Flawed…yet fruitful in the hands of God

We are all flawed, if we were a water jar we would leak…

But…God has planted seeds alongside the path of your life…if you look to see from His perspective you will see flowers alongside the path where you walk with your cracked and flawed ‘water jar’ of a life (Ask Him to reveal this beauty to you..please listen to his response.)

This growth has only been possible because you have been there, just as you are, loved and treasured by your Father God, in the day to day, ordinary moments of life.
Our vulnerabilities are often what makes others feel safe around us, we don’t need to pretend to be something we aren’t.

Know for sure that you are loved as you are, not as you should be,

No one is just as they should be, God isn’t waiting for that, He loves you just as you are…right now.

Cracked Pots

‘A water bearer in India had two large pots. Each hung on opposite ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect. The latter always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house. But the cracked pot arrived only half full. Every day for two years, the water-bearer delivered only one and a half pots of water.
The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, because it fulfilled magnificently the purpose for which it had been made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection, miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After the second year of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, the unhappy pot spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream
“I’m ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you” said the pot.  
“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all this work and don’t get full value from your efforts”, the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the cracked pot took notice of the beautiful wildflowers on the side of the path, bright in the sun’s glow and the sight cheered him up a bit, but at the end of the trail, it still felt bad that it had leaked out half its load, and so it again apologised to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, not on the other pot’s side? That is because I have always known about your flaw, and I have taken advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and ever day, as we walked back from the stream, you have watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have had this beauty grace his household.”’

Brennan Manning Ruthless Trust

Truths for the battle in the heart and mind

If you’re having a tough time at the moment, then this is for you.

I want you to remember some truths which are helpful when lies or accusations, whether facts or imaginations, come calling.
The enemy’s tactics thrive in secrecy and hiddenness, he hates light, openness, and transparency, they expose him for what he is, a thief, liar, killer, and destroyer.

You are loved by the one who knows you best and has no illusions about you at all. You have never shocked him. You may have pulled hard on your connection with him, but it hasn’t broken. He is faithful even when we aren’t.

All the enemy can throw at you was on Jesus’ mind as he went to the cross, and it has been dealt with most throughly.

The enemy would love you to be bogged down by shame as long as possible, but the truth is, all we have ever done wrong in any way was absorbed by Jesus on the cross, he became sin for us. Why? Because he wanted us as his own.
As Jesus rose from death and walked free from the tomb, you were on his mind. You are part of his inheritance and the joy he set his heart on as he went to the cross, and so you are part of the real experienced joy he had as he walked out of that dark dank cave. Think on that for a moment.

What you will learn through this will be valuable, your Father God never wastes anything. You are his beloved child, you are integral to his purpose here, he has dreams and hopes for you to enjoy fulfilling.

The ‘vertical’ is dealt with when we bring our hurt and broken selves to him, knowing we are always loved by him and he is always willing to listen to all we have to tell him. His desire is for us to be at peace with him and to happily walk in step with him.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.

Psalm 37:24

Our experience of this may feel incomplete because we need the ‘horizontal’ dealt with too, and for this we need good friends who love us and God. If we can let these trusted ones know who we really are, the hidden areas are exposed to the light then the enemy can’t push us around because we can say: God knows and has forgiven me, he never stopped loving me, even while I was behaving like an idiot. My friends know me, and they love me, warts and all.

(Don’t tell all and sundry everything, just someone you know and trust.)

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Again…You need to remember that Jesus had you in mind as he died on the cross, for the joy set before him…and he had you in mind as he woke from death and walked out into the fresh air of the resurrection life, in anticipation of your loving relationship with him…he LOVES you.
Talk to him, get that heart of yours worshipping him, find delight in him all over again. You will feel back to ‘normal’ in time, although you will feel different to before, because you’ll appreciate the sense of a tender heart and a clear conscience.

If it sounds as though I know what I’m talking about…well, yes, of course I do.

Thankfully, that isn’t where I’ve stayed.

You don’t need to either.

