Tag Archive | hope

‘Know Me’

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‘Know Me’

This morning I had a lie-in and while I was lying in bed I felt God reminding me of something I read recently in the book which accompanies the ‘Freedom in Christ’ course, and which I have been re-reading. I hadn’t realised before this morning that I had been believing deep down that God was demanding. I had tears in my eyes as I asked for forgiveness for believing this lie and joyfully grasped the truth that my Father God is accepting and filled with joy and love. My whole way of living, thinking, behaving, being, and relating to others hangs on this truth, if I am to become more like Jesus.

Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.’ (Romans 15 verse 7)

‘The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’ (Zephaniah 3 verse 17)

This chapter goes on to tell us a wonderful truth……

The sorrows for the appointed feasts
I will remove from you;
they are a burden and a reproach to you.
At that time I will deal with all
who oppressed you;
I will gather those who have been
scattered.
I will give them praise and honour
in every land  [area] where they were
put to shame.
At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honour and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes.’ declares the Lord.’
(Zephaniah 3 verse 17)

While I was lying in bed and this wonderful truth began to penetrate my mind, a word that God gave me during a Freedom in Christ course I helped with in Whitby last year came to mind. It was this…….’Know Me.’
I received this word at the time as an instruction, that I was to make the effort to get to know God more intimately. This morning, a light dawned. It wasn’t an instruction. It was a declaration! Just as God spoke and creation came into being, by the word He has spoken over me He will bring it to pass. It is something He is going to do in me. He will do it! When God speaks, things happen! He creates, He reveals, He restores, He renews, He heals, hallelujah! Now, all I want is to know, really know my Heavenly Father more and more intimately, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. I want to know, like a small child, that I am safe in His loving arms and that He will never let me go. He is drawing me close to Him. I need Him more than anything else, He is everything.

God wants me to relate to others from my safe place and He is drawing me to that safe place with Him. For quite a while now I have been suffering with anxiety, mild depression and constant tiredness, due I believe to the change. I haven’t felt like myself for some time, but what I have gone through has a purpose in God’s plan for me, that of enabling me to empathise with those I meet who believe what I have believed and who live in fear and anxiety. God will rescue you!

Prayer: Thank you Father so much, that nothing we go through is wasted, that you are able to use it all for your glory. Thank you with all my heart. Amen

God bless you,

Heather Joy x

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The Lavish Giver

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I love presents! I love Christmas and birthdays, and I especially love receiving presents that my children have made themselves. The love, care and time that has gone into their creation and the eager anticipation they feel of my reaction to receiving them is lovely and I appreciate and love them so much.

God is a perfect Father. He loves to lavish His gifts on His children but so often we miss them because we get caught up in the things of the world that so easily get our attention. But the gifts that come from God are for building up His body, the church, which has eternal value.

‘If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!’ (Matthew 7 v 11)

”Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’ (James 1 v 17)

I want people to see in me what is from God and not from me. Our Heavenly Father wants to give us ‘the treasures of darkness…riches stored in secret places’ …

Jesus longs for people to know how much He loves them…enough to die for them. Those of us who know that love should be showing it every day. We should decrease so He is increased. We should be a beacon shining His light in a dark world, then people will be drawn to Him.  Why aren’t people being drawn to Him? Because they can’t see Him! Because we are often so anxious to blend in and not stand out from the crowd. Are we embarrassed by Jesus? Are people not seeing Him in us because we are trying to keep Him shut away in Churches?

When we allow Jesus to be seen in us through the gifts He gives us then people will be drawn to Him. Paul the apostle talks about these gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 v 7 – 11. Paul also writes about the fruit that people should be seeing in those who love Jesus. This can be found in Galatians 5 v 22 -23.

‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ‘

God has lavished these gifts on us…they pour from His heart every day. His love, His peace, His joy, His faithfulness and gentleness. These should be flowing through us and out of us every day. The gifts Paul describes in 1 Corinthians are for the edification of the Church and for reaching out to those who don’t know Jesus. The fruit is what we should be producing because we are rooted in Jesus.

Watchman Nee in one of his daily readings describes how I want to be each day, and how I see myself. We need a contrite and humble heart daily. We have a sinful nature that can be stirred up at any moment. My ideas are undependable. I dare not trust myself and unless I am sustained by God I will fall. This is why I want people to see Jesus and not me. I have been bought at a huge price. I belong to Jesus and in Him is fulness of joy, peace and love. It is the best way to live!

‘The Lord will guide you always, He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.’ (Isaiah 58 v 11)

‘I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.’ (Philippians 3 v 12)

God bless x

“Is God Deaf?”

A strange title, you may think! But there have been times in my life when I did think God might have selective hearing!! And it always seemed to be during the most difficult times of my life when I was crying out to God that He seemed not to be listening.

Why is this? Is God really not listening to our cries for help? Or is it that we are so busy yelling at Him and questioning His promises and His faithfulness, that we are not willing, or even thinking about being still and just…listening. When Elijah hid in his cave, God did not speak in the earthquake, the fire, or the wind, though He was there in the midst of all that. God spoke in the stillness….though He is awesome and mighty and all powerful, His was a still small voice….and in order to hear that still small voice we need to ‘be still…and know that He is God’. He is in control. He loves you. He has your best interests at heart. He KNOWS what you are going through. He knows your pain. He has answers to all your questions.

Faith is quieting…faith is knowing. Faith is stillness in the midst of the storm. Faith is a gift from God. ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’

Be still….and be at peace, knowing God really is in control. It will be ok. Bless you.

