Thursday, 22 August 2013

Spiritual reinforcements

Photo by Kayaker1204 on Flickr

So after that last sad post, I cried, and probably grieved my poor mum who is the one who sees me like this most often, and she hugged me and listened to my blubbering and gently reminded me to look to God.

So I went to my email and read today's WordLive notes on Isaiah 48:12-22.
God wants us to know about him, about his plans, his promises, his character. He wants us to know about life and how to live it well (v 17). Every day we face the question: ‘Will I look to God to learn how to live my life today?’ When we stop listening to God we shut ourselves out from his peace (v 18).
And just as I was writing this post, my first daily devotion from Mars Hill Church came in (I only signed up to it yesterday) with some absolute gold from Charles Spurgeon, reflecting on 1 Peter 5:10:
Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be built of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite. May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you.

But notice how this blessing of being established in the faith is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed—“After you have suffered a little while.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, those strange twistings of the branches—all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life.

Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.
This is why I heartily recommend subscribing to things like WordLive, Mars Hill and the Bible Society's Daily Bible that send you Bible verses and notes (there are others out there too, but those are the ones I use). Getting spiritual reinforcements throughout the day to help you battle those dark forces is just such a gift - sadly I often neglect to go there when I'm in the bottom of the pit, even though I know that's where to find peace. It's good to have a constant stream of truth coming at me, even when I'm not seeking it.

Edit to add:
Also have had plenty of spiritual reinforcement from wonderful friends who read that last post and prayed for me. Thank you dear ones! What a blessing to be part of such a family.

where I'm at

It's been a really hard week. I'm fighting ghosts in my own head. All I've wanted to do is sleep. I look at myself in the mirror and look mostly normal, and it doesn't seem to match up with how I feel inside.

It takes a lot of energy to focus and keep things in perspective. If I don't concentrate, everything is too hard; if anyone asks me to do anything it makes me feel like they're asking me to climb Everest and I feel stressed and upset about it. Unfortunately, when you've been on holidays for a week, your email inbox is basically nothing but people asking you to do things, lots of little things that just pile up and up. If I was well, none of these things would be problematic. I would just add them to the list and get them done. But because I'm not well at the moment, I just feel this rising tide of panic. Bad timing to have a low mood with a long list of things to do.

Last night I made it to growth group. It was a rich blessing to be with my brothers and sisters in Christ and to be prayed for and to study God's word. It was like walking through waist high mud to get there though.

Today I went to a cafe to work and I answered emails. I went to the bank, went to Medicare. That's been about the total of all I can manage.

I hate feeling weak. But it's just how it is right now.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Had a marathon hour of counselling today. It was exhausting; many tears, accepting truths I already knew, hearing hard things. At the end, Josie said, "You'll feel like a worn out rag. Be careful." She was right, I did.

Anyway, I have felt a lot more peaceful since I got home, thanks to mum's wonderful cooking and some rest time. I was then thinking I need to start exercising more as well, and while reading various things to think about how I can get more movement in my day, I stumbled onto SuperBetter

It's a wellness game developed by the amazing Jane McGonigal. It is extremely simple and sets tiny little achieveable quests, aimed at helping you get to your Epic Win, whatever you choose that to be. You need to recruit allies, fight bad guys and get power ups and...oh, if you've got 20 minutes check out Jane's TED talk, which explains it all - and will give you an extra 7.5 minutes of life! How can you resist?

It might be too big a thing to tackle all at once, but 'depression' was top of the drop down list of things you could choose to get superbetter from. You can also make your own custom thing if your goal isn't in the list, but that's pretty much the biggest block in my life right now!

So now I am Bec, the black dog banisher. I'm having trouble defining my Epic Win - it's kind of easier if you want to get fit or something, because you have a tangible goal, such as "run 5 kilometres". If you can think of an appropriate Epic Win, let me know.

And if you're keen to be one of my allies, or play SuperBetter yourself to get superbetter from whatever your thing is, that would be awesome!

Hopefully I stick with this. I think it's going to be fun.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Jelssievision S1E3

In other news, there's a new Jelssievision! I had almost finished a rough cut on the same day we shot it (over a week ago) and then ran out of time to finish it. But I got it done last night. Jess says nice things about me in her blog post. I love these girls; it really is a match made in heaven.

And I'm going to Melbourne with Elsie next week! I feel like it will be 'Adventures with half of Jelssie'.

