Trust, or, When Things Seem to Go Wrong

It was my housemate’s birthday on Friday. So on Saturday we decided to do Go Ape. (Go Ape is so much fun, in particular the zip lines at the end of each section. I would definitely recommend doing it, or similar).

Whilst there are about a thousand metaphors to take from having to trust simply ropes and carabiners to prevent a drop from up to 35m (at its highest point), this was actually not what I intended to write about.

In fact, in finishing the course, the need to trust got (unintentionally) much greater. There were only two buses that we could get back home, and the first was in about 20 minutes. There was no way we could possibly get that. The last bus was approximately two hours later. Plenty of time, right?

Not when you miss the path you were supposed to take, walk quite a way further down the road, convince yourselves you were a lot more on course than you actually were, and then find yourself lost in the middle of the countryside with very little in the way of internet connection or mobile signal.

To cut a long story short, we walked a lot further than we should have done (including over a barbed wire fence because we couldn’t face going back through the field to get back on track), got soaked through to the skin as it had been raining earlier, and missed the last bus home by quite a way.

Whilst we were walking we decided to stop and pray for a bit. This served multiple purposes. To collect our thoughts. To make sure we stayed joyful. To make sure we trusted God rather than a pathetic internet connection.

When we got phone signal we called people from Church and somebody came to pick us up. But it was quite difficult. None of us like to be needy. Especially not to the level of “there are 6 of us in the countryside about an hour away…”. And by that time we were all tired and soaking wet. We may or may not have been laughing hysterically at our predicament.

But through the whole evening there was an implicit trust that we could get home – be it that day or the next, be it by bus or by getting a lift.

I think my point here is: even in the little things, keep trusting. God is faithful. And whether things are going right, or you end up lost in the middle of nowhere, keep praying. Keep rejoicing. God is good.

Reasons to Praise God

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

Sometimes I find it really easy to praise God. Other times I just need a little reminder. So I decided to leave this as a reminder of why God is so amazing 🙂

  • He is compassionate
  • He is faithful
  • He is forgiving
  • He is generous
  • He is glorious
  • He is good
  • He is gracious
  • He is kind
  • He is loving
  • He is merciful
  • He is patient
  • He is powerful
  • He is unchanging

Whilst all of these are important reasons to praise God, at the moment I’m particularly remembering the last one. As I write votes are being counted in the UK General Election. With Brexit talks due to start in a matter of days, the real possibility of a hung parliament or a “coalition of chaos” headed by the person who described herself as “strong and stable” – an exit poll that shows the cat well and truly among the pigeons…

It’s great to be able to praise a God who is constant through everything that goes on. Whilst I pray for the best result for the country and for the world, I should also remember to praise God for everything He is and everything He has done, including His steadfast love and faithfulness, how His hand has guided us up until now, and that we can count on His continued and constant grace and mercy.

Hymns: At the Name of Jesus

“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11

Let’s just say I’m in a particularly good mood right now. The paperwork I’ve been stressing about and worrying about for the past month or so is finally on its way to France. I’ve got one exam left, in a week’s time. The weather is fantastic. (Maybe even a little too warm…). At times like this it’s really easy to see God and praise Him for His goodness.

This hymn is lovely. Lively and upbeat, and summarising creation, Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension. And then giving hope and encouragement, particularly when things are harder. It’s not always easy to praise God, although it’s something that I try to remind myself to do.

This hymn summarises exactly why I do that. Why I remind myself to praise God. Why I praise God in the first place. I love a hymn with a long list of scripture references. And so many are from the Gospels, or from Paul’s encouraging letters. The opening line comes from Philippians. Side note, we studied Philippians in CU last term. And I really loved studying it. Put simply, Paul and the Philippians are #cugoals

Anyway. We have such a hope in Jesus, and it’s so great to be able to praise Him with such a joyful, uplifting hymn that captures this hope so well.

Ways to Pray: Prayer Paper Chain

I always like to do something creative to pray. Whilst simply speaking is great, I often end up just… waffling on. So something creative can also help me to focus.

