By faith and not by sight

Dear God,
If there is anything I have learnt this year, it is to not live by my feelings.

In 12 months I have probably gone through every every emotion I can think of in greater or lesser measure, but You are steadfast.

You have shown me that I can and must live in your presence where there is righteousness, peace and joy, regardless of circumstance. In the shadow of your wings I find an island of refuge, from an ever-turning world of hopes and disappointments, uncertainties and frustrations, joys and sadnesses, loneliness and companionship.

You are good.

You rescued me from the debilitating grip of depression. You restored hope and purpose and worth instead of shame and insignificance. You were patient and kind when I drifted, drawing me back to yourself.

You proved yourself so faithful that it is all I can do to respond. ‘Have your way in me’. How can I not offer my life in return for the price you paid for me?

There is still a big Unknown, questions without answers, loose ends. There are blind spots but I live by faith and not by sight. When the picture is incomplete, it must suffice to live in simple discernment of the mere fact that you are in something.

It must suffice when things don’t look the way I thought they would. You have shown me that obedience will cost something but the reward is always greater, because the reward is more of you. My idea of what things should look like are narrow, petty and constrained, compared to the incredible tapestry you are weaving in the lives of the body of Christ. To be one small thread is a delight and a joy.

‘Faith is spelt R-I-S-K’ were the oft-quoted words from John Wimber, who was no stranger to controversy. This the lifestyle you have been calling me to, gently but persistently.

I will continue to run after you and see promises spoken over me fulfilled. I refuse to be bound by scepticism, or unbelief or apathy or religious-ness; the only one who can stop your purposes being accomplished is my own refusal to co-operate. I love that idea of co-operating – you in me, with me, fully me, fully filled with you.

At the close of the year, I’ve never been happier to be myself. 12 months ago I could not have said that.

I am thankful for all of it. For small precious moments, for sunny days, friends, graduation, working life, deep conversations, tears and laughter, learning curves and plot twists; but more than anything, your goodness.

I have been surely tested but I walk away victorious. All glory to you, who is faithful to complete the good work started in me.

Undignified

There are lots of things I could write about. You know, for a brief moment I even considered giving a brief mention to the Donald Trump debacle (not because I think the man needs more attention but because the way some people were responding to it, I felt, was also profoundly unhelpful). There, I suppose that was a brief mention after all…

Anyhow, I think that sometimes simplicity is key and there is beauty in small moments.

So here’s a little about my heart lately. This kind of follows on from my thoughts in my last post but it makes sense on its own 🙂

I changed the name of my blog. Comes from the same passage – same verse, even. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future”. Proverbs 31:25. (New Living Translation).

I changed the name of my blog because the whole idea of dignity, I think, can be misconstrued. I never want to let myself think that wanting ‘dignity’ means justification for not getting messy. Dignity in Christ is a beautiful thing but it’s not dignity in the world’s eyes, and I just feel in my heart that it’s time for my focus to shift.

I think really being a follower of Jesus means that you have to be willing to look undignified; to look ridiculous, to pour extravagant love on the world no matter what you get back, to associate with those the rest of society shuns.

Jesus told us to do what He did, to represent Him everywhere we go, whether we’re called to the far corners of the world or to sad, frantic central London. Total surrender, His will be done, every day. And we are given the grace to do that because Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit – God here on Earth. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that dwells in God’s children. That’s pretty big stuff.

I’ll never understand what that looks like if my main concern is to maintain my dignity in the eyes of all.

But the joy of the Lord is my strength, and perfect love casts out fear.
The joy of the Lord is what makes it possible to commute for 4 hours a day to work and back (until I find somewhere closer to live). It’s no strength of mine, I promise.

It’s what makes it possible to rejoice in Him in the midst of difficult circumstances. I am blessed indeed and I never want to lose sight of that reality, but I struggle to talk about the painful stuff (certainly on my blog, but also in face-to-face contact).

It’s much easier to tell the world about the things that are great, than to admit it every time you curl up on your bed in tears.

And yet even still, I know joy – fulness of joy, found only in His presence as He floods my soul and takes my breath away.

I still praise God with indescribable joy that makes me want to dance and skip like a little kid. Because He is good. Because He loves me and that love is based only on Him and not on my own efforts. A love I can rest in, not strive for.

Understanding the wild, fierce, all-consuming love of God is what slowly burns the fear out of my heart. It’s a slow process, because learning to really seek God in the midst of a culture that tells you to seek anything but, requires perseverance.

To completely shake off fear is something I long for because I’ve seen glimpses of what it looks like when fear bows to love. Sharing God’s heart for people, telling them what He sees in them, how valued they are in His eyes… I want to live my whole life like that.

When you see God touch someone’s heart because of something you said, in those moments when the Holy Spirit speaks through you, at 7am on the bus when you’d normally rather be in bed… that feeling is pretty much incomparable.

But intimacy with Him is the only – the ONLY – thing that bears fruit.

I want to live in the promise of Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. I want to opt into those daily opportunities to share His goodness.

So I changed my blog because laughing without fear is how I want to live my life. Walking in joy and perfect love.

 

PS: I don’t know if I’ll manage another post before Christmas but if I don’t, I wish you a really blessed time with your loved ones. I also want to say thank you for sticking with this blog; whether you’ve read consistently or you’ve read just one post, wherever you are in the world, whatever you believe.