I am blessed to have many women in my life that encourage and lift me up. One in particular - I call her Mama Pip - is my 'church mum' or 'spiritual mum'. She has played a pivotal role in my life, far more than she probably realises. One of her catchphrases is “Shine on you crazy diamond”. It was years ago that she centred one of her messages around this line and it has stuck with me ever since.
Now, the cool thing about diamonds is that they start as boring old carbon. It takes heat and pressure to turn them into the beautifully unique jewels we see in the store windows. The Nature journal gives this basic recipe to make a diamond:
1. Bury carbon dioxide 100 miles into Earth, billions of years ago.
2. Heat to about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Squeeze under pressure of 725,000 pounds per square inch.
4. Quickly rush towards Earth’s surface to cool.
Just like the diamond, we too are put through trials and pressures in life. And with God on our side, we can go through these challenges and come out the other side a beautiful, crazy, diamond.
James told the twelve tribes to:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
It’s easy to say “thank God for your trials” - it’s a whole other thing to actually live through them. Some days there is too much to handle, and it would be so much easier to stay in bed, pull the blankets over my head and pretend the world doesn’t exist.
Some days it’s the little things that matter the most. I have had seasons in my life where there were some big challenges that I had to face and to get through each day, I had to just find one small thing to be grateful for. It is a choice we have to make, to seek joy.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We have to choose to look to God; to look for His light in all things and at all times.
I used to attend a ladies life group where we would have “praise reports” at the start of our weekly meeting. Sometimes it would be an answer to a prayer request from the week before, but sometimes it would be something really random. For some of us, it would be the fact that we made it to life group! With three children and everything that goes along with that, it was a big deal for me to go out in the evening. It was a great encouragement to all of us, whether we were sharing or listening, to see how God had blessed us, even in the little things.
Can I encourage you, every day, to find at least one little thing to be grateful for. Whether it was the cup of coffee when you got up in the morning, enough fuel to get to where you wanted to go, sufficient food to feed your family, a smile from a friend, or perhaps the fact that at the end of the day you had a warm bed to get into.
Find a “spiritual mum” who can support and encourage you through your life. This could be a Pastor, a Small Group Leader, a Spiritual Director, a wise friend. Keep a diary. List the little things you are grateful for each day. In a few weeks, you will be amazed at all the things God has done for you!
Shine on you crazy diamonds and never stop looking for his light in the little things!
There’s a long and layered backstory to this blog (which I may put into a book someday) but for now I'm going to summarize the relevant information in 3 points:
1. I really want to have children and be at home with them (at least while they are little)
2. God has made it extremely clear in a number of ways that he wants my husband and I to build a house
3. 1 & 2 are not compatible with our current financial situation (in order to service the mortgage we both need to be working)
About a month or so ago, we had a number of “out-of -our-control” situations that meant the cost of our build almost doubled (keeping in mind point # 3 was a thing before this happened).
Now, I’ve never really been a fearful person. I’ve been graced with childlike faith and carefree hope, but the moment I saw that number something flipped inside me and all I felt was trapped and powerless and ashamed.
I began to do mental math – what sort and how many promotions I would need; calculating what I could earn from doing extra jobs or hours or what I could possibly do to make this work. I spent the afternoon swirling around in a frenzy of anxiety and numbers that I knew would never add up. I was so caught up in this spiral it was hard to hear His voice, so when I got home I returned to the original promise we had been given, to reassure myself that God had called us into this process and would not abandon us halfway through.
A song of the stairway, by King Solomon
When I was first given this Psalm, I was understandably captured by the parts about children and houses. But this day, the moment I heard His voice again was in verse two. My one and only question was “How am I going to pay for this house?” and His answer came gentle and firm.. “Get an early night.”
So I did. I went to bed before 8pm and had the holiest sleep of my life. When I woke up, not a single thing had changed about my 3 realities listed at the start, but I just understood on a deep and unshakeable level that striving is senseless and His gifts are good. And that some of His best work happens, not necessarily when I do nothing, but more when I lay my head down in confidence that he's providing and doing His best work while I'm at my most vulnerable.
Bill Johnson says, "You only have authority over storms that you can sleep in." (Matthew 8:23-27) I am convinced that once God has given a promise, there is nothing the enemy can say or do to stop that promise eventuating. The only thing that is up for debate is your rest, peace and joy in the process. Your rest, peace and joy are yours. Don’t sacrifice them, don’t squander your beautiful inheritance as those things are yours right now and can be with you on every journey and in every storm as you walk toward the future He has declared for you.
I’m beginning to learn that sleep is a prophetic demonstration of trust and rest, and is one of His most precious gifts to us. He provides sleep to His beloved, AND provides for His beloved even while they sleep!
