Grace at the Foot of the Cross

I find myself at the foot of the cross, seeking to be washed in grace.

The weather was rubbish.
One of the children lied to me.
Two more argue over who was first to the cereal.
Another has a weeks worth of fruit she hasn’t eaten left to rot in her school bag.
The youngest is terrorising the place like a Tasmanian devil.
My husband and I, we are tired.
It’s only 6.50am.

I want a home of truth tellers, sibling friendship, energy and order. But instead I wrestle the knots in my stomach and they get tighter. Words of frustrations are falling out my mouth like a gut throwing out an ugly virus. My body is feeling like a wet rag being wrung out, squeezed, twisted tight and I’m on a fast track to not remembering what grace is.

By mid morning I’m brought bending low, heart wrenchingly but by now willingly to my knees, and I’m at the foot of the cross again. Seeking grace again.

How could it happen again? My feeling’s running away with me. Letting myself be washed away with distracting moments and my choice of ungratefulness.

How oh God do I even dare let that choice have any kind of dominance?

Because what, I’m not feeling it? I do not feel the love? I do not feel the joy? I’m just too tired and do not have the energy for thanking you. I’m just a little bit too upset right now to find something to give you thanks for Jesus. Maybe another day when I feel better. When I have a happier day. When life is just a bit easier. Then I’ll be grateful. Then it will be easy to find something to thank you for. Right now though, my life feels like it’s falling apart. So I won’t thank you, not for anything.

Did you feel like it Jesus? Was it not too much trouble for you? Were you having a happy enough day to do all that for me Jesus? Did you have a good enough night sleep? Did you feel the love and support of your disciples? Were your family all in good health that you felt able to do it and was your life not particularly troubled Jesus?

You know, when you, Jesus, the Son of God, when you were abandoned, betrayed, accused by liars. When you were beaten and broken and abused. Your skin clawed and shredded. Your face bashed and disfigured. Your head stabbed with hundreds of thorns. Your body paraded bare for crowds to leer upon. To be spat on. When you were nailed and hung on a cross for hours, left to die under a burning sun, with burning wounds, with lungs bursting from your chest burning for breath. When as the thick darkness weighed heavy in the air around you, the powers of hell burned your soul.

Your soul, Jesus. Over flowing with my sin, Jesus. Separated from your Father when you had never before in your eternal existence been without Him.

You Jesus, never giving in until it was once and for all finally, fully, finished.

Oh Jesus. No. How dare I.
Forgive me forgive me forgive me.
Thank you thank you thank you.

Thank you for flowers. Blue skies. Rainbows.
Thank you for laughter. Sunshine. Rain.
Thank you for picnics. Friends. Pictured memories on the wall.
Thank you for little wet footprints on the floor and sticky smudged handprints on the windows.
Thank you for tears that release the pain.
Thank you for your word that breathes life.
Thank you for family who hurt together, who offer forgiveness and grace in the shadow light of you.
Thank you for failings and humbled humility that makes me bow low and lean into you.
Thank you for death that brings me home to you.
Thank you, oh my Jesus, for the cross and your resurrection.
Thank you for your salvation of sinners.
Thank you for your love.
Thank you that you love me, that you rescued me. Thank you that you chose to suffer for me.

Why did you do it LORD?

You did it because there was no other way. Only your blood destroyed death. You did it because you love the Father and because the Father and you love me.

So I will thank you, no matter how I feel, I will stand at the foot of the cross again and again, being washed in your grace again and again, because I love you too, because you first loved me.

Weathered Hope

Walking through Holy Week, the weather rained & poured & hailed & blew a mighty forceful gale. Much like my daily life walk through lent. Today, Maundy Thursday, we woke up to calm & a glorious sun shining a tingling in my depths. And so comes my hope & singing when the morning comes. #1000gifts #thankyouJesus

Be Careful What You Pray For

I got brave. God made me brave.

Brave enough to pick up the slingshot He gave me and the stones that lay beside.

