The Issue of Indecision.

Last week I visited the hairdressers. Wanting to save a few pounds, I decided to test a new salon outside town. All went well until the hairdresser reached my fringe and, unable to decide whether her client should wear it to the side or symmetrically simply made some ungainly hacks and declared it could be worn both ways. The reality is that it can be worn neither, and looks as though a two year old has taken pruning shears to it in their sleep, which leaves me with a quandary for the next few weeks. Lesson learnt: some things are worth paying for.

How often do are we like the hairdresser? Caught between two invites we attempt to go to both actually engaging with neither, or maybe we halfheartedly attend one but the nagging feeling that we would have been better off accepting the other prevents us embracing all that one has to offer.  We need to be careful in this flaky Facebook driven world that we aren’t caught waiting for a better invite just too long and miss out and loose friends driven away by a feeling of “I wasn’t worth committing too”.  We need to honour others (Romans 12:10) and ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’ (Mark 12:31) even if this means we end up at what seems like the lesser party.
Sometimes it’s tempting to be likewarm about faith, but the bible is pretty unequivocal about how God sees that:
15I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other. 16 So because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of My mouth! Revelation 3:15-16
God is worth being decisive for!!  The lives we live should match up to what we believe.  And it is so much easier once you have made the decision and go for it, to keep going for it.  Not least because God helps us.  He doesn’t spit us out of His mouth but instead fills us with his Holy Spirit, who helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26).
The fringe will grow out and I’ll visit a more pricy hairdresser next time, but other things like friendships, and God are worth being decisive about.  Let us not get stuck between two things, and lose both but chose one and wear it well!

 

Leadership

 

Brene Brown writes “I believe a leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes”.

I love this definition of leadership. Too often, particularly in the Church, we think of “leaders” as those at the front, or the glamorous people synonymous with the cool crew, but while both these characters are undoubtably “leaders” to define leadership by them is to limit its definition.

Leaders hold themselves accountable. Leaders need to be self aware. They need to be secure in who they are. They need to recognize their failures and be realistic about their successes. Brown describes this as the need to be vulnerable. Jesus knew who He was, and out of the knowledge and security in his identity He was able to serve and lay His life down; to be vulnerable:

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:3-5) Emphases mine.

Jesus knew where He had come from and where He was going, and because of this he became the least of all servants, scrubbing his disciples’ dirty feet. This challenges me, firstly am I sure of where I come from and where I am going? And second, am I willing to look like the least in the eyes of the world, knowing that God’s Kingdom is what really matters?

Leaders ‘find potential in people and processes’. For me I guess life is more about people, for others its processes. It goes without saying that leaders need followers, but while to some leadership may involve gaining followers by using power, in Brown’s definition it is about ‘finding potential’ and holding yourself accountable to bringing that potential to fruition. And this sounds familiar: leadership is about holding yourself responsible for finding and bringing out the Diamonds in the Mud

The Definition of Vulnerability.

 

Vulnerability (noun): the state of being susceptible to being wounded or hurt.  (dictionary.com)

 

No wonder humans don’t generally choose to be vulnerable; nobody likes being “wounded or hurt” and to be vulnerable apparently means putting oneself out there for a beating.  But this definition fails to mention the flipside; being vulnerable is also to be honest, to own who we are and how we feel and therefore is the state of being truly known, which is an essential step if we are to be truly accepted and truly loved.

 

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

 

God made Himself vulnerable. “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).  He was willing to be fully known; the King of Kings and Creator of all became a babe wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger (Luke 2:12).  He left himself open to hurt.

 

To rewind a little: In the beginning the world was great. God created paradise.  And He was so closely connected to the inhabitants that he walked in the garden in the heat of the day.  But God gave Adam and Eve a choice. In the middle of the garden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and God instructed man; “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gen 2:16-17)   Even in the beginning God left Himself open to rejection. Eve ate. Adam ate.  And they were ashamed and hid. Previously they had been ‘naked, and they felt no shame’ (Gen 2:25) [I love this! It doesn’t even say ‘yet they felt no shame’ but ‘and’ as though naked and shameless was a totally natural way to be.  Because it was!] But once they had eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve realized their nakedness and hid, and humans have struggled with the realisation of who they truly are ever since.

 

The Bible is God making Himself known.   Jesus’ most vulnerable moment is also the moment God is most fully revealed.  As Jesus hung on the cross; mocked, stripped, tortured, naked, alone, He gave us a choice and a chance to be reconciled to the Father, if only we too would take up our cross and follow Him.  To do this we have to be vulnerable: to let go of everything that hinders, including the pretence of self.

