Saturday 31 May 2014

A Witness to our Lives

My husband loves cycling and often he enjoys watching the international races and longer tours. I find the end of the races intriguing, the sprint races to the finish line, some guys crashing, others being pitifully mean to one another. I enjoy the gruelling hill top finishes and the fabulous cobble stone races which always finds Fabulous Fab winning the stage. However, more often than not, I always sit with a deep sense of sadness which draws me in to a silent place until I shake myself off after the races. With each win there is sadness. Each win brings a hype, false praise and elevation of someone who gritted it out against body and machine. Tomorrow someone else is praised for winning the stage and so on and so on. I recall the piercing words of Susan Sarandon in the movie Shall we Dance? While she is sitting in the bar talking to the greasy detective she hired to spy on her husband, he asks her “so why do people get married?” She answers “We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does anyone life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day, you're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

While romantic as this may sound, I don’t believe people feel this way about marriage, rather I believe people feel this way about other people. They want others to witness their lives, to witness their glory. That is why stage victories and short-lived wins are so dramatic; this is why when people cross that line they jeer at the crowd and camera crews. It’s for glory, it’s begging for a witness. I realised this today as I sat in my after stage race sadness because I wondered at the 7 billion lives living simultaneously on this planet right now. And I asked the question, “who is looking at our lives?” Don’t our struggles, our trials, our fights, our tears, our broken relationships and broken spirits, our days where we feel we can’t go on but we push on and in to personal victory, don’t these matter?  The resounding answer inside of my mind and heart is that they matter most of all. Stage wins on races are short-lived and while the winners are enjoying a few hours of glory, what will the rest of their lives say? How many sportsmen end up broke, unemployed, overweight with broken marriages and broken lives. This is because one moment or even 5 years of sporting fame cannot build eternal character or healthy marriages, or children who know they are loved. Moments of stage victories cannot bring healing to another, it cannot create the space for Eternal glory to shine, it cannot offer the greatest victories of all – that of God’s Grace and redemption.
I confess sometimes I get sad after these stage wins because I wonder to myself, who will be a witness to my life? What about what I have overcome and travailed through to get here today? What about the struggles and pains that no one saw or heard and what about my life when I am gone? I want my life to matter, not for glory but for God. Then the scripture God has been sharing with me over and over this week came in to my heart...
“You number and record the sojournings of my life, You place my tears in to Your Bottle, see they are even written in Your book. Your vows are upon me, O God; I will render praise to You and give You thank offerings. For You have delivered my life from death, yes, and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life and of the living.” (Psalm 56)

The truth is that God is the witness to our lives, He is the witness to every heart beat, to every hair on our head and to every song we have sung and not yet sung. He is the One closest to us,  to the world we may be a number on a social security card, to God we are His Beloved child. 

We are in a race but not one for glory or pride only to leave the broken lives of the ones we once loved behind, but we are in an eternal race against who we were yesterday and against the deceits of the enemy who stands along the track screaming lies our way. We are running ahead to meet our Beloved and to be eternally embraced by Him. We are not running for gold, or a medal which we will leave behind to tarnish but we are running ahead to live, to live eternally and contently, happily, joyfully, worshipfully in the presence of our Maker. 

What does one life mean? Asked Beverly Clark (Susan Sarandon). It means the world because Yeshua (Jesus) crossed over the great divide and left heaven to come to this wicked place called earth. He left a Throne to live among a family who were poor, He left eternity to walk in mortality, He left Worship to hear only slander and judgment against Him and He left everything because He thought you and I were enough. He is the witness to our lives and He says “child run well! Run with truth and in honour, run with strength and with honesty, with obedience and loyalty, run with all you have inside of you, run until you reach eternity. For I am the One who numbers your days, I count them all for they are precious to me, I even count your tears – how I catch everyone because they are the liquid whispers of a heart broken and sad. How precious my thoughts are towards you, you need to know that and how special you are to me for you are worth more than the birds in whom I also delight. I am the Witness to your life – now be the witness about Mine.”

I don’t need the world to know my name; I need the Creator of the world to know it. I don’t need to beat someone else to the finish; I need to help lift them up so that they can finish their own race. I don’t need a greasy medal or photo’s of victories, I just need the smiles on the faces around me of the people who truly love God with all their hearts and souls, the presence of the saints in whom is my delight. My soul breathes in deeply tonight because how I am so ever grateful that my God is the Witness to my life and His Witness is all I need, eternally.

