back into wholeness

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

– 1 Corinthians 12:12-20

Having sprained my ankle a few days ago, I made two key observations about how the body works when one part is injured….

1 ) Straightforward tasks take so much longer – the rest of the body has to work so much harder to compensate for the part that is not functioning as it should.  The body gets tired quickly and other people have to be called in to do tasks that should have been effortless for you.  The assistance that you call in may end up hurting other parts of the body i.e. getting bruises under your arms from crutches.

2) However, just because it was difficult, didn’t mean that I gave up on my ankle.  Just because it was causing me pain and slowing me down didn’t mean that I just cut it off, thinking I’d be better without it.  Nope. I know I still need my ankle if I’m going to function properly and reach my full potential.  Hence, I’ve done my best to rest it, giving it time to heal.  Accommodating it as best I could to reduce the swelling, bandaging it up during the day and then giving it room to breath at night.  Slowly and surely, there are signs of improvement and I should be back to 100% by early next week.

If this is how we look after our physical body, why is it that sometimes when members of the body of Christ are being difficult, our first reactions tend to be, “Oh we don’t need them, they can leave” or sometimes we attack others when they are hurting?  Sure, they may be a drain of our energy and resources but as Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, we each have a unique role to play and none is more important than the others.  Of course that doesn’t mean we won’t stumble and fall.  We’re still imperfect beings in the process of being perfected by the grace of God.  However, instead of picking on the weakness of others, we should be looking for ways to nurse/love each other back into wholeness in Christ.

I feel like this also applies to the relationships between churches and other churches too.  If a pastor or a church has fallen into sin, I don’t think it’s our place to go around condemning them or speaking badly about them.  It’s not that I think you condone the sin – I believe God is a just God and will judge them accordingly and there will be consequences for the sin – but just like we wouldn’t cut off a part of our body when it’s injured, I don’t think we should just leave our fellow brothers and sisters to ‘rot away’, but encourage them to repent and love them back into wholeness as well.

It’s unfortunate that there have been many stories of those that have been ‘burnt’ by the Church, but Jesus came to reconcile man to God and as Christ’s ambassadors, restoration and healing should be our priorities rather than deciding who is right or who is wrong in a conflict.

– Ames

That Story – what started this blog.

There is one last story I would like to share before beginning the 2011 wrap up.  It’s the story that I was trying to run away from when I launched this blog at the start of this year however, this blog has inadvertently documented the journey I’ve had to take to really find freedom from the past.  I hope that in telling this story, it will symbolically be buried and there will be no need for it to be mentioned again (except in the context of lessons learnt and for the purposes of encouraging others working through past hurts and pain).  

So here it goes…

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A Story: Friend For Life, Part 3 – how it changed

Part 1 and Part 2 can be found here and here.

I remember the day I told him.  I felt like we were such good friends so why wouldn’t I?  I think I had an inkling that he was harbouring feelings for me but as he never verbalised it, I didn’t think it should matter.

I told him about the boy who’d expressed that he liked me (a story for another post).  I told him how I knew that the boy must have been on the rebound and nothing was likely to come of it.  I joked about it but he didn’t say much in response.

I just put it down to it being one of his off-days.  However, the next day, a full-blown confession waited for me in my inbox.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know what to say.  I also was a few weeks away from the exams of my final semester so I asked for his patience which he had no choice but to give.  I left him in the dark for the next month as my friendship with the other boy unexpectedly accelerated into something I had neither anticipated or foreseen – it had all the markings of a relationship though it was never officially labelled as one.

Anyway, the time came when he requested a meeting with me.  I told him it was horrible timing as my grandma also had just gone into hospital (that was true) but if I was being honest, I just didn’t know how to handle it.  I cared for him deeply but I also knew my heart wasn’t where his was.  So I asked for more time.  He told me later about how that period had been the darkest for him.  And that was when his own journey began…

I felt so alone. One night I just prayed to God. I prayed for Him to help me. I prayed that I would do anything, absolutely anything if He would just take this pain away. Right then, I felt the pain go away. I continued to pray. I prayed for Him to take away all my burdens and my anger. That night I gave my life for God. I told Him, ‘Here is my life take it, everything I have planned, everything I did has failed.  Take it and show me your plans, for I know that Your plans never fail, that your plans are amazing beyond my imagination.’ As I kept on praying, these waves of love were coming and healing me. I was no longer in pain. It is a feeling that is beyond words. That week I must have prayed over 1000 times. Not for myself only but for you as well.

