After a turbulent five years in many areas of my life, God has been suddenly remarkably leading me in the last few months. Following a string of God-incidences, remarkable interventions, deliverances, and him dramatically dropping new people into my life, I am on the move to a new city – Colchester. Or at least I will be if the conveyancing goes through the way I trust it will. Prayers are appreciated for that and all the challenges of any move.
Why Colchester you say? Well firstly I had a sense of God prompting me to think about Colchester more than 20 years ago. At the time I concluded it was not the right time to move, though I did do a few months working there. Secondly I have family members in the city and nearby. Thirdly I needed a new start, and one with cheaper property than where I currently live. Colchester is also a remarkable city combining ancient history, a growing population, and a wonderful network of cycle paths connecting beautiful country parks and other rural areas. As a result my “wheels” will enable me to enjoy a freedom I cannot in Loughton. I sense that God has good things for me to do there also, we shall see how that all comes about.
Some of the details of much of what has led up to me needing to move I may never share publicly. I am learning that there is wisdom in having a public face and a private face. That is not the same thing as hiding such matters as there are several key people in my life who know exactly what has gone on, and I have received much ministry and support from a variety of places, some secular and some Christian.
I am not a public figure and so I appreciate my privacy. It is something we should protect in an age where it feels like everyone has their paparazzi following them in the guise of social media “friends” who might sometimes lack wisdom and post something you do not want shared. The Bible has a name for that: gossip.
Finding your safe haven
God has been speaking to me about the idea of safe haven. He is our safe haven, but he also leads us to places of peace where we can rest, recuperate, and meet with him. My prayer is that the house he has led me to will become one such place not just for me but for others who come to visit from time to time. My hope is that the stress of the last few years will now ease and I will enter a time of healing. Even if you do not believe in God, I am sure you will agree that a place of safety and peace is crucial for all of us.
My doctors have warned me to dramatically reduce my stress levels following a recent threatened stroke. During four days in hospital the stroke symptoms disappeared quickly but my disturbed blood pressure and pulse that had caused this took much longer to settle. A brain scan also revealed that I had previously had an actual completed small stroke on the other side of the brain which I had not noticed at the time. I am now on two more medicines to reduce the risk of this recurring but PEACE will have a massive impact also, and so I appreciate your prayers for that.
I intend to continue writing as and when I feel the urge.
I intend to make myself available to my friends to be an encouragement to them and whilst the days of me having big jobs and standing in front of lots of people seem to be over, I feel a greater sense of purpose in the small things that I am able to do now than ever before. I try to focus on what is possible rather than what is not.
Even when God feels a million miles away these words remain true. May he help you find a way to your haven today.
God has been speaking to me through a couple of psalms which I will share with you. The key message is that in the storms of life there is only one true safe haven, God himself. And if he feels distant the truth is he’s right there waiting for you to call “help me!”. It doesn’t matter whether you already follow him or not. He says if you call to him he will answer if you do so with all your heart. This isn’t necessarily going to involve taking you out of your situation but rather sometimes rescuing you in it.
I will share these psalms that have helped me and highlight the bits that stand out to me most of all, though much of them resonates greatly.
“Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. . .
He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.”
Psalms 107:4-8, 29-31 NLT
In the NIV the last two verses read
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the seawere hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
Another psalm also introduces the idea of a safe haven. I thought I would also share the context for that idea here:
“Declare me innocent, O God! Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these unjust liars.
For you are God, my only safe haven.
Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies? Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”
(Psalms 43:1-5 NLT)
Someone who is very close to me reminded me when reading that Psalm, “Always remember David felt tossed aside but he was never tossed aside. Feelings come and go like circumstances. But God is faithful to his children. And the Holy Spirit never leaves, which means God never leaves us or forsakes us. We are sealed with his Spirit forever. So no matter what the storm is, or how long it is raging, he remains constant, present and will always deliver his children. Some people think God leaves or comes. But he doesn’t. We are sealed forever by the Holy Spirit who dwells in our heart as a pledge of God’s everlasting love for us”.