Wonder

I do’nt know about you but the last few weeks have placed quite a burden on my heart, I have become so much more aware of the hurt and the brokenness of the world as it occurs closer to home; with the attacks in Manchester and London as well as with our brothers and sisters facing persecution in the Middle of the East. These are hard times but times that require us to get on our knees and let our hearts break for the things that break His as we pray for restoration and healing, for the coming of His Kingdom.

However, amidst these terrors God makes us aware of His presence and the joy that comes from knowing that in the darkness His light shines even brighter and won’t be extinguished. He challenges us to look at things from a different perspective.

Recently I have been obsessed with Hillsong United’s latest song “Wonder.” This song explains the wonder we experience as we choose to share God’s way of seeing the world, and really reminded me to be joyful in times of trial, to live in constant wonder of Him despite the brokenness and suffering of the world.

The chorus declares “I see the world in light, I see the world in wonder, I see the world in life, Bursting in living colour, I see the world your way, And I’m walking in the light.” Does this mean we see through rose tinted glasses? Not at all, but rather we have a hope that although we see the reality of sin and suffering we can see the light and aim to adopt God’s perspective.

I was really struck by the lines “You’re the wonder in the wild. Turning wilderness to wonder.” Thinking about them I challenged myself to look at the personal wilderness that I sometimes walk through and reflected on how God can turn that wilderness into wonder. For instance, when I come out of a season in the wilderness I can look back in wonder at what God has delivered me from.

But not only is God’s wonder revealed when we leave our wilderness, but its right there with us in the midst of our pain. This time last week I watched Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester concert and was reduced to tears as I watched in wonder at the unity and compassion shown in the midst of so much suffering. I truly believe that in the pain of the aftermath of that horrendous attack God’s wonder was revealed, does that make it all ok? No but it instils a hope within us, it ignites a light to overcome the darkness, a wonder in what God can do in the midst of suffering.

So I’m aware that this month She Spreads Light have been focusing on the theme of Honour. This post has not specifically touched on this, but I felt that God placed this message on my heart to share with you all. I encourage you however to really think about your perspective , have you chosen to see the world through the eyes of God? It is such an HONOUR (I knew I’d get it in somewhere) that God invites us to share in His wonder, to see things the way He does, so why wouldn’t we?

Love Always. 

Rachel x

Mercy, We need You

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”- 1 John 1:8-9

What a passage! The religiosity and moralistic part of me is called out and convicted here, because if we are truly honest a lot of the time we distract ourselves from our own sin by looking at the sin in others and seeing ourselves as clean. But realistically we too are so full of sin. I have been really challenged this week to humbly read God’s word, allowing myself to be convicted by what it says and I pray that you too will have this conviction as you read the verses above.

But on to the topic of mercy, I think these verses perfectly encapsulate just how great God’s mercy is for us. Not only does it tell us of God’s merciful character, but encourages us to confess our sinful nature knowing that with a repenting heart we will be made clean. By truly acknowledging the depth of our brokenness the fullness of God’s mercy is revealed to us.

The thing is we will never get everything right, as Paul writes we “all fall short of the glory of God”, therefore we are always in desperate need of His mercy. Despite the amount of times we run the opposite direction, when we return with a humble heart asking for forgiveness he mercifully embraces us. He never gets fed up or says “do I really have to give you more mercy”, instead in his immeasurable love and generosity he forgives us time and time again. However, this doesn’t give us permission to do whatever we want, but allows us to rest in the knowledge that no matter how many times we mess up “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38) because of God’s mercy.

In light of this I challenge you to take some time this week to prayerfully examine your heart,and to acknowledge your brokenness. However doing so in the knowledge that if you repent on this you will be covered in His mercy.  Remember that the Father doesn’t see us as objects of condemnation, but of praise as Paul tells the Romans in chapter 2:29, ” a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” that is the amazing, intangible, fullness of his mercy.

