More than once I have sat in the driver’s seat of my car first thing in the morning and been surprised at how misty it is. Only to realise the mist is not outside, it’s on my glasses!
The condition of the lenses on my glasses determine my outlook. If my lenses are not clear, the way that I perceive the outside world is affected.
Many people are describing this coming year 2020 in terms of ‘perfect vision’. However, we need to be aware of the things that impair our vision.
2 Kings 6:15 tells of Elisha’s servant, who looks out and sees the Syrian army surrounding the prophet and himself. The ‘fear’ lens caused him to despair. Elisha was able to view the same scene through different lenses! (read verses 16 & 17).
Other things that will cloud your vision include: –
- Past failures
- Bitterness born out of unforgiveness
- Believing either the lies, or the hype about yourself
When I allow any of the above to colour my vision, the impact is potentially devasting on me and on those around me.
Each of the above can cause a person to turn in on themselves in response to the mistreatment at the others. The alternative is an attitude that lashes out at the hand of others, or more subtly seeks to exert control through manipulation.
So please, before you embark on any mission, any venture in this year of ‘perfect vision’, make sure your lenses are clear.
Bishop Windsor Queensborough (Wolverhampton, UK)
I love socialising and being with my friends. I had a wide social network and well esteemed highly within it. The party, the club, the dance is where I loved to be. It’s where I could let my hair down amongst people like me, who just wanted to have a good time.
Amongst my friendship group we had an unwritten code of conduct which included being straight and honest with each other, looking out for each other and covering each other’s backs. There was always someone to turn to. It was perfectly acceptable to be pulled up within the group for any behaviour the group didn’t see as acceptable.
We all believed in God but none of us were prepared to give our life to Him.
We were enjoying life and we didn’t want that to change. Also being a Christian was a big thing to us and not something that should be taken lightly. There was a girl that would sometimes come out with us on a Saturday night and on Sunday morning would go to church. I couldn’t+ get my head around how she could do both.
I had everything I wanted in life, or so I thought. Several challenges came into my life which made me think if I could go back to church things would change, but there always seemed to be a barrier or reason I couldn’t go to church. Then I started to visit different churches, but none seemed right for me. One church was pleasant but boring, another church believed women should stay silent in church, another was lively but some people ministering in the church were on the club scene with me.
It wasn’t until after my son was born that I was directed to a church which was right for me.
This church looked different to the world and felt different to the others.
I visited and observed the church for several years. It was evident that the pastor meant God. His worship was unadulterated, and it drew me in.
I started going to church more and seeing my friends less. One New Year’s Eve my friends asked me to go out with them. I told them I didn’t want to, but they didn’t understand. One friend said to me “just because you go to church doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself”. If I’m honest I missed being with them and they missed having me get the party moving. I wanted to go with them but at the same time didn’t know what to do.
That evening I pulled out two dresses from my wardrobe; my red halter neck party dress and my church dress which I placed on my bed. I prayed and got up from the bed and got ready to go to church.
When church finished, I went home, took my church dress off, put my party dress on and I went to meet my friends at the club.
When I arrived, they were in our usual place on the dance floor. I went straight to them and tried to dance but I couldn’t. Tears started rolling down my face and I couldn’t get the tears to stop. My friends wanted to know what happened, who had upset me, but I couldn’t explain to them what was going on. I decided to leave the club and only when I got outside did the tears stop.
Not long after I dedicated my life to Christ, was I baptised. Bit by bit through the anointing things changed. My desires faded; I had so many piercings and loved jewellery so much even my nails were pierced and decorated with dangling jewellery, but this apparel changed. I previously felt that women wearing hats was a symbol of oppression and this changed too.
When I look over what God has done in my life, I thank Him for saving my soul. He has directed my path in many ways that I could not have conceived before. I thank Him for seeing my heart and not forgetting me.
A Laird (UK)
Growing up my mum and dad always told me about God and always attended church on a Sunday.
The one line my dad uses to repeatedly tell me and my sister growing up is ‘we walk by faith and not by sight’.
I never used to understand what he meant but as I’m getting older, I’m starting to understand what he meant. As I got older, I was told by my parents that I was very poorly at birth. They also told me that they spent a lot of days and night’s praying for me to get better.
I miss my dad I think about him every day. I was only nine years old when he died.
