Someone once asked Ray Comfort, the famous New Zealand-born evangelist, if he’d ever witnessed a miracle. Ray’s response was an emphatic: “Yes. Conversion.” His answer really struck a cord with me. Many Christians, myself included, have witnessed or heard about miracles as a result of prayers of intercession, but there is another miracle which is far more commonplace and which occurs in the life of every true believer. It’s the miracle which turns enemies of God into fearless preachers of the Gospel, people consumed by lust into consecrated celibates or faithful spouses, liars into honest men and women, sinners into saints. May 20th will mark the one-year anniversary of my baptism and reception into the Church, and in this post I reflect on the miracle of conversion as Jesus has worked it in my own life.
I’ve previously blogged about how God called me to move to Spain earlier this year, but what I haven’t really talked about are the storms He’s asked me to walk through while following Him on this journey. I arrived in Barcelona on the 13th of January, and since then I’ve had to move no less than six times because of various issues with accommodation. I still don’t have a ‘permanent’ place to live out here, and I’ve come to accept that perhaps I never will. Whenever I’m tempted to let discontentment take over, though, I’m reminded of our Lord’s words to Teresa of Avila:
“Oh covetousness of the human race, that you think you will be lacking! How many times did I sleep in the open because I had nowhere to lay My Head!”
I firmly believe that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28), and that He uses the most difficult seasons of our lives to draw us deeper into the love He invites us to share with Him. In my case, the seemingly endless cycle of packing and unpacking, settling and moving again made me question just how necessary many of my possessions really were.
One such possession was the (somewhat overstuffed) makeup bag which, until recently, I was convinced I couldn’t live without. In the time I’ve known the Lord, I’ve come to see that because He is truth itself, when we walk closely with Him and listen to His voice, He will naturally shine His light on the lies we believe about ourselves and the world, exposing them for what they are. In this post, I share my experience with going barefaced for the first time in years, with the hope that other women and girls will come to find the freedom in this area that is part of their inheritance in Christ.
Hello! I know it’s been a while since I last wrote on this blog, and the reason for that is that I relocated to Spain in January to retrain as an English language teacher. This decision came after months of prayer, discernment and digging into God’s Word, during which time I strongly felt that the Lord was calling me to give up my secure, well-paid (and wholly unfulfilling) job, to leave my family and friends and to follow Him into an unfamiliar land. Naturally, this was a life-changing decision and the path has been far from easy. However, trusting God with this step has taught me a thing or two about how He reveals His will to His adopted children. In my experience, it has always been little by little, or, as they say in Spain, poco a poco.
Humans don’t like this, of course. As creatures wired for survival we naturally want certainty, and sometimes it feels like it would be so much easier if God would only provide us with a blueprint. In reality, though, God doesn’t work like that, because he wants us to grow in faith, love and obedience. Do we love Him enough to want only to please Him, even if it means we never become rich or own our own house? Can we, like the man born blind, trust Him enough to go where He sends us, even if we can’t see where we’re going or what the outcome will be?
Kevin Shorter, the author of Prayer Coach, recently caused a bit of a stir in the Christian blogosphere when he wrote a post titled: ‘God wants to have sex with you.’ While Kevin has made it quite clear that he did not intend this bold title to be taken literally, it has nevertheless sparked a discussion about the nature of God’s love and our relationship to Him. As it transpires, a number of Christians are finding themselves confused, frightened and thrilled in equal measures when they find themselves – quite literally – falling in love with their creator.
While Kevin was using the metaphor of sex between a husband and wife to illustrate the level of intimacy God desires with every soul (an intimacy which is not necessarily sexual in nature), the post’s comments reveal that some Christians experience a love of God (and Jesus as the image of God), which is distinctly spousal; that is, they love Him the way a wife loves her husband. Such feelings naturally need an expression, and many are struggling to figure out how this spousal love should play out in their spiritual lives. While Kevin was understandably unwilling to enter into a discussion about what this deeper level of intimacy with God should entail, I nevertheless feel that it’s a discussion which needs to be had. It’s a topic I’ve spent a great deal of time praying over, and in this article, I will attempt to lay down some guidelines on how we can integrate romantic, or even sexual, feelings toward God and Christ into a healthy Christian spirituality. I also propose three ways for Christians to explore and express this spousal love for God, in a way which doesn’t reduce it to an earthly level and, just as importantly, is compatible with the Church’s teachings on sexual morality.
Photo by Kasuma from Pexels
I’ve always been slightly envious of people who had a Christian upbringing and who’ve known the Lord from a young age. Having undergone a false conversion in my teenage years, I considered myself a Christian for a while – albeit one who never went to Church or picked up her Bible, much less bore any fruit for the Lord. Even that fell by the wayside in my twenties, and I spent many years in a state of rebellion against God, not coming to true repentance until I was almost thirty years old. That means that, like most people who become Christians as adults, I have a past. It also means I’m very familiar with the pain and shame that come with being a divorced Catholic.
My ex-husband is not a man of God and my marriage was abusive in pretty much every way you can imagine. However, even secular marriages are considered sacramentally valid by the Church unless they can be proven otherwise. This means that, as it stands, remarriage is not something I can even consider at present. Since the whole point of Christian dating is for both parties to discern whether God is calling them into covenant with another person, that’s currently off the table as well.
If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, you’re likely feeling confused and hurt. When other Christians are getting married and raising families, it’s tempting to feel like you’ve been short-changed and wonder if you’ll ever experience true happiness again. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. In the time I’ve known the Lord, he has shown me that the single life, while challenging at times, brings a whole set of gifts and blessings which our married brothers and sisters may not experience. So whether you’re divorced, widowed, or just haven’t found that special someone, my hope is that this article will help you to see your situation in a new, more positive light.
About two years ago, my goal in life was to become a world-famous wildlife biologist, like Sir David Attenborough (I appreciate you may not be familiar with him if you don’t live in the UK!). Having been through some pretty horrible experiences in my life, I had decided that now was my time, and I was incredibly focused and determined to make it happen. I had everything planned out: I would study a Natural Sciences degree part time while I kept my job, then go on to do a PhD. In the meantime I was slowly building a portfolio of volunteer work, gathering data for marine scientists and giving educational talks about conservation to school children. I was motivated and sure I would succeed.
Then I met Jesus.
At first, I was naïve. I was convinced I could explore my new-found faith while still pursuing my own agenda. And the Lord tolerated that, for a season, as he often does when we’re young in our walk with him. Gradually, though, I began to feel uncomfortable, which I’ve since learned is the Holy Spirit’s way of telling me that all isn’t well in my life. As it turns out, God isn’t happy being a part-time lover. Though I tried my best to ignore him, he persisted. It wasn’t so much “leave your nets and follow me” as “leave your textbooks and follow me”.