First waking moments

How do you start your day?
Coffee

Bible reading

Prayer

Kids in your bed

Step on the scales

Straight to the kitchen to make breakfast and into the chores of the day?


What are those first moments of your day? Those first thoughts that run through your mind? We are creatures of habit and we are creatures of desire. We do what we desire and our hearts reveal our desire for love, for affirmation, for rest, security, peace and purpose from our first waking moments.


How we start our day can reveal how we settle our hearts, where we place our personal security, our sense of peace and our readiness for the day ahead, whether we’re ready to seize or just get through it.


So how do we start our days to console those worries, to assure our hearts, to affirm ourselves for the day ahead, and to start the day aright.
How we start our days can reveal where our heart finds its security….


Do our hearts find reassurance, find security, and peace with the number on the weight scales?

On the depth of conversation and connectedness with family around the breakfast table?

On the success of the previous day?

On the hopes of the achievements hoping to be ticked off this day?

On the quality of our Bible time and whether we’ve got that word or verse for the day?

On the intimacy of our prayer time?

On the busyness of our calendar this day?

Does our peace and readiness rely in the assurance of time to ourselves, or in the diary reassuring us of sufficient time with others, filling the empty hours of the day?

Does the first wake check of social media assure our hearts by giving us sufficient likes, kudos, messages?

Does that morning mental checklist calm and quieten our heart that we have enough things to do that day, speaking words of security to self doubt, ‘you are wanted, you are needed, your life is useful’?


Our hearts search around for a resting place from the first moment we awake in the morning and they will latch on to something to take hold, to settle and prepare for the day ahead.

But so many mornings, they are disquieted and troubled when our personal security is left wondering, anxious and adrift , unable to breathe easy when our actions prove dissatisfying and insufficient.

The calendar doesn’t look appealing, the scales speak out the word failure or out of control, the Bible time yields no special word or verse for the day, and our families offer no words of gratitude or recognition.


How we spend our first waking moments all too often set a course for the remaining hours of the days, and our heart’s desire for acceptance, belonging, security and peace search around until they take hold.

But there is a better way and this is how God begins your day;

You are accepted

You are delivered from the kingdom of darkness 

You are loved and never alone

You have authority to fight against sin


We awake every morning with our Redeemer Lord having already secured our heart’s acceptance, belonging and desire to be love. Our personal security from the first moments of our waking day to the time we drift off to sleep is secured by the accepting love of God and the sacrifice of Christ.


Our heavenly Father who speaks these words to us, based not on any words we do, who loves us on account of His gracious, steadfast goodness, who accepts us and secures us to him all on account of work already done for this and every day, on the precious and redeeming work of Jesus through his life, and on the cross.


Every morning you awake with your heart having all it requires to secure your desire to belong, to belong, to be loved, accepted and justified. All in Christ.


No number from social media post likes, diary commitments, scales can offer this.

No words, however precious, spoken by our loved ones, can satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts, the deepest needs of our hearts.

How you start your day has significance, it does matter. But only as an overflow of our heart’s rest and security already placed and assured in the precious truth of God’s justification of us already in Christ.

When we open our Bible, make our coffee, greet our children, prepare the breakfast, do the chores, when we pray upon waking, we do not seek the acceptance, security and love our heart’s desire, we awake already safe, secure, belonging to God, already justified.

We begin the day as we ended the last, as we spent the night, graciously, wonderfully, securely, eternally justified, already and always in Christ.

Christmas Continues

I don’t think I realised the trauma that I would be inflicting on my children by my household chores that morning. The end of the Christmas holidays last weekend meant I wanted a clean, clear house before term started, so away went the Christmas decorations. “I don’t want Christmas to be over. Why can’t we keep our tree up?”. Actual sobs and clinging onto decorations; they were devastated. Next year I will definitely need to plan ahead!
But that’s the point. I thought I was being highly organised, planning for the start of term. We’d made the most of family time, games, walks, rollerskating and cycling, and eating all the stocking sweeties and chocolate by the fire. I was ready and planned ahead for term time which lasted all of one day for the children in school. 


