About a week ago, I just had one of those days. You know the ones that begin with leaving your husband locked out of the house and end with being pulled over by a police officer? Yup, it was one of those days!! Thankfully that day ended, and a new, better day began. But let’s be honest, that isn’t always how it works, is it? What happens when one bad day is followed by another?

We have all said it, and if we haven’t said it, we have thought it, “What on earth is going on with 2020?” If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Bad days seem to follow bad days and you feel like you are running through a gauntlet doing everything you can to dodge all the things being thrown your way. I have to be honest with you and say that as I sit here and write this post I am navigating one of the toughest seasons I have been through.

I was reminded this past week of a man in the Bible named Jacob. When I re-read Jacob’s story my heart went out to him. He really did have bad day after bad day; some of his own doing and others out of his control.

In Genesis 27 we see that Jacob, after deceiving his older brother (Esau) out of his birthright, now has to flee for his life as an angry Esau hunts him down. This leads him through a place named Bethel (remember that name, we will come back to it later). Jacob then travels east and ends up working for a man named Laban. He strikes a deal with Laban that allows Jacob to marry Laban’s daughter, Rachel, whom Jacob loved, in exchange for 7 years of labor. But Laban tricks Jacob and he ends up marrying Laban’s other daughter, Leah, whom Jacob did not love (I can only imagine that awkward moment when Jacob made that little discovery). Laban however promises Rachel’s hand in return for a further 7 years. After finally marrying Rachel, Jacob decides it’s time to move on from his father-in-law’s land but leaves under a strained relationship with Laban. Following a wrestle with God that leaves him walking with a limp, Jacob reconciles with his brother, which was good news soon to be followed by, what I can only imagine would have been some of Jacob’s darkest days. His daughter Dinah is defiled and raped by a man named Shechem and Jacob’s sons decide to take revenge into their own hands. In their anger they not only put Shechem to the sword but they kill all the men living in the city. They loot the entire city carrying off their plunder including all of the flocks, women and children.

Stop there and imagine being Jacob in this moment. Can you see what I mean by bad days followed by bad days? Season after season of struggle, conflict, trial and difficulty. He moved from one dramatic plot-twist to the next with barely enough time to take a breath.

Jacob sits feeling completely defeated, under the weight of the events that have just taken place. God gives Jacob these instructions: “Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” Genesis 35:1 (NIV)

There is that place I mentioned earlier, Bethel. God had led Jacob to Bethel before and it was when he was in Bethel the first time that God spoke to him through a dream. A dream about descendants, blessing and promise. It was in Bethel that Jacob first had a revelation of who God was. This was the place God took Jacob back to.

God knew that in a moment of defeat and disappointment Jacob needed to be reminded of a few things. God took Jacob back to a place where he had met with him before. I think God wants to do the same for you and I.

ON BAD DAYS LET GOD REMIND YOU OF A FEW THINGS:

1. LET GOD REMIND YOU OF YOUR IDENTITY.

God appeared to him again and blessed him.  God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel. Genesis 35: 9-10 (NIV)

Jacob needed to be reminded of who he was and who God had called him to be. So much so that God even gave him a new name. It was a reminder to Jacob that he was no longer the man he used to be, he was no longer defined by his past, his own mistakes or the mistakes of others. He had a new name and a God identity. The root meaning of the name Israel is, “God prevails”. Every day, simply by the pronouncement of his name Jacob (Israel) would now be declaring victory over his circumstances.

I want to encourage you to allow God to remind you of who He has called you to be. Go back to a place where He can re-establish over you your identity in Christ. You are not defined by your past, by your mistakes, by the mistakes of others. You are not defined by your bad days. His name for you is loved, valued, precious, unique, gifted, restored child of God.

2. LET GOD REMIND YOU OF HIS SOVEREIGNTY.

And God said to him, “I am God Almighty”. Genesis 35:11 (NIV)

God didn’t just remind Jacob of who Jacob was, He also reminded him of who HE was – God Almighty. Those four words reminded Jacob that God was still sovereign – despite what his circumstances said, God was still in charge and still on the throne.

It can be easy for us to allow the circumstances of a year like 2020 to get the better of us and keep us in a place of worry, fear and anxiety. We begin to panic about what decisions governments are making and feel like we are helpless in the face of what we are experiencing. It is then that we need God’s reminder: “I am God Almighty”. We need to remember who is on the throne. We need to remember that regardless of what we might be facing we have a God who sees beyond all that we see. We need to remember that God’s got this and He’s got us. 2020 may have shaken us but it hasn’t shaken God.

3. LET GOD REMIND YOU OF HIS PROMISE.

Be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” Genesis 35: 11-12 (NIV)

It is very difficult during our darkest valleys to remember where it is we are heading. When all that is before us is darkness and more darkness its easy to forget what light and hope looks like. Difficult years like 2020 can have us questioning our future and the promises that God once spoke over us.

God knew that Jacob needed to be reminded again of the purposes, plans and promises that He had set apart for Jacob.

What is it that God has promised you? Can you still see it? Are you still holding onto it? Declaring it? Or is it time to ask God to give you a fresh revelation?

Write down again the dreams He has put in your heart. Allow Him to breath new life into the plans and purposes that He has for you.

Jacob did something interesting in verse 14 and 15 (NIV): Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.  Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.

Jacob set up a pillar to mark the place where He met with God, discovered his identity and realised his purpose. A marker that should he ever need to, he could once again go back to and let God remind him again. Perhaps 2020 could become a marker in your life? But not a marker of struggle and heartache. Instead, it could be a marker of God’s goodness and faithfulness. A marker that we will go back to in future bad days to remind us that God’s got this, God’s got you and good days are coming.

Now, go out there and live like you believe it.

I spent some time this afternoon looking at what other people say about disappointment and to be honest most of the quotes out there offer very little hope.

“No expectations. No disappointments.”

“Silly me, expecting too much from people again.”

“Too many high hopes, too many disappointments.”

It’s no wonder people struggle to pick themselves up off the floor if those are the voices they are listening to.

In saying that, one of my strongest emotions this week having gone into a second level 3 lockdown in New Zealand, would have to be disappointment. In the first lockdown I think it was a novelty. I think I was ok with having a break from our normal rhythm and in some ways it was a relief to not have to turn up to event after event all the time. But after a few months of cancelling everything we started to fill our calendar again – this time with things I now looked forward to so much. The most immediate being my husband’s birthday and a weekend away – just him and I – for the first time in over 10 years.

