One Drip at a Time

I’m sure you have your own way of remembering the difference but for me, I remember stalagmites as the ones that grow from the ground up because they “might” reach the top one day, and stalactites as the ones as the ones that grow from the ceiling down because they hold “tight” to the ceiling.

Either way, they are incredible aren’t they? Especially the limestone ones – the type we all think about – that are formed over hundreds or thousands of years one drip at a time.

So, I hear you thinking, what has this got to do with “spiritual things”?  Well, I was reminded of this slow but impressive growth today as I was pondering on how long it took me to grab hold of certain truths.

When my husband and I first met 26 years ago I was, frankly, a mess.  I’ve been a Christian all my life, but very much “self taught”.  I had only spent probably 3 years of my life attending church, with the rest of my knowledge of God coming first through my Mum’s example and sharing of her own faith, and then through my own reading of the Bible.

Well, it wasn’t so much ready as clinging…. The first Bible I ever had was a Gideons International.  At the front is the “where to find help when” section.  Aged 11, as my world crashed around me and I went from being the popular, confident girl everyone wanted to be with to the disabled, fat, ugly, victim of all the bullying, the girl everyone alternatively mocked and shunned (long story maybe for another day) I turned to those pages to “find help”.  I underlined in red biro, scoring through the thin pages, the sections for things like feeling alone, depressed, discouraged, suicidal, or needing peace.  I read those Scriptures over and over again.

It wasn’t exactly that they helped. I mean, the situation didn’t change and I didn’t feel any better.  But I read them to remind myself, because despite it all, I believed them.  I knew they were true. I knew God didn’t lie.  I knew therefore that my reality was the thing at odds with His Word, not the other way around.

I had no maturity, no teaching, no revelation to correctly fathom this out and I’ll admit my perspective was more one of “that’s true for everyone else” rather than believing that things were going to get better for me.  But still, I believed the Words and I reread them every single day.

Through my late teens and early twenties I stopped reading Scripture because I couldn’t handle the Truths in them, that were firmly at odds with the choices I was making.

My mental health was in pieces.

Back to meeting my husband.  He was a new Christian but he had the blessing of falling instantly in love with the Word and, being the way he is, determining to read it and understand it.  He spent hours every day studying, locked away with the Word (he was a youth pastor and evangelist when I met him).  Through his eyes I began to understand something of the richness of the Word, the power it contained, and to realise there was more to it than I had found or understood in those often-read verses.

Over the years of our marriage he taught me, showed me, encouraged me.  I began to read Scripture differently, looking for revelation.  In all this time I was battling several major mental health issues and again, being honest, although I was hearing the Word (as my husband continually declared God’s favour over me, declaring who I am in Christ, declaring God’s Heart for me) and even reading it for myself, I can’t say it exactly changed me.

Not at the time. Not noticeably.

Here’s the thing though (and the connection to the start of this post!): it all built up.

Drip by drip. Word by word. Declaration by declaration. Truth by Truth.

It all added up.

Without truly noticing, without really being aware of it or measuring it, one day I looked back at my life and thought “Hey! Where did that come from?!”  My faith had been built up and now reached the level of Heaven’s Truth.  I now believed, knew, understood, grasped, the depths and breadths and heights of God’s Love for me.  I now could see how He loved me.  I now could see that I WAS worth it. I was precious.  I was loved.  I was fearfully and wonderfully made.

He has plans and purposes for me.  He sent His Son for me.  He values me THAT MUCH!

All those Scriptures were true.  He never left me.  He has never forsaken me.  He didn’t leave me in that mess.  He did lead me out.  He did work it all together for my good.

The analogy works the other way too: that drip by drip God’s Love for me, His Truths, His Words, built up until heaven’s Truth came down and touched the my reality, the dust on the floor where I lay.

Either way, I can see looking back how vital every reading of the Word and every hearing of it’s Truth mattered.  Every verse I read, every verse my husband read out over me, it affected my spirit, and my soul.

It brings me to this: if you are feeling lack – whether faith, self belief, love, esteem, health, money, or any other area of need – keep reading the Word.  Find a verse every day. Use a plan.

It doesn’t matter that at this point in time you read it and think “so what”.  It doesn’t matter if you read it and think “that’s all very well but”.  It doesn’t matter if you read it and don’t fully understand, you don’t get goosebumps or hear a heavenly choir sing.

Read it.

