Treasure hunter

treasure hunter

There was once a man who went hunting for treasure. He went all over the land searching. His metal detector swept fields and beaches, hills and valleys. The man found enough to keep his interest up, and to make it possible to continue his quest. He never found ‘the big one.’ He knew deep down inside that there was such a treasure. He was determined to keep looking until he found it.

As the years passed there was never a find that meant he could stop searching, pack away his metal detector, and retire. And so, he kept searching. His resolve never wavered, each day, he got up and started searching again.

One day, the man started scanning a field he had never been to before. As he approached the middle of the field the metal detector began to beep persistently. Taking his trusty trowel the man began to dig. After a short time, the trowel struck metal. Clearing furiously, it became quickly apparent that there was a huge chest. Excitement began to build, and, convinced that this was it, this was the treasure he had been searching for, he covered it up and ran off to find the owner of the field. The owner was prepared to sell but wanted a fair price for it. Checking his savings account, pockets of all his old jackets and down the back of the sofa cushions the man didn’t have enough.

So convinced that he had found the last treasure he would ever need to look for, the man went to eBay and sold everything he had. The metal detector and trowel sold well and gave the man enough to buy the field.

As I grew up, I lived off the benefit of the treasure that my parents had found. They had given up everything to pursue that treasure, and followed it (Him) wherever it led, even if that meant uprooting and travelling to other side of the world. As I got older, I realised that I needed to find my own treasure. I looked for it in a number of different places, never really finding anything that gave me the assurance that I had found “IT”.

After lots of searching I found that the field with my treasure had been nearby all along. It was almost as if there was a signpost, giving me directions. Once I started to dig in this field, I realised that there was much more to the treasure than I had hoped for. As I read the guide book contained in the treasure chest I found that it wasn’t just a book of stories from long ago. The truths spoke deep into my heart, and I found that giving all I had to have the further treasure contained within was a price that I would never regret paying.

There have been points along the journey that have made me wonder if I have read the instructions correctly. Matthew 10:5-8 seems clear that with my treasure I should preach the Kingdom of heaven, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and raise the dead. Whilst I’ve seen some of this happen, there are some obvious gaps. My success rate is far from 100%. When I compare my story to the success rate of that of the treasure, it would be very easy to become discouraged, to perhaps question whether the treasure found was sufficient to keep me. It would be easy to perhaps look for treasure in a different field, not to have instead, but to add to the treasure already found.

Why are some healed and some not? This question will be asked as long as there is sickness and disease. How can a God, who can do anything sometimes choose not to do something that seems so obvious to us. When we read of Jesus healing people, it is always recorded as being because He had compassion on the person needing the healing.  If we are to trust a God who heals because He has compassion on mankind, how do we rationalise the fact that at times when we need compassion, when we need God to step in does He appear not to?

I believe the heart of the Father is that we do not suffer sickness, disease and death. Descriptions of life in the Garden before the fall, what we read about heaven, and the fact that Jesus healed ALL who came to Him, points to that fact. We have been tasked with bringing heaven to earth. As “little Christs”, our mission is the same as that of Christs. We are to show the world the Fathers heart. His heart is that of compassions, healing and love.

Since the fall, that mission has met with opposition. The kingdom of darkness is trying to thwart the revelation of the Kingdom of heaven. As time goes on, chinks of light are breaking through. Heaven is coming. It won’t be long until the breakthrough is complete, but until it does, our task is to press on, each prayer weakening the enemy. It can get frustrating. It sometimes feels like nothing will penetrate the armour, but persistence is the key. We press on, utterly convinced the treasure will bring victory.

Because we have assurance in the ultimate victory, and that God continues to be God throughout, the things that we don’t understand can be safely left in His hands. What we see as failure, He somehow, miraculously fashions into good. The problem we have is that the “good” that is promised may not be visible to us. We may never see the good that God has fashioned from the hurt and pain that we go through.

Why the prayers of Saints across the globe did not heal mum I will probably never know this side of eternity. This I do know though and am completely convinced of – God IS Good. God HAS a Plan. God IS Love (and He loves ME). I am not God, and my life begins to fall apart when I forget this and try to live like I am.

God is the treasure that I have found in my field. He tells me to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and raise the dead. I will keep pressing in to Him until all of that becomes a reality in my life. I’ve sold all I have for this. This is it.

I pray that this Christmas, you too will find the treasure whose birth we celebrate at this time of year. That when you find it, you will look into His eyes and be convinced, as I am, that it is worth everything.  I can assure you, there will be no regret.

