Today we're hearing a little bit from the lovely Emma! Emma graduated from Cambridge two years ago and now works in finance. She has recently got engaged (exciting!) so as someone who is about to enter into a new chapter of life, its been great to hear from her about the encouragements and challenges of her journey of faith so far.
Interview with Emma (Part I)
Is there a particular Bible passage that you return to for help and guidance when faced with tough decisions?
Ever since I was 11 years old when a lovely teacher of mine showed me this passage, I have constantly returned to Philippians 4 - sometimes on an hourly basis! Verse 6 of that chapter says:
'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.'
Every single time I read this verse, I am blown away by the fact that God cares about my worries and concerns and loves me the same. The fact that the creator of the universe is not merely interested in me, but delights to hear me speak to him in prayer is mind blowing! There is no worry too big or small for God. He cares about and can sort the small niggles we face each day: when I feel overwhelmed by my to do list, when my work is going badly and when I have a difficult situation with a friend which is causing real heartache. He also cares about the 'big' things. When a family member or friend dies, or when I'm thinking about getting married (super exciting but also a big deal), or thinking about how best I should serve at church, God is right there with me and loves for us to come to him in prayer. He is there for the weary and heavy laden and it is He who gives us rest (Matthew 11:28).
I currently have some song lyrics to help me try to remember this, which pop up as a reminder on my phone at 7.15am each day: 'your presence like a fire, hope for tomorrow, strength for today'.
I want to try to start everyday remembering that God is my strength and that I cannot do anything in my own strength but in His. When I begin to feel anxious or overwhelmed about what I need to get done that day, as Philippians 4 says, I want to turn to my heavenly Father and draw close to Him as my sustainer.
Another verse that really spoke to me recently was Hebrews 6:19:
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
It was the second word of that verse that really struck me: we HAVE this hope. This means that we have this hope now - not just for our eternal future in heaven (of course this is massively amazing!) but also for today, tomorrow, this week and the rest of our lives here on earth. This is so amazing! This means that we needn't search for our hope in other things - my performance in exams, my success in my career, my popularity, my looks, my cooking skills (which are rather lacking!) are NOT going to define me, or affect how God looks at me. I am his daughter - I have this hope today, and tomorrow and for eternity. My value is not in what other people think of me. My value is found in God, and his purposes. When life seems to be difficult, I need not be afraid. God loves me as a daughter, no matter what and whether things seem to be going well in my life, or not. This is what is so freeing about grace and what is so amazing about the Gospel! It is an anchor for our souls.
Is there a piece of wise/helpful advice that you have received over the past few years that you could share with us?
I was listening to a great talk about Hannah recently, which ended with three questions, which I think are fantastic to think through: (1) Where is my focus? (2) What vision do I have for my life? (3) Am I willing to surrender all to God?
I look back over the last few years, and can see how my answers to these questions would have been different during the different seasons that I have been through. At school I was focusing on my exams and building friendships, and then more recently as a graduate, I was focused on finding a job. At present, I am preparing to get married and focused on thinking about how God might want to use Luke (my fiancé) and me working together for his purposes. I think it is great to stop and think these three questions through from time to time.
The first one challenges me to articulate what my focus is at the moment, and what I am spending my time and energy on, and ask whether I think this is in line with God's will.
The second one challenges me to look forward and dream big. We have a God who is more powerful than we could ever imagine and can do more than we can even know. What big and exciting plans might he have for my life? What excites me? What am I passionate about pursuing? What vision can I articulate for the current season I am in at the moment, or for my life generally going forward?
Then importantly, the third question asks am I willing to surrender all these things to God, knowing that he loves me as a daughter more than I can ever imagine? Am I able to present my requests with thanksgiving to God, and then to trust Him completely with the outcome, whatever that may be? I always find this challenging, but I know that we have a God who is almighty and all powerful, who knows us and loves us, and has good plans for us, and this is massively liberating and very exciting.
We're looking forward to hearing more wise words from Emma over the next few weeks!