Rest in Me

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‘Come to me if you’re tired, weary, burned out and I will give you rest. You’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’ Matthew 11 28-29 Message Translation.

Christians often talk about the Lord telling them to pray and rest in Him. What does this mean? Does it mean we must take to our beds and sofas and kick back for the rest of our lives, giving up jobs and lives and staying at home?

As appealing as this may sound, on the contrary, if we are praying in all circumstances, we have the confident hope that the Lord is actually telling us, ‘Pray and I will do the rest.’

This sounds so simple. He is certainly stronger than we are, has our best interests at heart, can see the future before it happens and has designed each of us for a specific purpose (this is why comparison is futile and steals our happiness.) The Lord’s grace is enough for us; His power is made perfect in our weakness.

We are not to try to understand, underestimate or know how He does things. The grace of the Lord is stronger than all our faults and failures. His love for each of us is deeper and greater than our hearts could ever fathom. We must humble ourselves, therefore, before the Almighty God, for truly He alone is the One who gives and takes away.

Do not be afraid to go boldly forth into the new day. Just as none of us would go into the laundry basket and take out yesterday’s clothes to wear, so it is with the mercies of Christ which begin fresh each day. We must not take the garbage of yesterday into the freshness of today. Why be afraid when we are given a spirit of love, courage and a strong mind?

As St. Paul writes in 2 Timothy, when the going gets tough, take it on the chin, just as Jesus did, running the race of faith, love and peace. Let’s not be argumentative but be gentle, listeners, keeping cool and keeping on, keeping on.

Asking the Lord to help us and sort out our stresses and messes starts a positive cycle of strength and reassurance, relief from pressure and real progress. This is most certainly difficult to start with but will become easier as we rest in Him, spending more time in prayer and thankfulness for all He has done and is doing for us. As our “Attitude of Gratitude” develops, we will see how our days become less stressful and more productive. The rest will come and our bodies will become physically and mentally recharged and stronger.

“You pray, I’ll do the rest,’ says the Lord. The rest of our hearts, souls, minds and lives is found as we pray, trust, believe and obey that He is with us always. The rest will come in the Lord’s time but, in the meantime, He will equip us through the Holy Spirit to cope with life and its grenades. We can confidently go in to today to work and enjoy the freedom He has given us through the price paid through His death and resurrection.

Lord, in your mercy, help us pray and let you do the rest. Help us to remember that you are a God who loves us and has our best interests at heart. Help us Lord, graciously help us go into today with happiness and gratitude for all you have done and are doing for us and through us for the good of each other. Help us develop attitudes of sincere gratitude. Enable us, Lord, to set aside stillness in each day to listen to you. In this stillness may your Holy Spirit help us remember times when you have answered our prayers and enabled us to to more than we could physically or mentally have achieved in our own strength. May we openly talk with others about these times to encourage, refresh and build one another up. Bless us, good Lord. Thank you Lord for we can’t do this without you.  Amen.

Dear Pope Francis…

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/the-pope/10839223/Italian-women-appeal-to-Pope-Francis-to-end-priests-celibacy-vow.html

If Pope Francis pays heed to the heartfelt cries of not only these women but to the silent prayers of Christian women all over the world who are single not through choice, then the floodgates of marriages made in heaven will truly open.

Think of it like this: churches all around the world are outnumbered by holy, sexy godly women.

Meanwhile, the Vatican is full of holy, sexy, godly men. I know. I was there last summer and was so distracted by them all, I had to eat my gelato with sunglasses permanently fixed to my face even at nighttime.

Why should His Holiness, Pope Francis, not take these godly sexy bulls by the horns and release them to charge forward with the power of the Holy Spirit behind them to find the women of their dreams and fulfill God’s wish for us all to live in love with one another?

As far as I am aware, St Paul wrote in I Corinthians 7, marriage is not such a bad thing after all. Jesus healed St Peter’s mother in law. Adam and Eve kick started the whole game of love in the Garden of Eden. It’s time to rethink a principal based on a 1,000 year tradition which is not based on Biblical realities and move forward.

Pray and stay alert. The Winds of Change are blowing.

Link

 

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As the end of the year draws quickly to a close, we expats across the world have already begun packing our bags to return home for Christmas. Expectations and tensions can run high at this emotionally charged time of year and, as adults, it is difficult to not wish that life could just this once rekindle a child like expectation of the excitement and wonder of Christmas Eve stockings, presents and selection boxes for breakfast. If only everything were as exciting as when we were children and Santa’s letter was sent up the chimney whilst our little legs measled against a roaring fire and our hearts fluttered.

Sometimes, prayers can seem like a will-he/won’t-he-bring-me list to a God who seems as real as Father Christmas. “Has He actually heard this prayer I’ve been groaning for the past ten, twenty, thirty years?” we wonder.

Unfortunately, more often than not, our words and hope just simply run out. We’ve reached the end. Our prayers take too long to get answered and we grow weary, just like the end of the year, when our dinner consists of biscuits and toast and our throats grow raspy.There seems no answer in sight. While our bodies ache for some kind of closure to prayers we have whispered in the dark and cried out in the silent, lonely places only we know, the all powerful God who made us is on silent. We’re left feeling confused, angry, bewildered, exhausted and despondent.

Disappointment and sadness envelop the child like hope and light within and we just give up. We’re left sitting alone in a big, drafty room in a vacant, dark, haunted house.

And then, ever so quickly and subtly, something inside us just switches off because, let’s face it, there really seems to be no response from a Santa like God sitting in a distant, imaginary land full of elves and wooden toys.

