Full Moon

A full moon behind clouds in the night sky. Free photo 82951091 © creativecommonsstockphotos РDreamstime.com

I couldn’t sleep last night. Maybe it was my ribs still hurting (which seem to be working on the “I’m almost better so I can do things today to the following day’s oh no I’m not because I did too much” theory of healing!), or it could have been the wine I drank last night and the very nice pumpkin pie, or it could be listening to the storm outside and then being woken by the full moon peaking through the clouds. In the end I decided I might as well get up and have a cup of sleepytime tea.

We’ve got a couch in the bay window of our living room so I curled up on the couch with my drink, opened the living room curtains and there was the moon looking back at me. Then it went and hide for a bit behind some white cloud. There was an awesome looking cloud up there, a storm cloud, that looked like fingers stretching across the sky which was being lit by the light from the full moon. And as I watched it seemed like the moon burned away those whiter clouds and hung there with a golden ring around it. I wish I had taken a photo but I knew that by the time I switched on my phone, got distracted by the messages on it, and sorted the camera out, that moment would have gone. So I just sat and enjoyed the moment.

The trees across the road from me were being battered by the wind, leaves being ripped from them, street lights twinkling as the branches swept back and forth. But high in the sky that black finger-like cloud was hardly moving, the moon was hanging there. Everything in the upper reaches of the sky was calm and still. It made me think of how often we are only looking at our chaos of the moment, the stuff we are battling through for now. And that is not to dismiss what is going on now. This week a friend’s nephew died in his sleep, another friend’s neighbour’s 5 year old was buried, another friend’s mum is in hospital but she can’t go and visit her because of lockdown restrictions. There is chaos, destruction and a storm raging down here on earth at the moment. But what that sky above was telling was that if we can look up – again to the “where does your hope come from?” – there is strength and calm. As Oscar Wilde is reputed to have said “we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.” I wonder if he meant the Glory of God. [discussion on Oscar Wilde’s faith maybe another time???]

The moon is always there. The moon is always full but often it does not show us it’s fullness. I think God is like that too, always there but not always showing the fullness of God. I am learning that my hope is not always in what God does but in who God is. My trust is not in what God does but in who God is. For too long I’ve been lookng at what God does and been disappointed but if I can look to who God is then I have hope, trust and joy even when there is a storm rampaging through my world. I can reach upwards for the stillness that is always promised which will give me the peace and strength to deal with the storms of here on earth.

Listen to what you’re saying!!!

Or analogue from falling off a horse part two!!

Gwytherin churchyard – taken by me April 2019

Since the start of lockdown myself and other prophetic writers have been banging on about resting, reseting, reconnecting, renewing, etc. Lots of “re”‘s in there!! But are we really listening? Or maybe it is just me!

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been led on the couch getting over a fall from a horse (how it came about is mentioned in the previous post) and I am bored. I still ache, still can’t do all the normal things I do round the house, am tired and am having trouble keeping concentration. Why? Well because my bones or muscles, whichever it is, are trying to reset and renew, but I want to get back to doing, but healing takes time.

Here in North Wales in are about to start a two week “firebreak” to try and deal with this coronavirus. Who know if it will work or not but I wonder if it is like me having a long bath with Epsom salts and hoping that means I can put the hoover round later. I will tell you from experience that it doesn’t work. I still need the time. And I need to be imagining my “new normal“. But I, like my country and my church, and like so many others, do not want to put in that time. I’m bored of sitting around doing nothing but reading and thinking and sleeping!

Did God let me fall off my horse so I could have time to rest? Did God send the coronavirus so we could all have time to rethink? Someone I know had a horrid accident and got compensation for it, then 20 years later a member of his family nearly lost their home and he was able to use his compensation to stop that happening. Did God cause him to have the accident so he had that money? I don’t think so but I know God uses everything.

So I need to let God use my time led on the couch here and having to ask people for help so that I can rest, refresh, reset, and renew. And maybe too we to, as a Church, as a nation, need to follow the same example and allow God to help us to reset, refresh and renew and so become all we are meant to be. Perhaps this is a time to humble myself and pray and let God do the healing?

