May 23rd

It has been three weeks since I came to this corner of the world. And how I have missed it. As we finish up digging deeper into what MERCY actually is and what it means for us -I want to tell you a story. A really honest story – one that really doesn’t make me seem like a good person or christ-like at all. The next hour is going to be honesty hour. From one tired and burnt out soul – to hopefully not, but probobally, another.

I’m extremely self-absorbed. Like really into myself – which is weird because honestly the world is full of so many more intresting people than myself. But even though that is true, I’m still self obsessed. If I’m honest. Which is a rule in honesty hour.

It was a Tuesday – the 23rd of May 2017. To be honest on the 23rd of May I couldn’t have told you it was actually that date. I was that far gone. I had a week full of exams and was truly feeling very sorry for myself. I had entered survival mode. Which soemtimes we can’t help but enter. But it is important to remeber survival mode isn’t what you were created for. It doesn’t exist in the kingdom of God – God created a world for us to thrive. But like many things when it comes to God I often forget and go my own way.

I was walking down the street thinking about Bali or Austria or some holiday that I was going to take really soon. With all the non-existing money I was earning from my non-existant job. I saw some rubbish on the ground. I have a rule. A rule that I don’t always stick to but still a rule. It is to pick up rubbish when I see it on the street. Yes I am that person & Yes I do care about the environment. Plus it is really good for testing how prideful you are. But that’s not the point. God said – clear as I have heard Him in a LONG time.

“Will you pick up my children who think they are trash (yes in my head God is American) and let me recycle them.”

I thought “oh that’s a nice thought, now back to my head clearing walk”. As I crossed the street, there she sat. I wish I could call her something other than she but I never got her name. She was sitting, in the cold on her coat – clutching a photograph. She was crying and blood was pouring out of her wound. Obviously at first I didn’t notice this – I was to absorbed in my head-clearing-poor-me-I-have-exams-walk.

I would love to say I stopped. That my initial thought was to help her, that I had some innate drive to sacv this woman. To atleast pray or soemthing that makes me sound like I actually want to live my life for Jesus. But I didn’t. I walked straight past her.

Afterall this night was about me. I deserved the walk – first off it was a walk, it was nothing special. I wasn’t treating to an incredible spa day. It was a walk people. Second I had worked hard all day. I justified all the reasons inside my head why I shouldn’t go check if she was ok. Afterall it was 10:30pm, I was in a dark park where people do drugs. Like real drugs, and ofcourse I know nothing of that because of my christian bubble, (but that is a post for another day). Plus she could have had a weapon, afterall leaving her there was the wise choice. Stranger danger is a real thing people.

God took control of my body in that moment and marched me – literally, to the woman. I sheepishly said are you ok.  In my head I was like she obviously isn’t shannon – wise up. But no other words would come out. I asked if there was anything I could do. I sat down. I told her I would be back in a minute. Then I got up. Fear took hold of me and I walked away. I went home. Got my mum (obviously) and then came back. There’s more to the story but that is not for today. In the end an ambulance came to take her away and heal her physical wounds.

First off I am not belittleing the fact that it is dangerous to talk to a stranger sitting alone in the park. I get that. I do. That’s why I got my mum.

However this story inheritely shows Gods heart. He asked me right before  if iI would do the very thing He knew I wouldn’t do. In that moment I felt like such a Peter. The bible is so relevant today.nThat morning I prayed the prayer, I pray every morning – “Dear Lord I thank you for this day and devote it back to you, let me not be lying when I say that I love you for today I could betray you”. (Its the shannon adaption of St Francis of Assisi’s prayer). That morning God knew that I would go a walk at 10:30pm and that I would come across a soul in need of comfort. He knew I would walk away. He knew I would be afraid.

The world that God intended us to live in may seem so far away. Huge mountains of pride, selfishness, pain, loss, busyness – stand in the way of us living life to the full. Bringing the reality of heaven on earth. All we can do is daily fall on our face, aware of the incredible things christ bought for us with His love. Know we do life with God not for God. His mercy is tangible, it is alive, it is present, it is yours – if you want it.

Becasue of His divine love and beautiful mercy he descended from a heritage of messy people to be born literally into animal mess. Why? To save the mess that is you and I. So often we make it all so complicated. Theology  can be complicated. But Jesus is perfect theology. He loved and continues to love the mess that I am. He continues to show me undeserving mercy. Even though I fail Him daily. I pay no price for this love or mercy. I simply get to live in it. And you do to. (Which is often hard to understnad). He chooses my mess and I hope that I will continue to partner with people who feel like a mess. I hope I will do it afraid but do it anyway. I hope that if I walk away 100  hundred times, I will still turn around and walk back.

From one girl living out heaven on earth afraid, to another,

Love Shannon x

Let The Light In

“Rise up and shine, for your light has come. The shining-greatness of the Lord has risen upon you. 2 For see, darkness will cover the earth. Much darkness will cover the people. But the Lord will rise upon you, and His shining-greatness will be seen upon you. 3 Nations will come to your light. And kings will see the shining-greatness of the Lord on you. – Isaiah 60 v 1- 3

As I sat down to write this morning, my pen took a little bit of scribbling before it fluidly came out of the nib. So often that is us. We take a little bit of mess before we become flexible to what God has for us. The art of taking pen to paper proves to us that everything beautiful, can be transformed and changed under some pressure. What I like to call this in the kingdom of God is – heavy rain. God teaches us that just like the pressure on the nib of the pen, rain may be painful – but rain cleanses, refreshes, and creates a clearer perspective. For fog, sunshine and wind are fleeting but in Northern Ireland rain is steadfast – just like pain may be. Rain reveals strength, it reveals a deep, stomach twisting hunger within you. It reveals what you are willing to fight for. It reveals what you say you believe because you know it’s the Christian way and what you truly believe. God wants us to be honest, vulnerable, broken and empty all at the time. Not because he wants to leave us there but simple because he wants to adorn worth over you and fill you with himself.

For so long in the media we have witnessed Instagram posts, bios and Pinterest snaps saying ‘define yourself’ – well I put it to you today that defining yourself is actually the worst thing you could ever do. For being defined by God is so much greater. Without God it’s all worthless. Have you ever really thought about it? Why in the grand scheme of things does it matter that you have value? God called you to have value out of love for every bone, muscle and fibrous tissue inside your body. He called you to have value because he created you. Because he took you out of himself. Because he looked at the world and seen the very thing he created in his likeness lonely – so he dreamed you up. He knew the world needed one of you. He created you in his likeness. He created you with passion, creativity, full of love and a wonder at his hand. He created woman out of man in order to co-reign the earth. This means you have worth because God loves you, because he called you to reign and because you are created in his likeness.

My heart for you today is that you understand your worth because when you do – life for you ultimately changes. When you understand – down to your core, that God has created you, to live differently. You walk knowing you are crowned, you live knowing that what he has for you is greater than the world could offer. You live knowing that your body isn’t something to be speculated at, you realise that you aren’t a fast food restaurant where people come to get what they need and leave you feeling empty. You realise that because you have worth you deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and most of all love. When you understand this, then you treat others the way they were intended to be treated. This changes the world. The world needs more people who understand their value so they can understand the value of others. You are valuable because of who lives inside of you. You are valuable because he came to earth and died for you. You are valuable because he speaks and it is so. Never forget it, please – when you are found without, he is found within. Rise up, the world needs a generation who understand their value in a self-obsessed world. Your identity in him speaks louder than your identify in anything else.

SSL Team x