I hear God speak to me when I row. Notice what I didn’t say – I didn’t say that God speaks to me when I row, although that is also true. I think that God is speaking to me a lot more than I realise, but when I am rowing, I find it easier to hear what he is saying. It’s not that I am not listening to the Lord at other times. I spend a regular time with the Lord every morning and I always ask him to speak to me. Then I stop and listen, for maybe two minutes. The day is beginning, and I have things to do. When I am rowing, I am not in a hurry.
Last week the Lord said to me “Mary, you are strong, and you are thwarting the plans of the enemy.” Pretty cool, eh? Especially since I do not feel particularly strong. God said it though, so now I need to believe it. And thwarting the enemy – I wondered how I was doing that. Then I remembered that although the Lord had a plan for my life, so also did the enemy. The enemy wants me to feel weak and useless, to believe that I can’t do anything right, and that I am no use to the Lord so I might as well not bother to try. And I have been refusing to believe that.
Several years ago, I lived with my family in a part of London, England, that had a lot of social problems. I recall taking a walk with my oldest daughter and we passed a woman who was talking to herself. My daughter turned to me and asked “Mummy, why is that woman telling a story, and no one is listening?” I have no recollection on how I answered my daughter, but I have since learned to also tell stories when no visible person is listening. Saying things out loud helps me to see them as more real than if I just think them in my head.
Perhaps you have felt isolated recently, with Covid keeping so many of us apart. I remind myself “Mary, you belong to God. He loves you, Mary. He is glad that you are in his family. God is happy that you belong to him.”
Or maybe you have wondered about your value because you are unable to do anything much for the Kingdom right now? “Jesus paid so much to bring you into his family, Mary. He thought you were worth it. Jesus says I have value and I will not disagree with him.”
And those wonderful things I learned when I was raising my children, like separating the action from the child. If my child did something stupid, and they all did sometimes, then the action was stupid and not the child. Now I can afford myself the same truth. If I do something that I later realise was not a good thing to do, I will not call myself stupid. I will not run myself down for my mistakes. I will own them. I will admit to them. But they do not define who I am. Confess. Apologise if I need to. And move on. As a loved child of God.
Sometimes I may feel like I am holding on by the skin of my teeth. And maybe I am. But I am holding on. And when I do slip, and I put myself down for something I did, I quickly put it right, and correct the lie that I have told. “I am not an idiot. I am a loved child of God. And I make mistakes sometimes. But even then, I am still a loved child of God.”
A few days later when I was able to go rowing again, I felt the Lord saying to me, “Mary, you are strong and resilient.” To be honest, I don’t really want to be resilient. I would prefer everything to go right the first time I bring it to the Lord in prayer. I prayed hard for the end of Covid months ago, and we are now in the fourth wave. But I have not stopped believing in a God who loves and cares for me, and for everyone else too. I don’t understand all that’s going on, but I am still trusting, still believing. And I am giving thanks and worshipping the Lord. And declaring the truth about who I am. Which continues to thwart the enemies plans for me.