Faithful you are

It’s been a long time since I blogged and I’ve missed it. So on my day off in lieu I am writing this sitting in a cosy London café, enjoying the jazz music and the clink of cups and the hum of conversation. In my line of vision sits a man with large round glasses and a superfluous scarf, a pile of books artfully placed beside him on the table. One of them, I kid you not, is titled ‘Ernest Hemingway Rediscovered’.

I’m still working in Central London, commuter life never ceases to be awful (especially when you are dependent on Southern rail), everything is over-priced and in true adult-ing fashion I spend a considerable amount of time wondering why council tax is so expensive.

Thankfully my flatmate and I don’t take life (or ourselves) too seriously, for God has equipped us both with a good dose of sarcastic humour with which to approach most of life’s grievances. In fact, there are rumours that we may start a blog so that together we can air our satirical views of the world. Watch this space (or, you know, don’t. We’d probably be our only readership).

Anyway, since I last blogged, I have moved into a new flat (with the same flatmate as before), and I am so grateful for the space and to be living with her. The whole process has been quite long and difficult but now that things are beginning to settle down, we’re starting to enjoy it.

I mentioned in my last post that in the previous house we lived in, we were robbed. In broad daylight, while we were out at Healing on the Streets, some poor souls broke into our landlord’s home, donned a pair of Marigolds and left with the few valuables we had.

It was interesting timing because right after Healing on the Streets, she and I had stopped for coffee before going home, and for the first time, we discussed the prospect of moving into a new place together in September. Her plan to move to a flat with other friends had fallen through, so we chatted about looking for a two-bed and got pretty excited, because it turned out we also had similar ideas about what we could potentially do to bless the community.

Then, still buzzing from all this potential, we returned to the house we were lodgers in, to find ourselves robbed.

I’ve come under spiritual attack several times over the past couple of years so for me it was pretty clear that this was an attempt from the enemy to deter us from what we wanted to do. Thankfully, I know that the enemy attacks where he sees something good. So all it did was make me completely determined to push ahead with the plan, unless God closed the door.

Through God’s provision (deposits are very expensive things) and a step of faith, we ended up signing a contract for a two-bed place not far from our previous home.

You may not be surprised to learn that the challenges didn’t end there. Aside from having to spend quite a lot of money on buying things for the flat, only a couple of weeks into living in our new place, we then discovered we had a mouse problem. We were both taken aback, as it’s a newish and a nice flat, but it turned out the whole building was infested because the guards over the vents were all broken. We were even seeing mice in our bedrooms and hearing them at night, which doesn’t make for sound sleep. We put down various assortments of traps, bought sonogram devices, tried to keep the flat extra clean, but nothing worked. Cue my poor flatmate making countless phone calls and sending many emails while I was at work, trying to get the problem dealt with. It wasn’t until about six weeks into Mousegate 2016 that the building managers finally agreed to get pest control in, by which time my flatmate’s parents had spent a whole weekend ‘mouse-proofing’ the whole flat and sealing up every possible hole. (Did you know that mice can squeeze through gaps as small as a pencil? I didn’t until I moved into this place).

It seems her parents’ heroic efforts were largely successful as I haven’t seen a mouse since, and I’m starting to relax a little about the situation. But I look back and see how much added stress it brought on top of the move itself, and various other life situations happening at the same time for both of us. It definitely seems that once again, we came under attack, and the situation could have led to us falling out – even, potentially, moving out. But we didn’t and we haven’t, and I’m excited for what’s ahead.

I have also written a few ‘risky’ things for work in the last several months, and in this too I feel some opposition as the enemy would, I’m sure, prefer me to remain silent. But the Lord will have His way, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share what He lays on my heart.

To speak more generally, over the past year I have begun to experience more of God revealing things to me about various situations around me, and it’s both a blessing and at times, a burden. I feel the weight of responsibility that comes with discernment, as I sometimes see what I almost wish I could not see, and feel powerless to do a thing except pray. I have felt a lot of others’ pain (empathy is a nuisance sometimes) and often felt overwhelmed and out of my depth.

At points I have felt completely stuck. I’ve become quite useless recently at keeping in touch with old friends (if you’re one of them and you’re reading this, I haven’t forgotten you!)

