Tag Archives: journey

Loss, Wilderness and Hope

There are moments in grief that can overwhelm us, where it seems that everything else moves out of focus, except for perhaps one thing. For me one the focus is one person or to be precise the lack of their presence.

The impact of this moment is not so much the length of its duration, but the power it has over you, to make simple things harder. Basic things like choosing what to eat or drink, or whether or not to reply to all the messages. Weariness is your companion yet sleeping for any decent length without waking up in between, seems impossible.

As you navigate the world in the bubble, of the moment people going about their business, seemingly oblivious that things are not quite right, colour is slightly desaturated, regular objects seem slightly out of focus.

How are people not panicking or looking bewilderedly at each other, is not quite clear!! Truth is, you realise, it is only you that is inhabiting this space. They do not share at this moment this parallel universe in space and time. They pass through it untouched and oblivious. For them, there are no visual clues. There are no flags at half-mast, no headlines in newspapers or breaking news on tv.

We watched her being taken away for the final time. We watched them load and unload her coffin, we heard tributes, and prayers we sang her favourite songs, we remembered her. We saw her take her last curtain call in the plain coloured walls of the crematorium. The blue velvet separated us from her, as eternity now does.

In what way will we meet again I am not sure, there is a concrete finality at this moment, and the beginnings of a journey into the wilderness.

The wilderness can be scary, it can be a place where you can rest, can refresh, can heal. The unhurried wilderness can be what is needed, though not always wanted. In this wild place, you can find others who too have journeyed into the wilderness and are making their way, charting their course.

In this emotional universe, you won’t pass out, or grow hungry, those things are taken care off. For our job is to remember, to mourn, to find our way back to gratitude and emotionally breath again, as we journey through the door of acceptance into the light of new beginnings.

Previous post in the theme of grief can be found at: https://godlifechurch.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/traveling-the-valley-of-shadows/

Traveling The Valley Of Shadows

I gathered with loved ones to see a star. A star whose light was changing but was still beautiful and at times younger somehow. This star shone despite death’s dark shadow which loomed over the valley where we were, like storm clouds forming in the distance we each knew what was coming.

The line in psalm 23 The Lords My Shepherd, speaks of such a valley, the valley of the shadow of death. This psalm that is still fresh in the memory, one that we see written on cards or spoken at funerals. This is not a valley I am particularly familiar with, though I have repeated the psalm many times. There is another line in its narrative that reads.

“his rod and staff guides me…”

This line gives gives me a sense of forward motion, that it had a purpose. God knew my questions and heartache. Within such moments scripture was read, in the quiet prayerfulness of my private space, it was like holding onto the actual staff of the good shepherd. Just as a child holds it’s parents hand, walking and moving in synchronicity matching the gait of the step and each twist and turn.

To my surprise the valley was a place where love deepened. The shadows had not halted the growth of these precious blooms. Love was experienced in the nurses and doctors care, in the embrace of family, the quiet kiss good bye on the forehead, of the one whose starlight was passing from our awareness to something beyond. Love shone in the glisten of tear filled eyes, and the vigil kept day and night.

As we journeyed together there was occasional laughter, and abundant generosity, where people showed up the best of who they are, to pay respect to the one who was leaving so soon.

Silence would settle like a warm blanket between conversation, people lost in their own thoughts, or listening for the slightest change that indicated that her light was changing.

She was the star in the room, those gathered loved the star that was changing before our eyes, until we could no longer perceive her light anymore.

I am grateful for her light that guided me. However her light carries onwards, into the place Jesus prepares. We can discern the light in our relationships, in the reasons behind the choices we make, in the gifts we share. Giving our lives shape, depth of meaning, and teaching us values of substance that lead us forward.

Farewell Irene.

Well That Sucks!!

This was turning into a ridiculously long facebook post. Instead I thought a blog post might be more a appropriate some how, even if it’s no less shorter! 

This morning I am around the 3 1/2 week point of  exercising 4x a week, with a variety of aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Eating whole foods for breakfast, lunch and for snacks, with just ‘a few accidents’ with packets of Maltesers and chocolate bars. 

Physically I certainly feel fitter and stronger. But, yes there is a but, whilst my weight dipped initially by one or 2 pounds I find myself cruising to the end of September with the scales telling me i am actually 1/2 lb heavier than when I started! WHAT!!!!!

I have two options on this lengthly mystical journey towards being healthier and lighter and hear they are:

One option is to give up and just accept the inevitability of the direction of travel, as I pass those metaphorical health-warning road signs, which tell me there is danger ahead, in the form of health complications. To accept that these are unavoidable and that unless there is a magic wand, that can be wafted over me, I am doomed. Meaning I probably wont see my kids grow up and have families of there own, because the fat will have suffocated my internal organs, long before then! (bit overdramatic sorry)

The other option (Oh thank God for that), it is the road less traveled, it is one of painful self evaluation, to avoid an even more painful heart attack. I need to get real, acknowledge how bad I want/need this, and that no apple watch type tracker, or other aids is going to make me change, unless I change first. I have to acknowledge with vulcan-esk logic my foibles, my triggers, that make me eat rubbish or cause me to be too lazy to keep track of what I consume. 