 

In John chapter 6, Jesus seems to be at the height of his ministry: He goes from feeding the 5,000 and healing the sick to walking on water and has gathered a large crowd.  But then He tells the crowd He is not there to materially satisfy in the moment but to give them eternal life.  Many did not like this teaching; “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” (v66).  In order to gain this eternal life the crowds had to rely on Jesus and it seemed too hard to be reliant on something other than themselves; to have to admit that they could not earn eternal life through the law, but only through God’s grace in sending Jesus.  They could not bear to be vulnerable.

After the crowds have left, Jesus turns to his disciples; “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.” (v67) Can you imagine how Jesus felt at this moment? He has performed miracles, He has fed thousands, He was followed by hundreds. But the following were more like spectators or glory supporters.  They were not following Jesus for who He was but what He could do.  They had walked away.  The crowds had missed the point, and now He was asking his twelve closest friends, were they too about to abandon Him?

 

Like Adam and Eve, the crowd and the disciples, we have a choice. We can either continue to be self reliant, or we can turn to God.  And just as God knew all that Adam and Eve were attempting to hide so He knows us. All of us. Even what we try to hide. And loves us anyway.

 

Jesus’ vulnerability may have been met with ‘many leaving’ but the twelve remain. “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68). Simon Peter ‘got it’; he understood that the empty claims and promises elsewhere would not satisfy in the long run, but Jesus’ claims and promises would. There was no other option.

 

There are several lessons to be learnt from these stories about vulnerability.

  • Vulnerability is indeed being susceptible to hurt: Adam and Eve were ashamed. God was rejected.  Jesus was rejected.
  • Yet we have to be vulnerable with others to be accepted. Jesus showed who He was, not just the ‘outter bling’ but the person of God, and while this meant rejection from the crowds, it also resulted in true acceptance. If we want true, deep, authentic friendships we have to be vulnerable. We have to be vulnerable to love.  Often vulnerability is met with vulnerability.
  • We are called to be vulnerable before God. There’s nothing about us He doesn’t already know but like Simon Peter we need to recognise that we are dependant on Him.  Jesus’ vulnerability ultimately led to the cross, and through this moment when Jesus took on our rejection we can know that we are fully accepted by God, no matter what we have done.

“But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

 And this reiterates Adam and Eve’s story in Genesis, as “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)  God covered Adam and Eve’s shame. And so, when we are vulnerable before Him, He covers our shame too.

Vulnerability (noun): the state of being susceptible to being wounded or hurt, which can ultimately lead to the state of being fully known, truly accepted and completely loved(dictionary.com, italics mine)

 

 

 

A Lesson from the Breakfast Table

This morning I had a stand off. This was not your average kind of stand off. This stand off lasted 45 minutes. Between two people just as stubborn as eachother, well person A was stubborn, person B was patient, or that is what I am going to claim. Person A was a two-and-a-half-year old, sister of three with a big personality who enjoys being the centre of attention. Person B was I, her au pair/nanny/live in child minder.

Breakfast had finished, and Person A was feeling tetchy. Having held it together so far this morning, when I picked up two bibs from the floor and hung them on the back of her chair, she looked at me, looked at the bibs and promptly swept them onto the floor.

“You will have to pick those up”, I said.

“Mummy, out”, came the indignant reponse, ignoring my statement and any wrongdoing on her part and commanding her mother, who already had her hands full, to help her out of the high chair.

“Who is free and how do you ask nicely?” I asked.

And then, for the next 45 minutes I proceeded to wait as my young charge wailed, screamed and was silent in the battle to say three words; “Emily, out, please?” She was unwilling to utter them knowing that to do so would also be to acknowledge that she had done wrong. And with every passing minute her wrongdoing grew and therefore to relent became more painful. Instead she turned to every possible place of solace (“Daddy out”, “Mummy out”, “Daddy cuddle”, almost “pet guinea pig out”), and then attempted to undo the clips herself.  And as the seconds ticked by the temptation on my part to relent and finish her struggle grew. Except that I knew that if I gave in then the lesson would not have been learnt. And it would have to be learnt at another time, in another place, perhaps causing pain to others and more pain to herself. So instead my plans for her day were put on hold.

