Thursday, 30 October 2008


N.B. At the Praise and Healing Service a few weeks ago, I was experiencing a real numbness of heart, towards God and my own relationship with him. At that moment in time, I felt I could do nothing else but pray for other people. And I did, in all earnesty and sincerity, pray for some people that are dear to my heart, and needing of some real intervention. But never in those moments could I contemplate restoring God's faithfulness to my own heart, and I left the service feeling two things: that God had the power to change things, and that He wanted nothing to do with me. A complete thought contradiction, I know, but that's how I was feeling.

During the service, Phil used the following prayer. And although at the time, I was not in the right state of mind, (or perhaps this was why) I felt the pit of fear building in my stomach as we prayed this as an entire congregation. But when I got home, I prayed it again, by myself in the stillness, and have been praying it ever since.

My soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning.
Out of the depths I have cried to You.
O Lord, hear my voice.
With my whole heart I want to praise You.
O Lord, hear my voice.
If you, Lord, should mark iniquities
Who could stand? who could stand?
I will wait for the Lord.
My soul waits, and in His word do I hope.

Lord, You have always given bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor, today I believe.
Lord, You have always given strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak, today I believe.
Lord, You have always given peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart, today I believe.
Lord, You have always kept me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am, today I believe.
Lord, You have always marked the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden, today I believe.
Lord, You have always lightened this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here, today I believe.
Lord, You have always spoken when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now, today I believe.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


N.B. Have you ever seen the film, The Secret Garden? I used to watch it a lot as a kid.

Quick background info here: In the film, Mary, a young girl who doesn't know how to cry, is sent to live with her reclusive uncle after losing her parents in an earthquake in India. Whilst staying at his house, she discovers her bedridden, "crippled" cousin, Colin, hidden away from the world. She also finds a secret garden that is present somewhere in the middle of a vast array of gardens, but no-one knows how to get into it, because the door is locked and hidden. Having found a key hidden in her deceased aunt's room, Mary retrieves it and eventually finds the door to unlock it. She enters the garden, but everything looks dead and unkempt.

After sharing this secret with her new friend Dickon, he informs her that the garden is very much alive. It just needs seeds to grow and a bit of love and attention. The same is true with Colin. She eventually manages to get him outside, into the garden, and between the three of them, the garden becomes a place of healing for the girl, and eventually for her uncle and cousin who are still grieving the loss of their mother/wife. Colin learns to walk, her uncle learns to laugh, and Mary learns to cry.

I feel like my life recently has very much been twining through these series of events. I know that there is a secret garden down inside of me, and I have found the key. Maybe, amongst it all, I have even found the door as well. But entering through it, and looking around at all things that right now, look dead and unkempt, is a process I am struggling through. I am in the winter of my garden, when things need to die and fall away to make space for the new things to grow once more in the spring. The time when seeds sleep beneath the surface in the dampened darkness. The time when the earth is hard to break, and the cold mist settles harshly on the ground. But, like all winters, it will not last forever. The spring will come, and life will spring up once more. The emptiness of the winter will fall away as the bright colours bloom across the ground. The trees will grow leaves, and fresh shoots will grow up into the light. I know that eventually, God will bring healing to this place. And maybe then, I will learn to cry once more.

Thursday, 16 October 2008


N.B. Sometimes you just can't find the words to describe how you feel, and that feeling inside eats away at you day by day. Sometimes, it takes so much just to look up, and see the caring eyes that are watching you. Sometimes it takes more strength to admit you're struggling, than to battle on through single-handedly. But in all times He is near. And this I know: my God is faithful.

"At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised."
Job 1: 20 - 21

Sunday, 12 October 2008


N.B. Looking back on what I was thinking about this time last year I was surprised to find that it is almost identical to what I have been thinking about for the last few days. I would encourage you to read my old blog from back then, and also others that I have written, as I often find reading back helps me to relearn lessons that I have forgotten.