NETS OF MERCY – CHAPTER TWELVE

‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.’  (Psalm 23)

‘I know your deepest desires.  I am working in ways you do not understand.  I am working all the time.  Slowly, the darkness in you is crumbling.  You asked me to remove your pride; this I am doing.  That is a part of the darkness that is crumbling away.  You will work for Me, I will work through you….You have had to go through these struggles; you have had to go through failure.  It is all part of the process of cleansing…..’

‘For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’  (Luke 18 v. 14)

‘My Word is like the snow and the rain that come down from the sky to water the earth.  They make the crops grow and provide seed for sowing and food to eat.  So also will be the Word that I speak – it will not fail to do what I plan for it; it will do everything I send it to do.’ (Isaiah 55 v. 10-11)

May 2010.  One morning I was sitting at my dining table having my quiet time, and my daily reading came from 1 Peter 2.  But I decided to read on.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the first verse of 1 Peter 3!

‘Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.’

This kind of submission is the kind Jesus had.  Not being a ‘doormat’, but an inner beauty, that of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  The reason I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that was that the day before the words ‘Won over without words’ had been in my mind.

I had noticed a change in me for a while.  I didn’t react like I used to.  I was calmer.  Things didn’t hurt like they did.  God was doing something wonderful in me.  I had realised that without God I could do nothing, that my old self had died and I was a new creation because of what Jesus did on the cross.  I wanted to live as Jesus did, holding on to His grace and mercy.

That morning I went for my usual walk with Megan, our dog.  As I was getting ready it started raining.  I looked out of the bedroom window and the trees were blowing in the wind and the sky was grey and overcast.  I asked God to stop the rain but it continued.  Still, I decided, I was just going to wrap up and go!  I put my raincoat and wellies on and went.  When I went out it was still raining but there was no wind and it felt warm.  It was bright, and not long into the walk the sun came out and there was lots of blue sky! Just before that happened I said, “The rain is beautiful!  Thank you God!”  It was!  It was gentle and soft and the sun shone through the raindrops.  It was lovely!  It really was a beautiful walk.  Eventually, as I came back the rain stopped altogether and the sun shone brightly.  It was lovely and warm, and the rain sparkled on the grass.  Rain can be so beautiful.

13th May 2010.  I had a strong conviction all day that something hidden was going to be revealed soon.  It would be out in the open.  I had no idea what it was, but I believed it was about Paul and I knew that God had been preparing me for it.  He had been strengthening me inside and I was absolutely not afraid; I knew it would be alright, that God meant it all for good – for everyone.  I asked God to prepare my response, that it would be for His glory.

Three days later, on the Sunday evening, I decided to go to church.  We live seven miles from our church, so I don’t go in the evenings very often, but on this occasion, I really felt I should go.  The whole sermon, based on chapter forty of Genesis, part of the story of Joseph, was as if it was aimed directly at me!  After the service, I went up to our Pastor and told him.  He prayed for me, and again, God really met with me in a wonderful way.  The following day I was tired, but calm and at peace and I felt God say –

‘Heather, you don’t have to give me anything today.  Just receive.’

The following day I didn’t feel so good.  I felt that life was such a paradox!  Paul was really awful that evening and I was standing at the oven, crying my eyes out when he walked into the kitchen, saw me crying, made himself a cup of tea without a word, and walked out again.  I felt so scared and lonely and completely rejected.  I just couldn’t understand what was happening.

‘He maketh me lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for His names sake.’ (From Psalm 23)

I so wanted to be like Jesus.  I wanted to do what I saw Him doing and I wanted to never find myself enough, to draw on His strength and not my own.  I wanted to always tremble at myself, my human nature, knowing what it was capable of and always relying on Jesus.  I wanted to never get too ‘big’ but hide behind Him.  I prayed that I would love my Heavenly Father so much that I would be willing to do ANYTHING for Him.  I wanted all fear to be gone.  We have this treasure in jars of clay and I felt free when I realised I really could do nothing without Him.

‘Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.’ (2 Corinthians 4 v. 1)

A few days later I was feeling irritable again (and it was only nine o’clock in the morning!).  The verse from my reading was from Romans 6 about our sin being crucified with Jesus, and therefore not being slaves to it.  I realised that whenever I felt like that I had a choice.  Later thar morning, while I was out walking Megan, a praise song was in my mind.  It lifted me and gave me the power to choose not to be irritable!  I had the power in Jesus to choose LIFE!

18th June 2010. I had a heavy expectancy again that something that had been hidden for a long time would be exposed.  I felt it would be painful, but it would also be a huge relief.  It would open the way forward and bring me into freedom.  God had been preparing and strengthening me and I really felt it was imminent.  Again, I asked God to control my response to whatever this was and that it would be pleasing to Him.  I knew He had it all in hand.  I had no idea what the hidden thing was, but that didn’t matter, because God did.

1st July 2010.

“Lord, Paul’s arrogance, his cynicism, his neglect, his hostility, lay heavily on me like a massive weight.”

“Why are you wearing them?”

“I suppose I have been putting them on one by one for many years by bearing the results of them and by my resentment building up towards them.  I have worn them by my reactions.  His actions have been my reactions.  I have reacted instead of responded.”

“What are you going to do with them?”

“I take it all and nail it to the cross.  I crucify arrogance, pride, resentment, cynicism, neglect, hostility.  I crucify them all.”

“What do you have left?”

“I see a small, lonely, anxious little boy.”

“Do you think you could love him?”

“Oh yes!  I could love him.  I could take him in my arms and comfort him.  Yes, I could love him.”

“Heather, try to see that lonely, anxious little boy whenever you look at Paul.  Look beyond that other rubbish, because I took all that on myself on the cross.  I took it all, including the results of it.”

