Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Learning to be happy...

  It’s been over a month since the last post regarding singleness.  Other projects have taken my time attention, predominately the Mission Bell, a prayer publication I edit for the parish.  The latest edition of the Mission Bell is now completed, and this allows me to get back to the series on singleness.  

          During my season of singleness it was not uncommon to hear opinions, suggestions and comments that were meant to be helpful.  The only problem is, I often found some of these remarks to be irritating.  Here is a list of them:

·       “You need to learn to be happy single.” 
·       “There are worse things than being single.” 
·       “Maybe you’re being too picky.” 
·       “You know, some people are called to be single.”
·       “It will happen when you least expect it.”
·       “Are you praying specifically?”

Over the course of a few more blog posts I will give my response to these remarks. 

For today, I’m starting with:  “You need to learn to be happy single.”  During my single years I confess to being sorely tempted to respond to that remark with a good wallop!  That remark was especially provoking when married people spouted it out.  I remember an occasion when I was in my mid-thirties and the person making the remark to me had married at age twenty-two and had been married several years.  What did he know about years of being on one’s own?

 And what exactly does “learn to be happy single” mean?  Does it mean I should feel guilty about having the desire to be “attached to a spouse?”  Is the person making the remark presuming that I think my life is a total misery?  Does it mean I should squash my feelings and be a “Good Little Soldier in God’s Army?”

Enough of the knee-jerk emotional responses and some serious consideration of the “advise.”

Yes, there is the lie we, as human beings, are prone to believe: “I can’t be happy unless I’m in love and have a boy-friend or girl-friend/partner/spouse.”  It is tied to the thought: “I have no value as a person because no one has picked me.” 

As a Christian I knew and understood that loving and being loved must first be established in my relationship with God—Father Son and Holy Spirit.  Not only is joy to be found by spending time with “The Three in One”, but also purpose, identity, and security.

Meditating on truth brings revelation.  As a human being who is made in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully knit together in my mother’s womb, I am valuable. 

Maybe “learning to be happy single” means learning to love who I am; learning to know who I am apart from other people. We tend to use expressions we heard our parents say.  We might walk down the road and hear an off-hand remark: “She is sure her father’s daughter.”  True, there are aspects of my personality that reflect him. Or someone else might say: “She cooks just like her Mama.”  I am also my mother’s daughter.  With that mix of both of them I am a unique personality, able to think and act on my own dreams and desires. 

It would be a fault if I saw myself as only “The Barber’s Daughter”, or “Mommy’s Girl.”  And if I wanted to be married because I believed my true identity would only emerge when I became “Wife,” then there would be room for admonishing to “learn to be happy single.”

          I believe each person is drawn to a purpose that motivates him/her in life.  When actively pursuing or participating in that activity, there is a sense of fulfilment that only comes from that purpose.  Purpose spurs and fuels creativity.  God instils into His children a desire to perform a skill/talent; when that happens, “I was born to do this” is the song that sings in the heart. 

          When I write, or sew or cook my heart thrives because I am investing in developing the talents and skills which with God blessed me.  While I’m participating in the activity, there is a satisfying of mind and soul that comes from nothing else and no one else.  When I share the result, the satisfaction deepens.  For example, food tastes better when it is shared.  

          Just as I can long for companionship, I can and do also long for times of creating, “doing what I was born to do.”  Being with others who share the passion stirs and inspires even more creativity.  Living to fulfil purpose produces a deep satisfaction that is from a relationship with one’s self.  Perhaps this is another facet to the jewel of “learning to be happy single”. 

          Security carries with it, at least in part, the idea that “everything will turn out okay.”  There is no security in this world.  We can prepare for the future, but trust has to be in God and His promises. 

Citizens of Syria had education, employment, homes, and businesses until the civil war broke out six year ago.  People who once felt their future was secure are now refugees.  We don’t like to think so, but the same could happen to us.  Severe weather could destroy our homes. An accident could rob us of our heath and ability to work. 

          So, what does security and “learning to be happy single” have to do with each other?  God entered into a covenant with us, through Christ Jesus.  Our sense of security is based on the knowledge that through Christ’s shed blood we have salvation.  The foundation of covenant reminds us that if we give all we have to our Heavenly Father, He will also give to us all that pertains to life and Godliness.  Real security is resting in the peace of knowing that God is faithful to keep His promises to us—even when we struggle to remain faithful to Him. 

 Maybe well-meaning people were trying to tell me that I didn’t need to be married to be happy.  Fair enough.  But maybe they needed to understand that I needed to vent about loneliness.  And maybe they needed to understand that embracing single life is a process, a journey.  And maybe, they should have understood that when “complaining” about the disappointment of not being married, it didn’t mean I wasn’t content with while I was single. 

There is the possibility that “learning to be happy single” means choosing to live with joy, accepting myself—strengths and faults, while I wait for God to fulfil the desires of my heart in His time.   

