Wednesday’s Wisdom

I’m not sure of the origins of this piece of wisdom. It’s one of those quotes that many people have incorporated into their own ‘wise words’ in various ways. I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the last few weeks since one of my cousins posted something about it on Facebook. I guess it just got me thinking again about things in my life that have been hard to accept and how I’ve wrestled with them. I realised that acceptance can be a lot like trust if you have faith in God – trusting that He is in control and working things out for your good even when you don’t understand what He’s doing. It reminded me at the time of the prayer that is popularly know as the serenity prayer.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

What is your experience of this ‘wisdom’. Has acceptance brought you peace or lack of acceptance created turmoil? Are there any circumstances where this quote doesn’t apply? Let me know in the comments. 😊

I’m always reading something or other. Books, social media feeds, study notes, blogs and more. Recently I’ve become even more aware of how much wisdom I come across in what I read so I decided to share some of it with you. I’m honestly not sure how consistent I will manage to be with this or how long I’ll keep it up but I’m going to try. It’s all part of the growing I need to do.

They’re not joking when they say it’s a battle…

Have you heard people talking about someone battling with cancer? Or depression? I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never had a serious physical illness. I have watched friends and family with cancer though. I have seen that battle, the struggle, the exhaustion, the fear, the hope and the hopelessness.

Today has been a rough day. I’m really struggling with depression. It is a battle and it’s exhausting. I don’t want to quit but I don’t want to keep fighting either. It’s hard work.

I have all these thoughts going around in my head. I know certain strategies to use to try to help myself physically, like exercising. (Did that.) I understand about mindsets and about setting my mind on positive things and even spiritual things. I’ve grown up knowing how to pray when I struggle and how to reach out for prayer support too. But even with all of that it’s a battle.

Lots of people want to give you advice on how not to be depressed but I don’t think they necessarily understand just how difficult it is to keep fighting.

I don’t know how it is for you – we all have our own battles – but if you’re fighting a battle today then know that I’m thinking of you. Keep going. You can do this. You are strong.

A Present to Remember

I hope you enjoyed reading about my first few days in California in my previous post. On the Sunday (our third full day in the States) we picked up the hire car and left San Francisco for a motel in Napa. We didn’t go straight there though as we had an exciting stop on the way.

For Christmas our (adult) kids bought us a present to remember. While videoing the moment for our daughter to watch later, our son handed over a rolled up piece of paper; like a scroll. When we opened it out it said this: You are going Skydiving over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco! My jaw almost hit the floor. I don’t know if our kids were trying to thrill us or kill us 😅. Amazingly, since I’m pretty scared of heights (or at least looking down from a height) my reaction was actually one of excitement. I might have mentioned this when I wrote about facing this fear in Croatia last summer but I don’t even like looking over the rail on the first floor at the shopping mall so jumping/diving/falling out of a plane at 10 000 feet is just a little bit terrifying! 😱

We arrived earlier than expected at the skydiving centre and were quickly handed a four page form to fill out. It was pretty repetitive but required a lot of signatures. In effect it said ‘I understand that I might die doing this and my estate cannot sue the company for any reason’ over and over. Almost seems like they’re trying to talk themselves out of business? Obviously though, many people like us, are daft enough to go through with it despite all the warnings.

I was a little nervous walking out to the tiny plane (we were literally squashed in like sardines) but not as much as I thought I’d be. Maybe it’s one outcome of having struggled with depression for a while but death doesn’t feel like the worst outcome these days (not that I actually thought I’d die). I don’t mean that to sound morbid, I’m not suicidal and I don’t want to die but it just doesn’t feel like it would be that terrible any more if that makes any sense? Anyway, I did also pray heading up in the plane. I literally told God that my life was in his hands – which it was. Well that and attached to a guy, with the same name as my son, by a harness.

The views from the plane were stunning. The Golden Gate Bridge was visible in the distance (we weren’t actually skydiving over it) and we could see San Francisco and the coast and lots of lush green countryside. Hubby and his instructor were nearest the door while I was squished in with my instructor behind the pilot. This meant that they left the plane first. I didn’t exactly have time to think though before we were getting into position too.

They had given us brief instructions while on the ground about how to position yourself for the dive etc and one of those instructions was to keep your head back while exiting the plane. This worked out pretty well for me as I had decided that I just wouldn’t look down until I was actually falling. My reasoning was that the instructor I was harnessed to was about 6’5″ so I knew that if he decided to leave the plane I was going too, like it or not 😂. Right enough that’s pretty much how it happened. We got into position at the door with our legs dangled out of the plane (my heart was definitely in my throat just a bit at this point) and without much further ado we exited the plane and were falling at break neck speed towards the ground.

