Don't write off the small things…

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Hearing His Voice

I got a tweet yesterday in my timeline from @lisabevere with a link to the above message. I favourited it but did not listen to it until this morning. It is about the Holy Spirit and hearing from God. It feeds into exactly the journey I have been on recently. 

While listening I got emotional with God. I had tears. It really spoke deeply into my heart. 

Hearing from God is an odd phrase – often it is met with consternation and skepticism. It can fall into the weird category and can frighten people. We can build it up into something so big that we avoid it at all costs. We shy away from it and often times ignore it. 

For me, promptings from the Holy Spirit are not big booming voice encounters – it comes from within a nudge, a sense that I should do or say something. 

One part of the message really pierced my heart…

There are so many other things I said to you and you second guessed them.’

I know this is true in my own life – that I have felt promptings, to pray out, to sing out, to pray for people, to encourage, to acknowledge, to speak a word and I haven’t because i have second guessed myself. I have allowed fear and doubt to prevent me from doing what I have been called to do. 

I started a journal a week ago – I can see evidence of hearing from God, of being prompted by the Holy Spirit and I have been following those promptings. It hasn’t been anything ‘huge’ just small things. Sending a tweet, an email, writing a blog post but there has been fruit. There has been a momentum building. 

How often do we write off the small things? Does the word not say:

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin… Zechariah 4:10

The problem is that in our humanness we don’t want small, we desire big, we want more, we want fireworks and lights and fanfares. We go from following a prompting to wanting to build a ministry. We don’t want to start small but that is how it all begins. 

Starting small is exciting and we need to recognise that. Do you want your faith life to be a journey, an awesome adventure? Do you want to be able to see how God has worked in your life? It doesn’t happen overnight, as much as we would like it. It is about the small steps towards greater obedience. 

I love to praise and worship God. I have a real heart for worshipping. There is nothing better for me than singing my heart out to God. For me, it is through worship that the Holy Spirit stirs within me. It is through my recognition of who God is, of His love for me, of his amazing faithfulness that I feel the spirit stirring me and moving me. 

On Sunday, I went from dancing around my kitchen lost in wonder, love and praise to praying fervently for the church and weeping. That was a prompting – it came out of my worship. 

On Sunday, I was prompted to pray for a friend and I walked all the way to the back of the church, took them by the hand and said ‘Can I pray with you?’ Turns out they really needed prayer but wouldn’t have asked. 

As I listen to preaches and talks, I often hear passages read and the Holy Spirit will speak a name to me and I know I have to send them that passage. I don’t always get a response, or know how that has spoken to or affected them but does that mean I should stop?

Following promptings is not about our glory but God’s. It should not be done to get recognition for ourselves but for God. So it doesn’t matter about the response to me, it matters that I have been obedient. 

I don’t want to write off the small things. I want to make sure i don’t miss out. I want to follow every little prompting I get. 

How about you? Have you been prompted recently? Have you been too busy second guessing that you have missed opportunities? 

 Can I challenge you to follow a prompting today and see what happens? 

I want to finish with a video of a worship song that is constantly on my heart at the moment. It is about God’s faithfulness and the fact we are never alone.

Why not start from a place of worship and see where the Holy Spirit leads you today?

Getting emotional with God

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“What is it about tears that should be so terrifying? the touch of God is marked by tears…deep, soul-shaking tears, weeping…it comes when that last barrier is down and you surrender yourself to health and wholeness” David Wilkerson, The Cross and the Switchblade

I read this quote today and it really struck me. It spoke to me deeply about my own reactions to tears, it brought to mind many instances when I have experienced exactly the above. 

I would describe myself as an emotional person, I cry at adverts, I cry at new stories, I cry when I am angry, happy, frustrated. It seems to be a bit of a default and I suppose that is why when I experience tears in a spiritual context, I tend to write it off. 

I have said on many occasions ‘Why do I always get tears? Why can’t I get laughter?’ Belittling in a way the experience, the deep work that is taking place within me. But why?

In society, crying or tears are seen as weakness. A sense that you have lost control or have become ‘over emotional’. People who cry are often written off and not listened to – they have shown themselves to be fallible and incapable of maintaining their dignity.

I have sadly bought into this perception all to often and in the process been happy to write myself of as ’emotional’ as if it is a dirty word, not to be seen as a quality but to sneered at and embarrassed about. 

I believe that God is doing a work in me about this. I believe He has started gently with the quote above but I know need to accept it is a big part of who I am and who He created me to be.

On Sunday, as I prayed in my kitchen before church, I was overwhelmed by emotion and I cried. Thinking back to this now, this was about sensing God’s heart and I wiped my tears away and ‘pulled myself together’ ashamed, feeling silly. I repent of that now. 

After the service, when I prayed for friends again I was overwhelmed by tears and it was again God’s heart – I realised it more then, I did not allow it to hinder me but to spur me on and I felt that God was working, that he was moving. I accepted the tears.

Who am I to deny attributes in myself when ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’? I have not been called to write myself off. There are plenty who will, there is an enemy who will make sure of it but I am not to join in with that – to belittle God. 

Can we reclaim the word ’emotional’? Can we accept tears as the touch of God?

How often do we sing or pray ‘break my heart for what breaks yours’ and then berate ourselves for feeling the emotion and weeping? How often do we ask to see the world and people through God’s eyes and then put ourselves down for getting ’emotional’?

Will you join me from today and accept that tears are not a weakness but a sign that we have experienced something of the heart of God? The heart of God for those we are praying for, for our current situation, for the stories we read about and watch on the news.

Will you join me in recognising that compassion is something far more than just thinking ‘Oh that’s sad.’

Will you join me in getting emotional with God?

 

Fear and Faith

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Today, I went to a Women’s conference at New life church East Grinstead.