Nibbling the possible…or grabbing the impossible?

I hear the longings of people’s hearts quite often. One of my favourite things is to draw people out and to hear them share the secret things which sometimes even they haven’t explored yet.
Our lives, so often, are smaller than they need to be. I think this may be linked to our understanding of God and his nature being pinched and small, like shoes long outgrown.

If we knew how he loves his creation…and his church…and those who haven’t met him yet, maybe we would get a bigger glimpse of what he has in mind for us.

For the Lord is always good and ready to receive you. He is so loving it will amaze you, so kind it will astound you! And he is famous for his faithfulness towards all. Everyone knows our God can be trusted, for he keeps his promises to every generation!’

Psalm 100:5 The Passion Translation

The kindness of God never ceases to amaze me. 

When he answers the whispers of the heart, he shows himself such a kind and loving Father.
Those whispered desires we consider too wild and out there to be spoken of in sane company, so we resort to turning them over in our minds in the quiet of the night, wondering if we are crazy to imagine such happenings, (yes those are the ones I mean) he hears and smiles. They’re no surprise to him, he put them there in the first place.
When he brings those hopes and dreams into being, we get an intense taste of his personal delight in us, not because we’re any great shakes, but because we are HIS and he has loved us and taken great pleasure in us since, oh, forever.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Ephesians 1:4 New Living Translation

I once had someone reluctantly admit what her dreams were, reluctant only because she knew I believed in her more than she did, and I’d want her dreams come into being, which can only mean being pestered and prodded and loved into doing something about it.

The funny thing is, her dream fitted her perfectly, but then it would wouldn’t it, because the one who made her in all of her quirky loveliness, had also planted seeds of the gifts in her, which would one day provoke her to the bravery needed to say…out loud…’This is my dream’.
We can be limited by many and various situations, not least the run of the mill stuff of life. The stuff of life though, is where we gain the stamina to pursue our dreams and show we have what it takes. How do we do this? By our being faithful in the small things, the tedium of the ordinary work continually done well, the rising in the night many times over to a child who only wants his back rubbed and to see his mummy’s lovely face.

We    just    plod    on    through.

Plodding is a thorough training ground, it isn’t always exciting, but there we see progress and change in ourselves as well as accomplishing our task.

Then one day we start to see the dawning of our dreams, we realise we are walking them out, and this time it isn’t in the dark of night, it is broad daylight with others at our side, seeing their dreams and hopes come true too.

Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible. — C.T. Studd

Journey of a Church planter: Kate Hibbitt in Bridport

I asked Kate Hibbitt, a dear friend of mine of many years, if she would consider telling us her experience of church planting, here is some of her story:
It’s been three years since I moved to Bridport with my husband Rob and our two sons, Jamie and Daniel to plant a church. Beacon Church Bridport is now no longer a church plant but a church in its own right.

God spoke to me prophetically through someone, 15 years ago, about church planting and being a pioneer. I was single at the time and was on a New Frontiers Project (it’s called Impact now). I stored that word away in my heart.

Rob and I have been married for thirteen years. God started to stir both Rob and I around 7 years ago about church planting. God used those years to train, shape and change me.

Looking back those years were a bit like a roller coaster ride but I held onto what God had spoken and waited patiently for the ‘go’. During that time I learnt about God’s perfect timing and He taught me so much in the waiting. The hardest part for me was leaving close friends, uprooting our children and leaving Citygate Church, which I had been a part of for 18 years.
On the 23rd March 2012 we moved to Beaminster, just north of Bridport. The move happened very quickly after the years of planning and waiting. We saw a house, secured school places and moved three weeks later! Leading up to the move close friends had prophesied that God was going to do immeasurably more than we would ask or could imagine.

God showed me what a lavish Father He is by providing a perfect home for us to live in, friends were able to visit, it had a basement big enough to start the church in and enough space to be hospitable and minister to people.

