Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: good

Blessed

For years I struggled to sing the worship song Blessed be Your name by Matt Redman. I’ve discovered I’m not alone in this. It takes the words that Job, a man in the Bible, said to his wife when they had just received the horrific news that all of their children had been killed in a freak accident. Job’s famous words were: ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.’

On the terrible Friday afternoon when I lost our tiny twins, I was unable to face what was happening. It was too final. This was our only chance, barring a miracle, of having a baby of our own. I was unable to deal with the deep pain of loss, shattered dreams, and the finality of it. There was an unacknowledged sense of this particular pain never ending. Babies were delightful creatures that other people conceived. But not us.

And so for several years, I was unable to sing Matt Redman’s song without tears. Maybe for others they were just pleasant, biblical lyrics. For me they spoke of heartrending reality. God had given my life-long dream of twins and a few days later had taken it away.

But God is good. He really is. People say time is a great healer. Maybe. I’ve found God to be the best healer. He saw the grief I’d buried and the reality I’d felt unable to face and, when the time was right, He gently brought it to the surface. Together we turned and looked at the pain head-on so that He could bring emotional healing and wholeness.

I don’t know why He hasn’t given us children. I don’t know why He gave and took away. But I do know that He is good and trustworthy and loving and utterly faithful. The Bible says God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called by Him. I can question and scream and cry but I’ll probably never know why. Certainly not this side of the grave. But I hang on to the fact that God is good. Because He truly is.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. Amen.

I’m dedicating this post to our beautiful twins Two and Three, to my sister Gina, and to all little ones who have slipped away in the womb or been born asleep or whose lives have been far too short.

Injustice

The word prompt for day four of blogging through Lent is INJUSTICE.

It’s not fair!

My life was a mess. I had a tough childhood, things were done to me, and as I got older, I reacted. I got into stuff I shouldn’t have. Nice people didn’t want anything to do with me. I couldn’t blame them. The presence of evil clung to me wherever I went. I hated being alone, my thoughts would race round in circles until I thought I was going mad. The nights were the worst. Dark presences in the bedroom that made me cower on my bed and wish I was dead. Nightmares that were frighteningly real whenever I did get to sleep. I hated my life.

And then He came.

He saw me, the real me. He was patient. He gave me time. He made me feel safe. And He wanted nothing from me. One scorching afternoon under the vines while His friends were resting, I found the courage to tell Him about my nightmares and my past. He listened. And then He asked what I wanted.

‘I want to be free.’

I wanted peace, to lie on my bed at night and feel safe, to be happy, to be free.

He smiled and placed a hand on my shoulder.

‘Be free.’

Immediately the dark, evil presences left. I felt lighter and oh what was that I felt? Joy. That was it. I broke into delighted laughter and He laughed with me. I’ve never heard a more joyful noise.

Life hasn’t been the same since. Jesus gave me peace in place of tension and joy in place of despair. I’ve had no fear going to bed since then. I’m no longer troubled by evil presences or nightmares.

And now He is being dragged through the streets as the worst type of criminal. They are going to crucify Him. It’s not fair. He doesn’t deserve this. He’s perfect.

That’s it. They’ve killed Him. This man of peace who does good and rescues people from oppression and a life of hell. He’s dead. Why? Oh God, why?

 

 

 

Featured image used with permission courtesy of Free Digital Photos and Stuart Miles.

Father of Lights

During the recent brief spell of hot weather, Adi and I headed for a department store and air-con. The lights in the store looked like wrapped Christmas gifts and reminded me that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights.

I love the Father of Lights because He is who He says He is: the creator, the saviour, the Father, the only true God. He never gets moody or changes His mind. He always sees things through, and I can trust Him absolutely. He gives me everything I need to live an abundant life. That doesn’t mean no problems. Abundant life is the life within: having peace and joy deep inside that are real and present despite circumstances.

The Father pursues me with goodness and mercy. Even when things go awry with illness or job loss or whatever, I can trust Him because everything has to pass through His hand first. Nothing is able to get to me unless He allows it so that He can grow faith and hope in me, always developing my character.

SunsetThis Father’s heart blazes with such immense love and purity that it’s no surprise He is keenly interested in mine. What are my attitudes and thoughts? Are they pure and lovely like His?

There is no darkness in the Father of Lights. For one who suffered from demonic nightmares, oppression and evil presences, this is of vital importance and a great comfort. He is Light. Just as He is Love. It is impossible for Him to do anything wrong or badly. If anyone thinks He does, they don’t know Him.

I never knew how father-like this Father is before last week. But He has pursued me over the years, culminating in Him drawing near to this much-loved daughter in a bungalow in Norfolk. He entered the room, His eyes locked on mine, a huge smile on His face. I lay in awe, almost unable to breathe at His magnificent presence. He scooped me up in His arms and tossed me in the air like a loving dad having fun with His child. I giggled delightedly as He did it again and again. And then He gave me a glimpse of His burning heart, red-hot with love for me. I don’t think I will ever be the same again.

The Father of Lights, the one from whom comes every good and perfect gift, has adopted me as His daughter. One day I will shine like the sun in His Kingdom. This isn’t airy-fairy stuff; this is real; this is truth. I love the Father because He first loved me and has shown me what is love.

Grateful

Five Minute Friday

I’m joining Five Minute Friday again this week, which is where bloggers from all over the world write on a theme chosen by Lisa-Jo Baker for five minutes without stopping to edit or self-critique their work, and then post the result on their blog. Today, the topic is: Grateful.

BEGIN:

Jack RabbitI’m grateful that God created animals. Jesus took the time and trouble to speak all the different species into being.
I’m grateful for the pets I’ve known: for Jack the rabbit’s comfort when my dad died, for Pickles the guinea pig enjoying our races up the stairs, and the way he stood up on his hind legs with his front paws on my calves to let me know when he wanted to race.

I’m grateful that God is light and there is no darkness in Him.  I’m grateful that His name reflects His character: love, light, beautiful, merciful, gracious, faithful. Jesus’ name is the most powerful name in the universe – darkness and demons flee before His name, and only through His name am I saved.

I’m grateful for my health. Thank You Lord for healing me! And for strengthening me every day.

I’m grateful for the tree outside my study window and for the pigeons that sit cooing on the fence.  I’m grateful for my nephew Stuart weeding the garden for us this week, so that I look out on tidiness and that gives my mind rest.

I’m grateful for Adrian – and for fifteen happy years of marriage. I’m grateful for the memories we share, for his faithfulness to me, for the fact that our marriage vows were more than just words uttered in the front of a church building – they were promises that we aim to keep, and that brings security.

I’m grateful to God because every good and perfect gift comes from Him, and He gives me all that I need. I’m grateful that God’s desire for me is that I have abundant life.

STOP.

 (Photo added afterwards)

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