Then like today, I draw a line on one side my most recent failures or false starts and on the other side, wisdom i have gained from those falls and a rededication to the journey I am on. My prayer is that those decisions for good, will ultimately outweigh those that cause me harm.

Today after my disappointment on the scales, I still went to my workout area, I still lifted those weights. But I did a few less so I had time to reflect on what went wrong learn from it  and ask the lord to help me carry on.

Keeping God Busy!

It is not that God has nothing to do! What I mean is that sometimes in our lives we might, experience moments of God being especially active with us! This week has been one of those weeks.

For me I caricature God or the angels working hard to help me avoid mistakes and helping me through tricky spots. I find it’s a positive way of looking at life’s bumpy roads and it makes me smile and reminds me of the bigger picture. 

On to this week, God has been busy with me through the words of earthly saints this week. Bringing new awareness into my life, painful at times but honest, leading me towards healing, pointing me to Jesus. One saint in particular helped reveal hidden things buried inside my heart.

Two saints have helped me begin transitioning to a healthier life style, (hense the photo!) these same saints have just inspired my boots off, by their openness and upholding of a vision of christian community and a church that is real. It makes me want to worship God in thankfulness. 

Another saint stood in front of people, and reminded us of a church that is so real it goes beyond social pleasantries. Together (I paraphrase) get into the hot tub of deeper relationships and deeper connection with the Lord. The image of church community being in a hot tub is a little awkward, but there is a deeper message of connectedness, breaking down of barriers, acceptance and the sheer delight of being in a hot tub. 

I post this on the seventh day, when according to the book of Genesis God rested because seeing all that had been done and declared it was good. This week has been a bit of a journey but I arrive today and echo the lords sentiment, it is good.

On one level it would be lovely for me to tell you, who these people were that God used, but that would discolour the purpose of their words and encouragement, which is to draw near to God, to abide in God, to glorify God. Ultimately to be reminded, that Gods’ love is sufficient and I am approved off. Amen to that.

This posts top photo is of my lunch yesterday. Which would normally be a packet of crisps and some can of tinned soup or maybe something more unhealthy. I found that it took me ages to eat what I had made, not because cheese bread sticks, crackers, carrots and red pepper humous, didn’t taste good, but it really, really filled me up and lasted until dinner! Which was not what I was expecting!

I wonder which saints you will speak through this week! Go well my brothers and sisters in Christ, and go with God, keeping your eyes open and ears tuned to Gods voice.

my aproval 1

Get Your Faith Lift Here!

Has your faith become sanitised, tame, lukewarm? Is church ‘run of the mill’, no more challenging than what you might pick for breakfast in the morning? The video below that reminds us otherwise; the sheer challenge of the gospel, the agony of the early mission leaders to choose Jesus every single time.

Today in ISIS held land Christians are facing the kind of hate these early missionaries experienced. And just see what God does with that. The story is based a long time ago, but it could be a story and narrative that happens today. Not in our comfortable, westernised lives perhaps, but where people live in fear from those who would have them killed for their faith, this story is real and relevant.

Be warned, the story in this video is not for the faith hearted!

Finally, what does your faith mean to you?  How far would you go?  What would you give up for the sake of the gospel?  As you listen to the words, the story alongside blows you away.

Ashed & Ready To Travel.

Lent week 1: Ash Wednesday

Lent week 1: Ash Wednesday the beginning of a journey

 

Lent week 1: Ash Wednesday began our pilgrimage or journey through lent this year. Consider today what Lent means to you. For most and indeed myself in the past, lent can run its course unnoticed. It’s not always easy to reflect on difficult journeys and choices in life. Yet the opposite can be true. It is in reflection before God on our failings, that healing can begin, as we learn to forgive ourselves and be forgiven by the living God.

Enjoy the images posted each Sunday.loved

It is also the day to remember love, both the love for on another and the Love of God. Happy Valentines Day.

Heavens Life Lesson

Sometimes success is found by looking back, by looking at the footprints in the sand of life we might just glimpse the Lord at work in the detail, in the narrative of our existence. However this is not how society is wired as we travel in life.

As a child generally we desire to succeed at school, as a grown-up that same desire develops. Each of us finds, that there is always something more, something that is just out of reach, to earn, wether that’s in a relationship, work, or in general life. Sometimes we attain it, sometimes we don’t. For me when I miss my target, I get up and go again, or sometimes my walk with God takes me in a new direction.

