What I Learned From Reading The Entire Bible

I was challenged to read the entire Bible last year. It sort of got away from me, and I was disappointed at the end of the year that I hadn’t managed to keep my mind focused enough. However, this year from the first Monday to today [because I’ll be busy tomorrow and I didn’t want to stuff up] I kept to my plan, I caught up when I fell behind and I finished reading the entire Bible.

Now, keep in mind that while I looked up commentaries and asked wise people when I didn’t understand things as well as regularly watched “The Bible Project” videos on YouTube [highly recommend] I don’t claim to know it all or have had any grand revelations. However, I have come away with a thing or two.

I went to Hillsong for a long time. If you have never heard of them, I think the safest thing to say is they love love. They preach it every week, and I basked in it for so long, safely shying away from an image of a God who would judge and wreak havoc on humanity from time to time. However, fear is often based in a misunderstanding and so, when confronted by atheists and Christians and Muslims and everything in between about the very clear passages about it, I didn’t know what to say. And, if you know anything about me, I hate not knowing what to say.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect loves drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18

Now I go to an Anglican Church. Last year I did a gap year with a bunch of Anglicans. And call it close to culture shock to hear as much as I did about repentance, and supplication and fearing the Lord my God. We literally just sit in silence sometimes and say sorry. When I was younger, I used to roll my eyes and look at my watch. I think also this anger- this arrogance- was part of not seeing the full picture.

“You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord.

“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’

“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.” -Malachi 2:17

Perhaps the best comparison is hanging out with your parents. You think you know them really well, but as you sit and actually listen, they tell you crazy stories about themselves [my dad once got on a bus to Perth to meet a pen pal who wasn’t at home in the end], and they give you advice you tend to ignore until it’s too late and you’re heartbroken, and they say things you really weren’t expecting and maybe if they didn’t know you as well as they did it would be offensive [oftentimes, it still stings and you need to stomp off and think about it for a bit].

“My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgement and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Proverbs 3:21-24

Hanging out with the Bible was not easy. It really does say crazy things sometimes. And there are all these sentences you’ve heard a thousand times but never seen what came before or afterwards. There are so many things people use out of context! What really hit me in the guts were the stories and proverbs I’ve heard a billion times and never really thought about before.

It won’t be much of a surprise to some people, but I realised to how much of an extent Jesus was a great guy. You have this huge build up of the Old Testament towards this king, this prophet and preacher and shepherd and stronghold, and salvation and conquerer and then you get hit with this man who gravitates towards the sick, outcasts and kids. I can almost feel the overwhelming anticlimax, especially as you get to know the Israelites and all they’ve gone through to get to this man. We all knew he’d have to be born as a baby, but it just does something to you as you travel these wonders and songs about an amazing God, who again and again refuses to be contained, and then submits himself to that as a part of a master plan which ends in death at the hands of those he created. Thank God it concludes not with death but with triumph [literally].

[#christianjokes]

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature [or, in the form of] God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

He humbled himself

Buy becoming obedient to death-

Even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8

You need the Old Testament to bring colour to the rest of the story, add depth and dimensions and bring out aspects you couldn’t even see before, whereas for so long I was afraid of it.

Ultimately I think my perspective of God became a lot clearer. I have been warned to steer clear of trying to fit him into my little human box, but I can see this clear pattern that pastors with degrees and wisdom have been trying to drill into my brain since I accepted Christ.

He just wants people to love him, and he loves them.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

All of the rest of the stuff fits so clearly into that. Inextricably comes how we behave towards others.

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

The consequences of rebellion are often highlighted by non-Christians; the fire and brimstone, etc. But it is just so significantly highlighted that every time there is punishment there were so many signs and warnings to turn back to God. The laws are so the people can love God and eachother properly, which is again demonstrated in the Old Testament where God says to the religious people he despises their religious festivals because their hearts are in the wrong place [Amos 5:21]. Jesus goes on to call them whitewashed tombs, who are so right on the outside but so dead on the inside [Matthew 23:27].

It was sometimes really difficult to look past what was happening to and with God’s people and the people around them, but this message of hope, this call to love and God’s offer of blessing was always open. It was there from the very first book, where he called them to be rulers in his image, and they screwed up [Genesis 2-3]. Then he blesses and makes covenants and keeps doing this until the very last book [Revelation 1:6]. It is moments like that when I realised my view was all too small.

