Toby’s Tale

 

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Toby (left) and Cleo (Right) on the day we adopted them.

 

I’m so grateful to God this morning!

On Thursday night, one of our year-old Grey Rescue Tabbies, disappeared.

I was a little concerned on Friday morning, when I opened the back door, and only Cleo came running in for her breakfast.  Where was Toby?

I had that real sinking feeling when I returned from work, and there was still no sign of him.

My girls and I pulled on our shoes and went off round the block to look for him, searching every little alleyway and the path down by the allotments, calling his name the whole time.

Not a whisker!

We returned home with heavy hearts.

Saturday morning came.  No Toby.  Sunday morning….This wasn’t looking good.

 

I went out for a walk and began to pray – when the words from a Psalm began to buzz around my head:

For You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing – Psalm 145:16

Every living thing!  Not just people…that meant Animals too!

It was a beautiful morning, bathed in warm sunlight.  The trees were alive with the chirping of birds.

I stopped and noticed a Sparrow.

Didn’t Jesus talk about the Sparrows too?

Are not five sparrows sold for five farthings?  And yet not one of them is forgotten by God – Luke 12:6

Not one Sparrow is forgotten!

Wow!

Comforted by these scriptures, I was able to pray with faith.  If God cared about the tiny sparrow, then surely He cared about our Toby!

As the warm sunrays beamed down on my face, it felt like God was reminding me of the sheer magnitude of His faithfulness.  I don’t think we’ve even begun to grasp it!

The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time.  You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

If God makes sure the creatures of the earth are fed, then how much more will He take care of us?!

Suddenly it hit me.  I knew that God’s eye was on Toby.  I knew that God was more than able to protect him and bring Him safely home.

 

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Butter wouldn’t melt…

 

It was just before 6:00a.m. this morning, when my husband heard a familiar miaow-ing coming from our back garden.  God had answered our prayers.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds…

I want to remind you this morning, that God is so much kinder than we realise.  He truly is a good, good Father.  He is tender-hearted and compassionate and gracious!  He cares about the things that hurt us.  He cares about our difficult days and our stressful circumstances and our lost Tabby Cats!

 

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He cares so much more than we realise.

 

 

Don’t Give Up!

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Beautiful Agapanthus

 

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations” – Isaiah 61:10-11

I’ve been praying and longing to see Revival in the UK for many years now.  Perhaps you’ve been praying for your nation too?  Or perhaps you’ve been praying for years to see someone come to faith.  If so, I want to encourage you today!

One morning, a few years back, I was talking to one of my daughters about how committed I am to praying for revival in this land.  Just before rushing out of the door to school, she looked at me, a little perplexed and said something along the lines of:

“Mum, this world is so awful.  I’m not sure that one person can make that much difference…”

(But more of that story later!)

When I inherited the garden in our current home, it was literally two strips of weedy,  unyielding earth.  The soil was full of stones.  The ‘garden’ had not plant nor flower, just hundreds of very deep rooted weeds.

The only thing it did have, was potential…it was a blank canvass really.

So, determined to have a garden, I began.  Digging, weeding, removing stones.  It was pain-staking, back-busting!  I tried adding sand into the heavy clay soil in order to improve the claggy, ‘stick-to-your-boots’ consistency.  I bought bags of rich compost and literally poured them into the beds, digging and turning the earth again and again, to try and provide a more habitable environment for plants and flowers.  The groundwork took time.

But eventually the condition of the soil improved.

Then came the long job of buying and trying – going to garden nurseries and coming home with car boots full of perennials and shrubs.  I remember placing the plants in the soil – and frankly, being a bit underwhelmed.  These puny little plants would just look so insignificant, so small in all that earth!  They didn’t make much impact.  They certainly didn’t look like the garden magazines I had been browsing through!

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Pretty depressing!

Was all this hard work ever going to be worth it?

Fortunately for me, my mum’s garden is full of flowers!  So much so, that she was able to give me clumps of Geranium and Sedum from her own beds.  Every now and then she’d pop round with a tub full of Iris or Day Lilly – and we’d dot them around as fillers.

All of this activity went on for several years.  Planting things.  Trying things.  Moving things.  If I’ve learned one thing about gardening – it’s this:  No pain, no gain.

But then suddenly…years down the line, you begin to see your garden taking shape.  Suddenly, there’s colour and form.  People start to notice: “Isn’t your garden looking lovely?”  But best of all –  you notice!  One warm summer’s evening, you sit outside,  sipping a mug of tea, realising that all your hard work is starting to pay off.  And you smile…because somehow, the fact that it took time, years even, makes it all the more rewarding.  I tended this garden!  I kept going year after year, even though – to start off with – nothing much seemed to change.

