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‘Tis the season…for letting go

One discovery this autumn has been the trails at Mount Stewart. While I prefer running in daylight (& preferably sunshine) I can identify with the benefits of running hard listed in Keri Wyatt Kent’s blog ‘Trail running in the dark

I don’t always have epiphanies during long runs. But sometimes the combination of mind-space, the beauty of creation & the challenge of physical exertion blend together in a serendipitous moment!

One epiphany was during Run Forest Run’s Minnowburn 10k. I had reached the last kilometre (more slowly than usual!) I was running over a carpet of leaves, & more leaves were falling like confetti from the trees as I ran beneath them. It was a beautiful scene- captured in my mind more vividly than on any camera!

As I ran I sensed God say, ‘In life you have to let things go, so I can make them beautiful’

Just as the trees let go of their leaves & let them fall to the ground to create this beautiful scene, so we need to let go.
What do we need to let go of ?:

*Past failures
*Regrets
*Selfish ambitions
*Choking Fears
*Broken dreams
*Emotional baggage
*Pet sins
*Unrealistic expectations
*Pride
*Harmful relationships
*Over-thinking
*(False) Stories told only to ourselves

And whatever else comes to mind.

How can we let go? We need to bring these things to God. Pour out our hearts to the One who knows us best. Let it go & most importantly leave it with Him. Seek His forgiveness if required, then walk in the freedom of His grace

For, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens’
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

And Autumn is the season of letting go.

‘Seasons are not only realities that occur outside and around us, in the skies and in the trees. I believe seasons are also internal and personal, interwoven into the fabric of human life. We are designed to transition, to change, and to vary. Our souls have seasons.’
(Seasons of the Soul– Adam McHugh)

The Creator God can bring beauty from brokenness , when we let go & leave our greatest fears & burdens with Him.

‘He has made everything beautiful in its time.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

We have a Cherry tree in our garden. In spring it blossoms where it’s planted. In summer its shiny leaves rustle in the breeze. In Autumn it lets go of its foliage. Already I can see already tiny buds of new life on its bare branches, ready to burst into life in Spring.

Letting go is a necessary step for growth to take place.

‘Perhaps when watchers see us burst into life it will be the colors of Jesus they see.’
(Ashley Hale-The Year I lost Autumn)

For, whatever the season:
‘You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.’
(Matthew 5:14MSG)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Revised & updated from www.blessedme.co.uk

Lightness

Days feel heavy at the moment- the weight of the COVID pandemic has wrapped itself around our globe. Daily life remains altered as summer fades into autumn.Anxiety weighs us down. So do old regrets, failures & mistakes.

There’s an old song entitled ‘I am a new creation’ that talks of standing in God’s grace & having ‘a lightness in my spirit’:

‘A joy that knows no limit, 
a lightness in my spirit 
here in the grace of God I stand.’
(Dave Bilborough)

The lightness begins with our relationship with God through faith:
‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.’
(Rom 5:1-2)

How can lightness dispel heaviness?

We need to ‘Preach the Gospel to yourself’ We can leave the heaviness of sin with God for ‘as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’
(Psalms 103:12 NIV)

‘God’s faithfulness is greater than your worst mistake, greatest regret or biggest blunder’
(Jennifer Rothschild)

We can look beyond our problems to God-He is Majestic & Magnificent -Lord over all yet Abba Father.

And God doesn’t want us to carry heavy burdens. We’ll feel lighter if we leave them with Him:
‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.’
(Psalms 55:22 NIV)

We can feel lighter by turning worries into prayers:
‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.’
(Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

We can choose joy -This is much more than thinking happy thoughts

We can switch fear for trust
For,’perfect love drives out fear’
(1John 4:18 NIV)

When we trust God, we know this truth:
‘The truest thing about you is that you are the one whom Jesus truly loves.
(Sam Allberry)

And this brings lightness in our spirit.

Blessings,

Ruth x

Today I choose

Today may feel the same as every other day. These lockdown days blur into one another.

