Redemption

Robes And Rings At The Ready...

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Today is Christmas Day. The sweetest thing happened with God.  Oh wow.  I tasted a little of what the prodigal son experienced in Luke 15, when he came back home after squandering his inheritance and hanging with the pigs...and was met so beautifully by his merciful Father. Obviously I haven't been backsliding or squandering my stuff...but I had definitely drifted away from the beautiful presence of God over the last week. I'd been feeling so burnt out...ended up being quite lazy...sleeping too much...catching a cold....needing rest but knowing I needed to meet my book writing deadline...so to try and catch up on writing I hadn't been spending time in the secret place with Jesus. I would just pray in the morning and then crack on with writing.  At night, before sleep I'd be watching TV to zone out.  My mind felt a little disengaged from God.  I missed Him so much. When I opened my eyes this morning and remembered it was Christmas Day my heart sunk a little because I was like..."Dad I've been away all week in my heart and I'm scared that I won't be "present" with you in my heart the way you deserve today...on this super special day to celebrate your Son, it sucks that I just don't feel spiritual...I feel numb...and I don't know even know how to seek your face because my heart feels cold...and kind of zoned out...etc etc etc.

I got out of bed, brushed my teeth and then standing in the kitchen I started to pray. I began to apologise and to explain to Jesus that I knew I hadn't really given Him my time this week, the way that He deserves, even when I could have. I wanted to be honest and confess to Him my shortcomings.  I wanted to share with Him my desperation to see His face.  That I missed Him. As I began to pray I wondered if I would be able to press in and meet with Him. Would I be able to get beyond the outer court into the Holy of Holies?  Was there a chance that I would have the delight of even glimpsing His beautiful face.  Yet before I could even get beyond the first couple of sentences suddenly He came. He floored me instantly with His love. I began to weep.  I felt His embrace all around me.  I began to laugh out loud with fresh delight at His scandalous mercy. I cried and laughed at the same time, repeatedly telling Him how crazy His love was. I suddenly felt the way I am convinced the prodigal son must have felt.  Before his son could even vocalise the apology he must have been rehearsing his entire journey home, the father was already telling his servant to fetch his robe...get the signet ring...prepare the feast because my son has come home.

Thats exactly how I felt. We had a feast right there. It was so glorious. Please don't get me wrong, I am not unfamiliar with Gods mercy and scandalous grace and I have been a recipient of it millions of times. I can't even tell you of how many occasions just like today when I have wondered just how I will see Gods face after where I've just been...or what I've just said...or thought...or done, and instantly He has taken me into the most holy place of His presence.  I never can take that access for granted and every single time He opens His heart up to me in that way I am undone.  Yet what I love so much about today was that this morning -  Christmas Day - was totally meant to be all about about glorifying Him and lavishing Him with my affection and devotion in a fresh way to say thank you for Who He is and what He did. Yet rather than prep my heart for it over the last week I'd been so disengaged. Rather than pray before I went to sleep last night I'd watched TV to switch off. Heaven had every right to be a little aloof given I'd been a little distant over the last week. Heaven would have been totally qualified to make it a little bit difficult to press in considering how unspiritual I was feeling on such a special occasion, where in fact it should have been about sincerely appreciating that Jesus was the greatest gift ever. 

Yet He floored me with His scandalous love and once again, rather than the shoulda, woulda, coulda's, He simply made it about His incredible goodness.  Like totally. Not only did He totally mash me up afresh with His love, His mercy and Father's embrace but He flooded me with holy laughter...something I have been asking for and praying for.  I was literally overcome with holy giggles as I stood there in my kitchen in fits of laughter at the crazy, unfathomable love of our Father.  It went on for ages.  It felt so delicious.  I can't believe that only minutes earlier I had been wondering if I would even have the opportunity to glimpse His glory today...HAAAA...only to encounter the sweetest communion ever. Literally got swept off my sweep...had a robe placed around me...signet ring straight in my finger...partay partay partay before I could even say "Papa I'm sorry!!" Oh my gosh, I simply cannot get over what a beautiful, perfect, Father in heaven we have. I am SO SO SO in awe of His Son, His Spirit and His scandalous love.

Time and time again I have been knocked out by just how lavish our God is with His presence. He is not like man. When someone is aloof, distracted or disengaged from us, as humans we have the tendency to withhold our affection...guard our hearts, protect our space just in case we get rejected again right? Not God. No matter how unfaithful we are, He never ever withholds His presence or His love from us.  Instead, even when we are unfaithful...He is always there just like the Father in the parable...waiting to meet our gaze the moment we choose to look in the direction of His beauty once again...He runs towards us...arms wide open...rings and robes at the ready...having already prepared a feast in the presence of our enemies...ready to celebrate our prodigal hearts, however far...however close...returning home to Abba Father. Aaaah love. Sweet love.

