Audio

“A beam of light on my dark path.”

imageThis week I felt God show me a picture of someone in a dark, dark tunnel. You feel trapped. No way out. No beginning and no end. No escape. Then you see a light in the distance. But it isn’t a light of hope at the end of the tunnel. It’s a light signalling the danger of an oncoming train, hurtling towards you at great speed. You feel rooted to the spot, stuck in the middle of the tunnel, too far in to turn back and yet no way forward because of the threat of collision with the oncoming train. You sense only fear and panic in what seems feel a totally hopeless situation. Just like David in Ps119:107 (MSG), you want to cry “Everything’s falling apart on me, GOD”.

So often in the Psalms David writes of his struggles with feeling trapped by fear and hopelessness. But he refuses to stay stuck in the situation, in that tunnel, and prays “put me together again with your Word.” Ps119:107 MSG

Psalm 119 says Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. (Psalms 119:105 NLT)

Many times Psalm 23 has helped me in dark and hopeless times so I too can say By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.” (Psalm 119:105 MSG).

I’m taking the liberty of sharing my version of Psalm 23 with my favourite translations of each verse.

1 THE Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack (AMP); I have all that I need (NLT), I lack nothing (NIV).

2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. (NLT)

3 He restores my soul (NKJV); he refreshes my soul (NIV); He renews my strength (NLT); He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake (AMP); He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name (NLT).

4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me (NLT); Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. (AMP)

5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honour me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. (NLT)

6 Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place. (AMP)

This psalm speaks to me of His provision and abundance, restoration and renewal, guidance and direction, protection and comfort, and promises that His goodness, mercy and unfailing love will pursue me ALL the days of my life (Psalms 23:6 NLT).

Know this: GOD, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations. (Deut 7:9 MSG)

Even though troubles came down on me hard, your commands always gave me delight. The way you tell me to live is always right; help me understand it so I can live to the fullest. (Psalm 119:137-144 MSG)

The picture didn’t end with the disastrous consequences of being trapped in the tunnel. Suddenly there was a door in the wall of the tunnel – a doorway of hope.

His Word provides light and doorways of hope when we feel that everything is falling apart and we are trapped in the middle of emotional, financial, physical or relational struggle and hopelessness.

I pray His words give you delight and He makes a way in the wilderness (Isaiah 43:19), in the tunnel of despair. He reveals a way where there seemed to be no way. As you read this Psalm may you also find HIS door to hope, to safety, to comfort, to protection, to provision … to FREEDOM.

Advertisements

the awesome is in the awkward

imageWe all had an amazingly special day at Leigh-Ann and Philip’s wedding last Thursday. Everything went so well, even the weather! I am so very grateful and I managed not to cry.

Instead I learnt to smile!!!

I’m a photographer’s daughter and you know the saying ‘the cobbler’s kids have the worst shoes’!? Well, this photographer’s daughter hates getting her photo taken.

Remember the episode of Friends where Chandler couldn’t smile for the camera? That’s me too. It’s just taken me 53 years and my daughter’s wedding to make me smile in front of the camera!! I’ve felt so self conscious about my teeth, I thought it was better to hide them! But so often that left me looking miserable in photos especially when Andy and the girls have great smiles!!

But often when we risk doing the very thing that makes us feel vulnerable, it turns out better than we could dare to hope or imagine, it releases joy and the fear turns into freedom.

But it takes a decision. It requires a choice.

At first you may feel awkward or unnatural as you go beyond your comfort zone. But “(His) grace is all you need. (His) power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and when we embrace risk, He honours and delights in our obedience and the unnatural becomes natural, what has felt impossible becomes possible. He turns our vulnerability into His victory.

I know I’ve said it before but I can never say it enough. I am so grateful for all my Father has taught me over the past few years especially through Encounter. I’ve learnt that when we take risks praying for strangers or taking a conversation a little further so they meet Jesus, the awesome is in the awkward. His power is indeed made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

What has tried to discourage you for so long, can bring encouragement to others.

As I step out to chat or pray with people, they encounter His presence and experience His joy, so they can’t help but smile. The very thing I have felt vulnerable about is released in someone else’s life.

Not only can we claim back what the enemy tries to steal from us but we can then give it away and share it with others too! It’s the enemy who makes us think we would be better to hide away the very thing we feel self-conscious and vulnerable about.

Have you been hearing him tell you to hide away …
‘Don’t pray for someone, you don’t know how to do it right.
Don’t speak to that person, why would they want to talk to you?
Don’t do anything, what difference could you make?
Don’t say anything, no one will understand how you feel.
Don’t make a fool of yourself. Better to do nothing than to do it wrong!’