These last few days I have been thinking about togetherness. There is a great video that Phil has shown in church a few times about Rick and Dick Hoyt who complete so much more together than could on their own. It's a great example of what I'm trying to rediscover. I love the thought of me and a certain seven-year-old walking anywhere together. Because there will always come a point on our journey (or perhaps, even before we set out) when he will ask for 'shoulders' or a piggy-back. Sometimes it is because he is tired and can't walk anymore, but mostly he just wants a free ride, or the acknowledgement that he's still small enough and I'm still strong enough to do it. And 99% of the time, I oblige, because it's quite sweet when he asks, and its a bond that we share.

We are all on a journey. (How many times have I blogged that, this year?) But we are not on this journey alone - or rather, we can all choose not to travel it alone. There are people around us every day, whom we can share this journey with, and likewise, we must make time ourselves to share in journeys with other people. And there are times on our journey when we need to ask someone for that reminder that they are ready to support us when we are too tired to carry on, just like we, in turn, must support them in their weaknesses.

This morning, Rev. Pete Tom preached about the good reasons why it is important for christians to meet with someone in which to share and learn. I myself have experienced the goodness of one-to-one fellowship and really grown as a result of that, so I appreciated what he was saying. But there was one little bit which really stuck with me from this morning, which I shall quote loosely here:

"There are things you are prepared to share one-to-one which you would never share, even in a small group. You can feel amazingly safe. Going on a journey into unknown territory: it always feels better to share that adventure with someone else, rather than going there by yourself, especially if the other person has been there before."
[p21 - 'Making Disciples One-To-One, Peter Thomas © 2008]

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: [after three hours of attempting to write this blog...] We all have a choice. And actually, it is a choice we must think very seriously about. As followers of Christ, we must strive to be like him in all aspects of our lives. Jesus had friends and disciples to share his journey with him, and even as He was crucified, He had a man on either side sharing in his pain, anguish and torment, and many more watching from afar, mourning and grieving him. But they all, in one way or another, learnt something from sharing the journey with him - either by something he did or said, or something he didn't do or say. And He, in turn, was moved/affected by the people he met and talked to. (Lets face it, it wouldn't be much of a gospel message if Jesus just wandered about in the desert for three years...)

Like my seven-year-old friend, we mustn't be afraid to ask someone when we need a bit of help to carry on, or maybe just someone to make us feel that little less alone. Because, if we really need it, where does not asking leave us? Don't be embarrassed to say, 'Hey, I'm feeling a bit pants. Give us a hand, yeah?' Because if they are able to help, and you are helped, then that's what is really important. And hey, you are always welcome to drop me an email/comment if you really are desperate for a friend, cause I can always do with one more. :)

Ahh. I think I'm finished. This has got to be worthy of a comment or two by the people that read this - I've spent over three hours trying to work out what I'm trying to say, I at least deserve to know whose read it!


I've had a great weekend at home with my family. And catching up with some really good friends. I was settled and disturbed by a service at my home church, having realised some things change really quickly and some things just don't. Ahh well. :)

I bought a Tagalog phrase book. (Filipino national language) It's awesome. Well looking forward to learning to say some more interesting things than 'your face looks like an egg' which really doesn't come up in conversation all that often. Hehe.

Meh. Run out of non-preachy things to say, so good morning, good afternoon and good night!

Thursday, 9 October 2008


N.B. [This is very closely tied in with my last entry, please read them both with an attitude of understanding.] I wish I could cry sometimes.

This was the passage that they shared as Robin’s favourite verse last Wednesday. I thought it appropriate to share it with you now.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
the terrors of the grave overtook me.
I saw only trouble and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.
He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears,
My feet from stumbling.
And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!

I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, Lord.”
In my anxiety I cried out to you, “These people are all liars!”
What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die.

