June Gratitude

June Gratitude

I already feel my spirit rise joyfully as I begin to look back on the prayers answered and blessings received during June.

June has ushered in a series of events that have challenged me greatly.

I thought of the word ‘challenge’ and smiled to see the word ‘change’, with just 3 extra letters in the middle.

The letters l-l-e.

Little Life Events.

(I resist change, though I know it is a gradual constant in all of life and is necessary – and to be welcomed and embraced – for growth.)

But from time to time there are these ‘little life events’ that interrupt our equilibrium and cause us cha-lle-nges.

I have been experiencing a few of these throughout June and they will continue to take some outworking over the Summer at least.

Truly a grateful heart counting blessings is medicine to an anxious mind.

So I think of all that Father God has done in my life already and how much he has blessed me with answered prayer and extra blessings throughout June.

I publicly want to give Him thanks and glory for:

A great ACW weekend of inspiration, support and fellowship.

Full recovery from my accident and picnic on the park to celebrate with the grand-kids.

For the ‘Bow Down’ event in the Nottingham Market Square and glory to You in this city.

For bringing S safely back to Switzerland and for organising the next season of her journey.

For the Queen and her 70 years service to this country and to You.

For Holy Spirit to guide, protect, empower, remind, renew, comfort, convict, refresh, warn, enliven, embolden, encourage… (fill in the rest yourself)

For a new phone on the day it was needed.

For friendships, re-connections, spontaneous fellowship and seeds sown.

For C’s new official role at church and for her energy, vision and heart.

For Your gift of kindness in others and in me, and the power of it.

For a superb, transformational second weekend at the EH course; for breaking the old lies over me, and for enabling me to minister to others.

For blessing me with S and for giving me patience with him.

For sustaining me through the weeks of trial and teaching me to trust only You and not to lean on my own understanding.

For teaching me, loving me, forgiving and healing me, patiently, one day at a time.

For teaching C the importance of budgeting.

For support and advice from generous Christian professionals and for A’s kindness, active listening, practical and holistic wisdom.

For a card from a friend which says that ‘mightier than the waves is His love.’ Amen.

Whenever I have felt overwhelmed and tempted to panic, I have remembered Peter’s words: Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life.’

I have searched my heart and counseled myself, saying, ‘Dawn, if you trust God with your health, your life, your eternal life, your children, your family and your loved ones, can you not trust God with this?’

Today I read a story (in the UCB Word for Today) of a man who sees a boy being beat up by thugs. The man goes in and rescues the boy, takes him to hospital, pays the money and cares for him and, learning that he is an orphan, he adopts him, gives him his own name and welcomes him into his home and family. One night he hears the boy sobbing and goes in to comfort him and ask the matter. The boy tells his new ‘Daddy’ that he is worried about where he will find food, drink and clothes tomorrow and where he will sleep. Understandably his Daddy rightfully troubled that, after all he has done for him, that the boy he loves as his own son still doubts him.

My Father God knows that I am anxious about many things at the moment and he told me this story to let me see how sill my worry is!

I can trust him 200%!!

Thank you that Your faithfulness is my shield, hope and dwelling place.

psalm 93:4

Remembering His Promises

Remembrance Blog 3

In the previous 2 blogs, I explored how November is a month where traditionally in the church and in the wider society, we remember people from the past – those whose lives inspire us to be greater people and those whose lives warn us of consequences of rebellion or folly. We also traditionally remember our forbears who have gone before us and left their own legacy.

Throughout the history of the relationship between God and His people, God regularly ‘commands’ us to remember (call to mind) Him and His Covenant promises with His people.

Here are some examples from the Old Testament, where God exhorts US to remember His faithfulness to His Covenant –

Ex 23:14-17

Three times a year you are to hold a festival for me. Hold the spring Festival of Unraised Bread… That was the month you came out of Egypt… Hold the summer Festival of Harvest when you bring in the first-fruits of all your work in the fields. Hold the autumn Festival of Ingathering at the end of the season when you bring in the year’s crops. Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Master, God.”

Deuteronomy 5:15

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.”

Deuteronomy 8:18

But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

Psalm 77: 11-12

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will reflect on all You have done and ponder Your mighty deeds.”

Why does God command us to remember His ‘mighty deeds’? I think it is because we are so prone to forgetting and to focussing instead on our own immediate, day-to-day issues. Our tendency is to be overwhelmed by our present concerns and to take a microscopic focus on our circumstances or our own limited human capacity. Remembering that God is with us and for us inspires faith, hope and a greater capacity to love and to follow Him.

Remembering God’s mighty deeds of the past puts God in the focus of our mind and gives us a telescopic view of His care and faithfulness and reminds us of the bigger picture. Remembering that God hears our cries, answers our prayers and comes to the aid of His people, this builds our faith and our hope in Him who, if He has been faithful and mighty, He can be faithful and mighty again. Remembering His interventions in our stories also causes us to pause and to give Him the thanks He deserves and the peace to rest in His provision. This is why I do my monthly public thanksgiving for specific prayers answered. It reminds me to have faith in His faithfulness.

God remembers His promises

But sometimes it is God Himself who ‘remembers’ His Covenant, when His people call upon Him to act and to save –

Genesis 9:14-16

It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Exodus 2:23-25

Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.

