Sunday, 11 November 2012

I sometimes forget...

I sometimes forget…

that I live in West Africa. Living on a ship means I easily forget that there’s an outside world where rain falls and thunder clatters, that there are cool breezes (and hot ones too) and flowers that smell and butterflies that flutter – huge ones, tiny ones, in all sorts of colours. I sometimes forget that there are rainbows in the tumbling waterfalls and that there’s lush lush greenery blanketing the dramatic landscape – mountains and never ending plateaus. I sometimes forget the beauty of village life – the baby having a roadside bath, held precariously by one arm over a bucket, the girls - necks bent, having their hair braided ready for a new week, the squealing chickens and goats tied to the tops of taxis and the flamboyant colours that make up a woman’s dress. I sometimes forget the giggles of small children at the sight of a ‘white man’, the awe I feel as I look onward at a woman carrying a heavy load on her head and a baby on her back, or the beads of sweat on a young boys forehead as he carries tonight’s firewood home. I sometimes forget what it’s like to laugh – really laugh – and I remember as I stand under a waterfall’s pounding flumes. I so easily forget the joy and deep peace that sweeps over me as I hear birds tweeting in the tress and the bright yellow weaver birds tending to their nests.

I remember thinking the same when we were sailing last – those twinkling blues seas and leaping dolphins, the flying fish showing off their iridescent blues and the incredible starry night skies. It took a weekend away a few hours north from the hustle and bustle of life in a steel can to remember… but it leaves me wondering – are these beauties there all the time? Does that rich rolling landscape get folded up and put away when I’m not there to look at it? I wonder if the trees and butterflies are just playing along? Where does it all go when there’s no-one to ‘wow’ at this creative bliss? Does it all get packed up and filed away? Does God run a few steps ahead of us saying, ‘crikey! she’s on her way! Butterflies - take your place, Mountain - get back there! And Thunder, I thought I told you to clatter! That’s it… good job guys, she’s enjoying it’….???!!! But truth is, it’s there all the time. I need to marvel more.

The reason this all touches me so much, why I find myself saying, ‘ohhhhhh… sorrrry! I’ve been living life in my beige steel box… forgetting that there is beauty and butterflies… sometimes I forget’. And it makes me think of all the ways I choose beige over butterflies. Where I choose disappointment over hope, guilt over grace, incessant worry over peace, bitterness over forgiveness, lack over praise and thanks… and all the time, God is so desperately wanting to invade my life with love, life, colour, power, joy, laughter, hope. God is so good… and sometimes I forget. It’s there all the time.

And even on this beige steel box, there’s plenty of beauty. You should see the ortho kids walking up and down the corridor with their legs all in casts, cheering each other on, ‘bravo, bravo!!’. VVF surgery starts this week and I can’t wait to sense their joy as they put on cloaks of joy and leave behind their spirits of despair. I’m encouraged as I see tumours disappearing and life being poured in. It’s sunday evening and a new week is about to begin.. bring it on….

Love always, KWW

Sunday, 4 November 2012

It's never the end of the story

I’m so thankful I’m on a journey and that I’m not ‘there’ yet. I’m not satisfied with where I’m at. Or with where the world is at. I’m more than happy in many respects, but I know there’s more to come. I’m so thankful it’s not the end of the story…

I’ve been re-reading Bill Johnson’s ‘When Heaven invades Earth’ and could pretty much write out the whole thing for you – it’s amazing. It speaks a kind of truth that leaves me speechless. In there he says, ‘… it is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow to the name of Jesus.’ He describes miracles involving cancer disappearing and legs and muscles growing from nowhere and suggests that the reason these things aren’t more normal for the church is not because it’s God’s will, but because of what we believe about who God is. He begs us to stop making up excuses for God’s powerlessness and urges us to understand more of who He is.

We hear story after story in the New Testament of Jesus performing miracles. I love it, because I love anything that brings life… and as I read, I hunger for more of it. Not for any other reason but for God’s glory, so that others would come to know Him and be in awe of the God who loves them so dearly.

It leaves me wondering, though. Why don’t we see more miracles and what makes Jesus different from us? The key elements seem to be that Jesus didn’t have any sin that separated him from God and that he was completely dependent on the Holy Spirit to help Him. For us, despite our mess-ups, they don’t separate us from God because of Jesus dying for us (thank you, thank you, thank you), so it seems the only difference is the measure to which we allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us.

Day after day I find myself broken and realizing that there’s stuff in the way of God’s Spirit flowing through me. It feels like life’s journey is about getting the lies I have believed and mis-truths about God or the walls I have built up, out of the way and I often wonder… are we there yet??! Just as with Adam and Eve, the only way satan has power in our lives (blocking the Holy Spirit flowing through us), is through our own agreement. We might not even realize it - we may be living through such deeply entrenched lies, that we have no idea. But it is through these kinds of agreements that we empower satan and disempower God.

It is never God’s will for us to suffer. Last year, a treasured friend of mine died in a tragic accident and someone said to me, ‘ you must find it so hard to look at God and try to understand why He let this happen’… I wasn’t actually angry at all, but I was at that statement. How could they speak about my God like that? I wanted to respond by asking, ‘Do you not know, He is full of love? He didn’t cause this, this wasn’t His will for my friend’s life’. What kind of God do you believe in? God is only good. And then I guess I had a revelation… that we really sell God so short and we really have such little understanding of how good He is. This makes me more sad than mad. We need to get how good God is. Otherwise we start thinking that it’s God’s will for us to suffer and it makes my heart ache. He’s not like that.