So when the lockdown was announced late Tuesday evening I couldn’t help but feel ripped off that I was going to miss out on something I had set my heart and hopes on.

I wonder how many others are in the same boat? Making the assumption that I am not the only one to feel disappointment at lost plans and cancelled calendars, I thought I’d put pen to paper and see if we can’t encourage one another on this rollercoaster journey. Who knows, this might even hit home for you in many other areas of your life.

HOW DO I DEAL WITH DISAPPOINTMENT IN MY LIFE?

1. TAKE A MOMENT TO FEEL IT.

Give yourself permission to feel the disappointment. Acknowledge it. You don’t have to squash it down, ignore it and pretend like it isn’t there. It’s ok to have a wee meltdown, shed a tear or stomp your feet when it hits you unexpectedly. JUST DON’T STAY THERE. Give yourself 20mins, an hour, half a day, a day (however dramatic you feel the need to be) to feel sorry for yourself. Wallow. Lament. Throw a tanty. Then get up and dust yourself off. Don’t stay down.

2. BE HONEST WITH GOD.

In those lamenting moments it is so important that you are honest with God about how you are feeling. Allow him into your world – even the places you want to hide. You don’t have to hide it from him. Tell him how you are feeling. Tell him why you are disappointed. Tell him what hurts the most. Tell him why it sucks and how you have been ripped off. Spend some time writing it down. Journal it through. He’s listening.

3. EVALUATE YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

Now I am not someone who would ever tell you to stop dreaming and stop hoping. In fact I believe that our expectation is linked to our experience. Expectation is important in the faith journey. What I am saying here is that sometimes in a difficult season it is important to adjust our expectations of ourselves and of others. This will help us navigate our disappointment. If it’s a new season or a full season. If it’s a season where there is sickness or extra pressure somehow then lowering your expectations does not mean you lack faith – it means you carry wisdom. Ask yourself, do I need to change any of my expectations to help me navigate this season.

4. GRAB HOLD OF SOME POSITIVES.

In moments of disappointment sometimes all it takes is a shift in perspective. A reminder that while it might be bad, it’s not all bad. I have lost some things, but I haven’t lost everything. This is the perfect moment to start a gratitude journal. End each day by writing a list of The Good In Today. Gratitude keeps us from wallowing. It helps us to look up from our circumstances and see the good all around us. Thanksgiving and praise is a practice that grows our faith and shifts our perspective.

5. TRUST THAT GOD’S GOT THIS.

There are many things that we will never get our heads around, will never be able to reason and may never understand. There are answers to questions I may never know on this side of eternity and I have to be ok with that. I have to be ok believing that I may not know, but God knows. I may not be in control but God is. I may not have all the answers but God does. This is the part of the journey where trust comes into play. There are many circumstances when all we have left is to trust. Trust that God has got it in hand.

6. REMEMBER GOD’S GOODNESS.

This disappointment does not signify the end of God’s goodness over your life. He is still good. And He is still good to you. Take some time to write down all of the ways He has been good to you in the past. Think of the times He has felt near to you. Think of the prayers you know He has heard and answered. Think about moments of provision, healing, reconciliation and restoration you have witnessed. May those times become a testimony of His goodness in your season of disappointment. A reminder to you that if He has done it once, He will do it again!

7. MAKE PURPOSE YOUR PERSPECTIVE.

I do not believe that God orchestrates tragedy in our world but I certainly believe He will use it to fulfil His purposes. God is greater than any failure, mistake, loss, discouragement and disappointment we may encounter. And if we will allow purpose to be our perspective we won’t miss what He could do in and through us.

8. BEGIN TO DREAM AGAIN.

This might be the hardest step of them all. It’s scary to step out after you have stepped out once and been left disappointed. Don’t let the past rob you of your future. If God has put something on your life He will use anything to bring it to fruition – even this. Allow the possibilities to stir in you once more. Fear will tell you it can’t be done but choose to live in faith not fear. And faith says, dream again.

Now, go out there and live like you believe it!

I’m in the middle of my miracle.

When Steve and I moved back from Whangarei 5 years ago, we knew we wanted to own our own home again. We had sold up to move North without realising that on our return, four years later, re-entering the Auckland housing market would be near on impossible.

We had two years of endless searching, hundreds of open homes, disheartening auctions and desperate praying as we tried to find our dream home. In July of 2018, we finally got the keys to our brand-new house. Our little slice of paradise, well sort of. Little is probably the keyword here—our little slice of 85 square metre, two bed, one bath paradise. Don’t get me wrong; I love our home. It’s beautiful; it’s new, it’s warm, it’s ours. I am very grateful for all God has provided for my family and I. But, if I was honest, I would have to admit that it isn’t the dream home I was praying for.

You know those wish lists people make? The list of all the things you want in your dream home? And you know those people who tell you their incredible stories of how they found a house miraculously ticking off everything on their Dream House Wish List. Yeah, that wasn’t our story. Ours was more a “making the best of a bad situation” story.

I can clearly remember the whisper in my heart as God responded to the questions I felt too embarrassed to ask, “I haven’t finished yet,” He said, “this is just the middle of your miracle.”

I have learned that on the way to our miracles, many things can take place that can distract, discourage, or deter us from the ultimate destination God wants to journey us to.

RECONFIGURED ROUTES

Recently we were in the UK on an extended holiday, and we did a lot of driving while we were there. I was the navigator, but I wasn’t very good at it. Much to my husband’s frustration, we kept missing the exits. Google Maps would then come up with a notification, “reconfiguring route.” It was looking for another way to our planned destination.

There are many seasons where we might find ourselves unexpectedly taking an alternative route. We think we are going one way (usually the easy, straight forward way), but often our journey gets reconfigured, and we end up travelling a different road.

I can remember while we were trying to buy our home, God spoke to both Steve and I and challenged us to be more generous than ever before. Every time we were about to give in an offering, we would feel led to double our giving. When we were out with friends, we would feel the nudge to pay for the meal. When friends were celebrating weddings, babies, or birthdays, we felt we needed to be extravagant with our gifts. Over about a year, our house savings slowly disappeared. I have to tell you; it’s really hard to put a deposit down when God is spending all your money!!! One day, God spoke to us clearly, saying, “This house is not going to happen your way; it’s going to happen my way.”

