Light on the Hill

red sunset in the mountains on a black background

This is inspired by a comment from a group we have been invited to, which meet on a Thursday evening just round the corner from our house.

We had been reading John 17, about how Jesus prays for himself and for his disciples before he died and a discussion about evangelising followed. Some in the group are definitely evangelists. Me, I’m not really. My evangelism comes from blog posts like this that question things and, hopefully by my life and the way I’ve hung on in there with God through what has gone on. I’m not one to go out and tell people I meet about Jesus. I admire people who do though.

So the discussion has got on to evangelising and someone said “we need to be like a light on a hill. Let our light shine” and then they said “and die to self” and that is what struck me. If homebanner-its_not_about_me1we die to ourselves, to our own wants, needs, expectations, even wanting to see others come to know Jesus, then we can truly shine. We can stop doing things because we want some form of recognition or someone to fulfil our needs.

But also in this chapter Jesus prayed that people would know his followers by their love for each other. And it was this that struck me – I can only really truly love someone if I die to myself and my needs, wants, likes and dislikes. If I die to myself then I can love people who are not like me, who are not people I would normally want to be seen with, etc.

It was was interesting because we were all moving into the whole thing of just having a bit of moan about church organisation, and about hurts we had sustained within churches, and just almost saying how we would do it better. Though there were times when it was “let’s not talk about them but about us” which was good. And in fact I should bring it closer; “let’s not talk about us but about me.” Yes I know we need to stop looking at what How I loveJesus did as individual salvation and much more about corporate salvation but actually I can only change me and how I look at the world, how I react to the world. So if I die to self and then love others unconditionally there is much more of a chance of me being able to look at things corporately because I will no longer worry about whether someone in my “pack” does something I will be embarrassed about.

In fact if I “die to self” I will be able to be comfortable in who I am, what I believe, etc and will not worry about the God other believe in. As Karen Armstrong says in “History of God” we do all actually believe in a different God. That is not to say God is made up but because He is multifaceted we all all see Him slightly differently. But if I am too concerned about how someone else sees God then actually I have not died to self because in fact, deep inside, I am worried about what others thinks. If I have died to self I can let others believe in God how He has revealed Himself to them, which will be different to how He has revealed Himself to me – and you know, that’s ok.

So to be that light on the hill means to be totally transparent, to lGlowing personet the Light of God shine in and through me. It will mean I will care for others as God cares for them which i
s often in a very different way to how I would care/love them.

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Knowing Your Calling

And it probably should say “and being comfortable in it.”

christian-denominationsThere is this thing, or maybe it’s just me, but I have found it in many Christian denominations – this sense of “calling”, of “ministry” of “doing something for God.” I have been there, done it, got the T-shirt, so to speak. I have also struggled when I have felt I am not doing “ministry” stuff.

I will share a bit of a conversation that I had today with a friend. We have known each other for about 13-14 years from a time when I was doing really amazing Christian article_discipleship_relationship-680x379ministry stuff; Youth With a Mission discipling, touring Europe and UK praying, setting up prayer groups, as well as home schooling my kids. I was doing the stuff. All I didn’t have at that point was a ministry title 🙂 And she was a newish Christian and finding her feet. I felt like I was discipling and encouraging her. I got married, Things changed. She found her feet and got connected in and encouraged. She has since got married. She is now out there doing the stuff. I must say I was nervous about talking to her today because I felt she was doing things I would love to be doing and that I would feel jealous that actually I didn’t want to talk for too long because I had a house to clean. Yes my focus has become housework. Something I never thought I would say. Anyway we got chatting and then she started to enthuse about the Healing on the Streets stuff and the prayer tent she is involved in. In fact her and her husband are leading these things. When she talked about the teams she talked about her teams. You know what? Suddenly, when she was saying how one knows one is anointed for something because you find the time and energy for it. Well something in me leaped. You know what excites me at the moment? Having a clean tidy house! And you know something? I notice now when there is a bit of dust, pet hair, smudge on the sink! Yes I now notice those things!! But that is because, for this season, my calling is to keep house.

