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Sunday, 23 September 2018

Do you Dare?

Ever played the game ‘Truth or Dare’? I remember playing it a few times at sleepovers as a teenager. For those who don’t know, it’s simple. Each person takes a turn, choosing whether they want to answer a question with the truth – usually something pretty personal – or do a dare. Questions get pretty deep around 3am at a sleepover full of teenaged girls, like which youth group boy you have a crush on :p 
Not having had a crush on any of the boys at youth group and being far more terrified of what kind of dare a slightly hyper group of girls might come up with, the few times I played it, I always chose Truth.
I could say it was the easier option since I had nothing to hide but really, I was just a control freak with a heavy dose of scaredy cat. Not much has changed. Though I haven’t played that game in years, I can guarantee I’d still choose Truth every time. 
And then, God dared me. 
I didn’t even know we were playing. 
I was just reading my Bible before bed, probably thinking more about what I needed to do tomorrow and whether the publisher I’d sent my manuscript to would ever get back to me than I was actually reading and out of nowhere… I. DARE. YOU.
I’m blaming Abraham. If he hadn’t dared to trust God – and Paul seen the need to point it out and use him as an example – I could have gone to bed happily worrying about all my fears. (Ok, not so happily but you know what I mean.)
But no. There it was black and white, printed clear as anything. Romans 4:17 (The Message). 
‘Abraham was first called “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do.’ (Italics mine)

Abraham chose Dare. 
Dared to trust God. 
To do what only God could do.
The second verse of that chapter sums it up pretty well. ‘The story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story.’ 
The question was, could the same be said about me and my life, especially in regards to the writing I was stressing about?
Could I one day say, “Hannah was first called ‘author’, then became a published author because she dared to trust God to do what only God could do.” That, “Hannah’s story is a God-story, not a Hannah-story.”
Did I dare to trust God to do what he said he’d do? What only he could do?
I can do my best, make sure I send the cleanest copy of my manuscript to editors and put everything I have into proposals but I can’t actually make someone else’s decisions for them. I can’t make them choose me or my story. There are so many other factors out of my control – timing, whether or not the publishers have contracted another story like it recently, what sort of mood the reader is in, whether they have bad experiences with a person with the same name as the character I named… Only God can pull all that together. 
Do I trust him?
Honestly? I’m struggling to. I know he can, he has before, he knows them, he knows me but the human side of me is seriously fighting for that control I don’t have. In my heart, I trust, but in my head? Oh boy am I failing. 
But I want to be daring. I want to keep believing. I want to trust. And maybe that’s where it starts.  
Faith is hard. Actually, I take that back. Faith is downright brutal sometimes. It’s taking everything I have right now to hold on to that faith and not my impatience. It’s a day by day, minute by minute choice to trust not in what I can do but what God can. 
And, because I’m nice like that and love to share the fun around, I now challenge you – take the dare. 
What is God daring you to do? What in your life can only be done by what God can do? 
And the biggest question, do you dare?

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Take the Step, You're Not Alone

I’m a big picture person when it comes to my dreams and goals for the future. I hold on pretty tight to that moment in my imagination when it happens and I achieve what I’ve been working toward, playing it over and over to inspire me, but block out a lot of the details because honestly, they’re a little scary. I’m a big fan of my comfort zone. I like learning new things and going new places, just not the first time. If we could just skip that first time for everything, I’d be good. 
I remember four times in life in particular when I was rushing toward a new situation and, much as I knew I’d be fine once I got there, was utterly terrified. The impending births of my three kids were three of them (yikes, becoming a parent (even for the third time) is terrifying! I absolutely love being a mum and always knew I would but there were so many unknowns – whether I could handle the lack of sleep, whether the baby would be happy or colicky or just plain grumpy, how their older siblings would handle the change, whether I’d packed everything I needed that wasn’t on the long list of what to bring to the hospital, etc, etc, etc…) and the other was moving house. 
It was the house one that got to me the most. I tried and tried to trust God that wherever we moved, it would be good for our family because he was in control and already there but there were a lot of nights spent panicking rather than resting in faith. I knew wherever we moved would be great, but I liked where I was. I was comfortable. 
There was one night in particular that I remember being caught in a panic, yet again, and trying, yet again, to remind myself that our new house, wherever it would be, wasn’t a secret to God. That he was already there. I imagined in my head that picture I’m sure so many of you have seen of Jesus standing beside a door, lantern in hand, waiting. (I know, it’s usually used to symbolise him waiting for us to accept his knock at the door (Revelations 3:20) but it seemed to fit this situation too.) And I did picture it, kind of. For a moment at least. Thing was, he didn’t stay by the door. 
Nope. In this figurative new house, the one he already knew, he wasn’t waiting by the door. He was inside. And he wasn’t holding a lantern. Every light in the house was on. There was my imagined self, walking up to the door of this dauntingly unknown new house only to find Jesus in the kitchen, pulling a roast out of the oven, table set and the house smelling amazing, welcoming us home. 
It was the most incredible picture and one I’ve been clinging to like crazy lately. No, I’m not moving house but I do feel like my dreams of being a published author are getting closer to being realised (or maybe I’m just hopeful… J). Which, of course, comes with both excitement and a fair share of nerves. All those little steps I’ve been trying not to think about – having to talk face to face with publishing professionals rather than hiding behind emails, getting a professional (or at least better than a selfie) author photo, contracts and paperwork, etc – are getting harder to avoid. And yes, they totally scare me. 
But the thing is, I’m not alone in them. The big steps, the little ones, none of them are taken alone. God is by my side, holding me through every one of them. But the coolest thing? He’s also at the end. In that moment when my dream is realised. Calling me to come. Calling out encouragement. 
Like a friend calling out from the waves, the ones splashing my feet where I stand at the water’s edge. “Come on in, the water’s fine.”
Or the friend who’s gone home early from a long day skiing and gotten the fire burning and the roast cooked. “Come on in, welcome home.”
Yes, there are daunting aspects to walking forward, but you don’t take them alone. So, take the step. Walk out in faith, even if your legs shake. Because your greatest encourager is already there, waiting to welcome you home. 
And who doesn’t love a good roast J