In this talk, we hear how any amount of faith, no matter how small it is, is enough. Let me write that again. Any amount of faith, no matter how small it is,  is enough. It is enough. 

A Christmas Prayer List for God for Expats:

1.Help us have faith to just believe that you’re working behind the scenes

2.That you haven’t forgotten us.

3. Please, Lord, send us all true love, peace, happiness and joy this Christmas.

4. For those of us travelling home to family situations, Lord, we beg you for short queues, simple check ins, upgrades, spacious seats, and swift travel. May we all think before we speak to those we haven’t seen in a while, remembering that the power of both life and death lies in our words.

5.  To those of us away from family and friends at Christmas, please send loving, happy people to encourage and nurture us during this reflective time of year.

6. But most of all, help us, Lord, to speak to the mountains in our life with the confidence and hope that only you can miraculously give us.

Thank you, Lord, that you will bring us so much wonderment over this Christmas time to allow us to return in January with so many stories of your goodness and blessings upon us. 

Pax vobiscum.

Link

So, how does God guide us, anyway?

Well meaning people and their well meaning advice can sometimes put us off life’s tracks in more ways than one. Here is a talk by Paul Cowley in which he clearly points out ways in which we can listen for God’s direction in our lives. It is part of the Alpha Series taken from the Holy Trinity, Brompton, London, webpage. http://www.htb.org.uk

What is Love? (Baby, don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me…)

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Recently, I have been pondering what the true meaning of love is. If you love someone, set them free.  All you need is love. Love is a many splendid thing, indeed, but how do we really show someone that we love them?  Sometimes, it is by sitting on our hands and doing and saying nothing while they hurt us with words and actions. Sometimes, it is giving them our last dirham or a simple smile and hello. This passage of the the New Testament is a Wedding Favourite, but imagine if we substituted the word ‘Love’ for ‘I am’ when reading the following passage. A somewhat sobering thought as all of us strive to attain the all perfect love for each other when it is the last thing we feel capable of. Lord, help us. Lord, graciously help us show the world what true love is. Peace out.

The Way of Love…

I Corinthians 13

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t Iove, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

(Therefore, with God’s help and grace…)

  • I never give up.
  • I care more for others than for self.
  • I don’t want what I don’t have.
  • I don’t strut.
  • I don’t have a swelled head.
  • I don’t force myself on others.
  • I am not always “me first.”
  • I don’t fly off the handle.
  • I don’t keep score of the sins of others.
  • I don’t revel when others grovel.
  • I take pleasure in the flowering of truth.
  • I put up with anything.
  • I trust God always.
  • I always look for the best.
  • I never look back but I keep going to the end.

http://www.biblegateway.com

Less is more

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We have all had to simplify our lives living here in the desert. The nearest city is around 180 minutes drive away and the journey is nothing short of exhausting.  A weekend trip to Abu Dhabi is supposed to be refreshing but any relaxation felt is soon erased by the arduous drive back to our desert accommodation.

At some point, all of us have felt that our former lives in the West have been brutally stripped away and have left us bare and vulnerable. Each of us has often questioned why we are here.

Yet something much stronger overrides this sense of exposure to the unknown and uncertainty of this lifestyle we now find ourselves in. Its name is Peace. http://biblehub.com/john/14-27.htm

Expat Desert Inhabitants have made difficult choices, sacrificing friends and family and a lifestyle back home to follow what we know in our hearts to be the right professional and/or personal choice.  If we looked at our situation with human eyes and took everything at face value, we would feel overwhelmed.

Yet, when we are in a place where we know we are meant to be, we are somewhat at pains to describe to others why we remain.  Paradoxically, we know that if we stayed in our home countries, we would feel restless and unsettled with each passing day; the silent sentiments of no longer belonging to the society into which we were born steadily consuming us.

I am blessed by new friends and colleagues who identify with the difficulties we are facing together. Chats whilst sharing cups of tea and coffee, bread, biscuits, books read, clothes that no longer fit, recipes, drives to the city, weekly car-pools to work when we all need a 30 minute lie in, recommended podcasts and albums all combine to enable us to develop our sense of community and sisterhood.

There is much joy to be found in what is sometimes an incomprehensible life when we look outwards, forget ourselves and keep going. Personally, I am often encouraged by the words once sent to me many years ago by my sister:  Look outwards; forget yourself. And those of my dad:  Keep going and don’t look back or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt! http://biblehub.com/genesis/19-26.htm

Many of us are finding talents which have been lying dormant for so long and are making jewelry or painting and sketching. Some are learning languages for travels to and from the Middle East whilst others are discovering a flare for making sour cream and guacamole (see last post: In the desert, we make our own sour cream…)

Although it may seem we have little, we are growing inwardly and outwardly.  Just as it was in the story of Jesus feeding the 4000, we learn that although things more than often do not make sense, as we continually pray in all circumstances and keep looking on the bright side, miracles happen and we find ourselves coping.http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+8&version=MSG

Prayer:  Lord, forgive us for times when we have been disgruntled, disillusioned and disappointed about the circumstances we find ourselves in. Forgive us for the times when we don’t appreciate what we have and help us see the satisfaction of simple living. Help us understand that it is by spreading out what little we already have that more of us are blessed and encouraged. Thank you that by trusting you, we don’t need to always have and understand the answers. Thank you that you are a creative God who loves communication http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%201&version=MSG; that you invented words, chats and a wonderful world to be discovered.

Please, help us, Lord.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+5%3A16-18&version=NIV,

Listen to:  Mumford & Sons