Grit & Grace

“The greatest triumphs in our lives sometimes occur when the circumstances seem to be hardest” Nicky Gumbel

Let’s face it. Life throws all things at us. The unexpected, the hard and the challenging. In essence – the grit of life. And there’s nothing alluring, pleasant or beautiful in grit. But it is the grit that creates the pearl. With the grace of God it can become beautiful, reflecting life and love.

Even though you may not always see it, God is working things out for you. He’s taking the grit of your life and transforming it into something beautiful. He wants to take the painful moments, the years of sacrifice and the missed chances in your life and turn them into new opportunities—full of promise and purpose. God will turn them all for good. When we go through challenging times, there is treasure for us. God takes the darkness of pain in our lives to make something extraordinarily beautiful. In the dark places of brokenness, heartbreak, and loss God brings forth His light and the darkness flees. He brings His healing and His peace.

And if we but look, we will see touches of His grace everywhere.

He takes the grit and creates the pearl.

Filters

Filters. A tool of the trade for photographers. For photographers, filters are light modifiers. The filters are items of equipment specifically used to modify the light entering the lens. They soften and colour the light. Used to improve the photo and the beauty within.

We ourselves unconsciously apply filters to life and also to how we view God. Filters that result from disappointment, from unanswered prayers and difficult circumstances. Filters when we magnify the burdens and not the blessings. When we focus on the bad and not the positive. As the 10 spies did and saw the giants as stronger than God’s promises.

Sometimes in life we are left with mysteries in God. Unanswered prayer, someone not healed, things not restored. We can be tempted then to rework our faith, our theology based on these new filters. But God is good and kind and we can trust Him with that mystery and still seek His face and worship Him. As Bill Johnson wrote sometimes victory is “measured in the fact that after disappointment and loss we set our hearts to seek His face again.” In other words we remove the filter that disappointment has placed over our spirit.

We can’t allow ourselves to lower our theology, our understanding of who God is to the level of our circumstances. At the crossroads of faith is an invitation to remove a filter and move closer to God.  

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Pivot Well

PIVOT ; – the central point, pin, or shaft on which a mechanism turns or oscillates.

There’s been a surge in the use of certain words while the world deals with COVID-19 and the subsequent lock down we all faced. Words like bubbles took on new meanings. Phrases like “flatten the curve,” “community spread” and “contact tracing” dominating the media. And then there is the word pivot. The Pandemic became a talked about pivot point for life and business.

Everything, all aspects of life, it seemed needed to pivot. From how to work, to learn and even how “to church” changed. The mechanics of how we do anything and everything altered as we stayed in our bubbles.

And it begs the question what is my pivot point, what is yours? What do our lives hinge on? What are our absolutes?

Our pivot point is God and who He says He is. How we were doing life in lock down changed, but the central point stayed the same – God. God doesn’t change, ever. Period. Our circumstances will. But never God.

I have found that as life evolves around us, and circumstances go up and down. Hard times, good times, mundane times God is always the constant.

The centrality of our lives is built on God and the absolutes of who He is. That He is love, that He is good. That no matter what we can trust Him never change. Life may spin and rotate around us, but we just need to pivot on God. We anchor ourselves to Him. He is the hinge.

And that is what stops us from getting dizzy from all of life’s spinning and turning. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on our circumstances means we can pivot well in this time. If you have ever see a ballerina spinning and wonder how they don’t get dizzy they are pivoting well. Keeping their eyes on a fixed focus point. It helps them maintain a constant orientation.

Whatever season you are in, you can pivot well with Jesus at the centre.

“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6:17-18)

Chasing the sun

sunlight

As the days have become cooler, I have found myself chasing the sun in my home for the warmest spots to work. Nothing quite like sitting in a comfy chair with the sun streaming in and a hot cup of coffee at hand (of course!) to work. Not so shabby this working from home gig. The light of the sun providing warmth to the soul as well as the body.

In life we can find ourselves so quickly in the shadows, feeling the cold. As we rush from task to task and get caught up in the busyness of life. Too long in this state brings a weariness, a chilliness to our spirit. It’s time for us to draw closer to God, to be in His presence. It says in Habakkuk 3:4 that His radiance is the sunlight.

In His presence, that’s the warmest, loveliest, most precious place to be.

“Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21)

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

 

Optimism

Oscar Blog

Earlier this week I had a coaching session with Oscar’s Occupational Therapist. It was a time to look at all aspects of Oscar’s life and how he was doing in his abilities, in home life and preschool. For each category I had to give a rating out of 10 on how I perceived how he was going. And being honest, in many ways it highlighted the gap from where he is to where he needs to be and an overwhelming feeling of all we need to work on.

And then we came to the last segment. His future. How did I view it and what rating could I give it? Based on the previous categories a low rating could easily be anticipated. But I gave it a high number. As I gave my answer, I explained, it’s because I have hope. Hope that Oscar will continue to develop and thrive. I am optimistic that his future will be good.

Craig Groeschel said this “optimism isn’t a state of affairs. It’s a state of mind. Optimism is the unwavering expectation that our loving God is working in every situation for our future good.”

