God for all Seasons

God for all Seasons

Eighteen months ago at the age of 60, I retired. Since then, life has changed so much. A new chapter has begun, and only God knows what I will be involved in, dare I say it, in my last chapter of life. In these months, I have spent time reflecting on my life so far and the privilege of knowing God who has been with me in every season of life.

I was raised in a Christian family in Wigan, England. In May 1976, I went to Edinburgh to start my nursing career. There I met and married Dave in 1978 and we began many adventures which I never could have predicted. We have three sons who soon will be 34, 32 and 30, two wonderful daughters-in-law and two grandsons aged 4 and 18 months.

In this life, there have been seasons of joy unspeakable, seasons of being so distressed that my heart nearly broke, seasons of frustration and anguish, seasons of laughter and fun, seasons of isolation, seasons of sweet, sweet fellowship, seasons of spiritual dryness and seasons of spiritual fruitfulness. All of this reminds me of the famous quote from Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”.

Through all the seasons, my God has been so faithful. At times when I didn’t feel God’s presence he was still there. He has surprised me many times with words given by others encouraging me to keep on going, or through words from a song or from scriptures. He knows me so well and knows exactly what I need and when I need it.

Recently I cared for my mother-in-law in our home until she passed away in October at age 87. Towards the end of her life I struggled with the emotion involved in and the tiredness that comes from broken nights but God was there encouraging me on. One song that I kept on singing was:

“God I look to you. I won’t be overwhelmed. Give me vision to see things like you do. God I look to you. You’re where my help comes from. Give me wisdom to know just what to do. I will love you Lord my strength, I will love you Lord my shield, I will love you Lord my rock, Forever all my days I will love you God.”

Dave and I take great comfort from the fact that Louise in her last few months rekindled her childhood desire for God. We discovered there were many seasons in her life that we had no knowledge of and it made me want to write down some of our family stories so that these seasons could be remembered and recorded for generations to come.

My God is the God for all seasons. Some of life’s seasons can be difficult to understand or even to find any sense in them. I recently came across a quote from Maria von Trapp upon whose life story the Sound of Music was based. She describes the seasons of our life as threads through a tapestry:

“It will be very interesting one day to follow the pattern of our life as it is spread out like a beautiful tapestry. As long as we live here we see only the reverse side of the weaving, and very often the pattern, with its threads running wildly, doesn’t seem to make sense. Someday, however, we shall understand. In looking back over the years we can discover how a red thread goes through the pattern of our life: the Will of God.” ― Maria Augusta von Trapp

What season are you in just now? Our God is a God for all seasons. One thing I am sure of is that He is with me for the whole journey whatever the season. Deuteronomy 31: 8 says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”

 

By Sylvia Pratt

 

About Sylv
I am a retired nurse. Married to Dave, we are celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary later this year.
We have 3 sons , 2 daughters-in law and 2 grandsons.
One son lives in Glasgow, one in Houston and one in Inverness.
We work for Barnardos doing respite care from time to time.
We joined City Church St, Machar in January 2015
I lead the team for Mainly Music and I am part of the MAD Minis team. We host and lead a small group.
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It’s Time To Ditch The Damsel In Distress

Poor Rapunzel. How many years did she waste, trapped in a tall stony prison, apparently helpless and resigned to her fate? Left simply to watch life pass her by?

I recently found myself wondering what exactly was it she was waiting for? Someone to rescue her? Someone to give her a reason to fight for her freedom?  Someone to give her life meaning?

Did it not occur to Rapunzel as she watched her captor climb her beautiful long flowing golden hair to enter her dungeon, that the very tool that allowed her enemy to enter may also be the very means by which she could escape. She actually possessed all she needed to claim her freedom.

If I was Rapunzel I like to think I would have cut my hair, tied it to something and climbed my way to freedom.

So why didn’t she?