And yet, I look back over this slightly crazy year and I don’t regret any of it. I feel immense gratitude for how God has shaken up my life and placed my foundations solely on Him and His faithfulness. My mum, always amazingly patient, reminds me constantly that what I experience, God will use to strengthen me and refine me. What the enemy means for harm, God will use for good, and the plans He has for me are so much bigger than what I can see at this moment.

So, I am thankful. Thankful for the many, many blessings the Lord has poured out over me amidst all the trials. (‘You spread a table before me in the presence of my enemies’…) Thankful for an incredible church with amazing pastors who love me like a daughter, and a homegroup who have surrounded me with love, prayer and good food. Thankful for laughter. Thankful for how God is teaching me to shake off weights like Autumn leaves, and see beauty in change as the beauty of the turning seasons. Thankful for silver linings.

I hope to return to blogging more regularly soon. Until then, take care.

*Title is from Housefires’ ‘Yes and Amen’.

Confessions of an unlikely ‘Leave’ voter

I’ve been playing with the idea of writing this for the last two months, during which I have been without a laptop. (For those who don’t know, the house I have been living in got broken into one Saturday afternoon, and my housemate and I returned from ‘Healing on the Streets’ to find our few valuables gone). That’s another story – the relevant part for now is that due to an act of great generosity I am now in possession of a laptop once again. Praise God! Blogging can resume.

Nearly two months after Brexit seems a little late to be ruminating on the event, but the run up and aftermath of the referendum taught me several things, which now that I am able, I’d like to share, because it seems the majority of people in my age group voted differently to me, and so far, I have not had the opportunity to talk about it at length.

You will no doubt have surmised from the title that I voted to leave the European Union.

I am 23 years old. I am university-educated, a graduate of a Humanities subject. I live in London.

My mother is German and my father was born on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

According to polling statistics, I am the most unlikely of ‘Leave’ voters.

Several I have spoken to since Brexit have either been surprised to learn that I voted to leave, or they simply assumed that I voted to stay, and expressed their feelings in my presence, oblivious.

On more than one occasion, people’s expression of surprise when I ‘confessed’ my vote has stemmed from the knowledge that my parents are not British. If you too are surprised by my decision on this basis, you should probably read on.

If you voted to Remain, then congratulations, you’re in the majority of my friendship group, and I’m sure that you had as good reasons for voting to stay as I did to leave! This post is not about criticising your choice. But I hope that by sharing my reasons for voting ‘Leave’, I may offer a different perspective and perhaps go some way toward encouraging you.

If you asked me a year ago what I would do if I were given a vote on the EU, I would have said ‘I’d vote to stay’ without hesitation. The idea of leaving the EU would have seemed to me to be tied up in some kind of superiority complex I believed the UK held about the rest of Europe. It would have seemed a foolish move economically as well as a rejection of the UK’s tolerant, hospitable identity. It would have also been a kind of rejection of my own cultural identity – I like to consider myself a ‘cosmopolitan’ and a break from the EU would be like a denial of my heritage.

But that’s when my views were based on feelings, concepts and the left-wing ideologies that a university degree in Humanities almost inevitably encourages. They were rooted little in factual evidence.

For the record, I am not a patriot (hard to be a patriot when you are basically a third culture kid), and I still feel more ‘European’ than ‘British’. So let that be your frame of reference as you continue to read, if you still want to.

My cultural background and desire to feel ‘European’ were not good enough reasons to vote to stay, and after all, I don’t have to be a patriot to want the best future for my country and I don’t have to stop enjoying the benefits of European culture simply because the UK is no longer part of its political institution.

I have no problem admitting that my decision was informed largely by the views of people around me. Looking at the demographics of the Remain voters, it appears it was the same for them.

I have the immense privilege of being able to work alongside some really intelligent, and, more crucially, independently and critically-thinking colleagues.

I was also blessed to attend a meeting in the House of Lords shortly before the referendum, during which MPs and some experienced and politically-knowledgeable Christian leaders presented their arguments for Brexit. It would have been strange for me not to take any of this on board.

My vote had nothing to do with xenophobia (obviously) or the ‘make Britain great again’ rhetoric that plastered TV screens, internet news sites and posters for weeks. (I barely saw any of it, having been without a laptop and a television).