In conclusion, I think you should read the Bible whoever you are. We love claiming we know what it’s all about- it’s a common problem in these “Christian” countries, surrounded by religions that claim they have taken bits of the same book. I’d warn you against making a cake from a recipe you thought you knew or with just a few ingredients you chose. If you want to disagree with it, read it cover to cover. If you claim to agree with it, read it cover to cover.

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 3:15-16

Be fairly warned though, it might take you a year.

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Trusting God

Everyone has stories of times when they trusted someone and were let down.

A few spring to mind for me, from someone literally just letting me fall during a trust exercise, or twice in my life when boys have pulled the chairs out from underneath me as I was about to sit down. 

However, one really takes centre stage. I was doing the high wires at a fitness camp- where you’ve got a harness, and your objective is to shimmy along these wires two or more metres off the ground- for the really brave, there are places where you have to just take leaps of faith to get to the next place of safety. However, you’re wearing these harnesses so that if you fall or want to stop, the person spotting you can let you down. I watched my partner with the vigilance of an eagle. When I looked down at her, she was chatting with someone else, and typically, the shock of betrayal caused me to fall. So, in the most awkward way possible, I dangled there like a flailing fish until I managed to catch her attention. 

No wonder people have trust issues. 

Two weeks ago today, I quit my job. I wish I could say I’d thought about it, and had the dignity of a speech and strutting out with my head held high. However, unfortunately that was not the case. There was yelling, and crying, and my brain sort of melted so that I went outside to finish the shredding before grabbing my cactus and waddling home in my high heels. [I had to sneak in the next day to get my tea and leave the key on the desk.] To be fair, I had always dreamed of quitting. I just always thought I’d have something to move on to, and I’d have my speech ready before I went in, not at 3 am the next morning. 

Then, the next day, my Dad was attending a meeting for the church’s kids holiday club and, running with my adrenaline, I decided that day that I would do kids club with absolutely no physical or mental preparation or planning. 

So that’s how I ended up doing kids club two days after quitting my job [and after telling everyone for six months there was absolutely no possible way I could help out because I’d be working.] [I got an award at the end for “Best Life Choices”.]

And, the day after kids club ended, I packed my bags and headed off to a week of leading on a high school camp. 

I can’t explain to you what I was thinking, because the easiest summary is that I wasn’t. I was trying to think of how to write a post-camp blog post yesterday, and my head was just spinning from two weeks of not sticking to my usual strict regimen. My hair is frizzy because I didn’t have time to wash it properly, and my face is breaking out because of what, stress? Lack of sleep? An unusual amount of physical exercise for someone who used to sit at a desk for nine hours a day? 

And I realised the only thing that is still true after two weeks, and maybe six months of falling down a rabbit hole of insanity, is that God is good. 

In the past six months, I have had my first major break up, transitioned into a new church, started uni, finished up with my old Sunday School, started a new one, and quit my job. But while my head has been spinning, “on Christ my solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

With no planning, I expected last week to be hard and disorganised. But I was surrounded by a team of people who trusted and loved God and worked to include but not overwhelm me. This week, I expected to be awful because the last high school camp I went on I was completely out of my depth. But once again, I was surrounded by a team of people who worked endlessly to pull their weight and make sure I was okay, plus I was blessed with an amazing group of girls and co leader. 

And for those two weeks, every time I thought about getting a job, a sense of panic began to well up inside of me, but I have been reminded time and time again- even when we are skeptical, God will never let us down. It’s just not in his nature. 

So, when none of my girls seemed to respond to the talks, I decided God has a plan for them, and I’m just not watching it play out yet. When I got half a dozen rejections for jobs I’d applied for, I figured I would just keep praying. And when I woke up each day at six thirty in the morning and it was dark, and freezing, and my eyes kept gluing shut during prayer in the leaders meetings, I reminded myself that this was a chance to prepare to make camp the quality God had in mind for it to be. 

On the last night of camp, we had a time for people to tell their testimonies. The amount of kids who are struggling with situations at home, at school and even struggling with demons in their own heads was heart breaking. And yet, in amongst it all, there was this incredible sense of hope. Because, as Christians, we know that even when we have no idea what is going on, and everything seems like it is just falling apart, God has got us and he knows what he has in store. It is for our good, and not to hurt us. 

