30 June, 2016

I am human

Tonight I’m feeling deeply human. 

I’ve grown up knowing there is a God who’s on my side, who gives me peace, joy, comfort, and all those things. I know that I’m meant to be His representative, His ambassador, and His means of sharing with others what He has to offer. I’m meant to be a light, a beam, something glowing and genuine, something people are drawn to, something that makes them want to know where does it come from, this happiness and radiance?

Sometimes I feel I might be fulfilling that ideal, in the tiniest of ways. I smile at some people in the mall, and try to give out a tract. I knock on a few doors and offer hope and health. Sometimes, I try. 

But today, I went to town. I had my music lesson, and it was alright, which is really just a nice way of saying I played the worst I had in weeks, when I’ve been practicing the most I have in years. I could’ve gotten fuel, but I decided I couldn’t be bothered. I didn’t want to deal with the possibility of other people pumping fuel too, and them laughing at me - because I’m still not sure about pumping fuel. I hope there’s enough to get where we’re going tomorrow. 

I went to a supermarket, and browsed, purposely picking the sections were there were fewer people. While I was waiting in line to pay for my stuff, I looked at the people in front of me. They looked harried and weary; doing what had to be done. 

I went to the library, and made sure no one was in the section I wanted to be in before browsing every shelf, pulling out books and wanting to take a stack home, just for comfort. Then I had to borrow them (no, not everything I wanted), and I delayed because I couldn’t find a book I wanted. I looked, and re looked, and looked again, because I didn’t want to ask, and then have them find it right where it should’ve been. I got back to the car, and just sat. Did I really have to drive home? I did, but the streets and roads were empty; so familiar, but deserted and unfriendly. I felt alone and discouraged, for no apparent reason.

I looked at myself, and I saw that I’m just the same. I’m the same as the lady in front of me at the checkout, who didn’t smile, and whose makeup didn’t cover the fact that she needed a good sleep. I’m the same as the girl with the cheery ‘how are you going’ which we all knew was a matter of routine. We’re tired.

We’re tired of living in a world where you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do as fast as you can. We’re tired of acting like we’re fine, and cool, and satisfied, when we’re not. We’re tired of being cold and hard, living in a world where we’re all strangers with so much in common. We’re tired of living in a tired world, with tired people. At least if you’re not, I am. 

I get it. I am a Christian, I have an all-powerful God behind me, but I get tired too. I forget. I forget that being called to be an ambassador for Him doesn’t make me above them. I forget that if I’m not doing those things out of genuine love and care they’re not showing Him anyway. I forget that it’s not even meant to be me, because I can’t. He can. 

I wish we’d realize we’re all human. We’re bound by invisible ties. We’re brothers and sisters, siblings, family. We all feel, we all struggle, we all get lonely. We need each other, but our hurt takes us apart, society says that’s not the way it’s done any more, leaders say you can’t because you’re different, and culture creates false idea - even if we try, we get discouraged. 

I wish the barriers could be broken, and the walls come down; instead of trying to hide who we are, and aren’t, we put off the front, and sympathized. The solution is so close: it’s in the person next to you. God didn’t make strangers. We’re sinking, because we’ve got our arms down by our sides. What if we put our arms out?

Reality check: I am a human. You are a human. They are human. I’m not perfect; you’re not perfect; they’re not perfect, and we’re all tired. We are a lot closer than we think. 


 Seriously, thanks for wading through an episode of my thought life. And tell me, what do you think? What are you tired of? What's something you feel like ranting about?

I'll be going away soon, so I may not be able to reply to comments, but - I'll be back! And then I'll reply to all you amazing people. :) I updated my about page, so check that out too, if you like. :) Also, happy July!

24 June, 2016

Getting Through Exams

To my friend AHA – this post is for you. Trust Him. :)

Over the past nine years I’ve done thirteen music exams – mostly practical violin, some music theory, and one practical piano. Actually, that’s not true. We’ve done thirteen music exams. The only way I’ve gotten through that many exams, and the performances in between, is by God’s strength and grace, with the support of my family and music teacher. But there’s a little recipe that’s worked for every exam, test, and performance I’ve had, and I wanted to share it, because we all go through tests at some stage in life.

1. Practice/prepare. This is elementary, but we can’t expect God to perform miracles if we don’t do our part with the talents and skills He’s given us. I can’t never practice, and then expect to pass a violin exam. 

2. Pray. Remember God is there waiting to help. Pray for help in preparing for the exam; pray for God to teach you – He knows everything, right? Pray for calmness and confidence during the exam, and in remembering what you’ve learnt. Pray for God to be right there with you instructing you what to do/say/play/sing/write/draw –whatever it is you’re being tested on. He promises: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:21) 

3. Find and claim promises. The Bible is full of promises, and you’re probably familiar with quite a few relevant to exams – promises of guidance, of God fulfilling needs and being with us. By all means, claim those, but I’d encourage you to search deeper as well. There’s a lot of specific promises, and it’s fun to look for them, and see how God cares for us on a personal need-specific level. Here’s a few of my favourites – I relate them to playing violin or piano, but they could also be relevant to playing another instrument, driving, writing, or any test that involves your hands:

For I the Lord God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, fear not: I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)
Blessed be the Lord God my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. (Psalm 144:1)

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. (2 Chronicles 29:11)

…Fear not, but let your hands be strong. (Zechariah 8:13)

…Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. (Nehemiah 6:9)

See how specific they are? I really like Psalm 144:1 – it’s such a picture of what God can do, and while I’m not fighting with my instruments (at least, I try not to, ha), it does take energy, time, and technique to play them. I haven’t looked for other promises to claim for different tests, but I’m sure they’d be there. Pray, look for a promise that fits your situation and that you can make your own, then take God at His word. He’ll do what He says; He cannot fail.

