Am I enough?

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Up it popped on my social media again.  I’ve seen it before, it has done the rounds.  But it jumped out at me today and made me think.

‘You are enough’,  the beautifully calligraphed words told me.

And all at once I felt both comforted and uncomfortable.

Because I want to be enough.  I want to wake up in the morning, free to enjoy the day God has given me without the voice of perfectionism whispering in my ear.

I want to feel valuable whether I lose those twenty pounds or not.

I want to be at ease with myself, not always driven to compare with others who are more outgoing or more accomplished, less disorganized or less freckled.

And, I am desperate to be free of the insecurities that comparison breeds in my heart, stealing my joy one envious thought at a time.

I want to feel like I am okay.  I want to feel enough.

But there is another side to this coin.

One of my favourite verses in the Bible says ‘and He has said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.’  1 Corinthians 12.9.

Paul found joy in knowing that he wasn’t enough.  He actually enjoyed showing off how un-enough he was!  And the reason?  Because that is where the power is.

The Bible tells us that there is a wonderful freedom in accepting my limitations.

And, it is a freedom that leads to power.  The Greek word used for power here is ‘dunamis’ which means a miracle-working power.  And it really is miraculous.  When God’s power meets my weakness, there is a miracle of multiplication every time.  What isn’t enough, becomes enough.  What is weak, becomes strong.  What is fearful becomes brave.  What is selfish becomes generous and kind.

And that’s really good news because the truth is that I am flawed.  I fight tendencies toward anxiety and fear on most days.  I can be overly sensitive and way too worried about what others think about me.  I procrastinate difficult tasks all the time.  I can be messy, overly excitable and easily discouraged.  I can be self-focused and I can be a coward.

So, am I enough?

The answer is in the gospel accounts of the New Testament.  Here we read about the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 where Jesus miraculously multiplies a little boy’s lunch to feed a crowd.

Was that lunch enough?

Well, it definitely wasn’t enough to feed thousands of people.  In fact, it was woefully inadequate.  No matter how thinly you sliced that bread and fish, it would have never have been sufficient, not even close.

But notice, Jesus isn’t disappointed with the size of the offering.  He didn’t tell the lad that he should have brought more lunch.  He just received the gift, took it in his hands, thanked God for it and multiplied it.  And a modest lunch filled every hungry mouth that was there that day.

Was that lunch enough?  In the hands of Jesus, it was.

So, maybe in His hands what I bring is enough too.

My God never berates me for small offerings if they are from a sincere and generous heart.  He isn’t disappointed with how much I bring to the table.  He doesn’t compare my contribution with others.  Instead, He lifts it to His Father and transforms my lack into His abundance.   

I am clay and I am dust but I am bought with a price.  I am a valued daughter, unique and precious to my dad.  I don’t need to be like anybody else. God takes great joy in who He created me to be and He takes full responsibility for finishing what He has started.

So, I have decided that it would be better to say this, ‘It is okay to not be enough in the hands of God who is enough.

It is not nearly as catchy I know, but it is infinitely truer and within its truth is freedom and miraculous, multiplying power for me today.

 

 

 

Don’t look for a formula, just dance

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Following Jesus is not a formula, although sometimes I wish it was.

The disciples did too.  One day, Jesus cast out a demon that they had not been able to deal with.  So, they took Jesus aside to ask Him why. They wanted to know where they had gone wrong.  What had they missed or failed to say or do?  They wanted Jesus to give them a failsafe plan, some sort of demon busters 101, a handy card in their pocket with infographics.

But this is not the Kingdom way.

It is no coincidence that the Bible so often uses seeds and plants to describe God’s Kingdom.  That is because the Kingdom is alive and growing.  Christian living looks much more like farming than computer programming.  It is organic and unpredictable and often a little messy.

Because following Jesus is about a relationship.  And to God, this is the priority.  He knows, in His loving and perfect wisdom, that quick answers and formulaic approaches only fight against real following.  So, He does things a different way.

It is called abiding.

