?

His promises are true and He is the same today, yesterday and forever so when He promises to work things out, to bless us, promises His plans are only to prosper us – He means it.  Then I come before Him and ask for something.

Maybe what I’m asking for just won’t work out.  Maybe to answer “yes” to that prayer would mean breaking His promises to prosper me.  If I persist (ask and keeping on asking) and seek Him earnestly, to give me my “yes” now means a huge amount of work in order to still make sure the best comes to me – that this will work to my good.

Don’t forget too that we have free will. We are God’s hands and feet.  So in order to “work all things out” means restricting Himself to moving through those of us open to His guidance, His Spirit, whispering and nudging us to direct our actions so that they have the desired consequence that make the necessary changes that mean… He can answer someone else’s prayer whilst still making sure it is “to the good” for both the original asker and all of those involved in delivering that answer!

I don’t know that I’ve explained this very well but I hope you can grasp the essence of what I mean enough that you can stop and ponder this. Allow the complexity, the trillions of permutations, to blow your mind. How God balances it all in His Omnipresence keeping it all in line with all His promises…

Can you sense just a tiny fraction of how BIG that is?! That is even before you add in to the mix the influence of the ruler of this world (the devil) and take into account all the natural consequences of the fall (disease, decay in the natural world and the disasters it causes etc), sin that abounds in all mankind driving us contrary to God’s plans and purposes…

Does your answered prayer sudden suddenly seem less about God not answering you, not caring, and more about BECAUSE He cares and wants to give you the desires of you heart?

Be amazed today at how big, how great, how awesome, how loving and how trustworthy your God is.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 MEV)