Slowing down. (Learning to be at peace)

We all see life changing now. Places that used to be full of life, now empty and dark. The people we love kept at a distance because we want to protect them. Even the everyday rhythm of life, has halted. The rushed rhythm has now become slow and quiet. We see the news filled with new measures on how to protect us, while reminding us of the lives that have been lost to the Coronavirus. The news is a mix of greed and disappointment, dashed with the reminder of the goodness and love of people that are going the extra mile. Emotions are everywhere, as plans have quickly come to nothing. We miss connection and basic socialisation.  The messages sent to friends remind us of how loved we are but how distanced we are. We all try to find our rhythm again; try to find how we use our time. Maybe, instead of trying to fill our time with loads of activity to keep our minds off everything happening. It truly is a time to slow down.

Slowing down, is certainly something we are not very used to. Some of us may argue, I always use one day to rest. However, I am sure, like me, your mind is normally racing ahead with all the things that are to come next. Many us love to have a proactive and a productive life. We love to constantly be doing something and we want to know what is coming next. The past few days have shown us, that we do not know what will come next. Speaking from the perspective of living in the UK, everything is closing or is closed. Our government is bringing in new measures daily, to stop the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. It means that life as we know it, has come to a halt.

While we can look on this situation negatively, I do pray that we would not lose our hope. That we would be people who constantly lift each other up in prayer and surround each other in love. Even through a phone call or a message. I hope that when we see plans having to be cancelled or rearranged, that we would not be angry or frustrated for long. That we would always know, life is more than all things that we grasp at. It is about learning to be present and intentional with the day that we have. I hope you take time to slow down. To prioritise what is important and to let go of what can wait. I hope that you will do some of the things that you are passionate about, that you have left neglected as the rush of life took over. I hope that even when everything may make you anxious, that you will be encountered by peace and rest. Knowing that, there are things that you can control but most of life you cannot. That is okay, because we will all learn to walk through life one step at a time.

May we all be encouraged that the faithfulness of God is and always will be present through it all. We all know someone or an organisation that is going the extra mile, to make sure people do not go without. We can think of the men and women who work tirelessly in hospitals and medical centres, to care and help those who are suffering not only with the Coronavirus but the many other ailments of life. We think of the many scientists, etc who are working so hard to find a cure to this. Knowing it will be a long process. May we remember to lift all this in prayer, with thankfulness and gratitude for the people who work in these fields. Praying that they will be met with strength and rest as they need it. May we all pray especially for our governments, we are all so quick to criticise. May we pray that the voices of wisdom and truth would be the loudest in their hearts and minds; that they would make decisions to support and strengthen our countries even in this time and in the future. Prayer is vital.

For many of us it may and is a time to reconnect with the Lord. To spend some intentional time praying and meditating on his word. To soak and rest in his presence, to be at peace not rushing away. For many of us we quickly become depleted because we run on empty, giving out so much of ourselves to the people around us and our workplace. We do not allow ourselves to be filled with the living water that we desperately need. In Mark 6, we see the Lord caring for the disciples needs even when he could see that there was still more work that needed to be done. (6v31-32) ‘Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.’ If you continue reading the passage you do see the crowd runs ahead to meet them before they are even docked. However, Jesus does care about who we are and about our needs. He loves us and wants us to spend time with him. If you know that you have been running on empty for so long and you need to be in his presence. I pray that you would use this time for that and build it into something that is so necessary for your life. That when the rush of life starts to come again, you know to come first and foremost to the feet of Jesus. It is important as churches close now, that we allow ourselves to be ministered to. That we keep in contact with friends and church community. Making time to worship and listen to sermons. There is so much online, may we not allow our faith to grow dim.

Lastly, may you not feel guilty for resting. Catch up with the TV shows or films that you have been wanting to watch for a while. Read the books that have been getting dusty on your shelves. Make and create what you have been longing for the time to do. Eat good food and care for you needs. Keep loving those around you and allow time to not rush you anymore. Allow yourself to breathe, to be at peace. Let everything take its time.

1 Corinthians 13v13 ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’

I’m finally learning to rest my body and my mind in loving and peaceful ways. I’m learning that it matters.’ (Shauna Niequist)

May you know that you are loved and cherished and prayed for. God bless, Victoria. xx

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Journeys in the valley. (Supporting one another)

‘When Jesus saw their faith, he said. ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.”’ (Luke 5v20)

The idea for this blog came to me, as I was lying in bed last night. I was about to fall to sleep, when my mind began being filled with all these thoughts about the account of the paralysed man. I was tired, I was ready to fall asleep, but I was prompted to write down what was being put into my mind. I am thankful I did because this is truly such a beautiful and timely topic to write about. Let us focus on the account of the paralysed man and the lessons of faith that can be applied to our own lives. I feel like as the world becomes more isolated now, due to the alarming spread of coronavirus.  We need to remember to support and encourage one another. I am made more and more aware of our brothers and sisters who struggle with mental health, this is not a matter of shame or guilt. There has been a real tug on my heart, for prayer and intention in dealing with this topic because I know how deeply it affects people. Our faith is not for our own personal gain; I believe the Lord uses it to reach out and bring others to him. That is something we should focus on, reaching out to those around us.

