Nine Tips for Holding Steady Through the Crazy Times

I’ve just reached the end of a pretty crazy term. My husband started studying (two courses simultaneously), I picked up a few extra hours at work and, on top of that, had an important deadline to meet for some writing submissions (I have appointments with a couple of publishers at a writer’s conference in a few weeks). And it was the winter term at school, when fatigue was high and illness common. Despite all that, I’ve reached the end of term healthy, happy and (mostly) at peace. Finally, it seems, I’m learning to be more strategic in the hectic times.

Here are my nine top tips. I hope you find them helpful.

  1. Remember Your Creator

Make time to still your heart in God’s presence—daily. Remind yourself He is the only source of life and hope. Worship, give thanks, feed on His Word and listen to His whisper. He knows all your day will hold and wants to show you His way through.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:1-2.

  1. Remember Who You Are

You are a child of God, created for a purpose. If you’re putting Him first and seeking His direction, every season you pass through—even the crazy-hectic ones—are being worked together to equip you for what He has ahead. You can be confident He will  work even the hardest of times for your good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

  1. Prioritise

Cut back on the extras. Weigh up your options carefully. What are your most important relationships? The crucial activities that can’t be compromised? Consider putting aside surplus involvements for a while, so you don’t run yourself dry. God’s priorities come with firm conviction and peace. ‘Extras’ push us into stress and striving.

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the ones who delight in Him; though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord upholds them with His hand.” Psalm 37:23

  1. Nourish Your Body

Eat food that makes you feel well and gives you lasting energy—physical and mental. Do some form of exercise that you enjoy and get those happy endorphins flowing. And put yourself to bed early when you can. A good sleep makes everything look brighter.

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for while they sleep He provides for those He loves.” Psalm 127:2

5. Slow Your Mind

Put your tasks and technology aside, turn off the background noise, look around you and breathe. Spend time outdoors. Drink in the beauty of nature. Quiet your heart and savour stillness. Just slow down—even for a moment.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3a

 

  1. Embrace the Sabbath

Right from the beginning God planned weekly rest days for our good. Try to set aside a whole day where you put aside the usual busyness, refocus (see point 1) and do something that refreshes you. As we recreate, we are re-created ready for the week that follows.

“For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord.” Exodus 31:15a

  1. Be Creative

If you have the desire, make something beautiful or purposeful—take some photos, pot a plant, compose some music, transform a piece of furniture. As God’s image-bearers, each of us has some inherent form of creativity. Perhaps the joy we feel when we create something special is because we’re reflecting our creator.

“God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27a

  1. Be Spontaneous

Those busy seasons can become very monotonous, as they are for the mouse in the wheel. Try to be a little bit spontaneous and break out when you have opportunity. For my husband and I, that meant a last-minute dash to the cinema to watch a light-hearted movie on a day that was looking very task-focused. Good fun!

“See! The winter is past . . . Flowers appear on the earth . . . Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Songs 2:11-13

  1. Communicate

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your limits and accept help. Even if there are tasks you see as your responsibility, if you’re under the pump and someone is offering a hand, say yes! This doesn’t make you a failure, rather it grows you in humility and gratitude. There are sure to be times when you can pick up the slack for someone else when they’re under pressure. It’s all part of being a body.

“Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27.

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Photo credit for sunset trio to Laura Eastley.

 

I Am Not Enough . . . and That’s Okay

I have to be honest. I’ve got a bee in my bonnet—a niggling thought that won’t leave me alone until I deal with it. There’s a phrase that’s been popping up in my world more and more often of late and every time I see it I find myself reacting, much as I would if a nasty insect was buzzing around my head.

“You are enough.”

That’s it. Just three little words.

I understand the sentiment behind them, the compassionate heart that motivated their creation. People need hope. Particularly those who are in a dark place. But I’m not sure those words offer the hope we really need.

Because every time I read them, all I see is the reality that I’m not enough.

I don’t have what’s required to love my family well, to keep my household running smoothly, to juggle the many balls I tend to gather in my enthusiastic moments. I don’t have the patience to work with high school students in all their moods. I lack the skills to write a book, the perseverance to complete it and the courage to place it in other people’s hands. Sometimes I have a strong urge to run from people who need a listening ear, even when I care deeply about them. Often, I find myself feeling overwhelmed.

I am far from enough.

But that’s okay.

Because I know I was never meant to find all life’s answers within myself.