The quest for more of everything, has blossomed many industries, such has the self help industry, you only have to walk into a book shop to see how popular that genre is. Furthermore on YouTube the most watched videos are online self help gaming tutorials. Earning the creators of these videos many thousands of pounds, and celebrity status in certain circles. In particular Google has become a worldwide database of self-help solutions. The only problem is there are so many solutions it’s hard to filter out, the good advice from the bad.

In all this striving to get ahead, to know more, to be better, we sometimes forget to look back, sometimes wisdom and personal growth is not found in a book, or youtube clip, but by reflecting on our own story. Sometimes its only when we look back as the poem footprints in the sand suggests, that we can see God at work.

Its these moments that are the subject of today’s post, in recent years I have attended the bedside of a few  people who have been close to crossing over into eternity, people of faith and not.

Of those whom could speak, they spoke of having lived a life of service for others, they didn’t want to tell me how much they had in their bank balance, how big their house was, or the name of their cat or dog. They wanted to tell me, the focus of their life had been outward not inward.

Moreover for those who could not speak, it was evidenced by the number and quality of friends and family they had around them, that they had invested in the important things of their lives, not a financial portfolio, but invested in the lives of others in the love and care they had shown them. 

If we looked back today rather than ahead, if today was our final day, what would we say to the minister who visited? How have we lived our lives? These moments with the dying, a poignant, difficult, and an incredible privilege.  

These brilliant people in their dying breaths, cause us to reflect on our own journeys through life, not that it will always be perfect, or that we will always make the right decisions.

However when all is said and done, I hope I  can say to the Minister at my bedside, that I lead the majority of my days outward looking, caring for others, investing in kindness, Love and forgiving quickly. Then as I cross over from this life into the eternity that Jesus prepares, I’ll count myself as having lived life well, as God intended.

Ultimately death causes us to look ahead, at how we are living our lives outward in the service of others, defined by how much God loves all people both those who have passed through the veil and those who exist around us.

God Bless And have a good week

Last weeks post: The Know It All

Similar Themes: Looking Back And Seeing Jesus

 

Saying Goodbye

Some people have a hard time saying goodbye, for some a big send off ticks the box, for others they just want to slip away quietly, with minimal fuss. But saying goodbye is hard, change is difficult. You hold onto the idea, and feeling that God goes with you. However letting go of what was and heading into the relative unknown remains tough. 

Peppered through the beginnings of the Gospels, are short verses about how the disciples left all they had and went with Jesus!

Let’s stop a moment and think about those words. They left all they had, that meant jobs, family, friends, identity, stability and safety. They went with someone who perhaps they had heard of, perhaps they knew something about, more scarily though, it could be that they didn’t know anything about him at all!

What motivates somebody to just go? Perhaps having some kind of breakdown! Perhaps there is more to it that is written in the gospel, maybe there had been several meetings and discussions about what might happen if they said yes to Jesus? Or maybe something stirred inside them, we might call that the spirit of God, and they were compelled, inspired, moved, to take an momentous leap of faith. Which they didn’t know for a number of them would lead to martyrdom, denial, betrayal. Yet they who were Jesus’s diciples would witness the incredible things that God can do, not least raising his son from the dead, seeing 9000 people fed across two ocassions, countless people healed, and demons exorcised.

Hindsight would say they probably made the right choice! However in that moment recorded in the Gospels, there was no time machine, or Doctor Who’s Tardis that they could jump into, and see what was to come. Each of them took one step of faith, followed by another, and another. The diciples as we know stayed. I’m convinced that they would not have done the journey, if they hadn’t realised that Jesus was the real deal, and was and is the promised messiah.

I can’t imagine anyone, or any sane person following a charlatan, someone pretending to be something they’re not for that length of time and in such close proximity with one another. Because surely over the course of time the fake messiah would be found out. Which leads me to consider that what the disciples saw in Jesus was real, tangible, powerful and life changing. 

So when we head out, live our lifes, do church, lets be sure it’s the lord beckoning us, and step out in faith. For we may just see people healed, the dead raised.


A word to the wize,  whether we stay or go, following God being in the place he wants us to be, is also costly. I wonder if Peter for example, had looked ahead through the gift of time travel and discovered that the would die upside down on a cross. Might have instead said following jesus was not for him. Because at the start of his walk with Jesus his faith waw new, untested, unseasoned by the passage of time. It is the journey with all its bumps, and resting places, where faith grows, is tested, affirmed and strengthened. for Peter, his faith gave him the strength of character to say to his executioner tun the cross upside down, I will not die like my saviour and friend.

“Shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

Philippians 2:15-16

Heading Into The Waves

A boat that has never had the waves crash its bow, is in dry dock, or perhaps just a drawing or concept of an engineer. It has not lived as a boat, at all, it has not reached its full potential.

