The Big Why?

My youngest son considers himself quite the comedian, quite often his amused audience consists of one person… himself! Although that doesn’t seem to hinder his enthusiasm in any way. His method of entertainment often comes in the form of mild torture and the reaction it achieves. Now, without making him sound all dark and demonised, because he is actually a very bright light in the world, what I mean, as we might say in Northern Ireland, he loves the banter, winding up! It’s all light hearted and fun, well, most of the time. Sometimes he will push it too far, but is usually wise enough to know when he has reached his limit and will loveingly redeem with adequate affection. You know the type, a class clown really, and if I’m honest an apple that didn’t fall too far from the tree. Like he had to get it from somewhere, right!

He recently got a phone, well actually he has had a phone for probably a year now, what he has got now is a friends contact list and WhatsApp. Now he has turned into a bit of a spammer. I roll my eyes at his amusement as he is kicked off another group chat.

Sadly, for his brothers and me, we can not so easily dismiss his playful torture.

A few day ago his pestilence came in the form of why, why, why, why, why, why.

This I can except from a curious toddler, but from an annoying preteen my patience wore a little thin. Mostly because I believed I could out play him at his own game by giving him a suitable answer for each of his why. I’d love to say my reason for this was love, to show him that he mattered, that he was heard, his questions were important to me but, honestly, I just wanted to beat the nuisance outta him.

My patience wore way too quickly and, on about the fifth why, I caved and with a louder, more forceful voice said, “because Mummy said so, now away on and give my head peace.

He had won, he had the victory! With a playful giggle and a knowing smile, he said, “alright Mum, calm down, I was only asking.” He skipped off in victory, probably to pick his next victim. I shook my head in defeat knowing he had got me, but mostly relieved to have peace and to get back to what I was doing. He’d be a hard kid not to love with his playful nature.

Today, as he corrected my stupidity for sending an emoji of an American football instead of a rugby ball, more of his playful banter. I thought back to the why episode, and my thoughts led me to thinking about God and the different, far more serious whys I have asked him over the years. Then an even bigger thought rose in my mind about all the whys I hadn’t ask him, and why I didn’t ask them.

It got me thinking about this nature that when we become adults we suddenly stop asking why, or how for that matter. It’s like, given our years on planet earth, we should have accumulated all the wisdom and knowledge that we will ever need and we no longer need to ask why or how. It can’t be true or we would all be millionaire geniuses.

But for some reason our culture has taught us that there is a certain amount of shame found in not knowing. Well I think culture is a liar, there is no shame in not knowing. In fact, the only way to grow in wisdom and knowledge is by not knowing and asking why or how.

Personally, I don’t think I ask it enough to God… mostly probably because of this false belief that you can only go to God with the big stuff. It’s not true, but somewhere deep down in my soul resides the false narritive that God is too big to be bothered with my smaller stuff.

If my kids only came to me with the big stuff we wouldn’t have much of a relationship. Mum, I’m really sick, I need to go to the hospital. Mum, I have no money, I need you to pay, Mum, I got in trouble, I need you to fix it. I would want to know how that they were sick, where their money went and what excatly was the cause of their trouble. This would involve a lot more communication than one request at a time.

The same goes for our relationship with our Father God, but the difference being he has all the answers, all the solutions to all our questions, and his patience is not going to wear thin like mine did to all my boy’s whys.

But, even better than God asking us why, we can ask him why and not just the big things, like why does that baby have cancer, and why doesn’t God just wipe out all the baddies, and why did I not get my dream job?

You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We have access to God 24/7 and, I can promise you, there is no why or how too big or small for God. Why am I in such bad mood? Why did I react so badly to that situation? Why does this situation break my heart so badly? Why can’t I stop thinking about this person? Why do I struggle to concentrate when reading? Why do I feel so silly when I pray aloud? Why do I feel so guilty? Why can’t I let go of this shame? Why do I struggle to like this person? Why do I need to go to church if you’re in my house? Why do so many people journal yet I find it boring? Why do I feel like I have no purpose when I’m a Christian and meant to be filled with purpose? … this lists goes on and on!

So you may think, ha ha, good one, that’s all well and good for those who hear and know God’s voice, but I don’t. But knowing and recognising God is built through communication of the whys to God and the whys from God.