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Say Moi! 🙂 

Well that was so exciting. I have been journeying on this for a while, but especially since we have started to settle here. I have been churning over whether I should be getting paid work; whether I should be joining groups, starting CWTP groups, doing stuff, and just keep coming back to the fact that I am content walking my dog, doing a bit of writing, keeping up with emailing friends, and cleaning my house and being home to welcome my guests and also my husband. Each time I’ve felt like going off to do I’ve felt uncomfortable which is odd because I have been teased often for rushing about and doing things. Now that is not the case. Not that I have loads of extra time because I am finding all this housework that needs doing. It does mean that when dear Ian gets home often I am tired because I have done a lot of physical stuff but I am not stressed. So tired but not dumping on him. As my friend said – you know when it’s your calling because you have the energy for it, or as another friend said – you know when you are doing what God has for you because you have the Grace. Both really saying the same thing.

So I came off the phone feeling similar to how I had years ago when we had moved to a aid82011-728px-decide-if-your-friend-is-a-true-friend-step-05place of equality; where we had become true friends. I found the whole experience interesting because it made me see how we can so spoil what we are meant to do by trying to be someone else. And also where we have put this whole thing up of what is doing and what isn’t. Have I, like her, waited years to do this? Not the cleaning and the not going to meet with people. No! Do I want to do this forever? Well the way I’m feeling at the moment, Yes! But that is just that God has me where He wants me doing what I am called to do. I might not be able to write cool newsletters about it but I am here doing what I’m called to. And actually what, I think, we often forget with the whole walk with God is that we are meant to do what He has called us to and not send out cool prayer letters. We have to stop striving for the noticeable “ministry” positions and walk our walk as He directs. I am more than capable of doing what my friend is doing but it would be wrong to be doing it now. And I am sure she is more than capable of doing what I’m doing. Although when I mentioned that she laughed so maybe she isn’t.

grace2bmoving2bin2bgod2527sDoes what she do mean she needs more of God than me, or visa versa? No! We both needs God and to walk out this journey with Him as He called us. And then to help others walk out their calling in Him as they are meant to be.

In Different Light

abergele-2000-si-panton-r00322582x
It’s the tall post behind the cafe that I registered for the first time yesterday

I think this part of my journey is about perspectives and today I have been thinking about different lights. The joy of living by the seaside, especially in Britain, is that the sky is always changing and the light is different every day. Yesterday I was walking, a walk I do most mornings, and saw a tall structure that I am sure I had never seen before. On closer inspection it had been there for a while. It was a tall street light!

When I look out to see some days I will see the wind turbines, other days not; some days a few of them, other days lots of them. Yesterday there was an amazing bank of cloud just behind them so that it looked like they were at the bottom of a cliff. The other day the cloud was around their bases so all that could be seen was the blades. The light on my walk

pensarn20quay
where the rain goes

and on my view has very little to do with what the weather is. Where we live often the clouds pass over us to rain on Snowdonia National Park. We are in what is called a “rain shadow” which seems a silly name. I think it should be a “rain’s bypass” 🙂

But the more I thought of light the more I could see that it is to do with what is being revealed, that different place of standing, that different perspective. And I can choose whether I notice or don’t. I can get caught in my own thoughts and miss what the light is doing for today. I have to choose to look, to observe, to remember, and then actually to let it go. No day is better or worse than the other. Each day has its own light – a lot or a little. I have to choose to enjoy the lack of light when the storm clouds are gathering, as much as I enjoy the bright light wishing I had got around to buying those sunglasses.

Glowing personVelveteen Rabbi talked of our light in “Letting Your Light Shine” in which she expounds how before Adam and Eve ate the apple they were just light and that God had to cloth them with skin after they had sinned to conceal their light. As I read it in the context of the journey I am on and with other things I am exploring within in my understanding of God, we can now almost choose how much light we reveal and also how much light we see in others. There are days when I am walking with God and I know that people see His light, or rather my true God-image light, shining through, whereas there are other days when my light is well and truly hidden. I suppose that goes back to the sermon I heard on Sunday about getting rid of habits and hurts so that we reflect God. And actually I think that is what we should be going – reflecting God – rather than trying to “be good Christians”. It’s up to Him not me. I just need to make the space and let the light shine.