I was reminded during one of the talks of a verse where Jesus says God is going to prune us- to non gardeners, it seems odd to cut off what seemed to be fruitful and beautiful branches, to leave the tree smaller and bleeding sap. But to those who know what they are doing, they know those trees are only going to produce more fruit, even if it takes a while. 

I have decided, in the end, that I’m not going to look for a job for the next two weeks of my uni holidays. When I go back to uni, I only have a little while before I’m on practical placement, so it makes sense logically, but also I started to think that maybe the reason I haven’t found a job is because instead of rushing to find one, and panicking about the future, maybe I just need to stop and rest for a while. I have worked full time during every holiday I’ve had since the beginning of last year. My longest actual “do-nothing, have-fun” holiday has been three days. 

I want to enjoy life instead of worry about the future. 

I want to spend time with the people I love instead of listening to the fear and the panic that has been fuelling me for a while now. 

I want to trust God. 
  

Trusting God

Everyone has stories of times when they trusted someone and were let down.

A few spring to mind for me, from someone literally just letting me fall during a trust exercise, or twice in my life when boys have pulled the chairs out from underneath me as I was about to sit down. 

However, one really takes centre stage. I was doing the high wires at a fitness camp- where you’ve got a harness, and your objective is to shimmy along these wires two or more metres off the ground- for the really brave, there are places where you have to just take leaps of faith to get to the next place of safety. However, you’re wearing these harnesses so that if you fall or want to stop, the person spotting you can let you down. I watched my partner with the vigilance of an eagle. When I looked down at her, she was chatting with someone else, and typically, the shock of betrayal caused me to fall. So, in the most awkward way possible, I dangled there like a flailing fish until I managed to catch her attention. 

No wonder people have trust issues. 

Two weeks ago today, I quit my job. I wish I could say I’d thought about it, and had the dignity of a speech and strutting out with my head held high. However, unfortunately that was not the case. There was yelling, and crying, and my brain sort of melted so that I went outside to finish the shredding before grabbing my cactus and waddling home in my high heels. [I had to sneak in the next day to get my tea and leave the key on the desk.] To be fair, I had always dreamed of quitting. I just always thought I’d have something to move on to, and I’d have my speech ready before I went in, not at 3 am the next morning. 

Then, the next day, my Dad was attending a meeting for the church’s kids holiday club and, running with my adrenaline, I decided that day that I would do kids club with absolutely no physical or mental preparation or planning. 

So that’s how I ended up doing kids club two days after quitting my job [and after telling everyone for six months there was absolutely no possible way I could help out because I’d be working.] [I got an award at the end for “Best Life Choices”.]

And, the day after kids club ended, I packed my bags and headed off to a week of leading on a high school camp. 

I can’t explain to you what I was thinking, because the easiest summary is that I wasn’t. I was trying to think of how to write a post-camp blog post yesterday, and my head was just spinning from two weeks of not sticking to my usual strict regimen. My hair is frizzy because I didn’t have time to wash it properly, and my face is breaking out because of what, stress? Lack of sleep? An unusual amount of physical exercise for someone who used to sit at a desk for nine hours a day? 

And I realised the only thing that is still true after two weeks, and maybe six months of falling down a rabbit hole of insanity, is that God is good. 

In the past six months, I have had my first major break up, transitioned into a new church, started uni, finished up with my old Sunday School, started a new one, and quit my job. But while my head has been spinning, “on Christ my solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

With no planning, I expected last week to be hard and disorganised. But I was surrounded by a team of people who trusted and loved God and worked to include but not overwhelm me. This week, I expected to be awful because the last high school camp I went on I was completely out of my depth. But once again, I was surrounded by a team of people who worked endlessly to pull their weight and make sure I was okay, plus I was blessed with an amazing group of girls and co leader. 

And for those two weeks, every time I thought about getting a job, a sense of panic began to well up inside of me, but I have been reminded time and time again- even when we are skeptical, God will never let us down. It’s just not in his nature. 

So, when none of my girls seemed to respond to the talks, I decided God has a plan for them, and I’m just not watching it play out yet. When I got half a dozen rejections for jobs I’d applied for, I figured I would just keep praying. And when I woke up each day at six thirty in the morning and it was dark, and freezing, and my eyes kept gluing shut during prayer in the leaders meetings, I reminded myself that this was a chance to prepare to make camp the quality God had in mind for it to be. 