Sure, I have talents and strengths. So do you. But we’re still human. Finite. Limited. No matter how much we talk ourselves up, most of us reach a point where we realise we don’t have what it takes to continue. For some, this happens at the point of death. For others, reality smacks us in the face on a regular basis.

This is not cause for despair, though. In fact, it’s liberating. When we admit we are ‘not enough’ we take the first step towards a life that surpasses anything we could accomplish ourselves.

I used to be one who was terrified of risk. I kept my perfect little world in order and did my best not to divert from the course I had planned. Meanwhile, God had a twinkle in His eye, knowing His dream for me was going to stretch me far beyond my natural limits.

In our modern culture there’s a tendency to think we need to be strong—capable, independent, able to manage whatever we face with confidence. But, in reality, dependence is the place of power.

Not ‘enough-ness’. Dependence.

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Jesus modelled this when He walked the earth. Even though He was the Son of God, He spoke of His complete reliance on His Father. Without that relationship with His dad, He could not fulfil His purpose.

“I and the Father are one,” ( Jn 10:30) He said. “I can only do what I see the Father doing.” (Jn 5:19)  And look what He did! People’s lives were transformed just by being in His presence.

He beckons us to follow Him, to give up our need for control and surrender our limited selves into His hands, His plan. If we’re willing to let go of our self-focus and embed our hope firmly in His ‘enough-ness’, our inadequacies are dealt with and we are imbued with supernatural strength. That’s when life begins to develop new dimensions.

We notice our steps being guided by a divine hand. Words of insight drop into our minds at just the right time. When confronted with a difficult person, we find love and understanding swelling in our chests rather than anxiety and judgement. People find healing and release through our prayers. We go places we’d never dared and do things we never dreamed possible—all because of His presence with us.

The life of dependence is a life of wonder. Challenge, yes. Risk, yes. But wonder just the same.

Sometimes our gaze drifts back onto ourselves and the struggle of life. We lose sight of the hope He offers and find ourselves slipping. Always He’s there, ready to set us back on course as soon as we reach out and fill us with all that we need. His supply, unlike our limited resources, never runs dry. 

Jesus is not only enough. He is more than enough.

I’d rather find hope in Him than in myself any day. How about you?

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 New English Translation Bible

 

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Hemmed In

The wording in the email was very matter-of-fact. “Please be aware that the average time for interstate deliveries is ten to fourteen days.”

“Oh.” We hadn’t expected that. I’d figured our gear would leave Tassie one day and arrive in Sydney within the week. We’d have a few days to unwind at my parents’ home before it was time to start setting up our own. Perfect.

That wasn’t to be. First of all, the house we were going to rent wouldn’t be available for five days after our arrival. Then there was the delivery setback. My husband and I talked through our options and came up with a brilliant solution. “We’ll buy a van, load up our essentials, stay at Mum and Dad’s for a few extra days then ‘camp’ at the house for a couple of weeks. It’ll be fine. We’ll live simply – a bit like being on holidays.”

So that’s what we did. We bought a van, loaded as much as we could squeeze into it and made our merry way up to Sydney, confident all would be well. Five days later we moved into our rental house, ready to make do with our limited supplies.

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Two weeks passed without any word from the movers. On phoning, we discovered our boxes wouldn’t leave Tasmania until the company had another consignment destined for the same location. In other words they needed someone else’s gear to fill the remaining space in the container before sending it across Bass Strait.

At that point they had no such order.

We’d been savouring the chance to relax before the major unpack but doing without was becoming difficult. What about the games we liked to play in the holidays? The books we were planning to read? Our important documents? And what about the everyday items – the cake tins, sewing supplies, the furnishings that make a place feel like home? I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has asked where a particular item is, only to be told, “Sorry, it’s packed.”

That wasn’t all.

There was also the issue of the car – or lack of it. We’d sold our sedans before moving and planned to buy a new one in our first few days in Sydney. It sounded so simple. But nothing we tried seemed to work. My husband trawled the internet for hours, searching for the perfect family sedan. Some sellers responded to his initial questions then failed to follow through. Others never replied. Finally he found a good deal and keen seller. It took a while to settle on a date to meet. Then the day before our planned meeting the car’s windscreen was hit by a stone . . . and cracked. On meeting day the engine started making strange, grinding noises.

“I’ll get it sorted as quickly as I can and let you know how it goes,” the owner said.

“Okay.” We agreed to wait. The car was just right for us and would be fine once those repairs were done. Surely that wouldn’t take long. Surely. We hadn’t considered that it was December 26th, midway through the prime week that Aussie tradesmen lay down their tools and head for the beach.

