5 Things God Is Teaching Me This Week
After a few weekends of out and about fun (fifth waves restrictions lifting and birthday celebrations), this past week... had me mostly down with the stomach flu. My stomach has been acting up semi-regularly. Need to get that checked, perhaps this week if I can make an appointment.
As I lay in bed and rested, there was able time to think. Time to invite God in and just talk and think and see where the thoughts lead. It was hard for me to leave my rock-bottom season where I felt God so closely than ever before. When it felt like he was speaking to me like a best friend—his voice felt so near and clear. Eventually he led me into a new season that required a fresh pursuit of him and greater maturing of my thinking and and habits. Not a bad thing at all, but lots of learning has occurred.
So there was a lot of going through the process this week. Thinking about things, feeling the urge to make some moves. Actually making some moves... and now continuing to wait and pray and move and see where it all leads.
Here are some things I feel God has been teaching me this week.
1. Rest is a blessing—enjoy it
Sometimes we need to slow down. It could be for a health-related reason or because we sense God saying so. And it'll look different for all of us. Maybe it will mean pushing pause on serving in a ministry or saying yes to that opportunity. Perhaps it will be finding a different job or relocating to a new environment. May we not see rest or a slower pace as a negative thing because we're looking at man-made productivity standards. How blessed we are that God wants to give us rest!
2. Live with Jesus-coloured glasses on
I can't wait to visit my hometown again and spend some quality time with my parents. For so long, I was living my city girl dreams and rarely thought of my hometown. But living through this pandemic has helped us assess what matters to us now, hasn't it? When I feel a bit homesick, I'll sometimes put on an American TV show. The humour, the food choices, the scenes are so different from the super glam, glossy high rise, fast paced life I experience whenever I walk out my door. There's something something so comforting about seeing people eat takeout on the couch (ahem, The Big Bang Theory).
Lately my shows of choice have been Sweet Magnolias and Gilmore Girls. I'm not a big TV watcher but again it's seeing the community life and small-town simplicity... and I realized (hello, Holy Spirit?) that my hometown is a lot like these settings. Being a huge food lover, I started looking up local food blogs and saw the image above. How picturesque and lovely.
Some may say this is just romanticizing my hometown, that it will get old if I go back, etc. But I think those are lies! God made my hometown and it is a wonderful place full of wonderful people with dreams, businesses with heart, theatres and museums with soul, etc. I pray I stop living in the future, dreaming of bigger and better, and love the places and seasons where God has me. Hong Kong, where I am now, is a wonderful, exciting place to live and I'm blessed to be here almost 7 years. At the same time, my hometown is and has always been a wonderful, special place. May we see every place we go/live as a place Jesus loves and look to enjoy his blessings and shine his light.
I read Titus 3:14 this morning, and it feels appropriate to add here. May we live our lives focused on the right things.
Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives. (Titus 3:14)
3. God will help you surrender your God-given dream
My mentor sent me an article by Nate Johnson (of Nate & Christy) called "The season of closure, cleaning house, & resurrecting fallen seeds." Here is an excerpt.
Recently I was in my study in worship when the Lord asked me a simple question “Will you give me that dream?” He asked me. I had been dreading this question for months knowing it was coming.
Since September last year it’s felt like a season of surrendering everything again and watching as unexpected doors closed and the plan changed dramatically. This dream was the last seed I had left and yet here I was holding onto it for dear life when the question came. “Will you give it to me?”
I didn’t want to being honest but I wouldn’t withhold anything from the Lord so I said yes. As I gave it to him whole heartedly a massive grief welled up and out of me like I was mourning a death. It was deep and gutrenchingly painful but I placed it on the altar - the last seed I had left. I spent the next hour on my face as I allowed God to minister to my heart and sever the tie and expectations i had with that dream.
It’s never easy letting go of everything you have been contending for and building for years. This is where many of us have been - a season of being emptied and giving God everything we have been carrying and building. But why?
It's so rich and relevant for my season and I'm still digesting and praying through some of the thoughts that have come up for me while reading it. The day she sent it, I was having a catch-up call with a fashion-editor-turned-charity-CEO friend in London and we were talking about the same themes. How she felt God has closed doors on purpose to prevent her from going backwards. I sent it to her afterwards, and allow me to 'send' it to you here :) If the title or excerpt tugs at you, give it a read—and feel free to comment or DM with your thoughts! It's an exciting new season for God is leading—may we encourage each other to stay excited and hopeful about God's redirection!
Also may we remember Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22).
4. Exercise your spiritual gifts without expectation
Before I went into my bout of stomach flu, I managed to have one more birthday celebration (and had to cancel a few more, including a group celebration with my favourite JAJA —our initials haha — ladies). This one was quite unexpected as I felt our celebratory meal was for much more than just my birthday—my friend had recently passed her specialist exams and is now a full-fledged haematologist (doctor who treats conditions that affect blood)! Still she organized the cake and singing, and treated me to the meal, and wouldn't let me persuade her otherwise.
Sometimes I feel guilty as she is so generous. One of her giving love languages is gifts—she blesses me and all of her friends with home-cooked meals, gifts, dinners out, etc. I feel very loved to be the recipient! However gifts is my very bottom love language and I know, just because I feel awkward about giving gifts doesn't mean I shouldn't make any effort. But this week I felt challenged, maybe God was planting some thoughts in my mind/heart, that whatever our gift is, God doesn't want us to give expecting the recipient to bless us in the same way. That's not real love and service. But God has given us all gifts and wants us to freely bless others with them.
I believe encouragement/exhortation and intercession are two of the gifts God has given me. I pray I encourage/exhort and intercede for my friends more and more. Friends are a real blessing from God—may we truly love them, through thick and think, the way God loves us.
5. Live knowing you are LOVED by God
As I prepared my Instagram posts for The Yay Project this week, I was going through my recently journal notes and noticed a theme of God reminding me of how much he loves me (and you, of course. He loves his children SO much). Sometimes people will say things like we should be focusing on loving God not ourselves, i.e. focusing on giving God love more than focusing on how loved we are. But may we remember:
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
When I feel God tell me he loves me, I am so grateful. I feel safe and secure, and strengthened to run to his embrace, give him my all, serve him with all I am. If I feel insecure about his love, then I am tempted to rely on myself more. So as we go into a new week, I pray we enjoy and embrace the fact that we ARE so very loved by God Almighty! Jesus is coming back! We have the Holy Spirit with us! Never are we alone, for he promises he will never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). Whatever we're facing, whatever is coming up—God is with us, and we have nothing to fear.
Also I love Patrick Mayberry's song How You Love Me. Sing and declare it!
Have a wonderful week, dear friends x