The biggest ‘but’ in history

There must be numerous contenders for the most game-changing word in the history of the world, but today I’m going with this one: ‘but.’

Today I was reading through Mark chapter 14 and was meditating on the time Jesus spent in the garden of Gethsemane before he went to the cross.

The first half of verse 36 struck me like never before. Jesus was praying and said these words: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.”

In this are two profound things. First, Jesus knew that God could do anything. He knew that it was well within the power of his Father to pull the pin on redemption and instantly take His son back into the eternal glory from which He had come. Furthermore, Jesus asked for it. Such was his agony at the thought of what he was to endure, that he asked his Father to remove it from him.

The Father would not deny the Son. Except for one entirely game-changing word: ‘but.’

At the most intensely pivotal moment the world has seen, the Son surrendered his will to His Father’s saying ‘Yet not what I will, but what you will,’ and the Father, in that moment of Jesus’ submission, overruled the will of His Son. Together they endured the cross, despising the shame, for the redemption of mankind.

How grateful I am for Jesus’ submission to the will of His Father, and how challenged I am by my lack of it.

But I’ve been patient for a long time!

573785_35739861950403bcce628b84f7b54513_largeDoes anyone else have things that they’ve been praying about for a long time?

For ten years I prayed that God would heal me from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For even longer I’ve had a desire to get married. For a lifetime I’ve been praying for unsaved family members.

Sometimes God answers prayer quickly, but sometimes, as I found yet again the other day, the Still Small Voice says to me ‘Sarah, be patient and trust me.’

I must confess, I responded with an indignant lament: ‘But God, I’ve BEEN patient… for a really long time!’

It felt like a valid point. How could God still ask for patience when I had already waited so long. And therein I discovered my error. Patience and waiting are not the same thing. It was quite possible that I could have waited for something for ten years and yet never actually been patient.

I looked the word up:

Patient: bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger or the like.

It turns out that patience is an attribute that still needs great cultivation in my life.

It’s funny how God reminded me to be patient and trust. For the Christian, the two must go together. How can I bear hardship and delay with great fortitude and calm? Because I know that my God, who holds and ordains all things, can be trusted to bring me that which is good, in His perfect time.

My family beyond my family

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My Grandad had a fall yesterday. He’s 92 and still lives in his home. He tripped by the bed and managed to drag himself, with a broken hip, around the bed to the phone to call an ambulance.

Dad was getting ready for church when Grandad called him, and he left and went straight over there. My sister and I were down south having a surfing lesson at the time, and didn’t find out for several hours.

When I finally got back, mum and dad and I sat around the kitchen table and debriefed, and then dad got a phone call. Some life-long church friends called to see how Grandad was going. They chatted for a while, asking questions, listening and just genuinely caring.

Sunday night I went to church. Dad walked in a bit late, but I watched as several people approached him to see how he was doing and to show that they cared. As I looked on, it really struck me that this is how the church is meant to be. It’s my family beyond my family. How they knew what had happened when dad wasn’t even there that morning I don’t know, but they did, and they cared. And they’ll be praying.

Growing up in the church, I never had any doubt that if something happened to my parents I’d be cared for. The Church was instituted for many reasons, one of which was to be a family. What a blessing to see it in action.

Ducks Don’t Need Satellites

smallThere’s a song I really like by Kate Miller-Heidke called ‘Ducks Don’t Need Satellites.’ Weird name for a song I know, and the lyrics don’t do much to redeem it from obscurity, but despite that, or maybe because of it, it really resonates with me.

She croons that ‘ducks don’t need satellites… they probably don’t know they’re up there… they most likely think the sky ends blue.’

When I need to pray about something that is really weighing on me, I take a walk down by the river near my house. I sit on a footbridge and look out at the water and the trees and the ever-present ducks.

While my life is in turmoil, theirs never is. They are not bored, or lazy; they’re busy but it’s a calm rhythmic type of busy. I look at them, and I wonder if, somewhere in the simplicity of their minds, they believe in God

Matthew 6 says  to ‘look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.’

I feel a sense of calm as I look at the ducks, who are provided for daily by a God they likely have no capacity to conceive of. I see the trees which stand tall and strong, roots deep in the earth, nourished by a system set up by their creator… and it makes me wonder if we might be better off if we didn’t need satellites either.

When a Quadriplegic Christian Sings an Oscar-Nominated Song

When I think of one of the people who’s had the most inspiring influence on my life, I don’t think of a movie star or sports person, I think of a woman whose teenage diving accident left her as a quadriplegic.

Following her accident Joni Eareckson Tada struggled with deep depression and suicidal thoughts, but little did she know that despite a lifetime of pain and suffering, God was going to use her as one of the most inspiring and influential Christians of her time.

It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes by A.W. Tozer: “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt Him deeply.”[1] So often those most used by God, are those who, like Job, have learned to glorify Him from a place of absolute weakness.

Joni could have had no idea, that as she prayed to God asking him to give strength to her paralysed body, that he was about to use her to sing a song that was going to be nominated for an Oscar. The song Alone Yet Not Alone certainly came out of left field, with one composer saying: “You couldn’t even call it a dark horse. It was an invisible horse.”

Below is a clip of Joni singing the song, together with the prayer that God answered undoubtedly far beyond her expectation.

When we are weak, then we are strong.


[1] Tozer, A.W. The Root of The Righteous. Ch 39