Racism aside, I do think that concerns over immigration were valid. But the immigration argument alone wouldn’t have satisfied me. I swung back and forth between Remain and Leave several times. I knew everyone at work was going to vote Leave (though the organisation didn’t take an official position, just in case you’re wondering). I knew most of my friends were going to vote Remain. I needed good reasons to base my decision on and the only good ones I heard were coming from the Brexiteers. I kept dithering because I was waiting for a convincing argument to come from a Remainer, particularly a Christian Remainer. But none came.

So I prayed, listened, weighed up and tried to look past fear-mongering and Nigel Farage and politicians mocking one another and the terrible murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

In the end, my vote came down to the basic principles of democracy and political autonomy and accountability. Having heard from older, wiser people, I gained some understanding of how the EU operates and the impact it has on the UK’s autonomy. The Bible shows us that God is not in favour of government that becomes too extensive. (The Tower of Babel is the clearest example of this). The idea of each nation governing itself is supported in the Bible, for it prevented man from gaining absolute power and making an idol of himself.

If that weren’t enough to consider, the EU, whilst founded with good intentions, is built on a very secular constitution.

The EU’s influence on Britain’s law-making concerned me. The ultra-liberal assisted suicide policies in Belgium and the Netherlands are one example of what secular constitutions have offered these nations. It’s possible that Brexit afforded Britain some protection against the introduction of policies like this.

The UK was built on Judeo-Christian values, as set down in the Magna Carta 800 years ago. I don’t pretend that the UK still adheres to some of these values, but would leaving the EU help to prevent them from disintegrating still further?

The biggest question, though, was whether God specifically wanted us in or out. The referendum was not a black and white biblical issue, but if God cares about my daily moments, why wouldn’t He care about the path of a nation? The referendum, everyone agreed, was a big decision that would have big consequences. I knew He would work out His purposes either way, but was one way better for us than the other?

The co-founder of my workplace is a Nigerian pastor who truly knows the Lord and frequently gets revelations about what God is doing and is going to do. So when he told us that he believed Brexit was ‘God’s mercy’, I took it into serious consideration. He said that if Brexit were to happen, it would essentially take ’40 days instead of 40 years’ to enter into God’s promises.

So could it be that God really wanted us out?

The day of the referendum dawned in London after one of the biggest storms I’d witnessed in a long time. The damage and flooding was bad enough to severely disrupt travel all over the city as well as commuter travel. There were reports that some people even struggled to get home from work in time to cast their vote (So I guess some never made it to the ballot).

The following day dawned a cloudless blue and I checked BBC news on my phone upon waking up, blinking in the bright sunlight, and could hardly believe what I saw.

Brexit shocked me as much as anyone else. Like many ‘Leave’ voters I didn’t really expect the result, but I didn’t gloat because I saw confusion, anger and disappointment all around me. It was a sober and quiet ‘victory’; for although I felt sure that in the long run this was the right thing, I could see that the short-term consequences were going to be painful.

In only three short weeks, the UK’s political system was unmistakably shaken, with loss, gain and exchange of power at a very rapid pace.

It was confusing and strange and very uncertain, but amongst my workplace at least there was excitement. Such a shaking could only be God’s doing – who is “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked” (Ephesians 1:21), who “changes times and seasons; he deposes Kings and raises up others” (Daniel 2:21), who “from one man… made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands”. (Acts 17:26).

After the referendum whilst praying one day, the Lord simply gave me Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the Earth”.

So I am confident that the Lord, who is merciful and compassionate, will bring restoration to the UK – but only if His church cry out to Him – “Now if my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land” (1 Chronicles 7:14).

If we want this nation to once again honour God in its ways and laws, then the Church must be the first to model what this looks like.

Our hope, after all, does not lie in politics, but in Jesus Christ. So ultimately it doesn’t matter if you think Brexit was the ‘right decision’ or not. It only matters that we ground our faith on the only solid rock, and model to the world what it looks like to have this hope, steadfast and sure.

That means loving our neighbour (foreigner or native) in a radical counteraction to some of the hatred seen in the media (and social media) post-referendum. It means reconciliation with those who voted differently than you.

It means putting rest to the venom I have seen directed towards the older generation who apparently ‘ruined our futures’. As though, despite living through a World War and the greatest change a generation has likely ever seen in their lifetime, they should not have been given a say in the future of the nation.