I remember at the funeral I carried my dad’s coffin and I felt so proud doing it. I knew my dad was a ma
n of God and he was going to be in heaven with God and his disciples laughing and sharing bible scriptures. I also know that he is looking down on me and my family from heaven.
I go to church all the time with my mum and I love it. I approached my mum a long time ago and told her that I want to get baptised. My mum asked me if I was sure because it is very serious commitment and explained to me what would be involved.
After I talked to Bishop Queensborough about why I felt I was ready to be baptised a few weeks later on Sunday 1st September 2019, I got baptised.
It was the best day ever; I couldn’t stop smiling I told all my friends and family.
My mum and I always pray together and read the bible; I still don’t know everything in the bible and I always ask a lot of questions. The bible is difficult to understand there is a lot of hard words, but I am learning a lot in church and in Sunday school. I love going to church and I love what God has done for me.
Samuel Wilkie (UK)
God has been good to me
I have been going to church all my life and got baptised at the age of 16. My journey has not been an easy one.
I remember when I was 20 years old and going with my mum to see a specialist doctor in Harley street and was given the devastating news that I had fibroids and endometriosis. The doctor told my mum that I would have to have my womb taken out. My mum wasn’t having any of it; she was a prayer warrior and she helped me build my faith and trust in God.
We prayed and prayed then God answered my prayers.
When I underwent the operation the doctor only removed the fibroids and my womb was saved.
After the operation I was told I still wouldn’t be able to have children. But despite the prognosis and years of trying, I still had children. I prayed for two and God blessed me with two, first a girl and then a boy.
During this journey I had two miscarriages. My daughter was a twin however I lost one baby and Brianna held on. Between my first born Brianna and my son Sam there is a 7 year gap and during this time I had lost another baby.
When Sam was born, he spent the first three months in hospital with all sorts of complications but to God be the glory my children are here because of prayer and I put my full trust in God.
In 2011 I lost my husband George to cancer and suddenly I was left raising my two children on my own. The same year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt a lump one day however didn’t think too much of it, but I went to the doctors to get it checked out just to be on the safe side. My doctor then referred me to the hospital for a scan and it was at this time that the mammogram showed I had two lumps in one of my breasts. Following the operation, I then had to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Early in 2019 I went to see the same doctor that diagnosed me in 2011. He told me that I have the all clear and that all my scans and tests have come back all fine and he no longer needs to see me. It was a very overwhelming feeling.
I am here today because God kept me and with the prayer of friends and family, I will continue praying and putting my trust in God always.
Beverley Francis (UK)
‘Heavenly Father, please just allow my Dad to make it through Christmas’
…that was my prayer in December. By January he had passed away, so I guess it’s now time to grieve right? Nope, now comes the rushing around funeral planning, going to work, supporting the family whilst also completing my studies. There’s no time to grieve, I’m too busy!
So, the day of the funeral has now passed, and everyone is con
tent we gave my Dad a fantastic send off. So, is it now time to grieve? Well I guess so, but actually how do I grieve this? as I’ve never lost a parent before! Suppose this is where the struggle begins. I have many questions to ask God; why have you taken my Dad? Who will give my sister away at her wedding? Why have you not allowed him to witness/become a grandfather to my children?
Maybe I’m being selfish, as the Lord did answer my prayer and allow him to make it through Christmas. Also, he did allow him to live a further 2 years after the diagnosis. I mean after all the bible does say “the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away” right?
But I still feel hurt and pain, how long should it last?
I’m well aware of scriptures that speak about the Lord being my comfort and cautions concerning grieving for too long over the will of God. Hmmm, I’m confused and filled with mixed emotions. Fast forward a few months, finally contentment is here as I have now rationalised; Dad served the Lord, he ran a good race and he has now made it.
Truth be told we all grieve in different ways; I had a strong network of people supporting me. This consisted of people in church, at home, friends and at work. Support can be as little as a text to check all is well, that goes a long way. I allowed myself to be open and real with God, expressing how I felt. On bad days expressing my hurt and pain and on good days giving thanks that he’d never left nor forsaken me.
Grief isn’t easy and there’s no special formula as we all grieve differently, but the main thing is being honest with yourself and acknowledging it’s okay to have both good and bad days, as we are only human. In fact, I came to realise the bad days we’re actually the best days, as that’s when I felt God closest to me.
