Sunday, 6 April 2008

MY STORY - Chapter 23 Full Circle

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I began this story in 1938 and am finishing it in 2008. Is it possible to cover 70 years in a few pages, absolutely not, but I hope I have managed to convey the nuts and bolts of the amazing journey that God has taken me on. He has plans for every one of us and this one just happens to be mine. It has been exciting, amazing, painful, and traumatic and every other emotion that one can imagine, in other words, normal. There are events and circumstances that I have not been able to disclose in order to protect the privacy of others but what I have disclosed is for the sole purpose of showing the faithfulness and constancy of God. He never gives up on us; He knows what is best for us to bring each one of us into all that the Bible promises us. He is a God that can be trusted and His desire is for us to know our completeness in Him. So in a nutshell what are some of the things I have learned on this journey?

I can thank God for every minute and not regret a thing. Even the times of mistakes and suffering are redemptive, not only for us but also for the people God brings into our lives.

I know that feelings are not reality, they are just that – feelings. At times there can be a great difference between what we know to be true and what we feel and the enemy is very quick to use these situations. These are the moments to get back to faith and believe against all feelings and appearances. These feelings are very often our calling card to get us back into alignment with God.

I know that His life within us can accomplish all that we cannot do of ourselves. Even Jesus said, “Of myself I can do nothing”. I have learned that God allows us to try until we come to the end of ourselves then as we give up then God takes over.

I know that we can trust Him in all things and that He will never let us down.

He always answers prayer, but not always with the answers that we want, rather the answers that will grow us up into maturity in Him as He knows the beginning from the end.

I have come to see that there are seasons in our journey and we benefit most as we give ourselves to whatever season God takes us into. Seasons can be many things. A new church, a new vision, an alone time, health problems and many more. His timing is perfect.

He positions the right people and the right circumstances for every event. About 1997 in one of the quieter and more alone times in my life I decided to do a year long course in Therapeutic Massage. I had no thoughts at the time other than a whole year of free massages as we practiced on each other. Little did I realise that I would end up treating clients and that many of these times would be times of sharing my faith as people opened up about their lives while on the couch.

I know that God never closes one door without opening another. We can make our plans if we are walking in His way and there is nothing wrong in that because we know that God is behind those plans willing our actions every step of the way, but that does not mean that everything will turn out the way we think it will. God has ways of getting our focus on Him and it often comes from what looks like our own confusion and mess. The paradox in this is that God allows this seemingly confusion and mess. He is after a minute by minute walk of faith, trusting every moment to Him. As the Bible tells us that which was meant for evil, God means for good.

He desires that we see ourselves perfect and complete in Him and the more we believe this the more we will see the evidence in our lives. We are vessels to contain deity and God picks up the broken and cracked pots of our lives and moulds them into something worthy of His indwelling. I could go on and on but instead will return to where we are now.

You may remember that I talked about our involvement in the house church movement in chapter 13. We are now again in a pioneering situation. A new church grew up out of the remnants of our old house church in the 70’s/80’s. This was not a house church but a large church that met in the hall of the Christian school that we began in the mid-seventies. There are 17 houses in my street that are part of this church. The Community church that we became a part of when returning to fellowship in our immediate area were very much in relationship with this church and the Pastor lived next door to us.

About 4 years ago this very local church were called by God to break down again into house churches. This was where we came in; this was why we came to live in our house in the first place, so with the blessing of our then Pastor and leadership, we came full circle and returned to the house church set-up. Many lessons have been learned since the old days but we are still very much in a pioneering situation, learning what “church” is really all about. I know that church is a body of believers and not a building and that it is very much about relationships and 24/7 living, so we continue to seek God as to what He has for us in this situation and this community. We are stepping ‘outside of the box’ and ‘off the road map’ and again find ourselves in a place where trusting God is our only option.

I could not finish this story without a mention of our Grandchild. We waited a very long time to be proud grandparents, and it wasn’t until we were that I understood the sentiments of many other grandparents that I knew over the years. I was so overwhelmed by love for this child in a way that I had not expected. In my years of waiting, hoping and praying I had never imagined anything other than excitement, being in denial I guess to the prospect of harrowing problems. When my daughter was diagnosed as a high risk for Down’s syndrome with abortion suggested, it came as a complete shock. I was so proud of my daughter’s decision to carry on with her pregnancy no matter what. In fact she said, “A Downs’ baby would still be a baby to love”

As it happened Oliver was not born with Down’s syndrome and it makes one wonder how many healthy children are aborted in this way. He was however born a very sick baby. This is Jane’s story and not mine so I will mention only the briefest of details. After a very long and difficult birth Oliver was born not breathing but he was quickly resuscitated when a doctor was called. He was however suffering from Septicaemia and had to stay in hospital and undergo a brain scan, lumbar puncture and numerous other unpleasant tests. On visiting I prayed over him that his little body would have no memories of what he was going through. At this point a strong prayer support went into operation, not only in my country but through a number of contacts in Africa, France and the U.S.A. I was not in denial any longer but wondering if all of my dreams had been shattered, and as any parent knows how difficult it is to watch one’s own child suffer no matter how old they are. However, thanks to prayer and the quick intervention of the medical staff, Oliver recovered and is now a happy, bright and adorable 20 month old. Another learning curve that things do not always go the way we think they will in this life. How reassuring it is to know that we have a God we can depend on no matter what the outcome in these painful situations.