“I will try.  Help me to remember.”

“I will.”

“Thank you, Lord.  I love you.”

“I love you too, my precious child.”

9th July 2010.  Four days before, my daily reading was about the silversmith who refines silver in the heart of the fire.  It made me realise that is exactly how I had been feeling lately – that the fire had been hotting up, and the last few days and weeks I had hardly been able to stand it.

That morning, my daily reading asked, ‘Are you in the fire today?’  The Bible verse was, ‘No weapon forged against you will prosper’ from Isaiah 54.  I read the whole chapter and it was as if God was speaking directly to me!  The last words in my daily reading were, ‘Are you walking through a fiery trial today?  If so, you are not alone – God is with you!  Take courage!  When He brings you out you will know Him better, trust Him more, and have something to say that will make others want to listen.’

October 2010.  The hidden thing that God told me about a few months ago has been revealed…

It all started when a lovely neighbour of ours started chatting with me on our  street one day.  She was telling me about her life and spoke about her marriage of twenty-three years.  It sounded so like mine!  There had been so much frustration and misunderstanding.  I had felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall, or talking to a deaf person.

My neighbour told me, as I related this, that she discovered, after twenty-three years of marriage, that her husband had aspergers syndrome.  She said that she believed Paul had it too and she told me that the knowledge would revolutionise our marriage.

I started to do some research into aspergers syndrome, and as I read the traits of someone with the condition it was as if it was describing Paul.  Aspergers is a neurological condition, a mild form of autism, which means that someone with aspergers has no concept of non-verbal communication.  They can’t read peoples’ non-verbal signals.  They can’t imagine how someone is feeling very well, and can’t put themselves into someone else’s shoes.  They have obsessive interests and focus for abnormally long periods of time on one thing that interests them.  It is a social dysfunction.

I started to read books written by women whose husbands have aspergers and it was like reading about my own marriage.  Someone with aspergers is ‘in their own world’ and has very little concept of the thoughts and feelings of others.  They think logically and if they say something that is inappropriate they cannot understand how it could hurt someone or make them feel uncomfortable.  They don’t mean to be rude – they just say what comes into their head!  They think intellectually and often have a higher intellect and IQ than normal.

As I read about aspergers it was like a light being switched on over our whole marriage.  It explained absolutely everything!  It also explained why my reactions had been so wrong and why Paul withdrew for hours on end every day and why I couldn’t get through to him when I tried to tell him how I felt.  Any show of emotion or verbal attack overloads him and he easily gets sensory overload because there are so many thoughts going on in his head at any one time.  An outburst like that can drive him to shut himself away and completely shut down, in order to re-charge.

Social situations for someone with aspergers are a nightmare.  Even though they can talk at length about a special interest, social chit chat makes them anxious because they can’t read social ‘cues’, ie, when it is someone else’s turn to speak, body language or facial expressions.  They also can’t explain easily how they feel.

Now I know, it has transformed how I respond to Paul.  In this situation, knowledge and understanding are everything.  It will be tough at times.  Knowing he can’t easily give me the kind of emotional support I need or be able to empathise is hard, but he can learn from observing and I can teach him what I need and also learn his needs and how to respond to him.  The books were a lifeline and opened my eyes.

It felt weird at first, because it was like being married to a stranger, but now that my eyes were opened, I could see the vulnerable, anxious little boy that God showed me back in July and I knew that I loved him and that it would be ok.

The reason God hinted at this all those months before was so that I would know that He was behind it all and that He was in control….

 

NETS OF MERCY – CHAPTER NINE

‘You are my precious child and I love you.  I am working in those hidden areas of your life which are so deep that you are unaware of them, though you are aware of the effects they are having now.  Don’t be afraid, child.  I will never give up on you.  I won’t give up until you are cleansed and healed from your hurts.  You are my precious, beloved child.  You are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I am with you.  When you go through the fire, you will not be burnt.  I will never leave you alone.  You are always with me.  You will be free, child, I promise.’

April 2009.  One day, as I was reading the book, ‘If only – moving from blame to forgiveness and beyond’ by David A. Seamands, I was reading about Jesus’ crucifixion at the point where, God, His Father, turns His face away from Jesus when He cries out, ‘Father, why have you forsaken me?’  I found I was suddenly very angry at God for doing that.  I tried to push it down because I knew it was wrong, but it persisted.  I realised that there must be some deep down anger against God my Father for hurts that at that moment I knew nothing about, that must lie buried and which I didn’t even know were there.  Maybe I was angry at God because He allowed them?

I knew that Jesus identified with my humiliations and fears, because of what He endured on the cross, but I had not realised that God my Father identified with them too.  God the Father turned away from Jesus at that point.  Because He turned away from Jesus on the cross I felt as if He had turned away from me at the times of my greatest need.  I knew in my head that this wasn’t true, but not in my heart.

My buried hurts had led to a lot of negative feelings against Paul.  I had struggled with this anger for so long.  Also, for a long time, as far back as I could remember, it’s hard to describe, but I hadn’t felt ‘free.’  It was like there was a blockage somewhere.  Even after very intimate times with God, afterwards, I was back to the old behaviour and I had always hated myself for it.  I had always had this nagging voice saying it was all my fault.  Like an weight, but at times, hardly noticeable – but always ‘there’.  I realised that it was a destructive root and I needed it pulled out.  There began a kind of excitement and hope in me that this was the means of my healing – at last!

The following Sunday, I went to church and asked two lovely friends to pray for me.  I cried a lot!  One lady had a lovely song she sang.   The words said that God my Father has called me by name and that I was His child.  I was HIS!  She also had a picture of a shepherd with a sheep on his shoulder, gently rocking it and singing to it.  I believe the song that she sang was the song the shepherd was singing.  The other lady, was stroking my hair and praying.

