May post #5
So you’ve read the PREPARE email which has set you up for the week, but you wanna dig a little deeper into those quiet time prompts, or have some juicy bible passages to think about?
Well… here we are.
(side note, if you click to the main hope&grace website you’ll find links to sign up for emails if you haven’t already… I mean, they’re pretty great :P)
Using the Real Talk section of this week’s email as a starting point, I thought some pointers might be helpful
Firstly, as a reminder…
If we trust God in our lives, we trust him with this process too. Remember that this is a process that applies to all of nature... and who set it into motion? God did. He puts in front of us so that we can SEE how he works. So we can see that the process is worth it, fruitful, and full of hope.
The bible calls God the great gardener. John 15:1 says that God will prune what’s needed to make sure the plant is fruitful. If we are the plant, and our hopes are the flowers, this season can feel like pruning. God also talks about himself as the potter. In Jeremiah he talks about being unafraid to break a pot if it’s not as it should be, and reforming it to be something God himself takes delight in. If we’re the pot, we can trust the potter to do the painful and sometimes shocking work of breaking what is unhelpful, in order to shape us into what he designed.
The process of preparation can be brutal, gruelling and painful. It can feel like winter or a midlife crisis. It can happen loudly or quietly, publicly or privately. However, whenever, it happens, you can trust that God is in charge of it. And, that just as we prepare the garden as well as we can for our plants, he takes delight in our willingness to let him work in us... because, ultimately, his care is unsurpassable and his intention is always for our good.
So, why PREPARE?
Why is this process so hard? Why can’t we just wish for a pony and have one turn up on our doorstep?
When we invite God into our dreaming process, like we did last week, we begin to see that the whole point of the thing is not for us to have what we want. If we’ve given our lives to God, and he is on a process of teaching us what he intends our lives to look like, we quickly realise that it’s not about us at all… its about Christ.
In the New Testament it is made clear that God at work in us is not for our comfort, it’s for his glory. God uses us as a canvas to paint a picture that glorifies his name and his son, Jesus in and through us.
The purpose of our lives is not to buy a bigger car and build a swimming pool, however wonderful those may be (and many of us may end up with those things - which is great!) No, the point of our lives is to be transformed piece by piece into the image of Christ… into the version of ourselves that God intended us to be in the first place. Into the wholeness of YOU, in the wholeness of Christ, to the glory of the Father.
That’s why, if we really dig into God and allow him in, to plant his dreams for us in our hearts, rather than cling to our own (a LIFETIME’S WORK by the way… heaven knows we’ll be learning this until we get there!), we are marking on a process that will mark and change us for ever…
It’s hard work. And it hurts, like those broken pots.
But if we let him, it’ll be the Joy of God to work in your heart…
If you want to dig in more, here are some things that may help you explore this a bit more (don’t just take my word for it!)...
First things first…
All of this is optional, but if you wanted to delve into these areas, perhaps these would be useful -
Take these as a starting point… But please don’t just take my word for it - look into them in your own bible, read around them and see what God is saying to you through them.
I believe that these hold promises for your life, and will allow you to see God as master craftsman, at work in the process of preparing your heart and life for what he has for you.
John 15:1+2 - ‘I [Jesus] am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:5) ‘I [Jesus] am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…’
Jeremiah 18: 2-6 - (v. 6b) ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand…’
Isaiah 64:8 - ‘Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.’
For when you’re in the trenches of the preparation.
These verses have brought comfort to my heart in such times.
Romans 8:28- ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called to his purpose.’
2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ (The Message translation)
These songs may help…
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Potter and Friend - Dante Bowe, Jesse Cline
Another in the Fire - Hillsong
Friends, as I wrote these emails and structured these posts for you, I felt God invite me on this reminder journey too… with you. I think he wants us all to be reacquainted with his process of bringing about change and growth in our lives… and I know that with the current season I am walking through, I need this reminder more than ever.