It means understanding the issues affecting our nation right now and speaking for righteousness and truth no matter what kind of rejection it costs you. It means no compromise.

This is where my prayers lie – that the Church would wake up and respond in these fast-moving, uncertain times.

God’s will for our nation is that it becomes a nation under Him. Brexit in itself will not secure this outcome. But perhaps if we as believers could see it as an opportunity to be praying and acting into, rather than simply a symptom of how messed up we all are, we would see Him do a mighty work.

“Look at the nations and watch– and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (Habbakuk 1:5).

What Brexit tells us about the Church in the UK

Best Brexit response I have yet seen.

ETA: I did NOT write this, this is a reblog from theweaflee (Dave Robertson, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland).

THE BLOG OF DAVID ROBERTSON

eu-referendum

This is the longer version of my article in Christian Today.

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/brexit.time.for.the.church.to.stop.doing.politics.and.start.doing.faith/89591.htm

There is an old Chinese curse which says ‘may you live in interesting times’! In that case Britain is truly ‘cursed at the moment! I doubt there have been such interesting times in national and political life since the end of the Second World War. Despite the majority of political parties, business leaders, academics, international political leaders, celebrities and media commentators being opposed, 52% of the 72% who voted, said yes to leaving the European Union. It is a political earthquake, and the reverberations are still being felt. Not so much in the dreaded economic collapse, which has not happened (yet), nor in any of the apocalyptic disasters which were supposed to hit us the minute we decided not to take the ‘experts’ advice; but rather in the collective hysterical meltdown that seems to have afflicted some of…

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Mind of Christ

Here’s something you may or may not know about me: I think about everything. I think about the state of the world- its beauty, darkness, joys and tragedies, the billions of lives and their interconnected-ness, the simultaneous small-ness and significance of the individual.

I think about my friend’s problems with her family and how hard it must be to navigate that and about the man of unknown origin who plays the violin on the street corner near Oxford Circus. I wonder if he has a family to feed and how he keeps such a bright smile on his face every morning when I smile hello, not wishing to interrupt his playing because I used to play the violin too, though he plays better than I ever did.

I think about the Big Issue seller further down the street whose name I think I once asked but then forgot, and each time I pass him on my way to work I think I ought to say more than good morning. If I wasn’t always hurrying because I should have left the house earlier, maybe I could stop and find out his story.

I think about Mary the homeless lady because she is no longer part of my commute home and I wonder where she is.

I think about my work, and some days this leads to unnecessary weight being taken home with me. How often I am sobered and saddened. But a desire for truth and for God’s Kingdom established on Earth compels me to get up the next day and keep doing it. I think about how grateful I am to be there at all, and how blessed to experience the moments of office laughter and joy, and the intelligent, stimulating discussions and lively exchanges of wit.

I ask a lot of questions – some to myself, some to God, some to people I can’t ask directly, so those questions circle, unanswered, on a carousel in this mind of mine.

I think about the point of everything. I wonder how that person really is underneath the brisk ‘fine’, and why the heck I said that.

I think about the size of the universe and the minuscule, but loved, specks that we are. I marvel that He breathed and billions of giant burning stars came into being.

I ask myself if I really like London.

I exhaust myself!

I probably exhausted you making you read that, and there’s a lot I left unsaid because nobody is that open about themselves.

In the jumble of ponderings, memories, ideas, hopes and questions that compete for my attention, is a mixture of good, bad and downright ugly.

The uglier parts can spiral off into their own saga if left unrestrained.

Indeed they have contributed to past bouts of depression.

Too often negativity, fear, self-pity (and self-absorption) can blind me to fundamental truths about God and my security in Him. There’s a reason why God’s Word tells us to take every thought captive, after all.

I am whole, loved, forgiven, seated in heavenly places with Christ, a citizen of Heaven. I am not alone. I am enough. I am under His provision and His protection.

The Bible tells me all of these things, but in looking too long at myself, my life and my problems, if indeed problems they can really be called, these truths can get smothered.
God’s Word also tells me that as a new creation in Him, I have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16).

In my experience of living out this life-in-Christ, here are some things I believe I am beginning to grasp about what that means.