Psalm 105:8

He has remembered His covenant forever,

The word which He commanded to a thousand generations.

God’s word is there to remind us of His constant faithfulness to His Covenant with His people.

God desired a greater intimacy with us. He planned to restore the intimacy lost in the Garden of Eden. He spoke of His plan and fulfilled His plan in Jesus, when He extended His Covenant with all of humanity. We will look at that in the next post.

Let it inspire your faith – God will never forget you! He loves you with an everlasting love. His word always accomplishes what it says. Remind Him of His promises to you and build your trust on His faithfulness.

The Secret Den

it needs to be covered in woven grass with a woven lattice grass door….

Once upon a lifetime, there was an ordinary little girl, who lived in a big old house, with secret corridors, a scary dark cellar and the bogeyman. Suzie did as she was told (mostly because she would be in very big trouble if she didn’t) and she wanted everyone to be happy and to like her. She lived with her mother, her father, her big sister, and the cat, Smokey.

She didn’t really remember their first house, where her mother had gone up in flames, but then, when she was four, they went to live in the caravan in the countryside. In the waking hours, between sleeps on her little bench in the caravan, she would daydream in the stream, or in her dens in the bushes and trees. She has some scary memories of beatings, rifles and accidents, but mostly she loved the caravan, emerging into herself in the fresh space outside and with her friend at the little village school. She sees and smells the pinks and wallflowers in the skimpy border around the tiny metal home, and feels how, one bleak September day, she returned to find her dens and all the bushes destroyed.

Then they moved to this big house, with the cellar, the bogeyman and the blue Persian cat, Smokey. Her mother had a shop to run and her father had cars to mend, but often he stayed at home, battling a wicked spirit that would make him either frighteningly angry, or terribly sad. At the new school, they laughed at her old clothes and silly haircuts and she went bright red, clumsy and dumb. The two friends she made were never allowed in her house and she was never allowed in theirs. The teachers liked her work, so she worked hard to please them. At school, she learned that she was slow, poor, shy and ‘boring’, but good at reading, writing and drawing. She knew she was strong and wanted to be a gymnast and a circus-acrobat. At home she learned that men could become suddenly violent and very dangerous; that nobody could be trusted; that she was ‘just like her mother’; and that the safest thing, in life, was to try to make people happy and get them to like you… but sadly, that it was impossible for Suzie and, no matter what she did, she always got it wrong!

In the Summer of her twelfth year, Suzie joined a group of singing sunbeams for a week’s holiday to a seaside in Wales. She felt happy there and every morning and evening they would go into a little chapel and sing songs and tell stories about Jesus. At night, the chapel became a magical place with candles twinkling, colours dancing and soothing sounds of rest. It was more than all the words she had to describe her feelings, and she wanted it to last forever. She hadn’t dared to hope for such a thing, but the chapel felt like the home in a Fairy Tale. In the daylight, the seaside was real, but, every evening, the magic returned. On the third evening, Suzie desperately cried for the magic to stay with her forever; for Jesus to forgive all her sins and to make His home in her. She gave Jesus her heart, but she wasn’t sure He would want it! The following morning, in the cold light of cornflakes, she felt foolish for having hoped and knew she’d done it wrong and deserved nothing anyway. But every night the magic became more real and every night she gave Him her heart and sat beside Him, allowing Him to welcome her, gentle, listening, and to let her rest her head… He became her secret place of rest, her new den, and although He already knew everything, Suzie could say whatever she thought or felt and be safe…

She had to leave the chapel, but Suzie took home her secret hiding-place. She gave her heart to Him over and over, just in case she’d got it wrong, because she still felt so dirty, lazy and stupid. And in that special den, she was made right again; forgiven, safe, warm, welcome and wanted. Like magic!

But Jesus was not magic. At the onset of her teenage years, forces of wickedness grew wild and ferocious against her, but He did not wave a magic wand and make the bad things stop, or give her the nice things she asked for. He simply promised to be with her. He was not her fairy God-mother after-all, so, as she left girlhood behind and the battle against her raged, she was often terrified and either rebelled or resisted as she fought her many battles. But He kept His promise to always be with her. Every time she looked for Jesus in her secret den, there He was, faithfully waiting, gently listening, full of mercy, love and forgiveness. He let her hide, get her breath and courage back, picked her back up, refreshed her, gave her another chance, another hope…

She escaped from the battlefield at home, but had still more skirmishes to fight, and finally, battle weary and scarred, 19 years old and full of hope, she gave Him not just her broken-heart, but her whole life and let Him wash off all the grime in the waters of baptism. Such Joy. Such hope. Such transforming love!

43 years on from that chapel in Wales, Suzie still has her den. It is her heart’s home of precious treasure and plunder from battle victories. In the centre is the cross and the crown, of the lamb and the lion, who are her faithful friends; the surrounding space is filled with the light of love, illuminating tiny containers of years of tears, the perfume of prayer and gifts of grace, permeated with thankful praise. Mountains of mercy embrace the treasure and a fountain of healing joy bubbles daily, fresh from the well beside the cross…

Nobody, nor any force in all creation, can ever destroy this den or the treasure contained within. It is an everlasting testimony to the Glory of a faithful God.