Our new home, London House, also had enough bedrooms to house all the Leadership team when they moved to join the Church plant as they were waiting for houses to sell etc. God did do immeasurably more than I could/would have ever, ever imagined! I have so many God stories that I have learnt along the way. God’s ways are not our ways but in hindsight His ways are not only the better option but bring blessing and fruitfulness. London House provided us with the space to build firm foundations and helped us to kick start the church.
As I look back over the last few years, life has not always been plain sailing. As a couple and as a family we have had our ups and downs. I am so thankful for the godly men and women God has put around us to encourage and support us when we have been battle weary. There have been many setbacks and frustrations; as well as the highs of planting and establishing a church. I can confidently say God has been completely trustworthy and faithful in the big and the small. It amazes me how much He knows me and how He is interested in me. He surprises me in the most unexpected ways.
It’s taken me a long time to realise it’s ok to be me! It has been liberating to know in my inner being that God created me before the beginning of time to be Kate – not anyone else – just me. In Him I have everything and I am complete. My identity is in Him. As I have got rid of the debris and clutter in my heart that I have carried around for years as a Christian, the wrong thinking and worldly principles, I have found freedom, freedom to be me and freedom to say no.

For some reading this who know me this is something I have struggled with for many years and especially over the past few years. I am learning to be still in the busyness of church life. I’m on a journey of one day at a time. Not rushing ahead for there is time for everything (Ecc 3:1) and everything in its time.
Church planting is challenging and for me in the early days I felt the pressure to do everything. Be a good wife, mum, work part time, juggle church life and in doing so put stress on my husband and children because I couldn’t say no, if I did I thought I was a failure.

If I’m honest I have struggled with being a ‘Martha’. For many years my identity has come from being busy. Nothing is as important than spending time with Him. He is a God who gives and gives and gives. He has not held anything back. He poured out his life for me so I can live in the full measure of Him. WOW! What amazing truth.

Over recent months God has shown me the things in my life that I need to let go of – of loved ones, of material things and the biggest mountain in my life – control. It has been a painful season of being stripped bare and I have felt very low at times but it has also been an incredible time of blessing. Through the pain and suffering God has been so gentle, gracious and kind. In letting go I have felt Him closer than ever, He has calmed my fears and quietened my anxiety. He has dealt with my disappointment and has changed my heart. I still don’t fully understand the whys but my Heavenly Father does. I am learning to live above my circumstances.
Church planting is exciting and life changing and shaping. I love seeing the impact this has had on Rob and I and on our boys as well. They both are passionate for Jesus, the gospel and for church planting.

Many people questioned us for moving them from schools they loved and a big church but as I look back I can see the growth and the moulding God has done in their lives. In the early days it was tough for them but it has made them stronger, more resilient and most importantly they know they can depend on Jesus in every situation.
I would encourage all who read this and are wanting to push further into the presence and promises of God, whatever you do don’t limit God, be open to the prophetic and don’t be afraid to dream big dreams. God loves us so much He longs for us to be out of our comfort zones just to prove how faithful He truly is!

I’ll leave Kate’s powerful story with you to chew over. God often speaks many years before the event, has this reminded you of anything he has said to you? Is it time for the next step?

Discovering: Prophetic Wisdom by Graham Cooke

‘ “My people know My voice,” God promised. We serve a God who is dedicated to seeing us get things right. In return, He wants us to be dedicated to seeking His face. He wants us to live in the sheer pleasure of waiting on Him. To ensure that we feel the delight of being in His presence, He has given us the Holy Spirit as an inheritance. We can be assured that God will always show up and talk to us. We can rely on Him, live in His rest and peace and adore His nature. We can be overwhelmed by our own insignificance and marvel at His greatness. We can be humbled by our weakness and captivated by His strength. We can live with an understanding of how weak and small we are, and be fascinated by the grace, sovereignty, power, and majesty of the God we serve. Our present smallness cannot prevent us from entering the fullness of God….this is His will for us.’
Prophetic Wisdom by Graham Cooke.
Recently, a friend told me she particularly liked the way Graham Cooke expresses himself. I had to agree. He is gentle and kind, with a love for God that is always a provocation and invitation to me.