Friday 30 May 2014

The sweet art of Doing Nothing!

Five minute Friday, my favourite place in time. Writing for five minutes on the word prompt!

Word prompt for this week: Nothing! 
How excited I am to see today’s word prompt – NOTHING! Now that’s something I can relate to and talk about. Nothing, the “dolce far neinte” – the sweet art of doing nothing in Italian. The sweet art of just living, just being, just enjoying a coffee in the coffeeshop with nothing on your mind. Reading the newspaper but not really reading because you lost in the space of nothing and what can be better. The equilibrium of the emotions just steady and beating. Nothing. How we should make time for our nothing spaces because essentially our nothing spaces are  loaded with beautiful somethings, I find that I am better at creating words, paintings, art and all that lies in between, when I am in my nothing space. Nothing for me – is a space of rest, a space of trust, a space of God. Because its not nothing, its something. A few years ago my life was so filled with so many somethings that I had to burn out to learn about the glory of nothing. I love the spaces of nothing and I love how even as my hubby sits across the table from me right now watching the Giro D’Italia cycling race, we are both in this space of nothing and it fits and works so well. We have enjoyed the nothings so many times. I am living for my muffins and coffee nothings, my creative nothings and my space of God in it all. Let’s enjoy the nothings and truly take some tips from those Giro loving Italians and lets embrace the “dolce far niente” the sweet art of doing nothing. 
Linking with Lisa Jo 

Thursday 29 May 2014

The Unclaimed Space

The unclaimed space
 While trying to think of name for this post, to aptly describe what Father is showing me, I had a picture in my mind of a wide open space. When I mean space I don’t mean a little plot or land of space, I mean SPACE! Space that was so vast, so wide, so high and so big that Mount Everest was situated in the middle of it and yet still there was a vast openness of land all around. So vast and so high is this space that it can never be fully filled, no matter how many poured in to it. The air was open and unpolluted, the grass was green and water was available in correct measurements and quantities as was required. No houses, no people and no stuffiness filled the space; it was just open and so very unbound.
I am a straight talker and I am unafraid to be outspoken and speak the truth, so let me cut to the chase.
Do you because you are a woman, not believe that you are entitled to space?
Do you not believe that you are entitled to freedom? Unbound and unblemished freedom to be who you were created to be?
Do you not believe that you were called to more than taking care of his needs?
Do you not believe that you could be gifted to bring Glory to Yeshua?
Do you not believe that Yeshua saved you to unleash you and not to tame you?
Do you not believe that the Lion of Judah can roar from within you and change a nation?
Can you not believe that Yeshua wants to lift your head high my sister and carry all those burdens? Can you not believe?
What is the space I am talking about? I am talking about a place where you are unbound by society and theology, by pain, torture and torment. For centuries women have been enslaved and theology has sought to further peg down the skirts of women, simply because the Church fathers were men who viewed women and womanhood as something evil, beyond understanding. Imagine what theology would have been like today if we had had church mothers instead, imagine! I have met and continue to meet women from all walks of life, some fabulously wealthy, others spoilt; others are saved or unsaved, poor or straightforward. Lately, I am meeting more and more women who are mothers consumed with their status of being a mom. I think motherhood is a beautiful thing, filled with sacrifices, heartache and realities that children cannot appreciate. However, when your children are grown up and flown away, what happens then? Most of these women never talk about their husbands, I often have to ask if they are married or not, their husbands just don’t feature. On the flipside, I have met women who tell me that their gifting or calling in life is simply to minister to their husbands needs so that their husbands can (and I quote) “thrive.” I am really gobsmacked and horrified and dot, dot, dot to hear this. From the Biblical text and examples, we can understand that both husband and wife are called to serve one another; this is the highest form of servant hood which models Messiah’s example.

