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.

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.

Prayer and Trust in God

We have courage in God’s presence, because we are sure that he hears us if we ask him for anything that is according to his will. He hears us whenever we ask him; and since we know this is true, we know also that he gives us what we ask from him.” – 1 John 5:14-15

I feel like recently I’ve been a bit naggy in my prayers. Year abroad, exams, year abroad, thanks, year abroad…

There’s definitely a common theme. There’s also a reason for that common theme.

Since arriving at uni everything has turned out so well. The people I’ve met, the people I’m living with, the course, the societies… And in September much of that will be gone. I’ll be effectively starting at uni again, knowing nobody, in a foreign country, with only a basic idea of what I’ll be doing. At least it feels like that at the moment. I’ll probably have more of an idea even by the end of term.

But all of that is pretty scary. And I struggle to trust God enough. Even knowing that there will be people at home and at uni praying. Perhaps even someone in France praying that they’ll get a Christian housemate for next year. You never know.

So why don’t I trust God enough? Even just over the past year and a half He’s given me so many reasons to trust Him. Having had prayers answered in the most wonderful ways. Having seen first-hand what can happen when we just let go and trust.

I guess a lot of it is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of things going wrong. Fear of consequences.

So, put simply, I need to get over that fear. Know that human failure happens, but that God is infinitely better and infinitely more powerful than friends or family can ever be. It’s a lot easier said than done. But there are so many instances in the Bible about how strong, powerful and good God is.

I know that God listens to and answers prayers. And that when a believing person prays, great things happen (James 5:16). So I shall keep praying.

Praying not only for my year abroad, but also for greater trust in God. But definitely the year abroad…

A New Term…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Less than a week until I go back to uni. Less than a week until I’ve got an essay due in. Just over a week until an exam that actually counts for something. And what am I doing? I’m trying my hardest to revise but just keep getting distracted.

Part of it is possibly that I’m at home – so both physically and mentally far away from university. As well as the fact that for the vast majority of the holidays the exam was “next year” – adding further distance to everything I need to do. Which now is beginning to get me down.

This time last year was quite hard. I’d managed well in my first term, probably due to all the excitement of leaving home and starting new things. In second term, I arrived back at uni when it was dark, cold, grey, and all the excitement had worn off.

However, I feel I’m doing better this year than last year. I started last term going to Church Bible study, which has been really valuable for me. I’ll admit that I never really looked much at the Prophets, and we’re going through Isaiah. It’s struck me so often how relevant it is to today. Carrying on going to that can only help. I’m also a lot more involved in CU than I was this time last year.

I’m wary about a lot of things this term, a higher workload being one of them. But hopefully I can learn to better trust God – and learn a whole lot more about Him. There’s a lot to look forward to as well.

CU Events Week is coming up in February. It’s a week of events (…) that we get a lot of people to, at which there is entertainment, free food, and plenty of Gospel! It’ll be tiring, but a lot of fun and definitely worth it.

Outside of CU there’s Unibrass, a Brass Band competition run by and for students. It will probably be a long day (and full of drunken students…) but I’m looking forward to it. The only problem is that there’s a strong probability that extra rehearsals will take away from some of my Church commitments.

And apart from anything else, I’ll be going back to a lovely house where I can have limescale-free cups of tea 🙂

Hymns: Father, I Place Into Your Hands

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21

A simple song. A simple tune. A powerful reminder that God is sovereign.

Father, I place into Your Hands is a song I often turn to when I literally just don’t know what to do. I turned to it on June 24th, when I woke up to the fact that my country had just voted to leave the European Union. And I turned to it again this morning.

The line at the end of each verse, “For I know I always can trust you”, is particularly challenging for me. It sums up God’s goodness, mercy and sovereignty, whilst challenging me to completely trust Him. That’s not that easy!

In general, this song is a reminder that everything we do, we should do through God. We should be placing everything in His hands: our hopes, our fears, our joys, our sorrows, our worries, our relationships. And whilst that may be difficult, it’s really our only option.

Toasties: Thoughts, Trust and Encouragement

God is so good.

The first few weeks of term have been so encouraging from a CU point of view. We’ve had freshers turn up who are enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel. We’ve had freshers turn up who desperately needed the Gospel and are beginning to find it. And then we had tonight.

I really should be in bed right now – it’s been a fairly long day and it’s already gone midnight. But I have to get this into writing before bed. Then I feel I can properly reflect on, and thank God for, such a wonderful evening.

The day passed off normally. I went to the Church Bible study, then had a couple of seminars, and then started setting up for the café we have at CU. In everything we do at CU, we aim to love, to serve, and to spread the Gospel. The café is our way of loving and serving, and hopefully the Gospel shines through that – we don’t want it to be too evangelistic, but we want to build up a healthy relationship with the college so that our evangelism can be more effective.

After the café we had a Bible study. There were over 20 of us there. We started in prayer and worship. The passage was from John, and the study was interesting and I feel like I got a lot out of it. We concluded in prayer and, excited after the Bible study, started to prepare for Toasties.

We got, relative to other weeks, a lot of orders. There were a lot of questions. Thankfully there was a lot of people on hand to answer them. And from those half-baked questions that just came up in discussion with flatmates, we were able to have some fantastic conversations. There were questions about misogyny, LGBT, and even about dinosaurs (although I doubt that was a serious question, and was just an excuse to have a toastie…)

And from those conversations it was hugely encouraging to see some genuine interest. I’ll talk in a later article about someone who wanted to know more.

As we were setting down, we realised there were a lot of flyers for our event tomorrow left over, so we figured it would be a good idea to put them into as many postboxes as we could this evening. I managed to get round about 10 houses before I got to a house where there were people smoking outside. I explained that I was delivering flyers for the CU, and they seemed interested. I had a long conversation about music with someone, and invited them to CU.

Thinking back about earlier on in the day, it had seemed so normal. But little things happened during the day. As part of my French seminar, I had to explain the relevance of the birth of Jesus to Christianity (it was in comparison to the importance of the French Revolution in the history of Republican France, although naturally Jesus is far more important than revolutionary Frenchpeople. No offence to the French, bien sûr!). I was pretty excited that I was asked that particular question. And then things improved immeasurably at CU.

One of the things that I really felt made a difference was our attitude. Our College Reps were stressed, dealing with life and work, and so it felt like we were putting more and more in God’s hands. It is something we try to do anyway, but it is often so hard to let go and put our trust completely in God.

This week, I feel, we left so much up to God. The questions we got asked were not easy questions to answer. But we spent time in prayer, with faith that God would speak through us and that we might sow seeds in people’s minds, that we might intrigue and inspire them to know God a little more.

And I am so glad we did.

Today was better than I could have ever hoped. I will probably be crying tonight as I thank God for all His power, His love, His goodness. I will be praying for every person I met. Every person who has heard some of the Gospel tonight. Anyone who still wishes to learn more, or who didn’t have the confidence to ask this week. For those people considering coming to the lunchbar. For everyone that God used in whatever way.

Tonight was so special. I pray that we could continue to trust in God, and continue to be a blessing to the members of our college. I pray that we could continue to answer questions thoughtfully, prayerfully and in a Bible- and Gospel-focussed way. I pray that we could continue to form relationships with our college, so that many more may come to know His glory.

Perhaps the Lord…