Since that night, I’ve had a growing awareness of just how much sleep is contested in so many people’s lives, and the impact that it has. With that growing awareness has come an increased authority to see this precious gift restored. To my tired, exhausted or weary friend: If you’re reading this, regardless of the reason, I release grace over you right now and declare that the contest over your sleep has ended and the winner is Jesus. It’s always Him. He’s never lost a battle. Tonight, is the beginning of you sleeping soundly, and waking up refreshed, regardless of the number of hours you got. He can do a lot with a little, you know.
As for the house, we have had at so many instances where the impossible has become possible including one where we needed $50,000 in one week and 7 days later it was covered (through about 5 different creative and random miracles). I’m embracing this season for the extravagant demonstration of Love that it really is, and pondering these things in my heart until a day where I have the full and powerful story to tell. And until that time, I’ll be over here with more than enough peace and joy for the journey.
P.S. I’d love if you would get in touch with your stories of sleep provision in your current situation, or your stories of provision while you sleep!
Meet my friend lack. Lack and I have been friends for longer than I care to admit. And while this relationship frustrates me with its constant reminders of my inadequacies and insufficiencies; and its tendency to hem me in and roadblock my plans for progress, recent events have also made me realise that I have put my friend lack on a bit of a pedestal. Perhaps even made an idol of him.
That might seem like a strange statement to make. But our journey of looking for a new home has made me realise that deep down I thought it was more spiritual to be in want; to be in need because then I was truly dependent on God. So, when we ended up with a house that was above and beyond what I had ever anticipated or dreamt would be possible in this season of our lives, I struggled to receive it.
While on one hand the woman of faith in me could see the hand of God upon us; see His hand in every detail and His favour in the process, the woman who had made friends with lack wanted to refuse this gift. I felt unworthy - guilty even - of having such a lovely and spacious home. And this new home, with its somewhat empty rooms waiting to be filled, has been challenging me as to whether I am ready to break it off with my friend lack in order to pursue true dependency on Christ.
Paul's words in Philippians 4 have been echoing in my head. You know the often quoted, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. They are words that I have often leaned on over the years: the knowledge and truth as lack and I have journeyed together that it's ok that I don't have enough because He does; the freedom of knowing that it's ok that I don't feel enough for this calling because He is.
But here's the thing: I've only applied this dependency on Christ's sufficiency to some things. To the living in want things. And His invitation to be dependent upon His riches and grace is for ALL things.
...for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me.
Christ's invitation, is to a life of dependency upon His strength and His power even when I feel like it's something that I've got under control. It's for the places that I think 'I've got this" and for the places where resources and talents abound as much as it is for the places that I wrestle and struggle in.
And when I receive this offer of grace for all instead of just some things, my places of lack are not more holy than my places of abundance. They are each simply an opportunity to lean on Him in a different way.
Because the friend that I need is neither lack nor abundance, it is Jesus.
It is Jesus in every strength and in every weakness
It is Jesus in every triumph and in every failure
It is Jesus in every season and in every chapter
It's His hand that I want to hold and His embrace that I need at the end of a long day. It is His truth, and His wisdom, and His love that feeds the ache in my soul. That's the only truly holy thing in all of this: wholeheartedly pursuing and surrendering myself to Jesus. Allowing myself to be fully reliant upon all that He is and all that He offers me; abiding so deeply in His presence that He becomes as necessary to me as the air that I breathe.
So I'm ending this thing I've had going on with lack and taking him off the pedestal that I've wrongly put him on. Do I expect to never be in want again? No, but I want to shift the focus. Instead of glorifying my circumstances I want to glorify Him. To look for how my season invites me to know Him more and to lean more deeply on His grace.
Which is why as I clean my house this weekend, I will be choosing gratitude for this unexpected blessing of a home instead of guilt. I'll be looking at the empty spaces and instead of feeling frustrated about what I don't have, I'll be choosing to see a space that God has created to be filled by Him. Just like my life.
How is Jesus inviting you to rely on Him for ALL things today?
The past 3 years of my journey with God have been peppered with tests, trials, sorrows, joys, achievements, obstacles and hope. Much like your own journeys, I am sure. There were times when the trials seemed to outweigh the joys and I was tempted to give up. I didn’t think I’d come out of the hot roasting refining fires with any hair let alone unharmed and singe-free.
I wept before the Lord, I railed at my own areas of weakness; I wondered why I kept making the same dumb mistakes over and over. But God was with me, fighting for me and I discovered He was doing a far bigger work in my life. He was working on my character teaching me to persevere and grow in faith.