As I pondered this fictional conundrum I began to wonder if it was because she had been taught to believe she was a prisoner – helpless, worthless. Did she believe in some way that the world had forgotten her, or that she was insignificant, unimportant and that maybe no one actually cared what happened to her? Captivity was all she had ever known. She didn’t truly understand what freedom was.

I think in some ways Rapunzel wasn’t just imprisoned in a tower but also in a mind-set.  Because that’s what happens when we allow the voice of our enemy to be the voice we spend the most time listening to.

‘You can’t do that’, ‘You’ll never be good enough’ ‘What’s the point in even trying’  ‘Nobody likes you’ ‘Your going to fail’

As we look back on the childhood fairy tales many of us were read before we drifted off to sleep at night, I found myself wondering were we unconsciously listening to a voice that told us that as a woman we are in need of rescuing.  That we cannot fight for ourselves.

In the world today there are many movements promoting the fact that woman and men should be valued equally. And I’m excited by this.  But I recently had a conversation where somebody asked me to consider doing something in the church and a sub conscious thought popped into my head that said “You can’t do that, you’re just a girl.’

Where did that come from?

It’s not a belief my parents have taught me. It’s certainly not a belief our church holds and I don’t believe that to be the voice of my Heavenly Father either.

But still, there it was.

And as I prayed over this and brought it before the Lord I realised that the enemy looks to keep the daughters of God prisoner to the beliefs that they can’t for fear of what they might do if they realise that they can!

But I feel the days of this lie being believed in the church are numbered and the spirit of God is moving to bring freedom to the Rapunzel’s in the church.

And like Rapunzel we already possess everything we need – in Christ – to step into freedom.

The truth is the church will only be able to function to it’s full potential when woman as well as men step up into our Christ given freedom.

It’s time to stop listening to the lies and instead seek the Lords voice over our lives and to live fully in who He says we are.

I even think Hollywood has caught the wind of the Spirit over this issue and there are two movies in particular I want to highlight.

Now I’m not a fanatical Lord of the Rings fan but I do have an appreciation for these movies. There’s so much biblical truth sown into the story. But there is one particular character in the third instalment – The Return of the King – that stirs my heart every time I watch it.

Her name is Eowyn. She is part of the royal household in the Kingdom of Rohan. She longs to fight for her people and has the heart of a warrior but she submits to the duties placed upon her as a woman by the royal household to stay at home and care for her uncle the King.

But as the Kingdom of Rohan and her people are once again threatened she decides this time to disguise herself as a man, and ride into battle to fight for the freedom of her people.

Once on the battlefield the soldiers are confronted not only with the unsightly Orcs and other gruesome creatures, but also with the terrifying Witch King of Angmur riding the equally terrifying dragon like Nazgul creature.

And there is Eowyn, in the middle of it all. She begins bravely fighting but as the Witch King turns his attention to her King without thinking she leaps to his aid and bravely slices through the long snakelike neck of the Nazgul. The witch King is enraged and now turns his attention to Eowyn. As he moves towards her you can almost feel her fear. And he says to her menacingly ‘You fool, don’t you know that no man can kill me.’

In that moment Eowyn draws on all the courage she can muster and throws off her helmet allowing her long, flowing hair to come spilling out. She looks her enemy straight in the eye and says ‘ I…. am…. no…. man’ before she plunges her sword deep into her adversary and he is destroyed.

Eowyn’s destiny was to kill the Witch King. There was no man who could do it. It was what SHE was created to do. It was why she had spent years longing to fight, years feeling like she didn’t fit in and years secretly training herself in swordsmanship.

What is the destiny over your life that God has for no-one else but you? Do you sometimes feel like you don’t fit in? Maybe God has created you uniquely to be the answer to a problem that no-one else even realises exists.

A second movie I’ve come to love is Frozen!

Who is the true heroin in Frozen?