[A great resource I’ve found to help with this is The Prayer Shield]

Analogue from horse riding

It’s my daughter on a horse not me

I started horse riding only about 2 years ago, just before my 57th birthday. I did used to ride when I was in my teens but got more interested in boys and drinking than riding so gave it up ūüôā It was a challenge to restart. When lockdown came, of course things ceased, and then the stable I used to go changed direction and my friends, all women of a similar age, had to look for somewhere else to ride. This new stables is teaching me as much about my relationship with God as it is about riding.

“Let go of the reins and trust” my instructor tells me often. I have a fear of going too fast and not being in control. He keeps telling me that I need to trust the horse, not pull on its mouth so hard as that really does hurt the horse and believe that all will be well. Very much an analogy there of of how we need to trust God and not hold on to control so tightly.

“Sometimes I think you are more of a passenger on that horse” he said the other day when I was too scared to keep my legs on the horse. Keeping legs on keeps the power in the horse and keeps it moving. Without legs on the horse can slow and its front legs can go slower then its back legs and it can trip. Again with God how often are we passengers, just going along for the ride, not really engaged with what He’s up to?

Then here’s the bit you can feel sorry for me for a while but not for long. A week ago I fell off the horse I was riding and I think I’ve cracked a rib. If not cracked then bruised it badly and I’ve also bruised muscles down my right side and my right wrist. All very painful and painkillers are just touching the surface of the pain. Ok that’s the end of being sorry for me because the fall was my fault!!! I was just going into a canter, which I struggle to do because it frightens me. Not sure why but it is probably to do with trusting myself and the horse. So I pulled on the reins, which caused my poor horse to trip. As I started to slide outwards instead of using my body and leaning inwards and letting centrifugal force pull me back on, I reached for the fence that was rushing past me. Why I do not know! So as I fell my hand was at the top of the fence – not holding on I don’t think – but that is how I’ve bruised my wrist which has aggravated an old hitchhiking injury (that’s another story!!). But it also meant that the whole of my right side was stretched out and exposed. So when I hit the ground that was what I landed on. The fall was my fault!

I’ve been led here on the couch not able to do much but think (and feel sorry for myself!!) and have wondered how often we fall off on our Christian journey and blame everyone else but ourselves. We blame God, Church, fellow Christians, the mission organisation, the devil, the world, etc. But sometimes it is because we were scared, pulled the reins in too tight, leant the wrong way, grabbed for something we should not have done. And so we are battered, bruised, feeling weepy and tired, and not able to keep going for a while.

So on my journey with God I need to stay engaged, not hold on so tight and trust more in the process. Now I will just have to ponder what that looks like in practical ways for another blog post! ūüôā

Unless You Become Like a Child …

My husband celebrating his 45th birthday at Diggerworld – taken by me June 2013

I was reading Christine Sine’s book “The Gift Of Wonder” this morning but had also woken up with the verse “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes” which is the first part of Revelation 21:4

Now this verse has always confused me because I am a crier. I can cry at the drop of the hat. In fact I have just been watching a TED talk about restoring old manuscripts and that made me cry. It is a bit of a family joke about me crying. And it has worried me that I could become a different person when I got to heaven and I have grown to quite like me. But then I read as Christine’s book it starts with the story of Jesus in Mark 10 and Luke 9, in which Jesus talks about welcoming the little children and saying how we need to become like a child and about how God wants us to play.

As I was journaling around this it struck me that in the playground children run and jump and play without fear, but this often leads to falls and tears. There are also the “rules of play” and there is often some bossy kid who makes others cry by assertively enforcing those rules. But if you stand on the sidelines and observe those playing times that are fully entered into, the tears come quickly but then they go just as quickly. The good parent or playgroup monitor wipes away those tears, wipes the hurt better, kisses the hurts and tears away and the child goes back to play again. And if handled properly by the adult they go straight back into the game without fear or without holding back. I believe we cannot fully enter into play and joy and wonder without there being a few tears along the way. That’s all part of it.

As we get older we pick up ideas about tears being wrong, that really we shouldn’t cry, shouldn’t show our emotions. So we learn to stop entering in. Oh my, have we stopped giving God an amazing opportunity to wipe those tears away!!!