I came across this idea just before Christmas. And when I did it, I made a few mistakes. I made the strips of paper too thick, and I didn’t do them brightly-coloured enough. But it was still effective.

The idea is simple; write a prayer on each strip of paper, and join them together. You could have separate chains for separate themes (we’ve got one in our house with the theme of ‘thankfulness’), or separate colours for separate themes, or simply write down prayers and not worry about colour-matching themes. I like things being colour-matched but I also hate being too legalistic about things that don’t really matter.

Some of the reasons I like this:

  • It’s nice to have something to brighten up a uni room.
  • It’s good to see how God’s working, and everything He’s done.
  • It’s really easy to add to.
  • It’s easy to take a section and give thanks for answered prayers, or continue to pray for something.
  • It’s good for both group prayer and personal prayer

I will admit, the idea did come from a list of prayer activities for children, but then again I could quite reasonably describe myself as 20-going-on-5 so I don’t feel too bad about recommending it…

So. Much. Paperwork.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:33-34

#thesarcasmisstrongwiththisone

Paperwork is great. I love paperwork. Everything seems to make so much sense and I really enjoy filling in form after form with very similar information, when I have exams on. It doesn’t stress me out at all that I have 2 exams next week, plus coursework due in, plus the application for next year to sort out. And I didn’t freak out at all because I had a speaking exam earlier this week.

Apologies. Most of my inner emotions work their way out through the medium of sarcasm. It’s probably not the best way of communicating though…

There have been times in the past week I’ve really struggled. Depending on the day you ask, I’ve either been fine, or panicking. Would I finish in time? Would the application go fine? Would I manage to avoid ending up a sobbing mess on the floor?

There was a prayer meeting on Friday evening, where there was also a time of worship. I realised that I probably wouldn’t go. Then the worship team asked the PA team if anyone could do PA. Being on the PA team, and realising that I probably should go, I volunteered. So it forced me to go.

The need to step away from what I was doing. The need to spend time with God. It was so good to spend that time with others. And to pray for them, and for them to pray for me. And God is so faithful.

One of my friends recently shared this, which I think perfectly sums up my feelings right now. It’s a good reminder of God’s faithfulness.

May every cry, “I can’t,”
When yet, in fact, “I must,”
Become by grace, “He can,”
And then, in Him, “I trust.” – John Piper

The context for the quote at the top is wonderful. It’s a great reminder that God knows our needs, and so we don’t need to worry about them. We should instead “seek his kingdom and his righteousness” – this changes our priorities. In fact it completely turns them on their head. It’s such a reassuring and yet massively challenging upheaval.

Ways to Pray

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6

I’ve talked a lot about prayer before. It’s perhaps one of the biggest recurring themes, probably because it’s so important, but so special, to talk with God and to cast everything onto Him.

8 months ago I was at Forum, a CU training camp where CU leaders from across the country met to worship God and be equipped for mission on campus. And one of the things I took from that was that it doesn’t matter how you pray, it just matters that you pray!

To save this from being a really long post that I need to update whenever I find a new, creative way to pray, I’ve decided to make this a category of its own. Mostly so that when I’m stuck for ideas, I can look back through the category to find something 🙂

In other words: Prayer is important, I hope this is useful 🙂

 

Hymns: Thine Be The Glory

I will deliver this people from the power of the grave;
    I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
    Where, O grave, is your destruction?” – Hosea 13:14

What a great Easter hymn! It’s so joyous and bright, a wonderful reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection. A reminder to be joyful – “Let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing/For her Lord now liveth, death has lost its sting!”. A reminder that God should be given all the glory.

Easter is a wonderful time of year, a fantastic celebration, and it’s such a privilege to worship God, partly through such hymns as this.

The music here really makes a good hymn great, especially as it’s usually sung on Easter Day, with a full church, the organ at full blast and a modulation in the final verse.

It’s kind of sad that as soon as Easter was over, it was straight back to work, essays and deadlines. But then again there is no better reason to praise God, and it is such a privilege to be able to celebrate it not only at Easter, but throughout the year.