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Yes, it’s the same flower bed!

Looking back, all those years that I’ve spent tending my garden, have run parallel to the years that I’ve spent praying for this Nation.  Isn’t God great?  Don’t you just love the way He weaves the natural and the supernatural together to teach us things?   What a prophetic picture lies within all of this toil!

Because the thing is…whatever you sow into a garden, you’ll eventually reap.

Put in a Climbing Rose and come July, you’ll have Climbing Roses!  Plant a pot full of Daffodil and Tulip bulbs in September, and POP – there’s your first bit of early spring cheer!  Fill your low wall with Geraniums, and hey presto – Geraniums it is!

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Today I want to remind you of the wonderful principle that  God has set in motion.  Sowing and reaping.

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.  He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him!” – Psalm 126:5-6

I know that if you’ve sown seeds of prayer for your nation, or your loved one’s salvation – perhaps tears at times – then no matter how long, no matter how many years it takes, some day, one day…you will see your reward.

If you’ve been praying – particularly for revival or salvation –  and you’re on the verge of giving up…please don’t!   One fine day, when you least expect it, you’ll turn around and your garden will be filled with beautiful blooms!  And what a wondrous reward it will be – the fruit of all your labours!

Can I tell you the rest of the story about my daughter?   A few days later she came downstairs in the morning and said: “Oh by the way mum, I had a dream about you last night….”

“Go on,” I said, intrigued.

“You were trying to start a fire by rubbing sticks together,” she said.  “At first nothing was happening.  But you didn’t give up.  Then all of a sudden, there was a spark, and then the whole thing just burst into flame!”

My mouth was almost agog as she added:

“And I think it’s to do with you praying!”

So today, here’s God’s message to you (and me):  Keep going!  Don’t you dare give up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When God Spoke

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“I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears” – Psalm 34:4

When I was thirteen I went to a youth event where a passionate speaker challenged us to be radical for Jesus! I was stirred and full of amen’s…until, suddenly this well-meaning speaker pointed out that practically every single one of Jesus’ disciples was martyred for the sake of the gospel. Now I don’t want to freak you out, but let’s just say, that some of them didn’t exactly die pleasant deaths.

And there was me – thirteen years of age – and sooo not ready to die!  One minute I was flying high on the wings of faith: “Yes Jesus! I’m going to live for you! I will follow you wherever you lead me! I will serve you no matter what the cost!” And the next minute it was like I’d hit a whopping great tree!

Thwack!

Suddenly I was back down to earth with a thud! I don’t think I realized at the time how profoundly this incident affected me. But right there in that meeting, it was like a menacing shadow of fear snuck in through the back door and ripped that faith right out of my thirteen-year-old fingers.

Something in me deflated. I came to Christ as a six year old.  All I knew about Jesus was that He was good and kind and full of peace and love.  Nobody had ever really laid out the cost to me before. I desperately loved Jesus and I wanted to live for Him – but preferably without the slightest hint of persecution or suffering, thank you very much.

I felt paralyzed.  I kept trying to move forward, but I could still feel those shackles of fear holding me fast. In the back of my mind there were whispers of doubt: “You’d better not get too close to God! There’s no need to be radical!  That’s for fanatics – it’s not for the likes of you.  Stay within your comfort zone and be safe. The devil isn’t interested in luke-warm Christians.” Oh that crafty serpent! There’s always a tinge of truth in his sugar-coated lies.

Some years later, in my late teens, I was at another meeting. The Holy Spirit was moving and there was a call to step forward if you wanted to go deeper with God. I wanted to step forward with all my heart. I had a choice. Despite an inner struggle, I found myself responding. In fear and trepidation I found my feet moving. “Now hang on a minute!” I argued with myself “What on earth are you doing? You don’t really want to be doing this now, do you?”

As I stood there, eyes closed, hands raised, waiting for someone to come and pray for me, I silently poured out my heart to God,

“Lord I want to follow you,” I gushed, “I really do want to give my whole self to you – But I’m scared!  I’m being really honest here – I don’t want to die!” Tears began to spill from my eyes as I confessed to God my deepest, darkest fears.  Fears that I’d tried to bury.  Fears that He already knew about anyway.

Suddenly, almost instantaneously, came a still small voice. It wasn’t audible, but it was clear as crystal. In the tender tones of a father, do you know what He said to me?

“Oh Angie, (isn’t it lovely when He calls us by name?) I’m not asking you to die for Me. I want you to live for Me!”

Oh the power of that one simple phrase! Do you know that when God speaks to you, it can change everything? Suddenly His perfect love flooded my being and I wanted to shout for joy! The shackles of fear were instantly smashed off – and all fear was gone!