Sound familiar?

But he’s the one who is wrong! Always wrong!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)

Let’s live this live to the full.

As Joyce Meyer says ‘Just because you feel fear doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Do it afraid’.

And don’t forget to SMILE!!

There is only one of you in all time

imagePlease indulge me in another wedding related post! It’s slightly to the forefront of my mind! Only 3 more sleeps!!!

It’s been a week of final alterations to dresses for the bride, bridesmaids and mother of the bride (me!).

On Thursday I had the joy and privilege of leading my dressmaker to The Lord as she made the final adjustments to my dress. I love that I will now always associate this dress with a double celebration!

I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10 NLT)

It was incredibly special that as she made changes to my dress, the Father was making His changes to my dressmaker 🙂

As we all well know from trying to buy clothes there are no such things as standard sizes. There is no such thing as NORMAL, a one size fits all. The reason is we were not created to be identical.

Apparently each of us is the product of 23 chromosomes from our father and 23 from our mother. What that means is that there only a 10 in 2 000 000 000 chance of your parents having another child just like you. And I’m no scientist but I reckon that would make it virtually impossible that there would be another me or you anywhere on this planet.

THERE IS ONLY ONE OF YOU IN ALL TIME (Martha Graham).

The Father has made this clothing of salvation and robe of His righteousness available to each one of us. The beautiful thing is that when you do try them on for size, God expresses His love in a way that’s especially tailor made for you personally, individually and uniquely. In His perfect love He makes the alterations our lives need.

Yet so often we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others – how they look, how they act, how their lives look etc etc etc.

Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armour. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armour. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge. David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off. (1 Samuel 17:38-39 MSG)

Trying to put on what was designed for someone else will restrict you, you won’t be able to move freely or forward, let alone face your giants. But when you let go of the temptation to be someone else and focus on being yourself, who God created you to be, it frees you to follow your unique design and destiny, and flatten those giants!

Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine … As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. (1 Samuel 17:40, 48-50 NIV).

Each of us is a one off, uniquely designed, divinely fashioned and exclusive creation.

“Beauty begins when you decide to be yourself”. (Coco Chanel)

After all you’re not just one in a million, you’re one in 200 million!!!!

Come away with me

imageThis is a photo Leigh-Ann took of her daddy date this weekend. Andy took her away for a wee break in Dunfanaghy to spend some special time together before she becomes Mrs Jackson next week!!

It made space for them to hang out, eat out, drink coffee, chat, relax, go for a run on the beach together or just sit and enjoy a good book. Andy chose some things but he let Leigh-Ann chose some too. The only agenda was to spend time together.

Friends and family have said it was a lovely thing to do, so special to have daddy-daughter time like that. And it so is 🙂

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:9-11 NLT)

The Message reads, “You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” (Matthew 7:11 MSG). Our Heavenly Father so wants to have special Daddy-daughter times like this, only ‘even better‘ and ‘much more’ special!!!

Just as Andy invited Leigh-Ann, so He invites each of us to come away with Him, as Jesus did with the disciples, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31 NLT) and as the lover did in the Song of Solomon, “Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one! (Song of Songs 2:10 NLT).

Leigh-Ann could easily have said no to this weekend. She had a really busy week at work and had also brought work home. She’s got so much work to get cleared up before she finishes on Friday. And what about all the preparations for the wedding – it’s only 10 days away? The timing maybe wasn’t the best and for sure the temperature wasn’t great either. It was pouring with rain and a bit chilly, not ideal for Donegal days. She could so easily have said what’s the point of going when the weather is so lousy. All reasonable reasons.

She could have said no, but she didn’t. She chose ‘what is better’, like Mary in Luke 10.

The mention of the Martha and Mary story (Luke 10:38-42) makes me squirm because I know I’m much more like Martha than Mary. Many times I’ve heard my Father gently say, “My dear Shirley, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about.”” (Luke 10:41 NLT).

Maybe you’ve heard your name from time to time too. He didn’t condemn or chastise Mary, He gently points out “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42 NIV).

And He doesn’t condemn or chastise us, He reminds us that there is another option and invites us to also choose “what is better”.

And that’s the thing with an invitation, it is your choice whether to accept or decline.

The timing may not be perfect and circumstances far from conducive, but the invitation is always there and we can always choose to accept “what is better” or decline. He delights when we RSVP to confirm we accept His invitation but His greatest pleasure is when we invite Him and say “Come away with me!” (Song of Songs 2:10 NLT) and “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31 NLT).

We can choose the where? when? what? how? or why? Remember the only agenda is to spend time together.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalms 46:10 NLT)RSVP!