Last weekend I was privileged to take a wee drive through to Glasgow to visit friends. For most people that’s fairly normal, jump in a car and drive. Having not driven that far in over a year, it was so good to be back on the road again.
As I pulled out of Glasgow in the dark.. a great city to drive through.. all the buzz and lights that were guiding me where to go, began to decrease and you realise how much you rely on light.. my headlights showed, what now seemed only a small glimpse of the road ahead..
As I was getting use to driving in the dark again, a lorry began to emerge in the distance, and as I drew near, his lights shone far out ahead, suddenly making the road in front easier to see. It felt so comforting. I sailed along feeling quite guarded, safe, secure, at ease, I knew where I was going, I could see what was ahead. At the next junction, he then took the turn left and suddenly my bright shining light faded into darkness again.. but I had to keep going, relying more and more on the little bit of light in front of me revealing bit by bit.
God might seem distant, but he is never far. Life might seem like it has little direction, little light, but he is always one step ahead. Sometimes he shows us the bigger picture, sometimes he just wants to reveal things in small stages..
When I moved home with little energy, somedays I would wake up, only to feel more tired than when I lay down. Life seemed dark, but it was never black. Black is having no colour, whereas darkness is only temporary, until the light shines. God maybe felt distant, but his presence was certainly near. I could only do each day, what he had planned for me, and that was enough.
Never tire of doing what’s right. Even when life seems dark, it is never black.
God knows. His ways are best. At first, I thought, seriously, 2 years in London.. and now 6+ months in tiny little Perth? but actually, 2 years of doing life with God, only meant another 6 months of carrying on life with God, really, not much changes, (maybe just a slightly smaller surroundings.. and a few more sheep..) but God is still there, doing life with you. I can honestly say I’ve only been in awe and amazed by just how much God has provided in these last 7 months. People I have met, little courses that have come up, little job opportunities appeared..
Everyones journey is different. Everyone experiences darkness, but it is never black. God is amidst the everyday goings of your life, he carries you, looks after and provides far more abundantly than we could ever imagine. Whether you see the whole picture, or little pieces, trust God, keep going, he never leaves you nor forgets your situation. He is always working, his timing is perfect.
As my physio has been increasing over these months, I began some light jogging.. difficult at first, but easing in time, and have entered a wee 5k run.. a little ambitious, but something I am keen to do to help increase my muscle strength, whilst raise money for Loveoliver. Through loosing my first nephew to cancer, and witnessing such grief for my brother and sister in law, God’s continued hand upon them through such suffering has been a huge comfort and support to us all. (If you’d like to donate there will be a little link below..) Running in memory of a beautiful boy.. who through God’s grace.. inspired us all.
Approaching the sixth month of having moved home, it comes with mixed feelings.. I’m not only amazed that it has been six months already, but I’m so thankful to God for his hand upon me each of those days and for the opportunities to learn from, grow in, trust him, cry to him, and simply wait on him.
It’s so easy to think God is a good God when things are going well, and when things turn tough, begin to wonder if he’s left us to walk alone.. I have been challenged again with this recently. Getting use to my ‘familiar symptoms’ I could feel God was near, things had been tough, but I knew God was here. As well as little progresses, new unknown symptoms began to arise, and suddenly I felt like I was back to square one, back and forth with so many opinions on what to do, what to not do, what to eat and what not to eat, and I felt so overwhelmed.. for a second, I felt myself worrying.. having no idea what to do, and then it hit me.. didn’t God just prove to me those past few months that when things are hard he’s still there.. and now things have taken another little turn, surely he’s the same good God still here.. it reminded me that faith is not a feeling, it’s not a life of comfortable familiarity, it is choosing to believe what we cannot see no matter what the situation. We choose to follow God knowing his nature, a God of love, who promises to never leave us. I still don’t have all the answers, I might never fully understand what’s going on, but that day I did experience the greatest comfort of all handing all my worries into his hands knowing he’s got it sorted.
PJ Smyth puts it well when he talks on psalm 23. In pain, in hardships, we have the supernatural access to the supernatural comfort of God. Sometimes we think the answers to the ‘whys’ in life will bring us ultimate rest, but nothing brings more comfort than the deep peace from our loving Father.
Simon Virgo, once quoted: ‘It is not the absence of pressure that bring us peace, but the presence of Jesus in our lives that means we can have peace.’
This is why we can be thankful amidst pain, amidst tears, amidst the unknowns, for we know God is working out plans for GOOD and not for evil, because he is an extremely GOOD and Gracious God that never leaves us.