A God who weeps

Detail of Mary Magdalene, Entombment of Christ, 1672, in Saint-Martin Church in Arc-en-Barrois (Haute-Marne, France)
Working at home today. Feeling sad. Wondering why things happen the way they do. Wondering why God has made me to have this weight of sadness that I carry around everywhere. Wondering why I make certain foolish decisions and then am upset with the outcome and consequences.

And my WordLive daily Bible email always seems to arrive just at the right time. Do read it, today's is really good.

It's about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, but focusing on Jesus' response to the suffering that grieved his friends and his God. Jesus wept (side note: John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible. I wonder if those two words were given their own verse number to highlight this very point about Jesus' empathy and love and the very perfect blend of humanity and divinity in that response? I don't know anything about how the verses were allocated though, so maybe not).

The biggest encouragement and perhaps answer to my feelings in the first paragraph come at the end of the study:
...we realise that somehow the pathway through terrible sorrow is necessary, so that God may finally be glorified by our deliverance. And Jesus weeps with us on that way, until the moment when ‘the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live’ (John 5:25)! 
Jesus’ action with Lazarus – and Lazarus’ action in response! – mirrors that promise in John 5. What a glorious hope to have! In the meantime, we cannot do better than Mary, whose customary posture, it seems, is at Jesus’ feet (v 32). See how she is described in Luke 10:39 and in John 12:3, as well as here (and possibly also in Luke 7:38). Here she brings to his feet her great sorrow, stored up and then poured out with honesty.
That's where I should be looking for solace. And tears are okay. He understands.

[image source]

Friday, 2 August 2013

You gotta have friends

Sometimes I get into that conversation with people where they grumble about being involved in church, and don't see why gathering together as Christians is important. Or they trot out that old chestnut - "My faith is private. I don't need to go to a building and be told what to think by some guy in a dress."

A little like an ogre who wants to be left alone.

(Am I saying Christians are like Donkey? Hm. Let's not stretch that analogy too far.)

Church is way more than just going to a building and being talked at (and our pastors don't wear least not in the service that I go to!). Being part of a community of people who love and serve one another is amazing, when it works. And the only way we have the desire to serve one another (instead of seeing church as another facet of our culture that we can consume, that is there to serve me) is because the Holy Spirit gives us that desire. If we walk in step with him, we start to want what he wants (Galatians 5:16-26).

I was listening to Mark Driscoll speak on Acts this morning on the way to work. Acts is a great picture of the early church, and how gathering together was so important for growing in the faith. I was reminded of the truth that we need to gather together in church, in small groups, as Christian friends, not just for our own edification, but mainly for the other people. We encourage one another, lift each other up when we're down, keep speaking the truth to one another - and it's important to do the relational groundwork before you get into crisis mode.

Oh I'll just quote what Driscoll said, because he put it so well.
Peter and John get out of prison. They run to their friends. And here’s the truth: it was a good thing they had their friends before their tragedy struck. And their tragedy was they just got out of jail. Might I encourage you to have Christian friends before your tragedy comes, before your trial comes, before your troubles come.
What I find at Mars Hill is oftentimes people will ignore Christian community, they won’t get involved in a Community Group, they won’t pursue church membership, they won’t get in relational connection with God’s people, and then something happens. It could be something good. “Hey, we’re getting married. We need premarital counseling,” you know? It could be something bad. “I got cancer.” “We’re getting divorced,” or whatever. “I lost my job.” And then people run into the church, and they want to microwave relationships. “Give me, just, close friends whom I can totally trust and lean on, and they can do the same for me, and I’d like them all today.”
I would just beg you, because I love you and I want good for you, to pursue Christian friendship before it’s seemingly an urgent need. And the question is not just, “Who can you lean on?” but “Who can lean on you?” Who are you a friend to? Who are you inviting, saying, “You know, if you need me, call me. I’m checking in. I’m praying. I love you. I’m concerned for you. I want to be here for you. I’m part of your life. You can depend on me.” And when we think of community, what we often think of is people I can use to make my life better. That’s not the Christian concept. The Christian concept is people I can serve and love because Jesus loves them.
Mark Driscoll, Empowered by the Spirit to pray - Mars Hill Church, July 21 2013
I have benefited greatly from some strong Christian friendships in recent months, and I hope that when my friends need love and support I will be there for them too (I intend to be!). It can be hard work to put in the time when you feel like hiding away and not engaging with people. But it is really worth it. And that's what it means to be part of God's people.