Tag Archive | miracle

More little grey boxes…

File 17-06-2016, 08 31 24 When we were in Holland just before Christmas, we were giving lots of our little grey boxes of ash away; we talked about ash being what’s left when everything else is used up and burnt out, and we told this story:

A young Jewish boy (for these purposes, we’ll call him Asher) wanted to hear Jesus speak. So he got his mother’s permission to go down to where he’d heard Jesus was going to be. His mother allowed him to go, but with strict instructions regarding the importance of being home before sunset, and how he was to be careful, stay safe and not get into trouble. She also sent him with a small packed meal of fish and bread.

He was so excited – he’d heard that this man, who performed amazing miracles and, unusually, who had time for children in a way that grown ups rarely bothered with, was not far away, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The day exceeded even Asher’s childishly optimistic expectations, and the boy sat taut with anticipation, among a huge crowd of people, each one straining to hear every word that Jesus spoke, and to miss absolutely nothing.

thAfter a day of sitting in the baking sun, there was some discussion among Jesus and his disciples about the fact that everyone present must be hungry, because they’d been there such a long time. Asher had reluctantly been deciding that he probably ought to be heading home, but now Jesus sent the disciples among the crowd to ask whether anyone had brought any food with them. Most people had nothing, but Asher’s enthusiasm took over, as he shouted out excitedly ‘I’ve got some!’.

He was called forward to present what he had to Jesus. two fishes – five loaves.

Looking around at the enormity of the crowd he suddenly felt foolish. What use could the little bit he had possibly be. Someone sniggered in the crowd, and then someone else sent a mocking remark. What on earth had possessed him to stand up and make such a fool of himself? What he had brought with him was going to go nowhere in the face of such a huge crowd of hungry people.

He hung his head as he was called forward, trying to be as small and as unnoticeable as possible as he obediently wove his way to the front of the crowd to meet Jesus. Resentful, mocking eyes were on him. One useless boy, two fishes, five loaves, five thousand people.

But then he found himself at the front of the crowd, looking into the impossibly kind, unbelievably wise eyes of Jesus Christ.

We’ve all felt like this small boy, so many times. Weak, useless and laughably ill-equipped for the task at hand.

But what Asher did next is exactly what each of us needs to do. He looked into Jesus’ eyes, and put everything he had into The Saviour’s hands. A step of faith.

And Jesus performed a miracle. Just as he will with each of us when we are ill-equipped, but are prepared to take that step of faith and hand everything over anyway.a52c69d30e26398dd210c8cf488a2d98

The very desire of my heart…

IMG_20150204_202756He had given me the very desire of my heart. And in doing so, he gave me my life’s work.

So what has given me this heart for running a gospel choir and getting people to sing? I’ll tell you.

I come from one of those hatchings, matchings and dispatchings families. You know the kind? It’s ok to write ‘Church of England’ on application forms, but for heaven’s sake don’t talk about it or get involved.

Well, in spite of my mum’s reservations, when I was sixteen I started going regularly to one of those other kinds of churches with a school friend. This was my first real experience of what most people would have described as a ‘happy clappy’ church, where people talked about Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, my mother remained tight lipped. I loved it.

One night about six of us were crammed in a car, travelling home after the service and I realised that my friends in the car were discussing a rehearsal for a band. I asked what they were talking about and was told that they were planning to start a band playing Christian music.

File 18-05-2016, 09 19 19Now… understand this, I was sixteen, and gawky with a gummy grin. Not a girl with street credibility – and this sounded so cool!

Well, the only instrument I’d ever played was the violin, which I’d had to give up because those that loved me couldn’t stand the dreadful noise I made when I practiced; my brother and sisters had always assured me that I couldn’t sing – so – well, not exactly excellent qualifications. Anyway, I muscled my way in with my eye on the spot of backing vocalist – I had plans on the back row, boogie a bit and no real responsibility – thus achieving a level of cool in my own eyes that I’d never hoped to see in my whole life.

