He loves me enough

This has been one of those trying weeks.

Emotions seriously out of whack, crying unnecessary tears of disappointment.

But in the midst of the pain and anguish, God’s shown that He does know what is best for me.

And He loves me enough to withhold from me something that I thought I wanted but was completely out of His plan.

Sometimes we place unrealistic expectations on those around us, whether it be our friends, colleagues, spouses.  We put them up on a pedestal  and we begin to link our happiness and sometimes our contentment to how they treat us or respond to us.  I know I did.

And how loving is He to care enough that each time I begin to ground my happiness on whether or not someone meets my expectations, He withholds that relationship from me.

Once I refocus and get my head on straight again, once I go to Him as my source of joy and satisfaction, it’s like He allows me to have it back again, keeping an eye on me and making sure I don’t let my own flesh get in the way of something He has gifted me.  He is after all a jealous God – when things or people start to take His place in our lives, He has the authority, power and love to take those things/people away.

You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.  

Lord, thank you for clarity like never before.  Forgive me for abusing what you had gifted me.  Help me to value and treasure what is presently before me and respect and love those around me within the boundaries you’ve already laid out for me.  Thank you for giving me insight to your grand plans for me and thank you for your patience with me.

“Keep my commandments and live, and keep my law and teaching as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Say to skilful and godly wisdom, you are my sister and regard understanding or insight as your intimate friend.” – Proverbs 7:2-4 AMP

– Ames –

P.S. Enjoying this song right now…

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God’s best

One of the lessons that I feel God has been impressing on my heart is that His best for me may not look like what I, my parents, my friends think is best for me.

His ways are higher than my ways afterall.

He has given me countless examples of this in my own life already.

My parents thought the best way for me to stay in private school was to get a scholarship and somehow pay the rest of the way. God closed those doors because He had a trust fund arrangement in place already.

I thought the best way for me to do my tertiary studies would be through a double degree at my preferred university. God closed the door on that because He knew I probably would have dropped law had I done it straight out of high school.

Friends, family and I thought it would be best that I get a priority job offer from the firms I’d worked in. God closed all those doors because He had a better fit in mind.

In all these and other examples, He has shown himself faithful and He’s not about to change now.

So when it comes to the area of relationships (the serious forever kind) I’m trying to keep an open mind knowing that who He has in mind, may not look like who I have in my mind. The circumstances in which I hope we will meet may not meet my expectations but what He has planned and in store will be even better than I could ever plan or fashion for myself. 

I am committing once again the pen of my love story to Him. Each time that I’ve tried to manipulate or push the friendship boundaries out of impatience (lack of trust in God really), I have fallen flat on my face lol.

God’s been gracious though each time and given me back the friendship that I’d abused and gently reminded me that it was a gift from him that I shouldn’t read anything more into at this point in time, if ever.

Not going to overthink it or assume anything.  Just gonna enjoy the journey He has me on and relax in the knowledge that He’s got this ;).

– Ames –

Enjoying moments

I’ve told this story a number of times in the last few weeks. Too many times I think because I feel like a broken record each time I relay it. Yet the revelation given, the perspective that shifted was a turning point for me – one that I want to always remember and look back on when I start to get caught up in the rat-race.

I was having lunch with a friend I’d only just got to know better in the last 6 months. I think it had been a month since I had last seen her but because we seemed to be on the same wave length on so many topics, there was too much to catch up on in the maximum 1 hour lunch break I had.

Even as we sat down to peruse the menu before ordering our food, I was figuring out what was the most urgent thing on my mind to share in the limited time we had. I still felt a bit on edge and in a rush until my friend said grace over the food. I can’t remember word for word but it was something along the lines of: “God, I know that we’ve got lots to catch up on but help us to just enjoy the moment, enjoy each other’s presence and your presence with us over this lunch break.”

Nothing supremely profound but what I needed to hear in that moment. It was like a light bulb went off in my head and all I could hear was, “enjoy the moments I give you” and my mind was flooded with verses like “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” and “do not worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:25-34)”. And all of a sudden, I felt my stress levels decrease. I felt myself relax for perhaps the first time in months.

I only recognised this after a week of this newfound state that I’d most likely been living at a consistent level of hightened stress since I had started full time work. Not cool. I had had nights where I would just cry out to God, complaining that it was too hard to balance all I had on my plate, that I just wanted to give up. It was only once I stopped trying to micro-manage my life and relax in the knowledge that I didn’t need to be in control of everything coz God was/is, that I started to feel alive again. I felt able to give of myself without feeling so drained all the time. I felt like I could in fact enjoy the moment with the people I caught up with, without stressing out over the things I had to do in the next moment. It was incredibly freeing and I’m so glad God used the unassuming prayer of a new friend to give me my wake up call :).