———-

You may wonder why I am so transparent with these stories that are so obviously written from or based on personal experience.  I find that once I am able to talk/write about an event, I know that it has become a subject of the past and no longer hangs over the present.  It’s therapeutic and I think a necessary part of any form of ‘letting go’.  Dear FFL, if you still read this blog, I hope you’ll understand my need to share this.

♥ Ames

how wonderful

How wonderful it is to experience the freedom that can be found only in Christ.

How wonderful it is to feel genuine happiness for someone who has hurt you in the past.

How wonderful it is to be fully released from disappointment, hurt and sadness.

How wonderful it is to clearly see the evidence of growth and maturity in yourself.

How wonderful it is to be at peace with the world and with those around you.

How wonderful it is to know that you are living the life you were meant to live.

How wonderful it is to be alone but never lonely. 

How wonderful it is to live in complete liberty – only possible by the power of God.

Amen.

♥ Ames

‘bouncing off the walls’

That’s how I would describe how I feel right now.  I must have been living out such a dampened version of myself for so long that I’d forgotten just how amazing it is to be completely free and fully alive in Christ!  I imagine this is how some people feel like after they have received Christ for the first time after living in darkness for many years… to have the light switches flicked on and the world become bright, beautiful and technicolour :).

By the grace of God, I grew up in a strong Christian home.  There hasn’t been a day where I was not aware that God loved me and for that I am so thankful.  However, because of such a strong foundation, there was also no miraculous conversion story – my faith journey had always been a steady one of gradual growth and maturity up to October 2009.  This is not necessarily a bad thing but I think I began to settle into a comfortable kind of Christianity, where prayer and reading the Bible was more about what I wanted and thought I needed and very little about practically reaching out to the lost souls that are crying out for a Saviour.  I think I became complacent and started living out from a place of working for my righteousness rather than depending on God’s grace in all areas of my life.  It became time for God to shake me out of my self-focused Christian stupor.

I remember once secretly wishing that I had an awesome testimony like the drug dealers and prostitutes who suddenly surrender their lives to Christ after an encounter with God.  I wished that I would have an amazing story to tell people where they would just get blown away with God’s grace and love.  Be careful of what you wish for as you might just get more than you bargained for lol.

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delirious with joy

Is it possible to be delirious with joy?

This past day I’ve had this giddy feeling and I seem to always feel a slight smile on my face, even in the midst of the dreary, stormy Melbourne weather.  It’s like being in love for the first time but this time, I’m not in love with the boy who will go on to break my heart, I’m in love with the Saviour who nursed me back into wholeness.  So perfectly too.  The beauty of His healing power is that it won’t even leave a scar once the process is complete (reminds me of how Daniel’s friends walked out of the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke on their clothes).

For the FIRST TIME, in what has been a difficult 2+ years, the clouds that were hanging over my head have totally lifted and the forecast is clear, blue skies here on in :D.  Those clouds will never bother me again, praise Jesus!  I feel so detached from all that hurt and pain… I look back now and wonder, ‘Seriously?  Did that really all happen to me?’  It’s almost like it’s another girl’s story now but I still get to retain the benefits of the life lessons, the character-shaping and the experience of God’s grace in a new and personal way.  I get the better deal at the end of it all :).

God is so good.  He is so faithful.  Earlier this week, my BFF sent me a text with this quote, saying it reminded her of me:

God can heal a broken heart but first we need to give him all the pieces.

It’s true.  I can testify to this truth.  Why I held onto that last piece boggles my mind but I’m so glad I finally let go of my own shame and guilt.  Freedom is found in Christ, and Christ alone!

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 think Romans 8:28 is fast becoming my life verse haha

————

Oh Babe,

I can’t wait to see the amazing love story God has planned for us!  I guess He’s already working on it as I type this so in a way, we’re already living it… maybe we’re in the prologue right now haha

Anyway, I know it’s gonna be awesome – not because I’m building up a false hope about what courtship and marriage will look like, but because my hope is in the Author of Love and He is going to do a much better job of writing this story than either of us… I know it’s going to make people stand back and go, ‘Wow, that had to be God, had to be of God.’  I love you sooooooo much already and my heart will beat only for you.

Always and forever,

Your girl.

