Rollercoaster Faith

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Lots of you will have been on a Christian camp or festival this summer, and will have learnt new things about God and experienced Him in incredible ways. Sometimes it can be hard readjusting to home-life, or to routine after these weeks away – and we know that there can often be times where doubts can creep in, and you might start to wonder whether you can ‘maintain’ the Christian life in a different environment, or if your faith will hold up at all. These ups and downs are what we’re nicknaming ‘rollercoaster faith’ – when you feel torn between pursuing God wholeheartedly, or going your own way and fitting in with everyone else instead.

Don’t be discouraged! Just because we don’t feel incredibly passionate or hugely excited about following God every single day doesn’t mean our faith isn’t there. Faith is for these very moments! Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about things unseen.

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.
It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

Hebrews 11:1

Yes, God can feel ‘unseen’ when we’re back at school, trying to tell our friends what we did over the summer holidays while avoiding using the word ‘Christian’. God feels ‘unseen’ when we are the only one in our friendship group that seems to be following Jesus at all. He feels ‘unseen’ when we’re nervously preparing to go to university, and the Facebook fresher page is full of people keen to do anything and everything except live for Jesus.

But, whether you’re struggling without term-time routine, drifting without the accountability of Christian friends, or wondering how to live out your faith consistently, we’re praying that God’s truths will steady your ‘rollercoaster faith’ little by little, and that you would recognise that instead you have a “spiritual lifeline” which will never fail you.

1. Know that God will never abandon us.

God is as present in the downs as in the ups – He doesn’t come and go with our moods or feelings. And you know, often we need those ‘downs’ in order that we might be changed and made better. God wants to make us into the best version of ourselves, and this involves pruning.

Pruning and changing is painful, but it’s necessary in order that our rough edges might be broken off and we will be made more beautiful. Isn’t this a truth that has been displayed so clearly throughout all the posts we’ve shared this summer series? The ‘downs’ can be the places where God’s work is most visible, present, tangible of all.

So, walk with God every day. If you want to know somebody better, it’s natural to spend time with them, so try and read your Bible, because God’s character is displayed here and you’ll find His truth and promises. And when it’s hard, ask Him to help you before you open the pages. When you forget or make mistakes, remember His grace. Accept that there will be elements of ‘rollercoaster’ in your journey of faith – but choose to praise God in the middle of every up and down, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that He’s only there in the ‘good bits’. He never leaves us.

2. Know that He is there in the everyday.

A life of praise feels easy and natural when we are surrounded by people at camps or festivals or at church – after all, we are designed to worship our Creator. However, readjusting to normal, everyday life can shock us. How do we praise God when we’re too busy with school, too busy with work? How can we be excited about living for Jesus when none of our friends want to hear the name mentioned? How can we be truly ‘on fire’ if we’re too embarrassed to bring up that we go to church?

You know, fighting these internal battles and making those tough choices to stand out and be bold are just as much ‘worship’ as anything we do at camp or at Christian festivals. They are tough decisions, often not noticed by anybody else – but they are so valuable in God’s eyes, and they will make us mighty warriors! Keep pursuing God in the details, in the small and often-missable everyday choices you make – and know that the repitition of good habits and wise choices will grow in you a heart that is God-fearing and strong.

3. We can’t save ourselves.

I used to get home from Spring Harvest most years and write down a list of everything I needed to do to ‘remain changed’: read the Bible before school, pray on the walk to the bus stop, write a list of all my friends that I needed to tell about Jesus, pray for my family every day. Within a few weeks, I’d failed miserably, and I was doubting whether I had really been changed at all.

I hadn’t grasped grace.

Grace is what saves us and gives us that spiritual lifeline. We’re not saved or changed by our own efforts. We’re changed because God loved us enough to send Jesus to take all our mistakes, sin and shame so that we don’t have to live in guilt or fear. This frees us up to live lives praising God motivated by love and not by fear. We’re not judged on what we do!

We don’t have a rollercoaster God. Our God is constant.

He controls time; He holds the world in His hands. His nature is unchanging. He has already saved us and He has always loved us! God is the same, whether you are praising Him amongst thousands of other joyful Christians or feeling desperately alone and nervous on your first day back at school. You can call on His name whether you are praying in church, or having the worst freshers’ week you could imagine.

In some ways, an element of rollercoaster Christianity is almost inevitable: our nature as human beings is that we are weak and easily blown off course. We get passionate about pursing God, and then we give up a little and go our own way. It’s the pattern we see in the Bible with the Israelites time and time again. Yet God remains constant, there to pick up the pieces, there to guide us back to Him with unfailing love and all-covering grace.

Your status doesn’t change, depending on how many Christian friends you’re surrounded by, or how many camps you go on in a summer. Your status is wrapped up in the fact that you are a child of God. There is grace enough for all your mistakes and more. Know that God is constant, pursue Him in the everyday, and find joy and security in the fact that you have been saved!

P.S. Never Too Young To Read Your Bible is a really helpful post written by Hannie, which encourages us to explore our Bibles in new, living and exciting ways so that we can learn more about Jesus and grow in our faith.

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Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

I’m Lucy and I’m just coming to the end of my second year at Durham University. I love my hometown Cambridge and I also love living in the beautiful little city of Durham, where the coffee shops are plentiful and the people are GREAT!