The initial free fall was an equally thrilling and nerve wracking experience. I did feel a bit panicked when I couldn’t catch my breath but I knew it wouldn’t last. There was a sudden jolt as the parachute was deployed and then calm. I could breathe again. As soon as the chute was open it was a really cool experience looking down at the earth and floating towards it and before I knew it it was all over and we were back on the ground. I have to admit that I was slightly relieved, but what an experience! Incidentally my hair looked hilarious when we landed; it was sticking up all over the place 😂.

There’s something significant happening with me to do with taking risks I think. It feels like I’ve started taking more risks like this one in life and I think it has some spiritual significance too. I started going to a study group at church just about a week ago and there was a lot of talk about taking risks in terms of growing your faith and also of not allowing fear any place in your life. When I heard that it resonated with me and I have a feeling I’ll be having to take some risks in my spiritual life too.

Once we were all safely back to the skydiving centre we purchased our videos and photos (have to have evidence since there’s a pretty good chance I won’t be doing that again 😂) and hopped back into the car to continue our journey as if jumping out of planes is something you do every day.

We drove on up to Napa where we ate at a lovely restaurant/cafe that reminded me of someone’s living room. After a decent night’s sleep we were up again for a slightly more relaxing kind of day – wine touring Napa Valley. We met a lovely couple from Vancouver on the tour and visited four different wineries. I have to say that I enjoyed pretty much all of the wines we tried – and there were quite a few. Thinking back I’m actually kind of surprised that I didn’t have a hangover after that. Maybe because it was spread out over the whole day? Anyway it was a gorgeous sunny day too and we had a fab time.

The first winery we visited (kinda forgot to take photos after this one 😝)

I guess I’ll leave it there for now and fill you in on the rest of the holiday (which was a lot quieter) in my next post. Talk soon.

Surrender is easy…until it’s not!

I don’t know if anyone else does this but I actually started writing this post over a year ago. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder ever since. Sometimes I start writing something and it just feels too difficult to process so I end up leaving it. This one has been on my mind a lot lately so I figured that maybe it was time to finish it.

Being brought up in a Christian family I’ve spent my life aware of this concept of surrendering to God and happily singing songs like ‘All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give’. Surrender was never that difficult. I guess it’s not difficult to ‘surrender’ to what already feels like the best plan, to the things that you want for your life. Even when some things weren’t great there was always enough that was good to make it easy to trust that God would indeed work everything out for the best.

Surrender gets difficult when what you want and what God wants don’t seem to match or when things don’t work out the way you thought they would. When you pray for things that seem good but they just don’t turn out the way you thought they should. This is when surrendering to His will really becomes dying to self. And it’s hard. Really really hard.

I was thinking recently about how Jesus had to surrender to His Father’s will to go to the cross. It wasn’t what He wanted, He even asked God to take ‘this cup of suffering’ away from Him. At the thought of going through with God’s plan…

…he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. Luke 22:44

Even for the perfect man surrendering to God wasn’t easy.

I wrote this prayer almost 2 years ago now and it hasn’t always been easy to pray but it seems relevant to this post.

Lord, I want to follow you on the journey that you have mapped out for me. I want to travel light and leave behind all the baggage I have acquired that is not from you. I want to put aside all distractions and not be defined by them. Forgive me for allowing certain people and things to distract me more than they should. Please help me focus only on you and on the plan you have for me and the mission we are on together.

I don’t want to be slow to follow, reluctant to surrender, or unwilling to submit. I want to be humble and submit to You in every way.

I am ready to follow you Lord. Wherever you lead. I lay everything down at your feet that hinders me. I want to know you more God to understand your heart. To follow you wholeheartedly, not concerned about how others view me or in fear of man. Give me the strength and boldness Lord to run after you and your will, to speak your words and to pray in faith to see lives transformed.

I know that you have the power to work through me Lord. I thank you for the gifts that you have given me. Help me to have the boldness and the confidence in you to use them for your glory.

I love you Lord. Amen

There are still days that I find surrendering difficult but I take comfort in knowing that it wasn’t easy for Jesus either. (Not that I’m comparing the things I surrender to going to the cross.) I know God sees my heart. I know I can trust Him. I know there is always hope because He’s a good Father. I hope this encourages you too.

How Do I Pray?

It’s the middle of the night here in the UK but I can’t sleep. I’m sitting here drinking camomile tea and tossing up between ironing or ordering food shopping 😝. I don’t really want to do either of those things so instead I’m writing this post.

Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten how to talk to God. I talk to Him a lot. I share my feelings with Him all the time and I tell Him even the things that no one else knows – I mean why not? He knows anyway.

My difficulty is that once again we have a friend who has cancer. The doctors can do no more. They’re using words like ‘palliative care’ again. We’ve been here before. More than once. Each time my friends have been asking God for a miracle. Each time I’ve prayed for that with them. I know God heals (I’ve seen this before too). I believe He wants to heal. I’ve expected God to heal. So far (if I’m remembering correctly) only one out of many friends and family members has been healed from cancer.