Recall a special time you shared with the individual and keep it close to your heart.
For me it was as my Dad was lay there approaching the end; I began to quote
2 Timothy 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
As I was quoting it, my Dad joined in with me. I felt a sense of peace, although I knew the hour was drawing nigh. I often reflect on other life experiences which we shared like when he taught me how to ride a bike or how proud he was at my graduation, moments like those will never die.
Grief is described as “intense sorrow”, therefore excuse yourself if you have occasions of intense hurt or pain as it’s part of the process. The key thing is to bounce back, and if you can’t do it for yourself do it for your loved one, as they wouldn’t want to see you down and deflated and neither does God.
Remember God takes no pleasure in seeing a wounded soldier.
Instead he wants to see a soldier who appreciates the sun doesn’t shine all the time. Therefore, we need to trust and have faith in him that all things are under his perfect control. He knows and understands what you are going through, It’s not a test or punishment, it’s just life and you have to take the good with the bad but just know he is with you throughout both.
Andrew Nembhard (Birmingham, UK)
For months I was thinking about getting baptised but I kept trying to push the feeling away. There was an announcement in church in April about a youth camp and they were asking for deposits from people who were interested in going. I just ignored it because I had no intention of going but my cousin wanted me to go.
For weeks I kept trying to get out of it and later on that month I finally decided to give my deposit. Even weeks before the youth camp I didn’t want to go. While at youth camp I started to feel a different type of way and the feeling of wanting to get baptised started to get bigger and I couldn’t just push the feeling aside and before leaving I decided it was the right time.
The teachings at youth camp made me realise that Gods okay with me not being perfect. God has done many things for me that I can’t even explain and I don’t see a greater choice then giving my life to Him.
For 3 weeks, my husband did not sleep/eat and lost 2 stones in weight; during this time, we made 6 visits to the hospital, several visits to our GP, numerous 111 calls as well as seeing 2 private doctors. We also arranged our own private MRI to ascertain what was going on.
I know my redeemer lives, I also know my God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He promised He would never leave us or forsake, or give us more than we can bear.
There were days, weeks, and months that have been extremely difficult, but my faith in God kept me sane and from falling off the edge. I resigned from my job in February not even giving a thought to the consequence of two salaries being abruptly stopped, yes, I panicked that same month when reality kicked in as the bills were still going out.
I was reminded the God that fed the children of Israel in the wilderness, took them across the red sea, is the same God who is feeding us today as well as taking us through our red sea.
No matter how gloomy and hopeless your situation looks, never ever give up. The battle is not yours, but the Lords.
Fay Williams (Wolverhampton, UK)
How can I move forward?
A New Year and the general consensus is that as we enter another year it’s ‘out with the old and in with the new’. We look back and take stock of the good, the bad, and maybe even the ugly. For the majority of us 2019 would have brought good things and happy times, but for some of us it would have also been accompanied by a measure of hurt, disappointment and struggles that would seem to threaten to overwhelm us.
We are encouraged to move on, leave the past behind, seize the day – and this is all well-meaning. Unfortunately, life isn’t as easy as the textbook psychology, the clichés or even the old adages. We all have good intentions but here’s another old adage ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
One of the most popular, learned, inspirational apostles, who wrote nearly half of the new testament knew about hard times, persecution and struggles. St Paul was stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, lied on and beaten – and he gave this advice:
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. Philippians 3 : 13 – 14
Please note, and I cannot emphasise enough, Paul did not say he had a list of 3,4,7 steps to take He said “One thing”- Forget what is behind and press on.
This may seem nigh on impossible with what you’re facing now. The hurts, disappointment, the broken dreams, financial hardship, the health issues – the list is endless, and they may seem to have attached themselves to you in leach-like fashion, but another scripture reminds us that there is nothing impossible for God.
“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.
Unlike a cliché, which means a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought, God’s Word is new, true and original and has power to change lives.
Every good intention you have will not change your life or help you to move forward, neither will the 24 hour cross over from 31st January 2019 to 1st January 2020, it’s simply another 24 hours, but I promise that moving forward, with God, from doubt to belief in His Word will.
Beverley (Wolverhampton, UK)