So Lockdown Homeschooling take 2. Now two things have struck me about myself in the whole 4 days into this new plan:

First of all, I thought I was a pretty willing homeschooling parent. I love my kids. I love family time. I’m up for this. Let’s go. I’m willing. 


Secondly, I thought I was able. I can do this. I was a teacher before and the girls are in Reception and Year 2. I’m sure I can handle the material.


You know what’s coming. I have actually found out this about myself:I am unwilling!I am unable!


I have humbly learned units are now ones and my pound sign is not the same as the teacher’s, and that some moments I’m just not up for another round of phonics snap. But I keep thinking of my children’s reaction to the Christmas decorations being boxed away, and how I’m equally prone to thinking Christmas is stored in the garage until next Advent season. But being confronted by my unwillingness and my inability, the truths and beauty of the gospel message so miraculously shown at Christmas have triumphed through. The decorations may be packed away but the truths revealed of who God is, through the Christmas season, continue into our Covid homeschooling, into our covid callings whatever situation we find God has placed us in now. 


For our God who is high and lifted up, who is God of the heavens and the earth, who is Lord over all, came down to be God with us. Our transcendent God above, came to reveal his immanence, that He is God with us. Coming down to show us the nearness of his love for us, the extent of his love and compassion, the closeness of the intimacy that he desires in loving relationship with us.

God’s transcendence proclaims he is mighty, he is great, but it does not mean he is ‘too great’ to care, but rather that he is too great to fail. The truths of Christmas that continue into covid lockdown: Our God is willing and he is able.


The depths of these truths cannot be shelved or boxed away until next Christmas. They remain with us as we leave the Christmas Season and continue into the calling God has placed on our lives, through Christmas and through Covid.  

He is willing and able to redeem and deliver. In Jesus, God revealed himself as one willing and able to heal lepers, to honour women who had lost all dignity and self worth, to calm storms, to restore the hope of mighty centurions and be near the bedside of little children and serving mother in law’s. He was willing and able to defeat the grip of demons on people’s souls, open eyes of the blind, reveal truth to little children and feed the hungry, he was willing and able to deliver us from the wages and curse of sin and triumph over death and darkness that should be ours. He was willing and able to save us to the uttermost, to awaken souls to life. 


He is willing now to equip you to deliver you to uphold you on your calling during covid. Past the Christmas season, his transcendence and immanence is the strength of your heart.


As you homeschool resistant hearts and will your own resistant heart, He is willing and able.

As you contend for truth in a world gripped by fear He is willing and able.

As you live out your calling as a wife or husband to your weary spouse, He is willing and able


As you feel the inadequacy of your own will, entrust your deepest inclinations, fears, desires, entrust the true state of your heart to His power, His might, His willingness and ability to transform and redeem even our inclinations and our wills and turn them towards Him, towards the things that He delights in. 


As you cry out to Him, Lord compel me to live in faithfulness, in willingness to serve you and those before me, entrust that our God transforms the hearts of his children to such an extent we become faithfully compelled and faithfully upheld. Children compelled to act in willing surrender to the praise and delight of our Heavenly Father, upheld by His sovereign power and grace. For our Father who did not spare his own Son but willingly and purposefully gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?


Let your hearts be strengthened by your God who is Lord of all and Lord with you..transcendent over all and immanent with you. The truths of our God and his continuing work of deliverance for his children, for you can never be boxed or shelved. Your heaven;y Father’s calling for you over Christmas continues to his calling for you during covid. The beauty, miracle and glory of who God is as transcendent and immanent Lord over us and with us continue still. Our God is willing and He is able. Speak to your heart these truths that can never be boxed or shelved, that can never be constrained by Covid lockdowns, that are never confined to one season of the year.  


He came down to earth from heaven

Who is God and Lord of all

Trust in the tried and tested?

“She’ll stay in her room till she confesses”, said Marilla grimly, remembering the success of this method in the former case….

This Christmas, I immersed myself in the world of the incessantly chatty, imaginative and funny Anne of Green Gables, and when I read the chapter of the story where Anne’s adoptive mother Marilla is attempting to wring a confession out of Anne, I had to laugh and cry at the same time. The depiction of the parent, so smugly using a strategy that worked so well a previous time to teach a child a lesson, this time proves futile (you’ll have to read the book to find out how) and the confidence in ‘tried and tested’, previously successful methods falters and wanes. 


How often do we feel like Marilla? Do we find ourselves thinking: That will work. It’s bound to. It did last time. I’ll apply that method to this child, that mentality to this situation, that time of day was a good time to ask I’ll try that again ….. only to find they don’t glean the same results. 


So we despair of the insufficiency of top ten parenting pinterest posts, exercise routines, BIble reading plans, SMART goals, even New Years Resolutions. Methods that have worked in the past, this time prove futile and don’t effect the change or result we were after. We attach such confidence in the process, goal, or method that we forget the changeable nature of the hearts involved, our own and others, the varying nature of situations, times of day, our own aging bodies! How quickly we bypass knowledge of ourselves, others and the circumstance in pursuit of the quick fix, tried and tested formulas. When our recourse to the same old proves unfruitful we feel frustrated and cheated by the method or system, because that’s easier than growing in our learning, in learning afresh what we need to pursue goals, or to parent our children.


Children have an incredibly strong sense of what is right. Something is fair if it is the same and no more do we see this than in the Christmas holidays! The same number of sweets, the same method of discipline, same house jobs and responsibilities. If the weary legs of a 5 year old are lovingly given a piggyback by a compassionate Father at the end of a long family walk, then surely the same goes for me, cries the 7 year old! The child doesn’t see the Father’s decision is made in light of knowledge of different temperaments, knowledge of seven year old legs able to endure more than those of a five year old, or backs that can withstand the weight of a younger child. The child doesn’t perceive and plan in light of and with love for differing sensitive and stubborn hearts. They just view match for match. Like for like. Often a Father’s decision is incomprehensible to a child’s perception, but the loving Father always acts with justice, love, compassion, and knowledge of his children.


The Lord’s Fatherly love for us, his perfect love for us that exceeds even that of the most tender and compassionate earthly Father we know, mean that his way of teaching us is always with perfect knowledge of us, and with the perfect righteousness of his character. 
He came down to bring us knowledge of him, to flood our darkened minds that resort to own tried and tested methods, to give us his perspective and see justice in his terms, to see compassion and care in a beautiful range of appropriate means for each one of his children our of his steadfast love and his never changing character. To see the height depth length and breadth of his love and the surpassing greatness of his knowledge. To bow before his infinite and perfect knowledge of his children and learn from him through our own and others lives each day, his gracious protection of each one of us, one by one. 


God revealed Himself as our wonderful counsellor, our master and teacher in Jesus. When He spent time with Mary and Martha, Mary delighted to sit at his feet, listening, learning, hearing and receiving from Him. Martha knew how precious this role was to her younger sister, calling out to Mary, ‘your master’ is here. 

Jesus is not only our teacher, He is also our lesson. Taught by Him to known Him. In his school of life, we are continually learning Him and His ways not as some abstract subject, but personally, intimately with Him as our teacher, speaking to us by His Word and Spirit. Teaching us to trust in His justice, faithfulness, His perfect unchanging nature. 


And when we perceive difference, or seeming contradiction, seeming injustice in His ways, when we are too busy as the sister preoccupied with her Father’s gracious compassionate carrying of her sister, He calls us to surrender our limited perception and understanding and enlighten us to his wise, caring, loving walk beside us, knowing exactly the load He has called us to bear, and knowing the steps He asks of us each day with Him at our side. As our loving, all wise and knowing Master and Teacher, he lovingly exposes our disposition to recourse to strategies and plans as our hope and confidence, and grows us in learning His ways are higher than ours, his knowledge and his counsel often incomprehensible but also wise, holy, and full of compassion and tender mercy for his children. 


Your Father knows you. He has no need for ‘tried and tested’ formulas of parenting. He takes no confidence in applying by rote the same strategies without thought. He lovingly guides and guards the way of His children, taking us through seemingly incomprehensible and changing schools of learning. But to Him alone who has full perfect knowledge of his children’s hearts, who acts in perfect accord with His own holy, righteous and wise character, to God alone we can entrust our ways. Entrusting that each step is marked out for us by our faithful loving God, always with us, always lovingly teaching us His thoughts are marvelously higher than ours, his ways mercifully higher than ours.