Today is Sunday-a time to pause & reflect. For this is the day the Lord has made & given to us as a gift.

Each day consists of many choices- seemingly insignificant. Yet when strung together they create patterns of our everyday life.

So, Today I choose gratitude

There is always something to be grateful for. Even in the middle of a pandemic, we can have an attitude of gratitude. We can list the everyday blessings that we are grateful for.

Today I choose Love

Love is patient. Love is kind

Love is from God, for God is love.

‘God loves you simply because He has chosen to. He loves you when you don’t feel lovely. he loves you when no-one else does. No matter what’
(Max Lucado)

Love is not static or stagnant, as these words remind us:

‘Love doesn’t just sit there,
like a stone,
it has to be made,
Like bread;
remade all the time,
made new’
(Ursula K Le Guin)

Today I choose joy- deeper than happiness & independent of circumstances.

In days like today,
‘The joy of the Lord is your strength.’
(Nehemiah 8:10 NIV)

‘Rejoice in hope’
(Rom 12:12)

‘Teach us to begin again with joy’
(Emily P Freeman)

All we are sure of is today- not tomorrow.

‘So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’
(Matthew 6:34 NLT)

There’s talk about these days being a ‘new normal’ A poster outside a local church in Greyabbey asks ‘Will you let God be part of your new normal?’

Today I choose to let God be part of my day.

Today I choose to follow God- even though I falter & waver along the way.

‘This is the one great truth: The only thing that is certain is uncertainty – and the certainty of God.’ (Ann Voskamp)

God is faithful- today & everyday. Always & forever.

Today, what will you choose?

Blessings,

Ruthx

Bright & beautiful promises

Planet Earth has been more difficult to inhabit in recent months- in an unprecedentedly unprecedented way!

It’s easier than ever to worry. There’s plenty to feel down about. Life feels like it won’t ever be the same again.

Thankfully in these shifting times God has given us everything we need:

‘We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God’s own power, when we learned he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness.’
(2 Peter 1:3CEV)

‘And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.’
(2 Peter 1:4 NLT)

God’s Word contains ‘great & precious promises’ God’s promises are like an anchor in stormy days, light for dark days & an encouragement to keep us going all our days.

Throughout lockdown I have been gathering God’s promises (Maybe you have too) And I’m grateful that ‘His every promise is enough for every step I take’ (Getty)

I read this promise to Moses:
‘The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, and I will give you rest-everything will be fine for you.”’
(Exodus 33:14 NLT)

These verses were in Chris Tiegreen’s devotional book:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
(Isaiah 41:13 NIV)

I like this alternative version of this verse:

‘That’s right.
Because I, your GOD,
have a firm grip on you
and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you,
Don’t panic.
I’m right here to help you.’
(Isaiah 41:13 MSG)

I found these words of Jesus on a little card:
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’
(John 14:27 NIV)

This verse was on the corner of the Spectator newspaper:
‘You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord GOD is the eternal Rock.’
(Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT)

These words were written on a greetings card in my Bible:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

These verses were mentioned in a podcast:
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.’
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

I read this verse last week;
‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’
(Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)

These days may feel like a monotonous grey or even stormy black but,
‘The future is as bright as the promises of God’
(Adoniram Judson)

I’m grateful for God’s unchanging words today & always.

Blessings,

Ruthx

The better thing

Loving God means choosing what is best

Reading: Luke 10:38-42

Imagine having at least 13 guests for dinner! Of course we can identify with Martha being flustered and distracted! There’d be so much to do – vegetables to prepare, tables to set, rooms to tidy, meat to roast. Of course we’d be annoyed if our sister wasn’t helping!

The Bible says that Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, hanging on every word! In exasperation Martha asked Jesus to tell her sister to help. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 41&42-NIV)

Despite all the preparations for dinner, there was really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary had left what was good to do and had chosen something better – God’s best – spending unhurried quality time with Him.

And today, in the middle of our busy schedules, we daily face the same choice. Are we frazzled and distracted like Martha, or are we quietly content like Mary, resting in our Lord’s presence? Often we too have to leave what is good, and choose what is better.