Have you ever stopped to think that if life happened our way, we would miss the faith and growth that takes place when we have to trust in God’s way?

We simply had to trust that even though we seemed to be going the long way around, that God would get us there in the end.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

DELAY ALONG THE WAY

We have to drive along a country road to get to work and school each day. And there seems to be a never-ending supply of road works happening along that road! Every other week there is a new stop-go section of road stopping us in our tracks and forcing us to sit idle for what seems like hours.

There is something frustratingly beautiful about the perfection of God’s timing. The frustration of waiting followed by the beauty of his unfolding plan revealed to us in retrospect. The truth is, as frustrated as I have felt waiting at one of God’s annoying stop signs, I can count numerous occasions when I have been so relieved that God did not grant my wishes when I clicked my fingers.  

You may have heard it said that delays are not denials. Perhaps we could begin to view delays as an opportunity for God to bring perfection to the outcome. An opportunity not to move ahead or lag behind but to walk seamlessly in sync with the steps God has ordained for us.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

DESTINATION MISMATCH

This lesson is probably one of the hardest of all the lessons I have learned. Sometimes the destination you want and the destination you need are two very different things.

A few years ago, I went on a long health journey involving a lot of what I perceived as unanswered prayer. On one particularly hard day I was out running, praying, and listening to worship music. While listening a line in one of the songs stuck with me: “Help me want the Healer, more than the healing.” I realised at that moment that what I wanted was healing, but what I needed was Him. And while I may not have got my healing then, I still got the Healer.

You might not have the provision you want yet, but you have got the provider.

You may not have the miracle you want right now, but you have the miracle worker, and maybe, just maybe, He isn’t finished yet. It could be that you are simply in the middle of your miracle. Can I encourage you? Don’t give up before you get there.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11  (NLT)

Now, go out there and live like you believe it.

As a nation, we are on the edge of stepping into alert level 2, which is, in some ways, a going back while ultimately, it should be a moving forward. We could use the phrase “getting back to normal,” or we could use the phrase “moving forward, forever changed by this season.”

Whichever one of those phrases we move with is entirely up to us.

As a church leader, I have been asked by a few people if I think the church will ever be the same again. I have been asked if I think society will ever be the same again. My answer to those questions is simply, yes. I think if left to our own devices, we will always go back to what we know.

We all hope that an event like this would change us all for the better. We hope that it would leave us forever impacted by our learnings and revelations. We hope journeying this together would have taught us to treat one another with more kindness and to not take each other for granted.

However, what I know of human nature leads me to question whether that will be our reality. You see, what I have come to learn about myself and others is that we are creatures of habit. Our desire for the comfort of old patterns, for what we know, consistently becomes a stumbling block for our progression.

Think of all the new year resolutions that sit written in journals or scraps of paper that are now nothing more than words on a page. Think of all of the home exercise gear gathering dust under beds or in garages. Think of all of the home projects that remain half-finished as we start things with a hiss and a roar, but too often run out of steam before we reach the end.

Steve and I took our boys on a bush walk one day to a nearby waterfall. It was a beautiful day. We sat on the bank watching the waterfall, enjoying a picnic and time together. As we headed back to the car, we all announced how much we would love to come back regularly. “It’s so close to our house,” we proclaimed, “We should do this all the time.” Do you know how many times we have been back? None, zip, zero.

What are we missing? Why does this happen? What is stopping us from embracing and holding onto change?

CHANGE REQUIRES DELIBERATE AND DAILY DECISIONS.

If we want to move forward, better, as humans, families, churches, and communities, we need to make deliberate decisions on how exactly we want to be better. We can’t expect to remain changed without a conscious and consistent effort to live transformed.

The bible calls it having a vision, and it teaches us that without vision we wander aimlessly, going nowhere.

 If people can’t see what God is doing,
    they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
    they are most blessed. Proverbs 29:18  (MSG)

WHAT CHANGE ARE YOU SEEKING?
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU WANT A NEW NORMAL RATHER THAN GOING BACK TO NORMAL?
WHAT DIFFERENCES DO YOU WANT TO TAKE WITH YOU AS WE MOVE FROM OUR CURRENT SEASON INTO A NEW ONE?

HOW DO I REMAIN CHANGED?

1. WRITE IT DOWN.

Take some time to write down all of the things you want to remain in this next season. Write down the things you want to carry over. Write down the ways you want to stay different. Writing it down will not only help to solidify those thoughts in your mind, but it will also give you something to go back to when the road gets tough, or you slip into old habits.

And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. Habakkuk 2:2  (KJV)

2. STAY ACCOUNTABLE.

People who have the tendency to hold onto old things always benefit from having a ruthless friend when it comes time to declutter. Someone to hold them accountable for the decisions they are making. Someone to help them differentiate between what has to stay and what has to go. Someone who is going to stop them when they dig back into a box and drag out what they already determined must go.

Find a ruthless friend who will hold you accountable for the decisions you are making. Find someone who won’t just tell you what you want to hear but will tell you what you need to hear. Find someone who will challenge you to continue pressing forward, rather than slipping into old ways that you determined to leave behind.

3. DECLARE IT DAILY.

Real change comes, not just in your doing but in your thinking. New thinking requires a new declaration. A new anthem. A new song.

My encouragement to you is to begin your day by declaring over yourself, your life, and your family the new vision you are believing for. Make a list and pin it up where you get ready every day. Record your own voice saying your declarations and play them back to yourself on repeat.

4. DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY TO FOSTER THE CHANGE.

It is the things you do every day that make up who you are. What can you do every day that will drive you closer to the new normal you desire? Is it a new habit like starting each day by reading the word? Or is it a task like sending a text of encouragement to someone every day?

What can you be doing now that will take you step by step closer to where you want to be?

Let’s make some deliberate decisions, followed by some deliberate actions that will see all of us move toward a new normal rather than merely going back to normal. I believe that your best days are ahead. Let’s not waste what God has built in us now that will carry us through to those best days.

Now go out there and live like you believe it!

I declare that you are a child of the Highest King, you belong in the Father’s House. You are royal nobility, precious in the Father’s eyes. You are loved beyond measure, worthy of the Father’s love.

