God has His plans and purposes set out for us. We can think we are doing one thing and actually God is up to something else. I thought I was going through a mid life thing and have had a sense of discontentment for a couple of years. Great to know He had a plan to help.
On reflection I think I got lost in becoming who people want me to be. In a way I have been rejecting myself hence the discontentment. The most helpful thing that has happened this year is my reconnecting to a long lost friend after eighteen years.
Three months later we ere on the plane to east Africa together.. This is the place where I connected with God twenty years ago and where I am still called. The Bible speaks about “where your treasure is there your heart is too” I certainly have a passion and love in my heart for the people in east Africa.
By taking my friend with whom I have a shared history I realised who I was again. I noticed that I had become lost in being who people want me to be trying to fit in and avoid rejection. This trip I have been more my real self, laughing and joking ( not taking myself seriously) I felt free to worship God,dance, pray and speak from my heart when preaching than ever before. I think there is an unspoken pressure to perform in modern society and that behaviour is unsustainable.
Jesus invited people to follow Him as they were. Yes, the disciples were challenged and formed by hanging out with Jesus for three years. But I don’t sense a rule book when reading the gospels but a shaping of character through relationship with God in human form. Jesus accepts people unconditionally and draws out the true self.
I am a simple person who wants to pursue God 100% because I love Him. It’s as simple as that. I was born with a personality that is fun loving, kind and considerate person. Africa and the many friendships developed over the last twenty years have formed my relationship with God.
I have loved being in Africa with my friend and being able to laugh a lot and enjoy all Gods goodness in my life. I do sense a new beginning of being real with who I am. So thank you God for setting this up and thank you my friend for coming on the journey with me. If you feel lost ask God for help and let Him bring life to the lostness.
What story are you writing through your life? I am writing this from Uganda, having been out here for two weeks. This was not my first time in fact the story of Uganda and I began in 1997 when I first travelled to an area called Kumi. That trip was the tipping point for me that led to making changes in my life. The impact of that trip will never leave me and causes me to keep investing in the story that is unfolding every time I return.
In the west we are so goal driven to tick things off that we sometime fail to see the bigger picture that is being painted over our life span. In 1998 I went back to Uganda with the intention to live in the country and co ordinate medical services for the poor. However sometimes it is not possible at the time to go ahead with the best laid plans. But a seed had been planted in the hearts of the Ugandan people and I.
I met a man in 2003 called Simon. He helped a team I was leading with translation and logistics – he had a humble heart working as a cleaner at Ngora hospital and lived in a small garage at the time. He told me how he would come to the UK and study one day. I was blown away when he did. He studied and went back with an MA in theology and development. Whilst in the UK he had worked at a takeaway shop and sent the money back home.
Once home he brought some land and built a house in a remote village with the money he earned. Simon is ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church of Uganda and together we train and equip men and women in the ministry. This land now serves the community in that area by providing clean water that we at RSVP Trust helped to construct. Young people who were unemployed are employed to help with the project. They deliver water to elderly people who have no children to help them. They help the sick when food and wood are needed and they cannot manage. I sat down and met the young people on this trip and talked about the importance of having a vision for living whilst you are young.
The land is about venture into poultry farming so more hopeless uneducated young people can gain employment and have a purpose in life. Who would have dreamed that the man I met who lived in a garage and cleaned the hospital would have such an impact in his community through our friendship. His latest project is to restructure and regenerate Ngora hospital. I had the pleasure of spending a day at the hospital distributing gifts of hope and thinking about how we can support local people receive medical care.
As I reflect prior to returning home I am again awe struck realising that what I thought was lost had an even larger vision waiting to be unveiled sixteen years later. I thank God for allowing me to take this journey having learned to trust Him with my life plan. So I wonder what story your life is revealing? I would encourage you to sit back and look at the wider impact that your life is producing.
I have noticed that there are levels of freedom from addiction. We can set ourselves free from using the substance or drug of our choice; that is one level. Then there are the layers that have to be peeled back by asking questions such as ‘why did I do that?’ or ‘why am I vulnerable to addictive patterns of behavior in my life?’
I strongly believe that Jesus has the ability to set us free in the blink of an eye. This was my own experience but then I had all the under-the-surface pain and anger to look at. I have read lots of books and articles, and listened to talks about how to deal with the root of addiction, yet nothing seems to help. The pain and anger are still present and they raise their ugly heads from time to time and, without a sunstone to sooth that pain, the feelings are overwhelming at times.
In the end, I did the same thing as I did when I prayed for Jesus to set me free from alcohol. I knelt down and spoke to Jesus about the pain and the anger and I asked Him if He could show me the root of that anguish and bring healing and transformation to my heart, mind, and emotions. Within a day, as I gently allowed time for Him to speak to me, He revealed the original wound so that I could pour some prayer into the area. It is our prayers and the prayers of others that gives Jesus access to the root to make way for the next level of healing.
Healing can be a process that happens as we draw close to the spirit of Jesus. We may get clean of an addiction to a substance or a drug, but then we need inner healing on the hidden darkness in each of us. I believe the Bible when it says that Jesus heals all our diseases (Psalm 103:3). He transforms our darkness, painful past, and original wounds, and He bestows His presence into those areas bringing the abundant life (John10: 10).
When the healing comes, it is often in a twinkling of an eye but we may have been praying for it for many years. Suddenly, inner peace comes and we are able to forgive, we are able to let the pain and the anger fade as God draws the dark places inside us into the light—the light of His glorious truth.
Jesus invites us to go to Him with anything and He will quench our thirst if we draw from Him as a resource—and we will no longer be thirsty (John 7: 38). Let’s get prepared to receive levels of freedom. Come and drink of the spirit of Jesus and we will not get thirsty. Let the savior of the world quench the thirst of our cravings / loneliness / anger/ pain and bring healing and love to our mortal bodies.
We have all been exposed to teaching either by reading books or hearing sermons about doing more, serving more and it would be true to say that some need to find their unique God gift and get operational with it. However for others we need to learn to take a break. If we are not careful in developing break times and times off, then we will indeed break others and ourselves.
I always remember my parents being what I thought was a slightly strict with the “you can’t go out and play tonight” or at the weekends the no word would come out again. I can now see what was happening they were observing that I would need to rest to be able to function all the other days.
Most of my ideas, creativity, hearing God comes from when I am on a break. The break can be five minutes or a day it makes no odds, the point I’m making is to down tools and take a break. In other words when we stop the doing and trying to make things work often God can pop an idea or brings things to our attention; our mind is free and not filled with clutter. Clutter can come in many forms.
As an introvert (energised by being alone) personally I find events the most draining and often Churches & organisations love events. So I spend the majority of my time being in a box that I don’t fit into. However I have found a way to bring the balance I need by creating margins of space around events.
If you lean more to the extrovert (energised by being with people) then you gain synergy and creativity from the people you are around which is great. Maybe you will need margins of people contact around times of solitude to create energy. We need both in the world, introvert and extrovert, the key is allowing each other to be ourselves.
With regards to how to take the break we may need to be creative / flexible as we live in a world where identity is wrapped up in the word “busyness”. I often like to do some gardening to clear my head or have a bike ride in the evening. Sport such as running and belonging to a gym have been a personal rhythm that I have been using for the past twenty years. I have noticed that when I do something practical it gives me a chance to open the window on creativity in the spiritual.
Your window maybe different but I would encourage you to open it. Jesus often took a break from the people who were always waiting to see him. He would rise early in the morning to go and find a place of solitude to pray.
When we pray we are stopping to disconnect from all we do to connect in the spiritual and in the stopping peace, wisdom and refreshment come.