O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant,
Born into your household; you have freed me from my chains.
I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people—
in the house of the Lord in the heart of Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

I don’t know about you, but this passage really challenged me when I first read it through. Can we really commit to praising God when things are hard? Do we really say, “God is good!” when we feel only pain? I was planning a worship slot for Optimum-Weds when I came across this passage in a book a friend has only recently given me. I was trying to write a whole blog on this revelation that I have been experiencing firsthand in the last few weeks, but I thought that this section of the book actually speaks it a lot better than I could manage to:

"A while back I wrote a song called, ‘When The Tears Fall’. It was written at a time when life for me was hard. I’d taken a few knocks and suddenly my heart was filled with questions and doubt. One evening, feeling very low, I sat down and started pouring out my heart to God. The first line I sang out was, ‘I’ve had questions without answers. I’ve known sorrow, I have known pain.’ Immediately, I looked for a response. How do you follow a line like that? Well the answer is, look to Jesus. Everyone on this earth experiences pain, suffering, bereavement and illness. The only difference is that for those who believe that Jesus is Lord, we have a Saviour we can turn to and cling to.

But there’s one thing that I’ll cling to;
you are faithful Jesus, you’re true.

As I sang out of my pain and doubt, my soul found rest in Jesus. At first I concluded this was a personal song only for my own use. However, the more I pondered it, I began to realise that the sentiment and theme of this song was just as worshipful as any other; for there has to be a place for pain in the Church.

We need a bigger picture of what worship is. Questioning God doesn’t mean we are disobeying Him. Expressing doubt doesn’t mean we are lacking faith. In our everyday living, the people we’re most likely to share our deepest fears and questions with are those we most love and trust. It’s an intimate thing to be honest and raw with someone. It’s something that draws you closer to a friend. Expressing anger and pain in worship can actually be a beautiful, intimate thing. Dan Allender says,

"Lament cuts through insincerity, strips pretense, and reveals the raw nerve of trust that angrily approaches the throne and then kneels in awed, robust wonder...”

It’s easy to praise when everything is going according to plan. It’s more of a challenge when everything around us is falling to pieces. It takes great faith to say, ‘You are Good’ when life is incredibly hard. But God is good and forever worthy of our praise. This is not dependant on our feelings. Day and night, always the same, God deserves our highest praise.

We will find great comfort and healing in the Church by allowing space to be honest and real about how we really feel. To allow questions and doubts to rise, but in that place, to respond to God by worshipping His holy name"

"I will praise you, I will praise you
When the tears fall, still I will sing to you.
I will praise you, Jesus praise you
Through the suffering, still I will sing."

[Quote taken from "Inside Out Worship; by Matt Redman and Friends]

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


N.B. I guess it is in the darkness that the stars shine their brightest. I attempt here to lay down the things that I have been clinging to this week.

Last week I attended the celebration service of Robin Bose, who was a dear husband, father, uncle, brother and son to some very amazing people. The service was a beautiful tribute to someone who lived life to the full, grasping each moment as precious and leaving a legacy that will be held dear in many years to come. As members of his family spoke about what they remember him for, and shared the dear memories they had of Robin, I found myself connecting with their pain and sharing in their grief; and even though I did not have the privilege of knowing Robin personally, I was greatly affected by his attitude and spirit for life that was so apparent through their words.

I was inspired by his faithfulness to God, despite impending suffering and a realisation of death, his fighting determination to believe in his ultimate reward in heaven, no matter what troubles he would encounter here on earth. His favourite psalm was Psalm 116, a song of praise about God saving someone from their desperate place of suffering. To read those words, in the light of knowing Robin’s story, was amazing. What a testament to one man’s faithfulness to God!

We all experience hard times. None of us are exempt from suffering, it has no favourites. It affects the richest and the poorest, the foreigner and the native, the free man and the slave, the old and the young. But each of us has a choice in our times of trial. In those darkest nights, do we keep our heads down and lurk amongst the shadows. Or do we turn our faces skyward, and look for the stars? If you have ever had the patience and the endurance to lay out under the vast blanket of darkness and wait for your eyes to adjust, you may have seen a shooting star. They are not common, but they are ultimately beautiful, lasting only a few seconds, and yet they shine brighter than all the other stars.

