Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Month: March 2016 (page 2 of 3)

Restore

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about locusts. They are destructive pests, ruthless in devouring every green thing and leaving a land bare and desolate.

I believe we can have the equivalent of locusts in our lives sometimes: wasted years of dreams shackled by fear or inertia, addictions.

I had locusts in my life. A good friend prayed that God would restore the years the locust had eaten, and He is doing. God has brought restoration in different areas of mine and Adi’s lives.

God is able to restore and He loves us so much. Even when we don’t feel like He loves us, when we feel unlovely, it doesn’t alter the facts. He loves us.

Jesus promises abundant life. He doesn’t want us limping through life, struggling alone. He offers all that we need – peace, joy, love, hope. These things are priceless and He begins to restore us from the inside out as soon as we turn to Him for help and salvation.

People

Adi and I spent today in London. As always, there were lots of people around.

A cheerful lady wrapped in a sleeping bag playing solitaire called out that she liked my hair. It brightened my day. I hope my smile and thanks brightened hers – I guess my hair certainly did!

Someone rudely brushed past Adi’s shoulder – the concept of personal space isn’t necessarily the same in London as it is in Nottingham.

A man sat near me in Foyle’s on FaceTime with (what sounded like) his very young daughter. They were having fun together, no idea what language was being spoken.

Nose to nose with strangers on the Piccadilly line. Surely no one else can cram on this train? Yep, there’s another three squeezed in. Thank goodness no one has bad breath. Just a slightly whiffy armpit….

A young server in the Waterstone’s café, think he’s American from his accent (thought I couldn’t guarantee it, I’m not gifted with accents, I once asked a colleague if her consultant was Canadian, he wasn’t, he was Irish). Very efficient, the coffee is taking ages to brew but I’ve never seen a barista move more quickly.

At the end of long day filled with people, it was a relief to get home to a mug of tea and bed.

 

 

Remember

There are things that God remembers and things that He chooses to forget.

God remembers individuals. The Bible includes lists of names that make up family trees and the ancient nation of Israel. I love that all kinds of people make up Jesus’ family tree – children conceived in incest, affairs and adultery, prostitutes, asylum seekers and refugees. We might be inclined to look down on such people, but God wasn’t ashamed to include them in His Son’s family tree.

In Hebrews 11, various heroes of faith are named for commendation.

When Jesus was a man on earth, He promised that God remembers when we offer even a glass of water in His name so that He can one day give us a reward.

God values individuals. He knit us together in the womb and has good plans for our lives. If Jesus was still a man on earth, you would be the kind of person He would sit and have a coffee or a beer with. He loves you more than can ever know.

But God also chooses to forget: the Bible says that when we’re truly sorry for wrong things we think, say and do, God promises not to remember those sins against us. This is only possible because Jesus took the penalty for all of our sin so that we wouldn’t have to.

I love this God who remembers my name and chooses to forget my sin.

Path

Paths are exciting. I love wandering off the beaten track, whether it be in woods or a city. Side paths can be so alluring, I wonder where this leads to...

In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf tells Bilbo that setting foot outside your front door is an adventure. You never know where you might end up.

That’s true, isn’t it?

A path can lead to a dental appointment, a university degree, a first date, a wedding, a funeral, shopping, a job interview, redundancy, coffee with a friend.

The path through life has twists and turns, goes uphill and down. I never thought I would be someone who lost her job through illness. But that was where my path led. I dreamed of working for myself from home, and this is where my path has brought me. For now.

The Bible says that it is God who makes our paths straight, and I believe that. He is the One who can make the mountains low – or move them out of the way altogether – and raise up valleys to make a straight, level road. There is a verse that says His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

I don’t believe in fate. But I do believe in Someone who loves me like crazy and has good plans for me. He is the One who orders my steps, steadies me as I walk along, and guides me along this path of life.

Jesus’ path led Him up a hill to a Roman crucifix so that He could become the Way to His Father for me. This is the One I love.

 

Celebrate: My Life

Adi and I have just been watching the documentary He named me Malala. It made me realise again how much I have for which to be thankful.