But also I can choose how I view the light in others. I can choose how I want to view them.4355a8803ddad25cf59dedb89c2f1a10 And people will give out a little light or a lot but I can miss both if I am not really looking. As with the different skies each day on my walk, that I can choose whether I engage with or not, I can do the same with people. I can choose to engage with them and maybe then, like the the tall street light, see  something in them that I had not seen before even though I had known them a long time.

And often that means we need to let go of past hurts from that person – or who that person reminds us of 🙂

Are You Ready?

Oh my! I’ve just managed to do a huge mistake and have lost a whole post. I will try to 2722781233_31c8f5e721rewrite but am not sure if the words will come again 😦

It is based around these song lyrics.

 I see the King of Glory coming on the clouds with fire
Are you ready
are your lamps filled with oil
have you some in reserve?

clay-grafted-lamp-jar-oil__71949_1and the feeling that at times I feel like I am ready but am not sure I have anything in reserve, but as I wrote the piece that I have lost I have realised that I have more in reserve now I don’t have boundless energy than I did when I could keep going for days.

I am learning that the only way I will be truly ready is to have things in reserve but I need to know where those reserves come from. Since my last post things have been ridiculously busy. As well as back to back Airbnb guests we’ve also had friends and family staying and in the gap in between we went car and furniture shopping. By Friday I felt like I had nothing left but I had to look at what held me.

There are a number of things: one is that I do have to remember to move into the Presence of God because that is where I do get refreshed and when things are busy it is hard. I need gods-presenceto remember that I am an introvert and so being with people will exhaust me and I need to take time to be alone. It is one reason why I love the Anglican service because it does just do the same old same old and it can wash over me and revive me. I also need to realised that I have friends I can check in with.

I have been invited in by a couple of people to get into what I love – spiritual mapping and intercession. Yes I am well ready for that but I felt something wasn’t fitting. And the above song lyrics kept buzzing in my head. So I again remembered that I have friends in reserve so I emailed a couple. They are wise people and they know me. Their response was not to say that I wasn’t ready but that to deal with the issues we were thinking of looking at we needed a larger company. In reality to fight a battle you need the whole army involved, or as this is more a spying out the land you still need the

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26th battalion Middlesex regiment – photo from 19th century called “spying out the land”

whole company of scouts otherwise things will get missed and the enemy could come up from behind. It wasn’t that I wasn’t ready or that I didn’t have things in reserve but that it would be foolish to go without the whole company.

See this is what I came to. That I do have loads in reserve but those reserves make me move slower than I use to. Before I would go crashing about, feel that I was being held back, not appreciated, but now I am content within myself to wait. Like I said at the beginning I feel like actually there is more in reserve because I have the maturity (?)/humility(?) to be wise and know that I am ready with more in reserve to stand the course. 120104_1timothy6_12

 

Why do I believe in God?

So there I am this morning at 6am on a windy hilltop in Ireland with a bunch of other Hill of Tara March 2016Christians waiting for the sun to come up, praying and declaring stuff over the whole of Ireland and a question someone asked me a while ago, connected to some of the atrocities in the world that are committed in Jesus’ name came to me: “How can you believe in God?” and was then followed by a “Don’t even try to tell me” comment. I deleted the email and then tried to forget about it. And was doing good till feeling slightly sleep deprived, hungry and a bit cold it came back into my head.

So I believe in God because I’ve encountered Him. Our first proper meeting was amazing. There was me, a single mum in my early 30’s, still doing a bit of drug, still sleeping around a bit, still drinking enough, smoking, and just a bit unsure of my life, and I turn up at this small house church that was meeting on the council estate (social housing project to my American friends) where I lived and God just met me there. All I can say was that something was said during the talking/sermon bit about God’s love and suddenly I could feel myself being covered in what seemed like a thick oil with glitter in it and knowing thatheart3 God loved me totally unconditionally and totally as I was there and then. It wasn’t a text book conversion. It took a long time, a lot of talking with God and Christians, a lot of reading both the Bible and study books, and even now it is still a journey which just involves me going deeper and deeper with God.

