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Goodness, not one, not some, but “all the days of my life.”

Have you ever questioned someone’s intentions? I have found myself there on occasions. Sometimes questioning the intent of others comes from a wrong and or skewed perspective.  This can cause you to hesitate where you wouldn’t normally and question the motives behind others actions.

Recently I went to Melbourne for a couple of days and spent every moment catching up with friends, from haircut, to breakfasts, to dinners and birthday celebrations, enjoying quality time with great friends in many different seasons. I love watching their seasons unfold, and seeing the goodness of God over their lives.

The usual two and half hour drive home was filled with reflections of the goodness of God over their lives. However, in this process my thoughts slipped toward “God, where is your goodness over my life? I could clearly see it over everyone else’s life, but my own?” Have you ever been there? You can see everything working out for everyone else but you. I started to ask questions and compare my season of life with others, and became discouraged and disappointed, and as I looked at everything that was missing or incomplete in my life I was filled with overwhelming emotion.

As this process unfolded in my mind, I was immediately reminded of a scripture “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” Psalms 23:6. This is scripture I had memorised in my early childhood, and it was now pounding in my mind. “God’s goodness shall follow me”, not one, not some, but “all the days of my life.” This was a confronting moment; this scripture was at war with my current state of mind, my amplified emotions and my reality.

My first reaction to this initially was, “clearly there is no goodness following me!” I was doubting the truth, and had started to believe the lie that God was holding out on me. Unknowingly I started to question God’s intentions.

Arriving home after long conversations with God, thinking upon this scripture and the idea of God’s goodness, I went inside and looked up every passage of scripture I could find on the topic. See what I understood about God is that He is the essence of good, goodness is His character, His nature and His attribute. There is no evil in Him. God is good.

Scriptures reminded me that, “The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works” Ps 145:9.  So God is good to all! My mind still battled this, and I thought what is all? Does all mean all? Me and everyone else? Or just those that appeared to have God’s goodness in their season of life? The result for me was being overwhelmed with these amplified emotions which matched the doubt, rather than the truth of what I know.

I looked further and God revealed more scriptures to me, and reminded me that the first attack Satan waged, was against the attribute of God’s goodness. Satan deceived Eve with the lie that God was holding back His goodness from her by not allowing her to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. Satan managed to distort her perspective causing her to doubt God and His goodness. Not only did he manage to distort skew Eve’s perspective, he managed to destroy the intimacy that Eve had with God and his goodness as a result. It is the goodness of God that the enemy wants to distort in our lives. Satan succeeded so long ago with this approach and has not changed his tactics. Satan repeatedly tries to distort our view of God and His goodness, to have us question God’s intentions, and separate us further by causing doubt and disbelief to fill our minds.

Recently I caught up with a number of friends who have asked lots of questions about why God allows certain things to happen, for example: sickness, wars, bad things to good people. And it was in this moment I realised the importance of having a true perspective on God and His goodness.

God, knowing that separation came into the world through one man, chose also to removed it by one man, Jesus. (Romans 5:19-20). God is so good He gave His only son so we could have restored intimacy and relationship with God and His goodness.

Don’t allow Satan to distort your view of God.  Don’t allow him to separate you any further. God wants you to see and experience His goodness (Exodus 33:19). God’s goodness is stored up for you in the person of Jesus Christ, and he wants to lavish it over your life.  Psalm 31:19 says, “How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you…”

Be confident that any bad thing that has happened in your life is not the work of God or the lack of the work of God, the bible says in Psalm 84:11 “No good thing will He withhold…” And He also states in Psalm 34:10 “those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.”  Know that what Satan intends for harm, God intends to bring good from it (Genesis 50:20).

As Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

You have His goodness in and over your life, for all the days of your life.  Our God is by definition good, He has the state or quality of being good. This is our God.

 

Singleness, enjoyed or endured?

Young couple holding hands with sun-flare.