One week stretched into two and we battled on using our two-seater van and borrowing our son’s car when we could. For a little while we had the use of a kind relative’s dual cab ute. Many days were spent bored and restless at home, longing for the freedom to come and go as we pleased. But we were powerless to change the situation.

Challenging? Yes.

And there was more.

The night before we left Tasmania I developed a cough, an irritation which grew deeper and more aggressive despite my efforts to fight it. Right in the midst of our other battles, that cough had me wafting, dazed, between choking fits through the day, avoiding close contact with people and waking every hour through the night. I struggled through three weeks without relief before we discovered it was a serious illness that could keep me coughing for up to three months. Thankfully, I’m no longer contagious and have managed to reduce the symptoms a little. Still it’s cast a shadow over my days, making me cautious about what I eat, where I go and how much I do – yet another challenge to endure.

Sometimes it’s been almost funny to reflect on all the obstacles we’ve been facing. Almost. It seems absurd that we have to wade through the same kind of waiting process in so many areas. Didn’t we do enough waiting last year as we sought God’s direction for this move? Wasn’t it time for everything to fall into place now? We’d followed His instructions and left our former lives behind. Didn’t He know we needed these things – our boxes, a car, my health – to be able to enter into the new life He has for us here?

Many times as I sat quiet with God, those questions echoed from my heart to His.

Why God? Why does it have to be so hard?

Every time, His response was the same.

Trust Me. I’ve got you. I’m working for your good – in the waiting.

He’s got us firmly in His grip. He’s working for our good – right now. In the waiting. Not in spite of it, but through it.

One particularly difficult day he whispered the words of Job 23:10 to my heart.

“But He knows the way that I take;

when He has tested me,

I will come forth as gold.”

God knows what we’re going through. He knows. He is fully aware there is testing in the waiting. He knows how painful it is, the intensity of the fire, how much we wish this process would just end! But He loves us – too much to let us escape the flame early. Like a master craftsman patiently watching over the precious metal He’s refining, He is purifying our hearts, sifting our motives, shaping us into the people He knows we need to be for what’s ahead.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

His word brought comfort. He would bring us through.

He also gave me a promise:

As you choose to wait and trust and yield and endure, you will know Me bringing you forth – purified, quiet of heart, confident in My sufficiency. So sit tight, continue to fix your hope on My goodness and watch for My release and provision…

Wait. Trust. Yield. Endure.

And you will be pure. Quiet. Confident.

Hmm. It’s not easy to ‘sit tight’ when we’re in the fire. We wriggle and squirm, trying frantically to figure out a way of escape. But if we’ll just stop fighting and fix our eyes on the Master craftsman then at the right time – His time – release will come.

And the end result – the purity and strength He produces in us – will make us thankful for the process, despite the pain.

What Really Matters – Really?

Several weeks ago I perched on a stool in our driveway, watching people come and go from our garage sale. Some glided through in a steady loop, their eyes running quickly over our wares as they looked for that one particular item. Some tried to haggle, at times offering ridiculously low amounts in the hope of getting a bargain. Others lingered, asking us our story, telling us theirs. A few asked for cuttings from some of our shrubs and passed on gardening tips in exchange.

Many visitors left with arms laden with ‘treasures’– items that were useful to them and rich in history for us. There were plants I’d lovingly nurtured, hefty bookshelves that had called us to delve into yet another of the stories they displayed, worn camping gear, garden tools, children’s clothing and baby toys.

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So many possessions walked down our driveway that day – yet I felt no sorrow. Those things had been useful to us but parting with them wasn’t painful. They were only ‘things’, after all. It was the experiences, the people we connected with them that gave them value.

Five years ago, as I lay in a hospital bed, seriously ill, I had a revelation that has changed the way I view life. I have a feeling those chatty people at our garage sale have discovered the same truth.

Material possessions serve a purpose in our lives. But, as far as life on this earth goes, people are all that matters.

I’ll say that once more.

People are all that matters.

Despite our need and often our yearning for ‘stuff’, it will all ultimately wear out. It serves a purpose and perhaps brings us pleasure for a time, but its value is limited to what it helps us accomplish. People, only people, are the ones with whom we connect at the deepest level, often in a way that impacts eternity.

