Monday, June 17, 2013

When you feel like you're ready...maybe you're not

I've spent a long time wanting God to use me in big ways. I've spent a ,LNG time being impatient, quite frankly.

But when I look back in hindsight a few years later, I'm so ate full to God that He knew better and didn't give me what I was asking for then, because I can see now that I was totally and completely not ready for it. It would have overwhelmed me. I hadnt learned to trust God enough, I hadn't learned to manage my time, my health enough, I hadn't learned much of anything enough. But I didn't realise that at the time. I thought I was ready for more, and felt frustrated that God wasn't giving it to me.

So, thank you God that you know better!

But, ok, that was then. I'm ready now, right? Enough waiting already.

I never learn, clearly.

But as I go, I find I am learning more and more to see how inadequate I am currently and not just in hindsight. God has been revealing my weaknesses to me, not to condemn me, but to humble me, to heal me, and to help me understand how to rely on Him.

I have a terrible feeling that the day I truly grasp how unqualified and incapable I am of doing anything - the day I think to myself, "Actually, I'm not ready for any of this" - that will be the day God hands me the big stuff....

Because when we think we can do it, that's when we'll stumble. We forget to rely on God.

And when we know we can't, that's when His power is made perfect in weakness.

So if you think you're ready and up for the challenge - there may be some humbling and training on the way first.

And if you know you're completely un-ready... Watch out ;)

Friday, June 14, 2013

One sentence sums up God's plan for your life

We can spend a lot of time and mental energy wondering if we're on the right path, wondering what God's 'will for our life' is, and whether we're in it. But I feel like God's will for us is less an exact series of precise decisions that we can potentially stuff up at any minute, and more a way of living our lives aligned with His heart. The specifics are less important than we often think. So if you're wondering what exactly is God's will for my life? One sentence sums it up...

God's will for you is to reach spiritual maturity.

Maybe that sounds too simple. But think about it. If you are spiritually mature, you:

know God's heart more
have the fruit of the spirit abundantly in any circumstance
love like He does
understand His words
see His kingdom more clearly
become more like Christ

All of this makes it much easier to be led by the Spirit, wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

It's like knowing a friend or your husband really, really well. My husband doesn't have to be there for me to know what he will like or dislike or find funny or annoying about a situation. It's a bit like this with God. The more we know Him, the more we are aligned with His heart and will.

Whatever decisions or circumstances we encounter, this is something to keep in mind. If we see everything as an opportunity to grow in maturity, to grow closer to God, how would that change our mindset? How would that change how we respond?

Eph 4:14-15 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

We sometimes believe that God's will is unknowable, that we can't comprehend it, that we just have to blindly step out and cross our fingers and hope. But while God may not reveal to us the precise details and step by step layout of our lives, minute by minute, or even year by year, I don't think it is right that we can't know His will.

It's like saying of a friend, "We are good friends, but I'll never really 'get' him, I'll never really know what he likes or wants or will do." That's not how it happens. The more we know someone, the more we understand them.

It's the glorious grace of God that He is so beyond us, and yet, we can know Him. We are not servants, in the sense of acting out of obligation. Jesus calls us friends.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15

Jesus has made known to us everything that the Father told him. By growing in spiritual maturity, we discover more of that revelation, and we understand more of it. We are changed and renewed by the Spirit to understand who God is and what His perfect will is.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

And we get beyond the simple mindset of wanting to know God's will, as in every little specific decision just for ourselves, in a little anxious bubble, and instead we more easily move in the flow and peace of the Spirit, in harmony with God's big picture for His church as a whole.

If God's will for us is that we grow in spiritual maturity, we can be sure that in every circumstance, bad and good, we have the opportunity for this to happen, and God will provide you with everything you need to grow and not be crushed. Let this change your thinking when faced with challenges.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Thursday, June 13, 2013

God does not want to keep you broken

I've heard people say, and seen the effects of people believing, that it's God plan to leave them broken, sick or struggling so He can use it for good.

God will use your brokeness, it's true. He will use what you have been through to help others. He will work all things together for good for those who love Him. 

But it is a huge fallacy to think that means you have stay where you are, in your pain, so that God can use it to help others.

How can you give a testimony to how God can heal our hurt, our sickness, our brokeness, if you are still in it? How can you lead people through their pain to the other side, if you don't even know where that is because you've haven't got there yourself?

