Walking through

My Father God loved me yesterday, He loves me today and He will always love me

 

Last year I was treated for Breast Cancer. I had always thought that I could cope with most things but I wasn’t too sure about cancer. It is something I suppose that most of us dread. When it actually came to it I found God to be an “ever present help in time of need”. Ps 46:1 

 After being recalled to the clinic following a mammogram I had more  scans; the doctor told me that there was a lump which, if  cancerous, would be treatable. A nurse explained to us that we would see a consultant for the diagnosis following the results of a biopsy;  she also said that if it was cancerous it would be treatable.

 Rob and I walked back home through the park, hand in hand,wondering if this was what she said to everyone and if she was preparing us for what she already knew was a diagnosis of cancer. I remember us saying that cancer doesn’t change anything – my Father God loved me yesterday, He loves me today and He will always love me. Cancer is only a word. I can choose not to give it power over me.photo-1418832178871-693e3ab5cdaf

Following the biopsy I was recalled earlier than expected, so I felt that it was not going to be good news. I wasn’t frightened I just had a sense that I would have to walk through this. The day before the appointment I was in a prayer meeting when a friend of mine prophesied over me. Part of the prophetic word was that I would walk through having breast cancer. It was so brave to bring a word like this when others had been praying for healing but I knew it was God speaking.

As Rob and I were given the diagnosis the next day we were both very calm, we had been prepared by our Father. It wasn’t a surprise to us. Both the Doctor and the nurse who were with us questioned whether we understood the diagnosis, I think because we didn’t react with any sort of shock or surprise. Actually we already knew.

There is a tremendous blessing and power in prophetic words. Of course they must always be weighed carefully. This word was in line with what God had already been speaking to us.

It not only prepared us for bad news but it also sustained us. We were encouraged that I would walk through this, I was not going to die, it was going to be ok. We have frequently reminded ourselves of  this . Walking through became the motif for all I went through with my goodness bag in hand. As I underwent difficult procedures, through the operation and recovery period, radiotherapy and even the latest mammogram (all clear) I felt that all I had to do was to keep walking. I was very conscious that if God had said that I would walk through this then I could do just that. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me “(Phil 4:13) I also meditated on the fact that the Lord is with me everywhere I go whether it is the operating theatre or the valley of the shadow of death. (Ps 23)

This word also encouraged us that God knew about us, He was in this with us. It helped us when we prayed every day for healing from cancer. We found it very helpful to pray through scriptures about healing. (A helpful book is Healed of Cancer by Dodie Osteen).

Now that a year has passed since the operation, I am reflecting that of course we are all called to walk through our lives whatever they may bring. Some days we can barely put one foot in front of another, other days we are full of energy and we could climb mountains. We do just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and entrusting ourselves to God. Wherever we find ourselves I am confident that there is one who walks beside us cheering us on as we keep walking.

 

 

I’m not like them

“Comparison is the thief of joy”.

You are not meant to be like anyone else because you are a unique creation. You are the person you are by design. You are the way God made you to be.

So often I have struggled because I didn’t think I was like other people; I didn’t have their gifting, I didn’t have their looks, I didn’t have their cleaning gene, I didn’t have friends, I didn’t have their godliness, I loved reading/they didn’t, I wasn’t married/they were, I loved studying/they didn’t – the list goes on and on.

Theodore Roosevelt said that comparison is the thief of joy. That’s so true.Comparison imprisons us and holds us back. It lies to us. It tells us that we are not this enough or that  enough – that we are not enough. Feelings of inadequacy cripple us, we can feel shame about our shortcomings. Comparison breeds insecurity.

When God had finished His creation He “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good”(Gen 1:31) We are part of that beautiful creation with all its diversity. Ps 139 says that God knitted us together in our mother’s womb (v13). We are a unique creation each one different to another. Our uniqueness contributes to the multi-faceted, multi-coloured diversity that is the kingdom of God.

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Each of us has a unique path that only we can walk. We all have so much to give but it will have different expressions. Our individual character and strengths will be invaluable in any team we are part of as there will not be anyone else quite like you. We are meant to complement one another not to be clones of each other.

I am part of a team of women who are all so very different. We have learned to appreciate one another’s unique contribution to the team and to actively encourage it. Some of us are articulate, some are introvert, some extrovert, some are incredibly creative, some have amazing spiritual insight, some have incredible faith to pray for the sick, some have great wisdom, some are able to take any opportunity to pray for people they meet and to share the gospel with them. We have learned to make room for one another because we need and value what each one has to bring to the team. In an environment of encouragement we have each grown in confidence to be the people that we truly are. We need each other.

We could spend our whole lives wishing we were “more like him” or had “a ministry like her” but our Father has already given us everything we need for life and godliness. We already have all that we need to prosper in God’s kingdom. It is a huge relief to finally realise that it is ok to be me with all my quirks and idiosyncrasies. Not only that, but to learn that I can be totally confident and at ease with myself and that’s ok. It is all because I have a Father who loves me. He is the one who validates who I am.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Emu © Tonis Valing Dreamstime Stock Photos

Breaking the Jar

Making a costly sacrifice

 

Matthew 26:6-11 The woman with the alabaster jar.

In this passage the woman broke open her alabaster jar and anointed Jesus’ head with the ointment. What was it like for her to give away something so costly, something she had expected to hold on to? This woman chose not to hold onto her jar but to break it. She had counted the cost to herself but decided to give it as an offering to Jesus and she has been remembered ever since for her sacrifice. .