Play those worship songs.  Turn up to the service.  Go to the prayer lock ins.

Again, it doesn’t matter if at the moment when you go to a prayer meeting you just sit and listen to other people pray.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t believe your prayers go further than the ceiling.  Sit in the room and listen to the prayers.  Hear the petitions.  Hear the praise.  Hear the faith.

Go along and sit at the side of the Healing Room sessions.  Turn up for the special speaker.  Download those podcasts.  Watch Bethel teachings on YouTube.

Allow the Truth to drip in to your life.  To drip on to you.

If nothing else is working for you, nothing seems to be getting through and you are just hanging in there, sitting in that damn boat in the middle of a storm feeling that, whilst you KNOW Jesus is there with you, you really REALLY wish He’d “wake up” and tell the storm to stop because its getting harder and harder to believe what He said that you would make it to the other side….  Just let the Word drip.

I promise you it is having an effect.  I promise you the gap between you and heaven is getting smaller.  I promise you that you will one day see, and know, and feel, and truly grasp just who you are, and Who He is, and it WILL make a difference.

Advertisements

It is all a matter of perspective…

Jesus is dead.

The crowd look at His lifeless body on the cross.

Depending on how closely they followed Him – if they followed Him – or how well they thought they knew Him, they were thinking a variety of things:

“I thought he said he was the Son of God?!”

“So much for being a god…”

“Well I could have seen THAT coming!”

“There goes another one..”

“But… I BELIEVED him! I thought he was telling the truth?!”

“How did this happen?”

“What’s going on?!!”

“Why did this have to happen?”

“So what happens now?”

” But.. He was so convincing!!!”

“I don’t understand…”

“I don’t understand… what about those miracles? What about all the things we saw? How do you explain all that if he wasn’t who he said he was? Yet, if he WAS God… why is he now dead on that cross?”

“Its all over.”

“If he was fake, there really is no hope for us…”

The disciples and followers didn’t understand.  Jesus tried to warn them. Three times He told them He would die, but that He would be resurrected (Mark 8: 31, Mark 9:30-31, Mark 10:33-34).  And yet, on Friday, the world is a bleak place.  Hope has died and even those who remember what he said, don’t believe what he said.

Perspective changes everything.

Faced with the facts – he is dead – and standing in front of his body, on Friday, they have no hope.

The enemy always likes it when we lose hope.  When we focus on the past, on  unmet expectations, on loss and confusion.  He encourages us to feel sad, bitter, angry, hurt, and rejected.

When the unthinkable happens, when you lose that job, that house, that relationship, that loved one…  When promises fail to materialise and expectations aren’t met…

When you were SO SURE that you were right, that it was right and yet…

When you KNEW but then suddenly…

The enemy laughs at you.  He jeers at God. “Where is your God now then?! Why hasn’t he saved you?  Why hasn’t he helped you?  So much for being all knowing and all powerful!”

 

What a different picture on Sunday!  A total and utter reversal of the situation.  The opposite emotions.

HE IS ALIVE!  HE HAS RISEN – JUST AS HE SAID HE WOULD!!!!

The disciples can’t quite believe it but, faced with the facts, standing in front of His LIVING body, on Sunday, hope burst out. Faith rises.  He is ALIVE and so is their hope.

As Christians living after the day of resurrection, it is easy to judge the disciples and His followers.  It is easy to read the Scriptures and say “but they should have known”. It is easy to think that, after all the miracles they had seen, and all that He had taught them, they should have stood firm and believed and, instead of losing hope, waited expectantly – excitedly.

Ask yourself a question and, if you can bare it, answer it truthfully:

Are you any different?

Do you have any testimony of how God has helped you?  Brought you through a crisis? Healed you in some way?  However big or small, have you seen the goodness of God at any point in your life?  What about those around you?  Have you heard the testimonies of others?  Have you read books filled with stories of the miraculous?

Have you listened to sermons?  Downloaded that podcast?  Watched that Bethel live stream?

Have you read your Bible?

When crisis comes, when you are hurt, confused, terrified… do you wait expectantly and excitedly for the day of resurrection?  Or do you stand there and gaze at your “disaster” and think to yourself “but I thought He said it was going to be ok? That I was blessed?  Healed? Whole?”

I don’t know about you but for myself, I more often than not stand in the sandals of the disciples on a Friday rather than Sunday.  My perspective is that of the day of failure, not the day of restoration.

