11 December, 2017

What Does the Bible Mean to You?

Hellfire bay, Cape Le Grand, Western Australia 

Maybe you’re like me. I know the Bible is the word of God, full of practical truth and wisdom, but my life doesn’t always reflect that. I’m on a break from study at the moment, and the first things I thought of doing in my spare time were: finally read some books, catch up on blogs and emails, and work on a couple of projects. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but today I felt prompted: why wasn’t my first thought to spend more time in the Bible and prayer? Why aren’t those things my priority? If a stranger were to see a log of how I spend my time, would they know I am a Bible-believing Christian?

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3

This is the incredible thing about God: He only counsels us to do what will be best for us. Reading the Bible isn’t a theological ritual to make us feel holy; it’s interacting with the Divine. It’s not about formalism or legalism; it’s because God knows we’ll be blessed, encouraged, strengthened. His word is powerful, life-changing. We’ll have constant refreshment, like a tree growing next to a river. We’ll not only grow in our personal life, but produce fruit to benefit others. The psalm continues: ‘his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.’ That’s a promise made by a God who cannot lie. But the condition of the promise being fulfilled, is for us to delight in God’s word, and meditate on it day and night. It has to become a part of us.

It’s tempting to sustain the Christian life with second-hand faith – hearing someone else’s experience with God, or reading inspirational Instagram captions or Pinterest pins. They can be encouraging, but we can get it directly and personalized. If they’re good, the source can only be better.
Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters! Also, you that have no money, come, buy, and eat! Come! Buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why spend your money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in rich food. Pay attention to me, come to me; and listen, so that you may live… Isaiah 55:1-3

It’s speaking to me. I’m spending time in things that don’t satisfy, while God is offering more than I can imagine. Will I choose to prioritize Him and His word? Will I go to the Source and have my own connection with God rather than trying to gain it through others? Will I give time to His word, knowing that the results will not only nourish me, but be a blessing to others?

It’s a challenge – and I write because this is where I am; not to shame you into reading the Bible. But this is life everlasting, and communion with the Creator we’re talking about. It’s far superior to anything else we can experience. But as it is written: no eye hath seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 Will you join me?

04 December, 2017

A Call to Follow God's Will

I apologize for missing last week’s post. Thanks for still being here when my priorities get out of order. And to all you dear people who commented on the previous post: you’re heard, and you’re not alone. Let’s live unashamed.

 It’s interesting when something you share becomes increasingly relevant to your own life. A few weeks ago I wrote about knowing God’s will, and since then I’ve been wrestling – not so much with knowing what God’s will is for me, but how to live it out; what it looks like in practice.

I’ve been realizing God doesn’t align my circumstances so I automatically follow His will. It doesn’t mean I won’t have to give up anything – even good things. I feel for the past couple of years I’ve only followed God’s will for me in a certain area of life when it’s convenient. It’s when I have holidays from studying, exams are over, and I have time off work. I wait until then and say, ‘Hey God, I’m available!’ But He’s saying to me, ‘What are you doing?’ Why does following God only happen when it’s convenient?

Following God’s will isn’t going to make sense according to our culture’s standards sometimes. It might look like quitting a comfortable life and good job. It could seem counterproductive, totally radical, and even unnecessary. We may not understand why. 

It reminds me of the Bible story about the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked what to do to have eternal life. This guy was already doing good things. He was devoutly religious, he kept the commandments. Maybe he considered himself to be in God’s will, and simply wanted validation. But Jesus didn’t tell him to keep up the good work. He told Him to do something radical and unexpected. 

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Matt 19:21) 

Does that make sense? Does it seem like a financially wise thing to do? Maybe it seems noble, but most would’ve said it foolish and uncalled for. It would mean giving up a good, stable life to follow a Man who was ‘despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’ (Is 53:3) It would mean rejection. People would’ve thought him insane. It didn’t make earthly sense, and the man chose not to take the advice.

But does God know what He’s doing? Am I willing to follow His leading if doesn’t add up in my mind or seems like a backwards move, like His advice to the rich young man? Living in God’s will isn’t a nice thing to say, a kind of spiritual lifestyle. It’s absolute surrender, being totally sold out. It’s scary; my self-sufficiency runs deep. But this isn’t servitude under a ruthless dictator we’re talking about. It’s the Creator of the universe being willing to take me on as a co-worker. All He’s waiting for is me to say yes.

Maybe you don’t relate; this isn’t your experience. But I desperately want to encourage you: if God’s calling you to do something, don’t wait until it’s convenient. Don’t wait until school’s finished, or you’re more qualified, or you have financial security. It will only get harder and harder. You’ll find more excuses. I’m talking from experience; putting off following God’s will is one of my biggest regrets. Please don’t make the same mistake. We only have now. 

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer that when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (Rom 13:11-12) Behold now is the accepted time… (2Cor 6:2)

20 November, 2017

Dear Girl-Who-Feels-Deeply

Dear girl-who-feels-deeply,

I was thinking about you last night, as I lay in bed, and I wanted you to know: it’s okay.

It’s okay to feel deeply. It’s okay to be the one who cries over the news or the state of the world or the fact that disease and aging exist. It’s okay to feel the pangs in your heart while everyone else laughs it off. It’s okay to have to lift your head from the pages to blink away the tears. It’s okay to take a moment to stare out the window because you need time to absorb what you just learned. It’s okay to feel someone else’s pain and cry in despair of your powerlessness. 

Please don’t be ashamed of the wounds this world gives. Don’t try to hide the tears, the pain. Don’t let yourself grow callous and indifferent because that’s the way others appear. Don’t brush the feelings aside in an effort to be ‘grownup.’ Don’t pretend it doesn’t hurt when it does, it doesn’t matter when it does, and it doesn’t mean anything when it does. Don’t let other’s judgements make you hard.

Know this truth: God made you to feel. He made you to feel deeply. It’s not a flaw, it’s not something you’re meant to grow out of. It’s going to hurt sometimes, but it’s going to mean you understand His heart a little more, because God feels. He feels deeply. He has a plan for your sensitivity, a plan to use it for His glory, a plan to show through you a piece of His heart.

Please, please, stay soft. Stay impressionable, stay sensitive. Let yourself feel the pain, the sorrow, the hurt, the injustice, and the love and joy and trust. You’re a deep soul, and your vulnerability will mean people misunderstand you. But don’t let it sway you. You know who you are, and this world needs more people like you.

From my heart to yours,
The girl who knows what it’s like. xx

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.  - Elie Wiesel