Firstly, thinking like Christ does not happen without purposefully coming away with Him. If my priority is myself, my thoughts will naturally be self-directed. It is looking on Christ that gives me eyes to see others like He does. The difference is very clear to me and it is all too easy to slip back into my old nature.

There is something the Lord is teaching me, too, about coming to Him for no other reason than loving Him because He is God, awesome and holy and just.

My housemate is lending me a book at the moment called The Spiritual Adventure, by Madame Jeanne Guyon, written somewhere between 1648 and 1717 (which is her lifetime – I couldn’t find the date of the book’s publication).

This woman understood experiential relationship and tangible communion with the Lord. I don’t have to convince most of my readers, I’m sure, that this is entirely biblical and anything less is hardly worth pursuing, but perhaps that is another blog post altogether.

It may interest you to know that this woman was condemned by the Church at the time, branded a madwoman and a heretic, even imprisoned in the Bastille for speaking of what she experienced in her walk with Christ. (It may also interest you to know that John and Charles Wesley were great admirers of her work).

Accordingly, this book is not for the faint of heart. She does not shy away from the subject of suffering – indeed she emphasises its necessity for our refinement, our testing and commitment to loving the Lord for Him alone. This is not easy to stomach in our culture of comfort and ease, but I am utterly convinced, a somewhat naive youth having experienced mere shadows of such suffering, that she was correct. I would not be where I am, far as I have to go, without seasons of trial. The Lord made that very clear to me last year. Those seasons, too, are part of having the mind of Christ; to accept the suffering with the joy.

But to arrive at my original point, which is this: She talks of coming to the very end of yourself.

There has to be no self-interest or motivation when coming to God, in order to truly live out His will. Mme Guyon says that it should not even be about feeling God’s presence, because even in that there is an element of self-interest. Although God’s tangible presence is beautiful and His delight to offer to us, I have many times come before God and felt nothing. I am beginning to understand that this is, perhaps, God’s way of testing whether my love for Him is truly pure – not out of manipulation, but simply because a selfishly-motivated love will not stand under trial. How can it?

It comes back to surrender, a theme that has chased me for a year and more, and every time I think I have learned that lesson, it resurfaces and once again I am challenged.

Mme Guyon touches on something in her book that certainly resonated with me: would I give up my reputation? Since starting my current job, I have had to ask myself this over and over again, as I have begun to see how much misunderstanding, slander and criticism (even from other Christians) is part of making a public stand for Christ. Whatever my future holds, I am certain that this will only increase if I am truly committed to living out God’s will. I have to be ok with being totally misunderstood – hated, even.

Romans 12:2 is one of my favourite verses because, at least to me, it sums up so much of how to ‘do’ the Christian walk. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Seeing situations, people and possibilities through the mind of Christ, secure in His love and clothed in His strength, it is far easier to live for Him. So, too, must it be easier to live single-minded, so secure in the truth of God’s Word and in experienced truth of His nature, that it would take much to be distracted by empty philosophies. How much harder for the enemy of our souls to ensnare us.

I am encouraged to know that this life is possible, notwithstanding my frequent defaulting back to a ‘worldly’ perspective, which however wise it may appear can only bear a faint semblance; a shadow of the fullness of living in Christ.

Isaiah 26:3 promises: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

There is true rest to be found. There is peace, joy and wholeness to be found in Him, who is all of these things – but to have the mind of Christ also means to lay down that self-preservation so common to our fleshly natures, and model Jesus’ servant heart.

To reiterate what I mentioned earlier, this is much easier to do when looking on Him and worshipping Him. The greatest joy and peace are found in the moments when your attention is fixed away from yourself.

There is still work to be done and a life to be lived though – I can’t spend my days locked in my bedroom spending time with the Lord in such a purposeful manner. Right now I am in a place of figuring out how to have Jesus’ heart for this world and yet know His peace throughout the day. To engage with these uncomfortable issues yet lay them at His feet. To think little of myself, yet be secure in His love for me, and know that in this seeming paradox is positioning, to accomplish the tasks He has set before me.

‘For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed’

If you are a UK citizen, you have probably already heard about the recent furore concerning the Royal College of Midwives’ backing of a campaign to decriminalise abortion, which would effectively make it legal to abort up until birth for any reason.

