Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Month: April 2016

Unite

Jogging by the sea this week, I loved observing the oyster catchers unite to fly in a group. Seeing the odd one was nice but nothing out of the ordinary. But as a group, it was pure joy watching them dip and wheel on the breeze. One moment they moved in a circle of silver against the blue sky, the next they were almost invisible. Lovely.

I enjoy watching starlings congregate on the roof tops in autumn, preparing for their great migration south. There is power and beauty in seeing the large group wheeling on the wind.

In their unity, birds reflect their creator so well. God is united: Father, Son and Spirit in happy agreement with one heart and mind. Nowhere is this more evident that in His magnificent plan of salvation. In full agreement, the Father sent the Son so that I could know Him, and the Spirit lives within to whisper I am loved.

Wibbly-Wobbly Writer

When I first thought God might be calling me to be a writer, I was excited: a childhood dream come true!

But it didn’t take long for doubt to set in, and those of you who know me can testify to my teetering back and forth.

Who do I think I am trying to do this? Is this really what God wants? Do I even have a gift?

It’s draining.

I even do the ‘right’ thing and take my doubts to God: ‘Are You sure You want me to write?’

It’s kind of inevitable that I tie myself in knots and end up chained by fear. Fear of failure, fear of what people think.

Too often my confidence is affected by how many Facebook likes I get for a blog post or whether it’s retweeted on Twitter. A comment on my actual blog makes my heart sing and dance.

But this is a dangerous position to be in. I’m settling for praise from people, which is nice, but not what I should be aiming for. My aim should be the heavenly ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’ from Jesus. It’s His opinion that really matters.

While it’s helpful to know if I’m reaching anyone through my writing, ultimately I need to focus on writing for an audience of One.

Love

I love that the Father had adventures planned for me before I was born: things to do, places to be, people He wants me to mother. How exciting is that?! The Father must be pretty passionate about me because He puts these desires in my heart, and is guiding me step-by-step into all He has for me.

So, how ever much I have wibbly-wobbly doubts, my part is to respond to the revelation I have right now.

For me today, this means taking writing seriously and giving it time, energy and prayer. If I’ve misheard, my Father will graciously redirect me.

The Father doesn’t clobber me over the head for getting it wrong. Nor does He operate through fear. He is love and perfect love casts out fear. So when I detect that knot of fear in the pit of my stomach, you can bet it doesn’t come from God.

What if I don’t pursue this dream because I’m scared of getting it wrong or failing? On that day when God is giving out rewards to His faithful ones, is it possible I could miss out because of being scared to go for it?

 

 

Whole

Lord, I want to be wholehearted. I hardly ever have been in the past, it’s tough when you don’t have much confidence. You think you’ll do something and then you stop to wonder if it’s okay, whether you can, what other people will think, and so it goes on.

But I’ve been reading about Caleb. What a guy! In his eighties, he was still going for it. He was the only one – as far as I can tell – who took possession of the land You’d promised the Israelites. He was wholehearted and so ended up with the whole of his territory. You even commended him for following You wholeheartedly, and that’s what I aspire to! 

Lord, I read in Judges 1 about the other Israelite tribes. It’s a woeful repetition of ‘…and they failed to drive out….’ They weren’t determined like Caleb, so never did end up owning the whole of the land You’d promised them. What a tragedy.

I don’t have enemies of the flesh and blood variety that You want me to fight. But I have other stuff in my life that probably shouldn’t be there. Baggage is a good term for it. I still battle with fear. But I want to be like Caleb, to be someone who goes for it. Fear and lack of confidence can do one!

Lord, I want to be wholehearted for You, bring me into the whole of all that You have for me.

The Perfect Administrator

‘Write these sums down and do them for homework. Hand them in next lesson.’

Thirty-odd eleven-year-olds dutifully scribbled the sums into our homework books. I didn’t enjoy maths, didn’t understand numbers (still don’t if it comes to that), and didn’t look forward to doing my homework.

Next lesson, I took in my homework book but the teacher never asked for it.

Over time, I lost heart. If my work was never going to be marked, what was the point?

In my job as a medical secretary, it’s important that I follow things through. Many of the specialists I’ve worked for over the years are great at their jobs but rubbish at paperwork. They don’t seem to understand that it’s not enough to initial a pathology result to say they’ve seen it if they don’t pass on the news to the patient. They simply file it in the notes, never realising that some poor soul is sweating over unknown test results at home.

In Strictly Come Dancing, Craig Revel Horwood is always going on at the celebrities about hands and unfinished movements. Not being a dancer, I don’t understand exactly what he means though I can tell when someone has beautiful arm movements from shoulder to fingertips.

Following through and completing things is important on all sorts of levels. Unfinished business is frustrating.

I had a little worship moment recently when it dawned on me that God is the perfect administrator. He always finishes what He starts and keeps His promises. He doesn’t make empty threats or get our hopes up only to brutally dash them by losing interest or forgetting what He’s said. His timing is often different to ours and we may misunderstand Him, but that says more about us than Him.

Cleaning TrolleyPaul wrote to the Philippian church: ‘I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…’

How good it is to relax in the knowledge that God will follow through on stuff and not leave anything undone. I can have confidence in Him to do what He says He’s going to do. This is especially helpful when He is having a delve in my life and chucking out the rubbish.

‘Fear of rejection? You really don’t need this Mandy, shall we shove it in a bin liner and take it to the tip?’

When we’re in the middle of a soul spring clean, it’s good to know that God won’t get tired or fed up part way through, regardless of the mess He’s dealing with. He has begun a good work in me and has promised to complete what He’s started.

 

 

Decide

Oh son, I love you so much!
You delight my heart and bring me joy.

Being with you dad, is just the best thing ever.
You’re awesome!

Let’s create more, just like you son.

Fantastic idea dad!
You’ve given me so much, can I share with them?

Not even conceived, yet I see each one…
and how I love them.
But son, I don’t want little robots.
I’m giving them the choice,
they can decide to love me or not.
I’ll make it easy:
I’ll create a fabulous world for them to live in
with trees, mountains and flowers,
and a sky full of stars.
Every evening I’ll paint the sky with orange, pink and gold.
Each morning will be greeted with blazes of silver and choral trilling.

I see dad….
The choice to decide is dangerous.
They’ll want to please themselves and rebel against you, won’t they?

Yes son, they will and they will be separated from me.
But I want to show them my love.
They are precious –
I want them to understand what love looks like, what it is.

How can we show them?

Dad, they will deserve death for rebelling against you.
I will die in their place and become the Way to you.
The greatest love is to die for a friend –
I will die for my enemies.

Son, I will accept your sacrifice on their behalf.
You take their place, and
I will lavish the love I have for you on them.
I will make them co-heirs with you of all that I have.
They cannot even imagine the wonders and pleasures in store for them!
I will pursue them with my goodness and love at every turn.

We have made our decision.
Now it is time for them to choose.
Today is the day of acceptance, now is the time of salvation.

An imaginary conversation between God the Father and God the Son before the dawn of time.

© 2017 Mandy Baker Johnson

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