We had a wonderful idea. We thought of lanterns lighting the night sky. We thought of Gods word permeating through the darkness, reaching the stars and settling in their glow. A group of lanterns, I thought. Who could miss them? We carried them with us. We reached a hill in a public park that I could not decipher. Each lantern carried a verse. As the fire holding it adrift faded, I dreamt of each verse falling into the arms of one of Gods children, sparking a similar fire in the hearts of it’s new companion. We lit the first lantern. My sisters and I, that is. It spiralled into the sky. The wind had it’s way with the flame and it burst to life. We watched that little lantern, our practise run, soar so beautifully. Then its direction shifted, heading straight for a tree. Holding my breath as I watched it settle snuggly on a branch. The fire caught snuggly too. It spread. Fast. A whole tree alight with Gods fire. A fire engine paved the way for the police. The police then paved a way for the angry locals. The angry locals lighting a way for the nearest news channel to broadcast our faces to the world. We had created a fire in a public place with a recklessly wonderful idea that got out of hand. They made a mockery of our high hopes – our holy goal for the lanterns. The cameras surveyed the remaining lanterns, just sitting there, waiting for a flight that was not to be. Carrying verses that would never reach the sky, or the people I thought destined to find them. “How silly do you feel right now?,” the news reporter asks. I hate that the questions directed at me. My sisters squirm in the background, puzzled as to how God could let the night end up this way. My parents were probably watching. Old school friends recalling how we, the Holy Joes of the school year past, could be the only ones to pull a stunt like this. My cheeks flare up red. Everyone watching and judging and I know it. Then I realise Gods plan was blossoming before an entire nation, all thanks to a little lantern who dared to stray from the path we created and form a treacherous and radical route of it’s own. A route that caught the world’s attention and successfully broadcast our inky, handwritten verses to the thousands of people tuning in. They didn’t even have to leave the ground – to sit there and face inspection from angry authorities and gossip hungry reporters was all they had to endure to mean something. 5 grounded lanterns and one little tear away paving the way for my sisters and I to understand what God dreams for us. To dare to venture paths untraveled. To believe in the steadfast tree that anchors us and brings our dreams to life, immersing us in a faith so fiery, it’s seen from miles around.
These things did not really happen. The little lanterns journey reached completion in the depths of my imagination.
Will you be that tree for me, Lord?
Can I be that little lantern for you?
Knowing that I’ve been placed on this earth for a purpose is what fulfils me in life. Living each day in the knowledge that an All powerful Saviour has marked out each step of my life with perfect precision allows me to feel content that whatever I’m facing, I’ll face upheld in God’s grace and strength, which to this very day, have never failed me.
I know that by grasping each day I’m bringing further into motion what’s already underway. I pay attention to the purpose Gods planned for me by consulting him as much as I can. I take risks that teach me to rely on God when I feel a sudden lack of control. Letting him take control is the absolute key. Even when I mess that up, I know I haven’t compromised that purpose in the slightest because God said it himself – he doesn’t start anything in anyone that he won’t bring through to completion.
My life, ultimately, rests in your hands Lord. So here I am. Do with me what you will.
Lord, I wonder how much of a true servant I am to you. Sometimes my words and actions seem so far from what you’ve taught me and I question my spiritual growth. I look at the many ways in which you’ve blessed me and I cannot possibly repay you. Growth is hard to measure. Sometimes, I’m on the very cusp of breaking through but never quite get there. Every day, I’m striving. I’ve gone from making an effort to pray to praying without much thought. Yet I’m experiencing the best prayer sessions in my walk with you. That’s growth.
I’ve gone from making an effort to include you more and more in my life to physically being unable to revise for exams until I’ve sat down and spent time with you. I act on those moments of impulse you give me, Lord, instead of telling myself I have more pressing things to do. That IS growth. Things remain in my life that frustrates me greatly when placed beside the things you’re already achieving in me. I find it difficult to hold my tongue and keep an opinion to myself. Half the time, I don’t even consider how hurtful that opinion can be, but I voice it anyway. In that moment, I feel so disappointed in myself that I forget all the things you’ve been helping me get right.
I am changing – in small yet very important ways. I’m changing things in my life that used to be crumbling around me. When I’m in your presence, nothing feels too overwhelming or hard to take. All I feel is peace. All I experience is love. And I’m no longer weak.
I have so much to work on in my life but for all my flaws, I’m willing to submit, Lord. All my cares, stresses and, anxieties - I’m willing to give them to you and leave my worries trailing behind me. This year is going to present many changes in its self, but you’ve given me a courageous spirit. I know I’m facing every mountain with you, Lord. Every hurtful word and spiteful comment will be dealt with in prayer. I’ll revel in every awkward conversation just because I’ve decided to share my faith with someone else. I’ll face pain with joy and acceptance (probably after I shout at you in prayer – when anger hits, you know my first instinct, Lord.) but I’ll always seek to understand why you do things. This year is the year of The Lord for me. The first year I’ve ever walked consistently with you. Getting it wrong, getting it right, not getting anything at all. And it will all be done with you.
So, I’m asking you to use me. To look past my past failures and struggles when most other humans can’t. Rid me of the assumption that because I spent so many years struggling in my faith, that others can’t see you in me anymore. Even in my weakest hours, I want to be used. Even if another girl see’s me stumbling and realises she’s no worse for stumbling at times too. I love you, Lord. I love the things I can feel happening and I’m ready to be used.
So, I’m ready when you are.