So in wrapping up my story I will leave you with a few of the Scriptures and quotes which have been and are very meaningful to me.

James 1: 2-4

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything’

Galations 8:17

‘We are co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings, in order that we may share in His Glory’

Thessalonians 5:18

‘Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ’

Galations 2:20

‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live b y the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me’

Paul Claudel

‘Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or to remove it. He came to fill it with His presence’

Corrie ten Boom wrote:

‘Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only God can see’

Norman Grubb, my late missionary friend wrote:

‘As Christians every situation we go through is God’s perfect will.
It is precisely the necessary one so praise God for each situation.
Accept yourself exactly how you are and how you feel.
We have to be content with what He chooses for us at this moment.
You cannot tell what God has for you, or what future purpose He might have in the experience that you are going through right now.
Just keep doing what you feel at the present He is giving you to do. He has perfect purpose for all that is happening to you, even if at the moment it is not clear.
The single eye of faith enables us to remain free within,
regardless of outward circumstances.
We are to accept fully the situation at the moment and the way we feel towards it,
Knowing that it is for the purpose of manifesting His Life in us.
Because He was determined to take us this way.
He does not see the confusion, heaviness or perplexity,
But only His next step in His perfect plan.
And He is the one who will bring it to pass.



THE END
OF THE STORY
BUT NOT
THE END OF THE JOURNEY

……..as the Apostle Paul said, “I press on to the goal that is set before me”

29 comments:

DeeDee said...

Barbara...I have enjoyed very much reading some of your story...You quoted Corrie Ten Boom..a woman whose writings have impressed on me the love of our Lord for many years now...I too feel God is responsible for every person that comes into our lives...I get excited just knowing He is in control of my future..I too press on to the goal that He has set before me..God Bless you..Dee Dee

Crafty Gardener said...

It's too bad you are still having problems with Blogger Barbara. I hope you have notified them. Congratulations on finishing your story.

Sara said...

Very well said, Barbara. Thank you for taking the bold step of faith in sharing your story.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

My dear Barbara, what an amazing list of "this I know." I am absolutely blown away by them. Thank you for sharing your story and, as the chapters continue to unfold, I know that you'll continue to share.

Oliver is a dear little grand and perhaps Jane will be sharing that story one day. I admire her strength.

Blessings to you and yours...

Lorrie said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I especially liked the Paul Claudel quotation in this last post. His presence fills every nook and cranny of life and illumines it with grace.
Lorrie

Mob said...

I love this part:
God picks up the broken and cracked pots of our lives and moulds them into something worthy of His indwelling.
That is SO true. I loved this post. Your years of being a Christian far outnumber mine and there is a lot for me to glean from your life experiences and all that you have learned. I am so glad I have a friend in you Barbara. Thanks for a great post.

Sharon L Goemaere said...

Wonderful post Barbara!Blessings from Oregon~Sharon G.

Linda said...

I'm glad everything worked out with your grandson. Having 7, soon to be 8, grandchildren I am amazed at the feeling they inspire.

Linds said...

Barbara, what a wonderful story - life. Thanks so much for sharing it, and it is so much more special because we have met, and I have seen the eyes of the woman who has written so openly here. I really think you should go to "blurb" and put this in a book to keep.
You are an inspiration.

I woke up floundering a little today, and when I got to the end of your story and read the quotes, I knew why I was sitting here reading this at this minute. I need to remember.

Elizabeth said...

I read the story of Oliver's problems as a tiny baby with great anxiety though I have seen pictures of him in good health now.
We all have much to be grateful for.
I will spend this w/e with my brother and his wife in Guildford, though we grew up near Brentwood in Essex.
I will spend Saturday in Marks and Spencers and Sainsbury's !!!!
All best wishes

Willow said...

Your 'end' to the story is so encouraging, Barbara. Every person we meet is sent by God! Imagine! Even my little kinders!

Our grandson is so very precious to us. I took the opportunity while I was in Phx to pray over him and ask for God' protection of his precious physical, spiritual and emotional life.

And--I could sure use one of your theraputic massages right now!

A Woman Who is: said...

I am so very glad that you took the time and had the perseverance to write down your story. You have set up some great guide posts for those that are right behind you. Jer.31:21 Sharing your journey helps encourage all of us.

Thanks once again for your compassion for Jenna and me. She is back to health and vigor, and is starting in on her new experience with great excitement.

I am so happy for you to be enjoying your Oliver so much. What a precious blessing to have him and your daughter in your life.

Cousin Pam said...

Thank you Barbara for having the courage to share so much, although I know that it is not your courage but your obedience to the Lord's direction. I also know your story will have encouraged so many and I'm sure you will see God's hand in the responses you get and I trust you will be truly blessed.

Sue "Sioux" Seibert said...

Oh, Barbara, what a lovely end to the story as you continue the journey. Thank you for your witness to the Truth. God bless you.

nikkipolani said...

