Posted By Nan

Psalm 46:7,11
“Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God of angel armies protects us.” The Message.

A significant part of change and waiting for change, is trust. We cannot wait without fear in the darkness if we do not trust God.

When I was a child, like other abused children, I clung to my parents. I did this, not because they were trustworthy, but because I depended on them for survival. And there was no one who was going to help me. So I learned to do what they wanted me to, to try to reduce the abuse. As a child I believed I was abused because I was a bad person and tried very hard to be perfect so I would not get abused. But it never worked, and then I felt I was a really bad person for constantly failing. I believed my parents were right because I had no measure to compare their behaviour with. My view of the world was from their perspective. If an adult tells a child they are wrong the child tends to believe the adult, particularly if they are a care giver.

So I learned that trust meant trying to achieve impossible perfection to avoid the abuse that measured how bad I was. Trust was not nice.

From the bullies at school, I learned that people who should be trustworthy were not. Betrayal was the norm, not trustworthiness. This continued into my adult life with Christian friends I gathered around me. They were so bad that God told me to get rid of them.

I learned that no one could be trusted.

I also learned that letting go of things and handing them to God would mean I would be put through horrible things. Because as a child, I begged God to save me from the horror of my life and He didn’t. No knight on a white charger arrived to take me away. So I figured that God wanted bad things to happen to me so I could learn, and I was sick of bad things happening to me and wondered why I was such a slow learner.
What I have learned since is that God was working in my life. The abuse didn’t stop, but He gave me His word and presence to encourage me. He gave me friends when I needed them. He gave me an imagination and love for books so I could escape there to help me calm the crazy terror of my life. He protected me so I emerged from that terrible time with astonishingly good mental health. That happened because of His intervention. People who go through what I did usually turn out very damaged in adulthood.

One day I realised that God always helped me when I asked. He had helped over and over. I just couldn’t remember it because of the bad times when I believed He hadn’t helped me. But I still believed that God wanted me to go through bad times.
I have realised that this is not what God wants for me. I have realised that more good things happened to me than bad and that the bad times have been outweighed by the good times. I have realised that I have led a very blessed life.

I have learned that God can be trusted and that He is always watching over me, teaching me. He is the proud Father who has watched over my little triumphs and disappointments in life and rejoiced in His love for me and delighted in me. I may not have had a family that did that, but I have a heavenly Father who delights in me and that is amazing.

Our experiences in life can lead us to have a faulty view of trust. But we need to know God in whom we trust. We can learn that by reading of God’s trustworthiness in the Bible, by listening to God and by observing how many times He intervenes in our lives to give us good things.

May you know, if not now then in the future, God who can be trusted.

Posted By Nan

Psalm 131

I will wait …

2018 has been a year of God challenging me on how to have a relationship with Him.
It has involved throwing out all the church imposed formulas I have been taught since childhood and taking me back to the throneroom He stood me in as a teenager.
It has involved taking me back to the frightened child who petitioned God for hours every night about every eventuality that may happen to make her frightening life even more frightening. Shaking out of me the secular denominationalism, the prayer formulas, the “you have to listen to the minister/pastor/preacher”. The “you have to go to church to be a Christian”.
Taking me back to the basics of relating to God that the patriarchs and their families in Genesis knew. To what Moses and the people of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy knew.
Taking me away from the modern doing, always doing.
Stripping me of the need to please the adults in my life in order to have some semblance of safety. Stripping away the things taught me in ignorance.
Showing me much in the Bible and through reading the work of Hildegard of Bingen and other ancient biblical scholars whose walk with God was one I would love to have.
How I long to go back and tell the little girl how much God loves her. To hold her and comfort her, to tell her that some day these people who invade her body and her mind will be gone and she will have a good life with a good man and decades of happy marriage and beautiful children. To tell her how much God will bless her.
How she is not to be scared of the spiritual realm she sees around her. To befriend the spiritual, because that discernment is a gift from God. To know that her way of worshipping God is pure and wonderful what I need to return to. Return to that place where that little girl looked with such wonder at the world and saw God’s creation energy in everything around her. The aspect where she had such love and concern for other people, selflessly helping others, even when they couldn’t see it. The aspect where she would go to be on her own and just sit with God and all the majesty of His creation surrounding her.
It is time to cast off the clutter the world has imposed on how I relate to God, telling me that little girl’s steadfast faith was wrong, and to return to true relating to God. Change is always hard and I have felt in the changes I have been through that I was maybe not honouring God as I should, but He has shown me that I have been honouring Him far more than I realise and He is happy with that. So on to a wonderful 2019 walking with God. On to waiting in the darkness, singing praises and waiting without fear. Waiting in expectant faith and trust in God’s plan and His perfect timing.
Over the coming weeks I will be exploring change and waiting. I would love it if you could join me on this journey.