Now I’m not saying I’ve reached a stage where I no longer stress about things. What I am saying is that when I feel my stress levels rising, I know how to counteract them by surrendering those feelings and stressors to God and acknowledge his sovereignty over that particular situation – knowing that each stressful moment is an opportunity to experience God’s grace in my life. And when this shift in perspective happens, that’s when real peace and freedom is found :)

– Ames

life investments

Over the last week or so, I’ve been slowly making my way through the book, ‘The Invested Life,” by Joel C. Rosenberg and Dr. T.E. Koshy.  The subtitle to the book is, ‘making disciples of all nations one person at a time’.

The book is based around two simple questions:

  • Who is investing in me?
  • Whom am I investing in?

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about this book are the personal testimonies that pepper the chapters of how the lives of men and women have been transformed because of those who took the time to invest in them and disciple them.

In Chapter 2, the authors highlight three characteristics of a disciple that really come in the form of the people they have around them.  Dr Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary puts it like this:

  • a “Paul” – an older and wiser believer to invest in your spiritual growth;
  • a “Barnabas” – a friend who encourages you, teaches you and keeps you accountable; and
  • a “Timothy” – a younger believer in whose life you can invest.

– mentioned on pg 29, The Invested Life

Lately, I’ve come to better understanding of the role I’ve been given to mentor the “Timothys” under my care.  I know that my life is not my own – in the sense that whether I like it or not, these guys and girls watch how I live and potentially will follow the example I set in how I approach ministry, my work, relationships, my prayer life… it’s an incredible responsibility but at the same time, such a privilege to be a positive influence in the next generation of leaders.  It’s how we leave a legacy that outlasts our earthly lives – we can do a good job of it or just float through life accumulating things and investing in things that have no eternal value.

I’m also so thankful for the “Barnabases” that God has sent my way in the last year or two.  After I moved into my current church home, I thought I would need to join a life group at a slightly bigger church to get the support and encourage I needed to continue serving faithfully at the place that God has placed me.  But, God had other plans :).  Soon after, people I’d met over the years but had not really formed strong or sustained friendships with, started to come out of the ‘woodwork’.  He has pinpointed some individuals who have spoken faith and truth into my life and continues to bring people in to encourage me in my walk with Him.  I’ve recognised that I’m not the kind of person that needs that constant daily contact to keep me on track but every once in a while, a good D&M over coffee/food with a sister in Christ is enough to carry me over for a few more months before I need my ‘hit’ of inspiration so to speak :P.  God is good.

I guess right now I’m still praying for God to highlight the “Pauls” in my life.  I definitely count my parents as my “Pauls” who have invested copious time and effort into my spiritual growth but I know that it’s important to have someone outside of the family context to speak into my life as well.  There is someone I have in mind but I think more prayer is needed before I approach them.  Afterall, life investments shouldn’t be taken lightly…

So, who is investing in you?  And whom are you investing in?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

– Ames –

content

That’s the word that comes to mind as I reflect on the day… though not everything went to plan, they worked out perfectly because of Romans 8:28 –>

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.

I love to picture it like a jigsaw puzzle… We pick up a piece and think it’s supposed to fit in a certain place, but then God picks up another piece and says, ‘Here, this is the one that’s meant to go in next.’  He reveals it to us step by step, enough that we know which piece to put in place, but not enough to see the full picture yet until the masterpiece is finished.  Then we’ll be able to stand back in awe of the wonderful picture that he was putting together for us, for our benefit, for us to enjoy… for His ultimate glory.
God, you are so good.
– Ames –

no regrets

I had someone ask me recently whether, in terms of relationships/dating, I had any regrets.

If I had my time again with the benefit of hindsight, would I have done things differently?  Absolutely.

Would I have stopped things in their tracks before launching into something that was not of God? Absolutely.

Would I have listened to the godly counsel and wisdom of my parents and those around me?  Absolutely.

However, am I glad for the lessons that I’ve learnt from my past experiences?  Absolutely.

For whatever happens in the future though, I want to approach relationships with the question:

How can I maximise the glory given to God in this relationship?

Inspired by this video:

“You’ll never regret the things that you didn’t do.”

So here’s to a future of no regrets.

– Ames –

put on love

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

– Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)

I firmly believe that God’s heartbeat is for unity, not against it.  To bring about unity requires love.  Because where there are people, there are problems.  Why problems?  Because in every situation, we bring along our own set of views, opinions and baggage which most likely will differ at least to a certain degree from the person that we are in conflict with.  What do we do then?  Do we stand on opposing sides, demanding the other to back down, else they will suffer the consequences that we believe they rightly deserve?

My question is always, “What would Jesus do?”  What would the people who are chosen by God do?  The answer I think is clear in the above passage in Colossians.  Clothe yourselves with love or as the NIV reads, Put on love.

“If I take offense easily; if I am content to continue in cold unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” – Amy Carmichael

– Ames –