It is a walking-in-the-Spirit type of travelling with Jesus that is living and personal.  It is a kind of walk that winds here and there, to-and-fro, where straight lines are rarely a feature.  You can’t bottle it or tame it.

Now, don’t misunderstand me.  This is not a hippy-dippy kind of faith,  a making-it-up-as we-go-along faith where we create God in our own image.  No, this is a faith that is based on truth, deep ancient truth that is revealed to us in God’s Word and through His Son.  It is a faith that values everything God values and honours everything He has said and done.

This is a principled, strong, courageous faith.

But it is not a formulaic one.

Because people and problems are complicated.  There are practical issues and deeply spiritual ones.  God has unique solutions for personal situations and His creativity is endless when it comes to leading and guiding us and answering our prayers.  He has different callings, blessings and challenges for individuals all well as churches, ministries and families.  So, don’t waste time comparing or copying.

Following Jesus isn’t a march.  It’s a dance.

As I think over the last year, with all the events, both planned and unexpected, the challenges and disappointments, joys and blessings, I am grateful for a God who has been close.  He has untangled messes and straightened out my thinking when it was crooked.  He has met deeply private, personal needs and has spoken life to my heart when it was broken.   When I have been completely out of ideas and energy and even hope He has given me His Divine wisdom and His joy as a free gift just because I asked Him for it.

He has led me, over the last year, in a joyous, unpredictable journey.  We have walked through restful green pastures and shadowy valleys.  And every day His truth has strengthened me, His presence has guided me and His words have sustained me.

Surely goodness and mercy will dance with me all the days of my life.

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What do you have?

 

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 (The western wall, the only remaining part of the Temple in Jerusalem.)

In Acts chapter 3, we read about the healing of the lame beggar.

Picture the scene with me.  It was three o’clock in the afternoon and there were crowds of people arriving at the temple for one of three regular times of Jewish prayer.  In they came, through ornate gates, congregating with purpose, greeting friends and family.  The temple area also attracted beggars, each one living in hope that religious piety would produce charity.

And so we meet our ‘certain man’, a man lame from birth, who had been brought here early and deposited near the entrance to the temple.  Over the years, he had become a fixture at the Temple, part of the furniture, all but invisible to the regulars.

Until today.

Today he catches someone’s eye.  When the lame man sees that Peter the Apostle has noticed him, he extends his hands in anticipation of coins.  How disappointing it must have been to hear Peter’s words, ‘I have no silver or gold’.  Empty pockets mean a wasted trip and a hungry night ahead.

But the Apostle isn’t finished.

‘What I do have, I give to you.’

And in a God-ordained moment, he takes the man’s hand and lifts him to his miracle.  Joints and ligaments that had never borne weight are immediately strengthened as trepidatious steps became joyful and abandoned.

Suddenly, this insignificant, invisible life becomes a display of the miraculous, a living testimony that Jesus the Son of God is alive and His Spirit is working.

And all because Peter and John gave what they have.

All because they had something to give.

Let’s not forget that there were a lot of people at the Temple that day.  Many, I am sure, were well-meaning, sincere worshippers.  Perhaps they dropped a coin or two into needy hands on the way to their religious appointment. Perhaps they quietly prayed for these poor souls and wished them well in their hearts.

Or maybe they had their own personal problems on their minds as they approached this hour of supplication.  And who can blame them?  We all know how relationship difficulties, financial worries or health problems can preoccupy us, even at church.

But not Peter and John.

Fresh from Pentecost’s power, they are filled up and sold out.  God had done something new in their lives, something dynamic and extraordinary.  It was fresh and real and recent. In that upper room, God had shown up in power and glory, fulfilling ancient promises with the precious gift of His Holy Spirit.  They had witnessed the miraculous and experienced the life-changing presence of God.

And so Peter and John had what this man really needed.

Don’t get me wrong, good advice can be very helpful.  Compassion and empathy are beautiful and essential qualities.  Taking time to listen is vitally important. But when someone is hurting, broken, sick or lost what really matters is who I believe Jesus to be and what I know He can do.