I thought I’d go back and read some of his work. This is a small portion from the first chapter of Prophetic Wisdom, the third in a series on the prophetic, published by Brilliant Book House. 

Graham wrote a book back in the nineties, ‘Developing Your Prophetic Gifting‘, it was the most thorough I’d come across on the subject back then, but this series is more in-depth. It is certainly thought provoking.

I’m not sure where I read or heard it, but he has said that he used to travel a great distance to be mentored once a month by Graham Perrins, that he was the quietest person in the room, taking many notes and saying nothing. 
Isn’t it interesting that the people we have in our lives, the ones who we may think will be the most fruitful and who show the most promise, aren’t always the ones we eventually see rising to the surface, at least not for long. 

Sometimes it’s the quiet ones who make little or no impact at the moment, and seem to have no desire for great prominence, who go on to influence many people both in and out of the church.
I know of those who thought little of themselves and wondered how God could use them, or indeed, if He ever would, and now, although still tender where self-esteem is concerned, are being used to make strong ripples, and who knows, one day maybe even waves. 
How precious it is to realise we are perfectly seen and known by the only one who can equip us and work with us for eternal purposes, and as Graham said: ‘He is dedicated to seeing us get things right.’

All of our lives are in His kind hands. Even the lives of the quiet ones. 

The Bridegroom and The Best Man

Streams aren’t easy to measure, the Holy Spirit isn’t given to us in short and tiny measures so we can only just get by. He was poured out on Jesus without measure. 
Our God is a good and generous Father, the Holy Spirit is given to us in an ever flowing stream, we need never grow dull and dry, he’s never going to say ‘Today, you manage on your own.’
Jesus said: Whoever believes in me… Whoever, pretty inclusive really.
If we fix our eyes on Jesus it becomes less and less difficult to believe in him even in trials and sufferings. 
He is captivating. He draws our hearts to him and we get a sense of his loveliness, and even though the suffering carries on we draw comfort from him. 
He knows us, he knows what we are going through and how imperfectly we suffer, yet he is still beside us, loving us, and faithful to us. 
This is a major part of how the Holy Spirit refreshes us, he turns our eyes to Jesus and we see again.
He reminds me of the best man at a wedding, he is there to get the bride to her husband, he’s not there to draw attention to himself, but to make sure the lovers get married.

When The Journey Is Slow

You know those times when you are full to overflowing of what ifs and maybes, and an almost inescapable urge to go over everything just one more time. 

Times when, if thoughts aren’t plaguing you, then silence is.

Yes, you know, one of those times. 

Only this morning I was remembering a period when circumstances had left me feeling unsure and vulnerable, it was so long ago now, the situation, not the feeling, I can engage in those sorts of feelings almost any day of the week if I give it some effort. 

This was a time when I had longings for change for a dear friend of mine. I might have mentioned it before, but bear with me.

That particular day I was talking to God about how it all seemed to me, I was feeling flat and sad, wondering if things would ever be different, when I came across Psalm 20, I thought to myself, ‘That’s a word for my friend‘, then I corrected myself, ‘No, it’s my prayer for them’. I felt somewhat comforted as the psalm is full of promised change and victory, ‘All good’, I thought. ‘At least it is if it’s God speaking His ‘now word’ and not just me trying to make the situation better somehow’.

We know the desire to help and encourage, but how much more powerful it is when we know God has given us this particular word for this particular person. Now there’s an encouragement for you, not simply a scripture version of a comforting hug, but a word that comes with the Spirit’s empowering presence. Power to change, to heal, and even perhaps to create. 

His word never comes alone, it comes accompanied by His own presence. Who wouldn’t want to hear Him?

But I’m rambling, back to the story.

Later on in the day I had a call from a friend, she told me she’d been spending time with God when she’d come across Psalm 20, she thought to herself, ‘It’s a word for my friend‘, then realised, ‘No, it isn’t, it’s my prayer for her’.

