Archive | August, 2014

A note to encourage you

13 Aug

Sometimes in life you just need to be reminded that you are worth something. So today, instead of me writing my blog I’ve recruited my sister. On the weekend I was thankful to be present as my beautiful niece Annika (Annie) was dedicated. My sister shared at the start of the dedication. If you missed what she had to say, I hassled her for her thoughts and here is what she sent me (and pretty much what she said on Sunday). Because while I believe that what Helen said was certainly applicable to Annie’s life, it was also applicable to mine… and maybe even yours… Without further ado, I’ll hand over to her…

 

Firstly I want to say thank you for being here this morning, in particular those of you who chose to do something different with your Sunday morning this week by coming along today. This is an incredibly significant moment for our Annie (though she may never know it) and it really is precious to us that you have come along to share in it.

It’s been a whole year since happy little Annika joined our family, and gosh it’s been a crazy year! We are continuing to discover that parenthood is full of challenges… but I think the biggest one is this responsibility we have to somehow impart to our kids the things we have learned in this life to be truly important. We want to raise them to be good citizens, to contribute to society, to be loving, generous and kind… But even if we nail all that, it still isn’t enough.

The last 12 months in our family have reminded us that life is totally unpredictable. But… they have also reminded us that despite anything life can throw us, God sees us, loves us, and He is absolutely the rock that we can stand firm on in any storm we might face.

As many of you know, 9 1/2 months ago, my brother Pete called us over to his house and told us he had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease… Only a couple of years to live, no future to look forward to, and nothing anyone could do about it… In that moment of complete heartbreak, I can tell you that knowing God changed EVERYTHING. Yes, as a family we cried together, but then we prayed. We praised God, and we prayed. You know what? I have never known such a depth of peace like I knew that night (and still have). I left Pete & Mandy’s house a couple of hours later actually full of joy. I remember driving home singing “Great is thy faithfulness, Lord God Almighty”. In my darkest moment, when people could do nothing, God was there… And God can ALWAYS do something. That Sunday, as our family gathered again at church, Andy preached a sermon that essentially said “we don’t know what the future holds, but we do know WHO holds the future”. That ‘who’ is a God whose Word supersedes absolutely everything this world can throw at us.

We don’t know what Annie will struggle with.

Perhaps some day someone is going to try to tell her that she isn’t beautiful, or that she doesn’t matter, or try to make her feel worthless. In that moment I want her to know the living God who says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you… You are more precious than rubies… I knit you together in your mother’s womb – you are fearfully and wonderfully made!”

At some point Annie might feel lonely, like nobody really cares for her. In that moment I want her to know the living God who says “I will never leave you nor forsake you… Who calls Himself ‘Emmanuel’, God with us”

At some point Annie might have a doctor give her or a loved one some bad news. In that moment I want her to know the living God who says “forget not my benefits… I forgive all your sins AND heal all your diseases… by my wounds you are healed… Is anything too hard for me? With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

At some point Annie is going to be worn out from all the ‘stuff’ of life (working, looking after a house, expectations, chores). In that moment, I want her to know the living God who says “come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest… rest for your soul”

At some point Annie might find herself at a fork in the road… Little and big decisions will need to be made. In that moment, I want her to know the living God who says “my word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path… That though we plan our course, the Lord directs our steps…for I know the plans I have for you… Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

At some point Annie might worry about her finances, or whether or not she will find a husband, or a job, or whatever. In those moments I want her to know the living God who promises to “supply all her needs according to His riches in glory…” Who says “seek first my kingdom and all these things will be added to you.”

At some point Annie is going to make a mistake – hurt someone, hurt herself, be less than she was created to be, and she might feel ashamed. In that moment I want her to know the living God who says “as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your sin from you… Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… For I did not send my son Jesus into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” He is a God of love… of mercy…

I could go on (really!), but the bottom line is that at some point Annie will be standing at the edge of this life and the brink of eternity. In that moment I want her to get a run up and take a flying leap, without fear or hesitation, knowing exactly what is waiting for her – the open, loving and familiar arms of her Saviour God who has journeyed each step of this life with her; holding her steady over the bumps, and carrying her when she didn’t have the strength to stand. What a day of celebration THAT will be!

Knowing God changes EVERYTHING. That’s why, just as we brought Izzy 2 years ago to be dedicated, today we bring Annie. We are inviting you as her church family to share the journey with us, responding to God’s love passionately… That our girls and all their little friends will find Him irresistible, and love coming here to learn more about Him – that He will be their rock and their anchor too. We will teach our kids this faith to the best of our ability, but in the end, we’re trusting that God will meet them in the gaps and do what only He can do. After all, Annie (and Izzy) are more His kids than they are ours, anyway.