I love and loathe summer at the same time. I love the sunshine and the long days that summer offers. I love families spending time together and the light washing loads. I can't wait to get my toes out and the opportunity to read long chunks of a good book without being disrupted.
But, there is one little thing that I loathe about summer: I am not so crazy about swimsuits. I know that I have to wear them if I want to enjoy summer and give this white winter body some lively colour, but small, tight 'attached to my body" clothing always make me feel a bit nervous.
So, as our family holiday is approaching I have to have some serious chats with my 'swimsuit phobia' self. I have to take her on the side and assure her that: no one sunbathing at the swimming pool sides will be watching me and the way how my swimsuit is fitting.
I need for the ten thousand time to convince myself that people coming on holidays will spend their time with their families and their loved ones and not wasting it on swimsuit dilemmas. Surely, they are not spending time and money to watch a stranger and her struggles with the swimsuit fixtures!
If you dear fried also are feeling a little bit tight when it comes to your swimsuit fitting remember that: People usually think of us less than we think they do. Each and everyone of us are already struggling with our own complexity, so we don't have as much time to think about others. This summer I want us to remember that summer is a season to enjoy and rest. The anxiety over the 'swimsuit' will only mess up our days and leave us disappointed, again. The weight of our bodies and the weight of our worries about it are not worth wasting yet another summer. .. trust me.
Summer is for all types of body shapes.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25
Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. Zechariah 9:12 TNIV
Try to remember how yesterday went or even a particular season of your life, a year perhaps. Like a flash most of the events that rush to be remembered are them from the “negative” pile.
I did! This is what I got first:
Three journeys to A&E, late mornings dropping the kids to school, a disagreement with the spouse that took weeks to clear...... Perhaps for you it was that friend that hurt you on your birthday, the guest that made you feel ashamed on that family gathering, your lovely grandmother’s death?
When we experience disappointments and hurts we tend to see our lives through that lens which is mostly coloured in black. We also start to believe that all our days are going be like that and those "blues" start and dictate how we live our lives.
The sad part of that is that even when we are enjoying times of blessings and peace we tend to think that it will soon be gone and the fear of something bad happening steals those moments too.
As believers we have a choice to make: we can choose to be prisoners of our circumstances or prisioners of Hope.
Being a prisoner of circumstances means we give permission to certain events to dictate the outcome of a day and eventually our lives.
Being a prisoner of Hope on the other side does not mean that we escape reality or that we ignore what goes on around or inside us — what that means is that our reality is locked within the bars of hope; it means that nothing that comes from inside or outside us escapes without being dressed in the garments of hope. The living Hope.
The living Hope is not a "dreamy wish" based on some fantasy outcome. The living Hope its the ability to choosing and to believe that whatever the circumstances might be they have not got the last say to our day or our lives, God does, He is the Living Hope.
The Hope that God is fully involved in my life, that he has got great plans for my life, that he is in total control. Hope that all things will work together for my good, tears will be turned to gladness and mourning into joy.
“He is silently planning for you in love” (Zeph 3:17 )
There are days in life when every effort you make or give looks to be going nowhere. Your trying trials have reached the limit, numbering too many to count and you wonder 'what is the point?' You start to question every action, decision and steps you have made until now and your mind is paralysed either with fear or disappointment.
Things have not happened as quickly as you thought, the way you thought or with the results you thought. What do you do?
In John 6, after a long day’s hard teaching and performing miracles Jesus is left with much less followers than when He started the day. See John 6: 48-70.
When He asked the twelve if they also wanted to give up on following Him because it was a hard path to follow, Peter's answer is so refreshing and so pivotal to use when feeling like giving up.
Peter said “Lord, who else can we go to? You have words that give life that lasts forever.” John 6:68 NLV.
There are 2 crucial questions to ask when you feel like giving up.
Firstly 'Where the other path takes you?
Secondly 'How long will that new adventure last until you come to the exact same point of defeat'?
Like many of Jesus’ disciples you may feel insecure and uncertain in what you are doing or following at the moment, but if you are his Disciples he that has started a good work in you will finish it. Phil 1:6.
Today you may feel like giving up on your work, marriage, calling, friendship, church, ministry, or children, but remember that giving up does not requires any special qualification.