Although shocking, it is not so surprising when you understand that the RCM’s chief, Cathy Warwick, is also Chairman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s (BPAS’) Board of Trustees. BPAS, the UK’s leading abortion provider, is spearheading this campaign, ‘We Trust Women’. I wrote about it on this blog two months ago (which may also be of interest) after attending an event where it was discussed.

At work we covered the news of RCM’s backing the campaign last week, before it had really hit mainstream press. A number of people accused us of lying or making the story up. This week, however, it has been all over the news. The RCM did not consult its membership when deciding to back the campaign, provoking outrage from midwives and from the wider general public. A petition in protest, which you can sign here, has reached around 36,000 signatures so far.

Notwithstanding the fact that supporting abortion up to birth is the very antithesis of midwifery, conscientious objection to participating in abortion procedures would become very difficult were the policy ever to become law.

Naturally, Cathy Warwick, alongside BPAS head Ann Furedi, is now pandering to the press insisting that the campaign is ‘nothing to do with being for or against abortion’. Yet in decriminalising abortion you are effectively advocating for the procedure on demand. They believe abortion should have the same requirements as any other medical treatment. This is, at heart, simply another way of trying to further normalise the practice and downplay its human aspect.

Although they argue that women usually do not want late-term abortions, Furedi, Warwick and the campaign’s other supporters still believe that removing the restrictions is somehow necessary. They also argue quite vehemently that under the 1967 Abortion Act, it’s difficult to obtain an abortion. But with over 500 abortions carried out every day in the UK, this statement is very hard to believe.

Of course, these women’s arguments are dressed up in attractive language like ‘choice’ and ‘control over one’s own reproductive rights’.

The arguments don’t add up now any more than they did the night I sat listening to them promote the campaign, back in March.

I wrote down some of the things they said that night. They included comments like “abortion is necessary for a modern society” and “we need abortion to back up birth control”.

One girl bravely asked whether removing restrictions would include making it legal to abort on the grounds of the child’s gender (a practice that sadly is carried out often in India and China). Unsurprisingly, the panel found a way to dodge that question.

That these women are now claiming that the campaign is not about being ‘for or against abortion’ is almost amusing.

Most interesting in all of this is that BPAS and the RCM seem genuinely a little taken aback at the backlash they have faced this week.

I remember the night of the campaign launch, they seemed confident that only the ‘religious lobby’ really opposed them. I remember thinking at the time “Hm we’ll see”. Of course, they may have only been saying that to win over their audience, but anyhow, the public have demonstrated this week that their belief was vastly untrue. The public as a whole does not want abortion restrictions removed, whatever they may have to say about the law as it currently stands.

I am glad the truth is being uncovered, as the campaign will face stronger opposition now the public are aware of it and see it as relevant.

Mostly, I pray for the eyes of these women to be opened to the magnitude of what they are proposing, and for a dramatic change of heart.

‘For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.’ – Luke 8:17

When it doesn’t feel ‘worth it’

Dear God,

This whole walking-in-obedience thing doesn’t always feel worth it. It doesn’t feel worth it when I haven’t seen most of my university friends in over six months because I no longer have that much time. When I don’t always get enough sleep or have the time to cook proper meals or see my family a lot. It doesn’t feel very worth it then.

I miss my old friends in Canterbury and also, still, I sometimes miss Berlin and the people I knew there. A while back I wrote about loneliness and although things are better, I am still often lonely because London is a lonely place, and making friends after university is hard.

In fact, post-university life is good but it is harder than anyone ever told me it would be.

Hard when it seems that You have become silent for a time and I begin to second guess and to doubt some things I thought You said. Hard when I feel like I am losing You in the daily grind and the crowds hurrying, always hurrying.

I am enormously grateful to be where I am – yes, even on moany days like this. I am just an ordinary girl from a normal working class family, who only just upwards of a year ago was dead broke, depressed and anxious. So I appreciate the workplace I’m in, and the perks of having disposable income and going to fancy book launches and movie premieres.

Yet sometimes, I feel a little bit lost and adrift and I know it may look (maybe!) like I’m a competent young professional but that’s not how I often feel.

I have to hold onto the fact that You have purpose for me here. Now and then a small moment will remind me of exactly why I care about what I’m doing and why I ended up living in London again (something I hadn’t really wanted to do).

