Privilege

It is a privilege to be able to pray on behalf of a fellow human being, a fellow child of God. It is a privilege to know that God allows us to be part of something in which we could never otherwise participate. I pray regularly for various groups and individuals all around the world. They struggle, as we all struggle, all the while unaware of the Light that shines through them, and of the Light that helps others, including me, to see God’s glory in the dust and strain. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of prayer.

https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=tKjUoE2fack

I have come to realise, recently, that my illness may prevent me from doing the things I long to do for God (as if any of us can do anything for God!) but that doesn’t mean my life on the periphery has any less use for Him. Prayer is something I can do even while resting. God has a use and a purpose for each one of us.

May it all be for His glory. Amen.

 

Flawed by Design?

‘Doing it all’ isn’t biblical. The world says we must do it all… This means abandoning the never ending need to please. The belief that we can and should do it all ourselves is a lie that haunts us. 

…God made me with limitations on purpose. Having a limited capacity is not a flaw in my character; it is by glorious design and for an incredible purpose: to realise my need for Him.

~ from Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington

“Nobody… sews a patch of unshrunken cloth onto an old coat. If he does, the new patch tears away from the old and the hole is worse than ever. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine bursts the skins, the wine is spilt and the skins are ruined…” 

Mark 2:21,22 (Phillips)

Where are You?

Sometimes people respond to ill health by ‘[feeling] that it’s all their fault, that they somehow brought it on themselves. I don’t know about you, but adding a heavy guilt trip to feeling physically lousy doesn’t sound like a recipe for recovery, does it? The problem with that way of thinking is that the individual has mistaken responsibility for blame…

Blame… is as pointless as what the farmer said to the lost motorist who asked his way to a remote village while driving through a maze of country lanes. The farmer, after scratching his head and thinking for a moment, advised the motorist, “Well if I were you, sir, I wouldn’t start from ‘ere.”

You are where you are, and there is nowhere else to start from.

~ from Healthier Every Day Hypnosis by Julie-Ann Amos

I have been using hypnosis as a tool in my recovery. I don’t go in for all of it, e.g. Set Free Your Inner Goddess or How to Get Rich. Those things are anathema to me. But that’s no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water, is it?

I am making good use of hypnosis and suggestions. I listen all the way through first, to make sure I find nothing objectionable, and then if it’s all – how do I put it? – in line with the bible? Yes, if it’s not promoting something absent or contrary to the bible, I listen regularly and I listen prayerfully. The words quoted above reminded me of Jesus’ words in one of my favourite gospel stories – the healing of the man born blind, found in John 9:

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in Him.”

John 9:2,3 (NRSVA)

Note that Jesus doesn’t say that the man was born blind in order that he might be healed, but so that he could reveal the working of God. If you read the rest of the story in John 9, you will see that this man reveals God by his testimony, by his honest, earnest faith, not by his healing.

You are where you are, and there is nowhere else to start from.

Debussy and Runner Beans

I was trying to practise the piano. For some reason, after years of very little playing, I’ve been playing quite a bit this past week. Today, after five minutes, I had to stop. I was making too many mistakes because, alas, I was too tired. So now I’m just sitting and trying not to be too bored. I’m looking at the runner beans that I planted. The way they shoot up is nothing short of miraculous.

This is what I was practising, before this stupid illness made me stop and – er – contemplate runner beans o_O It’s a beautiful interpretation of Debussy’s The Girl with the Flaxen Hair (La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin):

As for me, a little later this afternoon I have to drive for an hour to pick up our girls from Guide Camp, which will no doubt knock me out for the rest of the day. It’s been so quiet this weekend.

Reblog: Autism Parents and the Church: Sabbath

 

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My own health is the reason we’re not going to church today, although the girls will later take part in the St. George’s Day parade at the local C. of E. I understand the importance of Sabbath rest. Rest is, in fact, integral to my own recovery. When I was a single mother of three, my son’s autism meant I rarely rested, and church was definitely not restful or restorative! But I had such a yearning for God that I couldn’t not go. The friends I made through Celebrate Recovery, the Jesus-focussed programme and the beautiful fellowship all changed my life.

This is an excellent post from The Left Hand of Ehud blog (very good blog, do pop over there and have a read).

The Left Hand of Ehud: Matt's Bible Blog

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Sometimes, things get too much.

You’ve run out of tolerance for being yelled at or hit. Or you’re fed up of arguing with doctors, with schools, with random passers-by. Or you’re sick of the staring and the tutting and the whispered comments. Or you’re tired of the guilt and the stress and the routine, you’re tired of being tired.

There are so many autism parents who, for a thousand and one reasons, don’t get to go to church. And that can mean that each day becomes just like the last; seven days you labour with no end in sight. You don’t get to stop, to reflect, to press pause and breathe. You don’t get to rest your soul, to feed your spirit, to lie down in those symbolic green pastures, to drink from those metaphorical still waters.