We may have to leave the dishes. Forget about the ironing (Not a problem for many of us!) Banish to do lists. Turn off the TV. Disconnect the phone. Shut the door. And climb into ‘the closet’ and sit at Jesus’ feet- to hear what He has to say, to allow Him access to our hearts, to seek His face and His leading. There’ll always be other things to do, but He should be our first priority.

We, like the psalmist, must yearn to grow as close to God as possible.

‘One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the lord and to seek him in his temple.’ (Psalm 27:4 -NIV)

‘O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you’
(Psalm 63:1 –NIV)

We get pleasure from being in God’s presence.
‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of you heart’ (Psalm 37:4 – NIV)

‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13 –NIV)

When we spend quality time with God, our reward is God Himself.
‘Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you’ (Hosea 10:12 –NIV)

We need to ask God to soften our hearts, to plough up the hard areas so that we can be teachable and responsive to His voice. If we seek the Lord, He will shower blessings on us. If we,like Mary, leave what is good and choose what is better, we too will receive God’s best.

‘Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you’ (James 4:8 –NLT)

Father, You are the best- better than everything else!
May I get to know You more, for it is in first seeking Your face that I can face everything else.
May I do those good works you’ve planned for me to do.
May I accomplish what You want. May I fulfil Your agenda rather than my own and reach my maximum potential in You. 

Blessings,

Ruthx

*Edited & updated from my book ‘Its all about love’ 2007

Nothing without Him

‘We live in a God-bathed world. There is no place where God is not, although sometimes we may be asleep in His presence’
(Tony Horsfall)

God is all around us yet sometimes we’re oblivious to this fact.We’re asleep in God’s presence. We try to do things our way, on our own.

“Me do it myself!” she said. Not realising just how determined she was, I tried to help a little. “NO!! Me do it myself!” she shouted even louder. And I was forced just to watch while my little toddler tried and struggled and tried and squirmed to get her trousers on all by herself!

You may be smiling as you remember your own little toddler’s similar struggles. Yet, how often we have just the same toddler attitude with God. He is there wanting to help us, but we’re determined to do it all by ourselves.

And we might even throw a tantrum or two when things don’t work out as we’d anticipated. And we carry on struggling and struggling with our baggage and burdens, reluctant to hand it all over to our Father God. He stands watching in the background and waiting. Waiting for the moment when we ask Him to carry the load with us, when we hand it over and rely on Him.

With all the resources of heaven available to us, why do we keep insisting on going it alone?

And Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5- NIV)

We are nothing without Him.

We are like:
• A ship without a sail
• An eagle without wings
• A door without a key
• A letter without words
• A glove without a hand

Yet, if we’re nothing without Him, with Him we have everything.

Once upon a time, a man had a dream. St. Peter was giving him a tour of heaven. Just beyond the golden streets, there were huge barns everywhere. The man was curious and asked, “What’s inside the barns?” “They are full of boxes of blessings that God has ready for each of His children, but they’ve never asked for!” replied St. Peter.

We need to ask, for He is ready to give.

His strength is at work within us. God’s mighty power is available to us (Ephesians 1:19) His stone-moving, death-defeating, life-giving power! The Greek word for power used here literally means dynamite!

Paul wrote, ‘For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need’ (Philippians 4:13-NLT)

His power is all around-we just need to get plugged in!! But that’s the trouble- so often we’re not. We’re still trying to do it all –alone. Often it’s a simple matter-‘You do not have, because you do not ask God’
(James 4:2-NIV)

It is enough to simply ask the Father. He has all the strength that we need

‘I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me (I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency)’
(Philippians 4:13- AMP)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Never alone

We’re not even half way through 2020 yet. The days ahead feel uncertain to me- uncharted & unknown. More so than previous years.