♥ Ames

a beacon of light

Oh Lord, You are so faithful.  THANK YOU for healing my heart.  THANK YOU for making me whole again, renewing my mind, my soul, my spirit and my hope.  THANK YOU for taking away all that was unnecessary and taking away all that was stunting my growth.  THANK YOU for the ongoing process you are taking me through, perfecting me and making me more like You.  My heart’s cry, dear God is that I may be a beacon of light.  That my life may shine of Your love and goodness and lead other to You.

The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in His temple. 

– Psalm 27:4 (NLT)

♥ Ames

hurting tummies

Amidst the conversation and chatter, wrapping and eating, she spies the little boy huddled on a chair, clutching his stomach.  “What’s wrong?” she asks as she gently places her hand on his back.  He looks up in anguish, his face contorted in a grimace.  “My tummy hurts,” he says before curling back into a little ball.  She remembers back to a time when she was his age and what her father had told her in the same situation.  “Let’s pray to Jesus and ask him to take away the pain, alright?”

He nods weakly and she leads him a short prayer.  She then pats him on the back, “Hope you feel better soon.”  As she begins to walk away, she sees him jump up with renewed energy and watches him run to his mother.  “Mum, mum!  Amy just prayed for me and now my tummy doesn’t hurt!  Jesus healed me!”  She smiles and remembers that little girl who experience a miracle of healing, cementing her belief that the God of the Bible is real and that Jesus does care, even for someone as small and insignificant as herself.  She finds the little boy a few moments later and leads him in a prayer of thanksgiving.

——-

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  And I love that He cares about the little things like hurting tummies.  And, I love how He can use us to share His love with the young and the old.

This night was for the university students but the night was also for that little boy.  I pray that he’ll never forget tonight.

♥ Ames

the new is here!

I spoke with my old youth pastor on the phone today.  He called to see how I’ve been since the move.  It wasn’t a long conversation but as I gave thought to the things that have happened in the last 6 months, all I could say was how gracious God has been.  What I thought would be quite painful… wasn’t.  The transition into a new church and ministry was almost effortless (must be a God-thing ha) and I can see that God really has opened new doors and given me a new cause to live and breathe for.  This is how The Church grows and expands.  I’m sure I’ve written that before lol, this blog probably gets a bit repetitive at times as I don’t keep track of my posts as well as Leeleegirl :P.

I slept well last night.  Thanks for the prayers.  I also listened to the last part of ‘Getting Past Your Past’ – the part that I needed most to hear… Forgiving Yourself.

As a PK, I’ve always felt called to live by a higher standard, like the whole world (at least the church world) had their eyes on my every move (though, as Christians that’s what we should be doing anyway right?).  I was meant to set an example, be a role model for others, be the encourager, the one people could draw strength from etc. 

So when I was left to mend my brokenheart, I felt such a deep sense of total failure.  I felt like I’d disappointed my parents, God and most importantly (for my aching heart), betrayed my future spouse (whoever he may be).  I knew that God forgave me and my parents were so kind to me, even as I confessed all that I’d done behind their back but I had buried away the guilt, thinking that I’d already dealt with it.  The head knowledge of God’s truth and love was failing to translate into something real and personal. 

Hence, every interaction I had with the person that hurt me would indirectly and subconsciously remind me of the guilt I still carry around which would result in anger, frustration and shame.  Long story short, like David in Psalm 38:4, my guilt was overwhelming me like a burden too heavy to bear. 

Thank God for his good timing and the Holy Spirit that guides.  The words of Craig Groeschel in that podcast pierced something deep inside: “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”  It’s ok not to be perfect, we all have a past but God gives us the power to help overcome our past.

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a journey of forgiveness

You’re like a bad habit that’s so hard to shake

Who knew this decision would be so tough to make

It’s time to stop playing back the past mistakes

It’s time to move on and forget the heartbreak.

– Ames, 18/10/11

Oh, boy.

Seriously.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

You’d think that I would be over it all by now and in my head I feel like I am.  Well, I’m definitely ready for it to be over already.  I was ready from the moment I said I was going to forgive him- not out of feeling like I wanted to or he deserved it but because I felt like it was my Christian duty to do so.  However, it hasn’t been easy.  I’ve realised that for some, yeah, forgiveness can happen just like ‘that’ *click fingers* but I’ve realised, I’m not one of those people.  I always thought I was but I guess I had lived quite a sheltered life until I got tested.  My parents were/are great and did their best to protect me from all sorts of pains but there came a time where my false sense of security got the better of me.

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