Fancy M&S Paper 

As exam season rolls on up in its beat up 1980s beetle I feel my faith starting to dwindle. If I’m totally honest. Balancing exams & the rest of life can be such a pain. Most of the time I forget I was put on the earth for a higher purpose than to pass my exams. (all the Christian moma’s are going to be mad). 
Working hard and diligently is so important – but that’s a post for another day. I so easily entangle my worth with a letter on a piece of paper. I think of God as the examiner circling the times I get life right and putting a disgusting red line through most of my attempts. At the end of most days; if I’m honest – I’d be sitting on a U when it comes to living for Jesus. If we are honest all of us would. But God (my favourite two words) in His beauty and wonder chose and continually chooses not to treat us like that. 

As I write these words it’s 8 am – I’ve had 4 hours sleep and I’m sitting in the darkness. Sometimes we treat our lives like this. We sit in the darkness thinking that God wants to keep us there, knowing we are unworthy of His light. Believing that if we sit here a little longer it will make Him forgive us – that the darkness will hide our darkness. But in fact the darkness simply makes the light shine brighter. The light of Jesus that is within you can never be dwindled out unless you let it & even still His truth shines out of everything He touches. 

“The lights shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

– John 1 v 15

Period. This is the truth. 

 

Mercy comes from a whole bunch of Latin words. Google it. It’s actually quite interesting but at the heart of the English word mercy is derived from misericors which means merciful. The word is derived from who God is. Merciful. If that’s not the most beautiful thing I don’t know what is! God created the word, to be understood in our language – out of a word that describes exactly who He is. 

He has never been afraid of your mess. He never will be afraid of your mess. God’s love & mercy is not a prize to be won but a gift to be shared. It’s not packaged in M&S fancy paper or got a big pink ribbon on it. It’s exposed, open, given freely always. it’s yours for the taking. All you have to do is receive. You might not deserve mercy. That’s not the point. God’s gifts aren’t based on your behaviour but on His character. I for one am so glad. 
Be blessed today. Walk knowing He is merciful. Google the word if you don’t even know what it means & begin to unpack His truths. 

He is merciful & because of this you are seen, loved and forgiven for all of eternity. 
Bundles & Bundles of love,

Shannon X

Welcome Home

Sweet One. Stop striving. You know that feeling when you are simply so tired. When the world isn’t in colours because your brain doesn’t actually have enough energy to compute them. When you feel empty and lifeless and full of regret. When you believe you are the sum of; the words you have said and those that have been said about you. It is so easy to get bogged down in the ideas of others, the pressures of who people want you to be and what they want you to do. And you know the worst bit about it – sometimes you don’t even realise the pressure you are under and how it shapes who you are becoming.

There’s a quote that says only diamonds are created under pressure. Yes that’s true – but I don’t believe we were created to be lifeless rocks that are admired and sold for a fortune. Things crack under pressure too – they break. Most of the time when something is under too much pressure it breaks and causes a disaster. So tonight I’m not going to write about some flowery, cliché quote in the hope that you will find truth and motivation. We are going to delve into the deep grit of the bible. The ugly parts, the parts we don’t understand – the whole thing. Why? Because all scripture is fundamentally written by the hands of men but the heart of God.

That means that what is written and what the bible says – is the truth. It’s the truth. Even if we don’t understand it, even if our culture screams something else at us, even if our hearts really struggle to believe it – it is truth. God has written this beautiful book for us – for you. For you to open it and be inspired, to get creative, to be encouraged, built up, corrected – because he loves us. The depth of God could never be more beautifully expressed that the harrowing image of the cross. So for all of you tonight who feel beat up and spat out this is for you. For you – who feels like you are crumbling under the pressure. Know there is a way out and his name is Jesus. His arms are always open to welcome you home.

The underlying theme of Hosea is that you are valuable. Value isn’t something that you have. It’s something that you are. God so divinely knit you together to be you. Because you have something locked inside of you that only he can unlock. Something that the whole world needs. Something beautiful. Value is part of your character – things that you touch become valuable simply because you are there. The people around you are so valuable.

Gomer was valuable, Israel was and is valuable. That’s why this book was written. To fundamentally reveal to Gods people that they’re chosen, that they’re valuable. That therefore what He has for them is greater than how they are currently living.

