I lay in bed last night tossing and turning in my old bedroom at Richard and Isobel’s. Since I lived here the room has been painted and they have had other people come to stay but it still carries the scent of vanilla cupcake Yankee candles I use to burn all the time. It is also a lot quieter. I use to have my stereo on very loud that it use to vibrate the floor. It’s funny how things like scents, music, and old but familiar places trigger memories. If I could sum up this past week and a half, it would be a week of new possibilities and the exploration of what is to come but also laughter, tears and discussion of past times with some amazing people.
For example, this morning I put on my red coat. It smells of the curry house that some young people and a family from church and I went to last night. The same curry house ran by a man from Bangladesh that I got to know very well two years ago for an assignment in my cross cultural ministry module. I was required to reach out to a people group of another faith, in this case Islam, and to try and understand life from another’s perspective. Often times we keep what we don’t know at arm’s length and stay seated in our own misunderstandings and prejudices. But at what point do we decide to break through our barriers? We can still respect one another even when we disagree.
Or the power of music and how emotive it can be. How Foy Vance can sum up an entire chapter of your life. How Mumford and Sons can outline the past 9 months of your journey on a single plane ride across the pond. How in the past week Ben Howard’s album, Every Kingdom can quickly become a soundtrack to what you are experiencing.
God has been highlighting a lot for me about our reference points in life. A memory, a circumstance, a place we go back to and draw from. Some of our reference points are great and loving memories that when reminded of them we feel loved, empowered and motivated. As if anything was possible and the sky is the limit. All thing s are possible with God. I love how freeing this statement is. I also wonder if this remains a solid truth after things get jaded, we endure hardships, and face traumatic uncertainty. When the chaos of this world directly impacts us when we aren’t looking. When we are left feeling blindsided and swept away in a current that pulls us under when we never asked to join.
Often the bad drown out the good and we start living from the posture that is based on circumstantial experience rather than relying on the power of God. We allow hard and painful memories to become our reference point and walk into our futures timid, afraid, and more guarded than ever before. These points become what are theology is and what it is not. This theology does not sound liberating nor does it sound like Jesus. I’m convinced that this is not the gospel of grace that we are to be receiving and walking in.
God does not work this way. He is establishing something new every day at this exact moment in time. He yearns for the space in our lives where He can write or even re-write the memories that determine our references points. He also wants to be the strength that we need as we face our futures one day at a time.God has been challenging me with this over the past week or so. I would say it’s probably been a 9 month tug of war in my heart going back and forth between England and America at times throwing me into a massive whirlwind of confusion. This week the overall question being highlighted is this, “What are your reference points that define you and the way you are walking with me?” And through my own recognition of what my points are, only then can I see if they are of God or not. We are not defined by mistakes; we are not defined by failure. We are not defined by the rejection of others nor their opinions. We are not defined by the hurt we’ve received or the pain that we have inflicted. Or at least we don’t have to be. Too often this posture is what we choose to sit in when God so desperately wants to re-write the script. If only we would just create the space.
We are defined by His love; we are defined by the cross. We are called His children; we are called to live in freedom, grace, love, acceptance, and wholeness. We are called to live on mission together in community and to extend this message to the world. If we choose to be. May this be the reference point in which we live from. Some verses that solidified this truth for me:
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations3:22-24
At times it feels easier to give up and throw in the towel. I sat in church today thanking our gracious God that he enjoys and longs to re-write our reference points. Let us be a people that aren’t owned by our pasts but people who create space for God to show up, to give us our identity, to redeem and restore us and send us out as agents of change in the world. And I am finding that a lot of this can’t take place apart from pain. Are we up for it knowing the finished goal in sight? Is it worth it?
Check out this clip I got to experience today.