I’ve seen money and houses and furniture and stuff just provided where no coincidence can explain it. I’ve seen people healed and lives changed. I have also seen people not healed and die, had my eye sight totally healed but by a surgeon not by some miraculous encounter. Yes I have seen my friends die from cancers, from suicides, from unhealthy lifestyles they cannot leave. Yes I have seen prayers not get answered as I would like. Yet still I pop up to gatherings at the moment and pray.Why?

I’m not sure I know. I know I’m here with this group this week because I believe it’s where God wants me to be. I’m not one of those who brings along things to pray with or even

medicine-bottle-11-with-green-black-herringbone-interweave
I turn up because I’m one of the threads. Without me it would not be complete

mighty words but I’m here. In fact just recently a new acquaintance, who I hope will become a friend, asked me what my role was in this group. I said “I just come to make up the numbers” which actually isn’t belittling but sometimes I think that is what we are meant to do. It is about being faithful in the small things.

So how do I know this is where God wants me? Well I suppose it comes full circle – I believe He talks to me. I believe He has said for me to come. I believe He hears are crazy early morning prayers on the side of a mountain and it does change things. This faith. I cannot tell this person why. I just do. I cannot tell her why God allows these things to happen that do, horrendous awful things, or why members of my family and friendship groups had to die. I don’t know. But I do know God is real because I’ve met Him. And really until she is willing to meet Him she won’t be able to believe.

Actually I think that is why I go off to these places to pray – because until people are introvertwilling to turn and actually meet with God they will not know He exists. Once they have met with Him then they can ask Him all those questions; all the why questions. I believe that when I gather with my friends and pray across the hills as the sun comes up recreating something that happened hundreds of years ago things do get opened in the heavenlies, blind eyes get a chance to see, deaf ears a chance to hear, lives can be changed. Svulnerability21o I will turn up as often as I believe He is asking me to. Does it strengthen my faith? Sometimes. Sometimes it makes me doubt even more. But you know even when I doubt God exists
then it’s Him I go to to find out.

Trust and Vulnerability

86I’ve been chewing over this post for a while. It’s really about living in the liminal place, which sounds so cool when you talk of it as that spiritual place between earth and heaven but the word means inbetween place. And this is where we are, living in that place between places. Our possessions are packed in boxes. We have done our round of goodbyes. We’ve finished our jobs. But we cannot take up new jobs, sort our new house out ready for the whole hospitality thing, can’t get to know our new neighbourhood. It is an odd place to be.

In one of my regular emails this came up:

Have you found your own, unique sense of purpose for your life? Do you have a vision of what your life might encompass if you chose to live it from your deepest desires and yearnings, from the place of that which you value above all else? What would your life look like if you lived it in accordance with your authentic self?

See now this whole thing of purpose and vision I sort of looked at over October and November when we put the house up for sale and found the new one. For me that whole Patchwork quiltbit of know the vision and the why were sort of easy. Ok not overly but they were things God had been brewing in me, and in my husband, over a number of years, both together and individually. The thing is though they involved moving and place. These questions from Abbey of The Arts actually says about what would my life look like if I lived with my authentic self, not what would it look like if I moved to the right place. It caught me a bit unawares this morning but as I pondered I could see that what I have been doing is saying to myself and probably to God that I can be all the things He has said in the vision once we move to Abergele. This mornings questions say can I live it now?