” The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. ” (Matthew 13:44)

Winter sun

sun-through-trees-0385

Walking to church early Sunday morning, the sun was blinding. It didn’t seem to matter where I looked, it was in my eyes. It is curious that during the winter we complain that we would like to see the sun more often, yet when it does make an appearance it isn’t there for long, there is no warmth in it, and it sometimes makes it difficult to see things clearly.

Our awareness of the presence of God is often referred to in relation to the sun. Habakkuk 3:4 says “His brightness is like the sunlight, rays flashing from His hand; and there he veiled his power.”

That’s easy to get our heads round in the summer, where the sun shines, keeps us warm, and is almost always visible. It is more difficult to remember that He is there in winter. Particularly at this time of year, the passage from Isaiah comes to mind “The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.”

I’m told that the reason for the sun appearing lower in the sky is due to the tilt of the earth. The sun is actually closer to the earth, yet we feel further away from it. It would be quite easy for this to be an accurate metaphor for life at the moment. I see the sun shining and expect to feel warm. Instead, the way ahead doesn’t seem as clear as it once did, and there is a cold bite to the air. Mum has gone, and somehow “feeling festive” seems wrong. There is an emptiness that a turkey dinner and mince pie simply won’t fill. Where is God in all this? Where was He when I needed Him?

The fact is, He was and continues to be, right there beside me. In fact, right when I need Him most, He draws close. The warmth I feel isn’t from the sun shine, but from being held tight against His chest, arms around me, holding tight. The security that this brings is so tangible. I am safe and protected. There is something about hugs like this. Not only do they make the ‘huggee’ feel safe, they also confer a deep love. I feel loved by God, and whilst I sometimes wonder why it was time for mum to go and see Him face to face, I have a unfathomable knowledge that I don’t need to know. All I need to know is that I am loved by the same God that loved mum, and that somehow, in the weave of eternity all this will be good.

I wonder if you have a similar feeling during the winter? As the shadows lengthen its easy to think that God has left us for a season, only to return when the season changes again. The problem with that thought is that God has promised “never to leave or forsake us.” To think that God has moved on to someone or something else simply isn’t true. It would mean Him breaking a promise, and that is something He cannot do. Yes, the visible light of His presence may have been hidden for a season, but perhaps that is because God is drawing us close. In the dark times, in the troubles, in the heartache the Father gently gathers us under his wings, like a hen gathers her chicks. When in this place of safety, it is difficult to see the sun. What we need to remember is that in these circumstances, the source of the warmth that we crave is closer than He was previously.

Take time to rest in the safety of His embrace. He is close. He loves you. He is protecting you. The time will come for you to be out in the open again, in the warmth of the sun, but for now just rest.

This Christmas, if you find yourself in the shadows, I pray that you will allow yourself to  feel the Fathers embrace and that you will allow Him to gently protect you, and bring the healing that is needed so you can emerge, empowered and ready for the next season where He has great plans for you.

 

 

Only the Brave (mascara warning)

Mr Brave

The past month has been a struggle. Trying to balance “normal” life, with the realisation that mum won’t be here for Christmas has found me tired and irritable at times. I hope and pray that you haven’t found me at my most irritable. I have been determined since mum died to try and be strong, to avoid being down for long. I’ve tried to recognise what is happening and ask Holy Spirit to do His job as comforter.

Every time I ask, He does just that.

I’m not trying to deny the grief that is there. I miss mum. I didn’t spend as much time as I wish I had with her. I didn’t talk to her as much as I should. I gave her more reasons to worry about me than was helpful. I think in the last few years I managed to make amends for the mistakes I made as a son.

The bible tells us that those who mourn will be comforted. I need that comfort as much as any one in my family at the moment. Those who have lost loved ones in the past have assured me that there is no end to that comfort. That as the days, weeks, months and years pass, although it becomes easier to function, there is no limit to the comfort that is available to us.

All we need to do is ask.

I’ve been asking a lot in the last week or so.

I believe we have a choice. We can live in the “I am sad and nothing you can say will help” camp, or we can live in the “I am sad, and the only one who can truly help is Holy Spirit, I am going to trust Him and allow Him to help me.”

So when you ask me how I am and I say “good”, I genuinely mean it. I am doing OK. The fact is that the only reason for that is that I am leaning heavily on Holy Spirit.

There is a line in a song I heard this morning (funny how many of my blogs are inspired by songs).

This one was from “Brave” by LZ7. The line was “Only the brave go where you go, into the fire, but never alone.”