Scripture promises us restoration and teaches us to hope.  Faith is the substance of things unseen.  Faith is Sunday when it is only Friday.

Do you have faith today?

 

 

Fog

Today’s quiet time at my favourite spot lacked the view. Thickening fog obscured the beautiful vista that normally soothes my soul.

As I am prone to do, I immediately saw the analogy between the fog and where many of us can find ourselves.

I know the sea is still there – I can hear it even if I can’t see it. I know the horizon is there somewhere. The sky. Ships. Intellectually, I know they are there even though my direct experience – what my senses are telling me – suggests they aren’t.

I’m sure you see the parallel. As Christians, especially if we read the Scriptures or listen to Biblical teaching, know the Truth. I know God loves me. I know I have value. I know He has good plans for me. I know nothing can separate me from His love. I know He can work all things together for my good if I allow Him. I know He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Sometimes though, my “direct experience” doesn’t match what I know. Sometimes I feel alone. Sometimes there seems to be no hope. Sometimes it seems He isn’t listening. Sometimes He doesn’t even seem to be there. Sometimes I’m scared.

If you find yourself in that place, remember the fog. Remember that it isn’t sensible to only trust what you can see. To place experience over knowledge. Circumstance over Scripture.

If you were out walking and the fog came in, what would you do?

Maybe you would stay still. Stay where you know you are – where you knew you were before the fog came – and wait for it to pass.

Perhaps you are the sort of person who would get out their phone (let’s assume you had signal!) and rely on the map, the blinking dot, to tell you where you are and show you how to get where you want to be.

Perhaps you have no phone (or no signal!) and instead decide to trust in instinct and common sense. Find a road, find the edge of the field, the shoreline. Find a feature and follow it, knowing all roads lead somewhere and sooner or later you will come to a road sign.

Those are all good options for us when the fog of circumstances or our feelings cloud our trust in God’s Truth.

Stay where you are. Rest. Remember it was ok before and it will be again. This too shall pass.

Take out your Bible. See what it says about where you are and where you are going and rely on what it says instead of what you see.

Find a truth you do still believe, that you can still see, and follow it. Stay with it. Keep confessing and clinging to it until the fog clears and you can see more of the Truth.

One other part of the analogy from today’s fog… The longer I sat in the car the less vision I had. Not just because the fog thickened but because the water condensed on to the window screen and obscured my vision.

When I turned the ignition on and used the windscreen wipers to clear the screen I saw that actually the fog wasn’t as bad as I thought! The lack of vision came from where I was positioned…..

Do I need to spell it out?

Sometimes where we are is what is causing us to doubt, to fail to trust in God’s Word. That relationship. That attitude. The influence of that friend. The TV show you watch. The book you are reading. The music you listen to. That wrong teaching.

Find a friend you trust, someone you know walks closely with God, and get them to be your windscreen wiper. Ask them to pray and seek God for what is blocking your vision or, if you suspect you know the answer, deal with it.

Move from where you are currently positioned and see if your vision clears. Take a break. Go for a walk. Take an afternoon off. Sit in the prayer room. Have a holiday. Go visit someone. Anything to break the position you are in.

If you wake up feeling down and sit around all day on the sofa watching daytime TV, by the end of the day you will feel more tired, more sluggish, greyer, than if you’d got out of the house and gone for a walk or done some gardening… Where you are will affect how you feel and therefore what you can “see”.

Remember I write these words as someone who has been in all those positions, battled mental health issues, fought clinical depression, fought spiritual fatigue, been to the depths of emotions, the edge of sanity… I’ve been there and back.

If you are struggling in a place where you can identify with what I have described, I pray this post has at least wiped the windscreen for you and given you a moment where things are a little clearer. If so, please grab that moment and use that clarity to reposition yourself.

Not By Sight

Today is a rainy day.  I parked up in my usual spot and checked the app to see what ships were out there. This morning there are apparently 5 ships out there close to the shore and, if it was a clear day, another 7 visible to me. However this is my view:

Nothing to see

The wind is blowing from the south east which means the rain is driving against the right hand window which I usually have open when I am parked here, so I can hear the sound of the waves and see clearly without the slight tint of the car window. That isn’t possible today in this weather!