You can imagine how this felt to me, my unsure and discouraged heart was filled with relief, this was a reality, I didn’t have to simply hope it was true, God in His kindness had sent someone to confirm His word to me. 

Why am I telling you this? 

It’s because I’ve been feeling a bit flat about the ultra slow progress we are seeing in our journey to the next thing God has for us. 

I’m not the world’s most patient person. I’m told prophetic people don’t tend to be, this is not a comfort to me. I’m not likely to stop being prophetically wired as it is how God has made me, and due to the length of time I’ve been less than comfortable with waiting for long periods of time, I don’t think I’m in for great change there either. I know, I CAN change, just not fast enough. You can pray for me if you like.

So, onto the other part of why I’m telling you this story. 

Last night I woke in the dark, I could see the bedside clock, it said a time which God has used before when He wanted to speak to me. Maybe you have this numbers thing, I know some others who do. 
What do I mean?

I’ll see a number and know God is saying something to me, I only have to find the verse He means me to read, not always easy, but He hides things for us, not from us, so I go searching in the confidence that He is waiting for me to find what He has planned for me to discover. 

As I remembered the truth of the verse He’d highlighted to me, I wondered why He was reminding me of it when He’d given it to me so many times in the last year. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it as I got on with my day. I’d even let it slip from my mind, that is, until a friend got in touch and told me as she was spending time with God this morning she had felt this particular verse was a word for me, and proceeded to tell me what God had said to her to encourage me. 

I was bowled over, here I was again, reminded of the faithful love of God.

Don’t you love it when our Daddy God goes out of His way to lift our flattened hearts and to put a smile on our faces again? Only yesterday we had a friend get in touch with a picture from God to encourage us, and today, this. 

The kindness of God does indeed lead us to repentance. If you consider the reality that repentance means seeing things how God does, then I am being drawn to change the way I’m seeing things, yet again. 

Is this the end of today’s story? No. I received an invitation to contribute to an event which is right up my street, and also exactly what was referred to in the word from God, both in the darkness of last night, and then again this morning. 

How kind is He? Oh so kind. Is our journey any clearer? Not really, but the path is a little brighter when He shines His light and makes visible His careful forethought for us.

A Song of Ascents. 

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

My help does indeed come from The Lord.

This is one of a cluster of Psalms written for those who are journeying, or on a pilgrimage.   

As a plodding journeyer (is there such a word?) I appreciate the intervention of God when He blows fresh cool air on my face to quicken my steps. 

Thank you Lord. Please don’t stop.

Tenderhearted Praying Prophet

What use is a cold hearted prophet?  

One who is willing to hear the words of God, but not to grasp His heart to deliver, rescue, or heal? 

It isn’t a foregone conclusion that if someone is gifted in a particular way that they have the character to carry the gift well and to bear the most fruit.

Jonah was this way inclined, gifted for sure, he could hear the word of God, but where was the tenderness of God?

Surely we want to be like the disciple John, not Jonah; the beloved, not the embittered. 

John started out described as a Son of Thunder. He was willing and eager to call down fire on some he disagreed with, but he was transformed by spending time with Jesus, becoming the most intimate and tenderhearted disciple. 

I wonder if John realised he was being changed and if he asked God to make his heart tender. Did Jesus wait for him to see his need or did He just get on and change him? 

How about us?

Are we willing to be changed?

What if God says He wants to rescue those we consider too unlike us, will we refuse to be involved in the process? 

Or will we stay in His presence, asking Him to tenderise our hearts until we are willing to go, to go and declare His word to those we might even see as enemies, and in truth they may be enemies, even if not our own.

We are able to grow a grudge, and to nourish deep resistance towards those who live in ways we think little of, ways of life which we know for sure (don’t we?) that God is not impressed with and so we can comfort ourselves we are sensing His heart, but are we? 

Will we resist God’s restoring word for them?

Our own heart condition will make such a difference to those around us. If we are hardened, who will they hear the word of the Lord through?