Merry Christmas Jesus....Son of God...Darling of heaven. You my sweet love, are the greatest gift of all. x

The Romans 8:28 Challenge

Most often than not, whenever I find myself faced with a bit of a challenge or difficult unfathomable scenario...up pops that familiar verse from Romans 8:28...that assures me that God will work all things together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose! And so whenever I do face a glitch in the matrix, I tell myself to not sweat the small stuff because according to Romans 8:28 God's got this covered…right???? Yet time and time again, if truth be told, my faith is challenged by my true level of confidence in these life giving words of seemingly great comfort. In reality, when the poo hits the fan...just how sincerely do I really believe these Words??? How confidently do I trust that YES for sure God will definitely work this hot mess out for good…and it will totally be worth it!

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I found myself faced afresh with the Romans 8:28 challenge this weekend as I enjoyed the best time ever at David's Tent in West Sussex...until Saturday that is, when right out of the blue came a wasp straight from the demonic realm who stung me right smack bang on my mouth!! Soooo painful...I literally deflated...all energy and joy left me...the swelling was excruciating and I looked like I'd been at war with a Botox needle. And then once that little drama settled I had to deal with a flat battery in my car and call the AA out only to be told that I would need to jumpstart my car back to London...I then lost my car keys on Sunday afternoon whilst still at David's Tent, so had to leave all my stuff in West Sussex and try and work out how I would get home to London and then back up to Brighton the next day with a spare car key, to collect all my stuff and get my motor jumpstarted. And all the while, I have Romans 8:28 brewing in my heart...yet my head is secretly whispering..."Really God? How can any good come out of this?"

I get a lift to London and in the meanwhile they find my keys at David's Tent so I arrange to come back that night and Victor...amazing amazing Victor from my church agrees to drive me back up to David's Tent. It's pitch black when we get there...the field that was only a few hours ago teeming with thousands of people, lights, worship and activity is now just empty land, silent - without any movement or even the mere glimpse of light. Two security guards are the only one's on site, and Steve, one of the guards is holding my lost car key. He drives me to my car in his buggy holding up the torch up for me whilst I pack all my stuff and load it into my car...faithful Victor works on connecting the jump leads to my car. As I pick up my bags and take them to my car I am also holding on to Romans 8:28…it keeps me focused. I start talking to Steve about random stuff. He tells me that he has had to work really long hours at David's Tent...17 hour shifts. He can't wait to have a break. He's tired. His arm is hurting really badly from an injury he got whilst mowing the lawn and he can't move it. The verse pops into my head again as I wonder if Steve will get healed tonight.

He tells me he does a tribute act for Michael Jackson when he's not on security. He comes alive suddenly with passion, talking about something he clearly enjoys. I ask him to sing for us and he does. He makes us smile and our hearts are filled with love for him. He shows us some pictures on his phone of him performing and then gets ready to go back to his post. But before he leaves I tell him we are not mad…that the last five days that he has just witnessed with thousands of people worshipping Jesus day and night in sweet abandon isn't lunacy - it's our response to Jesus' love. I tell him that Jesus loves him too and has a plan for him...and then I ask if I can pray for his arm and he's totally up for it. It's dark and chilly and we can hear the gentle humming of my car engine getting jumpstarted as we lay hands on Steve. It seems totally normal - to be praying for healing for a security guard at 10.30pm at night in a pitch black, empty field whilst waiting for a car to be jumpstarted. Smiles. The anointing is as thick as fog and it feels totally delicious. No sooner have I stopped praying, when Victor asks Steve if he'd like to say the prayer of salvation...I smile and say..."err steady on Vic, shall we maybe tell him what salvation is first?" We laugh and then I share the gospel with Steve.

We ask him again if he'd like to receive Christ as his Lord and Saviour and he says YES...his whole being says YES...the sparkle in his eyes say YES…Victor leads him into a beautiful prayer of salvation...And so Steve gives his heart to Jesus. And Romans 8:28 envelopes the atmosphere. Victor breaks it down further for him...telling him about the blood of the Lamb...the precious precious blood and what it's done for Steve....We pray over him again speaking blessing over him and his family...as we're praying, God reveals that He had divinely ordained for Steve to be at David's Tent...sitting under the heavy weighty anointing of worship as the sound of heaven was being released over this land because this precious young man was called to sing songs over this nation. I share this with Steve...he's blown away ...speechless...in awe...we talk to him about his amazing destiny...it's like the light of God has arrested him. He's visibly moved. We ask him to check his arm. He moves it in amazement - he no longer feels as much pain. We pray again and he is completely healed. He is stunned. We take his details so Victor can stay in contact with him and make sure he is able to grow in his faith… and then we part ways.

We're totally buzzing...driving back down the M23 like we're on speed...except we're not...because we don't need drugs...we're high on the goodness of God...knowing that God's Word is so faithful and trustworthy...knowing that no matter what happens...no matter how crazy things may appear to get, God will ALWAYS work it all for our good...this keeps our faith steadfast…and as we navigate through the storms of life, riding on the sure waves of Roman's 8:28...we will see God faithfully work things out for good time and time again...yet each time He drops a Romans 8:28 in the mix...no matter how much you expect it…no matter how sure you are that it will happen, when it does happen you’re once again left in complete awe...totally floored at just how ridiculously unbelievably GOOD He does actually work it all out after all…x