Gomer made huge mistakes everyday – she ran, she betrayed, she hurt others and hurt herself. Sound familiar? She got lost admits what she thought she deserved because she didn’t realise that she was made worthy of something so much more.

She didn’t realise that every dream that goes to waste finds new life before his face – he gives all you could desire and so much more. – K.DiMarco

 

In our first blog post about Gomer’s story we saw how she never believed her life could end up the way it did. God wrote this book about a whole nation not one individual – Gods power can redeem a whole a nation for he plans our rescue before we even want him. He is able to rescue you. When we let him in, we see we have value beyond anything that could compare.

So Hosea and Gomer. I hope you have enjoyed it. Words can’t express how much of a privilege it is to create something that I love for a community of people I love. Live knowing your name is value, that God doesn’t create anything to be wasted. You are always welcome home no matter how many times you wander.

Hosea 14 –
O Israel, come back! Return to your God!
You’re down but you’re not out.
Prepare your confession
and come back to God.
Pray to him, “Take away our sin,
and accept our confession.
Receive as restitution
our repentant prayers.
Assyria won’t save us;
horses won’t get us where we want to go
We’ll never again say ‘our god’
to something we’ve made or made up.
You’re our last hope. Is it not true
that in you the orphan finds mercy?”
4-8 “I will heal their waywardness.
I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out.
I will make a fresh start with Israel.
He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring.
He’ll put down deep oak tree roots,
he’ll become a forest of oaks!
He’ll become splendid—like a giant sequoia,
his fragrance like a grove of cedars!
Those who live near him will be blessed by him,
be blessed and prosper like golden grain.
Everyone will be talking about them,
spreading their fame as the vintage children of God.
Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods.
From now on I’m the one who answers and satisfies him.
I am like a luxuriant fruit tree.
Everything you need is to be found in me.”
9 If you want to live well,
make sure you understand all of this.
If you know what’s good for you,
you’ll learn this inside and out.
God’s paths get you where you want to go.
Right-living people walk them easily;
wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling.

His Grace covers you. 

Hey, you. 

I think that often we remember parts of our past which are broken. The parts which aren’t particularly positive memories and the chapters that aren’t really nice to think of. I know that a lot of us have broken pasts, many of us are going through a patch which is so cracked and so broken that it is so hard to even piece together a few steps. Whether the brokenness is right now, in the past or in the future, it’s relevant to us all.

If I’m being honest, sometimes I think things like why did God save me when I did this and why does He love me when I do this and why did He choose me and why… and the list goes on and the whys get longer.

I’m continuously baffled by the love and mercy God has for us, even when we still sin, we still do bad things, we don’t do as much for Him as we could and should. I am still bewildered at the fact that He loves so deeply even when He knows the deepest and darkest low in our life.

I am still perplexed that He forgives the humanly unforgivable. He forgives the worst sin, He forgives the deepest hate, He even forgives us for the devastating and disastrous past we’ve lived.  But He does. He really does. It is amazing and it’s incredible and it’s kind of unbelievable, but it is so true and so real. And so is His Grace.

By His grace. Our pasts are forgiven. The addictions, the sorrow, the hate, the brokenness. It’s all forgiven. We receive the most grace in the brokenness. He seeks us in the brokenness. I was watching a video a while ago  and it says “once we experience Gods’ love, our broken past is nothing but the proof of gods grace.” How amazing is that?

