Living in a Field of Hats

some ramblings and reflections on working with students in Herts and Beds.

Lonely Road June 19, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 9:26 am
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One thing I’ve learnt over the last few months, is that grief really is lonely. There’s been so many moments where I’ve felt more alone than I ever have done before in my life. I’ve bee spending a lot of time listening to a song by Yvonne Lyon, called “Lonely Road”. The chorus sums up, where I am at the moment …

“You and I are taking this lonely road,
You and I are finding our way back home”

Yvonne is a Christian, but I’m not totally sure what she was thinking of when she wrote this song. This real encouragement to me with this song, has been the reminder that this life can be incredibly lonely. And it will be, there’ll be lonely roads for us all at different points. But yet, the truth of the gospel means that we can live an oxymoron, we can be lonely and yet full assured that God will never forsake us. He’ll walk every step of the way with us. If it’s true that we are in Christ, then how can he not? He’s never going to go back on what he’s done for us and promised. Amazing.

Here’s a very short, low quality clip of the song. Enjoy!

 

God’s Good Gifts – 17th June 2012 June 17, 2012

Filed under: God's Good Gifts — Sarah @ 8:23 pm
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We’re back with the list this week…

1) Seeing God at work – I’ve been away at the final Relay training conference this week, where all of the Relay workers do a 3 minute presentation summing up their year. It was such a privilege to hear snippets of people’s experiences of God’s goodness over the last ten months. So many of them were able to clearly testify to God’s goodness when things were tough, and of the ways in which God has been changing them into the likeness of His Son over the last year.

2) Church Family – this evening my church family spend a chunk of time specifically praying for me and the summer team I’m leading. I’m feeling so many stresses and worries about the trip, so to be surrounded with people who love me, praying for and with me, upholding me is a real joy and a real reminder that church really is family.

3) A Heavenly Father – I’m so thankful today especially, that I have a caring, loving Heavenly Father who loves me so much he sent Jesus to take my punishment so I could be in a relationship with him. That’s nothing like my experience of earthly fatherhood, but it is my experience of my Father God.

 

If I didn’t know Jesus then … June 7, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 10:37 pm
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Maybe it’s just me but sometimes I find myself daydreaming and wondering what my life would be like if I didn’t know Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t not want to know Jesus – far from it. But there are times when I wonder what life would be like.

One of my friends, and I have a list on the go which lists all of the things that we both really like. Earlier this week we reached number 5 – and yet we’ve been running this list for over a year! There is so much that we disagree on: music, food, how to spend our free time, books… the list could go on and on! And yet, we really love spending time together. Every time I see her I’m guaranteed to laugh several times, talk about some aspect of theology (hearing a point of view I’d never had thought of before!) and be able to honestly answer the question “how are you doing?”.

This isn’t to say that our friendship is perfect – far from it! We’re both still sinners who are inherently selfish. And yet, the two of us who have nothing to draw us together especially as the list tends to stagnate after Jesus, Michael Palin and tea! There is no way, that if it wasn’t for Jesus heading up that list that we would possibly be friends. And yet, because Jesus is heading up that list, we are friends and though we sometimes don’t get each other because our minds work so differently, Jesus overrides it all. I’ve learnt so much from her, and about myself because of our differences.

This is just such a small taste of what the gospel does – bringing together those who otherwise would have nothing in common. What a powerful thing that is!

 

Accepted May 22, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 11:30 am
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I missed out on New Word Alive this year, so missed out on this absolute gem of a video on justification. We often make it a complex doctrine, yet this video explains it so simply!

 

Where is our comfort? May 6, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 2:14 pm
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Where do we get our comfort from as Christians when times are tough? From retail therapy? Grit your teeth? Crossing our fingers that it’ll be over soon? One of the real challenges of returning to ‘normal’ life after my stepdads funeral, was resisting a desire to punch those who said ridiculous things to me, in the name of ‘comfort’. I lost count of the number of people who encouraged me to place in my hope in things that we could never know were true. In things which I don’t deny God could do, but of which there was no proof, and could never be proved in this lifetime. So what then can we hope in when all else fails? What should we be pointing one another to?

One of the most striking memories I have from being at New Word Alive a couple of years ago, was during the singing when I glanced over at the friend next to me and noticed she was in floods of tears. It wasn’t just the tears that made it memorable though, it was that she was still singing and praising her God and Saviour. Her tears came after a talk on suffering, and what it means for Christians, just days after her mum was diagnosed with cancer. I remember thinking ‘how can she still whole heartedly praise God’? I couldn’t compute at all that being faced with real, raw pain could lead to God’s praise. It felt like an oxymoron.

But yet, it wasn’t. Surely, if we believe the gospel, then the gospel must be true at all times? It’s easy enough to believe God is good when life is bumbling along nicely. Surely, though when things aren’t good, it’s necessary to believe that God is good. If not, then what use is trust in Jesus at any time in our lives? If it’s only a nice thing to believe when things are going ok, then why bother? Life won’t always be good, we’ll all face pain at some point. And that’s the conclusion that I’ve come to over the last few days. That if God isn’t there, or isn’t good, then everything else is even more meaningless.