Like many I feel under pressure & anxious too. This difficult truth comes from James:
‘Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.’
(James 1:2 MSG)

We keep going because of God’s grace:
‘So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.’
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG)

We can go to God when worries pile up:
‘When I begin to feel the anxiety of the future rush into my present, like a child I can remember that my life is hidden with Christ in God & there is no safer place in all the world (see Colossians 3:3)’
(Emily P Freeman-Simply Tuesday)

If we are Christians, we are never alone. God goes with us:
‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord Your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you’  
(Deut 31:6 – NIV)

God goes before us:
‘The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’ (Deut 31:8 – NIV)

He is always there:
‘You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head’
(Psa 139:3 &5-NLT)

We can trust God:
‘All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.’
(1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG)

We need to trust God rather than our feelings:
‘While walking through a dark season,if we attempt to navigate our lives by how we feel, we will run aground on the rocks. We must navigate by what we know is true no matter what we feel.
Truth is like a lighthouse on a stormy, pitch-black night that steers us clear of the feelings that would wreck us’
(The Storm inside- Sheila Walsh)

I love the tag line of this book:
Trade the chaos of how you feel for the truth of who you are’

We can hold on to God’s truth in the stormy days.

‘GOD ’s your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you-
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.
GOD guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave
and when you return,
he guards you now,
he guards you always.’
(Psalm 121:5-8 MSG)

He lights each step on the dark days.
‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.’
(Psalms 119:105 NIV)

And though we can’t see what lies ahead, we need to step out-since we are not alone.

‘The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him’
(Psalms 37:23 NIV)

We can take one step at a time with God.

‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase’
(Martin Luther King Jr)

So, today & in the days that lie ahead,
‘May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.’
(Psalms 33:22 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Nurturing the exhausted mind

‘When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.
(John O’Donahue- To Bless the space between us)

Maybe you’re feeling exhausted with stressed & strains of day to day life under the threat of COVID. There may be underlying issues that you’ve been carrying.You’re at the end of yourself & can’t take anymore.

The prophet Elijah had just defeated the prophets of Baal, yet he became afraid & ran for his life. He sat under a broom tree praying he might die (I Kings 18&19) He fell asleep,then an angel from God gave him some food. Strengthened by sleep & food he travelled for 40days then heard the still, small voice of God.

We can become exhausted like Elijah. Sometimes what we need too is simply food & a good rest, then some time with God to nourish our souls.

And God is always closer than you think:
‘God is everywhere, in all places &
there is no spot where we cannot draw near to Him &
hear Him speaking to our heart:
with a little love,
just a very little,
we shall not find it hard’
(Brother Lawrence-Practice the Presence of God)

The most important thing is to come to our God, to hear His voice. 

He says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28- NIV). 

Jesus said:
“Are you tired?
Worn out?
Burned out on religion?
Come to me.
Get away with me
and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.”
(Matthew 11:28MSG)

The next two verses in the Message say this:
“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly”. 

We need to slow down (even during lockdown) get rid of distractions & clear away the clutter in our minds.Sometimes we’ve got to leave what is good and choose what is better – quality time with God. 

Life goes better if we speak to Him before we speak to others. If our relationship with Him is first priority, all other relationships go more smoothly. Time with God is always the best option especially when we’re exhausted.Without Him we’re just running on empty, getting stressed out and heading for burn out.

Each day God wants to guide us to make full use of limited time-not so we’ll get dizzy with to-do lists-but so His priorities will be ours and we’ll achieve what he wants – things that’ll last.

When life seems busiest, we often need to stop and simply draw aside and come to our Heavenly Father, who knows what we really need. And sometimes our deepest need is to simply be still, to care for our soul and to find rest in God alone
(Psalm 62:1)

The Psalms are punctuated by the word ‘Selah’, or ‘Interlude’ as the Message translates it. We need to punctuate our life with interludes, quiet pauses with God.

‘Step out of the traffic!
Take a long, loving look at Me, your High God above everything’
(Psalm 46:10 – The Message)

In the middle of busy days, God give me quiet moments- 
To pause and pray.
In the hectic busyness of life, help me to be still.
To cease striving. To calm down.
To catch my breath.
To forget about what’s going on all around, cramming in on my mind.

