Philippians ch.3 v 12. says this "Not that I have already obtained all this,or have already been made perfect,but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."
You are invited to journey with me,to spend some time with me,to share with me,to laugh with me,to cry with me.
My aim in this blog is to lay aside my mask and just be ME,looking at different aspects of life,being honest,being vulnerable,in the hope that you will be encouraged to join me on the journey!
Today at our amazing new Kerith Multi Site meeting we sang a song with the chorus..
GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS ..NEVER GIVES UP..NEVER RUNS OUT ON ME
If you have been following my blog....or know me well...you may know that most of 2013 has been a messy ..painful...confusing time ..not just in my own life.... but in our family and friends lives too. The one thing keeping me going is the truth that God loves me....loves me enough to give up Jesus to the cross...enough to resurrect him from the grave and to give to me...completely free...the Comforter...His spirit living within me ....holding me up...keeping my feet on the rock...keeping my eyes lifted up...keeping my heart beating to the sound of all heaven worship-ing his son Jesus.
When I got home I was looking for something in a drawer...and I found a piece of paper...I had forgotten existed. Many years ago ( 17 years ) the "old "style of women's ministry used to meet once a term for an evening of worship and word and Val Cottee who led the team at that time had asked me to be a part of the evening. I usually feel very honoured to be asked to be a part of leading women into Gods presence but this particular time Val asked me to write and bring a poem
. Yes....apoem .Val had been praying about the evening and felt very strongly that God wanted her to ask me to write a poem There was no guideline...no topic...no theme ...no scripture....Val encouraged me to seek God and go for it.
Now to put this into perspective I love writing ....anything....letters...cards....emails...texts ...blogs...Fbook and lists..lots of lovely lists for everything you can imagine...shopping lists..things to do lists..things for others to do lists...things to pack for holidays lists.. and probably somewhere in one of my drawers there may even be a "list of lists ".BUT I have never...ever...ever written a poem...not even a ditty.or a limerick or even a two line rhyme so I kinda got a little teensy bit nervous.
I had about two weeks to prepare and you gotta bless Val she didn't even want to vet it..correct it..mentor it..she just trusted that God had told her and that was enough for her to trust that I would bring to the women's ministry evening what He wanted to bring. As I prayed about what on earth I should write about God laid on my heart the word.. REFLECTIONS and the poem began to shape itself almost without my having to work too hard at it ( hint for future...this is when you know that whatever has been asked of you that its from God )
The poem ended up being a look back at the year I had lived through which was 1997 and as with 2013 it had been a very very tough year for me personally and for the family and friends ( sound familiar ? ) and if anyone asked me tomorrow if I would write a poem based on the word REFLECTIONS a lot of what I wrote 17 years ago would be repeated . The circumstances would be obviously be very different but the main theme running through this 17 year old poem is very simply
GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS..NEVER GIVES UP...NEVER GIVES UP ON ME
My amazing husband has told me he can find the poem....he yacks on about files and folders and cutting and pasting and yes it will appear on the blog.. So I am trusting in God that this is true (!) and that at some point in next couple of days I will share with you my one and only poem...immortalised forever ...in some hard drive..or usb thingy or even something called a dongle ?? Stay tuned and understand I am not boasting about my ability to write poetry...I am simply and humbly reminding myself that hard times like 1997 and 2013 make no difference to the truth that
GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS ..NEVER GIVES UP..NEVER RUNS OUT ON ME
As a church we are so blessed to be able to take time out and head off to what we call FOURTEEN...this is basically a day set aside in an amazing setting and after an introduction talk you can settle anywhere in the house or garden for up to 5 hours of silence ...broken only by a lunch laid out for us.I have been on probably 6 of these days over the last two years or so and look forward to the dates coming out and planning ahead and anticipating that I will feel rested...refreshed...restored and sometimes I even meet with God !
There is no pressure to be "spiritual" ....no pressure to "hear from God "....no pressure to "share amazing visions "....in fact there is just NO PRESSURE...Sometimes I look around and I see women snoozing....knitting...walking in the garden...sitting staring into space ....and sometimes I look around and see women reading the bible...writing journals....or plugged into their music. I have to be very honest and say that I take a bag full of "stuff " and often the stuff just remains in the bag but I do also plunge right in and get on with the stuff too....There is no pressure to do anything other than BE and I love it....just " being " is a new concept in my world and its one I am embracing with wide open arms and a heart that is beating to this new rhythm rather that the loud discordant beat of " doing ".
I have developed a sort of routine for " being " when I go on retreat days....it consists of picking up a cuppa and a choccie thing....making myself very comfy in my chosen armchair and reading at least two of the magazines that are laid out on the resource table...great reading and I just indulge myself in this with my feet up and enjoy a leisurely hour. Then I get sort of .....oooo I should do something now...this time I wrote some letters...and cards...I am a list person and a writer of letters and I usually have at least 4-5 that I want to get written every week. I was very pleased that in the next hour I managed to get 7 cards/letters written . Its just "stuff " but I felt good that the stuff in the bag got at least an hours attention from me.