So, where should our comfort come from? Surely it needs to be from the character of God, and who He is. The Christian friends that have patiently listened and repeatedly pointed me back to God’s merciful, loving and gracious character are the ones who by far have provided the most comfort. Let’s not try and comfort people with things we have no way of knowing are true, but instead with those things that we know are true and will never change. The attributes of our loving, missional, saving God.

 

I’ve had questions… April 29, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 2:16 pm
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Much of my time is spent in my car driving between the Uni’s in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire during term time, and the novelty of local radio often starts to wane late in the evening. So, I found my old mp3 player this week and let it play as I was driving to Bedford on Friday night. My mind started wander through some of the events of the last few months, and all of a sudden there was clarity in them. The song that had started playing suddenly made sense of what I was trying to process …

I’ve had questions, without answers,
I’ve known sorrow, I have known pain
but there’s one thing, that I’ll cling to
you are faithful, Jesus you’re true

When hope is lost, I’ll call you Saviour
When pain surrounds, I’ll call you healer
When silence falls, you’ll be the song within my heart

In the lone hour, of my sorrow
through the darkest night of my soul
you surround me, and sustain me
my defender, forever more

When hope is lost, I’ll call you saviour
When pain surrounds, I’ll call you healer
When silence falls, you’ll be the song within my heart

I will praise you, I will praise you
when the tears fall, still I will sing to you
I will praise you, Jesus praise you
Through the suffering still I will sing “

Tim Hughes, “I’ve had questions”

This isn’t to say that listening to one song has sorted it all out – far from it. But it did clarify where I’m at – it still feels in so many ways that I’m ‘in the lone hour’, but that’s not a hopeless place to be, not because I’m not truly alone (although that is also true), but because the story doesn’t stop with me. There will be a day when there’s no more tears, pain or suffering because Jesus is faithful. And that is a day to keep on longing for through the many questions, doubts, tears and pain. But for now, it’s ok to keep wrestling with the questions, to keep admitting it feels sometimes like hope is lost and to not pretend to be fine because in all of it Jesus is faithful.

 

It’s sure been quiet around here… July 14, 2011

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 4:16 pm
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Blogging appears to have fallen by the way side with the busyness of end of term and planning for summer team! I got back yesterday and enjoyed a lovely 15 hour sleep but still feel a little groggy to tell you of all the excitment … so instead, have a watch of this interview with Veronika. It says everything!

 

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning” May 27, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 10:03 pm
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I’m working through Philippians with a friend from church at the moment (though predicted end date is somewhere near to December at this rate..!) but last week we got to the second half of chapter two.

The thing that really struck us both was this verse: “do all things without grumbling or questioning”. For me it was a real challenge as grumbling really is culturally acceptable in the UK. We grumble about the weather, we grumble about public transport, we even grumble about people grumbling! But as Christians we are clearly commanded not to do so. The context here is really key (as always!). Paul has just described exactly what Jesus was willing to lay aside for us – without any grumbling at all – and he’s moving on to talk about what that looks like in everyday life. And the shock I guess. is that he doesn’t say “Look what Jesus did for you – go on and do something good for him”. No, the application is for us to not grumble. Wow. It seems so little and yet as Emily and I started chatting about what not grumbling would mean in our lives it became clear that it would make a huge difference.

Not grumbling about a student being late for a meeting (suprisingly some stereotypes are true!), or grumbling that it’s raining once again really would chage our attitudes to life. But, Paul doesn’t just want us to have a nicer quality of life, he wants us not to grumble so that we will be blameless and pure children of God. Now, that in and of itself isn’t going to make us pure and blameless in God’s eyes, no that’s what Jesus does for us. But, the way in which we live is to reflect the goodness of the gospel.

So that’s my challenge . To not grumble but to rejoice in the goodness and truth of the gospel. Wha t that looks like totally I’m not too sure as I don’t think it means not saying anything negative but actually it’s the attitude behind it. I’ll be trying to work it out so feel free to be anti British and join me – and to point out where my grumbling is still in existence!

 

It’s not the end of the world May 23, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 6:13 pm
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You may be aware that the world was meant to end this weekend according to Harold Camping. Clearly it didn’t but as Christians there really are some challenges there. Campings followers literally gave up all that they had because they truly believed they would be with Jesus by 6pm Saturday evening. I totally and fully believe that Jesus will come back one day soon and yet many things I hold in a clenched fist desperate to keep hold of it. Ellie has written some really helpful thoughts on this as well.

It’s sad to see the damage that has been done to these people by clearly false teaching, but yet if I truly believe this then why am I so slow to leave everything behind for the sake of Christ?

 

All I Have is Christ May 17, 2011

Filed under: Conferences — Sarah @ 9:40 am
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One of the real highlights of New Word Alive for me this year was singing with hundreds and thousands of other people from around the UK. One of the songs we sung was “All I Have is Christ” by Jordan Kauflin. I love the words and how they go through from being “lost in darkest night” to praising God for saving us. I came across this video today which shows these things really clearly – and shows the stark potential consequences of it…have a look at it