Recently, I have been a bit stagnant in my Christian walk. Not completely but I have become quiet, just coasting.

I was looking forward to today not because I was seeking a spiritual high that would boost me for a little, but because I wanted to wake myself up to the bigger picture again.

Livy Gibbs was speaking and she got to the heart of the matter – fear…

‘Fear and faith can’t co habit in your heart, one makes its home at the others expense.’

This pinpointed exactly where I was.

Fear is a natural reaction – feeling out of control and what we tend to do is make attempts to gain control. This can lead us into idolatry -putting our trust in people and things that ultimately will let us down.

God is in control of my unknown future. So I can either fear or have faith…

Do I see the future through fear or faith? I know what I want to answer but the other happens so easily.

There are many unknowns coming up in my life:
How will we manage financially with a major works bill and a baby on the way?
What will happen after maternity leave?
What will my spiritual life look like in 3 months time?

It would be so easy to be fearful, to panic, to lose hope and strive to control it all. The truth is I can’t and by trying I would simply tie myself up in knots and become more fearful.

I have faith that it will all work out, I can’t tell you how and it may seem illogical but I choose that over fear any day. Fearing the future does nothing to change it.

‘She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.’ Proverbs 31:25

I want to be able to laugh without fear of the future and the only way to do that is to admit I am not in control and walk in the freedom that brings.

Hiding from silence

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When was the last time that you experienced silence? I mean, no talking, no TV, no Internet, no phone -no noise? Maybe when you were asleep? Did you check your phone the moment you woke up?

Sounds ridiculous when it is said out loud, how much time we spend surrounded by noise.

We watch films instead of reading books, we send tweets instead of having a conversation, we write a blog rather than a diary. Convenience, the need to be occupied, the idea of a 24/7 society.

There are of course positives of this, being able to communicate with people on the other side of the world, being more aware of situations in other countries, being able to share resources to name but a few.

What about the negatives? What about the relationships that are being eroded in real life because we invest so much time online? What about the fact we spend more time staring at a screen than looking at someone during a face to face conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you cannot develop meaningful friendships online but should they involve the a sacrifice of  relationships with family and friends?

I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a phone conversation that was longer than about ten minutes. Text messages have become the norm – they are quicker, faster, more convenient.

I am currently on holiday, miles away from home. Taking a break from the busyness, the noise.
Yes, I am still using social media, yes I am still blogging but, I am having longer periods of quiet, of silence. Going for walks, sitting and looking at scenery. Listening to the wind blow leaves from the trees, watching the sunlight catch across the windowpane.

Moments without noise. I have also been reading books, in silence, without the television or radio on as accompaniment as is my usual habit. This habit grew out of finding silence scary.

At a recent conference I went to #CNMAC12 @digitalnun said that ‘Silence can be scary but it can also be healing.’

This concept really stuck with me and made me honestly think and question how much time I spent hiding from silence in noise and why I was hiding from it?

For me, it was fear. Fear of silence. The inability to be still. The frightening concept of being alone with my thoughts.

The thing is, if we are never alone with our thoughts then we begin to lose an essential part of who we are. We begin to fill ourselves full of the noise, ideas and opinions that are all around us and fail to take the time to develop our own. We lose our sense of creativity. We lose the essence of us.

Silence can be healing, it can be the opportunity to get back to who we really are, to remove all the additions, to remove all the distractions and just to be. To sit with our thoughts.

Are you hiding from the silence?

The old has gone…

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Today, I have been reading a book where the main character has the option of going back and changing the past.

This is not a new premise, it is one that is often used and discussed.

It has made me question – why?

We often think back to the past, with that rosy haze believing things were better, that we were happier. We seek to relive past moments, memories that have stuck.

Or, maybe the past didn’t have those moments and everything has a default back to it. We are desperate to escape from it but let it continually play in our minds like a smeared residue on a glass that refuses to be removed.

Think about now. Ok, there is a list of things that could be better? What about what is good right now? Take a moment.

This is something I have been challenging myself to do. My thoughts so easily fall back into old patterns. It is not healthy and it is not helpful.

When it gets tough, I hold on to the promise…

‘This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!’

It is a daily process, I don’t always find it easy. I do love the freedom it gives, the opportunity to be the real me.

Do you find that you live in the past?
Do you focus on what could be better?
Do you recognise what is good in your life right now?

Moments

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He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.‘  Psalm 23:2-3

Today, I went on a four and a half mile walk. I knew that I needed to get out and ‘blow the cobwebs away’ as my late grandad used to say.

You see, I have been living in my mind a bit too much recently, thinking, over-thinking, analysing, over- analysing. Getting lost in my thoughts. I don’t know if you can relate? Times like these, I know that I need to get out into nature.

Have you ever noticed how much a good walk can change your mindset? Sometimes, a cup of tea just doesn’t suffice when it comes to making things better.

The day started off cloudy, a bit like the fog going on in my mind, but as I walked some blue sky began to show and then bright sunshine beamed down. So much so, that at one point I had to remove my coat, in October!

I realised how much I had been beating myself up over things,  how much emphasis I was placing on work. It was becoming my measure for everything.

I let go of that today. My sense of worth and self does not come from work – thank goodness, but I had lost sight of it.

I had become stuck in a rut internally. Scolding myself over things I could do better. Replying scenarios. If we are not careful, we all do this.

As I walked today, I took time to notice the little things. The sound of the water, the colour of the leaves, the feel of a cooling breeze across my face. I enjoyed the moments.

I know that I need to talk more. That I internalise too much. I had a chance to take stock.

I am grateful for that chance. Grateful for that opportunity to restore my soul.

What do you need to take stock of today?

Which moments do you need to take time to enjoy?