I knew the root had been pulled out.  I knew I was cradled in my Heavenly Father’s arms.  I cried that I was sorry I had been so angry with Him.  The friend who was praying for me said that it wasn’t my fault.  She also said I must place this burden at the foot of the cross, and I did.  I prayed that God would take it.  He had seen how I had handled it!  She told me not to take it back.  I didn’t want it back.

The friend who had been singing to me said that I would probably be exhausted when I got home.  I did feel tired, so had a rest, but a bit later, Paul, Chloe and I took Megan for a walk along the sea front, starting at the Spa, round the coast and up Holbeck Hill, stopping for a hot chocolate on the way.  It was a gentle stroll in the sunshine and was so lovely.

Later, lying on my bed, I felt tired out.  I actually felt sore, as if I had had an operation.  I asked God to pour His healing balm into the wound to heal it completely.  I rang my friends who had prayed with me from my mobile, while still lying on my bed and told them I felt just as if I had had an operation.  They were over the moon!  They advised me to fill up on God’s Word, to fill up the hole that was left.

Just like an operation, when something bad is taken out that shouldn’t be there, it takes time for the wound that is left to heal.  My lovely friend told me to be kind to myself.  All I wanted to do was just sit on my Heavenly Father’s knee and let Him guide and love me.

The next day, during the early evening, I plonked myself down on the settee and settled down to watch the Antiques Roadshow.  During one of the commercial breaks there was an advert for ‘Roundup’ – a weed killer!  It showed the weed being killed from the roots.  The slogan was, ‘Kill the root – kill the weed!’

That morning I had tried to read my normal daily readings, but I just couldn’t study the readings at all.  I had got to the book of James and managed a few verses, but I just couldn’t read any more.  It was a strange feeling, as if something was pressing on the sore part of me.  I needed something soothing, like a balm.  I read Psalm 23.  The night before, I had asked God to put a calming verse into my mind and the words, ‘He leads me beside the still waters; He restores my soul,’ came into my mind.  Those last few words had a wonderful new meaning for me.  So I read Psalm 23 and it really was balm to my soul.  I didn’t need instruction at that time, just my Father God sitting me on His knee, stroking my hair and saying soothing words to me.

I had told Paul what had happened to me and he was lovely.  That evening he came home from work at teatime, and I knew he meant well, but he was rather ‘in my face’!  He really wanted to help and I loved him for it, but I couldn’t take any kind of pressure.  I just needed to receive from God and allow Him to heal the wound.  I tried not to be irritable, and felt momentary panic that I might have gone back to square one, but I knew without a shadow of doubt that God had done something wonderful in me and would continue to work in me.

‘The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’  (Zephaniah 3 v. 17)

May 2009.  One morning I got to town early after dropping Chloe off at school.  After grabbing a take-away coffee, I sat on a seat overlooking Scarborough Harbour and sat silently listening to God.  I watched the seagulls soaring on the air currents, effortlessly.  A lady in our housegroup the previous evening had told us of when she was on the island of Lindesvarne and she was watching the seagulls.  It was windy, and some were struggling against the wind, but others were flying with the wind.  The birds trust the air currents completely and depend on them, resting on them and going where they take them.  Those struggling and flapping against the air currents are striving in their own strength, but those leaning on them and trusting them go where they take them and don’t have to strive.

This was how I wanted my relationship with God to be.  I wanted to be utterly dependant on Him, not struggling and striving in my own strength.

‘…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’

June 2009.  One Saturday I went to a New Wine Conference.  Mark Carey, the son of Archbishop Carey of Durham, led it and spoke on Luke 4 verses 1-15, about Kingdom Breakthrough.  At the end of the first session a lovely lady prayed for me and she told me that God thinks I am beautiful!  She said that when He looks at me, I am the apple of His eye and as she prayed I fell to the floor.  When I got up the lady said she had seen a picture of a wild, bubbling stream, going anywhere it pleased.

Later on there was a seminar on prophecy.  During the seminar we split into groups of four and three of us prayed for one person.  Then we swapped around, but I didn’t get a turn to be prayed for as we ran out of time!  So the leader of the seminar asked those of us who hadn’t been prayed for to go to the front and he would pray for us.  When it got to my turn he said I was a people person, (he called me an evangelist!)  He also told me that I had a pain in my lower back which he thought related to my work.  It was true!  I had been sitting on a high stool at work behind the shop counter and it had given me a pain in my lower back.  As he prayed for me, down I went again (I thought, ‘this is becoming a habit!)  When I got up, a man who had been sitting next to me in the seminar said he had been getting a picture in his mind of a fragile vase, easily hurt and easily broken.  He said I felt like I was that vase (true!) but that actually I was protected, as if I was totally wrapped in bubble wrap, but that it wasn’t restricting.  I had a freedom and strength that came from God.

He also said that I felt trapped as if in a spider’s web.  That I didn’t feel free or released.  He prayed for me and I saw chains around my feet!  He told me to take a step forward.  I took a step forward and actually found myself stepping over the chains!  He told me to take another step forward.  I did, and he said I was free of the chains.  He told me to walk in that freedom from now on.

‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.’ (Galatians 5 v. 1)

Another step on my journey…..

NETS OF MERCY – CHAPTER EIGHT

I dreamed I saw a stubby little plant.  It was planted in awful, pale, dry, sandy soil and it had no nutrients at all.  The plant had green leaves but it had stopped growing and had no flowers.  Then I saw a hand pull it up out of the soil and plant it in gorgeous, rich, dark, crumbly soil, full of nutrients.  Rain fell on it and it grew and produced lovely flowers.