Today, even in the middle of our mundane, ordinary lives, God wants to do something new.  He wants to fulfil promises and answer prayers.  He wants to meet us in our waiting and surprise us with His goodness.  He wants to do more than we have thought or imagined.  He wants to give us an ever-increasing revelation of how good and able and willing He is.

Otherwise, what do we have to give?

Sure, we can dust off stale stories of things God did decades ago in our lives. We can hand out our hollow theories or opinions or ‘something really good I read in a book’.  We can post platitudes with hipster fonts or some celebrity preacher’s Sunday soundbite.

Or we can meet the need around us with an introduction to the living, powerful God we know.

We can have testimonies to share that are hot off the press and daily bread that is fresh out of the oven.   We can offer real faith in a real God.  We can give out to others from the overflow of our own personal walk with God and all the wonderful things He has done and is doing in our lives.

And He wants to start today.

He wants to do something new.  He wants to surprise you.  He wants to give you a fresh experience of His love and goodness and transforming power.

So, wherever you are today, whatever you are doing, thank God for every good thing He has done in the past.  But covet a new testimony of His goodness as well.  Don’t be content with old testimonies.  Ask God for a new touch, a Rhema word from the Bible, a miracle of healing or deliverance or provision.   Then, in every situation, you can share with others what they really need.

His name is Jesus.  And, you know Him.

He is alive and He is powerful and He is working on this planet to change lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss the new

 

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God is doing something new in you.

Don’t miss it.

Don’t mistake it.

Don’t misunderstand it.

He is working in your life, today, in this season, in this moment.  He is doing something new and good and beautiful.

It started when you first met Him and He made you His new creation.  It started with a new name and a new destiny as old debts and identities were cancelled.

And what He started in you, He is finishing.

He is bringing His new life to every corner of your old one.

Do you see it?

New things are, by their very nature, tricky to recognize because they are unfamiliar.  They are different to what we have experienced before.  They seem foreign and easy to misinterpret or overlook or even reject.

Sometimes these good, new things are hidden behind disappointments or imperfect circumstances.  Or perhaps they are disguised as setbacks or u-turns or closed doors.

Sometimes they just feel too painful to be good.

In Isaiah, God pleads with His children, ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’  Isaiah 43.18-19

God was doing something new but His children were in danger of missing it.  It didn’t fit within the perimeter of what He had done in the past.  It was almost unrecognizable, even strange but it was good and it was God.

And so it is with us.

God is making a way.  He is carving out a path.  It may twist and turn and appear to be going completely the wrong direction, but don’t fear.  It may look unfamiliar, even scary but remember that it is a new way, a way you haven’t gone before.  Trust the Good Shepherd to lead you well.  Trust His ways because they are perfect.

Don’t expect things to always be the same, to look safe and familiar.  We have mountains to climb and the paths are steep.  Sometimes the only way forward is straight up.

God is always doing something new, something surprising, something out-of-the-box.

It’s a God thing. He is the creator after all and His ways of working in our lives are countless.

Our God has never run out unique melodies so don’t be surprised when He gives you a new song to sing.  

His mercies are new every morning, so keep your eyes open.  There are fresh revelations in His Word and new places to discover in prayer.  There are areas of your life that are broken that Jesus wants to touch and heal. There are long-standing circumstances He is ready to change and old prayers He is ready to answer.

Look. See what He is doing.  It is new and fresh and alive.  Don’t miss it by facing the wrong way.  Don’t let yesterday’s discouragement close your eyes to a miracle today.  Remember the wonderful things God has done in the past but don’t expect future blessings to look the same.  God is so much bigger than that.

Let Him be big.

Let Him work newness into your life.  He has already started.  There are green shoots poking up through the cold soil.  Don’t miss them. Open your eyes, your heart and your hands.  Say yes to God, even before you see the whole picture.  Trust His goodness and His leading and He will make a way, a new way, a good way.

And then expect every single day of your Christian life to be utterly unpredictable and altogether miraculous, for the glory of His name.