For many of the little girls that want to dress up as their favourite character it’s Elsa. She’s the beautiful princess with magical, supernatural powers. But the problem is Elsa doesn’t know how to use the gift she’s been given and instead of learning how to harness her power and use it for good she allows fear to overwhelm her. She locks herself away cutting herself off from all contact with people for fear of what she might do.

I cannot help but wonder how many women are aware of the gifts that God has given them, but instead of displaying them for all to see and giving themselves to the process of growing and learning to steward their gifts, they hide them away for fear of what people might think. For fear of making a mistake, or looking foolish or the world not accepting the unique thing that God wants to do in them.

For me the true heroin of Frozen is Anna. She loves her sister and cannot understand why she is hiding herself away from her. She wants to help. And when Elsa runs away she bravely embarks on a quest to rescue her, even putting her life in danger for the sake of her sister. In the end Anna shows Elsa that love is the key to harnessing the power she has been given.

As I reflected on the stories of these women, there is a common theme. It is love that releases them into the destiny over their lives. For Rapunzel it was the love of her Prince, for Eowyn the love of her King and for Elsa the love of her sister.

For us it is the love of our Heavenly Father.

God has created and designed you with a purpose in mind. I am realising that He has put everything we need within us and he offers us the power of His love and His holy spirit to ignite our gifts and guide us into the fullness of our destiny.

In Acts 2:17 it says ‘In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters…..’ (emphasis added)

I feel the Spirit of God wants to stir us as his daughters to help and encourage each other to continue to press into the fullness of all that God has for us. To move out of whatever mind-sets have kept us captive and into the freedom, purposes and destiny of God.

We are no longer to live as ‘damsels in distress’ but rather God is calling us to “Arise” (Isaiah 60:1). And to play our rightful, necessary part in welcoming the Kingdom of God in a world that desperately needs it.

By Hannah Shewan

Hannah currently attends the Kingswells Site at City Church Aberdeen. She works as a Physician Associate at ARI. Her hobbies include outdoor adventures especially cliff jumping and hill walking. She also loves curling up with a good book on a rainy day. She is passionate about pursuing the presence of God and freedom in Christ!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is well with my soul.

The Irvine Family Crest is three bunches of three holly leaves and the Latin motto is “Sub sole sub umbra virens.” Under the sun, under the shade, ever flourishing. I like that. It reminds me of my Christian faith, that in Jesus, whether I prosper or whether I am in the storm… it is well with my soul.

 

We have spent the last six months rescuing  seedling trees, potting up, and planting out. We have planted over 500 small pines and hardwoods which will one day provide a good screen and sound barrier for our house from the new Aberdeen bypass which is 100 yards from our front door.

 

No one is without trouble in this life. We all struggle with something, whether that is loss of a loved one, children who don’t follow Jesus, an illness, financial difficulties, addictions, weight problems, loneliness….boredom!!

 

For me the greatest gift is to be able to go out into God’s creation and be with Him there. To work with the soil, and see His hand in all things growing.

 

When I plant a tree and imagine what it will look like in 10, 20, 100 years time…. I realise my life is but a breath and I am in awe of the Creator who watches over His Creation, that He should have revealed Himself to me! It is enough to make me drop my spade and jump up and down and whoop and shout!! Or lie down

in the long grass and weep at his tender care for me.

 

There is a Greek proverb that says…..”A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”  I may not live to sit in the shade of the oaks we have planted, but I hope my grandchildren and great grandchildren will be glad that their granny planted trees. I hope that the people yet to come will know that through all the generations of Irvines, there were those who cared passionately, those who knew what it was to walk through dark valleys but to fear no evil for He is with us.

 

 

Hazel Irvine-Fortescue.
Happily married to Henry for 28 years, mother of two wonderful adopted children. We are part of City Church Stonehaven and lead one of the Mad teams. I love God’s written Word and I am passionate about my family and everything creative.