Recently I was out with some friends, and the conversation made its way to dating, types, set ups, dating advice, and dating activity etc… (insert space for awkward silence… no, not really). Being a single 36-year-old female and a pastor I get lots of questions around dating and singleness, including questions like, “are you like a female priest?” To which I laugh out loud and say, “most definitely not!” But usually the question is, “why are you still single?” Some people can’t believe it, and others wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Others asked if I have ever been married, to which my answer is, “no.” Then others go on to ask, “are you putting yourself out there? Are you out meeting people? Are you online?” and many other questions. Plenty advocate internet dating,  which I don’t personally feel comfortable with – maybe I am old school.

However, I have travelled parts of the world, interact with plenty of people and been on dates but not yet found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. Some might say, “come on, seriously? You have been single for 18 years!” Others say surely its time to settle, or maybe what you’re looking for is just unavailable.

Let me say the path I have walked is not for everyone, but it is my journey and it is not for the faint hearted. I have seen two seasons of my single friends and family get married and have children and now the last of the third season of friends heading towards relationships and marriage now. This is not an unusual, uncomfortable or disappointing conversation. I am well accustomed to these conversations as I have navigated this season over 18 years and I feel like I have something valid to say. I have been exceptionally blessed over the season of singleness. I have many abundant friendships that have brought multiple blessings to my life, learnt how to build great friendships and I know what it means to be a friend. In the process I have learnt a lot about myself, and believe it has been in preparation for a great relationship and marriage to come. I believe that I am still single because of God’s timing and purpose. This belief is a liberating one and sets you free to live life to the full, learning to navigate and embrace every season.

Here are five points I think can help you navigate the journey of singleness however long or short your season might be.

  1. Enjoy singleness. You often here this from married people, but I am telling you, embrace this season – there is more to be enjoyed in your single years however long or short. It’s a precious time. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.”  Don’t endure it but enjoy it and embrace the purpose of it. Serve God while you can with the time you will never have once you’re married!
  2. Be a great friend. I encourage you to develop healthy friendships with existing and new friends.   This prepares you for great relationships as being a good friend is essential. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must show himself friendly.”  Learn what it is to be friendly, how to be selfless, what it means to be generous, how to resolve conflict and be a forgiving person. This is a great platform for a healthy relationship and marriage.
  3. Don’t settle. Compromising and settling leads to disappointment. Patience and faith are rewarded. Trust me, I have seen it. Do coffees, dinners and meet and connect with people.  Remember dating is not a commitment to marriage, it is an opportunity for you discover more than just chemistry.
  4. Pray. Pray for your future partner, for their character, integrity and for your family to come. Don’t cease praying.
  5. Stay in pursuit of Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Run towards God and as you both do, your paths will collide. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the Lord.” The word “find” in this text means to stumble across, not hunt down, or search like you’re looking for lost keys, but to stumble. In God’s perfect time, season and purpose you will stumble across each other, but stay in pursuit of Jesus and obtain favour.

The season of singleness is different for everyone. Just remember, it’s a journey, so learn to enjoy and find satisfaction in relationships with the people around you. Remember singleness is to be enjoyed, not endured.

Be Bold, Ask, I dare you.

Ever had someone beat around the bush with you in asking for something? Recently I was engaging in a conversation with my nephew, and I could sense that it was coming to a particular request. However he danced around the idea for a couple of minutes, hinting at it, talking about it. How often have we approached God like this? Talking about it, whining about it, complaining about it, or hoping God gets the hint?

I eventually asked my nephew, “would you like something from Aunty Ree?”. “Yeh” he shyly responded,  I watched the grin and expectation increase, as he looked at me with his hope filled eyes, then finally asked, “Aunty Ree, can you please buy me something”.

Luke 11:10-13 says,

“Here’s what I’m saying:

Ask and you’ll get;

Seek and you’ll find;

Knock and the door will open.

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in.

As an aunty I was more than happy to give him what he wanted, but I wanted him to confidently, comfortable and boldly ask, instead of hinting at it. I said ‘yes’ to his request, and watched as he excitedly and in shock replied, “really? When we get what we ask for, we are often surprised or even shocked, when it should be expected and encourage us. But for whatever reason we forget how good and generous God is.

What are you asking God for? Let me encourage you, what ever you need, quit dancing around it and hinting at it, and bring your request to him. Do so confidently and boldly knowing that “He knows what you need before you ask, and wants to give to you” (Luke 12:30). Be Bold, Ask, I dare you.