Tagged: prayer

Aug 30

The Lift Dance

In the first couple of weeks at my new job, I’ve had several moments of complete and total joy at what I’m actually getting paid to do. This has lead to what I will call – the lift dance. It goes a bit like this;

1) I find out something cool I get to do as part of my job
2) I feel full of joy and excitement but recognize that I may lose my job or traumatize my new colleagues if I fully express this joy and excitement
3) I have to go in the lift at some point during the day to go somewhere awesome like the library (there is a basement library with a vault that has some super old books in that smell amazing)
4) I remember that no one can see me in the lift (the rumours of CCTV are false)
5) I do a silly dance and fully express my joy and excitement at everything God is doing and the life I get to live

When I sit and really let myself think about everything God has done for me, the way he’s turned everything around…it’s overwhelming. It’s from this place that I try to start every day. Even when I’m grumpy, even when it’s early, even when there seems to be too much stuff to do, even when the sadness of the people I’ve lost in the last couple of years still stabs at me, I remember.

I remember what God has done for me. And when I remember it, there is always a reason to do the lift dance.

Sometimes as Christians I wonder whether we are too keen to forget, to press forward, to move on. We are so focused on the future that we forget to reflect on the past and let it revolutionize the present. The journey we’ve been on, the road God has weaved for us and walked with us.

It’s too easy to forget.

The Israelites were good at forgetting. It wasn’t long after they had been delivered from Egypt that they forgot just what they had been saved from – a life of pain and slavery. They even wanted to go back! (Numbers 14:3). Even when they reached the Promised Land they forgot and started doing evil stuff (Judges 3).

Forgetting what God has done never seems to end well.

In the Old Testament, one method of remembering was to build a pillar or altar of stones (1 Samuel 7:12, Joshua 4:1-9). When God helps Joshua cross the Jordan river with the ark of the covenant, Joshua does just that, and tells the Israelites that in generations to come when their children ask what the stones mean, they can tell them the story of what God has done. I love imagining a little kid, hundreds of years later, being sat down and told the amazing story of God doing a total miracle.

Remembering is good for us, but it’s good for others too.

One of the last things Jesus did was teach his disciples something to help them remember. During the last supper Jesus broke bread and drank wine with them, telling them to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). All across the world, 2000 years later, we celebrate communion together as followers of Jesus. We stop and remember what Jesus has done for us on the cross. It’s always a powerful symbol, where perspective returns and gratitude ignites.

We need to keep building pillars of stones! For real, maybe. Symbolically, definitely. Some creative ways of doing this:

• Buy or find a cool glass jar, and put it somewhere in your house. Every time something awesome happens to you or someone in your house write it down on a bit of paper and put it in the jar. When the jar is full empty it out, get your friends and family round and read out everything in the jar over a bottle of wine.
• Keep a journal, or prayer diary. Split the pages in half and on one side write down what you’re praying about. When you feel like God has resolved it or answered your prayer, write down what happened next to it on the other half of the page.
• Write down your testimony on a bit of paper, photocopy it ten times, and see how creative you can get leaving it in random places. Doctor’s waiting rooms, train seat tray tables, underneath the windscreen wiper of a random car…you can have lots of fun with this!
• Tell your stories! Tell them to your friends, family, house group, church. Stories are so powerful, moving and untouchable. They’re useless if they remain inside of us. We must tell them.
• Do more lift dances. But check for CCTV first.


Dec 05

Back by Morning

Josh had been coming along to One Eighty for a while. He was a nice kid, quiet, and a very good skateboarder. His Dad wasn’t really around, and his Mum Alison would nearly always drop off and pick him up from One Eighty sessions. We started chatting to her, and got to know her quite well. One day she shared that she had a job interview coming up and I told her we would pray that the interview went well. She said she had a catholic background, but didn’t really believe in God anymore as the last few years had been so bad for her and Josh that she couldn’t believe in a God who would let that stuff happen. Breast cancer, Josh’s Dad leaving, trouble with the neighbours, it had been a tough life.

As the weeks passed and we got to know her more, I invited her to church with me. She kept saying she would come but didn’t show up, so in the end I picked her up and took her to the Sunday morning service of my church. She was blown away. Church can be like this? There are so many people, they seem happy, and reasonably normal.

A few weeks later, she became a Christian. This was very cool.

The next day I got a phone call from her and she was distraught. Being a single Mum meant things were tough financially for her, and she had saved up for months to buy Josh a Nintendo DS for Christmas. Josh was sat on the front doorstep of their house playing with his DS, when his Mum called him inside to ask him something. After the conversation when he returned to the doorstep, the DS had gone along with the box of games beside it. Someone had stolen it from their doorstep in a matter of seconds, and she was gutted;

“How can God have let this happen? He is not with me, this was all a mistake, how can I ever afford to replace it?”

I found myself incredibly angry, wishing she could just have a break and enjoy the first few weeks of having Jesus in her life in peace. I was surprised how angry I was. I told her to go and get Josh, and pray with him that the DS would come back. I told her I would pray too, and that the DS would be back by the morning.

Back by the morning? Why did I say that?

I ended the phone call and then had a bit of a chat with God which went something like; “Hi God. Erm…so I sort of told Alison that the DS would be back by the morning. I have no idea why I said that. Any chance of some help?” I did not believe it would ever return, let alone be back by the morning. I totally panicked. I was going to add to her fear that becoming a Christian had been a bad decision.

God’s response? Trust me.

Maybe I should go and buy another one and drop it round in the morning? I could get it on my credit card and have it paid off within a couple of months.

God’s response? Trust me.

I have a friend who is a games journalist and I knew he had a spare DS. Maybe he would lend it to Josh until she had enough money to replace the stolen one. I phoned him and he agreed because he is lovely. Hi John.

God’s response? Trust me.

I prayed like I had never prayed before and I went to bed scared and dreading the morning when I would have to try and explain to Alison why I had said it would be back by the morning and it wasn’t. I eventually got to sleep.

The morning arrived. My phone rang. It was Alison. She was talking very fast. Someone had dropped the DS and all the games back through the letterbox during the night. I mean really, who does that? I was speechless and she was still talking, about how much she had felt God with her, about how amazing it was to pray with her son for the first time in years, about how she could see that God was looking out for her and everything was going to be okay.

I was definitely more surprised than Alison.