 

Singing through the fear

The memory of being in a hospital bed, in the intensive care unit, hooked up to wires and monitors and a horrible tracheostomy tube is still so vivid.  That was the time in my life when everything changed.  Life felt fragile and I was suddenly aware that I was not in control.  I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move and the Dr’s were struggling to find out what was wrong with me. I felt so trapped. The fear of the unknown was very real. An awful virus had attacked the glands around my neck and I was slowly suffocating.  I remember praying and promising to God that if he got me out of hospital and free from the tracheostomy, I’d put aside my insecurities, I’d use my voice and sing for him.  This was a big deal for me.  I had always loved singing but was young, shy and didn’t like being exposed to crowds.

 

Only a few days later, God healed me, I was released from hospital and I kept my promise.  I started singing lessons and joined the worship team.  My wonderful husband bought me a microphone and encouraged me on my journey.  But of course with learning a new skill comes the important and huge lesson in confidence.  I don’t think I have ever fully mastered that, but one thing I did learn; was to sing anyway!  To stand up with knocking knees and worship the Lord through my emotions.   

 

Since then life has moved on – but not without its challenges.  We are a family of 5 now but we sadly lost a baby along the way.  Learning to worship through the fire has become my weapon.   In times of anxiety, fear and failure – I sing.  I sing everywhere I go.  I have learnt that it really does change the atmosphere and builds me up.  I love strong Biblical references in songs, as it allows me to quote scripture in the midst of trouble.  Worship songs are so powerful.   The enemy hates our worship as it exalts the Lord above everything else in our lives and puts Him back into perspective.  

 

I have learnt that my circumstances are separate from my spiritual state.  I don’t have to combine them.  My emotions do not dictate how I see the Lord. Or how He sees me.  I think that learning to sing and worship even through sad tears, is a beautiful and precious act.  There is an incredible strength that is needed when we sing through our circumstances.  Not only is God exalted in that moment, but we quieten the flesh as we acknowledge that God is sovereign through it all. Thank you Lord that through it all, it is still well with my soul.

 

The one story comes to mind with this topic is in Acts 16;25 when Paul and Silas were singing in Jail.  There was an earthquake and the doors were opened but what I love the most about this story, was that they were singing to the Lord – in jail.  Probably not something one would naturally do in that moment and yet it was recorded that they were singing worship songs in the midst of their trouble. I am so encouraged by this.  

 

Thank you Lord for the gift of music.  Thank you for the songs and hymns which remind us of your word and brings courage to our fragile and insecure hearts.   We are stronger for it.  

 

Let’s keep singing!

About me;  My name is Nicky and I’m married to Johannes Du Toit and a mother to 3 amazing children.  Originally from South Africa, we moved over in 2012 and have made Bonnie Scotland our home. We live in Newtonhill and go to the Stonehaven site where you can find me in the worship band either leading or singing back up. Some of my passions are music, writing children stories, food, travelling, being with and making new friends and shopping.

From Darkness to Pure Joy!

CHAPTER 1

Sigh.. another day of “same old, same old”, no idea what’s going on, how do I cope with the nonsense, topped with an attitude of “fine, whatever” towards the caring souls who I’m glad to say have stuck around! This was how my life used to be. I am delighted to say this is no more, but let’s step back in time, and I’ll share with you how AMAZING God has been in completely transforming my life.

I came to City Church around 6 years ago, looking for another home, and was greeted at the turny-roundy-bit by no other than Jude McBean (God has an ace sense of humour, I’ll explain later). I loved it so I kept coming. As so many do, I came with heaps of heavy baggage, not really any idea who I was, or what I was for, even though I was a Christian. I had been in and out of spirals of self harm, drinking and depression for years. I’d ‘get better’ then fall back in it again and again.

One day, I felt this need within me to talk to a good friend specifically about this. I felt so low, I really didn’t want to be here anymore. But hang on – I don’t talk about my feelings, I do destructive things instead, because that’s all I know! It turns out talking was the first step of the rest of my life. Of course, life didn’t change overnight, much to my disgust. It meant eventually doing some counselling (more talking about feelings? Oh no, thank you, I’m fine!) and doing some prayer ministry, which I loved and hated at the same time. Being vulnerable is not on the top of my to-do list!

