Archives for posts with tag: trust

I’ve just had the check up appointment on my foot, which I broke and sprained 6 weeks ago. (To recap, I fractured the fifth metatarsal shortly before a family trip to California, then 11 days later posted a video on Facebook in a state of excitement, because it had just been prayed for by Bill Johnson at Bethel church, Redding, resulting in a feeling like an ant crawling along the fracture, and a loss of pain).

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So I told the doctor the sequence of events – prayer for healing after 11 days, the unusual and intense tingle on the fracture, with immediate reduction in pain at the fracture area (to the extent I could squeeze it with no pain), then in the following days some ongoing soreness around the foot but progressive improvements, doing hikes in Yosemite on the 19th and 20th day, then a run after 4 weeks and 3 days, by which time the soreness was all gone. Apparently these fractures can sometimes take 6 months to heal. But in other cases much sooner.

The doctor felt the area for sensitivity, asked a few more questions, and discharged me with confidence that it is well healed. It was definitely an unusually quick improvement.

But as to it being a definitive miracle, it is tantalisingly open to interpretation. The doctor said that fractures are actually stimulated to heal by movement (whereas instinct says to rest it and keep it straight while it hurts, because it’s easy to imagine re-breaking a healing fracture).

I am fascinated by the question of whether God himself or the power of faith alone brings change. I know it can be both – I believe in the truly miraculous healings that have occurred at Bethel and elsewhere, as the actions of God, through the prayers of believing people. I am also not offended or challenged by Derren Brown’s recent stage show mimicking healings through the temporary adrenaline rush of a fervent event. And I can celebrate the real positive changes people have brought to their lives through positive thinking alone. (To explore further, Google Derren Brown’s recent interview with Premier Radio; and look for Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’).

Because of the very unique and unexpected nature of the tingle I felt during prayer, I believe there was a divine intervention at that moment. I can also see that the full healing was aided by my ongoing (if faltering) faith and my choice to act as if it was healed. Stepping out on it quickened the healing.

So faith ‘worked’. And in choosing to believe in God I see his goodness even more in this process of healing than in an instant fix, because I learnt so much and felt empowered in the process. (Not least because, before Bill Johnson prayed someone else prayed for me and said they believed God was NOT going to fix it instantly, but to teach me something through a process. But I wanted to keep asking and seeking!).

It was like a condensed lesson in life – that there is transforming power in choosing to live in hope rather than wallowing in the pain of the past or present. We tend to get more of what we dwell on. And this is the sort of lesson that a good father wants to teach his children, rather than resolving everything for them just because he can.

I also realise how this can be seen as circular thinking, to someone with no faith. And that is so often the nature of faith – it’s a choice that could be argued both ways.

One thing I have learnt is that, in choosing our worldview, we rationalise it either by the existing ‘evidence’ (which is so often open to subjective interpretation), or by the ‘fruit’. The first approach is somewhat passive, reacting to what we see around us, and failing to acknowledge the limits and subjectivity of our viewpoint. The latter approach is dynamic in that it means stepping out in faith and then seeing what results. ‘You can tell a tree by its fruit’. And if the fruit is good, we have compelling evidence for the goodness of the paradigm that produced it, evidence we didn’t have before we stepped out.

So as to my own journey of healing, you will choose your own interpretation, and I’m ok with that. As for me, I choose to believe.

One last addendum: sometimes we see no immediate fruit from faith. Sometimes it is a long hard slog, in the face of confident doubters. And yet, for those rare people who seek and trust in God alone, not just for what He can do for them, there is a depth of character, peace and authority that can’t be denied. The more I learn about Bill Johnson’s personal journey, the more I understand this. I feel I have received a blessing as a result of his faithfulness, and this inspires me to live the same. It is a choice every day, and I keep faltering. But as one man in the bible said to Jesus:

‘Lord I believe, help my unbelief!’

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You said in youthful enthusiasm, ‘I want to serve you Lord, and whatever you need to put me through, bring it on!’

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Did you mean it?  Would you have prayed this so proudly if instead of the grand and challenging adventure you imagined, your training ground was to be years spent in disappointment, doubt and despair?  Could you accept failure, confusion and pain as the necessary cost of forming your character?

And what if His purpose for you is to be humbled, to serve without recognition, or to be set aside altogether, for the sake of a plan beyond your comprehension, the fulfilment of which you never get to see?

Would you still trust Him, even then?

Yet do not fear, do not despair:

For these light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Fear is trust. The things we fear or trust are the things we expect to prevail, so both are a type of faith. To fear God is to trust him, for He is good. To expect evil to prevail is to trust it, and to live in fear.

Faith attracts it’s object. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Fear the darkness and it looms larger.

We have a choice where we focus our attention.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? …One thing I ask of the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple”
Psalm 27

Northumbria Seascape

I stood on the rock looking out to sea.
I saw a rainbow above the distant waters and it was beautiful.
The rock was my safety.
The churning waters left me untouched.

