Last year was a huge struggle in many ways and by October I was ill, exhausted and felt very distant from my faith. I want 2014 to be different, but had a dawning realisation that I had to change some things about myself and how I respond to other people and difficult situations. I also knew that I couldn’t do that alone.
I had been asking God for guidance as I was given a vision for the future of my creativity and business just over a year ago but last year’s events totally overtook me. …although I do have sketches and ideas dotted around that I plan to develop creatively this year. One result of seeking guidance was discovering The GROW programme developed by Artistic Hands of Faith on Facebook. During the year you take part in a series of themed bible studies and the current theme “A New Beginning”, was just what I needed. Each week we memorise and meditate on a bible verse which we also read in context whilst journalling our responses.
Week 1 – 2 Corinthians 5 v 17
Having taken time talking this verse and its setting through with God I realised that although I know what the verse means, there is a gulf between knowing and doing! I ‘know’ that being born again and baptised helps us to lose the undesirable aspects of our old self and understand that this isn’t instant, but a journey. However I quickly realised that if I wanted to control the process, then I was blocking any work God wants to do in me, so for things to change I need to be willing to let go of them and give them to God.
So having realised and accepted this essential truth, the heart of my personal prayer life, needs to be an act of surrender, if I want to change the way I live life for the better. And with those changes I will be freer and more able to talk about God and what He is doing for me and live my life in a way that glorifies and reverences him.
This was echoed in this Sunday’s church service – when we treat God with reverence, ask for forgiveness and let go, he can do works of renewal in us. I’m hearing this message so often I know I need to listen and act upon it!
Week 2 – Isiah 43: 18-19
This complemented the previous week well, stressing the importance of letting go of the past. It reminded me of John’s description of God as a gardener, able to grow and improve any soil, bringing rain and nourishment to the land. I see “us” as plants that He tends carefully, pruning away the dead wood that impedes growth and allowing healthy new shoots to grow, bloom and bear fruit. But He can only do this with my agreement, if I don’t allow Him through the garden gate then I immediately block him from achieving anything in me.
The crazy thing is I know how well this works. I had a very deep seated grief and pain caused by the death of my mother as a child. It was massively affecting my ability to function as an adult and talking therapies hadn’t worked. But as I came to know God better I “talked” to Him by journalling and boy did He take me on a journey. I finally let the pain out, cried, wrote reams, talked honestly with people about it and at the Christmas Service that year understood I was healed – I had a beautiful childhood memory of my Mum for the first time in years.
So I’m now facing the challenge of exploring why I still hold on to other stuff that is hurting me or holding me back.
I’ve discovered the following verses seem really relevant to this next part of my journey and have something to teach me: