Friday, 27 December 2013

"Though You Slay Me" (featuring John Piper)

Though You Slay Me. 2013 in Review.

Its 9pm. The blue sky is ebbing away to the dusk that creeps over. I glance out the window to see the hints of pink and tinges of gold on the airbrushed cloud cover. There is a sword shape in the centre of the clouds and the very sight of it, ministers to me peace.
I cannot help but reflect on 2013 staring at the setting sun, and know in my heart, that its like a symbolic picture of my year, of our year.

As I bowed my knee, late one night, in the darkness of the lounge on the 1st of January this year, I had a prayer on my heart. I prayed for God to move us, to shake us, to let us know Him in a way such that we had never known Him before.

Did He do that? Oh all and more. I could go into hours about the circumstancial evidence of Him there, the highs and lows, the moments that took my breath away, the moments that tears poured down my cheeks. There were many of both. And in the midst of it, God had our attention. What began in our home, was revival.

Bit by bit, day by day, God began to strip through the things that held us back from Him. The areas of our lives where His best, was not ours for the knowing. The parts of our lives where sin held us from His presence, where security upon earthly things, needed to be surrendered.

Sam and I began praying like we never had before. The Word of God became something we looked to as a means to walk through each day with wisdom. What we really discovered, was how utterly nothing we are, without Him. And how worthy He is, of our all.

Ive had many nights where I have woken in the wee hours of the morning, with a burden to just cry out to Him, because I knew my heart needed Him, more than sleep.
Ive woken many mornings, to find Sam up and gone to work ahead of me, his open Bible showing me the meditation of his day, and how many times, a verse has been sitting there with my name on it. Signed God.
Ive had moments where Ive reckoned with my deepest fears, and found that I could stare into the very face of them, and know God is greater.
And Ive had times when Ive realised how unworthy I am of His love, and fallen to my knees, receiving a love that demands my all.

And its been worth our Sam quotes "We wont be in heaven more than five minutes, when we will be wishing we had loved more, forgiven more, given more...".

For all the resolutions you could make for 2014, can I exhort you to make one, you wont regret for a moment: to allow His revival into your soul. Dare I say, though He may slay you, yet you will know what it is to live.

"My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I'll know every tear was worth it all"

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Psalm 37

"Wait for the Lord" Waiting for God is a revealing place. Its not a comfortable place. I like to assume to believe its a nice place of meandering about in peaceful valleys while God prepares to take me onto new ground. The truth is, its a place of tensile holding. Its a place of yielding. Its a place of stance ready, eyes fixed, ears attune anticipation of His voice giving your 'go' command. And often, on the lower plains of our perspective, that battle can seem far too imminent than is comfortable. The darts start coming, the strikes are firing out, and while were standing there, waiting for that command, things start falling. A shot lands centre upon my pride. OUCH. I whince and cry out "did you see that God?" "Yes" I look up at Him again for a little reassurance. I brace myself and another comes "whack". I let out a cry. I look up at His face again, feeling a small measure of distrust. "Fear of man, Fleur, its not going to hold" I grip my sword tighter and steady my gaze. I grit my teeth and growl through my clenched jaw. "Im ready now God, and theyre drawing near". "Wait". He says. I glance up to Him, reminding Him how much the battle has already cost me. How much there is at stake. How small I really am. He whispers to me "Come here". I scurry up the bank, eager to get further from the battle, eager to feel safe, and arrive tense and weary at His side. I want to plead and reason, but His face says it all. With a glistening twinkle of joy, He summons me to His side.. "take a peek from up here". I lie down beside His large frame and peer over the edge of the hilltop. From His perspective, the enemy doesnt seem so fearsome. In fact, what I see represents chaos. I look up to Him, confused. I remind Him "theyre still capable of much damage, even in that state!". He loving whispers "they cant touch you". I remind him of the parts of me which still feel raw and throbbing. "I never put them there". I stare at my broken pride, my selfishness, my fear of others.. it hurt to lose them, but I realise I feel lighter for it. And then a giggle in me rises up. I am sure that although I have no idea, how, that this battle is ours to win. I place my hand in His and grip tightly. With affection I stand and say "say when God, and I will charge". I look at my sword. I glance upon the handle and suddenly notice a word engraved across its handle. WORD OF GOD. How had I not noticed it? I start noticing the other parts of my armour and the words engraved there. RIGHTEOUSNESS. FAITH. TRUTH. GOSPEL OF PEACE. SALVATION. I whisper to Him "How Lord do I fight with these?". He whispers back... "speak my Word, stand in My name, believe upon My character, hear My voice, hold fast to My promises". I look back at the enemy before me. They are right at the banks edge and still my God has not even a flinch of terror upon His face. I watch them start to scurry up the hill and He gives me a nod. "NOW". I stand. My knees strengthen under my weight. My arms feel strong to bear the sword. My head lifts high and a voice, not familiar to me, a song, rises up from within me. "Worthy is the lamb". Suddenly the enemy starts scrambling. His defeat is evident. He retreats and scrambles, screaming and covering his ears "No no no, she believes it". And as fast as they seemed to draw before me, they are now gone, nothing is left upon the plain beneath me but a stir of dust where they dared to assemble and the broken pieces of my life, which needed to go. I look up at Him and smile, I want to shout a victory cry.. and then I notice a tear upon his cheek. It startles me to see it. Havent we won? I look down at where He looks. The settling dust reveals a few hurting people on the ground below. I hadnt noticed them there before and suddenly I am broken with Him. I run down to them and wrap my arms around them. They are innocent. They are broken. They are mistreated. They are helpless. "Why did I not see them before?", I cry to myself I look up at Jesus once more. The tenderness in His eyes bears upon me. I realise the battle had never been about me. It had never been for me. It had been for the lives of these. And I know, that to "wait for the Lord" means so much more than we might ever fully understand. He is our deliverer. He is our redeemer. He is our lamb. We march forward together. There are more battles to come, we know, but there is a land before that is ours, and its peg marked already 'Salvation'.