Then the tide rushed in and I almost lost my footing.
I couldn’t see the rock but I knew it was still there beneath me.
As I regained my balance, I took pride in my ability to stand firm on the rock that was no longer visible.
But as I looked out to sea, the rainbow faded and the sky darkened.

Then the whole earth shook, the waters churned, and I fell to my hands and knees,
clinging on yet choking on the crashing waves.
I began to lose my grip, flung back and forth in the deepening waters.
Above me only black sky and pouring rain.

I cried out ‘why is this happening to me? Where is my strength, my security, my hope?’

And I saw a figure walking on the waters. ‘Come with me, I am here,’ he said.

But I was afraid.

‘I am your way forward, I am your hope and your strength.
You thought you would find me only on the rock, in your place of safety.
But you will find me on the waters too.
Keep your eyes on me and walk with me, it is time to walk upon the waters.’


Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour

(Hillsong: Oceans)

A jungle of weeds closes in on me.

I press on, but am I going in the right direction?

I feel water at my feet. There is hope. I long to swim in the open water; to see the full arc of the sky.

How much further?

I feel weak. But fighting the weeds is making me stronger.

One day I will reach the open water, where the weeds cannot grow.

Will I have the courage to swim? Or, like them, will I hold to the shore?

Have I, in fact, been skirting the shore all this time? Knowing the way out but too afraid to give up my fight?

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I just altered a recent post on speech and character.  I regretted using someone else’s illustration, so I replaced it with one of my own.  I felt it was a matter of authenticity.  I enjoy writing for writing’s sake, but I want it to relate to my own real life.

As I write this in the comfiest chair in the house, the one I rescued from a waste disposal centre, my wife and daughter are 5,000 miles away – 3 weeks into a 3-month stay with family in California.  My father-in-law has Alzheimers, and my wife needs to spend time with her family.  I’m alone in the house, but we Skype every day.  I continue to run a small fitted-furniture business, but once I leave to join my family in mid March all my business obligations will be put to bed (for reasons touched on here).  On our return I will begin working for a friend’s timber framing company.

It’s tempting to describe where I am now as ‘limbo’.  A family man living like a bachelor.  Running a successful business that I intend to stop.  Waiting.  Missing them.   And yet it is one of the most exciting periods of my life.  These circumstances, and others not mentioned here, have conspired to loosen my grip on life – and on the things that are important to me – in an entirely positive way.

Northumbria Seascape3 Years ago my wife and I took a short holiday to Alnmouth in Nothumbria.  Our future hopes were in doubt – medical complications made it difficult for us to have children of our own.  And we were still reeling from the news that a boy we had set out hearts on adopting was now being adopted by another couple.  For me, this was one more disappointment – one more apparent failure of prayer – on top of others too deeply felt to try and summarise here.

Alnmouth is a beautiful place.  Early one evening I was standing on a rock on the beach (actually a very large concrete block) looking out to sea.  The waves rushed in all around me.  My feet were submerged and all I could see was fast-moving water.  Yet my footing remained solid, and when I lifted my eyes I saw a rainbow.   My beautiful daughter, whose middle name is Hope, was conceived within a few weeks of this time, and went on to be born healthy and safe, against the odds.

Now she is far away and I, her father, have to trust that she will be OK without me, until I see her again.

Trust.  Somehow I have rediscovered it recently, along with Hope.  My cousin, who lost a much longed-for baby, talked about not being able to look God in the eye.  I have felt the same for a long time.  But lately something has changed.

Despite (or because of) my uncertain circumstances I have discovered a purer hope and trust in God.  And it didn’t come from Him answering my questions, of which there are many.  It began with the struggle in my soul over money, priorities, and purpose, centred on my business.  And like many choices we face, the real issue was not whether I chose to keep running a business or do something else – the real issue was was my heart.  Where was my security?  Where was my identity?  Had all my years as a Christian up until now hidden one central hypocrisy that my ‘Lord’ was not really Lord of my life at all?

The choice I made to relinquish the business was about toppling an idol.  If and when I pick up the business again, it must be as a tool, not as my master.  But right now I don’t know what I will do long term – pursue timber framing, return to my business, or even something else entirely – and I’m OK with that.  I feel God is saying to step out with Him, and what He unfolds is in His hands.  The not-knowing is part of the process.

One day last week, tired from work, I laid on the couch and listened to some Jason Upton music.  My thoughts went back to that rushing sea in Northumbria, and I imagined not only the rushing sea but an earthquake that shook me off my feet until all I could do was cling on to that rock through the water, as everything crashed and shook all around.

In the past I would have been disturbed at the shaking, but now I felt comforted by the rock.  Lately I am doing things boldly that for a long time I only talked about doing (volunteering at the local youth club, joining a community action group, writing, talking easily about the faith that is now more real to me than it was before).  I am wary this could just be a phase.  But for now at least, it feels like I am stepping out on the journey of faith as it was intended to be walked, and I am walking on solid ground.