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…’
‘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…..