You don’t get to Sabbath.

(Sometimes you don’t get to Sabbath…

View original post 443 more words

Indispensable

I hate getting so stupidly tired when in reality I’ve hardly done anything. It is exceedingly frustrating. I am trying to get my house organised and decluttered because I think that that will help make everything run smoother even when I’m not well. And when I am, with a bit o’ luck, better (I keep hoping and praying) then I’ll have more time for other things because my household will run smoothly and efficiently, so it’s win-win all round, except that it is a very s l o w process.

In the meantime, I do often sometimes end up asking God why I can contribute what seems like so little, even to my own family, let alone the wider community. I don’t feel useful and I do feel bored. A lot. And lonely, I suppose, though I keep myself occupied. I don’t see anyone, day to day, except my family. I don’t really have any friends in our little town. I am very glad Frank works from home, but it would be nice to interact with people on a more regular basis. This morning, I found something of an answer (sitting right there in Corinthians, where I’ve read it hundreds of times):

…God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable

1 Cor. 12:18-22 (NRSVA)

Weak but indispensable. Innit! I don’t get it, though, I’d rather be in full health and contributing and being part of the church community, especially after all the years of suffering (I hardly consider this illness ‘suffering’, just knuckle-chewingly dull), but who am I to know the mind or direction of God? I pray it and I have to mean it: Thy will be done, not my will be done. I wonder how many of us pray ‘Thy’ when we really mean ‘my’?

The human mind may devise many plans,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.

Proverbs 19:21

Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  

Luke 1:38

We could all of us learn from that attitude.

All Our Strivings Cease

‘… spend the remainder of your life only in worshipping God. He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration. Sometimes to pray for His grace. Sometimes to offer Him your sufferings. And sometimes to return Him thanks for the favours He has given you, and still gives you in the midst of your troubles. Console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him at your meals and when you are in company. The least little remembrance will always be pleasing to Him.’

~ Brother Lawrence, extract from his seventh letter to a friend, from ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’

When I am weak, then I am strong’ wrote Paul.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matt.11:28-30 NRSVA

Stop trying so hard. Just fix your mind on Jesus. ‘Whoever has God lacks nothing’, Teresa of Avila wrote, so why do we always think we ‘ought’ to be more, do more? Do I think I can out-do God? Ridiculous! When my gaze is fixed on Him, all the rest follows as effortlessly – and as incomprehensibly – as day follows night.

Thank you, Lord, for Your abundant goodness; may I never forget that Your grace is always enough. Amen.

In Humility

Our sanctification [does] not depend upon changing our works. Instead, it [depends] on doing that for God’s sake which we commonly do for our own.

The Practice of the Presence of God

~ Brother Lawrence

 

I have a lot of boring tasks, being a housewife. I have had to give up studying with the OU, again, because I can’t keep up with it and keep up with caring for my family. I had my doubts about whether I could manage it when I started the course in October, but it was worth a try. It was with some sadness that I decided to stop, but also a sense of relief. Now I know that I am doing everything I need to do, not for my sake, but for His (also, God was gracious enough to allow me to leave on a high note, having scored 97% in my latest assignment, so at least I know I can pick up where I left off when I’m better)!

I have to rest a lot, so I have been trying to incorporate this attitude into even my resting. It’s not so bad feeling rough if it’s for God’s sake. The thought brings comfort. And then when I do have my energy restored, I can go about my tasks with a heart of humility and service. Also, I make sure that Sundays are a day of rest. This helps prevent any sense of resentment or negativity. God planned for us to work and be diligent, but He also planned for us to rest. I think we too often ignore this in the 21st century. Our digital era insists we never stop. But we must.

Fasting

I need to have a ‘fast’ from the internet. No blogging, no random youtubing, no news-reading, no online shopping, no nuffink for the duration of November. Why? Because I had a setback, health-wise, and it’s been getting me down. After some thinking and talking to God I realise that maybe this ‘setback’ is not really a setback. Maybe it’s just my ‘thorn in the flesh’.

…I was given a… physical ailment… Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

extract from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (GNT)

Like I say, I’m beginning to think this is actually a way to keep me focused on what’s most important – to help me keep my eye on the goal, as Paul wrote elsewhere. I do have a tendency that, when things are going well, I am so determined that they will stay well, or I’ll achieve whatever I set my mind to, that I end up denying the fact that I’ve been so unwell in the first place (which is ridiculous considering this illness – Myalgic Encephalopathy – has been part of my life, on and off, for well over two decades) and that I’ve had to face so many enormous emotional difficulties what with all the traumas, etc. In conclusion, then, I need to take some time to refocus on my health, my family, my marriage, my home, my studying and, most importantly, on God. It’s part of spiritual discipline, I suppose, in the sense that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the same root.

So take care. Stay well. Keep on loving Jesus.

See you soon x