Help me to be still, and know that You are God. 

That You are in control:
• when things are all right
• when things are all wrong
• when the pressure feels high 
• when life tumbles down.

Even then and even now help me to be still and focus on You, rather than my problems.

Amen

Blessings,

Ruthx

PS Four verses for the exhausted mind:

‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.’
(Psalms 91:1 NIV)

‘The Lord said, “I will go with you and give you peace.”’
(Exodus 33:14 CEV)

‘You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord GOD is the eternal Rock.’
(Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT)

Jesus said:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
(John 14:27 NIV)

Stilling the unquiet mind

‘In rebuilding a broken world, we will have the chance to choose a less hurried life’
(Alan Lightman)

Apparently we think at least 60000 thoughts per day. That’s 2500 an hour. That’s a lot of thoughts!

Our mind is seldom quiet & 80% of our thoughts are negative. Worries for today. Anxieties about our future. About Coronavirus. Regrets. Insecurities. Things we should do. Things we shouldn’t do. Legitimate concerns.Worst case scenarios.Things we have no control over.

If only it was as simple as thinking happy thoughts as Ronald Dahl optimistically suggested. If only we could quieten our mind & rebuild a better life post-COVID.

We need to still ourselves & our minds.

‘Lives that are busy & always on the move do have a tendency to be shallow & scattered. Those who wish for something more substantial,for something deeper & more focused, must give themselves the time & space to reflect’
(Tony Horsfall)

We need to quieten our mind to hear God.

‘If we want to get better at hearing the One who speaks “in a still small voice”, we must befriend silence. If we are to host the One who says, “Be still and know that I am God”, we must ourselves become more present. We expect his voice to boom like thunder, but mostly he whispers.’
(Pete Greig)

We need to get away from incessant mental chatter.

‘Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.’
(Psalm 46:10 MSG)

‘Living reflectively provides opportunities during our day for a closer look at things,at people, at ourselves & at God.The faster the pace of life, though, the more we will miss those opportunities.’
(Ken Gire)

We can quieten our souls through prayer & reading God’s Words in the Bible.

‘Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,’
(1 Peter 2:2 NIV)

This will hush our minds & bring deep contentment:

‘I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.’
(Psalm 131:2 MSG)

The great & precious promises of God calm our heart & mind.

These promises have settled my unquiet mind. May they calm your unsettled mind too:

‘For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.’
(Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!’
(Ephesians 3:20-21 MSG)

‘The Lord said, “I will go with you and give you peace.”’
(Exodus 33:14 CEV)

‘For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.’
(Isaiah 41:13 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Is there room in your heart?

‘Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story?’

(Casting crowns)

I like the idea of life as a story-His Story. So this question made me stop & think. It’s from the lyrics of a Christmas song from Casting Crowns. Echoing the words of the inn-keeper who had no room for the baby Jesus, the lyrics ask if we have room in our hearts to allow God into our lives.

Our lives are like an empty page without God, waiting for the Author to write.

If you haven’t invited him into your life, He’s patiently waiting. It’s as if He is standing at the door knocking (Rev 3:20)

Even in these surreal days of global lockdown:
‘In a world that’s figuring out how to open back up, you’ve got to keep figuring out all the ways to keep your heart open to God.’
(Ann Voskamp)

As COVID spreads, we try to keep our lives open & we are connected by stories:
‘The universe is made of stories,not atoms’
(Muriel Rukeyser)

‘We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.’
(Jimmy Neil Smith)

Even in difficult dark days, God can write His story & bring meaning to our lives:
‘Things can change. People can change, stories can change, lives can change.’
(Ann Voskamp)

Sometimes changes are tiny, almost imperceptible:
‘Small things don’t always turn into big things.
But all things begin small,especially in the Kingdom of God.
Acorns become oak trees.
Embryos become President.
Life starts with breath.
Love starts with a Hello’
(Emily P Freeman)

What makes the difference?