In the final weeks we spent in Tasmania, it was time with people I was savouring. People who’d walked with us through our marriage, the birth of each of our children, times of anxiety, fear and doubt, times of sickness, times of celebration. People who’d prayed with us, spoken words of hope in seasons of despair and stepped in with offers of practical help. I took every opportunity to talk, eat, laugh and yes, cry, with these who were dear to my heart.

Tasmania is an amazing place to call home – an island full of history, natural beauty, delicious food and countless opportunities for adventure. We’d lived an idyllic life nestled amidst rolling hills. Yet it wasn’t the loss of all those things that had tears welling  as our plane departed two weeks ago. It was the people I was leaving behind.

Now we’re creating a home in our new location, we’re gathering new stuff. Over the past ten days we’ve bought or been given more material things than we would have collected in the previous few years. Couches, electrical goods, plants, pots, a pool, barbecue and outdoor setting have all made their way through our front door – with more still to come. We’ve been so thankful for every piece and its part in making our home run well.

But it’s more than function that’s in my heart as I help shift each item into place. I’m dreaming about relationships. What conversations will our family have around the table? Who will we welcome onto our back deck for barbecues? What stories, what journeys will be shared in this home in the days to come?

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There’s a phrase that has often run through my head since that revelation five years ago. Quietly it guides my treatment of others, chiding me when I start to fear or judge, challenging me to step outside my comfort zone. These two simple words have been inscribed on my heart by my Father’s loving hand and now echo through my days.

You matter.

It’s a phrase for me, yes – an assurance that God sees me and will take care of my needs. But more so it’s a phrase about the people around me, all people, no matter who they are or how different their values are to mine. Each one has been created by God and He loves them with an intensity that led Him to give His very best – Jesus – for them. Because they matter to Him, they should matter to me.  Don’t all of us need that assurance – that we matter – in a culture that is so often focused on the needs and desires of the individual?

It’s January 1st today. Maybe, as we reflect and prepare for a new year, it’s time to broaden our focus from our own dreams and ambitions. Maybe we need to ask ourselves this question: If people really are all that matter, how will that be reflected in the goals and priorities I set for this year? And what am I hoping to see when I look back in twelve months’ time?

It’s worth some thought.

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“The wisdom of the wise is to give thought to their ways…” Proverbs 14:8.

Learning to Listen

I’ll never forget that crisp winter’s day. It was half past one in the afternoon.  I’d eaten lunch and tidied the kitchen. My track pants and polar fleece had been traded for a jumper, skirt and boots. I was heading to the shops on my way to collect our children from school. As I stood in our family room, mentally running through the list of all the errands I needed to do, some brown fragments on the carpet caught my eye – wood chips from the firewood that had been carried in that morning.

I grimaced. That kind of mess really annoyed me. I glanced at the clock. I’ll just quickly vacuum those up, I thought – a very small, everyday decision in a housewife’s world.

But as soon as the thought had run through my mind, something inside me shifted. It’s hard to explain. The peace I’d felt a moment earlier seemed to fade. I huffed and reasoned with myself. It’ll be all right. I’ve got time.  Surely two minutes of vacuuming won’t make much difference to the afternoon.

I strode to the cupboard and yanked out the vacuum cleaner then froze as two words boomed through me: NOT NOW. The words were stern and came with a strong sense of warning.

What should I do?

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It wasn’t always like this – this hearing God’s voice.

As a little girl, I was taught to pray each night, reciting words by rote as I drifted off to sleep: “Heavenly Father, help me be a child who’s kind and good . . .” The teens brought times when God seemed so close my heart pulsed with longing to know Him more – until I went to university, where cold, intellectual water was thrown on my desire. “It’s impossible to know Him,” the wise ones said. “He no longer speaks; we rely on our sanctified common sense now.”

Still my spirit yearned.

In my twenties, I met people who knew God – really knew Him – ones whose words and insights seemed to flow straight from His heart. My hunger burned once again. That’s what I wanted – to know Him like that. But could I?

The more I spent time with these people, the clearer it became: all the time I’d been craving God’s presence, He’d been right there – ready, waiting, eager to share His heart with me, if only I’d take time to listen.

So, I learned to sit – heart quiet, journal open and pen poised. At first I only sought God’s direction for the big things – the major life decisions. Was it a yes, or was it a no? A clear sense of peace often came, pointing me one way or the other.

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Then, inspired by my husband’s example, I started seeking to hear God daily – taking time to read the Word, yes, but also to wait on Him and write down whatever He spoke. Gradually I learned to distinguish between His thoughts and mine by using His Word and His character as the measure.