‘…He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither…’

May 2001

‘LIVE IN EASTER!’

One morning I woke up and these words filled my mind.  As I lay in bed I asked God what they meant.  I felt in my heart God speak to me.  He said that when Jesus died on the cross that I actually died with Him, because He was bearing my sins.  When He rose again I rose with Him and He threw my sins far away.  At that moment I went from darkness to light, but He told me that sometimes I still lived as if I were in the darkness.  He told me that I am a child of the light and that I am on the winning side!  He said that, bit by bit, the darkness in me was crumbling, that is, all the things I didn’t like about human nature, and that when I die it will all be gone.  I asked Him about Paul.  I said, “Are you speaking to him as you are to me?”  He said, “Yes.  He is resisting at the moment, but I know how to get through to him.”

I asked Him about evangelism – when I would begin to talk freely about Him and He said that was one of the areas He was working on, but that because of my witness, many would come to know Him!

I asked Him about my hurts, resentment and anger, and He said He had dealt with them on the cross.  While He was speaking, I felt ‘lit up’ inside!  He told me that He would carry me through the rest of my life and into Heaven, and that He had prepared a place for me!

About the words, ‘Live in Easter!’ He said that I am on the winning side, victorious, but that I sometimes live as though I am deep in guilt.  He said He had overcome the darkness and that He has thrown ALL my sins away. He kept repeating that I am a child of the light.

When I eventually got out of bed I was so full of joy!  God had said that He would be with me!  He told me to hug Paul and when I did I said to him, “Let’s stop resisting each other and become irresistable!”  Paul hugged me back and I felt closer to him than I’d felt for ages.  I knew God was on our side and that somehow He would work everything out.  Somewhere in our future there would be a miracle.

There would be times when I would fall again, and there were still things in me to be dealt with, but God was to deal with them in His good time.

Later that day I was sat on the settee with a cup of tea watching ‘Neighbours’.    One of the characters had told his girlfriend a number of times to own up to something she had done and it hadn’t made any difference, so he thought.  But, unbeknown to him, something he said in anger made her confess to the person she had wronged.  Someone told him, “You have more power than you thought!”  I knew then that despite my mistakes, God had been filtering out the good influences in me and speaking to Paul.  My prayers had not been wasted or forgotten, and despite the fact that so often I felt a failure, good seeds had been sown.

‘You have found some of my promises hard to accept because you keep looking at your circumstances which seem to contradict them.  Keep focusing on my promises and gradually things will change.  My promises, though, do have conditions.  You must keep listening to me and do what I tell you.’  (Paraphrased from the book “My Dear Child’ by Colin Urquhart).

July 2011.  I just couldn’t understand it.  Paul had been home for a few days and a great cloud had come over me.  I was getting so hurt and angry all the time and getting back at him.  I felt as if God had left me (and for good reason – I didn’t like being with myself either!).  I knew I should be loving and kind to Paul, but I couldn’t seem to do it.  I just couldn’t bear the thought of being close to him.  I was so hurt by his apparent thoughtlessness and cutting remarks, and his lack of empathy, little knowing at the time how hurt and stressed he felt.  I prayed that God would step in, but I also felt I should be making an effort too.  Everything in me recoiled at that.  I felt like I was in a pit and couldn’t get out.  Looking back, God was bringing things to the surface so He could deal with them.

‘You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed…’

I cried out to God, “But why can’t I change?”  Why can’t I be what I want to be?  I agree that this is wrong, but you, Lord, are doing NOTHING!  Are you expecting me to do it all myself?  I can’t do anything without your help and your strength, but because I am so angry and resentful, you are keeping your distance!  Lord, I don’t understand all this.  I give up.  Either you sort this out or Paul and I, and the children, will continue to be miserable….”

‘If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.’  (Proverbs 1 v. 23)

‘….but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.’  (Proverbs 1 v. 33)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.’  (Proverbs 3 v. 5-6)

November 2005.  At the end of October we got a rescue dog.  Chloe had always loved dogs, so after thinking about it for a while, I finally gave in and we decided to go for it and buy one.  I drove to the RSPCA centre in Great Ayton and Chloe and I walked round the cages, looking at all the dogs.  There were some very sad cases there and our hearts went out to them, but none of the dogs really caught our eye.  Then Chloe spotted a dog being walked by one of the volunteers.  It was a medium sized terrier, of indeterminate breed, with a light, sandy, wiry coat and was very scruffy!  The dog turned to look at us, and we loved her at first sight!

When we got her home, for the first few days I was so down, and actually fearful.  She was making messes everywhere, she was getting me up at half past four in the morning and she couldn’t be left very long.  It was awful.  I tried to work out what my feelings were because they felt familiar.  I realised that I felt just the same as when I had a new baby!  ‘Doggy blues!’  Suddenly I was responsible for this animal and our lives would completely change.  I felt quite frightened of that thought and I was tempted to take her back.  I was also beginning to feel resentful because no-one (except Chloe) was helping me.  For the first few days I had to do everything – late night walks and early mornings.  I was exhausted and weepy.  Paul couldn’t understand at all.  He just told me, “It was your decision to get a dog!”