I’m sure there’s reasons we think this – perhaps just lack of understanding or we lack a deep revelation of the goodness of God. Perhaps we’re so stuck in our disappointments, we’ve forgotten the truth that God is good and provides generously for all our needs. We’ve limited God by basing our faith on our experiences and not on who God is. Or perhaps we’ve not been willing to step out in obedience and missed out on the good that God has for us. We need to get out of the rut that says, ‘this is as good as it gets’ and start praying more, ‘on earth as it is in Heaven’, just as He taught us to do.

In Bill Johnson’s book he says: ‘Faith lives within the revealed will of God. When I have misconceptions of who He is and what He is like, my faith is restricted by those misconceptions. For example, if I believe that God allows sickness in order to build character, I’ll not have confidence in praying in most situations where healing is needed… Faith is much more free to develop when we truly see the heart of God as good…. Unbelief is anchored in what is visible or reasonable apart from God. It honors the natural realm as superior to the invisible.’

He goes on to point out how people say, I know God ‘can’ do it as just being nothing more than hope. Faith knows He will do it. ‘Faith is based on experience and knowledge of who God is – not on our own experiences of something that isn’t God.’

I’m not saying we should step out and believe God is who He says He is and that we can expect more because I want everyone to live happily ever after. It’s bigger than that. I’m saying it because it’s what God tells us to do and He doesn’t want us to miss out. Have you ever wondered why He taught us to pray, ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’ – if Heaven is a place without sin? Pain? Fear? Disease? Grief?... is this really what we can expect on Earth? Or is this too good to be true? So many of us – myself included have settled for less. We have thought it’s the end of the story. We’ve thought this is as good as it gets. But it’s not true!!!!!! God’s heart is shouting, ‘come closer, I have got so much more for you, stop settling….;

Just look at the story of Joshua. In Joshua 3, we read that he wasn’t intimidated by the task to lead 2 million Israelites across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land, but instead he acted immediately in obedience to God. So often we hinder our own progress with God because we are limiting His activity in our life because we won’t obey, we just won’t do what He’s asking us to do.
Priscilla Shirer, another writer I admire, says that one of the ways the enemy keeps you and I from achieving whatever God’s purpose, plan and will is for our lives is to simply stamp a spirit of fear on the very thing that He knows is the last thing you need to conquer before you get into the Promised Land.
The Egyptians in Exodus 1 were intent on enslaving the Israelites, wearing them down so that God’s chosen people would become disillusioned and not live up to their destiny. Of the original two million Israelites who received God’s invitation to enter the Promised Land, only two actually entered it! Similarly, we often hear and understand the promises of God but then rarely choose to experience them in everyday life. So, of the 2 million, it was just one in a million who were willing to put abundant life to work, no matter where they were or no matter how easy it would have been to blend in with the others. Only Joshua and Caleb were willing to walk in brave obedience to find the ‘more’ that God had for them. The rest just stayed on the edge of the promised land.

Are we going to be people who say ‘enough is enough, let’s have all that God has promised us’? Because the next one in a million could be you. The minute you realize you’ve had your fill of halfway faith, the moment you realize a week is a long time to put off what God has told you to do, is the moment your stories will start to change and you will start to see the abundance that God is calling you into.

Get over being average. Don’t settle any more. Break out. Live it. Believe God is who He says He is.

This is why I’m so happy to work with Mercy Ships – I’m so glad it’s not the end of the story for the patients we get to care for. Not just in the physical changes we see but in of all the changes going on in these people’s lives that we don’t even see. The renewed self confidence, how it feels to receive love, to feel valued, to feel known. The destruction of the lie, ‘I am nobody’ to realizing, ‘I am somebody’. The impact of a changed life on their family and on their community. I continue to be so happy to be able to be part of all that goes on in this place.

So… What do you want to ‘expect more’ in? I’m not suggesting you should expect the happy ever after ending – but I do suggest that we need to expect the ending to be good. It might look different to what you first expected or hoped for, it might take some realigning and fixing your eyes on God, seeking Him first, but I can promise you that it will be good. How about some… More Love… More Power… More Grace… for each other, for ourselves. How about knowing God as a Redeemer?

I want to expect more for my friends and family who don’t yet know Jesus… I want the results of my disobedience to be forgotten, for my messes to be cleared up, I need to know there’s a Redeemer who makes all things new. I need to know there is hope. I want to know the young guy who will have surgery on Wednesday who has a facial tumour bigger than I have ever seen in my life, will do well and be left with a result that saves his precious life and leaves him wondering if there really must be a God who can do more than we ask or imagine. I need to know it’s not the end of the story for him, I need to know it’s not the end of the story for me.

I pray that as God does the ‘more’ in your life and in all that you hope for, that He will be glorified and that as He helps you overcome and helps you enter the abundance He has for you, others would begin to expect more too and that we’d all become the people He made us to be…. may His enabling Spirit come over you right now as He begins to speak life and truth into some of the stories you feared had ended already… it’s never the end of the story.

So happy I’m on this journey with you precious friends, with love always, KWW x