Then a visiting preacher came to our church. “Jesus was very clear,” he told us. “He said, ‘I am the good shepherd and My sheep hear My voice.’ If you’re one of his sheep, you can expect to hear Him. He doesn’t have favourites. In order to hear Him, you need to function like a radio. Just as a radio tower is transmitting all the time, Jesus is speaking all the time. All we have to do is put up our aerial and tune in.”

Those words propelled me into a new level of listening. If Jesus was speaking all the time, then I could hear Him all the time. I became aware of the subtle nudges which punctuated my thoughts – go there, take this with you, say that. Many times I impulsively chose to ignore those prompts. Every time, in hindsight, I regretted my decision.

————————————————————————————————————————————–So on that June afternoon I decided to listen. Okay God. I don’t understand why I have to leave now but I know You do. The tension inside me evaporated as I put the vacuum cleaner back in the cupboard. I grabbed my handbag and water bottle and headed towards the front door.

As I drew closer a strange sound rang in my ears – like a very sick rooster trying to crow. Our chickens were kept in a run which sat just across the driveway from our front porch. We didn’t have any roosters but owned about a dozen hens, including three we were minding for a friend.

The strangled sound continued. Alarm flooded through me. Something was wrong!

I threw open the front door and sprinted towards our chicken run. Instantly I spotted our neighbour’s dog inside the fence with one of our hens clutched firmly between his teeth – by the neck. I watched, aghast, as he dropped her lifeless body on the ground and trotted back towards our henhouse, a little terrier following merrily on his heels.

Two more hens lay dead nearby, blood oozing from their throats.

Fuming with rage, I yanked the gate of the chicken run open and leapt for the larger dog. In one swift action I grabbed him by the collar and tail and threw him backwards out of the coop. Inside, three hens were crammed one on top of the other in a trembling mound. I turned and chased the dogs around the run, leaping over tussocks of grass in my skirt and boots, waving my arms and hollering wildly until they both made their way under the fence and headed home.

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It was out of His great kindness that God spoke to me that day. If I’d chosen to ignore Him, I’m certain all our chickens would’ve been killed. And perhaps, if I’d been quicker to listen, the first three hens could have been spared.

Sometimes the little decisions we make are far more significant than we think.

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If you were to ask me if I listen to God all the time now, honestly, I’d have to say no. My mind, like yours, is often fully focused on the tasks at hand. And sometimes I’m just too caught up in my own thoughts and feelings to stop and get quiet. But I am seeking to grow. This year, under God’s direction, I’m taking a few extra hours each week to ‘retreat’ with Him. Although it’s sometimes hard to carve out that block of time – it may end up being spread over a few days – that retreat has become something I crave, an anchor-point in the midst of this crazy season of transition.

I still have so much to learn but there is one vital truth that draws me on: When God speaks to us, it’s because He wants to do us (and others) good. What He says won’t always be easy to hear – or to obey – but we can trust that it will ultimately be for the best.

On the same day Jesus described Himself as the good shepherd He explained that, unlike a thief, He came to give His people life – in all its fullness. Not a half-life but the best possible life they could live.

That’s got to make walking in step with Him the best possible ambition to have – whatever the cost.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

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Walking in Darkness

Over the last week I’ve hit a bit of a slump. All the wonder of our miraculous house sale and move has faded and I’ve been faced with the reality of the season we’re in right now – a time of waiting, limbo, transition.

People often ask me, “Do you know what you’re doing yet?” I smile and say, “No.” The mix of emotions that travel across their faces can be confronting. It would be easier to answer, “Yes, everything is sorted. We know where we’ll live, what we’re going to do, where our girls will go to school, how we’ll manage.” But I can’t say that. We don’t know. We’re aware of some possible options but mostly we’re still in the dark.

If these conversations unsettle me I remind myself of Psalm 119, verse 105.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

I’ve heard these words many times, know them off by heart. To me they always painted a picture of God’s word shining bright and clear, showing us the path He has for us. Then a few years ago, I heard a teaching which brought a radical shift in my thinking.

In Bible times the land was rugged and rocky; paths were often crude and hard to follow. A walk in the dark could lead to injury or even death if you slipped or took a wrong turn, particularly in mountainous areas. Those who dared to venture out at night would be sure to carry a lamp – a small, clay vessel with a flaming wick fuelled by household oil. They often hung the lamp by a rope and swung it back and forth in front of their body, lighting up the path directly before them. Sometimes they tied a second, smaller lamp to their ankle so they could see exactly where to place their foot as they stepped. It was a literal lamp to their feet.Lamp and bible

If you’ve ever experienced a blackout and had to live by candle-light for a while, you’ll understand how limited those little flames would have been. The walker would not have been able to see much beyond the next step. Their journey would have been one of complete dependence on that little flickering light – one step at a time.