“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)

My picture of Oscar’s future is good, because God is in it. Yes, Oscar and I (and his team of therapists) will continue to work hard. But my optimism is not just about what we can achieve ourselves but it is about my trust in God. It is the presence of God in his life that gives me hope and is the source of my optimism.

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:18)

Oscar, God’s got this and He’s got you!

 

Reset

resetreset: – to set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way

Today, while I confess driving in my car to get coffee, God spoke to me the word “reset”.

I was reminded how every so often, my laptop seems to have a little freak out. Whether it’s because I have too many windows open, it’s lost its connection to the Wifi, or it needs to update, but I find myself needing to give it a complete shutdown so it can reset itself.  And to be honest, when it happens it is frustrating. It interferes with my work. I have to stop what I am doing so that the computer can restart itself up again. But once it has reset, I’m away again. The laptop and I are better off for it, it’s faster and cleaner.

This Lockdown seems to be the world’s shutdown. It is something that has been forced upon us. Causing a lot more disturbance than a computer reset I might add! It has stopped us from our normal life. Interrupted our plans. Restricted what we can do and changed many lives forever.

But through it all, when it’s time to start up “life” again, we have this opportunity to press reset. To decide what we pick up again and what we let go. To decide our go forward in life. To adjust or approach life in a different way.

In Isaiah there is a beautiful description of the Restoration of Israel which I believe is a word of encouragement for us.

 “I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places – firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community liveable again.” (Isaiah 58:11-12 msg)

What a mandate, what an encouragement and what hope! That we, the Church, can make the community liveable again. There is so much hurt, stress and pain around us. But we can re-enter our communities with a voice of hope and the tools of the Kingdom in hand. This is our opportunity to exit Lockdown with God’s purpose first and foremost on our minds.

In a preceding verse it says, “your lives will begin to glow in the darkness.” God’s plan to bring light into the world is us, that we would reveal Christ. It’s time to be ready to reset and re-enter life with an eternal perspective. We can demonstrate trust in our Restorer, our Redeemer. And we can point to Him, the Hope of the World.

 

 

 

Mountain Top

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We climbed a mountain the other day, Oscar included. We conquered it. All 56 metres of it, that is. It was no Everest, and lies just a short walk from our home, surrounded by suburbia. But a Mountain nonetheless and with a beautiful view to enjoy.

There’s something to be said for a change of view. The loop of lockdown, though drawing to a close, was feeling wearying. Our new lockdown rhythms and routines well cemented into our daily lives. Looking down at our suburb and surrounding areas brought a fresh perspective to the day.

Sometimes in life we can get caught up in the loop of our daily routines and lists to do. We can’t see the purpose of God for us among the challenges of life nor among the mundane. But we just need to change our view. To see ourselves and our lives from Heaven’s perspective. From God’s perspective.

We know that in our everyday God is ever present, with overflowing grace, mercy and strength for whatever we are facing in our day. We just need to look up.

“Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from His perspective.” (Colossians 3:2 msg)

“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from Godwho made heaven, and earth, and mountains.(Psalm 121:1-2 msg)

 

He says “I Am”

Flowers12

Covid-19 has changed our world. Everything that seemed stable, secure has been shaken almost overnight. Normal life changed almost overnight. Even our simple tasks of buying groceries and daily routines are different. And all the scaffolding that we have around our lives have been shaken if not fallen away. From close proximity to family and friends, to employment and finances., our confidence. All shaken. Nothing can be taken for granted. And while the stringent Lockdown will lift soon, our world is different and changed.

But we have a God that we can trust. He is sovereign and worthy of our trust. Who tells us to give Him all our worries and concerns because He cares for us. He is our source for whatever we need for today and for tomorrow.  He remains our solid foundation. What is true and dependable and secure is that God is who He says He is. Forever, unchanging. Always the same. He is true to His name. And He is in control.

He is our Provider.

He is our Healer.

He is our confidence.

He is peace.

He is the MIRACLE.

And we can lean on His name and who He says He is.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name
On Christ the solid rock I stand

Then I called upon the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!” Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. (Psalm 116:4-5)

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

Propel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Moments

small moments

I’ve found during Lockdown the blessings of small moments. Little sparks of joy in my day. The Tui that drew me from my work with his song outside my window. Watching my little chap chase after seagulls in the park. Late afternoon sunlight coming through my bedroom windows. Fresh baking from the oven.

It may seem that Lockdown has forced our world to shrink and reduce with the restrictions it has placed on us, but in many ways I feel that it has expanded in its fullness. The reduced traffic noise has meant that bird songs are more easily heard. Spending time together as a family, enjoying our home, our neighbourhood. And even though I’m juggling work with homeschooling. therapy sessions and general chores, the lack of rushing from thing to thing means there’s more time to breathe. To exhale, to pause.

Even more so, in the silence of the world and its insistent interruptions, God’s presence is magnified. All these little moments draw me more and more into His presence. They speak life and joy. They are pointers to His glory, His presence. From the Tui in the tree, to water colour sunsets, creation declares His glory. It beckons us to the Creator.

“You’ve always given me breathing room,
    a place to get away from it all,
A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
    an open invitation as your guest.
You’ve always taken me seriously, God,
    made me welcome among those who know and love you.”

Psalm 61:3-5 Message