It’s day 5 of January.
It’s day 5 of tithing my time to God.
And it’s day 5 of just knowing this wonderful, peaceful, beautiful joy filling my heart in a new way when I think about the Lord.
I’ve been resting more in His Presence.
Like, winding down in my spirit, halting-the-bombardment-of-thoughts-that-cascade-through-my-busy-mind, treasuring every tiny moment; resting.
And in this place of stillness, I’ve become aware of just how much rushing I’ve been previously guilty of.
Because when I sit and think about Jesus; when I engage my mind and deliberately fix the eyes of my heart on Him; He becomes my vision, and my thought life just naturally changes.
I am struck, impacted and guided by different motivations.
I consider that compared to this brief, tiny life, this vapour; we have an entire eternity with the King of Kings.
I can’t even get my head around that.
I remember that Jesus is coming back.
Soon. Really, really soon.
And I remember it without the buzzing distraction of a thousand irrelevant, whimsical thoughts.
His Kingship is perfect.
I know that there is more hope than we could ever articulate in words, comprehend fully in our head-space, or engage with completely in our hearts.
I see afresh that pleasing His heart, slowing down, and just stopping to rest in that place of encounter with Him is where Holy Spirit can truly bring strength and delight to my soul.
And that means I can endure.
I want to please Him; I want to understand the first commandment, which leads to the second.
But running with endurance means getting His perspective.
And if I’m not resting, then I’m not hearing.
I have been so challenged about joy!
Sometimes I get a bit sombre about God. I do.
Just sometimes, when life’s been hard, and I’ve fallen into the pattern of going to God with, ‘God please do this…’
It gets a bit sombre.
But Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about this joy.
That He is a happy God.
That the Word says that He sings over us, that He spins over us.
God is a God of joy. God is fun.
I’ve been challenged by this.
Sometimes I don’t think of God as fun, but God is fun.
The Holy Spirit is fun.
God is joyful.
He wants to bring laughter. He longs to bring revelation. He desires to bring an overflow.
And do you know, the greatest thing about this is, that God wants to bring that same joy, even when we’re in sorrow.
God wants to bring that same joy, even when things don’t seem to be going as we want them to go. Because He really loves us.
And I genuinely believe that that love changes us and doesn’t stop changing us.
I want to be changed.
I want to be changed more into the likeness of Christ every day for the rest of my life.
I want to run my race, and I want to run my race not at a doddling pace, where I saunter along.
I want to run my race with perseverance.
And when I fall, I want to run to God and say ‘God, this is not going to hold me back. I am going to keep on running’.
I want to run my race and I want to run it strong.
I want to run it because the Holy Spirit is my helper. And He is going to propel me forwards.
And the Father cheers me on, and the Son stands by my side.
And I want to run this race and know that I am pleasing the heart of God with everything I do. Because I choose Him. I choose Him. Because He first chose me.
And that is what God has been really challenging me about in this place of rest.
I shared this story in a sermon last year, but it still makes me smile when I think about it.
I have a really naughty dog. He’s called Solomon, which I hoped would be symbolic of how wise he was, and that just backfired majorly.
He’s really, really bad.
And a lady I know from church who has chickens kindly gave me some eggs the other week; and I thought: eggs.
They don’t smell of food, they don’t even really look like food. They’re just shells on the outside.
So, I was nipping into Tesco’s, and the dog was in the car, and I was like, ‘the eggs will be fine, they’re just in the front shelf; but it won’t be a problem at all’.
And I went into Tesco’s, and I came back… and… there was raw egg all over the car.
You have never seen mess like it.
There were pools of egg in the gearstick, there were broken eggs on the seats, there was egg on the roof; there was egg everywhere!
The dog knows, obviously, that he’s been quite bad.
So the dog is cowering in the back seat, because he knows that he’s going to be in big trouble for being a very, very bad dog.
So the dog is cowering there.
The dog is covered in egg.
There are bits of shell all over his fur.
There is yoke stuck to his ears.
If you’ve met my dog you can imagine. I mean, you have to laugh, but it wasn’t really very funny.
Do you know, I sometimes feel a little bit like that with God. I’ve made a mess. It’s my own fault. It’s because I’ve done something stupid, normally. And I know that it’s because of my own sin I’m there, and I’m kind of scared to approach God because I’m in such a mess.
Like, I just feel covered.
I’m just covered in my sin; because even though I believe Him, and I love Him, and I’ve been trying to run for Him with everything I am… I’ve still just made a mess this time.
And I kind of approach God, and I’m cowering, covered in ‘egg’, feeling like I don’t know how I got here or how I’m going to ever fix this. I’m scared.
And you know, God looks at me, and I look up at Him expecting wrath, but He gazes at me, and He gently says, ‘Give me your despair. Give me your messed up clothes. And let me give you a robe of righteousness and a crown of beauty. Let me wash you off, and pick you up and show you that I see your heart. I see that you strive for me. That you are not a sinner, but a lover of me, whom I have chosen, restored and redeemed; let me show you.’
I think sometimes we feel like we’re in a mess because of stuff we’ve done, and sometimes it’s because of stuff that other people have done to us, and sometimes it’s just because life doesn’t seem fair.
But for whatever reason, a lot of the time, we can get caught up, rushing around feeling like we’re in a mess.
But God’s promises are the same. That He has done everything to bridge the gap between us.
He has done everything.
So He stands before me, and if there’s distance between me and Him, it’s me.
I have to go, ‘God. God take it. Take my mess. I don’t want it anymore. Take it. Just take everything. Take the stuff that isn’t even a mess, that I actually love, but it’s coming before You. Take it away. Because I don’t want the distance. I just want to please You.’
That was just my heart cry this morning.
There should be no distance between us because my Saviour, my beautiful Saviour, has done everything for me. And He says, ‘Come to me. Do not let there be any distance between us anymore’.
He sings that to me.
He says, ‘Peta, do not let there be any distance between us’.
Whatever darkness you feel is surrounding you, whether that’s your fault, someone else’s, or just the world’s, whatever darkness is surrounding you, God says, ‘I shatter your darkness.’
Because that’s what He did.
That’s the power of the blood of Jesus.
That’s the power of the infilling of the Spirit.
That we pour out everything we are, and we are filled with this Living Water that overflows; not broken cisterns, but Living Water. Because He loves us and He calls us by name, so that we can respond with love and call Him by name.
He knows the pain of my life, the trial of my heart. He knows my joys and my sorrows, and He loves me. That’s just a little bit more joy.