Listening to God:
‘I began to listen to His Word while I ran and I let God’s Story in me play louder than any other story around me.’
(Ann Voskamp)

We can try to listen to God’s gentle whispers rather than the noise all around.

After all,God is the One who knows the beginning & the end of our story:
‘You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.’
(Psalms 139:16 NLT)

We can be grateful that God uses our story as part of His grand epic story.
‘I’m thankful we have a God who sometimes chooses to tell his big story in small, delightful, quiet ways’
(Emily P Freeman)

He writes the story & we can share it.
‘Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story’
(Psalms 107:2 NIV)

‘When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s.God is the larger context & plot in which our stories find themselves’
(Eugene Peterson)

‘The God who made us,on purpose,for a purpose,with great love, has laid out a plan for your life,& for my life’
(Shauna Niequist)

When times are hard, when a deadly pestilence is a daily reality, we can still trust God with our story:

‘Everything’s going to be okay-
because the Word Himself walks into our story and walks with us,
until the story ends in His time, in His ways,
for our ultimate good and for His ultimate glory-
and that is why everything’s going to be okay.
And if everything’s not okay yet,
everything’s not over yet. 
(Ann Voskamp)

We can grip onto His promises:
‘Even when the future is unknown, our purpose is not.’(Rend Collective)

God always sees the big picture:
‘No book is a chapter,
no chapter tells the whole story,
no mistake defines who we are.
Hope makes our lives page turners.’
(Bob Goff)

There is always hope:
‘When you invite God into the story he does so much better than you could do in your own strength’
(Cory Asbury)

We live in a story of more than happiness:
‘In Christ we live a narrative of joy’
(Emily P Freeman)

So, today, here & now
‘You, as you are right now, were written into the Story from the beginning and you have a place here’
(Sarah Bessey)

‘Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story
You can come as you are
But it may set you apart
When you make room in your heart
And trade your dreams for His glory
Make room in your heart’
(Casting crowns)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Settling the anxious mind

Even though we trust & believe God, we can still feel restless with thoughts tossing to & fro. At anytime & worries can be bubbling just beneath the surface.

Especially in days like these. Anxiety brings worst case scenarios to the front of our mind. Internal conversations with ourselves can lead to symptoms of stress. Spinning & spiralling thoughts. We get so wound up that sleep eludes us.

‘Many of us find our thoughts circling around problematic circumstances or people. For others of us, anxiety has become the soundtrack of our day, we hardly notice it playing in the background of every scene.’
(Jennie Allen)

But we can stop in the middle of our random, haphazard thoughts to pause & pray.

We need to ‘help create space for your soul to breathe so that you can discern your next right thing in love as we live together in Christ’s kingdom and bring the world along.’(Emily P Freeman)

At the start of each lectio365 devotional we pray these words:
‘As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-centre my scattered senses upon the presence of God.’

‘In stillness we cease our activity; in silence we stop our talking’ (Tony Horsfall)

When we are still we can hear God’s gentle whisper:
‘What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.’
(Getty& Townend)

Read the verses below slowly. Hold space for silence.

Repeat allowing the truth to soak in. Write out,print out or underline the verses.

‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.’
(Psalms 42:11 NIV)

‘When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.’
(Psalms 94:19 NIV)

‘Don’t fret or worry.
Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it,
a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

When God renews our mind, His presence & peace displaces worry.

Draw near to God & He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Repeat- re-read those verses again

Reflect & Respond

‘Living reflectively provides opportunities during our day for a closer look at things,at people, at ourselves & at God.The faster the pace of life, though, the more we will miss those opportunities.’
(Ken Gire)

Reframe the words of the verses into prayer.

‘The truth is that the God who is creator & sovereign over the universe & the God who conquered sin & death is the same God who wants to be with you in your pain, doubt, shame & other circumstances’
(Jennie Allen)

In these days of distancing & shielding, God is still our Shield:
‘But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.’
(Psalms 3:3 NLT)

So, ‘Don’t try to handle your anxiety. Bring your anxiety into the presence of Christ’
(Emily P Freeman)

Blessings,

Ruth x