He made me brave enough to stand feet firmly apart, my shoulders back and my head held up. My eyes firm on my enemies.

I had prayed, I had prayed again. I prayed more.

Each time becoming more desperate in my valley of tortured threat. Fear of these Goliath’s that jabbed and stabbed and sliced at me. The seeds sown so long ago into the core of me that had been fed and grown out of wild tangled control.

I’m no gardener. I don’t know what I’m doing. I tried cutting back but more strangling vines and bloodthirsty thorn weeds grew, quick and strong.

This is a place of life taking danger, and not just mine. Many life sentences ruled by evil’s hand are all around.

So I prayed and I prayed more. God made me brave enough to ask others to pray and pray more.

Blankets of His words filled with love and grace. Filled with the Son’s love for His sister. Filled with the Father’s love and grace and warmth for His daughter, wrapped around me. And made me brave.

So I’m stood with the slingshot and the stones and my feet apart and my eyes firm and with the angel armies of heaven.

The giants stood revelling, taunting, laughing.

But the Spirit of the holy of holies, of the king of all kingdoms whispers in my ear. And stones of love, stones of courage, stones of friendship, stones of encouragement, stones of joy, stones of grace, fly like arrows to slay what I had allowed to be my masters.

And I prayed, and God made me braver and the giants were falling. And….

I don’t know what happened. I thought I had seen them all clearly. Yet, it was there. It was stood, it had been waiting. Smugly, excitedly, secretly. An unknown giant towered. How had I not seen it?

It waited assured it would knock me down, flat on my back defenceless or with my face choking into the dirt. All it cared about was destroying me. Destroying my relationships, hopes and most importantly destroying my faith in God.

God though was not taken by surprise. He of course had known it was coming. I believe even leading it to come. That’s why He had given me a heart to pray, a conquering heart for change. He had given me the best defences. Love and grace. He had been preparing me with a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, He had fitted my feet ready and waiting with the gospel of peace. He had given me a shield of faith, a helmet of salvation and that glorious sword of the spirit, the glorious word of God.

All of which had me brave.

So I’m not knocked over. I’m not broken. I am shaken but I am standing.

My hand is steady enough, Wind powered by the whispering to keep releasing the stones directed by heavens hand.

And this giant stumbles. They are all stumbling, disorientated and more wounded with every blow.

And I will pray, and I will be brave, and the Lord God who conquered for my salvation will sustain my strength in battle until every single one of those giants lay, slain dead with their heads cut off.

Yes. I believe God led it. He knew the giant by name and knew it’s ugly face by sight. It was in plane view to the Almighty.

It couldn’t be slain though until I saw it. It could no longer be hidden from me if I was going to live a life in Christ, set free.

So I’m still fighting and my opponent is strong.

My God is stronger and the battle will be won.

Love will win. God will win.

I give thanks, my Lord, my King, My Conqueror. You keep me brave.

I will pray.

My Birthday

Written on Feb 9th

Today is my birthday……

It is 10.39am and so far has not felt much like a special day. Mostly because I let slip aside my keepsakes of grace, my giving thanks for so many blessings God has given me this very birthday. Partly through just being an ordinary gray chilly February day and partly my children not knowing how to put aside their “life’s all about me” attitude. Before I opened even one card their quarrelling voices and sulky faces about being rushed out of bed and who can sit the closest with the best view, did nothing more than bring flowing tears to my eyes.

Why was I so upset? A mixture of feelings crashed around in the pit of my stomach. Thoughts of “I can’t believe how selfish they are”. “I can’t believe how thoughtless they are”. “They are ruining my birthday and it’s only just started”. “What an awful job I’ve done bringing them up if all they can think about is their own wants, even on their mothers (my) birthday”. “After everything I do for them”. “After I’ve spoilt them so much this weekend”…… and so it went on!

Then after not opening my presents and sending them off to get ready for school, I started to feel awful. More thoughts “I shouldn’t have rushed them”. “I should have let them have breakfast first”. “I shouldn’t be so selfish and act like a princess”. “Just because it’s my birthday doesn’t mean everyone should be running around after meme me…. And so on.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture? Huh! No wonder my beloved children think about themselves so much. Are you shaking your head at me? I’m shaking it at myself!

