Sometimes it’s hard to know what ‘Receiving Life’ from Jesus looks like. We can become dry in our faith and feel disconnected from Him. When this happens how do we come close to Him again? After 39 years of being a Christian, Hayley from River City writes about a fresh revelation of Jesus’ love for her and how she found it as she chose to be thankful…
Almost 6 months ago I really found out what God means when He says He is our Father and will protect us even when we aren’t fully aware of the extent of this; when we feel very low and distant from Him, He is still there carrying us through and when this really hits home it has a massive impact – it did on me. Through a very difficult and frightening situation He did something quite amazing in me, that on reflection has been an incredibly impacting turning point in my life as a Christian.
Exactly a week after having emergency surgery to remove my perforated appendix, I began to have this wonderful sense of thankfulness to God for His total protection over us. We had been in Italy at the time on holiday and my appendix had started to grumble but I foolishly convinced myself that my increasing pain was nothing significant. When I looked back on the events of the previous week, I had this ever-increasing growing sense of intense gratitude and realisation of how good God had been to us, especially at a time when we felt so distant from Him. Over the next few days I reflected more and more at what He had done for us, how He had been with us all along when we weren’t even acknowledging Him and I just couldn’t stop thanking Him. I couldn’t get enough of being in His presence. What a perfect place to be. I had never experienced this intimacy with God before.
Since that week, I can honestly say I feel like thankfulness has opened a door to me, It feels like something was unlocked; something mind-blowingly simple. Something that makes me feel so close to Him and accepted in whatever place I am in – good or bad, high or low. Through my immense thankfulness I have felt a release of so much that has held me back over many years; freedom from fear; striving to please people and live up to expectations – really set only by myself; freedom from judging myself; freedom to like myself and to accept myself as I am, as God made me – really believing that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. My prayer life and intimate time with God is so precious to me now – something I have never really experienced. I always start by thanking Him, which just sets my mind and my heart where it needs to be. I know He loves to meet with me.
“I couldn’t get enough of being in His presence. What a perfect place to be. I had never experienced this intimacy with God before.”
The journey from my head to my heart has been a hard one. Thirty-nine years of being a Christian has taught me well and given me firm foundations but it is the heart that matters. I knew this also but it is different to experiencing it fully and in a sustainable way – that is the key. I have certainly experienced many incredible times of being close to God over my years but it has never lasted. No-one has been harder on me than me. I’m thankful that this is no longer the case and even on days when I don’t feel it I know it – by faith.
“I always start by thanking Him, which just sets my mind and my heart where it needs to be. I know He loves to meet with me.”
Six months later I am still being thankful for everything! Having a thankful heart really does make a massive difference – it is a joy giver and releaser. It is so positive and makes me glad! I still get bad days (and I always will) where wrong attitudes creep in, disappointment strikes, frustration rears it head etc but the difference is that I am not hard on myself – I give it to God before it does any damage and tell Him how I feel and ask Him to just fill me with His Holy Spirit – His perfect gift to us. Sometimes this is so hard but it is a good discipline and part of maturity as a Christian. We are in a battle after all. I know that feelings can be deceiving. Many times we just have to choose to do the right thing whether we feel it or not. It is those hard times that are the test but I’m trusting in Him. I will fall many times but I have finally learnt that is not the falling down that matters – its the getting back up. The Christian life is not easy by any means but we have Jesus to help us in it. It is only Jesus who fully knows our hearts and only Jesus who loves us totally unconditionally. It is only through Jesus we can show the love and compassion to those around us that is far more powerful than anything else we can say or do.
River City church are embarking on a year of thanks in 2019. East Hull is a place that especially needs to know the hope, peace and joy of knowing God’s love. This year we are making an effort to show this to those we meet everyday by saying thank you and asking God to open up discussions about Him. To follow our progress you can follow the hashtag #yearofthanks on facebook and instagram.