On the last night of camp, we had a time for people to tell their testimonies. The amount of kids who are struggling with situations at home, at school and even struggling with demons in their own heads was heart breaking. And yet, in amongst it all, there was this incredible sense of hope. Because, as Christians, we know that even when we have no idea what is going on, and everything seems like it is just falling apart, God has got us and he knows what he has in store. It is for our good, and not to hurt us. 

I was reminded during one of the talks of a verse where Jesus says God is going to prune us- to non gardeners, it seems odd to cut off what seemed to be fruitful and beautiful branches, to leave the tree smaller and bleeding sap. But to those who know what they are doing, they know those trees are only going to produce more fruit, even if it takes a while. 

I have decided, in the end, that I’m not going to look for a job for the next two weeks of my uni holidays. When I go back to uni, I only have a little while before I’m on practical placement, so it makes sense logically, but also I started to think that maybe the reason I haven’t found a job is because instead of rushing to find one, and panicking about the future, maybe I just need to stop and rest for a while. I have worked full time during every holiday I’ve had since the beginning of last year. My longest actual “do-nothing, have-fun” holiday has been three days. 

I want to enjoy life instead of worry about the future. 

I want to spend time with the people I love instead of listening to the fear and the panic that has been fuelling me for a while now. 

I want to trust God. 

Trusting God

Everyone has stories of times when they trusted someone and were let down.

A few spring to mind for me, from someone literally just letting me fall during a trust exercise, or twice in my life when boys have pulled the chairs out from underneath me as I was about to sit down. However, one really takes centre stage. I was doing the high wires at a fitness camp- where you’ve got a harness, and your objective is to shimmy along these wires two or more metres off the ground- for the really brave, there are places where you have to just take leaps of faith to get to the next place of safety. However, you’re wearing these harnesses so that if you fall or want to stop, the person spotting you can let you down. I watched my partner with the vigilance of an eagle. When I looked down at her, she was chatting with someone else, and typically, the shock of betrayal caused me to fall. So, in the most awkward way possible, I dangled there like a flailing fish until I managed to catch her attention. 
No wonder people have trust issues. 
Two weeks ago today, I quit my job. I wish I could say I’d thought about it, and had the dignity of a speech and strutting out with my head held high. However, unfortunately that was not the case. There was yelling, and crying, and my brain sort of melted so that I went outside to finish the shredding before grabbing my cactus and waddling home in my high heels. [I had to sneak in the next day to get my tea and leave the key on the desk.] To be fair, I had always dreamed of quitting. I just always thought I’d have something to move on to, and I’d have my speech ready before I went in, not at 3 am the next morning. Then, the next day, my Dad was attending a meeting for the church’s kids holiday club and, running with my adrenaline, I decided that day that I would do kids club with absolutely no physical or mental preparation or planning. 
So that’s how I ended up doing kids club two days after quitting my job [and after telling everyone for six months there was absolutely no possible way I could help out because I’d be working.] [I got an award at the end for “Best Life Choices”.]
And, the day after kids club ended, I packed my bags and headed off to a week of leading on a high school camp. 
I can’t explain to you what I was thinking, because the easiest summary is that I wasn’t. I was trying to think of how to write a post-camp blog post yesterday, and my head was just spinning from two weeks of not sticking to my usual strict regimen. My hair is frizzy because I didn’t have time to wash it properly, and my face is breaking out because of what, stress? Lack of sleep? An unusual amount of physical exercise for someone who used to sit at a desk for nine hours a day? 

And I realised the only thing that is still true after two weeks, and maybe six months of falling down a rabbit hole of insanity, is that God is good. 
In the past six months, I have had my first major break up, transitioned into a new church, started uni, finished up with my old Sunday School, started a new one, and quit my job. But while my head has been spinning, “on Christ my solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
With no planning, I expected last week to be hard and disorganised. But I was surrounded by a team of people who trusted and loved God and worked to include but not overwhelm me. This week, I expected to be awful because the last high school camp I went on I was completely out of my depth. But once again, I was surrounded by a team of people who worked endlessly to pull their weight and make sure I was okay, plus I was blessed with an amazing group of girls and co leader. 