Do you think in some way on a cosmic scale God relates to this feeling? I know I relate much more easily to my young charge in the high chair than the person looking on. Do you think God is patiently sitting it out as we wail and wince our way to a more fully formed character, reluctant to look our Maker in the eye and acknowledge our wrongdoing? Do you think He longs for us to turn to Him so we can get on with the adventure He has planned for our day but that He knows that if He lets us off the hook and allows us to skip that lesson then the consequences in the future might be far more serious (see Playing the Waiting Game).   I don’t know who was in more pain as the young girl battled her pride, her or I, and I feel I felt a glimpse of how a kind, loving God could bear not to answer our prayers when or how might seem best to us. Why He might hold us in a place of pain that He was powerful enough to change in an instant. And I was struck that we should call out to Him, even when it means acknowledging our failures and wrong doing, and keep calling; resisting the temptation to turn to other places or our own strength for release. It also served as a reminder that even in the place of struggle our loving Father is looking on, rooting for us to look to Him so He can open the doors of possibility and the lifetime of adventure He has in planned for us.

Playing the Waiting Game

I hate waiting.  And I don’t think I am alone; we don’t have the time to wait for the next tube so we squeeze onto the already full, airless container, bending our backs with the contours of the sides rather than wait two minutes for the next shuttle.   We buy microwaveable ready meals rather than cook.  We pre order Starbucks using an app so we can skip the queue.  I was called Emily, then I moved to London and three syllables was too long,  I became “Em”.  We hate waiting.

But waiting is important.

Abram. Habakkuk. Isaiah. Simeon. Anna. Even Jesus. These guys (and girl) knew how to wait.

 

God promises to make Abram into a ‘great nation’ when he leaves Israel aged 75 (Genesis 12).   When Abram is 99, God renews his promise to ‘greatly increase [Abram’s] numbers’, and gives Abram (which means high father) the name Abraham (father of many) as a sign of His promise (Genesis 17).  But the promised son is not born until Abraham is one hundred years old!! (Genesis 21:5).  It is twenty five years after God first promised Abram that he would have offspring; and with each year the fulfilment of this promise must have seemed increasingly impossible, yet God is able and faithful to his promises.

But why did God make Abram wait so long?  In part it was about faith. The next chapter in Genesis details God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22).  In Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller writes that God knew Abram’s heart and therefore his faith, so it was not to prove it, but to improve it: it was only through the fire of obedience and testing that Abram’s faith would be made pure.  And that faith, which had been built in the years of waiting did indeed stand up.  Abraham withstood the fire and came out stronger.  If he had been given Isaac immediately maybe He would not have understood that God’s ways are not our ways, and He would not have dared take Isaac to sacrifice.  But Abraham knew His God.  He knew God was bigger even than the son who was seemingly the answer to God’s promise.  And God was glorified through Abraham’s obedience and faith.

Abraham’s story looks forward to a greater story, when another beloved son would be taken up the mountain for sacrifice, so that although Isaac partially marked the end of the wait for Abraham, he also marked out a bigger promise to wait for.

 

The bigger promise that is alluded to in the story of Abraham and Isaac is prophesied throughout the Old Testament, it was this revelation of which Habakkuk wrote;

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3

And Isaiah wrote,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

And for which Simeon and Anna spent their lives praying, fasting and worshipping (Luke 3). The promise for which these men and women waited was fulfilled in Jesus. Or was partially fulfilled in Jesus.  We are still in a time of waiting.  A time of now and not yet.  Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well,

‘a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.’
John 4:23

The time has come, but is still coming; We are still awaiting the Jesus’ return, when the veil will be lifted and we will be able to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.  So on an eternal scale we are waiting.

 

But often we are also waiting on the smaller scale of everyday life.  Knowing that what we are currently doing is not actually where God wants us to be but unable to understand why He doesn’t hurry up and get us out.  We should take heart that even Jesus had to wait until He was thirty to begin His ministry (Luke 3:23).  And Jesus’ waiting time was not wasted as  in this time ‘[He] grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man’ (Luke 2:52).  the time out of the public eye is preparing Jesus for the time when He finally is.  He is instilling patterns that continue even when he is busy because he learnt their importance.  Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Habits like drawing on God for strength, for His identity, for his direction, set Jesus up so that regardless of whether his ministry is a success or failure He is rooted and ready to glorify His Father.

 

To wait is an important spiritual discipline. Like Jesus, we should be putting in habits that build our faith and relationship with God.  Like Abram, as we trust God for his promises, our faith is developed, and our character is strengthened.  It is not about racing from one thing to the next but trusting that God is at work;

“You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust”
Sovereign Over Us Michael W Smith

it is as we wait that our character is shaped and moulded to be able to cope with what God has for us.  We should enjoy the step we are on, for as long as God keeps us there, knowing He has exciting things ahead, but needs to shape our character to hold up so that whether we encounter success or failure we will be able to cope with the avalanche.  Similar to when the voltage in a circuit is raised above its upper limit, and the circuit blows.  If too much is put onto a person who does not yet have the character, mental resources, or friends to fall back on then they seek solace outside of God and can either combust or the power surge leaves them feeling invincible and they fall, taking others down amidst shouts of hypocrisy.