But looking back, I learned something important.  Instead of praying a self-pitying prayer (and I had prayed plenty of them!), like, “Please God, make everyone help me!”  I asked God to protect me from resentment and give me strength to keep going.  I actually found myself getting up early to avoid Paul having to!  Instead of getting mad, I was protecting Paul!  What was happening?!  But because I acted happy (sometimes when I really didn’t feel it) the atmosphere in our house began to change.  I was ‘acting myself into a new way of thinking’.  After a day or two of this, Paul started doing the night walks and began to grow very fond of Megan (the name our new dog had come with!).  The early mornings became as they should be (we bought an indoor kennel.  Megan loved it and stopped getting us up so early).  God actually began to use Megan to get me up at the proper hour for my quiet time.  The messes stopped and she was able to be left in the house for a few hours when we went to work.  I didn’t want to imagine what could have happened if I had given in to my feelings.

January 2007.  One night I had a vivid dream.  Paul and I were in a cave made of sand.  Its ‘ceiling’ was a thin veneer of sand but I could see the sea splashing above it. I knew if we didn’t get out it would soon cave in and we would drown.  I also knew that at the moment the sea above us was only about an inch or two deep and if I climbed up to that thin ceiling I could stick my head through it and find that the beach wasn’t far away.  But at the same time I felt afraid of putting my head through.  I also knew if I waited too long the tide would come in.  All I could think of was the sea splashing above me and fearing drowning if I stayed there.

A few months before this at a church meeting, during the worship, a picture had come into my mind of an open door.  That evening when I got home I had read in my daily reading book a Bible passage from Hosea 2 v. 14-15.

‘Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.  There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.’  (‘Achor’ means ‘trouble’.)

I knew God was speaking to me through the dream, but it wasn’t until I woke up feeling claustrophobic and a bit fearful that I got the meaning of it.

Paul and I were in the cave, which was our marriage.  We hadn’t been close for a long while and we were still arguing.  Climbing up and getting my head above the ‘ceiling’ involved humbling myself and getting over the fear of rejection that haunted me.  If I didn’t, our marriage would crumble around us and we would ‘drown’.  Little did I know that the beach I saw which was so close, was to be a discovery in the next few years that would completely transform our marriage.  I was also to learn what walking in love meant.

For the time being though I felt just like an illustration in my daily reading book of an eagle chick that was hatched by a chicken!  The eagle thought it was a chicken and behaved like one, but all the time it had strange stirrings inside.  When it saw an eagle soaring in the sky it realised what it was meant to do – and it flew!

March 2009.  During cell group one Wednesday evening, Gill, (who with her husband John, leads our group), suggested that we all pray aloud for five minutes.  While we were praying I felt the power of God.  This kept happening all through the five minutes.  Afterwards, I kept my eyes closed, wondering what was happening, but I knew that God had something planned for me and I praised Him all the way home!  If God was to use me, I had to want Him more than anything else.  He wanted me to stop focusing on worldly things and to focus on Him.  He wanted to sit on the throne of my life.  I thought this would be such an encouragement to people, because if God could use someone like me, He could use ANYONE!!

God waited until I got to the end of my own strength and realised that without Him I could do nothing.

‘My work IN you is preparation for the work I want to do THROUGH you…’

April 2009.  While these things were going on, Paul seemed to be getting worse.  He was becoming more and more cynical and kept saying very hurtful things, especially to Chloe.  At around this time I found one of his CDs on a shelf and something made me read the words inside.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  They were so scary!  It really frightened me that he was listening to this kind of stuff in our home.  Whenever I tried to tell him how I felt he would withdraw completely and shut himself away.

We were in a battle.  But I knew who was in control.  All I could do was pray.  Paul seemed to be full of bitterness and anger.  Chloe and I decided to stay at my parents’ home for a few days while they were away to look after their dog.  We all needed some breathing space.

I found myself praying that what was hidden in the darkness would come out into the light…..

NETS OF MERCY – CHAPTER SIX

In my dream I saw a man setting out on a journey. He had a very large, heavy rucksack on his back and was wearing stout walking boots. He set off down the road, full of confidence. When he had walked a few miles, he suddenly came upon an obstruction in the road. He looked up and saw that it was an enormous wooden cross. It completely blocked the path so that he couldn’t get through. To the right of the cross was a tiny door. The man crouched down and opened the door and through the opening he saw people dancing, laughing and partying. They looked so happy and contented, and he longed to join them. He bent down and tried to get through the narrow door, but the huge rucksack on his back prevented him from getting in. He tried to remove the rucksack but found he couldn’t. He tried many times to get in through the door, but failed each time.

Finally, he gave up in despair, slumped down to his knees in front of the cross, and put his head in his hands. All of a sudden, a man came up behind him. The man looked up and saw Him smiling down at him with eyes full of love. He bent down to the man and gently lifted the burden from his back, then He offered His hand. The man took it and together, they bent down and walked through the door…

‘ “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ‘ (Matthew 11 v. 28-30)

The lights are off, the children in bed and I sit alone in my room.

One small lamp gives a gentle glow.  I’m alone again with my Creator,

The Creator of me, the Creator of the universe.

He loves me, He really loves me.

He talks to me, I talk to Him.

I listen, I fall asleep.

He watches over me in the darkness.

It was March 2000, early Spring.  The snowdrops were the first to announce the good news of hope and as I walked through the village and felt the warm sun on my face, my heart felt full and it felt really good to be alive!  Our village is dressed in its finest in the Spring.  Daffodils are everywhere, and then, later, the trees that line the main street are full of beautiful pink blossom.  It is as if the whole of creation is singing in harmony with its Creator.

As I walked, I noticed the stalks of the daffodils.  The tops were bursting with the promise that something beautiful was soon to emerge, like a crysallis pregnant with the promise of a beautiful butterfly.  All of creation was brimming with hope.