And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for GOOD. Romans 8:28
When I was in Vietnam in September with my family, struggling to even walk to the market 5 minutes from our hotel, I found myself questioning whether moving home for a period of rest was the best thing for my body. I remember getting on our plane home, in tears with the pain, sitting on the floor in Dubai airport at 4am thinking I probably wasn’t going back to London, as much as I really loved it there, I knew my health was more important. When I got home it began to feel real as I thought about how I was going to phone my eleven piano pupils parents to try and explain that I had to give up, not only their lessons but just 3 weeks before two of their exams were due and they would have to find a new teacher.
God never ceases to amaze me though. Just this time last year, I was looking for another job, as the studios alone wasn’t enough, when one of colleagues told me he was moving to Brazil. He said he was wanting to move imminently but needed to find a new teacher for his ten piano pupils! A very big and happy smile arouse on both our faces when I said, i’ll take them! (anda very big happy smile to God) God provided a quick solution to him, and an amazing answer to prayer for enough work for me to now live on my own support!
Well, when I arrived home from Vietnam and began to search through my emails, I had received an email from that same colleague, to say he had returned from Brazil and was in desperate need of any work. I was so relieved and happy to reply and say, would you like ten piano pupils? God never ceases to show his incredible hand in control. To take it a little further, I felt bad still for the 2 that had exams coming up, and at one point I thought maybe if I just push myself to go down for one more month I could work with them.. but in the state I was in, it just wasn’t right, I had to let go. The week before both their exams came, although both sad stories, one ended up having to go in for an operation (he had been waiting for a long time) on the day of his exam, and the other lost a dear grandparent in India and ended up out the country. God knew what was ahead, had I gone down to push myself it would have gained nothing. He’s always got it sorted. His plans are perfect, his timing is spot on, even when we can’t see what’s ahead, he never ceases to amaze. What could be more exciting than a life in God’s hands, taking little steps of faith?
Faith is putting our confidence in the nature of a loving God, an action, a belief without seeing, but knowing our Father’s got it sorted. A life of excitement. ! .
I wanted to share a wee glimpse of God’s power. God’s healing. God’s ability to step in any situation, anytime, anywhere. I mentioned in my last blog the holidays knocked my physio consistency a little rocky, and on hogmanay I woke weak, weak as had been a few months back. Being the day of my cousins wedding I was particularly gutted. Sometimes, I find once I’m up I can stretch and ease off the muscle aches, but this day, simply getting up made it worse. Going back to bed I thought, I’ll maybe sleep till 12 and see if that helps.. 12 came, quick, and my body was crying out to sleep more. I could feel the 3pm wedding approaching.. and as I lay in bed I prayed, if it’s too much for me to go Lord I’ll call and cancel at 1pm.. but please, i’ve still got an hour to rest, please bring your healing so I can see this lovely couple give their lives to you in marriage, just this one special day! (I don’t mind if it leaves me in bed a week after..) As I prayed, I slowly closed by eyes and heard these words: ‘Strength will rise as you wait upon the Lord’ in my head.. so I started to sing them repeatedly. Drifting back to sleep it was soon 1pm. I can’t say I felt a huge difference, but I did sense a little more ease in the thought of moving, and slowly by slowly I began to make my way for the shower, repeating constantly these words as I hobbled along the corridor. As I came out the shower (stillontwofeet) I kept singing these words and began to get ready bit by bit whilst the clock ticked on.. It then dawned on me, it was 2:30pm and I was standing at the door ready to go with as much energy as any other wedding guest! Hallelujah! I was on my way and by God’s strength and Grace I lasted all day without even thinking twice about needing to take a rest. #Hispowermadeperfectinmyweakness
Isaiah tells us in 40:31 to not give up: ‘They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.’
God says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of christ may rest upon me.. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Waiting on God always brings more Joy than we can ever imagine.
Since the wedding I’m thankful for more good days, a weekend away where God stepped in again from my weakness and brought strength, renewed energy, physio increasing, longer days, good sleeps, normal activities, little blessings. Amongst it all, times can still be hard.. frustrations of unknown muscle pains try to creep in, distractions of the average persons strength and activities can tempt me to feel weak.. but continuous reminding of God’s presence brings real Joy, his power of prayer enables those wordly feelings to vanish and reminds me that his plan is still best and his purpose is beyond our own expectations. Little blessings along the way are what we cling to, rejoice in, and help us to keep praying, as he works out his plan.