It’s hard to explain how horrible I had been feeling – darkness over me all the time, a heavy weight around my head, negative thoughts – these are all normal, right? Well, apparently not! One verse that was prayed over me and has stuck with me is this:

‘Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Romans 12:2

This ‘transforming of my mind’ took some time, and it also meant taking time out from serving in Stonehaven to find who I was and what I was for. I hated being on the sidelines! I was very grumpy at this decision, but I see now it was the best thing to do.

When the darkness lifted, I found JOY for the first time in my life, it was incredible. I felt as if my head had finally lifted, all around me was daylight and not darkness! This was really weird! I found myself almost looking around wondering “where has this heavy darkness gone”?! I was almost missing it, because it had been all I knew.  

‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ Nehemiah 8v10

I had found joy! With that, I now had a freedom to go and be who God had called me to be. Which takes us to the next chapter…

 

CHAPTER 2

Over time, I got back into serving, being part of the worship team, and also found myself wanting to join the M.A.D. Minis team. What?! I had done kids work before in a previous church, but it wasn’t a particularly positive experience. I said God has a sense of humour right? When the Stonehaven site launched (when I wasn’t in a great place), Jude McBean came and did training with us about kids work.  To be honest, I’ve no idea what it was about really – I wasn’t interested and wasn’t listening (sorry!). Jude has said to me since then that she felt there was something for me in the M.A.D ministry. My response was “nope, that’s way off, Jude”.  WELL, fast forward some years…. I enquired about “maybe, just maybe” coming on a Minis team  Turns out I LOVED being on Minis! I had an awesome time, and it was so valuable. God reignited a passion in me that I lost years ago, and over time I became a team leader for Minis.

In Summer 2016, I felt God speak to me about becoming Site Kids Leader (SKL). “That is insane, Lord, don’t be daft, that isn’t you speaking … is it?” It was also a bit awkward – no one had said anything to me about this role, I certainly hadn’t been offered a position, so I had to be the one to broach the subject – cringe! Turns out I didn’t need to worry – the conversation went much better than I thought it would. We both had the same feeling that it was meant to be me. Phew! And Rock on!

Being SKL is amazing, I love what we do, how we do it and the privilege it is to tell these kids about Jesus, it rocks! I am on a M.A.D. team now which came with some doubts in itself, but man, I love it. How could I doubt, when God had all this in hand? In recent months I have become more passionate about this ministry, and hungry to see God at work in the lives of our kids.

I’m not the most patient but I have learnt that God has a plan, and looking back, I know God’s timing is always perfect.

‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ Jer 29:11

Amen to that! Is life perfect? Not at all. I had a recent blip, but with some help and prayer ministry I’m doing better again. Hard times come, but great times come too! I also now know that talking about ‘my stuff’ isn’t so bad (once I get started) and that people have my back, and that God is right there. All the time. He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Ange Oyejide
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ABOUT ME: You can find me at the Stonehaven site, making a lot of noise either in Mad, or in the worship team, drumming away. Love. It. I’ve been married to Ola since 2015, you’ll find us walking around Stoney getting our steps done for the day [#obsessed] or feet up watching a movie or football. I love rock music, great coffee and spending time with the special people in my life.

I’m no longer a slave to fear

Fear or freedom? The answer seems easy – freedom; but yet so many times we tip over into fear. Looking back, I’ve tended towards the ‘fear’ end of the scale and recently this was highlighted when my dislike of flying became almost disabling. 

