Wow!!! What a Season!!! The last couple of weeks have been INSANE!!! I cannot even begin to tell you what amazing and powerful moments I have experienced this year already!! But I am sure you aren’t interested in hearing my waffle about the God I serve and the incredible situations I keep finding myself in…but I think I may just tell you anyway. Sorry – but it’s stuff like this that HAS to be shared! So, two or so weeks ago it was Easter Weekend. Not your everyday weekend…..but a particular powerful and poignant one for anyone who loves Jesus. I have to admit that a lot of the time I find myself going through the usual motions of an Easter weekend with an acknowledgement of the death and resurrection of Jesus but lacking much of a heart response. Does that make sense? I find that I tend to visit my family, experience a different style of Church to the one I belong to, take communion, bow my head in prayer and that pretty much sums it up. I then head home, almost exactly the same person, other than the extra bit of weight I’ve gained from all the Easter Eggs I have consumed! But this Easter was different! It was POWERFUL! And one I wasn’t expecting….but not surprised by! God has been busy in me this last season, and I can feel this ‘something’ stirring in me. I can’t put my finger on what it is but I know its from God and I’m excited by it!
So, Easter weekend….well, it all started on the train down south. I was really determined that I didn’t want to come back the same person I was when I left home that morning. I knew that there were things in me that I needed to deal with. Characteristics that weren’t attractive and I had come to the point where I wasn’t prepared for them to remain in me, any longer. So, I decided to pray, and surrender them to God whilst sat on the train whilst heading south. Usually I like to pray out loud but I am relieved to say that this time I managed to do it in my head. At the unbeknown relief of my fellow passengers! They would have probably found it a little uncomfortable should I have started declaring my heart changed in Jesus name the way I tend to at home…! As I prayed, I found that ‘something’ inside me was stirring again! I think its the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, I have just never felt it like this before. So there I was, sat on the train, praying my heart out to Jesus that I would never be the same again….I had recently come to recognise that I was really self-centred and I really hated it. I wanted my eyes to come off of me and focus onto others. And I had come to a point where I wasn’t prepared to let this be a part of me anymore, without a fight!! So I did! I got serious about changing and petitioned Heaven! And Heaven not only listened, but it answered. And how Heaven did it….well read on my friends and you will see.
I arrived at my destination on Good Friday and had SOOOO much fun with my Family! Do you ever have those days when you are just REALLY funny? You know, when everything you say comes out and its just pure comedy genius! Well, as rare as it was…I…was having one of those days…..and I was especially funny! In fact I was so funny that one of my nieces laughed so much she started to feel sick….and then she cried and blamed me for making her feel sick. This – I hate to say….made me laugh even more…OOPS! Anyway, the WHOLE family were in stitches and I literally CANNOT remember the last time we laughed so much all together like that! It was great! A great memory was made that evening! I shall never forget it. But no, that is not how God changed me!
He didn’t change me on the Saturday either when I was visiting my great friend in Cricklade. We laughed a lot too….I was definitely on good form that weekend. I have never had so much fun walking round Dunelm Mill IN MY LIFE! There was a particularly hilarious moment which I feel I MUST share with you. We had almost purchased every cushion in the shop and decided to head upstairs to finish having a good old nosey round and grab a cup of tea and a bite to eat at the cafe. Well, as we were in the lift I decided to re-adjust my undergarments as they had grown increasingly uncomfortable throughout the day…so I did! We left the lift and carried on our frivolatries around the shop and went and grabbed some lunch. On leaving the cafe we walked around to the lift and TO MY HORROR….there…on the wall FOR ALL TO SEE was a flat screen TV showing a perfectly clear image of the people currently in the lift coming upstairs! Well…..I practically DIED!! Initially I laughed but that soon turned to COMPLETE AND UTTER HORROR! Mortified, I stepped in to the lift and bowed my head in shame….just as my friend decides to tell the other people in the lift why we were laughing!! Looking back, I probably would have done that too…..as it was SOOO funny – and only added to the hysteria of the day…but to ALL security staff at Dunelm Mill, I feel it is my right to let you know that THIS (see photo)…..IS JUST NOT RIGHT!!!
Even after an amazingly fun and crazy day with my friend, I came home but again, still felt that I hadn’t changed. And I was dissapointed as a result! But I didn’t give up there. I kept praying and seeking God and was determined to be changed. I knew there was something I needed to do to bring about the change but didn’t know what it was. Anyway, as I popped in to see my Mum before heading to bed, I was greeted with the INCREDIBLE news that my whole family have decided to pay for me to go on Holiday! Abroad! To somewhere sunny and hot with a BEACH and EVERYTHING! I cannot remember the last time I went on a proper holiday! It must be more than 6 years ago- how FLIPPIN BRILLIANT! I CANNOT WAIT! I was soo blown away I couldn’t believe it. I had recently given in our First Fruits offering at Church and I suddenly remembered saying to God that I was gladly giving this money to him….but I really REALLY wanted a holiday! I never dreamt that this is how I would get one. MY WHOLE Family chipping in! Now THAT is miraculous!!! I went to bed feeling incredibly excited and was sooo sooo blessed…but not even THIS was how God changed me!
