Tag: waiting

Preparations

Preparations

When this subject first came to my mind I didn’t feel I could blog about it because in the Christian calendar, we often associate preparation with the end of the world and Jesus coming back again, not Christmas. But with major Christmas adverts already on the TV, light switch ons taking place around the country, Christmas food in the shops, Christmas songs starting to squeeze onto the radio, we cannot deny that Christmas is on the way and with it, all the busyness and preparations it brings.

In my household, Christmas food, music, decorations and movies (other than the cheesy Hallmark movies on TV on a lazy Saturday evening), aren’t allowed until 1st December. That doesn’t mean there is nothing Christmassy going on behind the scenes though throughout these weeks leading up to then. My family are preparing the mixture for the Christmas cake, looking at where to get our Christmas tree, organising which local events to attend, budgeting for presents, designing cards and working out when we can visit family.

Besides Christmas, I am in a time of preparation right now in my personal life and with regards to YouBelong. At the end of this month, I leave my office job to focus on YouBelong and improving my health. It’s exciting but there’s so much I want and need to do that it has become a bit overwhelming.

I mentioned at the start then when I think of preparation from a Christian perspective, my brain automatically goes to Jesus second coming. But Lent is also a time of preparation. Traditionally, Christians use up perishables such as eggs, milk and butter, ready to fast for 40 days. Fasting is used by many Christians, and people of other religions too, as a way to focus on God in the days, weeks or months leading up to a big event or moment so as we can pray to Him about a particular thing with an element of sacrifice and without distraction.

After all that has happened in 2019, all the encouragement, affirmations and prayer, I feel more strongly than ever that I am making the right choices around leaving work and using my time to do YouBelong, despite it not being a financially secure, simple option. But as I head into this time of preparation, God feels far away and silent. This brings doubt to my mind. Am I doing the thing God wants me to do or is it what I want to do? Is that why God isn’t talking to me? If God isn’t making it very clear that He is with me in this, is it right to be plowing ahead?

For a long time, this has concerned me but someone very important spent 40 days in the desert, the same person who we fast for, and it was in this time that God was silent. Jesus was alone. He was challenged and faced conflict, doubt and extreme hunger and thirst but still God didn’t show up. But at the last moment, when Jesus pointed to God the Father saying, ” Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. ” At that point, God sent His angels to tend to Jesus and after that, He came back into the towns and villages and the miracles and wonders of Jesus started flowing bountifully!

My plans haven’t worked out, but God’s have. When I sit down to take steps forward, doing careful planning and trying to do the right thing, I don’t get anywhere. But when I sit back, and allow God to take control, He brings the right people to me at just the right time and shows me where to go next and gives me glimpses of what the future will be.

Sitting back and doing nothing over the Christmas period might mean we go without Christmas dinner, our family don’t get presents and the house doesn’t get decorated but in our lives, preparation can be just as, if not more, successful, when we sit back and wait on God to do His thing. If you are heading into a busy time in your life, or perhaps you feel like God is far away, maybe He is preparing you right now for something big and you need to take some time out to be with Him in the silence. Maybe try fasting – it doesn’t have to be food. Giving something up like watching TV in the evening, going on social media etc. are all things we can give up and that when we think of them, we can instead pray to God and listen for His direction without distraction.

There is more to think about, and some action points from Joyce Meyer here if you want to dig deeper into this topic. And if you are going through a time of preparation, I would love to hear from you so we can travel down this road together.

Finding comfort in the quiet

Finding comfort in the quiet

I had been thinking about what my next blog post would be about and then I got caught up in the chaos of Spring Harvest and the Easter weekend. The only day I had to stop and think was on Saturday just gone, also known as Holy or Easter Saturday. I had logged into my Twitter account (twitter.com/youbelong_2019) when it first struck me that Holy Saturday was one of the only days in the year that the Church didn’t have much to say about or speak into because on that day 2019 years ago, ‘the heavens went silent’ and what is the Church without God? Nothing. So instead, more often than not, churches don’t talk about it and instead they jump forward to Easter day and the excitement of Jesus’ resurrection.

I completely understand the desire to do this because we know what is coming and like children on their birthdays, we just want to run downstairs and open our presents of hope and eternal life. But on the very first Holy Saturday, Jesus was dead in the tomb, the disciples were all alone and they thought it was all over. The plans they had put in place had fallen apart, their best friend and teacher was gone and they couldn’t see a way out.