Added to this husbands in fact have the higher calling of and I quote, “Husband love your wives as much as Yeshua loved His bride or congregation and gave His life for her!” (Ephesians 5:25)
It is beyond this musing of mine today to uncover the actual realities of the scriptures used to convince women of their subservience. The scriptures need to be studied and clarified in order to understand their make-up, however from my work with abused women and extensive research over three years of women abuse in the Church, I have discovered that women continue to see themselves as less then what they were created to be. Theology and the Church in general has largely failed women and I can say this emphatically (my words were echoed by my university professors and the statician whom I worked with on my research, they were all men and pastors). Oppression and the seemingly rose-coloured glasses that are placed over women’s eyes regarding their callings, gifting and abilities is rife and that is why I am asking you “women do you not see yourself as Yeshua sees you?” The bar that Messiah set up in His sojourn on earth was extremely high concerning women. He had female disciples (Luke 8 and John 20), He went against the cultural norm and spoke to women as equals of men (John 4) even in this interaction with a woman, His disciples were concerned and shocked that Yeshua spoke with a woman! Even his disciples battled to understand what He came to do – to set all people free. Yeshua called women in to His space so that He could redeem their space. Women needed the space Yeshua offered (and continues to offer) because from the very beginning, history attests to the mistreatment and gross hatred of women. In the Brit Chadasah (New Testament) the early believers were amazed at the teachings of Messiah and the freedom it brought them. Messiah’s teachings were completely in opposition to the “Pater Familias” set up which existed in Rome. Throughout the Roman Empire, women were viewed as commodities under the “superior head of the family who was usually the father.” The head could sell his daughter off (today we call this trafficking) or he could give her a way in marriage to a horrid man who would beat her and send her off empty handed only to make her way in society as a prostitute. Women could own nothing, save the clothes on her back. Society was harsh and in many areas of our world today, this same reality exists. Just this week a beautiful Sudanese woman who was eight months pregnant was beaten for being a Christian and even as she speaks she is still imprisoned and facing the death sentence just for being a Christian.  Another woman in Pakistan was killed because she married a man of her choice without her father’s permission. Innocent lives were taken at a campus shoot-out by a young man who blamed women for not wanting to sleep with him, this action of brutality sparked a campaign which has garnered international attention through the horror stories women worldwide are sharing about their rape, domestic violence, assault and fear just about being a woman (#Yesallwomen). In India women are gang-raped and killed and forced to marry young in Islamic countries (round the ages of 4 or 5). Yeshua came to set man free from the wickedness of sin and its snares, women have to begin to see themselves as valuable and as something more, we are here for a purpose and God wants to take us, mould us and then release us but we have to be willing!
Psalm 68: 11 “God sent forth His word and great is the army of women who proclaimed it.”
God is preparing His army to march forward and out in to the dying world with a message of Good News, interestingly enough women are the ones who call that message forth and out. Are you ready to leave it all behind and truly discover who you were called to be? There is a space waiting for the women of this world. It's a heavenly, God-ordained space, unpolluted and unfilled - its a beautiful space and I am willing to travel there, its a space of purpose, it's a space for now. Don't let it pass you by!

Wednesday 28 May 2014

On the passing of Maya Angelou

Today I learned about the sad passing of writer, poet and storyteller, Maya Angelou. I am rarely saddened when people whom I have never met before, suddenly pass away. But today I felt sadness at the loss of her beautiful words which brought such homely truth and comfort to many. Despite her words, her life echoed in so many ways and in to so many places, like the civil rights movement and fight for freedom. Today, I want to honour her memory by posting some pieces of her writings which have touched me. I must add that, before I had ever heard of Maya Angelou I had written a poem entitled "I am Woman" and "Still I will rise." Later on, I learned that she had published works by the same name, Rest in peace....

- In all the institutions I try to be present and accountable for all I do and leave undone. I know that eventually I shall have to be present and accountable n the presence of God. I do not wish to be found wanting.” 

 -  You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” 

- “A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.”  

- Let's tell the truth to people. When people ask, 'How are you?' have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avoiding you because, they, too, have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don't want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.” 

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Click the picture to read the Message!

Photo's of Inspiration Today!

I have a friend who takes the most wonderful photos and she has her own photo studio! She posted the most beautiful pictures of her new litter of Pugs and when I saw them I just got all happy about them! This was beauty for me this week, new life, new litter, new love - truly the creation reveals the beautiful invisible qualities of our awesome God. I re-post her pictures here with permission!


Monday 26 May 2014

In our trials He holds us!

Walking through the Hallway

“She walked through the great hall, peering up at the faces of the
mocking kings who had ruled before.
As she walked, her feet moved but inside she was crying, “Father do not forget about me,
I need your help and comfort to shelter me.
Let my feet walk in you and let me rise up, not in to this shadow
which I have become but let me rise up and be Esther,
boldly powerful and boldly queen.”
She felt strength move at her right and then at her left,
she remembered the words of the Psalm,
ten thousand at your right, a thousand on your other side,
but it will not come near you, you will only look on and see the annihilation of the wicked.
She kept moving forward until finally she stopped before the great hall.
She felt a hand move across and suddenly she held her head out high.
Open the doors! She cried and in she walked,
Esther, Gods chosen and Gods queen, robed in her battle gear, arrayed in the dress of Grace.”