And for those two weeks, every time I thought about getting a job, a sense of panic began to well up inside of me, but I have been reminded time and time again- even when we are skeptical, God will never let us down. It’s just not in his nature. 
So, when none of my girls seemed to respond to the talks, I decided God has a plan for them, and I’m just not watching it play out yet. When I got half a dozen rejections for jobs I’d applied for, I figured I would just keep praying. And when I woke up each day at six thirty in the morning and it was dark, and freezing, and my eyes kept gluing shut during prayer in the leaders meetings, I reminded myself that this was a chance to prepare to make camp the quality God had in mind for it to be. 
On the last night of camp, we had a time for people to tell their testimonies. The amount of kids who are struggling with situations at home, at school and even struggling with demons in their own heads was heart breaking. And yet, in amongst it all, there was this incredible sense of hope. Because, as Christians, we know that even when we have no idea what is going on, and everything seems like it is just falling apart, God has got us and he knows what he has in store. It is for our good, and not to hurt us. 

I was reminded during one of the talks of a verse where Jesus says God is going to prune us- to non gardeners, it seems odd to cut off what seemed to be fruitful and beautiful branches, to leave the tree smaller and bleeding sap. But to those who know what they are doing, they know those trees are only going to produce more fruit, even if it takes a while. 
I have decided, in the end, that I’m not going to look for a job for the next two weeks of my uni holidays. When I go back to uni, I only have a little while before I’m on practical placement, so it makes sense logically, but also I started to think that maybe the reason I haven’t found a job is because instead of rushing to find one, and panicking about the future, maybe I just need to stop and rest for a while. I have worked full time during every holiday I’ve had since the beginning of last year. My longest actual “do-nothing, have-fun” holiday has been three days. 

I want to enjoy life instead of worry about the future. 

I want to spend time with the people I love instead of listening to the fear and the panic that has been fuelling me for a while now. 

I want to trust God. 

Stick It Out

I’ve seen a few posts recently on “how to tell if you’re in an abusive relationship”. This moved a lot of thoughts in me, and as I’ve come to realise, they tend to explode into these blog posts.

The simplest way to tell if you’re in an abusive relationship is if you feel abused. I spent a lot of time on my own a few years back now, which makes me sound a lot older than I am. I spent a lot of time not talking to anyone, not opening up much and being a wall creeper. I wasn’t quite sure where my confidence had gone, and I assumed I’d just misplaced it. But when thoughts began to creep into my head that shouldn’t have been there, I decided to go and see a counsellor. She was a scary old lady by the name of Pearl [I assume her side of the conversation isn’t confidential], who wore bright pink lipstick and dressed in all black. And when I explained the past few months to her, Pearl told me something I didn’t expect to hear- she told me I’d been bullied. What I’d thought might have been my fault, with girls turning to whisper about me in corridors, and feeling isolated and lonely, was bullying.

I’d been “bullied” in primary school. I’d been thrown around and called names, because kids aren’t that sneaky. They’re open and honest and tell you to your face that they hate you and they reckon everyone else does too. But that sort of bullying is sharp and quick, and easily dealt with, like a bandaid over a cut. As you grow older, people get smarter until the pain is an ache, throbbing so hard you don’t know where it begins and where it ends.

After that, I thought I’d get some friends, so I found some people to hang out with, not realising the two don’t always go hand in hand. I felt battered and scared, so when I found some people who wanted to be friends, I thought I wouldn’t feel so lonely any more. But when the whispers started up again, although I was now in the circles, invited to sit at the table, I would still go home and cry myself to sleep, worrying about the next day and weirdly, still feeling lonely in the crowds. When words were thrown at me, and I was in situations I didn’t know how I’d gotten into, I figured it was all part of the dance- this is what happens when you have friends, isn’t it? That’s just what you do when you have a boyfriend isn’t it? That’s just what I need to do if I want to keep them, isn’t it? Despite some part of me crying out that it hurt, I didn’t realise emotions are quite like the physical world- if something hurts, something is wrong. If you’ve fallen and broken your leg, that usually comes with quite a bit of pain. It doesn’t matter if you tell everyone he’s great, but you fear going out with him again- you might as well be hobbling around on that broken leg and telling everyone you’re fine. I was terrified I’d dress wrong, or get screamed at again, and yet I figured this is what I needed to have the friends I craved.