That is until the first rehearsal – when my lack of talent became abundantly clear to all of us.

The rest of the band – bless them – probably felt quite a degree of responsibility for what might happen to my spiritual wellbeing if they gave me the sack, and they were clearly in an uncomfortable dilemma. Should they get rid of me and lose the dreadful noise in the back row? Or should they give me a tambourine, take away the microphone and reduce my impact on the sound as much as possible? Looking back, I feel for them.

I remember how I felt, and I promise you, it was painful. I knew what the situation demanded – I needed to admit my shortcomings and leave the band graciously; but that would mean admitting to all my other school friends the truth about my lack of ability – The gawky sixteen year old had just achieved some small level of cool and now I was about to lose it again.

I needed help desperately.

So I prayed like I’d never prayed before, asking God to help me; It never occurred to me to pray to be able to sing, it never crossed my mind that it might be on the ‘shopping list’ so to speak; instead I prayed for courage, humility, honesty. All the things I didn’t have and knew I needed. I realised that my only way through this maze was to hand it over to God completely. To let everything go.three

So, for the first time in my life, I experienced that amazing release that can only be found when you completely lay something at Jesus’ feet. During the following week I didn’t sing once, I just prayed and handed over, again, and again, and again.

And God worked. First of all, He showed me that His plan is paramount. That in accepting His plan, I was accepting something that was made just for me; a plan not to harm me, but to prosper me. A plan for which I was perfectly and wonderfully made. It was a life changing lesson.

The next rehearsal found me sitting in an arm chair, watching my friends practice, without feeling any of the familiar resentment that accompanied the thwarted desire to take part myself. I felt joyfully grateful, completely in His hands, completely in His will. Peaceful.

Later on in the evening, there was an interruption in the rehearsal, resulting in only a few people being left in the room. It seemed that the leader of the band suddenly became aware of my presence and in that brief moment of ‘nothing to do’ he took the opportunity to hear some of the songs I’d been writing. “Come on …” he said, “let’s hear what you’ve been up to…”.

I sang through a couple of ditties I’d put together. He looked at me quizzically. “Sing this” he said, giving me one of the songs the band had been working on. And then “sing this”, and then again “how about this one?”.

There was no other way of looking at it. My voice had changed so much as to be beyond recognition. God, given my complete submission to His will, had given me not only what I had asked for…

I am reminded of Abraham, who asked to put the precious sum of all his loves, hopes and ambitions, in the form of Isaac, onto an altar of stones for sacrifice to God, was prepared to do so, thus giving God the trust that enabled the birth of a nation.

He had given me the very desire of my heart. And in doing so, he gave me so much more than I could ever have dreamed.

Gospel

 

Stepping up to line…

God is at work. Miracles are happening. I now have no doubt of God’s love; His ability and desire to heal – and I know that I should be stepping up to the line to take my part. So why do I feel that my prayers have all the authority of a dead mackerel?

10887719_776572215761999_1606746971_nI, and a small group of friends, have taken to following the Wanderlust movies with great enthusiasm. If you haven’t seen any of them, then do. We started off by watching ’Finger of God’, and then rapidly moved on to ’Furious Love’, ’Father of Lights’ and ’Holy Ghost’. During the same period, I was also reading Robby Dawkins’ book ’Do What Jesus Did’.
And I would love to be able to tell you that I’m a changed woman. I certainly felt an undeniable call to action; I was lifted up, encouraged, enthused; but I don’t think that I can claim to have moved forward as much as would have persuaded Robby Dawkins to give himself a delighted pat on the back and start writing his memoirs.

For example, do I have the courage, in appropriate circumstances, to sensitively ask complete strangers on the street, or non-Christian friends if they’d like me to pray for them and ask for healing?