I wrote this piece based on a beautiful image portrayed in the Talmud (the Jewish oral law) regarding Queen Esther and the fateful day where she petitioned the king to spare the lives of her people. The Talmud relates that Esther had to walk through a great big hall littered with pictures of dead Persian kings who had ruled before. While she carried the weight of her own life hanging in the balance, she also carried the weight of the lives of a people. Of course this weight was too heavy and Esther felt weakened in both body and in heart. As she walked she cried out “My God, my God why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1) and just then Father sent three angels to support her. One on her right, one on her left and finally one to lift up her head as she approached the king. This image has stayed with me and I think about it often when I am walking through my own hall of despair and danger.

In the Jewish tradition, Psalm 22 which was written by King David has also been attributed to Queen Esther. As believers we also know that our Messiah Yeshua was the ultimate Redeemer to which this Psalm refers. Tonight, I want to take a look at this image of Esther in the great hall and Psalm 22. Verses 1 through 5 say the following,
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
 But You are holy,

Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
 Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

This is the New King James translation of the following verse but I want to draw your attention to some of the original wording in Hebrew because our translations in English lose the meaning of the original words which hold significance. The Psalm begins with saying “why have you forsaken me?” however the original Hebrew actually says “Lemah instead of lamah” which means for what am I suffering? Both kind David and Queen Esther were people of faith, who tried to walk righteously, in their times of despair they wondered and asked God, why is this happening, what is happening! I have learned in my own life that this is the introspection that often takes place in life. Sometimes we try and do everything right and still there is a period of suffering, I hardly doubt Father expects us not to ask Him for answers, in fact we need to get real about how we feel too. Verse two in Hebrew says “in the night season I am silent.” I really like this verse; it has the meaning that sometimes words cannot explain the depth of the soul or the spirit when we face the darkness in our lives. Sometimes words are just not enough, in these times we go silent. Our words fall silent but in these times sometimes all we got to say is Father I have no words just hear it in my heart.

Verse 3 is a wonderful verse which can offer us much hope when we are walking in our own great halls of trial. The Hebrew says “yoshev tehillot” it means “God You are sitting in praise.” Hebrew is a physical language not an abstract language, the image of God sitting does not mean He is uninterested in you or I rather it means that He is enthroned FOREVER! No matter our present ups or downs, God remains King, His will remains steadfast, His plan for your life remains in place and nothing can move Him. This is a place of confidence, no matter our present course or trial – Yahweh is God, He will not change His mind concerning the good He is bringing for you. Let’s look at verse 15, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.” Have you ever felt so dry, so sun baked and so without moisture that you feel dehydrated spiritually? Well then you are not alone because David did, Esther did and so did many others like Job. But even like these people of God, Father never let them down – they were confused, Esther was in a place of danger, David was almost killed before he even became king and Job lost everything before he was restored. However verse 20 to 21 says “Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog. Save Me from the lion’s mouth
and from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me.” 

As Esther walked through that hallway on that day of destiny, she may not have known the outcome of her actions at that moment, she also had not up until that point, realised why she had endured the trials she had. Commentaries tell us that Esther entered the great hall of the king in her ninth year of living in the palace. Let’s get real about Esthers demise, she lived in a very dangerous place and her identity had to be continually hidden. She did not understand why and yet she had to stay hidden away from her people and from all she had known and loved before, talk about challenging. 

But before she walked in to that room she came to a place of peace within and so can we. In our present trials and challenges, we are never alone Father Yahweh will always send us help from above. NO matter where we are in our walk today, I believe that we can rest in the knowledge that, we may not understand today but in time we will and while we are on the road we know the end of the story. The end of the story says that Yeshua has the victory, He has won it for both you and for me and He will give it to you in His perfect time. Essentially, He is the King forever, the One whose will will stand, the scepter belongs to Him and He is able to lower it at anytime. Keep on going child, keep on going, He is ready to lift your head and answer your prayer, you are never alone, you have to keep on wearing your dress of grace and know that where you end that’s where He begins.... Esther did not understand why she had to suffer for 9 years before finally her purpose was revealed. David waited over twenty years before he became king, but it happened because Father had a plan. Keep going, He is not finished with you yet!