Flying has never been something that I have enjoyed. I am that person who tries to identify every noise on the plane to try and feel in control, and stays awake just in case the pilot needs some help! This fear hadn’t started from a frightening flight, but the backthrust of the engines having landed. Yet that one unexpected incident allowed fear to take root in my heart. For years, I had faithfully watered my fear, speaking about flying in a negative and fearful way. The more negative I became, the more my anxiety increased. My daughter Bex was studying abroad and so Mike and I had planned several trips to visit her. On our way back from Madrid, there came a point when all I wanted was to get off the plane – not a good idea at 36,000 feet! All my usual distraction techniques just wouldn’t work and I felt completely terrified. 

At that point, it was clear to me that while flying was the situation that had brought things to a head, I knew I could become fearful and worry about so many situations. I was a ‘worst case scenario’ person, feeling slightly proud that I could identify so many things that might go wrong, and had solutions for all of them! I also realised that over the years I had spoken negative words over myself – I was an ‘Eeyore’, a ‘control freak’, and these fed into my worry and fear. 

I knew that I needed to be set free, and that going for prayer ministry was the way forward. During prayer, I realised that I needed to trust God – for me, for my family, for the future – and believe that He has good things for me, and that He is with me in every situation. I could see that difficult situations I had encountered in the past had coloured my view of the future.

Following prayer ministry, we were off seeing Bex again. Prior to going, I had asked people to pray for me. As we were waiting in Schiphol airport for my connecting flight, I received an email from one of my friends who had a word about ‘eagle’s wings’ and that God was completely trustworthy. I was encouraged by this, and as we were waiting to take off I saw a bird hovering beside our plane. For the whole time, we were waiting for our take off slot, the bird stayed and just before we took off, it flew away. As we thundered down the runway, I felt such an assurance that God was with me and that I could completely trust Him.

Since then I’ve reflected on life and I’ve realised that each day I have a choice to make – to live trusting God, or to worry about things over which I have no control. Some days it’s a struggle but on those days, I know that I have choice to make – I can put my trust in God, who loves me and cares for me more than I can ever imagine or I can give in to the fearful thoughts.

‘And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:38-39

In those two verses Paul mentions several times that nothing can separate us from God’s love, and I find immense reassurance that this is the same God who watches over me every day. I am always very struck by the Corrie ten Boom quote – ‘Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.’ If she could say that in the most horrendous of circumstances, in a concentration camp, then I too can entrust my future to a God who loves me so completely. To me, this seems particularly fitting, when we live in a volatile world with daily uncertainties, political turmoil and ever changing circumstances which are broadcast 24/7 by news outlets and our Facebook feeds. This can seep into our thoughts and have more impact than we often realise. However, difficult as it may be, and while sometimes fear can still be a factor, I now cling to these promises which provide stability as things around me change. This is now my fight response rather than freezing and let fear take control.

 

Alison Elder is a part of the Gilc Park site where she leads a small group. She is married to Mike and they have 3 grown up children. She works as an OT at the Children’s Hospital and in her spare time she likes running 10ks, cycling, anything craft and spending time with her family and friends.

 

 

 

 

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God’s Great Jigsaw

Can you imagine if you handed a 5 year old the pieces of a jigsaw one at a time, with no picture to follow! Well, in my house, that would end up in all sorts of tears and tantrums.

But isn’t that just how life can feel sometimes as a Christian?  We know that God has created a unique and perfect top box picture for each of us, yet without that completed picture, how can we possibly fit all the pieces in the right place at the right time?

Even though 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us; “We walk by faith, not by sight”, when you’re doing a jigsaw, that’s really tricky, even for the most seasoned puzzler.

As I have travelled through the jigsaw of life, I’ve learnt that God has a real sense of humour.  Not only does He hand me pieces of my puzzle that fit perfectly into place, revealing great sections of His glorious plan, but sometimes He hands me pieces that make no sense at all.  How frustrating!

Let me take you back a bit, 15 years actually … it was about session 6 of The Alpha Course. I’d been going to church for a few years before this, but had never really embarked on a relationship with Jesus. So this was real turning point for me.  To be honest, the way I did church before, was all about me!  Graeme often worked nights, and so it was really helpful with a toddler and a young baby to pop them in the buggy on a Sunday morning, mosey on round to church, sing some songs, drink some coffee, chat to a few friends then return home in time for daddy getting out of bed.