This had been a strange season in my life.  Beautiful times with God, feeling His closeness, listening to His comforting words, running parallel with the ups and downs in our marriage, and the accusations in my head, telling me I’ve ruined everything again.  I felt as if I was on a carousel, going round and round in circles.  When would it all end?  And how did it start?  How was I to get off the carousel and start being all that God intended me to be?

What I didn’t realise at the time was that I wasn’t really going round in circles.  All these things that were happening were not wasted.  God was working everything together for good.

God had given me wonderful promises, and there would be more to come, but I wanted them NOW!  I had asked God for patience, but unfortunately, when He answers a prayer like that, He tends to put us in situations where you have to be patient!

I felt at times like the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness, but there had been many oasis moments, from which I would emerge refreshed and ready to face another day.  God was on our case, and He was to prove it in amazing ways!

When Chloe and I got home from our walk, I put the television on too early for Chloe’s Teletubbies and saw ten minutes of ‘Kilroy’.  There were people on there who hated themselves because they thought they were ugly.  One woman, however, bravely spoke up and said, “There is only one thing that can help!  The love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit!”  Kilroy immediately took his microphone away and cut her dead.  He said, “Please, no letters!”  I cried inside for those people because this really was the answer they were looking for and I hoped and prayed they would come to know the truth for themselves.

Later, when Chloe was having her nap, I began to read a book I hadn’t opened for years.  The book was titled, ‘My Dear Child’ and was written by Colin Urquhart.  As I read, God really spoke through the pages.  For the first time in my life, I felt I really KNEW God’s incredible Father love for me, not just in my head, but in my heart.  I sobbed for an hour!  Every word in that book was as if it was written just for me.

I had been frantically trying to show God’s love to people, but I couldn’t do that without having received His love for myself.  I needed to allow myself to rest in His love and not feel guilty about that.  It is not a selfish thing.  It was the greatest need in my life!  He loves it when we pray to Him, but it saddens Him when we don’t stick around long enough to get an answer from Him.  He wanted to speak intimately to me and I realised just how well He knew me and watches over me every moment.

Just as I love each of my own children with my whole heart, God loves us with all of Himself.  He doesn’t split His love up into millions of pieces, giving one piece to each of His children.  He gives us His whole heart!  He showers us with mercy every day so that He can keep working in us, despite our mistakes!  Imagine that!

I was so grateful that God had been so patient with me.  Just as I never gave up on my own children when they were naughty, so God, my Heavenly Father, would never give up on me.  How wonderful!  He wanted to do big things in me!

God’s timing is so perfect.  If I had read that book when I first got it, I wouldn’t have been ready for much of what God said through it.  God had been working in me and preparing me.  My eyes had been opened to God’s incredible love for me!  I had been listening to the enemy for far too long and it is the enemy who makes us feel a failure.  God only gives us love.

‘…strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come…He will come to save you.” ‘ (Isaiah 35 v. 3-4)

30th March 2000.  That morning I saw on the television a caterpillar on a leaf.  Imagine such an ordinary looking ‘bug’ becoming a beautiful butterfly!  What a wonderful hope that God could create such a beautiful creature  from such an ugly one.  A creature that could spread its beautiful wings and soar high in the air!  What a wonderful picture!

‘Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.’  (Luke 1 v. 45)

2nd May 2000.  I went on the bus to town and the driver was really miserable about something.  Someone commented about it on the bus.  I paid my fare, folded up Chloe’s pushchair, hoisted it into the luggage rack and sat down, lifting Chloe up onto my knee.  I decided to pray for the driver quietly and I asked God to touch him somehow.  I asked that when I got off the bus, he would smile.  He didn’t!  He seemed really angry and irritable.  The next day, the children and I went to the dentist, and on the way back, lo and behold, we had the same driver!  We clamboured on to the bus, pushchair and all, and I saw that he was still very irritable.  When I asked for a single to our village, and half fares for the children, he visibly sighed and I could feel the anger in him.  It was awful.  As we drove along, I prayed for him again, also praying that we wouldn’t crash!  The mood he was in, he shouldn’t have been responsible for a bus-load of people!  I was on edge for the whole journey!  But thankfully, he drove exceptionally slowly.

When it was time for us to get off the bus, I grabbed Chloe by the hand and managed to grab the pushchair with the other and lift it onto the floor.  I was thankful we were all still in one piece!  I turned to the driver as we left the bus and said, ‘Thank you very much!’ as usual, and I couldn’t believe the transformation!  He was literally beaming!  How incredible!  God is amazing!

I am so grateful that our Heavenly Father cares about the little things.  That afternoon, I was about to vacuum when I discovered that the bag was full.  I couldn’t remember where I had put the bags.  In our hallway we had a large chest, and something told me to look in there, so I did, and found, not only the bags, but Chloe’s bottle that I had lost ages before!

A few days later, I went for a walk with Chloe to a local farm where there is a public footpath.  It was perfect May weather and we had a lovely peaceful walk.  Our village is surrounded on all sides by fields and all along the walk were peaceful scenes, blue sky, sheep in the fields, ‘green pastures.’  I reflected what a contrast it was to the streets of South London.  Taking in the scenery was like drinking in pure, clear water.  On the way back I asked God, “Please let me see a white dove!”  (It had to be white!)  All the way back I pestered Him, “Please let me see a dove!”  I had never before seen a white dove in the village in all the years I had lived there, and I had done that particular walk many times.  We got to the main street and suddenly, I looked up, and there, flying above our heads were not one, but three doves!    They flew round and round us for about half a minute, then flew off!I just stood there in the street with my mouth open!  I hoped afterwards that no-one had been watching!