It is true that my want for my children to be more actively thoughtful and decrease their thoughtlessness is a just prayer but surely more so out of their love for Jesus than of their love for me. Surely the second follows the first.

Now before I go on please don’t think I am comparing myself to Jesus, I am not. But as my children claimed their thought self right to be closest to me on the bed, those feelings of disappointment, shame and horror for their own fame and self importance reminded me of the story of the mother of James and John. She requested that her son’s be seated at the right side and left side of Jesus when He rules His Kingdom, read Matt 20:20-28 NIV. Jesus though didn’t respond with thoughts of “they’re just hanging off my coat tales of fame and authority”, or “they think it’s all fun and miraculous miracles but they have no idea what I will have to go through for them” or “how ungrateful are they when I have done so much for them already” or “I am so disappointed with you right now”. No! Jesus in perfect love and obedience, answered, the authority of the decision was with God the Father. No boasting or claiming His own right to make the decision. He then moved on to bring encouragement and understanding that when God puts us in great places there are great responsibilities and trials to bear. That to be great we must serve, be a slave, see v26-27.

It is all very well my children knowing this to be true but they must see it modelled by those nearest to them whom not only love them but most importantly love Jesus, so then all the I, my, I’ve, me should be put to death. That I must also live by the example gift Jesus showed fulfilling His own words, v21”just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many”.

So yes it’s my birthday. Yes it’s nice to have a day when those closest to you show they value you. Even today it’s not about ‘princess me ‘ but what glory of God is shown through ‘me serving ’. Then maybe I will see the best birthday gifts of fruit dwelling within my children.

My prayer after my headspace shower was “Lord, what can I do for You today? How can I bring glory to Your name?” My second prayer “Lord, help me remember to ask this every day”. My third prayer “Lord, let my example of Jesus’ example through the Holy Spirit be my birthday present that will sow the juiciest of fruits within my children. Amen.

Worshipping Our Creator

As my eyes wonder over to the window doors that frame one small corner of God’s beauty in creation, I see His trees. Lots of trees. Some small, some tall, with leaves green, some with grayness and bare. Long branches, short branches, all reaching out for different spaces, some managing to intertwine as they reach for the same space.

But all and every tree stretches with it’s all and every branch, reaching up and out, like arms and hands raised up and open to praise God, to bring their offering of glorified worship to their wonderful, perfect, beautiful creator.

Nature in its simplicity open and free worshipping God our creator.

God, over and above, looks and smiles His blessings of seasons. Seasons of light and warm suns bringing growth and business. The quench of nourishing rains, the cold’s stillness and rest. And in all seasons these trees remain with their arms open trustful and thankful, worshipping God their creator.

And so God shows us, encouragingly through His beauty in creation, in all seasons, to trust, be thankful and worship Him, God our creator.

Psalm 96:11-13 NIV
11, Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12, Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13, Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness and the people in his faithfulness.

Behold the hand. Behold the nail.

Hands that flung stars into space, that created heaven and earth, all that is seen and unseen, all that is good.

Hands on the wood of the cross, nailed, staked, bruised, bleeding, crushed to death.

Hands crushing death itself, holding signed ancient prophecies fulfilled, rose on the third day.

Those hands have never stopped reaching out to ours. Hands that never slip away with weakened strength but have perfect endurance powered by perfect love.

If we no longer hold the hands of perfect love it is because we pulled our hands away, distracted by the glitter or tiredness or stabbings of life. Our own self determined control that keeps our hands busy elsewhere, held out in worship to the created rather than the creator.

His hand though always waits, itching patience to protectively glove our cold dirty hands. To take our repentant flesh palms and to envelope them with the security of the unending life giving, devotedly grace filled, unashamedly love spilling, God palm.

Behold the hand. Behold I AM.

Isaiah 46:4 NIV
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.