Trusting God when things don’t go to plan

Road When I started university as a Student Child Nurse in 2010 I had the next few years sorted in my head. I knew my plan, reach for a 2:1, graduate, become a Child Nurse, hopefully get a job at The Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, meet a man if possible and get married. Fairly standard in modern day culture. In my head, I never stopped trusting God for all these things. Through things going bad or good, I knew he was on my side and I didn’t need to worry about the future. It was when my plans got ripped apart that I realised, maybe I thought I was trusting God with my life but really I had my plans and wasn’t reliant on God for them.

In 2013 I started to become ill and it took health professionals six months to diagnose me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (often known as M.E.) is a complex condition, affecting nearly all of the body’s systems. The patient experiences flu-like draining fatigue, unlike regular tiredness, not relieved by sleep or rest. It also involves a long list of other symptoms such as; mild to severe muscle pains, depression, difficulties with mental processing, dizziness, nausea, headaches, sore throats, drastically reduced mobility, light & noise sensitivity and heart palpitations. At its worst it can restrict daily activities such as showering and dressing. It often requires a huge adjustment to life in order to cope, e.g. not being able to work. There is no cure or drug treatment for Chronic Fatigue but it can be known to gradually improve with graded exercise therapy. For someone working as a Student Nurse, on a hospital ward, looking after others whilst feeling like I (melodramatically) was dying myself was awful. Looking back I don’t know how I managed to keep going for another year doing this, my only logical answer is God kept me going. I got to two months before the end of my degree before reaching the decision that I could not physically or mentally carry on anymore. I could barely do a simple drug calculation! I felt like my world was crashing down around me. Everything thing I had planned was in tatters, what on earth was I going to do now? This was when I realised I had never really been trusting God with my life. This was a whole new level of trusting God, when you have no idea what’s going to happen next but realise he will provide. And he did. I received a degree in Paediatric Healthcare (just not the nursing registration) because I had done nearly the entire nursing course. This was something that had never happened before in the university, a student not completing their degree yet still being awarded a different degree, there was no way this had been my doing but God’s! An answer to our prayers.

Facing a complete life transformation has not been an easy journey, especially coming to terms with new limitations I never had before. I have hit what felt like rock bottom and I am gradually working my way back up (I feel like a koala, clinging desperately onto God as he helps me back up!). Moving home so my parents could care for me was a positive and a negative. I was moving away from all the friendships I had back in Guildford. I just didn’t have the energy or concentration to drive that far to spend time with them, and the same with meeting new people and concentrating on conversation. People would think I was uninterested in them because I was too exhausted to process what they were talking about. I became so shut off from the social side of my life that it affected me mentally. I felt frustrated and isolated. It’s taken time to be able to handle these feelings on a day to day basis and yes, sometimes they do still get on top of me, but moving through this difficult time would never have been possible for me without trusting God – the new level of trusting God I mentioned. Sometimes I do have moments where I’m suddenly terrified about what is going to happen next, but then I remember all God has done for me in the face of having no idea what was ahead of me. I now rely on him for money, for my health, for my marriage and for my future. Something I didn’t realise I wasn’t really doing before. He is my hope when I feel I have none. God provides, we just need to trust that he does, even if not in a way we expect.

Chantal

Chantal Reynolds

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Refugees: how can we help?

Refugees: How can we help, is there a hope and a future?
I’m Becky Snaith and I’ve been coming to Aylesbury Vineyard since January this year. Firstly, I’d like to start with an encouragement before I talk about refugees. At Aylesbury Vineyard, me and my husband received a warm welcome and became involved in areas within the church almost straight away. There are many aspects of the church that I feel are being done really well. The worship is great, people are very friendly and there’s a strong sense of compassion and belonging. Often we hear talks saying we should be doing this, that or the other. Take heart that your already doing it! Going to church is really exciting because there is so much potential to do God’s work through this place and to enjoy it.

Anyway what’s the situation with refugees? I’ll start off with a few facts and figures so you all know what we are dealing with.

Refugees

What is a refugee?
The definition of a refugee according to Google is:
‘a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.’ We’re talking about people fleeing the threat of or certain death.

  • 5 million refugees worldwide in 2014
  • 80% of refugees have been living in camps for more than 5 years, 50% for over 10 years
  • 70% are Muslim
  • Half are children
  • The world’s biggest refugee camp is in Kenya with 330,000 people

So that’s the situation, and it looks pretty bleak, pretty hopeless and can leave us feeling overwhelmed when we get a sense of the scale of the problem.

God’s heart for the refugee and what is he saying about this?
“True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans … Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I have given you this command.” (Deuteronomy 24:17-18)

So God is clear when he says he wants justice for the refugee and that as he has shown redemption in our lives we can be part of his plan to help these people.

He is also clear about serving people in practical ways. Matthew 25: 35-40 shows Jesus telling us that whenever you offer someone in need of food, clothing, visiting, looking after or hospitality, we are offering it to him… “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”  

What can we do to help refugees?
Firstly, this is not for everyone. God gives all of us different passions, so all of the people can do all of the work. If your time is devoted to something else or even split between many different things, this may not be for you. There is no need to feel guilty about not getting involved in every different ministry going. Burnt out people are less effective than well rested people that look after themselves. Something I am learning myself over the last few months.

However, if this is something you are passionate about and have some time for here are a few things you can do:

  • Pray – obviously something we can all be doing.
  • Support Aylesbury Vineyard Refugee Compassion – We are taking food to refugees in Calais, and you can help by collecting donations or coming on a trip to help volunteer.
  • Online advocacy – there are plenty of petitions to be signed urging governments to be compassionate, or you can email your local MP. Only recently our government back tracked on its decision not to let unaccompanied minors into the UK from around the EU.
  • If you’re very keen, you could sign up to host a refugee in your spare room through Positive Action In Housing.
  • This one is only for those who have seriously thought and prayed it through! you could offer to foster a refugee child through Home for Good.