Don't get me wrong - God can and will use you where you are. He can use anything and anyone, no matter how imperfect or broken. He can bring unfathomable good in even the most difficult circumstances. But just because God is using you while you are still sick or broken, does NOT mean he wants you to stay there.

"Many people followed Him, and He healed them all" Matt 12:15

There is no addendum to that verse, no fine print that says *"except for the few he let stay sick so that they could empathise with other sick people".

Sure, you may find comfort in talking to others who are experiencing the same thing as you. It may help the burden not feel so heavy. But who can help you more - someone who is also struggling the same as you, or someone who once struggled, but has found freedom?

If you are blind, another blind person can only teach you how to cope as a blind person. Jesus can teach you how to see!!

It is not God's will for you to stay sick, hurt or broken. Jesus didn't die and rise again so that you could stay as you are. He didn't conquer sin and death so that you could just battle on, and try and prop up others also struggling.

He died and rose so you could be free! So you could be healed! So you could have life!

Don't believe the lies and doubts that maybe God wants you to stay where you are. If we are to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and there is no sickness and brokeness in heaven - then that's what we should be believing for on earth!!

And don't hold on to this belief as a security blanket. Sometimes we believe that maybe this sickness or struggle is God's will because if we let go of that idea, then we risk being disappointed. What if I don't get healed? What if God doesn't get me out of here? What if I believe that I'm meant to be set free, but find myself still a prisoner?

It's a scary place to be - to have stepped out from behind our protective lies, and into the wide open. And we don't know the exact timing of when and what God will do. Sometimes what is done in the spirit doesn't appear in the natural right away. Maybe it seems risky.

But if you can be sure that if you stay where you are, you definitely will not see change. 

Step out in faith. Give Jesus a chance to prove that he wasn't lying when he said that now is the time!

"He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free, and to tell the blind that they can now see. He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression. In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the timethis is the jubilee season of the Eternal One’s grace." Luke 4:18-19

It is our testimony of our personal and collective experiences of God's grace, love and freedom that will draw people. Anyone can say to a sick person "I know how you feel". 

But don't you want to be able to say, "I know how you feel - but I also know the one who can make you well!!"

If you want to be put back together, if you want to be healed, get to know the healer.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

No box is big enough

A thought occurred to me last night, as I lay in bed talking to God. I felt that God was close to me, that I could talk to him one on one, with his full attention. Then I imagined everyone else in the world. The billions of people who could also be talking to God at the same time, with this same full attention.

Just think about that for a moment. A being who can be everywhere at once, and not be diminished at all. Who can talk to you intimately like a loving Father while also doing this for billions of others, but never being diminished or distracted or too busy.

It's hard to wrap your mind around. If we are talking to one person while trying to listen to another conversation, we can barely take in any of it.

And while there is so much in that about God as Father and how loving he is, and how we can have such an intimate relationship with him...none of that is unimportant or trivial. But the thing that occurred to me last night was, how can I possible ever think I've got God figured out?

We can know more and more of Him, but we are barely scratching the surface.

Yet we continue to try and fit God into a neat box so we can manage Him. And if he does something that makes Him not fit into that box any more, we just recalculate and decide that we just need a bigger box.

But no box will ever be big enough. He is outside of the time and space, beyond anything our earthly minds can comprehend.

If I can't even understand how it's possible that He is even talking to me, then how can I suppose I know and can fit into neat boxes who he is and what he will do?

And yet, by His spirit to ours, He gives us glimpses of things greater than natural life. He does make it possible for us to know Him. Bit by bit, the more we spend time with Him, the more He can reveal His glory, the more we have life by the spirit, and the natural things no longer bind us. We begin to live and know more than is naturally possible, by His spirit.

If we are only willing to accept and know God as much as we can understand Him or define Him, we are missing out on so, so, so much.

How small is our God if we allow Him to be only what we can comprehend? If we allow Him to act in only ways we could have thought of for ourselves?

Don't just look for a bigger box to contain Him, trust that if you stop trying to work Him out, He will supernaturally make himself known to you.

You might think it will be scary or confusing if you let go of the box and allow Him to live in you - in us, His house, His church - in whatever way He wants. But in God you will find so much love and so much grace - you will find so much divine peace that it completely passes all understanding!