Hello Beloved One. How are you?
The Come Closer team have been ‘zooming’ together and will be sending short encouragements in the weeks ahead, which we pray will strengthen you at this time. We’ll use our website, Facebook group and Instagram page. If you have ideas of how we can help, let us know.
By God’s design, in January, the Come Closer team pre-planned that April/May would focus on prayer. We now see even more importance in this. To pray boldly and to take up the shield of faith we have been given In Christ Jesus (Eph 6), which extinguishes the fiery arrows of the enemy. To stand together and pray for our country, government, key workers, one another and all the many situations faced. Be in no doubt, God hears ours prayers (1 Jn 5:14), as we humbly come to him.
This week the age old song ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ came to mind. It’s a song that my grandmother loved. A song I even learned to play on the organ (aged 14!) along with the James Bond theme (can you even imagine (no judging!)). My grandmother was steadfast in praying (growing up I recall watching her). She knew Jesus as her closest friend, and diligently prayed for her family. I have always envisioned prayer to be like arrows that are drawn and released into situations both current and into the future, even to the generations to come. I believe this of my grandmother. Her active warrior prayers for the generations to come are seen today. She became a Christian through her neighbour, and this changed the course of my mother’s life. This in turn then has changed the generations to come. Prayer is powerful. Reading the song lyrics of ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ reawakened my heart to what I know within. Do you know the song?
(Paul Baloche does a great version).
What a relief to know that Jesus is our friend. What a resting place to know He is waiting for me to bring those things I’m carrying. Jesus is Here. We don’t need to continually carry the weight of what we face.
How much energy, time and pain does it take before we go to The One who is able to do what we cannot. Like silt that swells around in a water filled container, before it is still long enough to settle to the bottom, our souls can feel like they are whirling in the midst of uncertainty. But, Colossians 1 reminds us that IN HIM all things hold together. Let me say that again. In Him, all things all together. He is the one who sees all, hears all and knows all. It is IN HIM we have strength for each day.
Let me introduce you to our Honey, who is our bright, warm and funny 2 year old Labrador. The past few weeks she has been in her element in the sunshine. She loves being in the garden. Laid out on the cool grass (particularly with a carrot) is one of her happy places. But, one thing that Honey really loves is chewing wood. It’s irresistible to her (along with stealing discarded socks). For a dog who is well behaved most of the time, it’s something she struggles to stop. She regularly turns her attention to pruning our trees and bushes, much to our displeasure! A few weeks back she got carried away and proceeded to find some dry wood. Unfortunately, a piece of twig got stuck on the two sides of mouth, between her teeth. Rather than allow us to help her, she bounded around the garden, desperately trying to get it out and getting distressed, as of course it was jammed and must have hurt. When we tried to help, she bounded away, unsure what to do. Eventually, she allowed David to hold her close and remove the source of the problem and bring comfort. Sorted. However, a while later, she got into the same predicament, and the pattern continued, each time with David needing to intervene. However, what we noticed is Honey became quicker to allow David to hold her and remove the problem. I’d love to tell you she’s stopped doing this, but occasionally it still happens.
Oh how that reminds me of myself. I find myself weighed down with many things, struggling to understand, hurting, wondering what my response should be, wanting to draw close to God, but not being still enough to actually do so. As sheep who are not designed to carry burdens, we roll our cares to our shepherd (Psalm 23).
In the middle of February I had major surgery, which I’ve been recovering from. At Come Closer in January the women prayed for me. Although the surgery was more complex than expected, it went well. God positioned a skilled surgeon and team who took care of me, and He never left me. As I went into the period of forced time at home to heal, I knew there was a daily choice ahead. Would I endure it with gritted teeth and frustration, or could this be a time when God could do something only He can? 4 weeks after the operation, the UK government announced the lockdown, but the choice still remains. This is a strange and bewildering time in the life of our country, and has been challenging for each for us, in so many ways. It is a time of unprecedented change where new circumstances abound around each corner. But God is amongst His people and He is ALWAYS at work.
This past 9 weeks have been a time of continually learning and adapting. A time to be gentle with ourselves and reduce those inner expectations. A time to remember we are jars of clay, and it is Christ within who gives strength. A time to hold that His grace is sufficient. It’s a time to be quick to forgive, say sorry, and be a thermostat in our homes that demonstrates grace. A time of higher alertness to the Holy Spirit and His counsel as He leads us in Truth. A time to ask “What’s next God?”. A time to silently come before Him and wait. A time to remember He is our firm foundation as we fix our eyes on Him (Isaiah 26:3-4). A time to worship Him, and be the light He has called you to be. A time to put on our God gifted spiritual armour, guard our hearts and minds, and be strong in Christ Jesus. A time to remember your security, significance and identity are all found In Him (Eph 1, Col 1).
Be assured today that nothing is hidden from God (Daniel 2:20-22). He is sovereign and yet accessible. He is above all and yet is right with you now. He is the saviour of the world, and yet your friend like no other. God sees all. He Holds all. He sees you. He knows you.
Jesus invites you today to come to Him. Come to that sacred space available to you today and be still as He gives you rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Let Him teach you the unforced rhythms of His grace today as you spend time with Him. It is there you find life. There you can intercede for others. There you can pour our your heart. There you can be silent. There you can come as you are. Simply come to Jesus, what a friend He is. You’ll be changed as you do.