There are many things that I know deep in my soul are from You; things taking place that I have prayed for.

I have to hold onto those truths over the lonely moments, the misunderstandings, the disappointments and uncertainties.

I choose thankfulness because the opportunities You are providing me with are worth far more than how I feel right now.

I don’t know where I am going but as ever this process is a good one. It is always in the moment that I realise how dependent I am on You, that I find You.

So I choose to keep going. Forward. Not conditionally. Not ‘I’ll do this God if You give me that’. No, I will choose joy and fight onwards through this strange time of being 20-something year’s old, learning so much so very quickly, and swinging between joy and sadness, confidence and utter insecurity.

Because You are worth it. Completely.

It’s not about ‘feeling it’ – more God adventures in a supermarket car park

I’m taking an opportunity to reflect on the bizarre and fun moments I witnessed at Healing on the Streets yesterday, because at the time my brain felt too foggy to process it. Writing it down helps me to better appreciate it – I don’t want to miss the beauty or the significance of what the Lord is doing.

I really didn’t feel like going to HOTS yesterday, to be honest. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been feeling a little lower than of late. I didn’t feel ‘connected’ enough with God. I didn’t feel very ‘spiritual’ or very confident. I didn’t feel like I could radiate joy to the people I was going to be interacting with. But after missing the last one already, I pushed myself to go.

It started out with me feeling pretty awkward, even moreso than the first time I did it. Just wasn’t feeling it. But I sort of followed a couple of other ladies and joined in praying for a few people we passed in the marketplace.

We came back for a half-time regroup and I took a moment to chat with some other church folk, who were collecting item donations from shoppers for the homeless. (They collected a whole trolley full, by the way!)

Then the chaotic part started.

I’m chatting, slightly oblivious to what’s going around me.

Before I realise what’s happening, there’s a crowd of people my own age in the car park, waving bottles of wine around. One of them goes and sits down in the chair and one of the team is about to pray for him.

The crowd are all pretty drunk, rowdy, and, understandably, amused by the fact that their friend is about to get prayed for. But they’re curious, and as the team kneel by guy’s chair to pray, the rest of them also kneel, laughing and fooling around, taking pictures, and I’m just there in the middle of this crowd and other members of the team, in a Sainsbury’s car park, not entirely sure what’s going to happen.

I mean, this is pretty weird.

Anyway, we pray for this guy, and then our pastor says ‘Has anyone got back problems?’ and one guy says ‘yeah, actually, I do’, so he goes to sit in another chair to be prayed for and his friends follow him to watch. His back gets healed (and some others, still a bit drunk and bemused, also get prayed for).

While all this is going on, one girl stays where she is kneeling, rather than following the group, and asks for prayer. So my team member prays for her about all aspects of her life, and I sit with her on the ground. The lady who prayed for her starts telling her about Jesus and sharing her own testimony, and then the girl says she’s interested because:

“When you just prayed I really felt something” and she makes a sweeping motion with her hands.

I tell her what she just felt was the presence of God and that He loves her.

She says, in that typical endearing way that people do when they’ve had a lot to drink:

“Really? Even though I’ve done lots of bad stuff? ‘Cos I’ve done lots of bad things.”

The lady and I say yes, chat a bit more, hug her, give her a leaflet about our church.

I’ll leave it there for the sake of brevity and because it’s difficult to articulate what happened, but after they all left we were kind of bemused ourselves.

It was a bit surreal and yet also so ‘normal’.

All I know is that the Lord is good, and even though it started out awkwardly (at least for me), it was such a blessing to be a small part of what He did with that crowd and what He will continue to do in their lives as He stirs their hearts. It was never about me or how ‘spiritual’ I was feeling. He’s much bigger than all of that.

You know, sometimes in the media I see people encouraging fellow Christians in the UK to ‘start acting like a minority’ in order to make sure we don’t get all our rights taken away. I don’t believe in this victim mentality at all, not least because the negative picture that people often paint does not reflect the whole truth.

Moments like yesterday only cement what I was already convinced of – God cannot be contained or boxed.

As long as His followers let Him show up where He pleases, there will be drunk people getting healed and hearing about Christ in a supermarket car park. To God be the glory.