Interview with Emma (Part II)
Could you share something that has recently been an encouragement to you? What has this taught you about God?
I was recently reading Ephesians and was reminded how much I love verses 20 and 21 of chapter 3: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!"
The fact that God can do immeasurably more than we ask or could even dream of is amazing! And I am so quick to forget this! Throughout Ephesians, Paul wants us to grasp the love of Christ. Not just to be reminded, and then forget, or not just to think about it for a little while, or not just to consider it and turn it over in our minds, but to really GRASP it - to hold on really tightly to it, to embrace it, and to be totally in awe of it. The God of the heavens loves us. This is mind-blowing, especially when I get so caught up in the fact that I've developed a large spot on my chin, or that I've got lots of deadlines coming up and so on.
God sees me as his daughter, who he loves immeasurably more than I can even imagine. He loves me not because of what I've done, and indeed He forgives me for all of the things I've done wrong, and delights and loves for me to run into his arms. I love this picture as it reminds me of when I was a girl and used to get so excited when my dad was home from work, and literally hurtled down the stairs to run to him as he came through the door at the end of the day. There is a great song called Forever Reign by Hillsong that picks up on this idea, and I love to listen to it when I'm on the move.
God loves us to run into his arms - when we are excited about something, or tired and feeling weak, or when we are unsure of what to do in a certain situation, or when we are thanking him for all of his goodness. No matter what the circumstances in our lives at any one time may be, we are daughters of God, who are loved IMMEASURABLY MORE than we could even dare to dream. What a massive privilege! It is impossible not to overflow in praise for a God who loves us so much as to send his son for us. We are truly precious, which is sometimes so hard to even fathom but always so so wonderful!
How would you encourage people who are facing new situations or transitional periods?
I would say that it is so important to remember two things: (1) God is sovereign and (2) it is not all about us.
The first one is key, because we need to constantly remember who God is, and crucially, that I am not God. When I am in periods of transition, it is easy to think that I need to sort everything out, and have an action plan that I stick to so that I can get where I want to.
But, Jesus himself said to his father 'not my will, but yours be done'. If we believe that Jesus paid the price for us to be in relationship with God, then part of that is submitting to God as ruler of our lives. He is all powerful and in control, and this is actually massively liberating. I can trust that he will care for all of my material and relational needs, and that he will love me no matter what. At the end of the day, this is all that really matters. He has given me so much already, so I can trust that nothing will come my way that we can't handle together and that his promises are true.
I think that part of helping me remember who God is in practice, is prioritising the various facets of my life carefully, and asking how should I view my life in the light of God's love and grace. I've often heard people suggest the following order for our priorities in life, which I have found super helpful. The biggest and number one priority should be our relationship with God. This is the bedrock of everything, the foundation of our whole lives and beings. This is the basis from which everything else flows. The second should be our core relationships - our family or very close friends. At different stages of life, this will vary, but I think for young people this will mean our family or very close Christian friends, who in essence are our family. The third is our work. God thinks that work matters. We were created to work, and I believe that we should work hard, and strive for excellence in whatever it is that we are doing, for God's glory. The fourth is our service at church. Loving our church family and using the gifts that God has given us to serve others is really important, and something that is a real blessing!
For different people, how this looks in practice will vary, but for me, it means that I try to prioritise spending time with God in prayer and reading his word every day. I also try to pray as I go through the day, and have various prompts and reminders to try to help me, as I forget quickly. As I look ahead, once we are married, Luke will be the second priority in my life. I will seek to put his needs above mine, and importantly, above my work or other friendships. I will try to commit time to our relationship, and protect it fiercely. Following these two, I then try to make sure that I work hard, and to the best of my ability. I don't think that we are called to work literally non-stop (God did create rest!) but I do think it means we shouldn't be afraid of hard work, that we shouldn't cut corners but that we should apply ourselves sensibly. Church is my next priority, so I will give time to service there and trying to play the role that god has called me to in the church family. My prayer is that I would be remembering that God is sovereign, that he reigns and rules over my life and that he would work in me so that I would be transformed into his likeness.
The second thing I would encourage people to remember, which links closely to the first, is that it is not all about us. During periods of change, I find it so so easy to begin to think that unless I manage to sort things out, or pass that exam, or get that job, or go out with that person, or achieve success in an area of my life, then it is all going to be disastrous! It is sometimes scary how easily I can start to think that unless I organise even something as mundane as what I will eat for supper, or getting that piece of work done really well, then the whole world will literally come crashing down!
But the liberating thing about the Gospel, is that God says it is not anything at all that we have done that makes us right. Our actions, our successes, our failures do not affect how he looks at us. It was through Jesus' death on the cross that we are now right with God and can be in relationship with him. And it is the Holy Spirit who works in our hearts and lives, and the lives of those around us, to transform us so that we might be more like Jesus. It is not anything that we have done and it is not all about me. So when things are changing in my life, I need not panic about how I will cope. I just need to remember who God is, and that I am his daughter and how massively exciting this is.
Written by Emma