God sees you. He sees the loving you. The you who texts that person that looked a bit sad, the you who buys a coffee to a stranger, the one who lives for Him and shows His love. When looking at you, He doesn’t look at you and be like “nope I can’t answer that prayer, you done that bad thing last year.” He doesn’t say “no I’ll pass this time because she didn’t give that guy on the side of the street any spare change.” He also doesn’t look at you and say “no i can’t forgive them because their past is too dark.”  He doesn’t see your past. He doesn’t look at your past or the wrongs in your life. He has those covered. He doesn’t leave us in that brokenness. All by grace. Forgive yourself because His grace has already covered you in mercy and love.  He says “yes, I love you and I forgive you” and continues to say it, even after the 13th time, even after every single time.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:9

Lots of love, from all of us at She Spreads Light. X 

Understanding Grace

Its nearly Easter. A time when the word “Grace” gets thrown around like confetti, the intention is there as people say “God’s grace is amazing” yet the word falls lightly, having little impact. The over use of the word has robbed it of its amazing meaning. Google defines it as ” the free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” So practically it is the undeserved goodness God shows to us. Isn’t that amazing? But sometimes I think we’ve become desensitized to the power of this word, so this week I challenge you to truly meditate over the amazing gift of grace and what the really means for us. But how can we do this?

Read Hosea

I have to admit I’ve never read this book, but I have read an adaption by Francine Rivers called “Redeeming Love.” This story for me perfectly portrays grace through the character of Hosea, who is divinely called to marry a prostitute named Gomer. Gomer goes back to another man after their marriage yet because of his love and grace Hosea takes her back despite the hurt she caused Him. How many times have we run from God? Yet every time He calls us back with His arms open wide. If you don’t fancy tackling Hosea just yet, why not read “Redeeming Love” the most moving adaptation Ive read.

Jesus Loving Barabbas

Unusual title? I thought so too when I first came across this video, however by the end I totally understood it. These 8 minutes completely changed my perspective on this part of the Easter story and made me see God’s grace in a whole new light.   Give it a watch here, you wont regret it.

https://youtu.be/RwX_EpNR4CA

Grab a notebook

As I’ve already said grace is God’s  favour towards us, who are so undeserving, so why not reflect on how God’s grace has personally touched your life. Make a list (or a spider diagram-whatever floats your boat) and write down ways in which God’s grace has manifested in your life. This is a great way to adopt a grateful heart whilst fully understanding God’s grace.

Today as you read this I pray that the words of Ephesians 2:8-9 will truly rest on your heart, ” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Know that it is because of God’s grace that you woke up this morning, that no matter what you do (for good or bad) you are covered by His love and grace.

 

comfortable

Comfort zones are comfortable and familiar. They’re not scary and we don’t have to take a leap of faith and we don’t have a rapid heart rate when we go into them.  That’s why we love them and rarely leave them. Leaving that comfort zone is sometimes almost completely debilitating and terrifying. I think many of us wait for God to tell us where to go or what to do next instead of just doing it when we feel that we want to, we wait until we feel comfortable to take that step.

I was watching a show when one of the characters said this and it kind of hit me:

“Everyday you don’t open the door, it gets a little easier to stay inside… no one can open this door but you.”

I just thought comfort zone. I think this is so true, I think that if you create a comfort zone and stay In it, it does become harder to leave it, it becomes harder to make dreams happen. A lot of us have beautiful dreams, but it’s so hard to carry them out and let them unfold due to this invisible box we have ourselves trapped inside. God will give you that dream and He will constantly speak to you and tell you to do it, but you have to take the action. You have to actually listen to him and believe that leaving that invisible box is safe, it’s not dangerous and it really isn’t scary. All you have to do is say yes. All you have to do is go and do it.

Nehemiah was like all of us. He had a comfort zone too. When the walls were destroyed in Jerusalem, he was shocked and hurt. Nehemiah prayed until God showed him what to do. God told him to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. Nehemiah didn’t like that thought. He was uncomfortable with it and was completely out of his comfort zone. He didn’t want to do it, but he knew his heart was in this and that he needed to do this for God’s glory.

Having a comfort zone is okay and it’s okay to go home and let your soul be at rest for a while, but don’t stay there, lock the door and don’t let anyone in. When you feel your heart telling you to go do that thing, come back to faith and loving Jesus, start that bible study or even just as simple as going and talking to that girl you feel needs prayer. Do it, if not for you, do it for Him. He is calling you to take that leap of faith and step out of your all too familiar comfort zone. When you take a leap of faith, it will become easier to open the door.

Do it afraid.