God says “in heaven I’ll wipe those tears away”. Well if we are to believe that heaven is a now thing as much as an “after we’re dead thing” then those tears, when we let them come, can be wiped away now.

But also if God is going to wipe our tears away in heaven that means that we are going to have tears in heaven too. If heaven is going to be a place of full joy then I am going to cry. I know I am. Joy makes me cry as much as sadness, anger, grief, etc do.

I used to worry about going to heaven because I thought it might be a bit dull, but now that I believe that I can enter into heaven in full childlikeness, running, jumping, falling, getting hurt, getting up again. So in heaven I might fall. No in fact if I am fully childlike then I will rush headlong into things and will fall. But the exciting thing is that if I am living fully in God’s kingdom, fully in heaven on this earth, then I will fall, will trip up, will not get all the rules of the game fully sorted and will get upset when someone reprimands me on them, but the exciting thing is that God will wrap me in his arms, give me a huge hug, wipe away my tears and then I can go back into the game again.

Those short, sharp, deep, painful tears will be wiped away every time by our loving, caring, protective, always there, parent. Wow, now that was too exciting to keep to myself

Where is your hope?

My hope comes from the hills – Psalm 121 (image taken by myself at Gwytherin April 2019)

I’ve been thinking a lot about hope and what it means, especially after sending a text to a friend talking of hope.

She had said that two unexpected things had happened – one that their neighbour had, out of the blue, decided to cut back his trees which would mean they could regain their lovely view, and then that someone had managed, what had seemed the impossible, and had found somewhere to rent. I had responded with Psalm 121 and that the trees being cut back were so that they could see their hope again. She messaged back to say she had shared this with someone else who had responded back to her that they has lost all hope because of not receiving an answer to prayer. I’ve also heard from an older person I know how she has lost hope and wants to die because of all this lockdown stuff. So what is that hope that the Bible talks about?

When my father-in-law died my husband read Habakkuk 3:17-18 at his funeral. His death had come during a long period that my husband and I had endure of unanswered prayer and of searching for God in the midst of it.

Though the fig tree does not bud

    and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

    and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

    and no cattle in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

It made me wonder how often we are taught in churches, or take on board ourselves, that belief that God answers prayer the way we want it. And that we hitch our hope to getting what we want. We are taught, and teach ourselves, that God is the truly loving father, full of unconditional love. Does unconditional mean that we always get what we want or even need? Is this why we lose faith when things don’t happen as we would like?

One of the big moans of the older generation towards “children of today” is that they are unruly and rude and have no respect for their elders. Some of that reason is that they get everything they want – the best trainers, phones, trips to exciting places on holidays etc. And because of that many of them come with a sense of entitlement – which I think is a lot of what we are seeing with all generations during this season, with not being able to do as they want when they want. We think we’re entitle to things, but are we?

Can we really be joyful in God if we don’t get what we want; our world is gripped by a pandemic, by weak leadership, by selfish world leaders in many fields, by global warming? Can we really rejoice when those we love don’t get healed, don’t get what they want, aren’t fulfilled? (and by rejoice I don’t mean Pollyanna attitude of pretending nothing is wrong, of smiling in adversity but I mean that deep rejoicing in God) How do we do that?

I think we can and I think we should and I think this is what is being asked of us during this period.

Sometimes we can’t see that hope, like my friend with the trees blocking her view of the hills, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Tom Sine talks in 2020 Foresight about how we need to be praying in Psalm 121 as we look towards the changes we need to make in our churches for the future. So let us lift our eyes and remember where our help and hope and support really does come from. As Oscar Wilde said “We’re all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars“. So let’s look up, remember, take hold and have hope even if nothing turns out as we would like it.

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

1¬†I lift up my eyes to the mountains‚ÄĒ
    where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

3¬†He will not let your foot slip‚ÄĒ
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

5¬†The¬†Lord¬†watches over¬†you‚ÄĒ
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night
.

7¬†The¬†Lord¬†will keep you from all harm‚ÄĒ
    he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.