There are times when we may have to give up something that is precious to us in order to enjoy all that God has for us next. These are pivotal moments in our lives. Even good things can hold us back from what God has in store for us. It can be painful to let go of things that are precious to us – our ministry, the way I like things to be, the project I’ve been a part of for a long time, our beautiful home, a relationship etc. It can be difficult to navigate. We can feel powerless and adrift.

However we can take control – instead of reacting or retreating we can break the jar ourselves. We can release our hold on the thing that is precious to us.

As you do, do it for no one but Jesus. Not for those around you, not for your church leaders but just for Him. Make a pure offering to God as an act of worship. In the very act of breaking your jar, there is an incredible power released. There is freedom through the pain. There are new delights to discover.

Jesus said “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt.16:16 ESV) I have to ask myself, “Do I really believe that this is true” And more specifically “Is it true for me”. Whatever circumstance I am in, the fact is that the story of my life is part of a much bigger story.

During a difficult season in our lives my husband Rob and I struggled to understand what was happening to us. We talked out our pain with good friends, we asked God for his solution and entrusted ourselves to Him. It was a rocky ride but we weathered the storm. We gave our “jar” to God and broke it as an offering to Him.

It can be messy and painful but I know that God always has more for us, He is always good and He loves us. There is more to learn about Him, more to do for Him, more to experience of the Holy Spirit, in fact there’s more in every aspect of our lives. We may not see the bigger picture from where we are standing but our lives are caught up in an eternal story and one day we will see it from heaven’s perspective.

 

A different gospel

Trusting in myself instead of in Jesus

This time last week I published my first blog. Within a few minutes people had made some very kind comments (thank you). I watched the stats for the blog steadily reveal the number of views it had and from which country . As I looked I noted how it made me feel; initially anxious (would anyone read it?), then relieved (they did!) and pleased (they liked it).

I like to receive praise and affirmation (who doesn’t?) but I know that for me this can be a slippery slope towards putting my trust in a different gospel. A gospel of works. If I do “x” – people/God will like me, if I do “y” well –  I will be affirmed. It’s all about performance, my performance. This is a behaviour I learned when I was very young – that in order to be loved I had to do well.

In our church we are enjoying a teaching series on the book of Galatians. In chapter 1 Paul talks about the gospel of grace and a different gospel. The different gospel consists of following certain laws in order to be acceptable. This is totally opposed to the gospel of grace where we are freely accepted just as we are. We don’t need to do anything to earn it; through being good, obeying the rules or performing well. This is such good news.

I, however, can  dismiss my need to perform as “it’s just the way I am wired”. I can think that it doesn’t really matter. What I’ve realised  is that it does matter because I am turning to a different gospel where I am at the centre. When I choose to seek acceptance through works I am no longer relying on the work that Jesus has already done to win me acceptance with the Father. The gospel has become all about me instead of all about Him. The trouble with this other gospel is that I can never know when I have done enough to earn God’s approval so I will be trapped on a hamster wheel of works forever. I don’t want that. I want to put all my trust in the gospel of grace. I am FREE! Free to enjoy all the blessing that God has intended for me. I am a daughter of the king with an inheritance to enjoy not a slave desperately trying to earn a taskmaster’s favour.

Of course, as Paul says,  there is no other gospel. There is only one and it is good news! What Jesus has done in dying for me on the cross has truly given me a new life. I have been brought into His family. I have a Father who loves me, who accepts me;  there is nothing I can do to add to that. How can I add anything to a gospel that has already given me eternal life with my sins forgiven? I can’t – there is NOTHING I can do to make God love me more and NOTHING I can do to make Him love me less. That is the beauty of Grace.

 

The Goodness Bag

Goodness. I will never get anything different from God.

Welcome to the Goodness Bag Blog

At the end of 2014 I was waiting for a  diagnosis following a biopsy, as I prayed with some friends one of them had a picture for me.The picture was of me putting my hand into a lucky dip,  and  that I was dreading what would come out. Would I get the booby prize? Would I get the plastic  toy that no one wants? The lucky dip was in a purple velvet bag and as I dipped my hand into it the Father said that “Everything I give to you is covered in my goodness.”

At Christmas one of those friends gave me the bag  pictured above; it was filled with slips of paper, on each one was printed “Goodness”. Every time I put my hand into the bag it was (and still is) always the same, Goodness. I will never get anything different from God.

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I carried the bag with me as I went for an unpleasant pre-op procedure, as I waited to be called in to the operating room, as I waited for results from lymph nodes, in fact, everywhere I went. When I felt anxious I would put my hand into the bag and take hold of the goodness of God for myself.

Of course I knew that God is love, I knew the Scriptures and the theology. But I actually needed to apply the truth to myself  and not just as an intellectual concept. It’s so easy to give mental assent to the truth but not actually to experience it or enjoy it. Having this bag has helped me to engage and trust in the goodness of God.

It didn’t mean that I didn’t have cancer, it didn’t mean that  I would not experience difficult times . I don’t want to minimise suffering, difficulties and pain because they are real and need to be acknowledged. What I do know is that no matter what my circumstances are, God is always good to me and always for me. His nature does not change. Even when I don’t understand why I am experiencing difficulty, I can hold onto the fact that He is always good. I will not get second best from God, He has already given His very best for me in sending Jesus to die for me. He will never leave me or forsake me. He loves me.The same is true for you.

Now that my treatment is over I no longer carry the bag with me all the time but it is on view in my room so that whenever I see it I am reminded of God’s goodness towards me. I am so thankful for this gift which helped me not only to live through that difficult time but it has lodged the truth in my heart and I live in the good of it every day.

 

I will be sharing more about what I have learned about God and what He has been saying to me in this blog. I hope you will join me as I dip into the Goodness Bag and share what He reveals.