There is a part of me that wishes to be in dry dock, to exist amongst the simplicity of lines on a page or an artists imagination. The page or dry dock, is a safe space to be, unencumbered by the unpredictability of water crashing over the bow, or  traversing the deep swells of the rough seas. But life lived in that way whilst healing for a time, isn’t living! Faith founded and lived in the dry dock is untested, by the storms of doubt and discontent, or the piercing silence of the calm before the storm.

We follow one who walked on water, who calmed the storm, but even peters leap of faith landed him in the waves. So perhaps it is the waves that the Lord is calling us into, out of the dock into open water, it would be lovely if it was allways a flat calm but that’s not how I have experienced life.

More often I experience the lords call into the waves of life, and in those waves i am tested, sometimes battered by the winds, other peoples words and self doubt. Yet I keep going navigating towards the things of God. Attempting to serve him the best I can, seeking to draw people deeper into the things of the lord.

In God the peace we seek is not external but internal, it is that inner assurance that no wave is too big, no sea too rough, that keeps us navigating the seas of life. As we chart a course we do not do that in isolation, but with others and together we reach our destination, of that great harbour in eternity.

Tomorrow each of us heads out into sea, some of us rough seas await and for others its calm perhaps before a storm. May wherever we are, atop the waves or recovering in dry dock, know the grace, healing and love of God, the guidance of the holy spirit and the deep peace of God that keeps our hands unshaken on the ships wheel and our hearts at a steady beat like a propeller on a boat pushing us through lifes waters, bless us, keep us and shape us.

Last Weeks Post:

Offer Hope Not Criticism 

Others Like this:

Kneeling Before My Friend

Where There is Acceptance There Is Peace

Looking Back & Seeing Jesus!

When you go on a journey with someone, there are points along that journey that hold special significance, there will be moments of beginnings and endings and a range of celebrations and commiserations in between.

One such Journey, has been my journey as someone trying to follow Jesus. I can remember listening, to a preacher a number of years ago now, tell me that he had been a christian for 25 years. I can remember, being hugely impressed that someone had followed Jesus for that long!

I wondered inwardly, what that would look like for me. So as I cross the line of my 25th year, I wonder if I have learnt anything? I wonder what truths have held me, shaped me, and lead me? Do I exhibit more of the fruit of the spirit than when I first began, those long years ago in my mid-teens.

25 years is a huge period of time, there has been more change in the last 25 years than probably will be in my next. Over this period of time I’ve have been busy growing up, and maturing to greater or lesser degrees, and finding out who I am. As well as leaving home, I have finished School and three colleges, and got qualifications I needed, also had various jobs, got married had two children and of course adopted a beautiful cocker spaniel called George.

One particular enduring truth, is that God is present. He has been present, in the darker moments, of depression, and self-loathing. He has been present when I truly believed I was unloved and alone in the world. He was present, in good company, laughter, new experiences, on my wedding day, and in so many other moments.

I have found that looking through the lens of time, some truths are moulded, whilst I believe in the fundamentals of my faith the death and resurrection of Jesus to name one. I have become less fervent about being right, and less quick to condemn others without first picking out the spec’s of prejudice and notions of exclusivity and superiority in my own life. I hope this has led me to be more gracious, and loving.

Another truth I have learnt is that through the ebb and flow of time, there are periods of doubt, spiritual isolation, and ultimately and eventually but deeper a walk with Jesus, that has been seasoned, and tested, as the song refiners fire says produces gold.

It is that gold that I seek above all, the spiritual gold that does not decay, but rather is a priceless gift that I keep giving away, that others, might see all that God is doing through us, the church of Jesus Christ.

I spent some time on retreat last week thinking about these things, discovering what truths I might have learned on my journey so far, and what God might be calling me too next. Sadly too often, I have found that the church has not always discipled me in a coherent and consistent way, and perhaps worse, is that if my faith was rooted entirely in the church I would’ve left long ago!

God however has scattered across my timeline so far, moments for spiritual growth, which have included worship events, friendships that have left their mark in profoundly wonderful ways upon my life. All these and other moments, have helped to grow me, into the person, into the man, I am today. And perhaps also define the ministry I feel called to, within the church, though less than perfect, but which I call home.

Finally during my retreat I stood within a cathedral which has of course stood for centuries, I became aware that my tiny grain of sand of faithful existence, was put into a correct and timeless context, of Gods eternity in which christ prepares a room for you and I.

This of course doesn’t mean we should stop working hard at building Gods Kingdom, far from it, but we can also know we can trust and rest in a God, that is bigger than our vision of what His kingdom should be. A God who will outlive all our attempts at trying to build his temple.

%d bloggers like this: