It’s normal to lose track, lose track of time, life and Jesus. Everybody goes off the track at some point in their lives, but the important thing is to find the path again and give thanks to God. Even when we are falling short of the glory of God, we can recognise it, although sometimes it takes a while for us to acknowledge it in our hearts and make a spiritual step back. But isn’t it glorious that even in those times, Jesus is standing, waiting for us? It reminds me of the prodigal son in Luke 15. Verse 20 (NLT) says “And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” Even when we are off the track, Jesus sees us and is waiting for us to see him.
We are so quick to assume that Jesus isn’t there, that he doesn’t see us because all we can see is our mess. But it’s not Jesus who needs to look, it’s us that needs to look at him. Jesus is our Rock, he stays. Our life gets messy and tough and we end up falling away from him.
Sometimes when we forget to trust God, it’s when we see a blessing that we realise we’d forgotten. Faith isn’t based on our feelings. In saying that feelings are very important as a Christian because it’s truth that produces good feelings. Faith is made up of truth, it’s our faith that allows us to see the truth. Our faith isn’t based on our feelings, but without our feelings we wouldn’t be able to express our faith. But don’t give all the credit to your feelings because it’s your faith that draws you close to God!
I forget and I let my faith depend on my feelings. As a result, I’m not always close and honest to God; I might pray twice a day, but I forget that Jesus is my friend. He doesn’t want occasional chit chat, he wants a 24/7 honest and truthful relationship, and ironically, I want more too.
I’ve been in quarantine the past 14 days and if any of you have been there, you’ll know that it can be hard. It’s easy to make excuses ‘I can’t go for walks, so how can I find God?’ I’m so not busy to the point that I am busy ‘I just don’t have the time’. But I don’t hear God making excuses to come to us… In fact, he says the opposite: ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you’ (James 4:8). Also we have no excuses because the the Holy Spirit is with us always: ‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.’ (Jn 15)
I had a couple of good conversations with a friend a few weeks ago and each time we would end up talking about temporary happiness vs joy. I’ve spoken about this a lot in previous blogs, so I won’t be on the subject long. But I’m going to share some of our conversation with you.
You can’t have happiness and sadness together. But you can have joy and sadness because they are both on different levels. Happiness and sadness are both feelings that we can receive from the world, I mean we receive them from things we see; people, fun, partying, these are actions that take place and as we participate in those things, the feelings will be the result. However, other ‘fruits’ as the bible calls them like joy, peace, patience and self-control CANNOT always be found in the obvious. These can only come from God. Also, these are gifts that bless us and enable us to live life to the full in the world as Christians. The biggest of these is love and that’s the kind of love God shares with us. Therefore, we want to respond to God’s love by loving as he first loved us.
Following on from the verse I took from John 15 it says: ‘The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you’. That’s why it can be hard at times to live this out in the world around people who don’t understand. But we must persevere! Maybe we should embrace the times when we are struggling or feeling disconnected and see them as an opportunity to grow in the real fruits of the spirit, relying on God and not the things of this world or our feelings: ‘That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-11
But if you are only focused on the giving back, the gifts and the fruits you will be in trouble. For it is the giver we worship not the gifts. We also need to count the blessings that are around us
It’s also important to remember that God is the giver and He’s at the top of the hierarchy, otherwise when we aren’t feeling the gifts or the fruits we will sob, but that’s not the point. He does a lot more than strengthen us, he gives us all the ability, the motivation, the courage and the power. We need Him, don’t distant yourself or find excuses when you aren’t feeling it. It’s at these times we need to proclaim his name loudly so our fear and shame can leave. Sometimes we need reminding to just sit in his presence!
Trust beyond reason
We live in a world where we must have an explanation and reason for everything. “But why do you want to study science?” “Why do you want to live there?”
Jesus challenges us to trust him when we can’t fully comprehend why or what he’s asking us to do. The mindset of Christ is so different to ours at times. We want confidence and clarification; we want to know the plan and have it written out. Jesus wants us to trust him. Most of the time we won’t know where we are going when we set sail, we are confronted to trust that God knows where He is leading us.
“Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding!”