Anyway, on this particular evening, I found myself going along to Alpha reluctantly. Graeme had just been paid off and here we were with a baby, a toddler, a mortgage, bills and all the other stuff that goes with young family life.  It now seemed questionable that the Jesus I had really been getting know, and hanging out with over the past few weeks actually had any interest in me.  Why in the world would He allow this amount of anxiety and fear to be part of my life?  We had 2 wee ones!!  Money was already tight!

I sat quietly, listened to the talk, said very little, and wondered why I was there at all. At the end, I shared with the group leaders my situation, and the disillusionment I felt about the friendship I was building with Jesus, and the sense of abandonment I was experiencing.

And then they were out there … those words that I remind myself of on an almost daily basis.

 “You need to see this as part of a bigger picture Lisa.  This is just one tiny piece of a much bigger puzzle and one day, you will look back and it will make sense”

Really?!

How true!  The next 18 months, God just handed us pieces of sky.  So infuriating. Lots of pieces with a similar theme, none of which quite fitted.  And every time a piece seemed to fit, the next piece didn’t and we had to try again. Sometimes we had to hold on to a piece and wait until a few more were in place before the fit was right.

It was quite a turbulent journey, but within 2 years of that evening, we had sold our house, moved in with Graeme’s parents, moved out of Graeme’s parents, bought a new house, nowhere near where we wanted to live (…a whole other story where God displayed His sense of humour and perfect plan) and given birth to Archie, our 3rd child!   Plus we had City Church – a whole family of people doing their own jigsaw puzzles!

As my journey with God continued, I learnt that when God gave me pieces of puzzle, even if they didn’t fit there and then, they were like His promise to me.  They were often the pieces of hope I needed to focus on, to help me put some of the harder pieces in place.  Because the Gospel is full of the fulfilment of Gods promises, we can be confident that when we hear God’s promises on our lives, that they will be fulfilled.  God’s not like us – He doesn’t ever change His mind. He doesn’t ever give up because He gets bored of completing the sky!

For me, I need to remember Gods promise to Abraham, God promised him descendants when he was 75 –  and Isaac wasn’t born until Abraham was 100! That was a wait that must have required a great deal of patience and trust.

Don’t mistake God’s patience for his absence.  His timing is perfect, and His presence is constant. He is always with you!  Deuteronomy 31:6

When my wee ones are doing a jigsaw, I always tell them: “Start with the corners then complete the edges”.  Isn’t this such good advice!

If we start our jigsaw with the cornerstone – Jesus – then use the gospel as our edges and boundaries,  we have a really solid framework within which to build our puzzles.  We know where we belong, and we can have confidence in the fulfilment of his promises, even if we can’t see where they fit just yet.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” Ephesians 2: 19-21

Recently, God’s been telling me that I should let people see my jigsaw puzzle, even though it is incomplete and some of the sections look unpleasant, God reminds me that it is all part of a bigger, perfect picture. He hasn’t wasted any of those pieces, He plans to use all of them for His greater good.  We should never hide the pieces God has given us, they are our testimony and nobody can deny them when they see our pictures evolve.

Let me leave you with my favourite verse in the Bible, the one which confirms to me that God has the top box picture of my jigsaw and encourages me to be His hands and feet on earth when not everyone knows Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.“  Jeremiah 29:11 

So let’s stand together and help each other with our jigsaws, so that we can enjoy being part of fulfilling this scripture.

Lisa x

Lisa McColl is part of the Stonehaven site, where she leads the Host Team, as well as being one of the City Church Trustees. She’s married to Graeme, they have 5 kids and in her “spare time” (!)  she loves cooking, scrap-booking, walking her dog, hanging out with friends and redecorating!