Is there a hope and a future?
With the current refugee crisis in Europe, there is no end in sight any time soon. However many refugees around the world have gone on to achieve amazing things. My own Nan was a refugee and without her I would never have been born, so that’s a good start.

Many refugees sadly spend decades or even there whole lives in refugee camps. This needs to change. We can be part of this, attitudes need to change for anything to change. When we talk about immigration with our friend or colleagues. Particularly in relation to refugees we need to see it as a thrill not a threat. God is clear what he wants for people. We have the opportunity to get involved. There can be a hope and a future if we keep at it. Refugees need to be seen as people, friends, family and part of God’s plan. They are not a number, not a political bargaining tool or anything else.

Becky Snaith

 

Walking on the Waters

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eLqTZ07ja7g (Song. “Oceans” by Hillsong)

When Peter let go of the side of the boat and strode out across the water in answer to his Saviour’s call he was doing fine – until he noticed the wind whipping up the huge waves all around him. (Matthew 14:22-33)

It’s not the scary stuff we are going through that causes us to stumble, it’s the world’s opinion of that stuff.

Within weeks of attending Aylesbury Vineyard I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. My prognosis (with treatment) was/is around 18 months. The testimony of how God prepared me, provided for me, supported me and healed me (in more than the removal of a malicious little tumour AKA “Bob the Blob”) is too long for this blog. But this song is just one his provisions for me. I first heard it in worship one Sunday morning immediately after (God-incidentally ) studying the story of Peter walking on the water earlier that week in my bible study group (not an Aylesbury Vineyard group).

It made me see that when all the world around you is expecting the worst, their words and actions can distract you from the real author of your fate. We all know we are supposed to “fix our eyes on Jesus” but sometimes it’s hard when waves rage all around you. I had read this passage countless times before and heard many a sermon in it but had never really noticed this little lesson: it wasn’t the fact that ‘humans can’t walk on water’ that disturbed Peter, it was noticing the waves. His human experience (no doubt accompanied by shouts from the boat!) told him that the waves were strong and could knock him off his feet and drown him. He had forgotten that he was already doing the impossible!

This little personal message from our awesome, powerful, almighty, healing God, given in song and music and His Word, picked me up in a week when I had been buffeted by human opinion. An oncologist had told me ‘nobody survives this’. God reassured me that He was in charge and I had merely to keep my eyes above the waves and reach out to my Saviour who is always dead ahead of me. I had asked Him and he had said “come”(Mat 14:29). I was already doing the impossible.

I have gone through an amazing year (see my blog: www.bobtheblobsblog.com for the whole saga) and every time I have felt a little shaken I have put this song on loud and sung along to it. I can thoroughly recommend you do the same!

Thank you Hillsong, and thank you Aylesbury Vineyard worship group for listening to God’s choice of song for me that week and playing it so movingly… without the least idea of what you were doing.

And most of all, thank you Jesus for calling me out upon the waters in the first place.

Tanya Malpass
Tanya Malpass

The Time Equation

I’m told that when I was very young, I adored my dad. I don’t recall that time in my life. My memory of my childhood is of a strict father, the kind of father typified by the classic line; ‘Just wait until your father gets home…’

My sister and I used to have a life sized stuffed St Bernard dog. We would have loved to have a dog of our own, but knew instinctively that we wouldn’t be allowed one. However, we played with the huge toy dog quite a lot, he was a favourite of ours. One day; whilst playing make believe with the dog we put him under the dinner table to wait for scraps to fall off the table. When my dad sat down to his dinner, he discovered the dog under the table and crossly dragged it out by the ear yelling about not leaving toys under the table or something like that. In the process, he ripped the dog’s ear and most of it’s scalp off, including the dog’s eyebrow. I was so distraught by what he had done that my mum placated me by taking the dog to ‘doggy hospital’. By which I mean she took the huge toy and sewed his poor broken head back together.

Back then I didn’t really understand the image of God as a Father. I kind of thought that that was why people feared God. And maybe that is part of it; but as I’ve grown older I’ve realised that God (and my dad) also loves us, and it’s because he loves us that he sees the greatness in us, what we are truly made to be, and it’s only when we do things that pull us further away from His likeness that we upset Him. God is a perfect Father, someone who loves unconditionally, sees the best in us and wants us to be all that we were made for.

Now that I’m older, I understand my father much better. I have experienced for myself the pressures of adulthood, of working, of trying to do the best by your family. I see that it wasn’t always easy for him, but that we are the lucky ones, because we got to experience a father who loved us unconditionally. I believe that our relationship with God is a little like my understanding of my own father. The longer you are in that relationship, the more it matures and develops. Your understanding of it grows deeper as you spend time together.

One of the biggest things I find challenges my relationships is time. I can’t seem to spend enough time with my parents, my sister, my husband, or my friends. When we do spend time with those that we love, we nearly always feel better for it, don’t we? How much more true must that be of the time we spend with God?

Mary is a good example of this in Luke 10:38–42. Her sister, Martha, is preparing a big dinner and feels that Mary isn’t pulling her weight, but Jesus lovingly corrects her, saying: “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

So this month I’m planning on making more time for Him, I’m going to spend an extra two hours a week solely on this relationship. Most weeks I’ll probably split that time over a few days, but it will include different things, worship, prayer, reading and reflecting on the bible, serving him, and anything else that seems appropriate.

Is God asking you for more of your time? Or maybe there’s a loved one or a friend who deserves a bit more attention? Why not reach out to them today?

Becca Reho
Becca Reho