Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Okay/Not Okay

Happening across my blog page today, I found this draft message that I've never posted, from goodness knows how long ago. Reading it, I love tracking the journey God is taking me on, the days, weeks and months that are building my character. Today, I've had a fab day. Phil and I have spent the whole day chatting, getting vision and excitement for the season we're in, and the next. I know at some point though, I'll need to revise this lesson, to look back see what God's brought me through, and I figure someone else out there might want to do the same.  So here we go, musings from months ago....

Occasionally you get a season where you don't realise it, but sneakily, over time, you're taking on burdens that are not your own, trying to fix things by yourself, that were never humanly fixable and blaming everyone around you for not noticing how much you're struggling under your independent veneer.

The crux of it is, that we all go through stuff that hurts. That rubs us up the wrong way. That leaves us feeling bruised and lashing out. But here's what I know. My God is bigger. I believe in a God who so longed for a relationship with me, that He sent His perfect child to die so that I could live. So that I could have a reason to live. Not so that I could escape hell by the skin of my teeth and smelling of smoke, but live a life full of purpose and destiny in relationship with a living, loving God.

So how the heck do I marry those two things up? Huge burdens and abundant life? For me, it usually means telling my 'feelings' to back the heck off and grab a whole load of perspective.

Do I have everything I desire for my life right now? No.
Do I see a way of achieving those things within time scales I've planned? No.
Do I understand the things that family and friends are going through that I'm helpless to stop. No.
Do any of those things that I desire have the keys to my eternal happiness? No.
Do I have anything, any wisdom at all for the time scales I've created? No.
Do any of these things, these failures, make God love me less? No.
Can I see the miracles in how my family and friends turn to, and witness for, Jesus through everything. Yes.
Am I where I feel God has called me too? Yes
Am I surrounded by people who love me and will work through my stubbornness to help me if I let them? Heck Yes!

Yesterday I could list all the things that I felt were going wrong too easily. The weird thing was, I was happy about some stuff, but heavy with the weight of other things I was holding. I knew I was where God was calling me, but then was questioning him on the other things He hadn't ticked off my list yet. My troubles are not that big. I can list them to make myself feel better and to have each validated as a reasonable trouble/excuse by anyone who fancies reading this. Some of them are valid, and others sound an awful lot like a petulant child having a hissy fit when spoken out loud. Compared to a blood-stained cross and an empty tomb, they're certainly all teeny tiny. Compared even to the things happening around me to people I know and love, they're minuscule, but I was continuing to bury my head in being busy and try to manage/fix/put out fires as much as could, all the time ignoring/forgetting that God has better for me. And God did it again... stood to the side and let me take worries back off Him, because He's gracious like that, He gives me free will to keep my troubles to myself or to invite Him into them. And even when I bury myself in troubles or burdens of my own making, there He is, all the time calling to me, telling me that He has better plans for me than this, telling me to lift my eyes and look up at Him. But best of all He then catches me when I wobble and fall. When I admit I'm not strong enough to carry it all. When I heard a while ago the story of how someone 'happened' to be walking past the cinema we met in for church, 'happened' to be invited in, 'happened' to love it and want to come back and 'happened' to have a family member excited about God but having no one to go along with, who can now also come, God reminded me how His plans are well in advance of ours, that He will bring specific people to specific places at specific times, because He's not forgotten that person sat by themselves, the person suffering with burdens too big to bear, and He will step in, He will open doors, and He will take those burdens from us if and when we invite Him to.

And one last thing... perspective, and gratitude will get you a long way. But accountability will magnify the effects of the first two massively. When a friend can speak into your life, help you identify where you are taking on burdens that are not yours, where you're being stubborn and not letting people help you, a friend who can laugh with you as you realise how trivial some of your worries are, or who can cry with you and pray through the stuff that is very big, very real and very scary, those friends help move mountains for you, or help you turn them back into molehills. The more I listen to those friends, the more my perspective shifts and my heart settles. The more I sit at the feet of those friends, the more I want to love others the way they love me, the way Christ models love. So my next step, and maybe yours, is to get alongside someone, and love them even harder, even more thoroughly, with even more grace and also with even more truth.

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