So how do I pray? Am I doing something wrong? I remember a few years ago teaching on this very subject in church. It was a difficult time. We had not long since lost a young friend to cancer. Many of us were struggling with continuing to ask God to heal. I’d go back and reread that sermon now but I lost it when my hard drive packed in so I don’t know if there’s anything that God was saying to me back then that would have helped me now. Probably. I remember that in essence I felt that I shouldn’t stop asking.

It gets harder to keep asking though. I mean I still do. I still know God can. I just don’t get why so often it doesn’t happen. I know God isn’t a genie in a bottle but He is God and He tells us He’s willing to heal and I know He’s able to heal so what am I missing?

I guess I’ve heard most of the answers to my question already too. I’d be surprised if you can give me an answer I haven’t heard before (feel free to try though). I’m just putting this out there because it’s on my mind tonight. Someone gave a word this morning about keys at church (related to something different) and I feel like there’s a key somewhere to be discovered where healing is concerned. I’d love to know where it is. I’m sure I’ll keep looking because it feels like I need to find it.

Pray… but how?

The Bottom Line

The last few days I’ve been pretty hormonal. I always struggle more with feelings of depression when I’m hormonal. On the whole I think I’m doing better with that but there are always some days that are harder than others. Sometimes when I’m really struggling all I can say is ‘Jesus I need You’ over and over. That’s the bottom line for me. When everything feels too much and I can’t cope on my own I know He’s there and somehow He’ll get me through it.

In February 2018 I was reading a devotional On the YouVersion app called ‘Jesus I Need You’ by Thistlebend Ministries and came across this prayer. I saved it on my phone and I’ve read it over and over since then. I even printed it out and stuck it in my prayer journal. It’s covered in highlights and circles, underlines and outlines, hearted and triple underlined – you get the picture. Anyway I thought I’d share it here in case it’s helpful for anyone else.

JESUS I NEED YOU

Jesus, I need you! You are my Lord, my God, my King. You are worthy of all of my worship. Help me, by your grace, to know you and love you so deeply and dearly that the things of this world fade away and grow strangely dim.

I want to worship you and you alone. I don’t want to be forged by the culture. I am in you; I want to be one with you. Bind my heart to yours, and place your truth deep within me. I not only want to know you and your Word, I want to have the desire to forsake sin and follow you and your Word. Enable me to worship you in spirit and in truth.

I need your power, your grace, and your love so that no matter what life brings my way, I can respond to each situation, each person, and each trial the way you would respond—all for your glory. I don’t want to respond merely outwardly, but rather from within, from the river of living water. I want to be so close to you, Jesus, that your Spirit flows forth from me in all I do and say. May I find all of my joy in you.

May I glorify you in all I say and do. (Psalm 42:1-2a; Galatians 2:20)

No matter where I am, what I am doing, what Scripture I am reading, or what song I am singing, I want my mind, my energies, and my heart focused on you and not on me and my circumstances. I want you and you alone.

No matter if I succeed or fail, win or lose, am rich or poor, am included or excluded, am known or forgotten, may I be content knowing that you are mine and I am yours.

May my chief aim be to love you and be loved by you, to please you and serve you. Help me to see my sin, mourn it, and forsake it, by your grace. Help me hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Lord Jesus, grant me your grace, your mercy, and your lovingkindness to enable me to see you, know you, love you, and be one with you. Thank you that your Word tells me if we ask anything in your name and according to your will that you will do it. Amen. (John 14:13-14)

Prayer of Dedication

I just wanted to share this here this morning. I didn’t write this prayer, it’s one I came across in a devotional I read about 4 years ago but it’s one I go back to fairly often and pray again. Maybe it will bless someone else?

Prayer of Dedication

God, today I dedicate my mind to you. I want to think on things that are good, right, pure, and excellent. I want to take captive any thoughts that aren’t from you. I want to remember your past faithfulness when I am tempted to doubt.

Today, I dedicate my eyes to you. I want to see others the way you see them. I want to view my circumstances through the lens of hope and faith. I want to look at life as one who is confident that you are with me. 

Today, I dedicate my ears to you. I want to hear your voice above all the others clamoring for my attention. I want to listen to you and to honor others by listening well to them.  

Today, I dedicate my mouth to you. I want my words to be life-giving. I want to speak honestly and sincerely. I want to think before I speak. I want to let others have the last word.

Today, I dedicate my heart to you. I want my heart to be pure and undivided. I want to master my emotions, not serve them. I want my dreams and desires to please you.

Today, I dedicate my hands to you. I want to work hard at whatever I put my hands to. I want to touch others in love and goodwill. I want my hands to be open for whatever you want to give me and willing to release anything you want me to surrender.

Today, I dedicate my feet to you. I want to go wherever you send me. I want to walk toward the messes, not run from them. I want to stand firmly upon the truth and not stumble.

The most important relationship I have deserves my greatest expression of worship: a dedicated life.

Elaine Scott
Browns Bridge Church