A great summary of the story of your life, Barbara. And thank you for the timely reminder for faith and perserverance.

Betty said...

Barbara,
Thank you for sharing your story these past months. I stand amazed at the way our almighty God designs our lives and the manner He brings people and circumstances into our lives to strengthen, prepare, shape, encourage, and to bless.

You are blessed with the gift of putting your thoughts into text to bless all who read your blog.....

Yes, next month, the Lord willing, Marion and John will arrive for a much anticipated visit. We are so excited......

By the way, I could use a massage. While working outside this morning I took a tumble on the cement patio, skinning both knees, shaking myself up.

Blessings to you....Betty

Penless Thoughts said...

What a fantastic wrap up, Barbara. I really like the last quote from your friend. There is such peace when we FINALLY get that truth!!!!
Susan

nel said...

It takes courage, wisdom and inspiration to share your story so openly... I think that those of us who have the privilege to read it (I haven't finished yet!) will be challenged, encouraged and inspired and uplifted in our own lives. Thank you!

Kim S in SC said...

Oh Praise HIM who has done a good work in you! Thank you so much for sharing your life testimony to HIS goodness and grace!

"I have learned that God allows us to try until we come to the end of ourselves then as we give up then God takes over." Oh how I continue to learn that with each new experience! Thank you Barbara!!

Teresa said...

I suppose in a real way it is sad to have this work finished. I have been blessed by what you have written in the chapters of your Story. So much of what you have shared has encouraged and inspired me, as well as many others. Now I can enjoy your blog and your life with such a good understanding of where you have been and who you are. Oh how wonderful to be thankful for all God, has done and have taken no regrets with you, only wisdom.

The writing of your story has been very encouraging for me in my walk with our, Lord. I can not wrap this up however without mentioning house desperate I am to have an house church environment. A very local (A very local like neighborhood, otherwise it rather defeats its purpose I should think.) community of believers that are bonded together through common outreach ministry, Bible study, worship and the caring for one another that the New Testament church gave us the blueprint for. What a blessing for you. I have particularly savored the reading of all you wrote about church. I will be praying for all that you and Alan, are endeavoring to do in that area.

Thank you, Barbara for taking the time and courage to write these pictures in words of your lovely life.

And now... to go on from here!

Merisi said...

Congratulations on writing and finishing your story! I hope you do think about publishing it in bookform, there are venues out there that make this feasable at a reasonable price. Your family will treasure it.

Sidharth said...

The Lord asked me to get to this post. And I had to click "Older Posts" a number of times to get here.

Wise words to me. Thank you. I love you

Sid

Anonymous said...

WOW - I've been scouting around on your blog and was totally enthralled by your story which I just finished reading as Jan 1,2010 dawned. Many times I wanted to comment but I also wanted to keep reading. Mary
P.S. I'll be around more.

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Well,thanks so much for writing on my blog so that I could read this.
As you say, it is good! It has taken several days over this Christmas period. Because I have already written a bit about the 70s London meetings I shared your chapter 13 on my blog with a link to all the rest.
-----------------
I was a little saddened that the post i had just written was on the subject of spiritual gifts...since that was the last thing I said to Alan. In 200 posts I've hardly mentioned them, so I was thinking...coo I hope they don't think that's all I bang on about.

Anyhow having read the broad scope of your story....I know I haven't got to worry about that.

For me, this blog stuff has been my only way of making a public stand ....and for me the last two years has been a bit like Paul teaching in the Forum for a year or however long he did. It has helped me clarify both the vision and the walk I have had so far.It has also introduced me to some amazing saints.Will probably share your blog on a regular basis as it is to date one of the most full-orbed life stories out there...yet sufficiently small for most to be able to manage it.
Blessings to you both.

THE OLD GEEZER said...

Barbara, thanks for sharing your story. It's an great testimony to the faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and how he works in individuals lives. Praise His Holy Name!

~Ron
*******

HOPE said...

I just came across your blog..as I love anything TEA...and adore anything British as well. I have a lovely friend from England living now in Switzerland where I met her many years ago.

You would like "my story" as well..indeed as with my British friend...I was placed in her midst in a fiery trial of my life..so that she would find Christ as her personal Saviour.

Galatians 2:20 has always been a favorite verse of mine.

Thank you for sharing...
Blessings to you
HOPE

Heather said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I have been enthralled reading it. It's very comforting to learn that you can look back and see how things that were difficult at the time worked out for the good. I sometimes have trouble putting that into practice, especially when times are tough. But I keep trying!

Barbara said...

For some reason I decided to check out the comments on this post today, not having done so for a long time.

I am humbled and overwhelmed at all the comments. Thank you for your encouragement.

There is a book in here somewhere which I must settle down to. Lots of editing and additions needed as writing for a blog has quite a different audience than a book.

Teresa said...

Oh Barbara, I for one would enjoy having that book. I would give it as a gift as well. I do hope you settle in to write it. I know that would be much labor, but you are inspired by the Holy Spirit and your testimony is powerful. I did not know you were considering such a task. I will begin praying over you for this. What a blessing that would be.