Find time to withdraw

pexels-photo-89820

Reflections based on Luke 10:38–42.

‘“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?”… Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’

Jesus is here tackling the issue of our natural tendency to busy ourselves doing ‘stuff’. Honestly, I find it hard to stop (even to spend time with God) before I’ve done all the jobs that need doing. And yet, when I put time with God first, my perspective on things definitely changes. And when I ask for His help for those things on my ‘to do’ list that really do still need doing often I find a renewed energy and focus. Things that I thought would take me a long time are done much more quickly.

I think that Jesus is also making a very pertinent comment about our acts of service. I know I’ve said in the previous entry of this blog series that worship is service, and that is true, but the heart behind it is the crux of the matter. I have purposefully written this blog straight after the last one because I think we can often busy ourselves with commendable tasks, but neglect the love relationship that is meant to be behind them, fuelling them. Yes, feeding and caring for the guests were necessary jobs (and, secretly, I can totally understand Martha’s frustration!) and yet we can go overboard and miss out on the very thing that we truly desire and need – time with, and input from, our Lord.

How often do we overcomplicate things that could be done more simply, which would free us up more to spend time with Him? And how often do we run out of energy doing things that God hasn’t called us to do? We need to take time to sit at His feet as Mary did; drawing from the Source so that we can serve others out of the overflow He has given us, not from our own, limited, strength.

Question: How often do you rush about trying to achieve things, while neglecting time at your saviour’s feet? Repent and spend some quality time with Him today.

Advertisements

Fasting: why do I bother with it?

Fasting_4-Fasting-a-glass-of-water-on-an-empty-plate

The rumble of my stomach, the light wooziness I’m feeling in my head, the need for mints while I drink endless water and tea…

That’s right, I’m fasting.

 No, I’m not super holy and yes, I do struggle with it.

I’ve tried to build fasting into my life regularly over the last few years but today it feels particularly difficult. It may be due to the amount of exercise I did last night, general tiredness, feeling a little under the weather…

Whatever the reasons it feels hard today. But, let’s face it, fasting is hard. And I think that’s part of the point – it isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s about focusing our attention; using that time that we would normally be eating to come before God.

Now that in itself can be quite a challenge. I have skipped breakfast, but I certainly didn’t have time to pour out my heart in prayer to God while making sure the kids got ready for school. It’s now, after the school run, that I have a bit of space and that I can focus on coming before Him.

Fasting is one of those strange disciplines isn’t it? We are under grace, so we don’t have to do it, but, if we look at what Jesus said about fasting He referred to ‘when you fast’ rather than ‘if’, which means He expected it to be a part of the disciples’ lives.

To read the rest of this article please click here.

Learning to be thankful – at all times

The new term is well under way and already I feel like I’ve been struggling to catch up. I had the most wonderful Christmas, but since then both my husband and I have been dogged with illness. New Year came and went with no let up, then the kids went back to school and life continued to seem like a blur.

Friends asked if I’d made new year’s resolutions, but I replied that I was frustrated that I hadn’t had any time or space to reflect on the previous year and pray through my goals and vision for this year (something I like to do every January). I hadn’t even got my office in order or put up a new calendar.

beach walking shot

A few days after the kids went back to school it suddenly dawned on me how down I felt. It wasn’t that anything awful had happened – and, as I’ve said, we had a lovely Christmas. But the constant pain and problems in my body, combined with a lack of sleep, were taking their toll on my emotions.

I knew I was responding negatively to people – my husband, kids, others around me – and was desperate to do something about it. But I also knew that I needed time with those who would do me good rather than just pressing through and trying in my own strength. And that meant spending time with God – and booking a lunch date with a friend who both encourages and challenges me.

Over lunch we talked and cried, and I left feeling lighter. The following morning I couldn’t get the phrase ‘For yet I will praise Him’ out of my mind as I drove back from dropping the kids off at school. I had been saying to God that I was frustrated with myself; there was so much I wanted to get done, but I still felt like I just wanted a date with my duvet.