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”  

Monday, 25 April 2016

Privilege, Responsiblity and opportunity

"We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth." Andrew Murray

Privilege:  “an ​advantage that only one ​person or ​group of ​people has, usually because of ​theirposition or because they are ​rich.”

Responsibility:  to be in a ​position of ​authority over someone and to have a ​duty to make ​certain that ​particular things are done:

Opportunity:  an ​occasion or ​situation that makes it ​possible to do something that you ​want to do or have to do, or the ​possibility of doing something:

  Privilege, responsibility, and opportunity are three nouns that describe a Christian’s relationship to prayer.  As people who find indentify in Christ, we have access to the riches of heaven.  We have been given the advantage of Christ’s authority to enable us to make disciples around the world.  Prayer allows us and others to participate together at any time to release the changing power of God’s love into the lives of family, friends and even strangers on the other side of the world.  

It is not uncommon for Satan to use all kinds of interruptions and distractions to draw away from praying.  As we grow in Christ we learn to recognise these attempts by the Evil One to keep us inactive.  When we hear of amazing answers to our intercessions, we become more determined and disciplined to persevere.  

Our prayers are a life-line for the individuals, families and organisations that are represented here in the Mission Bell.  Whether individually, or with others, let us see every day as an opportunity to take our responsibility of interceding to a new level, taking advantage of the privilege of being sons and daughters of God.  

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"

Wasn't Expecting That

         The council notified us and the other residents in our building that several blocks of flats were to receive the application of external wall insulation and other work.  

          As part of the preparation, a representative of the contractors came door knocking to advise me (and my neighbours) of health and safety measures and to carry out a pre-start survey.  Upon completing the survey, which I was required to sign, he left a four-page disclaimer that included instructions for requested precautions to take.   

          During the following week, the outside of our block of flats took on a
   new look—scaffolding.  So I’m sharing the view from my windows and out in the back quad.

       Today a plumber was up on the scaffolding installing copper pipes to the outside of the flats.  On Wednesday a workman will arrive about 8.00 am to connect the boiler to the outside piping.  It's a good thing I get up at 7.00 am to go to work on Wednesday!

Intercessions from Sunday, 17 April 2016

19 “Again I say[a] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”  Matthew 18:19-20

The Reader:  Lord, in Your mercy,
Response:   Hear our prayer.

The Church:  Merciful God, You Who are a maker of mysteries and a revealer of secrets we bless You.  Today we have gathered together in Your name and believe You are with us, receiving our love and hearing our prayers.    You have created us in Your image to reflect Your nature and character to the world.  Grant us, your church, grace to think, speak and act in ways that reveal your truth to our generation both here and around the world.
We pray for our church leaders:
·        Arch Bishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu
·        For Robin and Juliet as they prepare for the cruise.  Keep them safe as they travel.  Bless Robin as he performs the daily tasks as Chaplain.
·        Bless Colin and Bruce and they cover extra responsibilities while Robin is away.

We pray for Missionaries world-wide as they work to take your message to unreached people around the world:
·        We pray specifically for the Cleaver Family;
·        For their corrected visa to be processed and delivered  quickly;
·        For their travel arrangements to go smoothly;
·        For protection and safety as they travel to Vinnytsia;
·        For the children to travel well, especially as the trip will be several days; 
·        For good health for the family, as they prepare to go, as they travel and after they arrive in Ukraine.
·        For the adjustment of transitioning to a new home, where English is a 2nd language
·        For relationships with YWAM staff members to grow quickly
·        For Joni as she starts school
·        For peace of mind and good health for  their families who remain here and who will miss them when they are away
The Reader: Lord, in Your mercy,
Response:   Hear our prayer.

As the 2nd anniversary of the kidnapping of 276 teenage girls from a school in Chibok, Nigeria is marked , we remember them and the many others who have been abducted and trafficked.  We pray for their safe return to their families. 

On Thursday, 21st April, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth will celebrate her 90th birthday.  Bless her with continued good health, a keen mind and a deepening faith.  Thank You for her commitment to serve You and our country with diligence, wisdom and compassion.

The Reader:  Lord, in Your mercy,
Response:   Hear our prayer.

The Local Community: 
We give you thanks for the emergency workers, ambulance drivers, police officers and fire-fighters who faithfully and conscientiously served Langley and Slough.  Please continue to protect them as they work to keep our community safe.

The Reader:  Lord, in Your mercy,
Response:   Hear our prayer.

Those who suffer:  God of comfort and healing, touch those who suffer in spirit, emotionally and physically.  Supply them with hope, peace and joy in the midst of pain.  Bless their doctors, nurses, therapists and carers. 
The communion of saints:  We commend to you those who have gone before us in the faith.  We ask for your consolation as we remember our loved ones—whether the bereavement is new or long-standing. 

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.