You start asking questions, and I’m certain, if the answers don’t come from an audible God’s voice, they will coming in another form, in a dream perhaps, in a knowing in your heart and a random conversation, through a podcast in a song, READING GOD’S WORD.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God is so desperate for an intimate relationship with us that he will answer your questions and he will do that in many different ways, it is up to us to have the open heart to receive his answers and acknowledge that when they come it was God. The more we acknowledge God, the more we build our relationship, and so on and so forth.

Today I want to encourage you to take your whys, your not knowing, to God and have an expectant heart, ready to receive a reply. Be open and expectant and then acknowledge in the, “I know that was you God,” and build on that two way relationship and grow your understanding of God’s nature and heart for you.

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Don’t hide – But seek

As I have mentioned before, we recently moved house and our beautiful new home has lovely, freshly painted walls. No grubby finger prints or hand smudges going up the stairs or marks on the walls from whatever that smudge was. It was so lovely for everywhere to be clean and fresh and new. My intenion to keep it that way, well for as long as possible.

In an attempt to start off how I wanted to continue, we all sat down on our first weekend and wrote our new family code. This was like a set of rules/guidelines that we all decided together after some discussion. We designed and listed them on a big poster and hung it in the kitchen. along with a chore rota…which, well leaves a lot to be desired right now.

The code included things like bedtimes, and respect, and cleaning up after you make a mess. Among my own contributions were no farting in Mum’s room (boys’ mums, you feel me), no phones at dinner table and no food in the bedrooms. If you had witnessed the mess I found under a certain young man’s bed (who shall reamain nameless) while clearing my old house you would understand why it was so important for me to include this in the code; it was minging…

So not more than three weeks in and I was in changing bed sheets. As I pulled one of the beds from the wall and squeezed down the space I created, I noticed two dirty big brown drip lines down behind the radiator. On closer inspection, quickly it was identified as a chocolate milkshake form McDonalds; a drink only one one my boys drinks, no need for an investigation into the guilty party. My suspicions had lead me to believe that my son had taken it to his room, set it on window sill while gaming. Obviously at some point knocked it off and some had gone down the back of the radiator. It was almost all cleaned up apart from the bits he couldn’t mange to sort out alone.

Almost a complete cover up to the untrained eye, but not to a mummy! Because everyone knows mummies know everything; it’s our SUPERPOWER!! Yes, my beautiful boy, who will remain anonymous, broke the code that was in place to prevent the very thing that happened happening. To be honest, I didn’t feel it was a big deal, but there was a lesson to be learnt about safe boundaries (that’s a whole other blog) and honesty. So when I had to confront him about it, with a red face of shame or embarrassment, or maybe fear, had to admit his mistake and acknowledge what he thought he had hidden well from me actually required my help, but he was too ashammed because he knew he had broken our code and this guilt and shame caused him to try and hide and cover up his mistake.

You don’t have to look to far in the Bible to find an example of this. Adam and Eve had the most beautiful, perfect home you could imagine, and they only had one rule in their family code, given to them by their Daddy, God. Do Not eat from the forbidden tree. We all know they did and their bad choice had catastrophic consequences; they introduced sin into the world. They also tried to cover up their mistake and on realising they were naked they tried to cover up with fig leaves.

But God knew, because he is an all seeing, all knowing God, and there is nothing that we can hide from him. He also knew those fig leaves were not going to do the job of covering up their shame, so he sacrificed the first ever animal to make them clothes from animal skin

“And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬


Not only did God give them clothing to cover their shame, he declared war on sin itself and promised a Saviour, a deliverer, another sacrifice, the Lamb of God. His sacrifice would cover all our sins and transgressions, our mistakes, and replace our guilt and shame with a robe of righteousness.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

My son‘s bid to hide the evidence is not unusual. For many years I have battled with similar issues when I mess up, when I get it wrong, when I do something the Bible clearly gives me guidelines against for my own protection to help keep my life clean and free from guilt and shame. when I get myself in a mess and try to cover up or fix my mistake myself. Because, when I do mess up, usually, not always but more often than not, I will turn away from God and allow my guilt and shame to create a divide between us.

Like I wish my son had come to me immediately, because the truth is the mess he made he just couldn’t clean himself, when we make mistakes, on the surface it may look like we have done a good job of hiding the evidence, but there are parts of our guilt and shame we hide in our hearts that only God has the power to clean up, through his loving forgiveness.