Posted By Nan

Colossians 3:15-17
I have a poem on my desk. One of my friends posted it on social media. It talks about forgiving someone and using the opportunity of the new year to do that. Forgiving, not because it benefits the other person, but because it benefits us. It speaks of how we look at other people. If that person owes us, they are welcome. If that person has wronged us, we have learned a good lesson from that. If that person is angry with us, we let their anger go. After all, another person’s feelings are their responsibility. We cannot fix them, so we need to let it go. If the other person is not speaking to us, okay, accept and wish them well. I we have wronged someone we are sorry. The poem speaks about being grateful for the experiences we have had in life and to use the new year to set the resolution to make this a year for forgiveness.
I love the poem. I know people who owe me, have wronged me, are angry with me, aren’t speaking to me or I have wronged. I found it wonderful to be reminded of the need to let go of that and be grateful for the opportunities God gives me to learn to let go of things that hurt me and to use the opportunity to be shaped into the person God wants me to be.
I am grateful most of all that being able to let go of the hurts and embrace forgiveness gives me the peace that God has spoken of throughout the Bible. The peace that comes from allowing God’s peace to permeate every part of us, spirit, soul and body.
So at the start of the new year, I finish the blog series “Whatever you do … do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” with the version of these verses from The Message. May they guide you as you venture into 2019.
 “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ – the Message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever, be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” The Message.

Posted By Nan

Isaiah 40:1-20
The lamb is led by his Shepherd to the stable where the infant lies. The infant the angels proclaimed. The one foretold in prophesy. The Messiah. Immanuel. God with us. The infant Jesus. He led us to the manger. He opened our eyes so we could meet Him. He leads us now and we follow. We have followed Him as faithfully as we could. We have followed Him through 2018. Maybe that was a walk through generally pleasant scenery. Maybe that was a walk through spectacular scenery and wonderful blessings. Maybe that was a difficult walk through dark, stark regions. Whatever year you have had, 2019 is looming. So what will that year offer you?
For me, 2018 has been largely a good year, with generally pleasant scenery. After a decade of difficult walking through a dark, rocky place, I emerged into a beautiful and pleasant valley. God gave us a house this year and we have praised Him constantly for His gracious gift to us. God has shown me the last remaining shackles of religiosity I have to cast off this year. He has taught me about Hildegard of Bingen and allowed me to learn what He taught her. He has challenged my view of Him and His place in the world. I have encountered more of the Aslan of C.S.Lewis’s Narnia books than every before. I have encountered the spiritual side of God that Western Philosophies have tried to erase. I have met God in many unexpected places and learned that there is nothing unexpected about where we meet God. Only our narrow view of Him restricts how we meet Him. But God can break through that narrow view and we can see Him if we are open to receive Him. I don’t know what God has in store for me in 2019, but I know that God has many plans and many unexplored aspects of Him for me to find. I know that exciting things are happening. I am sure I am not the only person who feels this way. That I am not the only person God has revealed this greater depth to.
I believe 2019 for many people will be a year of equipping to prepare the way in the desert. To allow all to see God’s bright glory. There will be many that God will place on a high mountain to raise their voices to loudly proclaim the Good News. (The Message v3-4,8-9).
Whatever happens this year for you. Please know that God is there with you. As Psalm 23 says: “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil. For you are with me; Your rod [to protect] and your staff [to guide], they comfort me.” (Amplified).
May God be with you as you walk with Him into and through 2019.

Posted By Nan

Revelation 1:17b-18, Matthew 22:32, 37-40, Deuteronomy 6:5
“… “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” NIV
“… He is not the God of the dead but of the living. … Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments.” NIV
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” NIV
Nativity sets. So many people have them. Often they are elaborate pieces lovingly collected over many years, carefully stored during the year, and reverently unwrapped and placed in a prized position at Christmas time.
I didn’t grow up with nativity sets. I didn’t grow up with such overt Christian symbols. But living in Europe, among many cultures, I became interested in the nativity sets and decided to collect my own. Having made the decision to get a nativity set, I set out for a Christmas Market in Germany, one of the most favoured places to buy a nativity set. I discovered you cannot just buy a set, you have to buy the pieces individually. That was a quandary. Where would I start?
The story we celebrate at Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, so for me the baby came first. After all, Jesus is the first and the last.
So I buy Jesus first, but who next?
His mother? Young and trusting. Considering herself blessed because of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit growing inside her?
His earthly father? A man who sought to remove himself from Mary without shaming her, but was faithful to God’s instruction to accept this child, a gift from God.
An angel, who announced the birth of our saviour to the shepherds on the hillside?
A shepherd, who heard the good news and rushed to meet his saviour?
A sheep, following its shepherd as we follow Jesus?
A donkey, witness to the glorious birth and one who bore the mother with the child inside?
An ox, a solid worker in the fields and carrier of heavy burdens, who was also witness to the glorious birth?
The wise men, who travelled in faith a long distance to meet the saviour?
A camel, that bore the wise men on its back?
So hard to know how to proceed.
As I pondered this, I saw my perfect nativity. It was carved out of a tree branch. An arc of wood with cut outs of trees and a stable. Above the stable, a star. And in the stable a man and woman bent over a manger with a baby inside. Simple and uncluttered. Because faith in God through Jesus is not complicated, or fancy, or embellished. It is simple and uncluttered.
Every year I get that nativity out of its wrapping and hold it. And I remember how simple faith in God is. And I remind myself not to complicate it with rules and legalism and layers of doctrine. I remember that faith in God is very simple. And this is the beauty of God’s gift. Something too awesome to ever comprehend, but so simple we can all follow it.
May your focus this Christmas Season be on Jesus and His presence in your life and may God bless you richly over the coming days.




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