God’s heart to redeem is great and His heart is to see all people saved. It IS possible for hardened ones to turn. Look at Saul, who later became Paul. One encounter was all it took, but Saul needed Ananias to have been listening to God, and to be willing to go and speak to one who had been darkly impressive in his dealings with Christians. No one who knew Saul’s way with believers would have been keen to go and offer to pray for him, but Ananias had a listening, responsive, heart.

Who needs you to be listening and responsive to God?

Lord, make my heart tender. Tender to hear, to pray, and at the time you show, to speak.

The Radiance of True Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a powerful action. It transforms and heals, releases and restores, it reconciles enemies and refreshes tired hearts. It is the essential underpinning of our life with God. If He did not make the first move, we would never seek His forgiveness, nor anyone else’s come to that. 

It is glorious. 

When I read ‘ Dancing With Destiny’ by Jill Austin, I was impacted by what she had to say, I thought you might be too.

Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

Ps 24:7 NIV

In her book ‘Dancing With Destiny’, author Jill Austin writes about forgiveness:

‘Go to the mercy seat. Throw yourself between the horns of the altar, and in the precious spattered blood of Jesus, saying ‘Lord, forgive me. Forgive those who have risen up against me.’ 

Then she writes:

‘Your wounds will begin to heal and the scars will begin to glow with the resurrection anointing of Jesus.’

Don’t you love this? 

At any time in our lives we have opportunities for forgiveness, either our own sin or someone else’s. The way it is described here is the reality of true forgiveness, not dull plodding forgiving, half-hearted in its attempt, but wholehearted radiant forgiving, glowing with the anointing of Jesus.

Further on she says:

‘Then you can speak with authority because you have forgiven. You can declare ‘Open up the gates so that the King of Glory may come in!’

What a word for us from the Father-heart of God. 

We want to be people of His presence, so we declare first of all to our own hearts:

‘Open up the gates so the King of Glory can come in!’ 

Life in the Spirit is vigorous and vivid, we don’t expect to amble through life ignoring our own sin, but to engage with Holy Spirit to turn our lives around and follow Jesus in every way. 

We invite Him to bring down strongholds in our thinking and behaviour, to show us where we need to change.

This isn’t a dreary trudge of ‘Do better’, Try Harder’, it is the discovery of an empowered life resulting from transformed thinking. 

Not ‘How much can I get away with?’, but ‘What could I be exploring in this life in the Spirit?’ 

Sometimes we can find life is neither vigorous nor vivid, but more of a quiet hibernating time while He works in us to bring about willingness for the change He wants to see. 

When He has done this we can know the ‘Glow of the resurrection anointing of Jesus’ transforming our scarred wounds into marks left by His fingerprints.

Then we find we are reminded of the power of our prayers, that in fact we do live in His presence, and in His presence we find power to minister in various ways, certainly way beyond any serving we might engage in from a sense of duty. 

We find His gifts and nature bubbling up from within us, causing a revolution. 

No more sense of duty, it can be an adventure and is certainly a privilege even to go through the daily routine when it is done in the presence of our dear friend the Holy Spirit. 

Where there are situations needing a breakthrough, in response to His guidance we say:

‘Open up, so that the King of Glory can come in!’ 

We aren’t those who wait passively for change but we are those He has charged with bringing in the Kingdom:

‘As it is in Heaven, so on earth’

Enter in Lord Jesus!


Journey of a Church Planter: Emma Whittall in Stockholm

I’m delighted to welcome Emma Whittall to the blog today. Emma and her family planted a church in Stockholm 3.5 years ago, no small thing I’m sure you’d agree. A while back I asked if she would tell her story of church planting and what the journey towards it was like, she generously agreed. 

It’s valuable to hear what it’s like for an individual to discover life is probably about to take a massive turn in an unexpected direction. 

We can tend to assume that our lives will progress much the same as they always have, but sometimes God moves in on us and does one of His special ‘and then God said…’ moments which He seems to enjoy. Listening to such a story may open a door in our thinking and cause us to ask: ‘What if God said something similar to me?’