I had a moment of clarity one morning in the shower as I surrendered my all to the Lord, envisaging myself ‘free falling’ and saying “Here I am Lord, my life is yours”. I made an active decision to forget the past and stop beating myself up about it. However, I was fearful that despite all, God would not meet all my needs; that the ‘holes’ in me, previously filled with addictions, shopping, distractions and even – dare I say it- ministry, would overwhelm me again.
That morning, I reflected on the things I had recently let go of, allowing concerns and memories to ruminate in my soul. I knew I needed to surrender afresh as my mind was pre-occupied with the ‘what if’s’. What if I blow it again? what if I have a bad day and I fail. What if? What if?
The Lord spoke to my heart “Karen, don’t worry about the things you need to let go of, or the issues you struggle with – surrender to me first and I will help you with the rest”.
It was that simple, but it was a moment of beautiful clarity. As I surrendered my heart again, I sensed such peace and trust that God would do what He said He would do, because He is who He says He is! Instead of trying to figure out everything myself, I lifted my concerns to Him and asked “Father, will you meet my needs?”
In a flash his reply came “I will supply all of your needs”. In that moment, Philippians 4:19 came alive for me personally. My Spirit received the words as truth.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Since that day my level of faith has grown. Instead of trying to struggle my way through the myriad of worries or issues I can perceive to be real, I bring this prayer to the Lord “Father, will you meet all my needs?”
I am delighted to be able to tell you that not only has He has met my needs, He has exceeded my expectations and hopes beyond measure. I am getting an inkling of what Jesus was talking about in John 10:10 when he said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Why do we settle for less? Why do we sometimes have a martyr complex and live with doubt? It’s a promise from God. A full life, abundance.
My thought life has been changing as I daily surrender my heart and life to God (OK, sometimes it needs to be multiple times a day). I now declare and decree in faith that my Father will meet my every need; no matter what I’m feeling or what I’m going through.
I believe that good things are going to happen in my day, no longer do I need to be dictated to by my soulish emotions, or dreading a forthcoming ‘off day’. By decreeing and declaring truth my attitude is altered, my faith is activated.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word about Christ.”
The Word of God not only tells us what to do, but empowers us to do it. Faith is activated by God’s Word. For me the power in “I will supply all your needs” has been life changing, growing my faith and drawing me closer to God and showing me who He really is in my life.
God is supplying my needs in exciting ways and blessing me in ways I did not expect! For you see, when I surrendered my life to him and chose to let go (that was hard – I won’t dress that up), He also spoke to my heart “I will give you so much more than anything you’ve had to let go of or leave behind”
That is who our God is. He wants us to live life to the full. In surrender there is freedom, there is life.
Looking for some Scripture declarations to activate your faith - check out our 21 Scripture Declarations download here.
Enjoy this guest blog from Pastor Helen Gwyn - Helen is a voice of encouragement and life in my world, and I know that what she has to share will empower you for 2017.
When I talk to my friends just after Christmas and at the beginning of a new year, I often hear them say 'I feel overwhelmed.' We can get so used to that phrase when we look at the pressures of Christmas bills, holiday expenses, the going back to school costs, those extra kilos we didnt want added to our middle, the in-laws relationship tensions, the ....... well the list could go on. But what if we could hear that word used in a phrase with a different context? What if we were to say, 'I feel overwhelmed at the provision of God?'
Jesus sends out His apostles saying:
'Take nothing extra on your journey. Just go as you are. Don't carry a staff, a backpack, food, money, not even a change of clothes.'
When Jesus sent out his disciples there was a revelation that he wanted them to carry. As well as sending them out with His power and authority, He also needed them to carry a knowledge that He is able - able to provide all of our needs according to His riches in glory. The kingdom is one of faith, and it is impossible to please God without it. The disciples needed to have faith that God would provide their needs. This had to be their belief just as strongly as knowing their identity in Christ.
You are entering a new year, a new chapter and maybe even a new season. What are you carrying with you that you are putting your trust in? What are you needing to leave behind before you enter this new beginning?
As we follow Christ, as we get sent out to be His disciples and to make disciples, we need to go with the same revelation that those first disciples had. He is our provider.
What would it look like for you to enter this new year with the truth that 'He is able to provide your needs?'
What area of your life are you you needing faith instead of fear?
Why don't you take a moment to bring those areas to God and ask Him to provide.
Join with me in praying this prayer:
Father, help me to enter this new year with a renewed sense of faith. Not faith in my resources and abilities; not faith in my possessions or bank account, but a faith in You. As I follow You, let my walk be one that others want to follow. Let my trust in You be a beacon of hope to those who are carrying things into their next season that they dont need to carry. You are a good good Father. Amen
Then over the next few months why dont you message Aimee with a testimony titled, 'I feel overwhelmed at the provision of God.'
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from the blogging team encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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