"Remember, the wilderness is a holy place, it's where you'll meet God" - Fr Robert, St. Martin's Church
“Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; ’Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.” - John Newton
Hello my friends,
Can you relate to the quote or hymn verse above?
I do not like discomfort. I think as a people we're ever trying to inch towards greater comfort, away from pain, inconvenience, suffering, hardship, loneliness, fear, all the icky stuff. Yet it has been in the hard places of my life that I've felt a greater reality of God's grace. These 'dangers, toils and snares' have been the spiritual gym equipment by which faith was strengthened.
My struggles have given me confidence moving forward to know God is with me. They've given me an experiential journal to reflect back on in new seasons of testing, believing he'll carry me through once again.
Jesus was led into the most arid, dry, lifeless place, by the Holy Spirit. There was absolutely nothing to sustain him. Death seemed close. Some of you have stepped out recently and are wondering if God has brought you there to kill you.
"Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness . . .
I remember one time when I was travelling with my music. Despite lingering anxiety attacks I'd committed to a service in Toowoomba, Queensland, that's Down Under in case you're wondering. I was staying in a host family's home the night before and sat alone in my room going over the set for the next day. The cold grip of panic began to tighten around my throat before sitting on my chest. I felt like a cornered rat with a knife looming overhead. "Are you trying to kill me!" I cried out, tremors ran through my body, "Yes", came the short reply. Scripture bubbled up inside me as I sat with my bible open;
"Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."
2 Cor 12: 8-10 The Message
I actually laughed out loud, "Bring the knife then Lord, let it happen and set me free from myself". It had never occurred to me to actually welcome and embrace weakness, because well, its weak. But in trying to be strong in my own will and muscle I was limiting what God could do in and through me.
Surely I had been led here by God, to this little bed where I huddled in the corner, weak and afraid. But God was with me, strengthening me to hardship and, I would come out of this in power.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit"
What awaits us on the other side of a test is power.
So friends, can I encourage you today to lean in to the season that feels so hostile, so uncomfortable. You will see God there.
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