The next day I awoke to Easter Sunday. I got up, got ready and headed with my Mum to Church…still grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of a REAL holiday! The Easter service was being held outside in one of the parks in town. It was soo different from what I am used to at my Church, but the people were lovely! Anyway, after Church, we then headed off to spend the afternoon in a typically English, well-to-do manner by visiting a National Trust house in Redditch? No, I may have made that up! I in fact, don’t have a clue where the National Trust place was….but we had a great afternoon which involved lots of laughing, being slightly cold, needing the toilet more than usual and rolling down a big grassy hill….more than once! And yes, I rolled down a hill……and yes, as soon as I had done it….other well-to-do adults joined in! It was FABULOUS! We had lots and lots of fun and I only felt sick once from eating a VERY LARGE cream tea just prior to rolling down the grassy hill! Anyway, as if the day couldn’t get ANY better we headed back home just in time for me to attend the evening service at my Mum’s new Church.
As soon as I walked in I knew it was gonna be more my style to the morning service. I instantly saw two old friends who I hadn’t seen in an age and was so excited to see them. I looked around and noticed there was a good turn out and instead of rows of chairs we were sat around tables. The worship was good, full of freedom, really relaxed and I loved it! As I was singing I sought God, pressing in and praying to be changed. But nothing happened. The preach was great, totally relatable to everyone there and I found it fun. At one point the preacher said “Don’t let your good, be the enemy of your great!” and that hit me right in my heart. I knew that in a lot of ways I’d been avoiding the calling that I felt I had over my life, partly as I knew I wasn’t ready yet, and partly down to a lack of confidence and probably a whole lot of false humility. But this sentence really spoke to me. I knew that it was for me, so I pocketed it and carried on listening. At the end of Church I had a quick catch up with one of my old friends and then on leaving, was invited to pop to the Pub for a catch up and decided to head down and meet them there.
When I arrived I nipped straight to the loo….all the tea at the National Trust was catching up on me! On my return my friend had started telling her friend (who I didn’t know) about my Testimony and she asked if I would tell her my story. As I shared it, the ‘something’ inside me started stirring. There were words and sentences that I knew were speaking straight to her heart. It felt so…POWERFUL?!?! Just as I had started sharing, another friend, who was in another room of the pub had nipped around to see me and asked me if I would come and share my story with some of her friends as well. She and her Husband had brought them along to Church earlier and in fact had sat at the table next to us. So once I had finished talking to one person, I found myself walking through the pub, saying a quick prayer for God to help me and the next thing I know, I find myself sat in front of 3 complete strangers who clearly had problems of their own. As soon as I started sharing my story God turned up. As my words left my mouth the ‘something’ in me stirred up and I knew God was speaking directly through me…I literally sat watching them each get hit with words from Heaven…straight in to their hearts! It was incredible! I mean SERIOUSLY INCREDIBLE! One minute I am sat in Church praying that God would give me his heart for others and the next, I am sat in a Pub sharing my Testimony to 3 grown men, each of them relating to specific parts of my story and God giving me specific words for them – in fact the biggest, toughest of them all, breaks down into uncontrollable tears – right there, in the middle of the pub! All of us knew that God was there. Once I had finished I said goodbye and lent forward to give the man who was crying a hug. Unbeknown to me at the time, but I had just hugged one of the most violent men in the town. With a history of chronic anxiety this man is renowned by the Police as being uncontrollable and there I am, leaning over giving him a hug and telling him everything is going to be ok. If I am honest, that is not something I would usually do to ANYone I don’t know very well, let alone a 6’6 stranger! And yet, whilst I share my testimony and share the Gospel of Jesus, God turned up in such a way that I didn’t mind hugging him…in fact, my heart broke for him! I have never experienced anything so incredible in my life. To loose hope is a desperate place to be….I know….I’ve been there….but to see it come back was so inspiring I knew, then and there, that God had given me a gift to speak to people and that it was time that I started to use that gift to help as many people as I can!
So, after seeking God and praying and praying for God to do something in me – instead of getting a breakthrough in worship (which is often where I find I get a lot of my breakthroughs…) I find myself in a pub, sharing my testimony and seeing God move in a way I have only ever seen in Church, and I find that this moment changed my future forever. Gone are the days where my self consciousness overcomes and false humility stops me from speaking out…gone are the days where I feel its hopeless and that I will never achieve anything worthwhile….AND HELLO calling! Its a brave thing to put it out there but I know what my calling is and I am no longer gonna sit back and daydream that maybe, one day, I may find myself doing great things for Jesus. Nahhhhhh…..I’m gonna borrow a jacket from Jenny Gilpin, stick on some hot heels, and take my butt down to London with a confidence that can only be from God and share my story with a room full of journalists at News International. THAT is what I am going to do! And THAT is what I did! If you want to find out how it went, check out my blog ‘Stepping out…and LOVING IT!’
I hope my ramblings have been helpful to you and that you feel inspired that YOU TOO can be ‘crazy in love’ with Jesus and STEP OUT of your comfort zone and be witness to the POWER of GOD in a great BIG WAY!! As a wise woman once said…”Don’t let your good, be the ENEMY of your GREAT!”
So go on, do it…..you might just find that GUMPTION in you that you didn’t know existed! And if WE don’t raise our expectations on what God will do THROUGH us….then why should HE bother doing anything through us at all right??