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Posts Tagged ‘strength’

Today I am embarking on a trip to Tasmania – a place I have always wanted to visit. I have been invited to speak at a conference there and a few other places in the next two weeks. And we hope to have a holiday and enjoy some of the beautiful places and scenery as well.

Now we have planned ahead for this trip. I have thought and prayed about my input and I hope I have made the right decisions with all that. I have plenty of my novels on hand to sell too at these venues. And my husband has worked out the routes we will take and printed out copious number so Google maps! I have also made sure my little prayer team who support me so well wherever I speak knows my itinerary and can follow me on my journey as they are able. But there still comes a time, I find, when I look at all the speaking engagements and travel ahead and feel a little overwhelmed. Besides that, for a few weeks now I have struggled with back trouble and sciatica pain – just when I really need to be full of energy and on top of things! So in my weakness, crazy thoughts begin to come into my head. What if I haven’t prepared appropriate material? What if I speak for too long? What if I have my speaking engagements mixed up? What if we can’t find the places on time? What if I’m in too much pain? What if …? And so the list goes on.

It’s then that I pull myself up short, and realise God has been trying to get through to me for a while now. Lately, I have been reading the book of 1 Samuel and taking in all the ups and downs of Saul’s and David’s lives. Somehow I don’t think I would have liked David’s experience of having to flee for his life from Saul, fight endless battles, live in caves and desert strongholds and be in danger on so many fronts. Many times, his heart must have failed him when people betrayed him and tried to deliver him into Saul’s hands, when his motives and loyalty were doubted, when he was forced to live among the Philistines, and certainly when his wives and sons and daughters were taken captive. On that occasion, Scripture tells us that ‘David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep’ (1 Sam 30:4).

Yet it seems to me that David knew exactly where – or who – to go to in order to find the strength he needed. On an earlier occasion when Saul was searching for him day after day, we are told that Saul’s son Jonathan came to him in the desert ‘and helped him find strength in God’ (1 Sam 23:16). Then when David’s family was taken captive, we read how, on top of that, his own men were talking about stoning him since they too had lost their wives and sons and daughters. Yet in the midst of all this grief and turmoil, the next sentence we read says simply this:

But David found strength in the Lord his God. (1 Sam 30:6b)

I think any qualms I might have about our upcoming trip pale into insignificance for sure against David’s dreadful experiences. So yes, Lord – I get the message! And I know as I look to you, I will find all the strength I need for whatever lies ahead.

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Have you ever had the experience of seeing something on display in a shop that you want so much you simply have to buy it?  It’s happened to me only a few times, but fortunately, in each of these cases, the particular item has turned out to be relatively inexpensive.

Take, for example, a greeting card I saw in a gift shop over fifteen years ago now.  I was with my sister and both of us groaned out loud as we identified with the words printed in bold, black brushstrokes on the front.

She who trims herself to suit everybody will soon whittle herself away.

For me, it was one of those moments when you are brought face to face with issues inside you in a way that is impossible to ignore.  I was at a time in my life when I was feeling pushed and pulled in all sorts of directions, when I was trying to meet people’s expectations on every side (or was it my own?) but losing myself in the process.  I was aware there were things deep down inside me causing me much frustration and angst, but somehow could not find the courage to speak out.  Yet, in a split second, this simple card opened my eyes to what was happening inside me and around me and empowered me to begin to approach things in a different way.

For years, I had the card on display in my workplace and later at home, but today I moved it into my new study where I can see it from my desk.  And as I did, I reflected on those words again.  They still impact me – but God has done a transforming work in me and I have definitely moved on.  Now, by God’s grace, I believe I am much more secure in who I am and much less dependent on the opinions of others.  Not that I ignore others’ needs and selfishly go through life ‘looking after Number One’ – after all, Paul warns us clearly in Philippians 2:3-4 that that isn’t the way to live:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

But that doesn’t mean trying to please everyone and fit in with what they believe or how they want us to act, at the expense of our own integrity and wellbeing.  I think now at this stage of my life, I understand much more clearly that it’s as I look to God to tell me who I am and am constantly filled with God’s Spirit that I am best able to reach out from this place of strength and truly encourage others.

So how about you?  Feeling a bit fragile – as if there’s not much left of you?  Remember, God is the one who gives you strength.  God is the one who tells you who you are.

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