‘Some men came carrying a paralysed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. (v18-19)

One aspect of the story I was reminded of and it left me in awe; was how, the roof could not even stop the friends from bringing their friend to the feet of Jesus. They saw no limitations to getting their friend there, they were carrying him to the best hope that they knew at that moment.

Their friend’s life was utterly transformed. Within that situation the paralysed man was truly helpless, he allowed his friends to take hold of all that he was and guide him to a man they had placed their hope and trust in. The Lord knew their hearts, knew where their hope had been placed. It states ‘When Jesus saw their faith’, their determination and faith was acknowledged and then he says to the paralysed man that his sins are forgiven.

The paralysed man had to have some faith and trust, to get himself up and walk away from all that had happened. (v25) ‘Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.’ A story that began with this man being in such a helpless situation led to his freedom and transformation of life. He had witnessed the man who had forgiven his sins being challenged by the Pharisees and the teachers, attempting to limit his authority. In the man getting up, it was true testimony not only for his life but for the crowd who surrounded him. For the miracle led to them all praising God. (V26)‘Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” The faith of the friends led to a renewal of faith for many.

On many occasions we are called to be like the friends of the paralysed man, to carry one another through it all. For many of us we know loved ones or people we are close too, who are suffering a lot. They do feel very helpless within their situation, that there is very little they can do to help themselves. I think when we are made aware of those people in our lives, it is a call that we need to step in and support them. That does not mean that we have to fix all their problems, if you look at the friends, they brought someone they loved straight to the feet of Jesus. I cannot remember if I read this or heard it in a sermon, we must remember that we are not God we cannot fix the life of others. We can help and minister in many beautiful ways, at the end of the day it all must be surrendered to God and God will do what God does best.

One important factor is we need to remember to communicate with people. Even when people are not as willing to communicate with us, it is important that we make them feel acknowledged and seen. Regarding the paralysed man, he would have been an outcast from society. However, his friends saw his worth and life and carried him through it all. That is an important reminder for us all. In a world where we are called to look out for ourselves, we need to remember that there is so much more to our lives. When we live for our own gain, we will always miss out on opportunities to see God moving in people’s lives. Take time to love those who are suffering and be intentional, don’t do it just to feel good about yourself but do it because you believe that God is moving within that situation.

Sometimes we need to carry people. One important reminder from the account is, it was not just one man who carried his friend to the feet of Jesus. It states in the account that some men, carried him. That is beautiful how so much can be accomplished together. For one person, it would have been too much of a load to carry on their own. They were able to accomplish so much, when they saw they could not find a way in by the most convenient way; they were able to work together to lower him through the roof and right into the place he needed to be. In supporting one another through life, it needs to be a collective effort and this is emphasised throughout the New Testament letters.

1 Thessalonians 5v11 ‘Therefore encourage on another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

2 Corinthians 1v3-4 ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Sometimes we need to get down in the valley with people, just walk with them with the hope that has been renewed in us. I love these verses from Corinthians because it shows the beauty of God. On many occasions God has comforted me, and I have later been able to share that comfort with someone else that has been suffering. All the glory comes back to God. God made us and he made us capable of loving and serving one another. We learn compassion because he is the Father or compassion and comfort. There is such a beauty in the unity.

Lastly, let us not lose hope. For some people their battle in the valley will be a long one. There may be many barriers and obstacles, that they need to overcome themselves. Sometimes, we are called to be light and hope within that situation. Simply knowing that somewhere is there, is enough to allow them to keep moving forwards. Other times, we may need to carry people for a while. To be more sacrificial with our time, it may even be like the scene from Lord of the Rings when Sam carries Frodo on his back. We need to move forwards together. I truly believe that the Lord will equip us with all we need, as we support and love one another.

Let us not let the world overwhelm each other. For God is far more mightier than everything and anything we will ever face here.

John 16v33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

May you have a blessed week. I have a new blog series beginning in April looking at living in the promises of God, which I am currently working on. We will be looking at the life of David and the promises that God makes throughout the Bible. Until then I have other blogs planned for March. I pray that you will continue to support and encourage those around you. Also, to allow yourself to be supported and encouraged. You are deeply loved and cherished.

God Bless, Victoria

 

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