How do you tell if you’re in an abusive relationship? You’ll be wondering if you are. And it wasn’t until my Dad turned around and said “well, if you’re going to let him treat you like that…” I wondered if I should. And so ended that.
And this year I ended up at Year 13. I talk about having new friends, and the great community, but I don’t know if many people will realise what exactly this means. Within a few months, without truly noticing it, I started going to parties and dancing. I started making jokes and smiling simply just to walk into a room and have people say “hey”. I started dating a guy who makes me feel beautiful without saying a word, and I’ve never wondered if I’m in an abusive relationship. So maybe I’m not. I started loving without the pain. My grandpa used to say “the best thing about banging your head against a brick wall is when you stop.” Maybe I didn’t realise I had a headache until I didn’t have one anymore.

If you are wondering why it hurts, look for the source of pain. If you think you’re in an abusive relationship, you probably are. And you’ll be more grateful you got out of it than regret having left it. If you are saying “he’s great, but…” you haven’t got the right one. If you’re saying “they’re great, I just…” wonder if you should be with them. God doesn’t give you 80%’s, He wants to bless you with 110%’s.

It doesn’t mean run from your friends, but it does mean there is no shame in walking away from your enemies.

Jehovah Jireh

I struggle with anxiety. There just seems to be this part of my mind that tries to work out six solutions to every possible situation so that I’m always prepared. I’m like the Bear Grylls of the social world. However, although they say life is what you make it, I’ve discovered that life also depends on the variables you can’t control, like the people that float into your life, or unforeseen circumstances. Admittedly, that’s never great for someone whose mind is hardwired to plan, and over-plan. Like buildings, we’re all created not just from one brick, but from many.
As a part of a course I’m doing, we’ve been challenged to read the entire Bible in one year, and today I had a read of Genesis 22. Famously quoted by both Christians and non Christians trying to make a point, the chapter recounts the story of a man named Abraham who has been asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. It’s one of those stories where all the interesting things seem to happen towards the end, including the climactic moment where Abraham is holding a knife to his only child’s throat and an angel calls out to him at the last minute- Hollywood quality stuff right there. But the part that struck me, which I admit I haven’t really concentrated on before today, is the part where Abraham is walking up the mountain with his son. 
(Genesis 22:7-8) 

Isaac said, “Father, we have the coals and the wood, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

“My son,” Abraham answered, “God will provide the lamb.”
I can’t imagine the weight upon Abrahams shoulders. In a literal sense, he is carrying the coals and the knife he is going to use to kill his son (v6). In another sense, though, Isaac is the fulfilment of a promise from God. A promise that he would have a son, even at his age, and his offspring would spread across the world. Even God refers to this boy as “Isaac, the one you dearly love” in verse 2. When I was little, I was pretty sick for a while, and I remember very clearly my mother sobbing as my dad held her- Abraham knows he will have to return to his wife and tell her their miracle child is gone. He is walking towards the altar where he is going to sacrifice everything he has, and his son, walking beside him, innocently asks what they’re going to sacrifice. 
I think the worst part of having anxiety is when you micromanage for something and all of those plans get thrown out of the window. I forgot my games for Sunday school today- I have forgotten my plans at home before. And there is this weight that drops in your stomach, and your heart begins to race, and every chemical in the brain is torn between doing everything and doing nothing (neither of which are particularly productive). Freaking out or giving up. When you’ve worked hard at something, and something gets taken away from your perfect equation- I don’t know. I really don’t. 
The bible often tells us that someone questioned God, or told him it’s not possible, but none of that for Abraham. He doesn’t yell at a God that it’s not fair, he doesn’t cry or try and run away. And my mind can’t fathom that kind of faith. To walk up to an altar with everything precious to you, and calmly say that God will provide. 
As Abraham is about to sacrifice his son, an angel stops him, and he sees a ram and sacrifices that instead. He doesn’t have to go through with it, as God knows he was willing to, and he names the place “God will provide”. His reaction is just to reiterate that God will provide, and there is no other record of what he (or Isaac for that matter) does. Abraham says God will provide before and after, though. God provided him with a son, and a sacrifice, and then a different sacrifice- a faith that means you bend to the will of God no matter the consequences.
The biggest struggle for me with anxiety is when something doesn’t go the way I planned. It feels like everything is going to come crumbling down around me. But then I remember that no matter how many bricks I’m made of, God is my foundation and he’s solid. When things don’t go my way, he will provide. When he asks the impossible of me, he will provide. And I will trust him because there was a time- which everyone will come to face- when there was nothing I could do. There was absolutely nothing I could do about my own sin. No good deeds or plans or worrying could get me any closer to God, and he provided a sacrifice in my place. He also sacrificed his only son, and he did it for me. God didn’t just provide a sacrifice in the place of Isaac- he provides one for us. 
Jehovah Jireh

The Lord will provide.