 

The above paragraph was what I was going to explore but actually I am wondering if maybe we are not meant to be living the vision yet but are meant to be living in the liminal place, in that place of neither one thing or the other, that place of not planning. There was something said at church yesterday which I interpreted as people wanting to see how we lived though uncertainty and change. It wasn’t that the world wants answers but that they want to see how we really live. How am I living not in my vision but in my place between places?

hidingbehindwall-1I think often what is seen by those who don’t go to church is a load of people going to church services, pretending everything is ok, and yet hiding something. I do think in our modern church services we’ve tried too often to show God as the answer to everything when in fact He is the supreme being to hold on to, to shout at, to be hugged by, to be vulnerable with. God is about relationship in life not about answers to stuff we don’t even know the questions for.

Today I woke up all excited like a child on Christmas morning. Does this mean we are moving this week? Who knows. That isn’t in my hands at all to say, but what I do know is that even in this inbetween place I am excited about moving. Last week I was so caught up in wanting to know and then of wondering and angsting about trusting God that I lost my excitement. We are moving. It will happen. When? We don’t know but it will happen and I i-can-t-be-calm-i-m-too-excitedwant to hang on to the excitement of what will come; the walks on the beach, having a room of my own for writing, the guests we will be having, the new stuff, the spa I want to join.

As I wrote that I wonder too if we have forgotten the excitement of heaven, of Jesus coming again, whichever we get to first. It is going to be so amazing, but we have got lost in living in this inbetween place, this life on earth. We’ve either got worn down with the cares of life or of wanting to gather us to come with us but in fact we, as Christians who know what is to come – even if we don’t know the details it will be living with God for ever and ever and eternity. We should be like small children filled with that buzz and excitement.

Oh I love the fact that God can take my situation – moving – and turn it round to make me look at Him and what is to come. Wow!!!

One Day At A Time

I had a lovely response from a dear friend after yesterday’s blog which is probably the first time I’ve really seen Christianity and Mindfulness fully tie in together. He said: “Like an eagleisaiah40v31kjvalcoholic who needs to take one day at a time and say, ‘Today I am not going to have a drink’ similarly trust in God, surrendering to Him, is not worrying about tomorrow or the next day or next week but deciding to say each day, ‘Today I am going to fully trust God in all things’. This state allows us to live in and out of His will for us and therefore instills His Peace in our lives.”

So I took this and today as I was led in bed just said “Today Lord I’m going to trust you as best I can.” So if anyone asks me how long I’ve been a Christian I will say “today I’ve been following Jesus for  x hours”.

When I woke too this chorus came to mind

One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.

And I’ve been humming it all day. So often I think as a Christian I’ve seen it as a long haul and that I’ve got to be able to say something to others. I do have a great testimony in loadsone_day_at_a_time_by_franknardi2-d4s3yq8 of areas but at times I slip, at times its hard, but actually I can pick myself up and start again each day.  I think there can be times when I am especially hard on myself and think that I haven’t been honest or trusting God and really that is just me being accused by the Devil/enemy/inner self. I have had some amazing times when I’ve been trusting God for so much and then there have been times when I have crashed. If I can see myself as continually being resurrected and it not being  a once and once only event then I can happily sing “one day at at time sweet Jesus” rather than “let me know the plans in detail”. And there will be days when I crash, like I did on the weekend, and lose sight of if all but then there will be other times when I know where to go.

3wb37-07ongoingconversion4x5The last post wasn’t the first time I’ve been honest about where I am with God in my struggles and I don’t expect it will be the last. I am a work in progress and my testimony is built not in how I fall but in how I get up; not in the fact that I can keep going but in who I turn to when I’m crashed in the dirt.

So today, even though there are still many issues with the whole house buying thing and the person who could sort it is “out of the office” (on holiday?) till tomorrow, I feel at peace with God, with life and with the whole moving process.

I also feel grateful to the friends I have that don’t let me walk this alone. Sometimes their challenges are harsh but, as with the last few days, I finally feel like I’ve got it. I want to shout from the rooftops that this whole Christianity/following Jesus thing is something we need to want to do every day. It’s not about going to church. In fact we can hide in going to church, and often that is the complaint from those who don’t give the whole Jesus thing a go. (More on this to follow tomorrow – hopefully – as I don’t want to change the emphasis of today’s post)

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Julian of Norwich   156980