God is taking me on a journey. That journey is one of increasing reliance on Him. It’s one of pressing in to the things that He has already shown me, of His goodness, of His desire to heal, of His love for me. Despite the “fire” of the circumstances I find myself in at the moment, the reason I manage to keep pushing into breakthrough is that I know I am not alone.

Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego, God is with me in the fire. I trust that although a times the flames increase the temperature a little, I will emerge unscathed and stronger knowing I have met with God in the fire.

I pray that whatever your circumstances this Christmas, that you too will lean on the Peace Provider, the Comfort Giver. That you will allow the One who truly understands to be with you in your “fire”.

 

Belinda was right (sort of)

heaven 2

In my last post, I commented on the fact that my mum was now in the presence of God. The most common way of referring to where she now is “heaven.”

Since I wrote that, I’ve had the words of a song running through my mind.

 “Hallelujah, sing like the angels do

We don’t have to wait ‘till this life is through

No separation, He has raised us up

We don’t have to wait, Heaven’s here with us.”

I remember the Belinda Carlisle song “Heaven is a place on earth.” I’m pretty sure she isn’t talking about the place that I call heaven, but it got me to thinking, how do you define Heaven? I think one of the simplest ways is to say that Heaven is where God is.

When Jesus returned to the Father, He promised to send Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit was to come and dwell in our hearts. To live inside each believer. The God who created the Universe living inside me.

If Heaven is where God is, then Heaven is alive and well within each Christian. Heaven really is a place on earth. In fact, Heaven is in nearly 2.2 billion places on earth.

Why doesn’t it feel more like what we imagine Heaven to be like? I think there are two main reasons for this. First and foremost, when Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the perfect earth, the perfect relationship that man had with his Father was broken. Sin entered the perfection that God had created, and in 2018 we continue to feel the effects of this.

The second reason is that a large percentage of Christians have no idea that they have heaven inside, them, or how to access it. I once heard someone say that “Holy Spirit is living inside of us and is desperate to get out.” That’s not to say that He doesn’t want to be there, rather that He wants to influence the world we live in. We are leaky vessels. As we empty, we can be filled. For some, we don’t wait to be emptied before refilling. It’s a constant process.  Others sadly seem to spend most of their lives trying to plug the holes so He can’t escape.

Paul tells us in Romans 8 that “creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”

If only we would let Him out, then through us, maybe the world would look a bit more like Heaven. A place where God is. Where God is welcome.

Yes, we get to go to a place that has been prepared for us, but we get to experience it now too.

I pray that this Christmas, you will find the heaven inside you, and let Him out, to influence the world around you.

(If you want to hear the song that prompted this post check out Heaven is here – Mercy Me)

Firsts

BeginningsFirsts are usually either exciting or filled with trepidation. The first day at school, or university. The first day in a new job.

In my first blog for a while, I find that I have a foot in both camp. The 1st of December heralds the first day of advent, the season we use to prepare us for Christmas. I love thinking back to that first Christmas (which I am aware didn’t happen on the 25th December), of the hope that entered the world through a baby. I enjoy reading what it might actually have been like, rather than the sanitised “nativity” that we see so much these days.

Many children, mine included will be relieved that they now have “permission” to start mentioning their excitement about Christmas for the first time this year.

Personally I have long struggled in finding a way to marry the “reason for the season” and the commercial aspect of Christmas. Without getting into a debate as to whether Christmas was originally a Christian holiday or a hijacked pagan festival, the fact is that Christians have been celebrating the birth of Jesus for centuries. I don’t have an issue with the gift aspect of course. One of my “love languages” is gifts. It’s the assumption that having the next big thing will bring happiness that is wrong in my opinion. There is only one gift that will bring true happiness.

Another first for us as a family is that this will be the first one we celebrate without my mum. It was just before Christmas last year that she told us of her diagnosis, but asked us to keep it from the grandchildren so as not to spoil Christmas for them. Mum always had others on her mind, but none more so than her 10 grandchildren and their happiness.  She was rarely happier than when they surrounded her, running around and playing.

This first Christmas without her will feel very strange. The gap she has left is huge. If not for the support of friends and family, both near and far, and the certain knowledge that we will see her again we would unquestionably be facing the future with despair and dread.

We miss her terribly. We will remember her lots. We will talk of her often. As a family we share the faith that mum had in a God who loves us, who sustains us through the tough times. We know He is with us, helping, comforting us.

Whilst this is the first Christmas we have without mum, it’s also the first Christmas Mum gets to spend in the presence of the One whose birth made it all possible. Makes me a bit jealous………..