 

If waiting is so crucial in our development surely to claim to be ‘Playing the Waiting Game’ (emphases added) is crass and trivialising.  Well, maybe, except that we were also called to ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice’ (Phil 4:4), therefore we should enjoy the waiting, certain that God is preparing us for something epic, both here on Earth and also on His glorious return.

#ComparisonSteals

I was 21 when I left Facebook.  I was in my penultimate year of university, and I had had enough.  Everyone else’s life was going somewhere; they had great grades, minimum five hundred fabulous friends and were in relationships that could be compared to Posh and Becks.  I did not know where my life was headed, had not got into my first choice university, and a relationship; forget it.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even blogs portray a selected insight into people’s lives:

 “Social media is a highlights reel of everyone else’s life.  You have to live with the outtakes of your own.” Kenton Beshore

But somehow this truth does not sink in, while we know that the picture perfect photo of us hides an argument that morning with our mum, a carefully concealed spot on our nose and a splitting headache, we do not know the background behind the information displayed on our NewsFeed, so we assume there isn’t one.  And thus we become dissatisfied with our life; dissatisfied with who God made us;  and dissatisfied with God.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30

And while this dissatisfaction is dangerous when internalised, once it hits the external it is life threatening; not just for ourselves but also for others.

 

God made us unique.  He perfectly equipped us for His purpose for our life.  He loves us.  But the minute we start to compare ourselves to other people, we take our eyes off Him and His dreams for us.  Even worse, when we start to change the way we are to look better on our profile, or to fulfil what everyone else is telling us to do, we miss out on the chance to partner with Him for His Kingdom.  The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote of this phenomenon 4,000 years before Mark Zuckerberg even conceived the concept of Facebook!

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4.

When we are compelled to do something because someone else is doing it, and it isn’t really what we are meant to be doing, while we might ultimately achieve, it is hard work to do so, and ultimately it is meaningless.  It will come to nothing.  When the world passes away, our ‘achievements’ that were not for God’s glory will pass away with it.

 

Robert Madu cites the example of Saul.  Saul was King of Israel and everything about him was majestic and made for the role; he looked like a King, literally ‘head and shoulders above the rest’ (1 Samuel 9:2), he was chosen and anointed by God and even given a new heart: he was perfectly equipped for his given role.

But it goes wrong.

Firstly, Saul tries to fulfil the prophet Samuel’s role and offer sacrifices to God (1 Samuel 13).  Saul is scared as the people are deserting him and so, rather than wait for Samuel to offer the sacrifice Saul does it himself. Perhaps he has become discontented with just being King and thinks he would rather play Samuel’s role, or perhaps he doesn’t trust that if God has called him to be King then it will be OK even if the people all desert Him, so he acts on his own accord and offers sacrifices.  Then Samuel arrives and announces that Saul’s Kingdom will not last.

After David has defeated Goliath, Saul compares himself to David.

‘He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on.’

And this leads to a bitterness that hurts his family, his Kingdom, and most of all Saul himself.  The rest of the account of Saul’s leadership is less about his Kingdom and more about his pursuit of David. And while this is in part due to the Messianic prophecies contained in David’s Kingship, it also shows that Saul took his eyes off his calling, and as a consequence he missed out.  God had a great plan for Saul, and perfectly equipped His chosen King, but because Saul wanted to be someone else he never saw God’s plan come to pass.  The bigger picture worked out OK; God can work everything for good, but He had to raise up somebody else, and there was pain and loss of leadership to get there.

 

I don’t want to end up like Saul, anointed and gifted for a purpose but missing the mark. It is an experience common in our society ; trying to be sylphlike we end up in hospital wards (in the 12 months to January 2016, there were 19.1million hospital admissions for eating disorders.)  Trying to get the stable career and salary dictated by the press and society we work ourselves onto anti depressants and sleeping pills while slogging long hours in the City**.   Social media is not solely to blame, we are bombarded with comparison all the time, but trying to live up to others’ expectations steals and destroys rather than giving the ‘abundant life’ we actually desire.

 

Ultimately, I don’t have the answer for you; I don’t even have the answer for me.  All we can do is do our best to guard against comparison.  To cling to the truth that you are known and dearly loved by God (The only mirror we should be using is the mirror of His word (James 1:23)).   Root yourself in the truth of who He says you are. And to be You!  Know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and the world desperately needs your unique contribution.