I came home and looked up the phrase, finding it in three psalms. Here’s one from Psalm 42:5:

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”

Something inside me leapt. I realised that, like the psalmist, I needed to speak to my soul and remind myself to put my hope and trust in God.

To read the rest of this post, please click here.

Accepting God’s adventures

In the run up to the school summer holidays our daughter was able to take part in the special celebrations the Guides were having due to their 100th anniversary. She has been part of Brownies for almost three years now. Her first weekend away with them happened to coincide with my 40th birthday so I endured a weekend of worrying and wondering how she was!

My daughter is so much like me it can be quite scary. Confident, chatty and sociable within circles of people she feels secure with, she becomes a totally different person out of her comfort zone; shy, fearful and so, so quiet. She won’t take risks, drawing back into herself to keep safe.

So when it came time for this year’s adventure weekend she wasn’t sure she wanted to go. I really encouraged her to because it was a special celebration and I didn’t want her to miss out (and we had paid a fair amount of money for it!). Well, she totally blew us away with the vigour in which she grabbed hold of every element of the weekend.

Her leader captured her mood brilliantly in a picture that shows her dangling from a harness having just stacked and climbed crates – her face is beaming with a huge smile and she looks like she’s full-belly laughing. It was a joy to see – and even better when she said that that was what she had been like all weekend. She commented, “I now know the real girl, the one you’ve been telling me about all this time.”

A few weeks later, the Brownie pack spent a day in Windsor, bungee trampolining and zorbing. Again, I wasn’t sure how much she would join in, but apparently it was all brilliant fun and “zorbing was the best”!

Knowing that our daughter grabbed all the opportunities set before her and enjoyed them so much gave us such pleasure. And that’s how God responds when we really enjoy something He’s invited us to partake in.

To read the rest of this article please click here.

Socially networking, but how is your connection with God?

As usual, I have had many ideas for blogs running through my head but little time to write them. And my time today has been cut down even more – for lovely reasons though. It was the last day of my children’s holiday before school starts back. We had a friend drop by in the morning and then this afternoon we took a spur of the minute decision and went to the cinema. It’s been a really precious time – but that’s not the point of this blog!

What I want to think about today is whether our technogically based lives these days leave any space to properly connect with God. With phones that gives us instant access to the internet it means that not only can people reach us at any time, anywhere, we can also be constantly connected to twitter, facebook and other networking sites. And, be honest, how hard it is to ignore those status updates that show a new posting has come through?!

I obviously don’t know what your own personal devotional times with God look like, but I’ve been thinking about mine ever since someone I’ve been mentoring emailed to ask how much time she should be spending with God one on one, and how much time do I spend. At first I was rather disgruntled by the questions – after all it isn’t about quantity but about quality right? And each individual needs to work out how they best connect to God and when. But then I was ashamed. Ashamed and not wanting to answer her question. Because recently I’ve got busier and busier with work and I had to acknowledge the fact that making time for God has got harder. It has been significantly harder since having kids but the last quarter of this year I can look back and see I didn’t do much quiet dwelling in God’s presence. There was always a bit of work to do, the kids to sort, someone who needed my help at church – oh and a few hundred tweets to wade through. And I would say I’m worse off now.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the things we can achieve via the internet, and the connections we can make with other individuals (and for me the work contacts I’ve made) are fantastic. But keeping up with the very small amount of social networking I do has made it even harder for me to connect to God – because it is just one more thing that gets in the way – that I find vies for my attention and often wins over quality time with my maker.

I watched the last episode of Living with the Amish over the holiday period and, again, was challenged on the same point. One family had left the most strict Amish community and was going it alone. This meant they had embraced some technological advances – including the internet. The eldest daughter of the family was interviewed and she said that her brothers now have facebook and twitter. She said she didn’t know what they were (and didn’t want to know) but she was sad for her brothers, because they now wasted so much time that they could be reading God’s word – and she then patted her Bible as if it was her most precious possession. That really resonated with me. Not because I want to give up on the internet, but I do want to make sure my priorities are straight as I start this new year – with all the joys and challenges it will most certainly bring. How about you? Are you connecting with God as well as you are with others on the internet?