“It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honourable to seek one’s own honour…” - Proverbs Ch 25 v27
I think I’m going to be embarking on a huge journey this summer. It’s pretty early days but I attended a meeting about Mission Teams that go out to different countries every summer to help different communities with activities like church planting and building etc. I’ve talked myself out of doing this EVERY year but I wasn’t kidding when I said God changed my life and heart at the end of last summer – and now, it’s time to start sharing it. Everything’s moved so quickly – I decided to go to the meeting pretty last minute and my parents have been REALLY supportive. When I told my mum I was considering doing it, her face erupted into a huge grin and she said “Don’t worry about money Debs – I’m so glad you’re finally doing this!” – And so am I. For the first time, I feel capable. I feel strong and ready show God my willingness to learn and endeavour for him. The verse above is something I’ll be referring to a lot throughout this process that may or may not unravel. I have to realise the importance of doing these things for God’s honour – NOT to feel great about myself and my own efforts.
I have a few friends interested in going away too and a few of us feel drawn to the same place - Moldova. We’ve been praying a lot over the last few days and I still feel positive that this is the place Gods going to allow me to experience. There’s little factors that are making me sure of this. It’s not just the feeling I have about it but its how things have been working out. Firstly, I approached the team meeting with a few countries in my mind, certain that it would be a simple choice between the likes of Poland or Romania – pretty well known places. I know girls who have done mission trips to these countries and I suppose a sense of familiarity made me a little more enthused to consider them.
How I ended up feeling drawn to a country, whose name I could barely pronounce at first, is quite honestly beyond me! I know little of the country’s history and politics but it’s what we’ll be doing in these communities that inspire me. From what I’ve gathered so far, we’ll be involved in giving testimonies and helping church communities to be established. There’s some work with kids and teens involved too. But what really struck me was the way in which this mission helps Christians like me to grow. It encourages us to express ourselves in every way imaginable to overcome language barriers and cultural differences. We can’t rely on words alone. God’s love has to shine through our actions, our body language and our efforts to connect with everyone we meet – even if they can’t speak a single word of English. This appeals for way too many reasons to count!
The main one is that I know I have a voice that could potentially reach a lot of people. I’m not scared to talk with honesty and passion and to be blatantly upfront about my flaws. I’m hoping and praying that this mission team helps me to express this voice in a way that can be received and understood by Gods children because even back when I was immature in my faith, my ability to relate to others was the only thing I thought I had going for me. I’m lacking some confidence in this area because I’ve never taken the chance to develop it. What I am confident off, is that God has a long list of things to teach me and if I don’t take the plunge now, I’ll always hide away in my reluctance, scared to try new things and go out on the limb for God.
I’ve still to do a lot of research and officially apply but I feel called to express all that Gods done and been doing in me these last 6 months. All glory goes to him!
The other day, my devotional book dealt with the topic of Self Control. This is an issue I’ve swept under the carpet many times in the more immature days of my faith, mainly because I knew it would reveal a very erratic, uncontrolled Child of God. The irony is that I was UNDER the control of sin, hence why I didn’t have much control of myself at all. Perhaps now that I’m growing under Gods wings, it’s time to face parts of myself that have been thriving under a lack of control for quite some time.
There’s one issue that springs to mind as soon as I open myself up to this question – What areas of my life need a little self control to better my walk with God?
I’m ashamed to admit that I struggle with such a generic teenage girl habit. It’s something I don’t think a lot of people would guess about me because it’s only with certain friends that I’d allow this part of myself to REALLY come out in full force. But it’s very much there and present and wholly ungodly and it’s a part of myself that I really HATE. I find myself saying things all the time about others that are SO judgemental, yet I hate to be stereotyped myself. I do and say things that if I thought were said about me…. would hurt. A lot.
I forced myself to be completely honest about this with God because he sees my heart. He knows the guilt I feel in the aftermath of saying horrible things and my confusion. WHY do I let myself think the way I do? Even worse, WHY do I feel the need to laugh at others and make these thoughts vocal? HOW is that benefitting me or anyone around me? It’s an ugly truth that’s been hindering my walk with God. So, I had to think – what am I doing that’s making this such a hard habit to break?
Then it hit me. The music I listen too. Yes, I know that we’re all guilty of having a song or two that have questionable lyrics but I don’t just LISTEN to music. I use it as a proper escape. I have alter egos in my mind speaking the same words of the song, addressing people with ugly truths in my head that I could never say to their face in real life.
An example? Nicki Minaj. I frequently imagine myself singing her lyrics which are pretty bad, and in my head, I KNOW who I’m referring too. I suppose it’s a rebellious part of me, concocting some sort of character in my head that’s the complete opposite of who I am in real life. The scary thing is that I become more like that character in how I speak, the more I let myself enjoy it.
If I spend every morning on the school bus listening to rap music that’s both insulting and demeaning towards others and the world, how can I possibly be ready to uplift others with my OWN speech? I’ve always had this worry in the back of my mind. When I listen to certain songs, I can feel a shift in mindset. Some songs give me the wrong kind of adrenaline that seems to seep into my conversations. I become braver in my own opinion which is usually completely wrong and misplaced. It’s like I adapt the attitude of whoever’s singing the song and claim it as my own.
I took some time to delete every song from my iPod that I think contributes to this part of myself that doesn’t shine so bright for God. I’m supposed to be immersing myself in God as much as possible and this is just a small, practical step to allow myself to do so. There are many other things I need to be doing in order to take control of my tongue. God will help me work the rest out – this is just one thing he’s been gradually making me see for a while!