I had an education. Maybe not the best (my senior school has since been bulldozed), but I got my GCSEs and went to college.

There is freedom of speech in the UK.

I’m free to be a follower of Jesus and to pursue His present calling on my life to write and to work with women in the sex industry.

I’ve never been in a war or had to flee my home in fear. There is a scene in the documentary where Malala meets Syrian refugees on the Jordanian border. She could relate, having become a refugee inside her own country before seeking asylum in the UK. It’s so far out of my experience that I can’t begin to imagine what they are going through. But Malala knows, and it showed through.

So today I’m celebrating my life, thankful to God for the generous benefits He’s given me. I am who I am by His grace alone.

Listen

I love the Lord because He hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
Because He bends down to listen
I will pray as long as I have breath!

 I’m sometimes tempted to think that God doesn’t really hear me, that my prayers aren’t important enough.

During a ministry time at church, I wonder if the person I pray with is being diddled because I’m praying and not someone else. ‘I’ll get Adi to pray too,’ I think because I have confidence that God hears him. Or, ‘I’ll ask so-and-so to pray,’ because I think her prayers will be heard more than mine.

That’s a lie.

The Father hears me. My prayers are just as important to Him as any of His other children. These verses say that He bends down to listen. What a lovely picture of a God who humbles Himself and wants to hear me speaking to Him.

If you’re like me and have occasional wobbles about your prayers not going further than the ceiling, remember you have a Daddy in heaven who bends down to listen to you. So let’s rejoice His heart and pray without ceasing!

Picture used courtesy of David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos

World

God loved the world so much that He gave His only beloved Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

Jesus Himself gave that invitation. If you are human and you live in the world, then the invitation is for you.

Surround

Surround: to be surrounded can be both good and bad.

Jesus was surrounded by enemies on the cross. Not only human enemies: people who despised and mocked Him, pleased He was suffering and dying. But also spiritual enemies: the devil and his hordes.

Because Jesus died surrounded by enemies, I can be His friend.

Because Jesus was surrounded by hostility, I can know His peace.

The Bible says my life is hidden with Christ in God. To put it another way, I am surrounded by God Himself. Nothing can separate me from Him and His love.

 

 

Photo used courtesy of Geerati at freedigitialphotos

Faithful

Jack, my rabbit, had oodles of personality. He had full range of the garden and ground floor of the house. He knew he wasn’t allowed upstairs but had a funny habit of thundering up them if he thought I wasn’t watching and then stamping his hind legs at the top, as if to announce: ‘Mischief accomplished!’

Although he knew his name (something my two retired neighbours Mick and Jack thought amusing when chatting to one another across our back garden), he only came if he felt like it when I called him. Other times, he would race round and round the shed in the back garden with me exasperatedly panting after him.

I loved Jack dearly (as my friends at the time could testify) but I didn’t realise what a faithful friend he was until my dad died. For a very independent rabbit who only ever allowed cuddles on his terms, he lay by my side on the sofa for hours at a time licking my arms. It was the only way he knew to comfort me in my grief.

When Jack himself died, I missed him like crazy. Even now on clear, starry nights I look up at Orion’s Belt and remember my little J-J. One of my favourite things was to hold him in my arms while admiring the night-sky, in awe that the same God who spoke galaxies into creation also made cute, furry bunny rabbits.

Silence

Me: ‘My word prompt today is silence.’

Adi: ‘Ha ha ha ha ha!’

I guess that tells you a lot about us….

I’m a typical woman, keen to use up my 20,000 words a day. The best sign Adi has of something being wrong is when I go quiet.

When I was ill, I was silent. Even on good days I didn’t have oodles of energy for speaking.

After Jesus completed my healing, our pastor caught up with us. He listened as I gushed about what had happened and how great it was to be well again. Then he turned to Adi.

‘And what do you think about all this Adi?’

‘It’s great, but she’s not shut up since.’

‘There’s a downside to every healing.’ We saw the twinkle in his eye as we all burst out laughing.

 

 

Photo used by kind permission of stockimages at freedigitalphotos

 

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