Monday, 9 December 2013

...and he was limping

I love the story of Jacob and how he wrestled with God. (Genesis 32) I love that he dared to wrestle with God. I love that even though wrenched in the hip, that he says to God “I will not let you go unless you bless me". And right there on the spot, he is blessed. His pain isnt taken away, his circumstances arent dramatically changed, God does something far deeper. He changes his name. From Jacob, Deciever, to Israel "Prevailed with God" or "Wrestles with God" or some versions say "God rules" He gets up and walks on... "and he was limping". Pain and brokenness are often a reminder of whose we are, and to whom we belong. I was reminded of the quote by Amy Carmichael "If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love". With every step Jacob took, a pain in his side, reminded him of his moment of reckoning with himself, and with God. Of the night in which the Lord blessed him. Might you and I have bumped into him, on that journey, limping and looking no doubt rough, I bet we might have judged him with thoughts such as: 'you got what you deserve' or 'life hasnt been good to you'. Yet Jacobs whole demeanor is changed. He walks in humility, he walks in truth and his heart cares only for what the Lord now thinks of him “Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.” Trials and struggles in life are to be expected. But Ive found, that the biggest trials arent in fact with other people, they are with myself and God. Yet in the midst of trial, when we are willing to hold onto God for dear life and say "I will not let you go until you bless me", we find that there is a promise, a grace, a strength, that is imparted to us. That grace does not make us swifter and greater, it takes us into humility. Dont rush to ask God to remove the pain in your life. Dont begrudge the limp. Dont press for God to remove the trial that yields His best in your life.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Calvary Love

Calvary Love by Amy Carmichael If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting "Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?" then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I find myself taking lapses for granted, "Oh, that's what they always do," "Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that," then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I do not feel far more for the grieved Savior than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, "Just what I expected" if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, "You do not understand," or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying "Peace, peace," where there is no peace; if I forget the poignant word "Let love be without dissimulation" and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have "a heart at leisure from itself," then I know nothing of Calvary love. If, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I crave hungrily to be used to show the way of liberty to a soul in bondage, instead of caring only that it be delivered; if I nurse my disappointment when I fail, instead of asking that to another the word of release may be given, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never crosses my mind, or if it does, is never given room there; if the cup of flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; if my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, if I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love. That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God. Amy Carmichael, "Calvary Love,"