Our own understanding can be so deceiving and misleading. We are all born into a culture, a family, a society where there are hidden, unspoken rules. Jesus challenges us to live, not following these but following him. Are you willing to trust and obey God even if it means going against these rules?
The law mentioned in the Old Testament is in place to keep our focus on God. Rules are good, they can keep our focus on what is good, they can indeed keep us away from sin and death.
However, sometimes we can get so fixed and focused on the rules that they become our reasoning. “I go to university because I have to” “I am a scientist because I studied science” “I read my bible every day because I need to”
Jesus goes completely against social and culture rules for the sake of love; He heals people on the Sabbath, He ate with prostitutes and the socially marginalised, He disobeyed the Jewish purity restrictions by having contact with lepers and ultimately, he was willingly, for the sake of God’s will to be executed for sins that he didn’t even commit. He did and still does things without human reason and explanation. Can you say the same? Or do you want a reason to do something?
We can so easily put our trust and security in everything else but the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes the Spirit will prompt us to do something radically different and crazy and he wants us to trust and obey him even when we cannot understand why. It can be easy to sing songs about trusting without seeing. But what to do when it becomes our reality? What to do when God tells us randomly to learn Spanish without any context or reasoning? Or spontaneously buy flowers for the neighbour. What about if you feel like you should buy coffee for someone standing behind you in the queue? These are just a few of the simple examples of trusting beyond reason but there are many, many more that God will invite us into every day.
Do you have the courage to trust even when it seems ridiculous?
A short encounter but big revelation.
During my time in Macedonia, God confronted me again and again why I was there. So often it was easy for me to at first glance see people as my mission and my goal. But during many ministry times and self-reflections God has reminded me that I am not here to religiously preach the gospel- even the Pharisees could do that.
During a not so serious visit to the hospital, Dian and myself found ourselves chatting to a woman in a supermarket after he casually said “Jesus loves you”. We must have been in there for a good 40 minutes sharing how much the Father sees and cares for her and she also felt comfortable enough to share her heart and pain with us. With this we were able to speak truth over her and pray with her. During this moment I realised once again that the gospel isn’t about scriptural talking but about holistically loving.
Is God involved?
We sing the songs that Jesus is the mover of mountains that He can move our deepest and darkest sorrows and situations, but do we truthfully live that way and believe that He is also the mover of our insignificant and smallest problems?
Anxiety creeps up and we are so quick to doubt and turn to this world for answers of our everyday problems. We forget who the God we serve is and why He came.
‘Am I going to make it?’ ‘How will I pay my house bills?’ ‘My car is broken down will I make it home?’ ‘Oh no I’ve lost my favourite t-shirt.’ ‘
Even if they aren’t questions, maybe they are little hurdles that come our way. We don’t think our problems matter to the God that moves mountains. But are we not in a relationship with Him?
When a spouse has the tiniest problem, do you not think they tell their partner? ‘I’ve got my hair stuck in my zip; can you help?’ ‘My car is unable to start, can I take yours?’ Do you think that in every situation the one who has the problem is also their own problem solver? Or is it that when one of them has a problem they come together and try to find a solution. In the same way God wants us to come into communion with Him so that if we get stuck in any ditches along the road, He can be our helping hand.
One week ago, I was lying in bed with fever, cough, sore throat and unfortunately the absence of my taste and smell. I was repeatedly asking myself ‘how on earth I will be able to travel next week. How will I get better?’ Therefore, with those questions I tried very hard to find the answers, in doing so I tried every home remedy on google to somehow get rid of my symptoms. None of which worked by the way. The phrase ‘how on earth’ is significant here because no miracle or healing will happen on earth alone. We need the invasion of God’s power to take His rightful place and do what only He can; to do so we ought to communicate. Now one week later it is day 2/5 of my isolation in the Netherlands ready to open the next chapter of my life symptom free.
Remember: God never promised us that our lives will be hurdle free. However, He did promise us the Holy Spirit to be an advocate ALWAYS. He promised us freedom from worry and anxiety but to receive that light load we MUST give him our heavy load. However heavy or light you think it is, if it is weighing you down even by a little bit, give it to Him. I promise you with my whole heart that as you do, you will receive full abundance and blessings in ways you will have never ever had expected nor thought.