Today can I encourage you, no matter how big or small your mistake, no matter how well you think it’s cleaned up or hidden, will you take that mistake, that guilt, that sin, that shame go to your Daddy, God, and allow him to do a proper clean up job on it. Allow him to clean up the messy bit that is well hidden, that only you know about, and allow him to give you your new robe of righteouness and the freedom that comes with not carrying the shame that Jesus died on the cross to buy you.

“Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When WE mess up… it’s called sin, but it’s such a heavy word I prefer not to use it. In today’s culture, people identify sin as maybe murder or stealing when the truth is sin is anything that is not of God’s will., all that is laid out in the guildlines of the Bible for us. The enemy wants to convince us to keep away from God, to distance ourselves from him, because we are not “perfect” (news flash, we never will be till we get to heaven). He loves to feed us lies, tell us our mistake is too much, too big, that we are too far gone, that we did it again even when we promised not to. That is when we feel shame…that feeling of shame comes from the enemy. Only good comes from God, so it would be impossible for God to give us the feeling of guilt or shame.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

TRUTH…. The devil is a liar, master deceiver, his only goal is to take you down and keep you there.

TRUTH…. we could never ever make any mistake God can’t fix. We are never too far gone that one prayer to God can’t bring us back. Whether it’s been ten minutes or ten years, God is waiting and ready for you… GO TO HIM!

ASK FOR MORE

I’m not sure how familiar everyone reading this is with to our Furlough scheme here in the UK. For those of you who aren’t, it was the government support scheme for employers whose business had to cease due to the coronavirus; it entitled them to claim up to 80% of the wages for their staff, on the grounds that they didn’t undertake any other paid employment. The scheme has almost come to an end for most industries and businesses are up and running again and everyone is heading back to work.

It will be hard getting people motivated when they’re only getting 20% more pay this month for being in work than they got paid for staying home last month.

I’m going to cut to my point pretty quickly here. When praying last week, I got this thought that could have been the Holy Spirit or it could have been my very active imagination, but the thought was this. 

A lot of us…. INCLUDING ME have sent the devil off on furlough. Heck, if you had been in my house yesterday you would have said I’d sent the devil home on furlough with double pay, with my wretched form.

I touched on it last week, giving the devil credit for making us do stupid stuff. The number of times I’ve heard people say the devil made me do it… it was an attack , oh this is spiritual.

Yes indeed, if you’re a Child of God everything is spiritual, but that is not an excuse for bad behaviour or lack of self control.  Now don’t get me wrong, I get it, we are all imperfect humans and we all fall short at times, a lot of the time. But we are busy saying the devil made me do it while he’s at home with his jammies on, feet up with a hot whiskey in hand, laughing because he didn’t have to do a thing.

I used to be pretty confident that the devil had me like a puppet on a string, one little tug and she was off. Quick temper, potty mouth, rage, stomping and shouting. That was just Terri, she’s a bit psycho,  temperamental, approach with caution, volatile. 

My explanation – stress, injustice, hurt, offended, betrayed, misunderstood ….

Then I became a Christian, and well you know flipping someone for pulling out on you at the lights was no longer acceptable. Mostly because our church was so big and town so small, there was a really good chance it was going to be someone from church! And then, I’d mouth off at someone in the queue in Tesco, or start a heated discussion with someone and it be over heard and I’d leave blaming the devil for riling me up and making me cause a scene.

Damn stinking rotten devil made me do it again.

This is one of many examples I could use of how I point the finger at the devil; all the while he is home sipping on some gin, minding his own business.

There is worry, unforgiveness, offence, putting myself in a position that will lead to sin, choosing to watch stuff on TV or online that would draw my eyes away from Jesus. Not being intentional with prayer and time in the word will lead to sin.

The Bible does tell us:

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I know for me, while I’m busy giving the devil credit, it kind of feels like I’m giving him control of me, or coming into agreement with the ungodly spirit.

Here’s the the thing though, while we are busy beating ourselves up for our misdemeanour, God is busy trying to get our attention, to say hey my grace will cover that, and here is a gift

of MY SPIRIT, that gives you SELF CONTROL.  My child, ask for it you will get it, and together, with this gift we will transform your character and it will get easier to walk away, to say no, to remain calm in conflict.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and SELF CONTROL There is no law against these things!”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

All you need to do is ask God for an increase in any area you feel you lack, and he will give you more of what you need, because God is in the business of transformation. He is a kind and generous God and he likes to give us more.

“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Not that I’m saying you should invite the devil to challenge, but let’s stop doing his job for him. Because the Holy Spirit has equipped us with everything we need, let’s start using the tools we have.