When we experience difficult times, there will be people around us who will be affected by the way we choose to deal with things. There are people in our lives who look to us, who learn from us, as we do from them. We are all affected by the people in our lives who we are close to us, and some of us are affected by people who don’t even know our name. I love the Orange adverts that talk about the different people in someone’s life that have made them the person they are today. There are many people in my life that I have paid tribute to. Some know what they have meant to me, some don’t, and some never will. Some of those people are my close friends and family, some are people I have met. A select few are people, like Robin, whose time in my life lasted only a few seconds. And yet, they are sometimes the people who shine the brightest.

And one of those people is Jesus. He was someone who cared so much to be in my life, that he gave his own. When I read Psalm 116 now, it means so much more to be, because of the memory of Robin that lives on in my mind. And it inspires me to look up, and to see where my hope lies. God is good. Can you see it?

No matter what we’ve been through in our past, it is a testament to God’s faithfulness that we are here. We have made it to this moment, this time. No matter how fleeting our experience with God may have been, He wants to meet us in this moment. He wants to uphold us in his love. He wants to forgive us of the things we have done wrong. He wants to shower us with love and mercy. He wants to lavish his grace upon us. He wants to dry our tears and heal our wounds. We just need to have the patience and the endurance to lay out beneath the vast blanket of darkness and allow our eyes to adjust. The shooting stars are there.

Saturday, 4 October 2008


N.B. I've had a really rewarding week, although, struggling through it, I don't think I realised it so much at the time. There have been so many times when I have felt, what? What are you doing God? But I guess that is the art of reflecting back on what God's been doing. You can appreciate the small things that you didn't realise were going on at the time. I guess that's all I ever do on this blog really. Hope you don't mind. :)

A really close friend of mine, wrote this on his blog recently:

"The thing about flying is you have to jump off the ledge. In order to glide upwards on the currents and eddies you must hurl yourself headlong into the abyss and believe that underneath are the everlasting arms.
A mother eagle does not teach her chicks to fly bit by bit. She simply kicks them out of the nest. Often God is more gentle with us, but often He wants us to do our bit of the growing too."

When I read that, I was blown away by how much it was speaking into my life, and teaching me a lesson that I now realise God really wanted me to learn. To jump off the edge occasionally, instead of constantly being shoved, kicking and screaming the whole way. Recently, I had a few deep conversations with people in which I have expressed my concern for returning to the "abyss" from which I have come, (not my words.) It's something me and God have been fighting over for a good month or so now, and so far I had been resisting, petrified and unsure of what would result. But when I read Matt's blog in the light of the conversation I had had, I realised that this was something God was really serious about me doing. It was time to hurl myself headlong into it, as Matt puts it, and just trust that God wouldn't let me fall too far. Rather, He would uphold me and sustain me at the right point, until the time was right.

So that's what I've been doing, and ya know, its not too bad down here. A tad lonely at times, but I guess that's no more so than normal. And I'm learning, from the darkness. And I'm appreciating the small snippets of light that shine through to me. And although I don't fully understand why I'm here, and how long this will last, I am trying to make the most of it. Life was never supposed to be easy. So I have no complaints, Praise God.

Thursday, 2 October 2008


N.B. This has been a strange kind of week for me, and probably for a good few around me. But the more I reflect back on it, the more I appreciate the need for the world to hear about Jesus, and to know his love and acceptance for themselves. To experience it in all its fullness and truth, to live it in my words and actions, to "love it out" in the everyday people that I meet. So much of the time recently, I have been experiencing for myself a personal darkness. But in that, I am learning to appreciate the magnificence of the dawn, and the hope that Jesus brings of salvation. I learn to stand by my friends, and to be sensitive and tolerant towards them in their pain, and to put my troubles in perspective with theirs. And maybe most importantly, I learn to look up when I need to be looking up, and trust whole-heartedly in the God who has my best interests at heart.

This is a quote that is painted on the roof of the counselling hut in my old senior school. I always thought it had beautiful words, but maybe never realised how much so until now.

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied,
'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention."

Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957