Sometimes our lives can be like that. We sense God is leading us in a specific direction but we can’t see all the details. We take one step then He reveals the next. Perhaps the next part doesn’t become clear right away. That’s when we’re required to trust, to wait, to allow Him – in His timing – to show us where to place our foot.

Waiting can be difficult. We can lose focus and become disoriented, like one whose lamp has been completely snuffed out. But it’s so vital that we hold on.

God uses those times of waiting, of darkness to prepare us for the next stage of the journey. We see this principle all through creation. Deep in the earth a dry, brown seed is quietly nurtured till it bursts open and pushes its vibrant, green shoot up through the surface. The lowly caterpillar, seemingly trapped in the confines of its dark cocoon, is transformed and released as a magnificent butterfly. Silent trees stand naked as they secretly draw in nourishment from the soil before being clothed with a veil of leaves and blossoms in spring.

Times of darkness can seem silent, empty, meaningless. But our Father sees the whole path and His timing is perfect. If we have to wait a while to discover the next step in our journey, He has a purpose in that.

So I’m choosing to trust Him. To push ahead without His light would be like clambering over rocks on a cliff edge at midnight.

I wouldn’t dare take the risk.

Letting Go

The girls were barely out the door, heading off to school, before tears began falling. I padded through the empty house, my anguished sobs echoing in the silence. Worship songs played through my mind, reminding me that God was my rescuer, the one who sent His Son to die for me.

Yet, at that moment He was asking me to face a kind of death.

Bleak, grey clouds hung suspended over our paddock and the sky wept freely. I pulled a door wide open and breathed deep. The air pressed cool and moist against my skin, thick with the fragrance of grass and animals and a million happy memories.

God, does it have to be this way?

Like drops of rain, my words of protest fell, silenced, to the ground. Already I knew the answer. It was time to let go.

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“I think God wants us to move,” my husband had said. “To Sydney.”

Sydney. The place of my birth, of schooldays and family celebrations, mild winters and long, hot summers. Sydney, where I’d spent the first twenty five years of my life – till God had led me to the remote island of Tasmania to study. For two years, I had thought. Just two.

But two had stretched into more than twenty. And slowly my shallow roots had lengthened and spread till my soul was firmly embedded in the rich loam of this land and my heart was knit with its people – some who I counted as ‘family’.

Now, once more and despite my resistance, God was pulling me away.

At first I discounted my husband’s thoughts but a vivid dream came later that evening. God spoke to me clearly, confirming His direction and infusing me with inexplicable confidence and joy. This move was His plan – for all of us, for our good.

Over the following five weeks He continued to assure us, even in the most unlikely ways – yes, a new season was imminent and we would be richer for it.

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Words of challenge flowed steadily in those weeks as well. He spoke of surrender, of being uprooted and pushed out of the nest to free-fall. Part of me felt like wildly flapping, yet my heart was strangely at rest. He would catch us.

Then came the leaflet – a printed page dropped in our mailbox by a family seeking a home in our area. A home just like ours. Couldn’t I have more time, God? Yet again He nudged me in a direction I didn’t want to go. In a mere ten days, the deal was sealed. Our house would soon have new owners.  Instantly the tone of life switched from earnest prayer and contemplation to gathering boxes and sorting treasures. Oh, what a time of sifting!

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There are days in the midst of this season when faith soars and images of exciting new ventures fill my mind. And there are times – like this – when the pain of separation seems unbearable, even impossible to endure. That’s when I draw near to my Father once again and listen to His whisper.

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You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.

Later.

Later I will understand why He sold our house so swiftly.

Later I will see why we had to leave so much – and so many – behind.

Later I will be glad we took the risk and followed His directions, for we will be savouring the new life He has given us.

With red ink I recorded His words in my journal, adding them to the many revelations He’d been giving. As I put down my pen He draped a new layer of hope over my heart.

Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

I cannot see all that will unfold in the months ahead. But one thing I’ve learned from the  past – God can be trusted. Though this is a time of grief and pain, we will rejoice again. Perhaps, like sunrise after an especially dark night, joy will burst forth sooner than I think.

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Credit for first photo – Shaun Morrison.
Watercolour painting by E Brown, 2016.