It was then lunch time. Here I have a confession.....after the very first retreat where I joined the rest of the women and chatted and shared food together ....I decided that I wouldn't eat with the others and that I would take my lunch with me to my armchair and munch on my own....you see ..there is no pressure to mix with others...they don't think I am rude ....I feel quite free to do this and it keeps my mind fixed on just " being ". I don't have to make conversation ...I don't need to exchange news ..or views ..or opinions....I find that it keeps my day flowing with no interruption. Then my routine ...as is a lot of folk ..anywhere...is to have a wee snoozette after lunch. Lovely warm home...comfy armchair...feet up...full tummy....no phone...doorbell...conversation...just a chance to " be ".
When I said at the beginning there is no pressure to be spiritual or to hear from God I rarely come away from the retreat without a sense of his presence and I wrote a blog entry a few months ago sharing about the armchair on the landing which had a really old Dolls House sitting right beside it and how I had one of those rare and special moments when God "whispers" and you know you have to listen up and lean into Gods heart .Today after my snoozette I decided just to focus on the view outside my window. The gardens are truly amazing but as I am no gardener and really have no interest or knowledge in plants or trees I do enjoy just letting my eyes wander and then settle onto one area or one thing and just as a few months ago God put the Dolls House in front of my eyes ...this time He put a garden table in front of my eyes . Literally right in front of my eyes ! Where I was sitting was directly facing the patio where there was a large wooden garden table ...
As it is fast approaching winter months I guess that all the chairs and sunshine parasol had all been put inside so it was just this solitary table...it was a fair size and I would reckon you could get at least ten folk around it or more if you all squeezed up. Knowing the family and the setting I also guess that it has been well used for many seasons ......for gatherings large and small and for different occasions ..eg Sunday lunch..birthdays...visitors...or just a general sit down and rest up kind of day. As I continued to "look" at the table I felt one of those " whispers" from God that I knew I just had to allow him to reveal something personal to me about this table. It felt very similar to the "whisper " I felt some time ago with the Dolls House moment and I was more than ready to listen up.
As I continued to look at the table I realised it was a fair age....it didn't seem to be one of those new ones all spruced up and well varnished. It looked as if it had seen a number of seasons. The wood was wet and this had warped some of the planks that made up the top of the table...from the angle I was sitting I couldn't really see the table top but judging by the bits I could see I reckon the top was less than perfect and probably had a fair amount of nicks and splintered bits too. I am no DIY person but it even seemed to me as if someone had actually built the table itself and laid the planks on top. The base was very sturdy and not at all like the flimsy posh wood ones we see in shops now and certainly not the plastic round ones that fall apart after two years. This was a very solid table and looking closely again I decided that the reason it was still there and not put inside with the chairs was maybe that it was very heavy to move or that it was too big to be stored anywhere or simply that it may still be of use even as autumn and winter approached. It stood there quite alone without any chairs around it ....no bright and cheerful table covering....no bowl of fruit...no vase of flowers ..no plates of food .. and it was "outside "with no one nearby....looking a bit damp and weathered and unused yet still standing firm on a solid base ..almost waiting for a new season to begin and I began to hear the whisper from God.
I felt God was saying I was a bit like this table...alone...bit damp (!) ..bit worn... bit splintered. ....not being used....no one sitting nearby or around me....not even a chair to offer anyone to sit with me..anyone coming near would just have to stand and therfor not stick around for a long time....nor was there a sun parasol for them to rest under . I had nothing to put on this table...no bright and cheerful covering..no food and nothing beautiful like flowers or plants. This season of my life feels a little bit like this..okay be honest Irene...it has felt a lot like this !! But then I heard another whisper from God and this is really all that I wanted to share..... that like the seemingly old and battered looking table looked abandoned and alone at the moment... I too feel like this garden table.....
Then God whispered to me... just wait till the sun comes again...wait till the warm weather starts again...wait till the time for sitting in the sunshine comes again...wait till the chairs are laid out...wait till I get a new and bright table covering...wait till flowers bloom again...wait till the clouds give way to an endless blue rainbow filled sky...wait till the voices of children shout across the table....wait till the chairs are filled with friends who come to sit with me ....wait till those days arrive again...to share life together ...shelter under the parasol or kick back with their feet propped up on the table top. This table ( me ) may look alone and abandoned but God says quite clearly...look at the base..look at the structure ..how strong and sturdy it was ..no one on their own will be able to move it ..it was stable and sited exactly where God wanted it to be .....right in the front of peoples view and ready at a moments notice to be used as and when this dry and thirsty season ends and a new and fresh day is dawning.
So here I am sitting and waiting and just "being"..I am not abandoned..not unused... not alone...not unwanted...I am just in that season where I need to be able to rest and be assured that the foundations ..like the base the table is built on ...will never be shaken and I am just going to "wait "