There is an obvious parallel with our daily walk as Christians. Sometimes the direction we are looking in is the direction of the storm. More so than that, using the “ship finder” app to see what vessels are out there – and trusting in its accuracy even when my sight can’t provide its own evidence – sounds like a certain oft-quoted Scripture:

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 MEV)

When the conditions around us – circumstances, other people, the news, our health, our jobs – aren’t favourable to “clear sight” then we must, MUST trust in the accuracy of Scripture for our guidance.

His Word is our compass, our “sat nav”.  The Holy Spirit is our guide, and our comfort amidst the storm, His presence a reassurance that we will come through as long as we stay close.

Three of my children are on the autistic spectrum and they don’t do very well in crowds. In particular, when they were young if we needed to go somewhere crowded I was mindful of how this would make them feel. “Stay close” I’d tell them “keep hold of my hand, or hold on to my coat, don’t let go”. Sometimes they would close their eyes to make it bearable, clinging tightly to me and trusting not only that I wouldn’t let them go but that I wouldn’t let them walk into any obstacles or get hurt.

[There’s that childlike faith again]

How much more so is our Father in Heaven like that (Matthew 7:11)?  When I am overwhelmed, when it is too hard for me to see clearly, I just need to close my eyes and put my hand into His Hand.  Listen only for the sound of His voice telling me the way to go.  Rely on the comfort of His nearness, the assurance of His presence, to quieten all that is within me.

Rest.

Trust.

Peace.

When the fear has subsided and the way is clear again, I can open my eyes again and rejoice that He has brought me safely through the trouble.

See how the rain has eased?  How the visibility is clearing?  The ships whose presence I had to take on faith now visible?

After the rain

In a world where we rely on electronic devices and pieces of software to tell us about the weather, where we are, and how to get where we are going, it is distressing to see how little trust we sometimes put in the inspired Word of God.

Holy Spirit, help me today and always to use God’s Word as the only true compass in my life, the only true oracle, and for it to be the first (and never the last) place I turn for comfort.

A Matter of Perspective

As I drive to “my spot” there is a moment when I turn off the main road and on to the road that leads steeply down the hill on to the sea front promenade.  I always have a “and relax!” feeling as I catch my first glimpse of the vista that will be before me for the next hour or so.

I quickly assess the number and type of ships that are out there (it is both a busy stretch of water and a marine “lay-by” so there are usually plenty) and then, once I am parked, I clear my mind of the distraction by first looking up the ships on a ship finder app (yes, I’m that sad!).

One thing that surprises me afresh each time is how my perspective drastically alters what I think I see.

As I round the hill, in that first glance, I “see” the position of the ships in relation to where I am.  I can “see” a ship right in front of me perhaps, not far from the shore.

Once I am parked however – just a few hundred yards further than where I was for that first glance – the ship now appears to be far to my right and, when I look it up on the app, it is actually quite some distance away from the shore.

Other times I think I can see the order of the ships – which are nearest and guess the distance to the next one – but then when I look them up I am completely wrong! Most surprisingly, ships between me and the horizon that I think are close can actually be very many miles away.  On a day with good visibility it is possible to see 20km (12 miles) off the shore to the London Array windfarm, which is a distance that (in our fairly built up country) isn’t a distance we are used to looking at and therefore appreciating the distance is hard.

It makes me very aware that our perspective can change what is “real” to us.  I could confidently and honestly assert that a ship was in a certain position or at a certain distance and I would not be lying.  That would be my honest and true view.

However someone placed further a long the coast would equally “honestly” assert something quite different.  The truth of the location of the ship was not actually related to our experience of it. Or rather, our experience, our perception, affected how near to the truth our truth was.

Does that sound familiar?

My husband (whom I respect greatly as a teacher of the Gospel) has been teaching us as a family for many years now to stand fully on The Word regardless of our experience.  When that experience doesn’t match the Word (whether it be on the subject of healing, freedom, prosperity or anything else) he exhorts himself and us to seek to bring our experience UP to the Truth of the Word rather than drag the Word DOWN to our level.

A favourite phrase he uses is just because it is true doesn’t mean it is the Truth.

Just because it is true that my body may be experiencing the symptoms of sickness, the Truth is that I am healed, that my full health has been purchased by the blood of Christ, so I focus on receiving the full experience of the Truth into the truth of my daily life.

Bearing in my the visual analogy of the ships helps me to even more fully grasp that lesson and drives me to seek more and more to base my perceptions, my reality, on the one true view – the one from the Cross – from which position I am righteous, healed, whole, saved, victorious.