Everyone deals with tests, exams, and stressful situations differently, but this is what has gotten me through – doing my part, praying and trusting in God, claiming His promises, and resting in knowing that He’s right there beside me – Prepare, Pray, Promise. So, I hope this will help someone, because I know that exams can be hard, and stress and nerves are real. But, just always remember: God is bigger.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

How do you deal with exams, tests, and stressful situations? What’s your favourite promise from the Bible? 

15 June, 2016

He Makes Everything Beautiful

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. …He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 &11

Isn’t that pure poetry? I’ve been thinking about writing styles, and the power of words, in these last few weeks - likely because I read an excellent book called The Little Red Writing Book, and there’ve been a few great posts about words going around (like Emily’s). When I read that passage in Ecclesiastes three, it struck me as being a fine example of ordinary words being strung into to something poetic and beautiful.

It’s beautiful in another way too. The author notes that everything comes and goes in its appointed time, and lists contrasting seasons – kill and heal, weep and laugh, mourn and dance, love and hate, war and peace. And then, there’s the climax: God makes everything beautiful in His time. He takes our weeping, and mourning, and losing, and rending – whatever it is we’re going through, and makes it beautiful.

It reminds me of Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God… Seasons of life come - they might be good, or they might be hard – and they move on. But through it all, through everything, God is working to make beauty. In each season, He’s bringing out good, He’s using whatever it is to make us more like Him; whether it’s a time of building up, or breaking down, or a time of casting away, or a time of gathering together. He comes through in every season of life, and turns it into an exquisite object of beauty. 

I was thinking about the seasons of life I’m going through: a time of stress, and a time to relax; a time of indirection, and a time of fulfilment; a time of questioning, and a time of trust. We all go through different experiences - make your own list. But, don’t forget the last part: through every season, stage, time, experience, situation - whether it’s painful or encouraging - God is there making things beautiful, using everything to further His plans for our good. 

Have you read the book of Ecclesiastes? What do you think is a good example of Bible poetry? What seasons of life are you experiencing at the moment?

07 June, 2016

Made In His Image Part Three - Restored

If I haven’t said so, here’s angle I’m coming from with Made In His Image: we were created in the image of God, humanity fell from that ideal, and it’s God’s mission to restore us to who we were created to be. It’s something I’ve found fascinating, and it’s popping up in everything I read. The concept of restoring and reinstating has to be my favourite though. God’s plans for you and I are incredible.

 We’ve all messed up; we all need salvation. I knew about the gift of salvation, but I’d never before stopped to think that when you save something, you save it to something. If you save someone from drowning, you take them out of the water and onto dry ground. If you rescue something, you take it away from danger, and into a safe place. 

So as God saves us, and rescues us, He begins the process of restoring us. He wants to take us back to who we were made to be. His saving us is all about wanting to recreate His image in us, restoring us to the image we were created in; making us like Him! He wants to rescue and save us, and bring us to himself.

That explains trials and temptations too: God only allows those situations to come to us that will make us more like Him; those that will help us grow to become like Him! It’s fascinating to view life –and its hardships and pain - from this perspective.

It also cleared up another point in my mind. You know the verses in Jeremiah and Hebrews where God says He will write His law on our hearts, and He will be our God, and we’ll be His people? Think about it this way: God’s law is a transcript of His character, right? It’s an explanation of Who He is, and how He works. So, Him wanting to put His law into our hearts, and make it a part of us, is just saying that He wants to make us like Him! 

And, He calls us His sons and daughters, because that’s who we are. We’re His image, His creation. 1 John 3:1-2 explains it so well - I couldn’t how perfectly this verse summed everything up: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” We shall be like Him.

Romans 8: 14 &17 are another couple of my favourite verses on this topic: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” What more could He do for us?! He restores us to the position of being sons and daughters, and then makes us heirs, even joint-heirs with Jesus!

He created us to be like Him, and even when we sin, all he wants to do is restore us to His image, and make us like Him – the highest honour He could ever give. Isn’t it amazing how much God lavishes on us? The unique way He designed us? Firstly, He made us in His own image. He could’ve dreamt up something amazing, and patterned us after His imagination, but he wanted us to be like Him. Then, we messed up, and He gave a solution, His Son - the most valuable gift He could give - just so that we could be rescued and restored to be like Him. Finally, He calls us His children, His sons and daughters, brothers and sister of Christ. It’s hard to comprehend the love God has for you and me, and when I think about it, all I can say is wow. 

What are your thoughts? Did these posts even make sense? It was hard to get my thoughts into words, but I wanted to share, because it’s been exciting learning all this! I know there’s so much more too, and I really want to hear your comments, reactions, and disagreements – let’s grow together!