This feeling is very relatable for me and other members of the chronic illness community and no doubt, for many others who perhaps are grieving the loss of health, a job, a person, financial stability or a dream. Every morning I wake up tired and in pain and I know that tomorrow will likely be the same because that’s what being chronically ill means — it doesn’t just get better. This is difficult as someone who identifies as a Christian to be in because I believe Jesus died for me, I believe He rose and I believe He will come again and that I will ultimately be relieved of my pain and suffering but I don’t know when. It could be tomorrow or it could be in 70 years when I die on earth and enter into eternity in Heaven. My life has become a waiting game, a continous Holy Saturday. I know something better has been promised for me but the reality doesn’t seem to be pointing toward it.

So how do we live in a world where all hope seems lost, accept the suffering and find comfort in that yet be ready and willing to step forward and embrace a life without pain and suffering as and when the time comes?

My immediate thought is ‘I won’t look to the disciples for advice on this as they thought all hope was gone when Jesus died even though He told them to their faces that He would die and come back again and even when He was standing right in front of them, alive again, some of them doubted.

Whilst at Spring Harvest, I had the opportunity to hear Pete Grieg speak about his family’s time of suffering and waiting when his wife was ill with a brain tumour and the effects of that and how he knew she wasn’t going to die but the doctors had said there was a high chance that she might and to prepare for that. He said he couldn’t prepare for that because he wasn’t going to let God take away his wife and his children’s mother. This leads me to my first point — when we get to know the character of God, we can learn His will and desire for His people. God doesn’t His people to suffer so Pete knew that this was not of God and therefore, he could pray to God, according to His will, and God would be listening and doing His part. When we learn God’s will, we can pray into and against situations and if we pray believing God can do it, you will be surprised at just how often He acts in the way we want, because it is also what He wants.

Sometimes though, God doesn’t act in the way we want and I am sure that many of you, like myself, have prayed for your physical suffering to go away and it hasn’t and that isn’t because God wants you to suffer because He doesn’t. He loves you and cares for you and seeing you suffer hurts Him too. But sometimes, God has other plans for our life and healing our physical selves isn’t part of it — yet! I have prayed many times for healing and although there have been times it has lessened or temporarily improved, I still deal with pain and physical issues on a daily basis. So lesson two, remember God’s faithfulness even when He doesn’t act how or when you want. This can be a struggle but by remembering God has answered your prayer in the past, whether in relation to your health or something else entirely, can really help you to remember He can, and will, do it again. He is a faithful God. Even when Jesus had been dead for 3 days and the people thought it was all over, He came back to life. Jesus promised He would rise from the dead, and He did. He promises us He will heal us and comfort us, and He will. We just need to be trusting and believe He will be faithful like He promised.

Finally, finding the balance between being comfortable with the current situation but not so much that we aren’t open and ready for healing. This is a constant struggle for me. Some days I am so confident that God will heal me any day now and some days, I accept my situation and won’t be open to others praying for my healing because I am not ready for it. How can we be comfortable but also wait with anticipation for when God wants to act in our lives?

I don’t know the answer that will work for everyone but there are a few things that have really helped me that I hope might help you too:

Patience is a fruit of the spirit so it will not always come easily as it will take time and practice so don’t get angry or upset if you struggle with this — most people do

Learn to rest on God’s promises — remember all the things God has done for you whilst in this period of waiting and recollect the times when He has acted on His promises to remind you of His power, goodness and faithfulness.

Be still — it’s so easy to get frustrated or worried about our situations that we don’t sit back and listen to God but when we do this, we might just hear something that brings us closer to an answer to our prayer.

Be comfortable resting on God and waiting BUT always ready and willing to step forward should you feel God telling you to do so as it might just be the way that you will be healed and you don’t want to miss that!

I am not perfect and I still have times when I fight with the anxiety of not knowing, when, where, how will I be healed. Sometimes, I am too scared to act when I feel God is calling me as I am scared it won’t work or will be difficult, but I keep pushing on and trying to get closer to Him to understand His will and ways. I hope to always be ready and waiting for Him to act but also content just to be with my God and I hope these pointers can help you get to that point too.