  

God and Suffering

I was having a chat the other day with a mature Christian whom I admire and we were discussing where God fits into a world of suffering. The Bible tells us not just that God loves us (John 3:16), but that he IS love (1 John 4:8). So how does that reconcile with what we see when we look outside our window? 
Well, here is what we’ve got to work with- a loving God who has plans for our good and not destruction (Jeremiah 29:11). Seems hard to believe. But, we (my friend and I) came up with the following conclusion- God proves all through the Bible that he comes true on his promises and he has promised never to leave not forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) so he’s still here. In amongst the ruins, God is still here. 
But the plans that are happening right now aren’t great- indeed a lot of them are destructive. Well, then they’re not God’s. At the root of all evil is sin. No matter where it came from (another story for another time), sin is what turned a good world into a bad one. At the root of all of our problems is man and his predilection towards choosing to do wrong. Hunger comes from greed; slavery comes from providing for consumer or sex driven societies; war comes from the desire to be right, picking pride over humility. If we were all a little less greedy and stopped buying food we won’t eat, clothes made by sweatshops, and hoarding money we don’t need instead of donating it to those in need, we could actually start to fix our own problems. Sounds easy? Try it. A statistic I heard the other day is that if every church registered in America adopted two kids a year, America wouldn’t have orphanages or foster homes. While it may be easy to blame everything on God, it’s us. The problem is us. We can all do something but we don’t, and so here we are. 
But, God is all powerful! Well, take a different spin on the words “God is good.” (Psalms 136:1) Because is he isn’t just good the adjective, but the noun, good. All that is good is God. When you see a child smile, a pretty flower, feel love, that’s God. When you trust God with your life, amazing things happen and he works through you (ever wonder why so many people do it?). Look up testimonies, or check out mine on here. God works through his people, and he does amazing things every day. The fact that there is good in the world- every act of charity, every time you laugh, every time something goes right instead of wrong, “thank God” isn’t just a saying. People actually do it. He has plans, and good ones. We just don’t see them as we concentrate on all the terrible things. For more on this, check out my post on heaven and hell, because one day we will recognise what life without God truly is. He walks with us, he’s here. Trust is hard, but it’s better than no hope.
Finally, what about the bigger picture? Why start all of this and leave us in it? Christians ask this too, and shouldn’t be afraid to (look up “Best Tries” by Jamie Smith). There’s an entire book on the Bible on it- Job, a guy left to suffer even though he’d done everything right. It got so bad that some theologists think it’s a parable we ought to learn from, but anyone who has been at their lowest can identify with him. Sometimes, I feel like he just represents all of humanity. 

He cries out to God, and at the very end of the story, God answers. He answers, in short (the actual verses are quite beautiful – Job 38-41) that he has a plan and he knows- has always known- what he’s doing. It gets hard looking for the beautiful in every day life, little signs God is listening, but the majority of Christians won’t miss a beat before they tell you it was worth it trusting God. There’s something bigger promised though. Heaven, with no tears or pain (Revelations 21:4). No matter how good it will ever get on earth, a day in His courts is better than a thousand here (Psalm 84:10). And that gives me hope, because Gods plan was never just limited to here. Earth is just a taste of how good it’s going to get, and the pain we look forward to escaping. This amazing hope, from an eternal love. 
That, to me, is worth waiting for. 
 I know it doesn’t mean people won’t go through pain. It means I want to help them, spurred to show the love that was shown me. 

I know it doesn’t mean I’ll never go through pain but it means I’ll get through it knowing God has good plans for me, and heaven is waiting. 

I know it doesn’t mean all of the worlds problems are fixed, but this breaks Gods heart as it breaks ours- this compassion comes from him, and so, as He works so should we. 
Heaven is coming. Hold on.