  I was seven months pregnant with our second child when my husband first told me that he felt God was saying we should church plant in Sweden. My first reaction wasn’t entirely holy – whaaat? Really? I have to think about this now? But after I got over the initial shock, I began to realise that this was a very real proposition for our soon-to-be-increasing-family and I began to sense God’s leading too. Not all the time though! Some days it seemed like a ridiculous idea – me? Start a church? In Sweden? Come on, you can’t be serious. I don’t do that sort of thing! And other days, I felt a bit irritated by it all. I wanted to think about our baby, choose a name, plan, feather my nest. This felt like a bit of an inconvenience. But I had to let those thoughts go and let God take care of some of those things. It was as though there was only space in my head for one thing at a time. 


We know that it had to be a decision that we made together, just one of us being certain wasn’t enough. We both had to be settled and sure. So we began to pray, to talk to a few trusted friends who were wiser than us, to keep an ear tuned to God and keep an open heart. I found that God was faithful. 


He led me in ways that were personal to me. I’ve found that in major events in my life, whether full of joy or full of sadness, He uses His word to guide me, often it can be just one or two short verses that settle my heart about a matter. That was how He comforted me when my dad died suddenly. That was how He led me when I was thinking about marriage. And there have been other times in between. This time was no different. All of a sudden, out of the blue (although I suspect God may have had a hand in it) up popped ‘Be still and know that I am God’, (Psalm 46:10) in my quiet time. That was the verse God used to settle my heart when I moved to Shrewsbury, so instantly I was taken back to that time, remembering God’s faithfulness and provision for me in that move. So why not this time too? Another quiet time, another verse – ‘Here I am. Send me’ (Isaiah 6:8). This immediately reminded me of a prayer and desire that I laid before God in my 20’s. ‘God, I want to be one you can send, I want to be willing to go.’ I hadn’t thought about it for years, and here it was, right in front of me again. Was that still true? It’s easy to say yes when it’s theoretical, but this was a very real possibility. Was I really willing to go? Would I rest on God, be still in Him and know that He is God in the midst of all the uncertainness and newness? But as I meditated and chewed on these verses, my heart grew less anxious and more settled.


We saw God use scripture, prophecy, input from friends, and even Facebook to lead us. My husband’s Facebook page randomly opened in Swedish just after we’d had a conversation about moving – it’s never done it before or since. Over the summer, the evidence for moving began to stack up. It felt like driving though a town, and every time we got to a set of traffic lights, they turned green. Our question changed from, ‘should we go?’ to, ‘why would we not go?’ and that was a question that we didn’t have a reasonable answer for. Our daughter was born. We took a quick trip to Sweden. Our hearts and minds were made up – which isn’t to say it didn’t feel scary and huge, and at times, still a bit ridiculous (us – really?!). But underneath it all, we knew we could trust God, if He was telling us to go, then Sweden was the best place for us to be.


So now it was time to tell people. We were settled, our closest friends were settled, now we had to put our money where our mouths were and tell our family, our friends, our church. Now it started getting real. One of the conversations that I was nervous about was with my mum. Not because she wouldn’t understand, I knew she’d be whole-heartedly for us, but because my dad had died suddenly a few years before and the years in-between had been full of challenges and difficult for her. The last thing I wanted was to add to that, so the idea of leaving mum felt like a high cost for me. But God had been leading her too. She left Oxford around the same time that we moved to Sweden, and went to Bethel in California for a year, then came out to join us church planting in Stockholm. Now we share a house and are church planting together. I highly recommend church planting with your mum – we have our own personal cheerleader when things are tough, a babysitter on call 24/7 and a faithful pray-er. She is everyone’s granny and our little church is richer for it.


We’ve been in Sweden 3.5 years now and have seen God continue to bless us, to stretch us in many different areas, to provide for us and our children, to grow his church in our city. It’s a roller coaster adventure, but through it all, ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ is never far from my heart.


How about you, what do you recognise in Emma’s journey? Do you have particular verses which have helped clarify a decision and settle your heart?


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