This song came on this morning, it seemed appropriate.
Jesus keep me near to Your heart
For outside of You I’m lost
Draw me in the tide of Your will
Lead me as I yield myself to You
Rescue me in weakness of mind
When distraction conquers me
Keep me in Your shadow oh Lord
Give me grace to follow where You lead
For You are everything that is beautiful
And You are all that I long to see in me
You are everything that is beautiful
Breathe Your desires in me
Form in us a heart of divine beauty
Keep me in the place where You are. For Your presence is my joy
No matter what we face, his plans are higher. That place, his presence, his one desire.
A few weeks ago we had a lovely white snowy fall, it was beautiful, suddenly everything that had looked a little muddy, a little dirty, a little mucky, now shone in the glistening sunshine pure as sparkling white!
After a lovely christmas celebrations afternoon in Edinburgh, and a lovely time setting off lanterns in memory of our little nephew Oliver, we got in the car ready to come home.. I could feel my muscles had been a little worn out, but I wasn’t bothered as it had been worth it for a good time with the family, however as the journey went on I felt them weaken and weaken, until as we pulled up in the drive way I couldn’t move, I felt numb, my legs were so heavy, I had to be carried into the house..
The next morning I felt helpless, I thought things had been beginning to improve, the muscles had been a little more consistent with the physio, but this felt like a big step back..
..as I lay, I heard this song come into my head.. and was simply amazed and reminded of God’s beauty, God’s strength, God’s ability to turn anything that doesn’t look good into pure white sparkling snow! We can’t always predict when snow will fall, especially in time for christmas.. but God knows exactly when the right time for it is and when he will one day come back and make what has gone a little messy into tremendous beauty! What a Saviour!
I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small”, child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in me, thine all in all,
Lord, now indeed I find, Thy power and thine alone, can change the lepers spots, and melt the heart of stone,
When from my dying bed, my ransomed soul shall rise, Jesus died my soul to save, shall rend the vaulted skies,
And when before the throne, I stand in him complete, I’ll lay my trophies down, All down, at Jesus feet.
Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.
‘Our concerns about the future distract us from being fully attentive to the day we are currently living. Each day is a gift to be received, valued and lived. Worry or pre-occupation with the future blocks this vital connection with the present.’
Last week I met an interesting person. A lady who looked back through my medical history analysing what little parts had gone a little out of sync, and proceeded to tell me what simply sounded like a possible little cure.. Sat on a hard seat listening attentively, my heart was crying Yes it makes sense, Yes this is it. A cure.
You see.. up until three years ago she told me I had had a very good healthy upbringing (a little credit to the Mum), every little piece inside of me was doing its job, tick-tock-ing along, however.. after a nasty reaction to an antibiotic three years ago.. little pieces have begun to tock-tick out of sync.. and gradually over time, winded down the energy supply as well as the strength in the muscles.
Leaving her explanations having found an answer, a possible cure, to Full strength, I was somewhat excited! However.. I was soon reminded of the previous specialists I’ve met in the last three years who have also put forward their ‘cure’ yet.. no symptoms changed.. and so my thoughts became a little less hopeful.. The thing I’m learning with this type of M.E. is that it is different with every person and there is no ‘one’ cure for any type of person.. no ‘one’ way to rest.. but than to take each day, trust and cling to God amidst.
The truth is.. there is a cure, an answer and a God who knows..God could have healed me when I came off the antibiotics.. he could have healed me when I visited a specialist or ten.. he could have healed me when my church prayed for me.. my flat mate prayed.. my family prayed.. my friends prayed.. my church elders laid hands on me and prayed.. but he didn’t.. not, because he couldn’t.. but because he is still busy doing a work which our eyes cannot see.. he always has a plan with a far better outcome than we could ever know.. healing, should still be what we pray for, & will come, but only in his time..
Sometimes it is easy to focus on what we don’t have, what we cannot do, but that only makes us sad.. when instead we can start with a little smile and focus on what we can do, are able and do it as well as we can!
As I carry out my physio and try to build my strength, I pray God would only guide me, give me strength for each day, and do a work inside of me that would only grow me closer to him. Every day brings new possibilities to grow.. we are instruments in God’s orchestra.. everyday another bar is composed.. tomorrows bar won’t work without todays harmonies.. if we only worry about tomorrows notes how will we create todays..?
‘we can either focus on the circumstances swirling around us and let fear pull us down, or we can recall the character of this faithful, sovereign, engaged, and loving God and find rest. The choice is ours.’ Grace Fox.