 

 

**I am not saying that depression and insomnia are solely caused by comparison or that working hard is a bad thing, but we need to search our motivation and God’s calling on our lives.

Resources:

http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB20298

Stay in Your Lane, Robert Madu, HTB Leadership Conference 2015. https://lc17.alpha.org/node/116

Comparison: The Thief, Kenton Beshore, Mariners 24 January http://www.marinerschurch.org/irvine/messages/art-of-relationships/comparison-the-thief/

Deciphering “God’s plan”: Give yourself some grace!

Sometimes I think being a Christian makes life more complicated.  This sounds like a ridiculous statement.  To be a Christian is to believe that when Jesus died on the Cross He  gave us hope and a future for eternity.  And in the short term, we have a relationship with a God who says,

‘I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11).

But while this should be liberating often I am paralysed by the belief that God has a plan for fear that I’m going to get it wrong and spiral onto the scrap heap. Sometimes I think I spend so long trying to decipher God’s ‘one and only plan’ that I forget to live.  And when life gets tough the temptation is to think that this is not part of the plan therefore I’ve got it wrong and must strive harder, work longer hours, be more regimented in going to Church and analyse the decisions I have made as if it would be possible to pinpoint the exact moment I fell, then rewind and do something different. But it isn’t possible to rewind.  Instead we should look ahead rather than back, fix our eyes on Jesus and know that God can work the bad, even if self inflicted, for good, and has covered it in His grace.   And, that ‘one and only plan’ probably doesn’t exist anyway, or if it did, it went out the window long ago.

 

Don’t hear me wrong here, I believe we were made for a purpose

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

And that God has a specific calling on each individual’s life, he has set you a path;

…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…. Hebrews 12:1b-2a

that only you, with your unique combination of gifts and character can fulfil this completely and therefore we should be running in that path that has been marked out for us.  But the path is perhaps less about what we do and more about ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus’ and once we do that, whatever we’re doing, everything else will fall into place.  If we truly have our eyes concentrated on Jesus it is ultimately not possible for things to go wrong. Therefore wherever we find ourselves we can be confident that that is where God wants us for the moment and in that place we should work for His glory.

 

And even if it all goes pear-shaped, God’s plan will still prevail, it may look different but our God is the great recycler.  He uses all the experiences, even those that are self inflicted, and works them for His purposes.  Have I made some poor decisions in my life? Definitely. But

‘God can work all things for the good of those who love Him, whom He has called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28).

This is like the potter described in Jeremiah who when the pot seems to go wrong, shapes it into a different pot;

“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Jeremiah 18:4

God can turn our mistakes into something beautiful. We just have to turn back and be willing to be moulded by Him.  The process may be painful; in order to remould a pot you have to undo what has been done wrong, often crushing or taking off the parts that don’t fit.  Other analogies for this used in the Bible are the pruning of branches, or the refining of gold in a fiery furnace but ultimately a stunning pot, an eye-catching flower or glittering gold is produced.  It is worth enduring the pain.  Like Jacob who wrestles with God for His blessing (Genesis 32:22-32) we may always walk with a limp, a reminder of our struggle with God. But the struggle is worth it because as other things are stripped away we find that He is the one thing that matters.

 

As well as trusting that the times we get it wrong are redeemable, we also have to give ourselves some grace.  Our past is hidden in Christ; we are forgiven, redeemed and free.  We must not be held back by yesterday.  In order to step into all God has for us we must let go, knowing that all that has gone before is covered by God’s grace and re-focus our eyes on Jesus. Paul writes,

‘Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it [resurrection from the dead]. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 3:13-14

We will fall short, and there will be many a time when we find ourselves slipping in the lane, chasing after wealth or boys or slipping into legalism and ‘tick box religion’, but we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and know that all the past is covered by God’s awesome grace. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy and he exists to stop you running for God, he will tell you that you are not worthy, that the past marks the present and the future, and that therefore the one and only plan is off the table; you are useless in God’s Kingdom.  This is a lie.

 

The truth is that

‘[God’s] grace is sufficient for me.  [His] power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).

There is nothing; no situation, no action and no person, that is too big, too messy, or too far gone for God to redeem.  His grace is sufficient. And not only does He redeem messy situations but He uses them for His glory.  Where we find ourselves broken, God can mend us.  When all else is stripped away, He comes and clothes us.  We just need to live.  Don’t worry so much about the plan.  Give yourself some grace.  Fix your eyes on Jesus.  And go for it!