There is somebody waiting on the other side of your "not giving up" attitude and determination whose life and future is connected to yours. Remember all those stories of success that we love to hear and read like the stories of Thomas A. Edison, Mother Teresa, Mozart, Helen Keller, George Whitefield, Martin Luther etc, they all got to the point of success by not giving up. Endurance is the main muscle of success.
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT)
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. Franklin D. Roosevelt
It's dark outside and the brisk dawn wind gently penetrates through her shawl. Her hand clenched at her chin holding tight not only the corners of her covering but her anticipation also of what's awaiting her. Her other hand holds different spices which effortlessly perfume this lonely and death stenched place. She has not slept properly for a few nights and this last one did not wanted to give up its darkness easy. Her feet gently press on the red earth which shyly shows the innocent blood drops marking the events of the last days. She is not afraid to be alone nor is she hesitant to visit the dead. Her heart is full of sorrow and grief and her mind is totally confused! A thousand thoughts run through her fragile mind looking for reason to cling to!
What happened to the person who showed mercy to her when others unleashed their meanness in full? Someone so precious and dear had suffered such cruelty and died an awful death. The least she could do for him is anoint his body. Her hands shake and her face freezes as she approaches the tomb. The giant stone has been removed from the mouth of the cave and its emptiness is unwelcoming to her! Frazzled and uncertain she drops the spices and runs to find the 'boys'.
'They must know how to help'- she sighs. We must find the Lord's body!"
Not all the boys come though. Who believes a woman hey? She looks tired and scattered, she is having hallucinations perhaps. The Lord died, who can take his body and get contaminated? Why do 'they' need him?
She does not dare to enter the tomb. That kind of room feels unwelcoming to her. She sits and weeps as the boys check for themselves. Now, they are ambiguous too, there is nothing there for them, so silently they walk back home.
But she can't part like that. She must stay and wait. The appearance of angels has scared and amazed all the people that they have appeared to in the past but not her! Not today!
When we are focused on the dead we neglect and don't recognise the supernatural even when that is staring at our face.
The white-robed angels try to talk to her but no, she is too busy and caught up in her worry to listen. Her sadness has taken her to a place of deep anguish that all around and inside her is looking for this one thing - 'the body'. She is trying to figure it out where the body may be or may have been taken to.
Sometimes our mind is so obsessed with this 'one thing' that is not going according to our plans at the moment that we forget to see and notice the wonder that surrounds us.
Weary and disappointed she drags her feet to leave with her head looking towards the shrinking pit. Someone is standing close and is trying to talk to her but she can't concentrate. She has not got time to converse with strangers or even the 'gardener' at this moment. Her eyes bleary and tear-soaked close as she pleads for help one more time! "Have you seen where the body is sir?” she asks. "Tell me"- frantically looking for an answer, and I will go and get him!"
"Who are you looking for?” the gentleman inquires. What is the reason you are still here?
We all need someone to come and challenge our actual state with some deep and searching questions. Why are you here? Whom we are waiting for? How long will we believe the lies that keep us in the same spot and pit?
Finally! A sound so gentle yet so penetrating to her heart shook her being! She was called by her name! "Mary!"
A sound so natural and a common greeting, but not today, not now. Never had a word utterance been as heavy in emotion as this one! The one thing that she thought was lost and gone forever was standing right beside her!
Like Mary we all have had those times when we have felt that the Lord was far and distant, his presence we could not sense. The ruth is just the opposite, when we feel abandon He is right beside us!
"Teacher" - she exclaimed! "I found you; there is no disappearing from me now".
We love to cling to people and experiences that we long waited for and stay like that forever.
But that's not what the Lord expects from Mary. "You have found me and you have found the truth"- he said to the weeping Mary! "Now with eyes overflowing with joy, go and share this message"
In the midst of our darkest moments when the clouds of trials have overshadowed us, our Lord breaks through the thickness of despair and calls us by name. Léa, Sue, Mary, Rosie ..... I am right here, next to you. Please, don't cling to experiences, to people -go and share the light that is shed in you in the midst of darkness around you, go and declare that life has conquered death; the tomb is empty so you can be full of life.
Like Mary the same voice echoes through the deepest part of us all urging "Get moving, leave the pit behind, it's time to arise and shine forth the light and life of the resurrection life.