I am sorry to say that the answer is ’no’. My prayers are still reserved for ’safe’ situations. So many opportunities for God to pour out His love and grace are being missed, because I don’t step up to the line.

In Acts 2:17 it says ’In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams’.

Well, we are in the last days, and have been ever since Christ anointed us with Holy Spirit and ascended to Heaven; so why am I so lacking when it comes to striking out and ’doing what Jesus did’?

In fact, ’lacking’ is far too gentle a word for it. There are moments when, I can’t help feeling that I am the wimp at the bottom of the pile.shutterstock_67226176

I have made a few changes… I’m now stopping to chat with ’down and outs’ in the street to find out when they last ate – only three times so far, but getting easier – then, having bought them a cup of coffee and a bacon roll and sat down with them to find out how they’re doing and how they came to be where they are, I have asked if I could pray for them. It also has to be noted that on each occasion they were very happy for me to do so; someone that cared enough to give a little bit of time and kindness was much appreciated.

But, oh boy! When I pray in these exposed situations, I feel as though my prayers are lacking something. I certainly feel huge compassion for the people I am praying for, but…

I guess I’m a work in progress.

I also, now, have no doubt of God’s ability and desire to heal – His love for the people I am praying for. So why do I feel that my prayers have all the authority of a dead mackerel?

I’m trying to work out what it is in me that can’t take that final step of totally trusting God in exposed situations.

I feel far more exposed when I pray for either a complete stranger, or a friend in a ’secular’ environment than I ever would praying in a Christian environment, and I certainly feel more exposed and vulnerable when praying for these people than I ever would performing on stage in front of any size of audience.

Why do I have the feeling that Robby Dawkins’ prayers would be so much more effective than mine?

Is it that I have somehow not quite grasped the fact that God is everywhere? Or is it that although I know He will turn up in critical situations when His people turn up for Him, maybe I haven’t quite grasped that He will even turn up for me? Is it that devil doubt ’I’m-not-worth-it’ thing?

And critically, there’s this, lurking at the back of my mind , if I ask to pray for people and absolutely nothing obvious happens as a result, am I being any kind of ambassador for God? Aren’t I just being a nuisance?

So. This is what I’ve come to so far:

Maybe I need to learn to trust God to the extent that I will pray, regardless of what the outcome should or shouldn’t be. Maybe God can accept that I might not trust Him completely, but what He wants is for me to stand. To show up to the party. To risk my own exposure. To say “OK, I might be about to make a fool of myself – but that’s OK; because Jesus risked far more than that for me.”

Maybe I shouldn’t be praying with an end objective in sight. Maybe I should be doing what Abraham did when he placed his son Isaac on the alter; when he completely placed his first love, his hopes, his ambitions at the mercy of God. I don’t believe for one second that he was confident of what God would do; but because he gave it over to his Lord completely, then it was possible for a nation to be built.

Maybe I should be going out and praying for people, simply because that is what God has asked me to do. The rest is up to Him.

Then, perhaps, I’ll be able to hear what He is asking me to pray for in each situation.

I’ll give God the glory when a person is healed, and give Him the glory when they’re not healed; the miracles – or not – are all His.

Not mine; either to be proud of or shamed by.

shutterstock_2885119And while I’m sorting out my humility, summoning my courage and deciding whether it’s all worth the risk, I’ll remember that Christ was crucified on a cross with all the pain and humiliation that went alongside – knowing that we, who He was doing it for – might never come to accept Him as our saviour.

 

But still He turned up. He took the risk. He stood.

As I say, I’m a work in progress, I suspect you’ll hear more from me on this topic.

 

  • Robby Dawkins book – Do what Jesus Did, is published by Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group and can be purchased through all good retailers.
  • Also thanks to Robby Dawkins for permission to use his photograph. What a nice man.
  • The films Furious Love, Finger of God, Father of lights and Holy Ghost produced by Darren Wilson can be found on the internet from Wanderlust productions http://www.wpfilm.com.