Thursday, January 23, 2020

"We've got stuff to do!"

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:6 NIV.

God recently said no to something that I wanted, and boy did I throw my toys out the pram! It's a little embarrassing if I'm honest, but I'm sure we've all been there.

You pray for something, you feel 100% sure that it's going to happen...and then He says "no". 

Even though we KNOW that God knows what is best for us, we KNOW that He has plans to prosper and not to harm us...we still sometimes think that WE know best, don't we? 

When a door is closed in our face, it's easy to blame the person who closed that door. We get hurt, we get defensive and we can find it reeeeally hard to trust that it's part of His plan when it clashes with our own.
The enemy is quick to jump into those moments with little whisperings of "you're not good enough!".

I'm totally preaching to myself in this took me a while to remember that nobody would be able to close a door that He had opened.

I had a dream a long time ago of walking down a long straight road, and right in the distance at the top of the road I could just about make out a figure standing and waiting. The figure was Jesus. As I was walking down the road I could see lots of different things happening off the side of the road...a bonfire with people huddled around, a group of people playing sports, people having a picnic, people having a fight...and it's just like me to get distracted by shiney things along the way. Instead of keeping my focus on heading towards Jesus along the straight road, I'm wondering "ooh what's that over there?". 

Being a Christian is so, so theory. God has carved out a straight and narrow road, and we know where we are headed. We know how to get there and what waits for us when we arrive at the top of that road...but we get distracted along the way. 
We can wander off of the path, but no matter how far off we stray, the path is always there to jump back on and continue on our way. 

During my....let's call it "wobble"...I was mad. It was a time where alot was going wrong, I felt like what I was asking for wasn't something I wanted, but something that I really needed. I lost my fire for God, though I didn't lose my Faith in Him. But I did lose my motivation for a while. At one point I asked "Where have you gone? You were so present in my life! You were right THERE. Where did you go?" I felt Him say "I haven't gone anywhere. YOU have." 
I had been distracted by a shiney thing!

I had this image of Jesus standing next to me tapping His foot and looking at His watch, saying "C'mon! Are you done tantrumming yet? We've got stuff to do!". 
"But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away." Jeremiah 5:23. 

When I finally got back on the path I noticed that God had been busy. The road had been re-tarmaced... so to speak. While I was busy focussing on being mad, He had been putting my life in order for me and was quick to show me that His plans were definitely better than my own. 

God is Faithful like that, isn't He? He never leaves us, He doesn't hold our tantrums against us and He is always quick to welcome us back when we are ready.

We can make our own plans in life, but God has much bigger and better plans for us. He let's us make our mistakes, and we learn to trust Him when things go wrong. We learn to remember that He knows what He's doing. 

Not that it's easy...I already know that I will have plenty more "wobbles", and so will you...but thankfully He is patient and loves us regardless of our tantrums. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Turning Things Around

"He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.  Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord ."  Isaiah 2:4‭-‬5 NIV

It has been a couple of months since I have felt inspired to write a post, and I have been praying in the last few days for God to give me something to write about...well, since I am now writing this post, you can probably tell that God answered that prayer! 

I was approached this morning by a man who I see most Wednesday mornings at our Communion service, but who I hadn't really spoken to before, and he told me an amazing story which I want to share with you all. 

In 1939, St Martin's Church in Liskeard was appointed a Vicar called John Henry Parsons. Before becoming a Vicar, John would test drive and race Humber cars in Warickshire and he played Cricket for England. John was called away into the military quite soon after becoming Vicar of St Martin's, bringing back with him shell cases that he had made into Communion cups (these were more recently used as flower vases I believe, and have unfortunately disappeared).

During his time serving in the Great War, before joining St Martin's, John won a Military Cross for Gallantry for taking a Turkish Gun Emplacement (an armoured structure for holding weapons) following a Calvary charge and so winning the Turkish Officer's sword to whom he took captive. 

Back in Liskeard, John took his 2 military swords to a local blacksmith (James Harry Pryn) and had them beaten into Ploughshares, which was a common concept in which military weapons were converted for peaceful civilian purposes. 

The man I spoke to this morning remembers the field near the church where John had actually used his ploughshares to harvest wheat, which he then made into bread for Communion.

I found it so cool that this man who had seen such horrific things whilst serving in two wars would come home and use shells and swords from the war for the wine and bread of Communion. 

It's such a wonderful example of using our situations and experiences, however bad, for God's Glory. Using things that were made for such a different purpose, for God's purpose. 

I wonder how many people came to hear John preach at St Martin's, how many were saved through his sermons and work that he did here in the 1950's, and how many of those lifted those same shells to their lips to recieve Christ's blood that was shed for them, through a vessel that also had quite possibly shed blood in such different circumstances. 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 

God can work through the bad things in our lives to accomplish His purposes. He is always in control. He allows the good AND bad things to happen, and we can trust Him to work all things together for good in the lives of those who love Him. Like turning a weapon of war into a symbol of peace, He can (and will!) turn our lives and situations around, even when we are in our darkest and most helpless moments. 

I hope that you find this story as encouraging as I have. I hope that you remember that God is faithful, and He will always turn your weaknesses into strength, your failures into wins, and he will turn your darkest times into light. 

You can find out more about John Henry Parsons (though mostly about his cricket career) by clicking the link