Of course, for the following few days, I started to doubt that they were doves!  What if they had been pigeons?  Then one night, in the early hours of the morning, I had a dream.  I was standing near where I had seen the doves flying over.  Someone was standing next to me, and brought my attention to the sign at the corner of the cul-de-sac a few feet behind me.  It read, ‘Dovecot Close!’  Now I had lived in the village for eleven years, and not only had I never seen doves before, I had not realised the significance of that name!

One day, a friend, Gill, who I have mentioned before, took Chloe and me to Castle Howard where we walked around the grounds.  It was another glorious Spring day and my heart was full of gratitude and praise.  The gardens at Castle Howard are so beautiful, especially Ray Wood, where the rhododendrons and azaleas were breathtaking.  Around each corner there was a new ‘treasure’ to find!  I marvelled at God’s wonderful creation and the fact that He is preparing a place just for us in heaven which will be even more beautiful!

As we walked down a hill and saw the lake in the distance, the words, ‘He leads me beside still waters,’ came to mind.  It was all so peaceful and lovely and another sign of hope for my future.

A couple of weeks later, God spoke to me through Chloe.  I was in the kitchen washing up and she came running up to me, full of excitement.  She held out a scrap of paper for me to look at and she explained in her own words what it was.  I dried my hands, and took the piece of paper from her eager hand.  On the paper was a picture she had been drawing.  To the uninitiated, it would have looked like scribble, but to Chloe and me, it was a work of art and I told her so.  A few minutes later, she came back and told me (by making a noise like a lion), that it was a picture of a lion!

‘Lord Jesus, I give you my gifts.  To you they are very precious and you turn everything I give you round for your glory.  Thank you that you always encourage me, even when I think I have nothing much to give.  Amen.’

On the last day of June, 2000.  my parents, sister and I went to see Eric Delve who was preaching at our church.  He preached a very powerful sermon, and at the end, Beverley, my sister, went forward for ministry.  She asked me to go with her, and we both made our way to the front of the church.  We stood there for a few minutes while Eric prayed with each person in turn in the line.  When he came to Beverley, he laid his hand on her and prayed for her, then he turned to me!  I had not gone forward for prayer – I had only gone to the front to keep Beverley company, but he told me the Lord had a word for me.  He said I was bearing burdens from the past of sins I had committed.  The Lord said, “I am the burden bearer.  Let go of your burdens.  Your sins are forgiven!  YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN! I think, rather than walking back  to my seat, I skipped!  It was just what I needed to hear!  God is so good.

All these little stories from that year, and more, were God showing me that He was there, guiding me, even during the times when I was unaware of it.  I wrote each one in my journal to remind myself of this truth when the going got tough.  I was still getting angry with Paul over things I shouldn’t and Paul didn’t seem to be able to show any empathy at all whenever I felt hurt or angry.  When he was stressed he would come out with such hurtful remarks, and I would retaliate.  I knew deep down that something was terribly wrong, but I had no idea what it was.  I was so sad that Paul had stopped going to church and angry at myself because I thought I was partly the cause of it.  Psalm 55 really summed up how I felt at the time:-

‘If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him.  But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship, as we walked with the throng at the house of God.’

“Oh Jesus!”  I thought, “How long before Paul and I enjoy sweet fellowship again?”

Verse 22 comforted me:

‘Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.’

3rd July 2000.  2.45 am.  ‘Is the pathway to God still there?  Yes!  It may look different, but it’s the same route.  There will be dangers along the way, but God will keep you safe.  And your Father will be with you.’

A word of explanation!  The evening before, we had all gone for a walk to our local caravan park and the children had had a lovely time playing in the playground.  On the way back, Paul told me of a dream he’d had.  When he was about twelve years old he used to go with his Dad to a youth club held on a Friday night at their church and they walked home late at night.  The path they used to walk on was surrounded by trees then.  It had changed beyond recognition since that time and was now built up.  Late at night there were drunks about, but they never got attacked.

It was a quarter to three the following morning (night?!) in bed that God put into my mind the interpretation of that dream.  During that night I felt His presence, comforting me, so strongly.  Until about half past four in the morning I praised, prayed and thanked Him.  God never gives up on anyone and I knew He wouldn’t give up on Paul.

During those hours a thought came into my mind that there was someone in our church who  needed to be freed of a bad habit and was bound by it.  I had absolutely no idea who it was.  Romans 8 verse 15 came to mind.  It was, ‘I have not given you a spirit of fear but of sonship.  And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” ‘  I asked that if that was from Him, He would give me an opportunity to share it in the morning service the following Sunday.

A couple of days later, while I was thinking again of what God seemed to be saying, I saw in my mind a picture of a chain.  Every time we indulge in a bad habit we add another link to the chain.  God seemed to be saying that He wanted to break that chain.  He wanted to come alongside and encourage, to replace the habit with blessing.

Three days later, on the Sunday morning, the Youth were leading the service.  For the first hour I sat in my seat, wondering whether I should mention what I believed God had told me.  Then a young man from the church gave his testimony, including how God had helped him with a drug habit.  Then another young man gave the sermon, and he kept mentioning how bad habits can get a hold of us and how God can heal us!  So, then, when an opportunity came, I went to the front and shared what God had told me.  At the end of the service, several people went to the front for prayer.  I hadn’t a clue what was going to be spoken about, but God did!  This was what I wanted!  This was how I wanted to live my life.  I longed for God to use me to encourage people and I wanted to speak God’s heart to His children.

God was stirring my heart.  He was showing me that He wanted to use me in this way, but He was also to bring me to my knees and show me, gently and graciously and lovingly, that without Him I could do nothing.  He needed me to die to myself.  This was to be an exciting, challenging, emotional, wonderful, and testing period of my life….