Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Recovering a lost heirloom ring

   I lost my husband's grandmother's engagement ring about ten days ago. I looked at my hand and it wasn't there. 
   I berated myself for being so careless. When I had dressed that morning my fingers seemed swollen, so I wore it on a smaller finger. I realised during the day it was loose, so I decided to be careful! Now it was gone.
Possessions aren't that important to me, but this was a family heirloom. My daughter was not happy. I made a couple of enquiries on the phone without any success. I cleaned out my handbag in the hope it had fallen into its cavernous depths when I tried to extract my purse. No luck.
   Eventually, I told my husband. He was disappointed, but gracious with me.
I began to pray. "God, I want my ring back!" Nothing complex. But I prayed every time I thought of it.
   Then on Friday morning, I searched for my sunglasses without success. I had to leave home without them. My eyes were complaining and I was disappointed with myself. Why was I so careless? Why don't I pay more attention to detail? 
   I remembered taking them off when having coffee with a friend the previous afternoon. I placed them on the table around the sugar caddy. I could also remember telling myself not to do that, but put them safely in my bag. I had searched my bag under the downlights before I left home. I couldn't remember picking them up. I rang the coffee shop. No sunglasses.
   I was very cross with myself. When I bought these glasses I'd asked God for good sunglasses at a good price. Walking into a department store, I expecting to see sale signs in answer to my prayer. Not a single sale in sight! As I turned away, a salesperson stopped me. After talking to me and assessing my needs, she turned to one of the locked glass-fronted cabinets. I prepared myself to decline any offer she had for me. I never buy sunglasses that are expensive enough to be stored in locked cabinets!
   She looked for a few seconds. 'Ah! Here they are! I thought they must have been sold.'
   Turning to me, she held them out. 'Try these on. I think they are just what you're looking for.'
Not wanting to appear rude, I tried them on. They were perfect. Sighing, I handed them back.
   'It's your lucky day. These are reduced.'
   I bought those glasses for much less than half price, just within my budget. They were the best  sunglasses I'd  ever owned. I left the shop thanking God. He's so clever at shopping. 
   But now, I'd lost them. 'God, I want my glasses back!'
   I met my sister-in-law and we enjoyed coffee and conversation for a couple of hours. Returning to the glare of the sunlight, I remembered my lost glasses. 'God, I want my glasses back!'
       Look in your handbag!
   I nearly ignored the prompt. After all I had searched it thoroughly. However, I grabbed my bag and started to look.
      Try the side pockets
   I never use the side pockets. I store stuff, but don't open them, but sure enough, there they    were. Yay! Thank you God.
   "God, I want my ring back."
   I didn't mean to be pushy, but if He bought my glasses back, He could return my ring. I looked around the floor of the car, expecting to find it, but it wasn't there.
   Days have passed. There has been an expectation in me, but still no ring.
   This morning, I walked from my bedroom to the kitchen, following the route I walk countless times everyday. There winking at me from the floor is a ring. Surely not! I swoop and pick it up. Yes, Grandma Wanmer's ring. 
   My faith is high now. God, you have promised you will restore everything the enemy has stolen!
   What will you call back today?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Why do we pretend evil doesn't exist?

It is nearly eight weeks since we launched 'Though the Bud be Bruised'. It has travelled far and wide to places and people I guess I will never know. 

For the first few weeks I felt as though I was sitting on the edge of a volcano, wondering if it would erupt. Now I feel a little easier. Mostly reviews and readers alike have been very positive in their comments. 
The book has its controversial places and I know it would have been a very difficult read for many of my friends and family.
However I have been great blessed by many emails, comments and reviews. This story is bringing hope and restoration as well as a challenge to many. I am well pleased. 
I really enjoyed a chance meeting with a friend from the era of the book. She was delighted to have the truth exposed, everything out in the open. Others still don't want to know. I find that many Christians, when confronted with evil, like to hide it, ignore it, or pretend it doesn't exist. We as a family had to deal with wickedness. It invaded our lives in several forms. We were shocked by its presence, but no longer could we pretend it wasn't there. 

My favourite quote from the book is Where evil is protected, evil thrives!’ Why does the church create an environment that covers (and hence incubates) anything unsavoury? Supposedly it is to make us good 'witnesses', so we look good to the world! But it isn't working. The world isn't blind or stupid. While we hide bad behaviour behind a veil of secrecy, they laugh at us and call us hypocrites and worse. Sadly, they are right. Hiding evil isn't displaying God's glory. His glory is shown when evil is exposed, defeated and the situation is restored! Only those who don't understand the mighty power of God to heal, restore and deliver keep the unsavoury in the dark! The world longs to see a power that can defeat their personal demons.
Someone said to me recently. 'I don't like fighting, so I don't participate in spiritual warfare.' My reply? 'You do participate - whether you like it or not. You are in a war and if you don't fight you are permanently defeated.'
Another friend commented on the phone. 'I'm just hanging in there. I'm hoping the devil will give up soon.' 
That won't work. He's never going to stop terrorising us while we don't resist. 

You, I and that lady all have within us the authority to send him packing! If we resist him he will flee. That is the Word of God. But resistance must be active and requires focus, determination and effort. If we really understood why Jesus came we would rush to His feet, in public, as the woman who had suffered from endless vaginal bleeding. She found wholeness, victory and new life. And then we would be able to share this victory with those who fight the ravages of evil every day. 
C'mon church! Rise up and fight! You can do it!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

You call that love?

"Before you commit to loving someone, make sure they can love you unconditionally.'
It was typed over a pretty picture on Facebook. You know the ones where sayings are presented beautifully so we all share the concept?
But this statement is seriously flawed. It advices holding love until...until something happens. In other words, your love should be conditional on the other person's love being unconditional!

Do we even understand what unconditional love is? While the term is used a lot, but rarely is real love displayed. Everyone is hungry for it. We look for approval, acceptance, affirmation and call that love. But our need is deeper. We long for a person to relate to. We want to feel secure as we share our history, mistakes and hopes,  knowing it won't appear on facebook next week. We crave a person that will walk the road beside us. But will they love us when we're sick and ugly; ill or even dying? What about when they encounter our smelly feet or discover all their chocolate has been eaten?

Unconditional love is deeper than all the above. It lays down its life, puts aside its needs and wants, forgives and forgives again. It loves even when relationships can no longer be reconciled because of abuse. It loves until death.Only one who has experienced love can give such a love. When a person's love tank is full, they have a capacity to continue loving other, regardless. 

As a parent my love ran out. I could no longer give anything of myself to my child. Lies and false accusations, rejection and constant demands had bled me dry. I was finished, ready to give up, run away or die. Anything to escape the pain.

Good friends halted my flight. Trapped with no escape, I sought God. I asked Him a simple question. 'What message can I send her?'

Revelation broke through. I was in a busy shopping centre. Did others see it or hear bells? No. As I sat, I suddenly understood that regardless of the abuse and blame I had hurled at God most of my life, He still suffered and died for me. Yes, I'd been taught such things. But that day my heart burst open as I experienced His love poured out for me. He loved me regardless of my behaviour toward Him, my indifference to His love, my rejection of His quiet words. He was still there waiting, offering forgiveness, restoration, a new beginning. Never condoning my stupid behaviour, but never withdrawing His affection for me. In a matter of minutes everything changed. Now I could love my child continually, regardless of behaviour and words spoken. 

No longer was I trying to get my love from her. She couldn't supply it. Now my source of love never stops and it overflows to others, bringing healing, acceptance and wholeness. That was twenty years ago. I've tested it. Yes, His love for me (and for you) never runs dry.