You are valuable and valued. You are important. You have something unique and God gifted to bring to this world.

I declare God’s plans and purposes for your life to be fulfilled in overflowing abundance. I declare God’s promises over you. His blessing and anointing poured out, a double portion.

I declare that you are protected under the shadow of His wings. May the Holy Spirit lead you and guide you. May His angels surround you. May no enemy gain territory over you. May the Lord intervene, working behind the scenes to bring goodness out of every season.

May God know when you rise and when you fall. May He watch over you and keep you safe. May He draw near to you even on days when you do not feel His presence, may you know He is always present.

I declare that you will be strong and courageous. You will not fear or be afraid. You will not be consumed with worry or anxiety. You will carry peace and truth with you wherever you go. I declare endurance over you. You will persevere through hard times. You will not give up, you will not give in.

I declare fruitfulness and favour over you, that you will be successful in whatever you put your hand to, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

I pray that you would be generous and kind. I pray that you would choose your words wisely and be careful how you use your tongue. That you would speak life to all you meet.

I pray your heart would be soft toward God. That you would have a discerning spirit enabling you to know what is right and what is wrong. May you fall in love with God’s Word, allowing it to be written on your heart.

I pray that you would know God. Deeply. For yourself. I pray that you would have your own revelation of His unconditional, undying, no strings attached, reckless love.

Judah, I declare that His praise will ever be on your lips and that you would have the heart of a Lion; brave and strong.

Rocky, I declare that you are immoveable, unshakeable, steadfast and sure and that you would build your life on the solid Rock that is Christ Jesus.

Ever felt pressed? Like you are being pushed, prodded and pulled in every direction. Ever felt under pressure? Like everyone and everything is drawing and draining from you. Like the whole world wants something from you?

I have to admit mothering, teaching, working and wife-ing during this lockdown has had its moments. Moments of pressing. Moments where I think, “If one more person, asks me for one more thing, I might just scream!” Just me? Ok.

At the end of each day I sit down and try to reflect on the day. I guess that I am very much aware that we are in unprecedented times. This is a season that will be what these generations, living through it, are defined by. Our great grandchildren and our great, great grandchildren are going to read about it in history books. I am all too aware that I don’t want to see this time come and go without really tapping into the treasure that God wants to uncover for us.

This time is a gift.

I don’t believe that God necessarily orchestrates these seasons but I 100% believe that He brings His agenda to them.

I have often wondered if God is giving us this opportunity of disconnecting, that we might reconnect with the important things. With Him.

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb. 1 Peter 1:18-19 (CSB)

I wonder if God is utilising this season as part of His redemptive plan for each one of us. Could it be that He will use it to draw us nearer, highlight our need for redemption, and restore us to all He intended us to be.

The Bible speaks a lot about three particular things; grain, new wine and fresh oil. Each one representing a blessing from God of some kind. A strengthening of heart, the joy of life, an anointing poured out. Each one of these items also points toward a pressing or a crushing of some kind in order to obtain that blessing. Perhaps too, these items are a picture of Christ’s crushing in order to bring to us his greatest blessing – the gift of redemption.

But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)

The thing about pressing is that it isn’t easy. It’s not comfortable. It requires pushing through barriers and pain. It will demand an element of discipline and commitment from you.

But the thing about the grain, the wine and the oil is that the gold only comes because they are pressed.

I wonder if God is calling each of us to press in in this season of pressing. Press in to all He is drawing us to. Press in to His leading and learning. Press in to His voice and His whisper. Press in to His word and His ways. Press in through worship and song. Press in even in the pressing, that the result might be grain, new wine and fresh oil.

HOW DO I PRESS IN?

START EACH DAY BY SETTING YOUR DIRECTION.

I don’t know how many of you would agree with me when I say that every good birthday party growing up had questionable games – I mean, Pin The Tail On The Donkey???? You put a blindfold on a 5 year old, spin them around so they become disoriented and then put a sharp object in their hand and let them go for it?????  Really though, after the child is spun around – the adult sets their direction. They point them toward the donkey.  Unless we set their direction they aren’t going to make it anywhere near the target.

Unless you set your direction, you are always going to be walking away from where you intended to be.

If you want to take steps toward where God intends you to be – you need to set your direction.

Set your direction toward God every day. It doesn’t need to be huge or long.

HERE’S A TIP:

Make the first 15 minutes of your day about God. Don’t roll over, pick up your phone and start scrolling. Instead, roll over, pick up the Word and start reading.

Here is one idea:

Your first 15 minutes of every day could look like this:

5 MINS IN THE WORD

5 MINS of PRAYER

5 MINS of WORSHIP

Make your first appointment of the day an appointment with God. Set a time and a place and make sure you are there!

BE AWAKE TO GOD IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY. DEVELOP AN AWARENESS OF HIS MOVEMENTS.

I believe all too often we don’t feel like God is near. Not because He isn’t but because He is but we haven’t noticed. We walk about our day oblivious to how He is speaking and moving. The greatest way we can press in to Him is to simply invite Him into every detail.

Develop a habit of speaking to Him throughout your day. Pray before you go into a meeting, before you send that email, before you pick up your phone, before you begin homeschooling your children.

Whenever we are out for a drive I kind of zone out. I am not very good at keeping myself aware of what is going on around me. It drives Steve crazy! He is totally different to me. He is always on the lookout for what interesting thing might be happening along our path. He is constantly saying, “LOOK, aw you missed it, oh my goodness, did you see that, no you missed it”.

I have, time and time again, missed what could have been special or significant moments because I have not been aware of anything outside of my immediate surroundings.

We need to ask God for an awareness of the moments in our day that could become special and significant. Ask for an awareness of His movements so you don’t miss what God might be trying to do in you.

INVITE THE SUPERNATURAL TO YOUR NATURAL.

I believe that any life change at the core of our being only comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in us. He is our comforter, our guide and our intercessor. It is the Holy Spirit that brings revelation and opens our eyes to God at work.

The truth of it is we need more than just what comes naturally if we are going to get through this season with gold. We need the supernatural. We need Holy Spirit power.

If you speak in tongues can I encourage you to, every day, speak in your heavenly language. Tongues bypasses our brain, speaks spirit to spirit and it edifies our spirit. If you want to grow the things of the spirit in you, you need to exercise the gift of tongues.

Pressing in is about doing all that you can to draw near to God. It means trading natural, earthly things, for supernatural, heavenly things. It means going more regularly into that ‘secret place’ and letting refinement take place.

It means digging wells, new wells, deeper wells. That we might discover wells of living water, mines full of gold, fields overflowing with grain, vineyards bursting with new wine and groves brimming with fresh oil.

Now, stay at home and live like you believe it.

I can’t think of a better time than now to seek after the peace of God. I sit writing this post at my dining table surrounded by my two children who are now doing school work from home as we begin day one of a four-week lockdown due to Covid-19. A position I never would have imagined being in.

I am a person of faith and I believe in a God who through His presence, brings peace in any circumstance. But even for me, this season has brought with it anxiety and worry. I have popped out to The Warehouse a couple of times over the last few days to buy a few supplies to keep the kids entertained and I must admit, the masks, gloves, store restrictions, and people dodging had me wanting to run home, douse myself in hand sanitiser and never leave the house again!!!

My youngest son will sometimes come into our room saying that he’s afraid because he heard a noise, saw a shadow or had a bad dream. As parents we go in and we adjust all the things to make a more comfortable and peaceful environment for our little one don’t we? We open the door, or close the door. We put a night-light on. We show them inside the cupboard, out the window, under the bed – to let them know there are no monsters there. We show them and remind them of where Mummy and Daddy are just in case they need us. And if you are my husband, you show them the baseball bat that we have under the bed!!!

Can you remember being afraid of monsters under the bed? Convinced that something was under there? Remember how that conviction changed the way you got into your bed? You would switch off your light and then run and leap as far from the bed as you could so you were at no risk of being caught as you climbed in. And while you lie in bed, you don’t dare let a limb dangle free – because of course you might be grabbed at an opportune moment.

As kids, we would adjust how we did things in order to accommodate the monsters under the bed and in the closet.

I think we have never grown out of this habit as adults. I think that too often we adjust our living to accommodate our fears. We are panic buying food, stockpiling toilet paper, isolating ourselves beyond just physical isolation.

What we need is not an accommodation of fear but an invitation of peace.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9  (NLT)

1. PEACE IS AN ANCHOR.

Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. Matthew 8:23-24 (NLT)

There are going to be seasons in your life when a suddenly will come – it’s going to hit you out of no where, it’s going to feel like a storm. It wont be what you ordered and it certainly isn’t what you prayed for, but it’s coming all the same.

But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Matthew 8: 24 – 25 (NLT)

It’s a frustrating moment when you know you have the creator of the earth and seas on your side, and yet it seems like he’s sleeping through your storm. Like, does he even care? Does he even notice?

 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” Matthew 8: 26 – 27 (NLT)

I think we could all be honest today and say that as wives, we often complain about our husbands don’t we? (Or maybe I’m the only imperfect wife?) We want the big gestures, the flowers, the chocolates, the poetry. We are so fixated on those things that we fail to see all of the little ways that he actually shows he cares – helping with the kids, doing the dishes, hanging the washing, taking the kids out to give you five minutes of alone time.

Often when we are in a storm, what we want from Jesus is the big gesture. We want the grand response. We want the over-the-top miracle, the immediate answer. We want another ‘suddenly to match the sudden storm that came our way. But more often what he actually gives us is peace in the storm.

His peace acts as our anchor that stops drift. Peace is the anchor that keeps us grounded.

Let me explain it this way: God has set you on a path. Jesus and the disciples were on the boat and they were going somewhere. God has you going somewhere. Storms will come, and a storm has the capacity and tendency to throw you off course and prevent you from getting to where God sent you out toward in the first place. But the peace of Christ turns up like an anchor. It is that peace that will keep you steadfast and immovable. It will ground you and prevent you from drifting from the plans God has for you.

On the other side of that storm was a town who needed Jesus. When they got to the other side two demon possessed men were healed and they went on to tell everyone about it.

On the other side of your storm is a God-ordained purpose and calling – let the peace of God ground you so you don’t miss it!

2. PEACE IS A COMPASS.

I have a terrible sense of direction. You know how there are some people who can follow their nose? Well my nose is broke! So, I don’t care what anyone says, I thank Jesus every day for GPS and Google Maps! Because for a person who struggles to get to where they know they need to be, anything that directs them is going to provide an enormous amount of peace.

When it comes to setting direction in our lives and moving toward the path God has for us, peace is one of the most common ways that God speaks to us.

Peace guides us, directs us, and so often confirms God’s purposes for us.

I can think of so many occasions in my life when I experienced the peace of God when it came to decision making. In situations when it should have felt big, overwhelming and out of my league. In times when I should have felt fearful, worried and anxious. I didn’t have any of those feelings, I simply had peace and because I had peace I knew I had made the right decision.

So often the answer to your question, “Should I?” or “Shouldn’t I?” is found in the absence or presence of peace.

3. PEACE IS A REFUGE.

I think you may have read about my husband, Steve, walking the 100km Oxfam walk before. Well, along the way there were refuge stations. Planned pit stops. At every stop they had a support crew, who knew them, had food and supplies for them. They had a seat for them, clean socks for them, new shoes for them, warm, dry clothes for them.

These stops became invaluable along the way, because there were moments on this 100km walk where they were walking in the pitch black, there were moments when they were walking in the dead of the night. There were moments when they were walking through forest, trudging through water and up mountains. It was gruelling and painful and anything but peaceful.

In moments like that when they were hungry, thirsty, tired and in pain, the thought of someone who cared about them waiting at a stop with a seat and food and new socks was what literally kept them going. Their peace was in the knowledge that there was a refuge for them just around the next corner.

So often, when we are in a storm in life, our tendency is to give up rather then head for the refuge. And the peace that God has for you is a place of refuge. In his peace you can stop and take a breath. You can sit and wait a while. It is in his peace where you can feel shade from the sun, shelter from the wind and water in the dry land.

When my oldest son Judah was one year old he was rushed into the Intensive Care Unit of Starship Children’s Hospital with a condition that was very rare. It was an abnormality in his bowel that presented itself with a large and sudden bleed. He lost a lot of blood and had to undergo an emergency blood transfusion and surgery to remove the abnormality. He recovered quickly and completely but I have to admit, it was a week I will never forget.

So many people said to me then (and now), “Wow, that must have been terrifying?” I can remember having to think about my answer because the obvious answer should have been “yes it was, it was petrifying”, but that wasn’t my experience – because even in the terrifying, all I felt was peace.

I don’t know what is happening in your world right now, and I don’t know what the obvious emotional response “should” be, whether it’s fear, worry, pain, grief, panic, anxiety, confusion, disappointment, I don’t know – but can I remind you that God has got a peace for you that surpasses all human understanding. In other words, when the world is telling you that you should worry, you can instead have peace. When the world is telling you you should be afraid, you can instead have peace. When the world is telling you you should panic and be fearful…instead God has a peace that will anchor you, guide you and be a refuge for you.

My prayer for you during this season is that you would experience an overwhelming sense of peace.

Now, stay at home – but live like you believe it!

The Israelites – God’s people living in slavery in the land of Egypt under the iron rule of Pharaoh. Until God speaks to Moses, an Israelite who grew up as an Egyptian Prince, and asks him to lead the campaign for Israel’s freedom. Moses asks Pharaoh to let his people go and when Pharaoh refuses God sends 10 plagues to sweep through the land.

  1. TURNING THE NILE INTO BLOOD.
  2. THE PLAGUE OF FROGS
  3. THE PLAGUE OF GNATS
  4. SWARMS OF FLIES
  5. DEATH OF LIVESTOCK
  6. THE PLAGUE OF BOILS
  7. THE PLAGUE OF HAIL
  8. THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS
  9. THE PLAGUE OF DARKNESS
  10. THE DEATH OF THE FIRST BORN

Now, I have learnt something interesting about these plagues: For every plague that was inflicted upon the people, Pharaoh and the land, there was an Egyptian god associated with it.

  1. there were Egyptian gods known as the guardian of the river source, the spirit of the Nile and for the god of Oasis the Nile was believed to be in his blood stream
  2. there was a frog goddess of Egypt and a god of fertility
  3. there was a god of the earth
  4. the fly god of Egypt
  5. gods associated with bulls and cows
  6. goddess of epidemic and healing
  7. the sky goddess, agricultural goddess and a god of the atmosphere
  8. a deity protector from locusts
  9. sun gods
  10. and lastly, Pharaoh himself.

For every plague Almighty God – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Israelites – was showing that He is the God above all other gods.

“I execute judgements against all the gods of Egypt”. Exodus 12:12 (CSB)

When God led the Israelites out of slavery He was giving them more than just their physical freedom. He was setting them free from every power and authority of oppression and slavery – both from things that they could see with their physical eyes and from things that they didn’t even know they needed to be set free from.

I want to remind you today that you serve a God who wants to set you completely free.

And he wants to set you free from things you know you need freedom from and from things you are not even aware are holding you captive. His freedom for you goes so much deeper than just the promise of eternal life and salvation. He came to set you completely free.

“For freedom, Christ sets us free.” Galatians 5: 1 (CSB)

The Israelites didn’t realise their complete freedom. Once they had escaped Pharaoh they went on to develop a habit of continually grumbling and complaining. At every hurdle and every obstacle we see that their response is usually the same.

On the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt, the whole company of Israel moved on from Elim to the Wilderness of Sin which is between Elim and Sinai. The whole company of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron there in the wilderness. The Israelites said, “Why didn’t God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat? You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel!” Exodus 16: 1 – 3 (MSG)

The Israelites were physically free but they were still bound by their slave mentality. They were physically free from captivity and yet they were still held captive in their thinking. They were no longer slaves and yet they still thought like they were slaves instead of like they were beloved children of the Most High God.

The Israelites were like a bird whose wings had been clipped and caged. They had been freed from the cage but were still not free enough to fly.

I think many of us live like the Israelites, we are free, but only to a certain extent. We can be physically free from a past relationship but still plagued by bitterness and resentment. We can be free from our old life of sin but still held captive by shame or condemnation. We can be physically free from any danger and yet we can still be imprisoned and paralysed in our minds by fear, worry and anxiety.

We might be free but are we completely free?

What is it in your life that still holds you captive? What mindsets are you allowing to play ruler in your life that Christ has actually already set you free from?

“For freedom, Christ sets us free. Stand firm and don’t submit again to the yolk of slavery”. Galatians 5:1

What is Paul, the writer of this letter to the Galatian church saying? In chapters four and five we read as he urges them to not get caught back up in the slavery mindset that God has already freed them from. Don’t get caught up in the religious thinking and in the law that once bound you. He’s saying: You are free! Don’t enslave yourselves again!

So how do you live completely free?

 Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be  in the likeness of his resurrection.  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin  might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin. Romans 6:4-7 (CSB)

How do we have complete freedom? We walk in the newness of life. We can do that in a few ways. I want to give you three of them today.

Keys to complete freedom:

1. Establish a new way of thinking.

A little later on in Exodus 32 we read the account of when Moses was on Mount Sinai and God was communing with Moses and inscribing with his very finger the two tablets. Meanwhile Israel was building a golden calf to worship. Listen to what they say:

They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” Exodus 32:8 (CSB)

When you don’t understand your complete freedom, your past will try and tell you that your prison was actually your place of freedom. The enemy will speak lies to you about the brokenness that was in that place, Oh it wasn’t so bad was it…Isn’t it better than where you are now?

For every prison still holding you captive there is a lie you have believed that has kept you thinking like a slave instead of a Child of God.

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 (CSB)

Establishing a new way of thinking allows us to discern the barrage of thoughts that assault us daily. Have a renewed mind, Romans says, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.

The NIV translation says, when you renew your mind you can test and approve. You don’t have to allow every thought access to your life. In fact, this passage states clearly that we are to test and approve anything trying to gain access to our thinking.

I love airports and I love travel. I even love watching those airport shows, you know the customs ones? It always astounds me what people try and bring into the country.

I must admit though, I am thankful. I am thankful that we live in a nation that wants to protect us from nasty bugs, drugs and baddies. I am thankful for airport security and our shipping ports that test and approve anything and anyone entering our country. I’m thankful that they don’t just let anything and anyone in.

I wonder what might change if we were to use the same strategy with our thinking? When a thought enters could we begin asking questions? Do you have anything to declare? What is your purpose here and how long do you intend to stay?

Is there a lie I am believing? Is this thought here to bring me down or lift me up? Is this thought contrary to the word of God?

Test it. Discern it’s purpose before you give it approval to enter your mind.

Being completely free means you have to train yourself to think a new way.

Your freedom begins in your mind before it can take place anywhere else.

2. Teach yourself a new language.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken. ”Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 2 Corinthians 4:13 (NIV)

Complete freedom requires a language of faith.

When we are born again, as a child of God, when we enter Gods family we actually have to learn a new language. A language of faith says, while I may not see it, I am going to speak it. It is a language of hope and expectation.

We have all experienced the power that words can have over our lives. Words spoken by others over us, but just as important are the words you speak over yourself. What words are you saying about your marriage? About your family? About your business? About your financial situation? About yourself?

Your words have the power to frame your world.

3. Begin making different decisions.

You can change your thinking, and you can change your language but if you are still making the same debilitating decisions then you are still not free.

Making different decisions begins by changing your first response. Much of our lives are actually built on the patterns of behaviour that we begin developing from a very young age. These patterns of behaviour are what will end up guiding our decisions as we grow into adulthood.

Where the Israelites’ first response was to grumble and complain they needed to change their pattern of behaviour and instead of grumble and complain, turn to God for help, for provision and for the fulfilment of their need.

There is a quote that says,

Live less out of habit and more out of intent.

If your habits lead you toward decisions that continue to imprison you, can I encourage you to begin living your life with intent. Nothing left to chance. Mindful of your actions, your decisions, your responses and the habits that are out to trip you up.

If you want to begin making different decisions you need to begin creating some different intentional habits in your life.

I am going to remind you of the very thought I started this post with; we serve a God who wants to set you completely free. Not partial freedom or once in a while freedom – complete freedom!

Now, go out there and live like you believe it.

There was a man named Elkanah who lived in Ramah in the region of Zuph in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, of Ephraim. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas.  On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion  because the Lord had given her no children.  So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children.  Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat. 1 Samuel 1:1-2 (NLT)

I think it’s safe to say that Hannah had problems right? To be honest I think Elkanah had a problem or two of his own with those two wives but that’s another conversation.

Hannah had problems. She was childless, which in her culture was a big problem to have because children were a sign of God’s blessings toward you. She also had a rival who continually reminded her of everything she didn’t have. She was taunted, provoked and reduced to tears. And just to rub it in, in our very introduction to Hannah, she is defined by her problems. She was not defined by what she had or could do, or by the kind of person she was. She was defined by what she didn’t have and couldn’t do – she was defined by her lack.

Have you ever had a problem? A taunting, provoking problem?

I think we would all agree that on a daily basis we face problems. Rich or poor, good looking or not, short or tall, single or married, qualified or unqualified, employed or unemployed. None of us can escape problems. Even the person who causes you problems has problems. The person who you look at and think “I’d love their life”, guess what? They have problems too. Everybody has problems.

The question I want to ask today is, where do we go with our problems?

What I love in our story is that Elkanah built a particular habit into his family’s way of life. He was the habit of going to Shiloh a certain number of times a year. Shiloh means “place of rest”. Elkanah built such a habit in his family that in Hannah’s time of striving, pain, conflict and turmoil she had somewhere to go – she had somewhere to take her pain, her problems, her turmoil and her brokenness and receive rest and peace.

It is so important that we build the right habits into our lives. Because when our problems threaten us, taunt us and provoke us we will have somewhere to go and take our problems. What habits are you building now that will be your place of peace in the midst of your problems?

Are you building a habit in the Word? Are you building a habit of prayer? Are you building a habit of worship? Are you building a habit of getting to church – even when you don’t feel like it? Are you building a habit of offering? Giving? Sacrifice? Elkanah built a habit.

So what did Hannah do with her problem?

Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.  And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” 1 Samuel 1: 9-11 (NLT)

1. Hannah gave her problem purpose.

In fact, Hannah turned her problem into her purpose. Hannah came to God saying, “Lord – I have a problem but I don’t want it to simply remain a problem, I want purpose to be born out of this problem”. From a position of brokenness and desperation Hannah was determined to give birth to purpose in a way that would glorify God!

Your problem serves a purpose.

Often when we have a problem we try and pray it away and we try and get God to take it away instead of realising that perhaps there is a greater purpose at work amidst the problem. Perhaps through the problem God might be trying to produce something in you that would, in time, give glory to him.

What is God trying to birth in you through the problem? What character is he trying to build? What story does he want you to tell? What does he want to teach you about himself?

“Give me a son, and I will give him back to you”. I have a problem, but may it have purpose.

2. Hannah took her problem into the presence.

While she continued praying in the Lord’s presence… 1 Samuel 1: 12 (CSB)

Let’s be honest, we love to talk about our problems right? We talk to our friends, our husbands or partner, our work colleague. We talk to the pastor, the doctor, the naturopath and the receptionist. We talk to our neighbour, the dog, we even tell the Uber driver about the problem but we fail to go to the one who can actually bring peace, rest, purpose and promise to our problem.

We too often take our problems to enablers – because it feels good to have our problems confirmed and justified.

We go to the enablers instead of going to the God who is able.

Hannah didn’t lash back at Peninnah and she didn’t whine to Elkanah. She took her problem and she went into the presence of God and she prayed.

Steven Furtick: “The presence of God will not fix your problems but it will clarify your perspective”.

While she continued praying in the Lord’s presence, Eli watched her mouth.  Hannah was praying silently, and though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk  and said to her, “How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!” “No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the Lord.  Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.”  Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request you’ve made of him.” “May your servant find favor with you,” she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer looked despondent. The next morning Elkanah and Hannah got up early to worship before the Lord. Afterward, they returned home to Ramah. Then Elkanah was intimate with his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her.  After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, because she said, “I requested him from the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:12-20 (CSB)

I love that Samuel’s name means “Asked of God”. Designed to continually act as a reminder of God’s favour to her in answering her prayers. Upon every mention of his name – it gives God the glory!

The story goes on to tell us that Hannah waited until Samuel was weaned from her (we can’t be sure at what age but commentaries place him to be at about pre-school age somewhere between two and five). She then takes Samuel back to the place of her desperation and she dedicates him back to the Lord. She gave him back!

 “Please, my lord,” she said, “as surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord.  I prayed for this boy, and since the Lord gave me what I asked him for,  I now give the boy to the Lord. For as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” Then he worshiped the Lord there. 1 Samuel 1:26 – 28 (CSB)

It’s one thing to have faith and believe for an answer and receive it. It is another thing to receive what you have been believing for and then let it go again, giving it back to God.

Luke Brough: “The true test of faith is not in the praying, believing and receiving of what you are asking for. The true test of faith is, can you give it back to God?”

You might be asking for a job, but are you willing to tithe? You might be asking for a home, but would you be willing to make a commitment to build God’s house? You might be asking for purpose but will you go wherever God sends you?

So often we make promises in our desperation that we forget about once we have our answer. The question is, when God delivers on his side of the bargain can we honour our commitment? Can we give it all back to God and still have faith and believe that God is good?

The beautiful part about this story is that we know from 1 Samuel 2:21 that God gave Hannah five more children after Samuel. Because you can’t out-give the God of Heaven’s Armies.

Now, go out there and live like you believe it.

Before there was Sunday, there was Friday.

Do you remember what it was like growing up as a child in those pre and early school years? For most children life starts out pretty optimistic. They have a positive view of the world. Kids are full of hope and big dreams. They are going to be a princess or a superhero, a professional football player or a policeman! They walk around most of the time, believing that “everyone loves me and anything is possible!”. And why wouldn’t they?

Our eldest son, Judah, has always been super optimistic about the world around him. He sees the best in everything and everyone. He lived, for most of his early years, in his imagination. He believed he had laser eyes and could fly – like he really believed he could!

With that in mind, Judah loved the Narnia movies. After watching The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe we had to have many sword fights where the loser would be brought back to life by using the “Healing Cordial” that Lucy gets given by Father Christmas. Just a little drop and away we go! The fight continues.

Well, one day, when I was hugely pregnant with our second boy, Rocky, we discovered a mouse in our house. Now this mouse used to give me nightmares and Steve was instructed to get rid of it any which way he could. But we just could not catch this mouse. So we had to resort to the tried and true snap and trap, old school mouse trap. Well it only took a day or two and Steve entered the garage to see poor little mousy was no more. However, before he could close the garage door and discretely dispose of him, Judah walks in behind him to see the mouse.

You should have seen the look on his face. Then with child-like faith he says, “But we will just give him healing cordial aye?” And there it was, the conversation we knew we would one day have to have. The one where we explain to him that healing cordial wasn’t going to work this time.

Let’s be honest, we all face moments like this.

It’s as though we have gone round the back of Disneyland and seen Mickey with his head off, having an argument with Donald.

It’s the moments in life that threatened to rock our faith. It’s the moments when our childhood faith is tested by real life adult happenings. It’s the moments when we begin to question things, when we no longer have all the answers and uncertainty creeps in.

It’s those moments where we feel like giving up, like we are just not sure how we are going to get through. We don’t see the light at the end and right now the pain we feel seems like too much to bear.

Have you ever had those kinds of moments? When you literally shake your fist at the heavens and scream “WHY? WHY GOD WHY?”

On Good Friday I am often drawn to think about the disciples. Because I think that Friday would have been one of those moments for them.

I think that even though he told them this would happen and even though they knew the prophesies, I don’t think anything could have prepared them for their loss.

He was their Saviour, He was their Healer, their Redeemer, their Leader, their Teacher. He was their friend. And on that Friday their pain, discouragement, disappointment and grief would have been overwhelming.

And then they faced Saturday, where I am sure all of their doubts and all of their questions and all of their uncertainties would have been surfacing and wrestling for attention.

On that Saturday, they didn’t have the benefit of hindsight that we have today. We have read the end of the story, we know the punchline, we know that in two days, Sunday is coming.

But sometimes, the Fridays and the Saturdays in our lives can become so all consuming and so overwhelming that Sunday just seems too far off.

And so the question is, where is God in my Friday or my Saturday?

Three things I hope will be helpful to you:

1. God is at work in you.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4

It is in the most difficult seasons of my life that I have built the most strength, patience, character and resilience.

God is always more interested in your character than your comfort because he knows that the Fridays and the Saturdays in our lives build character in you that the comfort-zone never could.

Your BEING will always trump your DOING because God is more interested in the process than the progress.

2. God is at work for you.

We recently bumped into a lady that my husband’s family knew many years ago. She began asking Steve what he was up to now and he went on to tell her that he was now leading a large and growing church in our area. She was absolutely blown away, and said: “I can’t believe that you were one of the little baby twins that I used to pray over every week”.

You see, Steve is a twin, and one day his mum was at the supermarket and was having a really tough day. A lady, also just at the supermarket, approached her and said, “Excuse me, but you look like you could do with some help”. She introduced herself and offered her time. So from that day on she would come over every week and just help. She would do laundry and groceries and cooking and nappy changing. And she would pray…over the two little boys who lay sleeping in their cots. Little did she know the journey that would take them on.

After our recent encounter with her I said to Steve that what amazes me about his story was that even though he found faith at 18 years old, God was never absent from his life. From the time he was a baby through his primary and high school years, there were moments like this one where you can clearly see God at work in the background. Strategically orchestrating moments and encounters which have all culminated in making him who he is today.

I don’t know how absent you feel God is in your circumstance but can I reassure you, He is working in the background, behind the scenes to orchestrate moments and encounters that will one day be revealed to you.

3. God is at work through you.

It is your biggest mess that becomes your greatest message.

When the trial becomes the triumph it is less about the circumstance and more about the God who overcame in the circumstance.

There is a passage about another dead man in the bible, named Lazarus. When Lazarus first became ill, his sisters Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus – “the one you love is sick”. But Jesus didn’t come, Lazarus died, and it wasn’t until four days later that Jesus showed up. (Ever felt like Jesus is a little slow on the uptake?)

Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,[c] and he was deeply troubled. 3“Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 3But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 4And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” John 11: 30-44

What I have learnt about going through difficult journeys is that God doesn’t want us to travel them alone. He actually wants us to take others on the journey, that they too may see the miracle.

Sometimes, God asks that we just wait a little longer for our miracle, for our answer, for our resolution. That we might share the journey with someone else. That someone else might see the miracle. That others would see his power working through you.

You can be assured that no matter the circumstance, God is always at work.

Now, go out there and live like you believe it!