Running More Precious is one of my favourite things and I’m super excited after the impact this summer series has made! Like I said in my bio, I’m still learning how to live out a little of the thankfulness of Pollyanna, the kindness of Katy Carr and the faith of the Proverbs 31:25 girl – perhaps one day I’ll get there!

Found in Cosmo, not Christianity…

The overwhelming response to our Summer Series so far has been that of gratitude for God’s grace, and to the brave girls who have explored painful, messy issues for us in a grace-centred way. Amidst the struggles of eating disorders, mental illness, and the everyday insecurities about body image, skin and relationships, it has been amazing to see girls pointed to Jesus and able to reconcile life’s challenges with God’s perfect love for us.

Today we have one of the bravest posts yet – encouraging us to be honest, open and Christ-centred in the struggle with sexual sin and masturbation. Even these words are such a taboo amongst Christian girls, and while they are completely at home on the pages of Cosmo, or in a boys-only accountability session – Christian girls are often left alone and ashamed in their struggles. We’re praying that Eve’s post will break that first taboo and allow you to pursue Jesus wholeheartedly in this area of your life – releasing you from shame, equipping you to fight sin and pointing you to the grace of God.

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Everyday I walk around wearing a cloak of shame. It weighs heavy on my back and grasps hold of my thoughts and feelings, determined not to let me loose. Perhaps the feeling is familiar for you too. For me, my shame is a result of my struggle with sexual sin. The burden of past mistakes with guys. Oh, and the habitual sin of masturbation. There. I said it. I’m a Christian, I’m a girl, and I masturbate.

For those of you who have absolutely no idea how this could be an issue for a girl who seems to do all the right things – who goes to church every Sunday, prays and reads her bible, does a theology degree, longs to be a Godly and sacrificially loving wife and mother, but above all else seeks to glorify God and fall hopelessly in love with Him – then this is to give you some insight.

To the girl who is peering at the screen, face bright red, heartbeat racing, filled with shame from her own mistakes but finally somewhat comforted that someone else is struggling too, then this is for you.

In church circles – particularly with Christian girls – this is something we NEVER talk about. However, I refuse to believe that I am alone in my struggle with sexual sin and masturbation. If you also struggle with this, then you should refuse to believe it too. I’m right here! I want you to hear me declare that I’m struggling! We are not alone in this.

Now, honestly, would you be quite so shocked to read this if I was a guy? Or if I was in a relationship and struggling with my boyfriend? The fact that we have these preconceived misconceptions means we unfairly pin the blame for sexual sin on men, expecting them to be the culprits or at least the instigators of such behaviour. But I’m a single girl. Surely I wouldn’t be struggling with sexual sin, right? Oh how I wish.

Several years ago, I proceeded to work my way from base to base with guys – using the cringey teenage baseball analogy – attempting to justify myself with the weak assurance that at least it wasn’t a home run. Surely that meant that it was ok? I left each relationship with a few shallow promises to myself that it wouldn’t happen again, and a renewed fervour to seek a considerably better guy next time. For a time I would glimpse a sliver of God’s glorious freedom from that sin and shame, but I would never feel completely set free.

I knew that what I had done, what I was doing, and what I still do is wrong, but I could never bring myself to even utter a whisper of my sin to someone else that could help. This was partly due to the weight of shame I had piled on myself, partly due to my fear of being judged by whoever I told, but also mainly due to the shameful part of myself that still desired to wallow in my muck because, let’s be honest, it feels good.

However, admitting this to you should be no different to admitting that, in Year 4, I stole another girl’s purple flexi-ruler and lied that it was mine, when I’d actually broken my own and didn’t want to tell my mum. So why am I so terribly afraid of your judgement? I don’t mind you knowing about the ruler incident. Why have we so steeped this one particular sin in shame that it is the unforgivable sin above all other sins, never to be spoken of? ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23) God doesn’t see a hierarchy of sin. Why do we?

‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.’ Romans‬ 8: 1-3‬

Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, he has taken that cloak of sin and shame, stamped on it, spat on it, stabbed it with a pitchfork, poured petrol on it, set it ablaze, and fed the ashes to a lion so that I never again have to wear such shame. This is a feat that none of us could ever do on our own as our flesh is so weak it is incapable of not sinning. Hence why God did it for us out of His immeasurable and everlasting love for us to release us into His spirit-filled freedom.

This is a beautiful truth. One that has the power to transform lives the world over, and yet somehow, it wasn’t quite fully transforming mine. Somewhere in my heart there was a divide between the knowledge that God can remove my sin and shame, and, honestly, a lack of desire to combat sin and see real change. This is the age-old battle between desire for God and the desires of the flesh.

Reader, I wish I could be the one that hands you the key, shining on a silver platter with a chorus of angels in the background, to bridge this gap. I wish I could give you tips like ‘don’t lie down together’, ‘leave room for Jesus’ or ‘just don’t put anyone’s hands near anyone’s pants’ and that would solve it. I could even go so far as to say ‘don’t date’, ‘wear a chastity belt’, ‘don’t even look at the opposite sex’. But this will not solve the problem.

The only way I know of to practically solve this problem is not really that practical at all: it is a change of heart.

From my own experience, this is the twofold plan of action that I believe will best help you to remove the shame and combat the sin of masturbation:

One.

Stop viewing God as the enemy, who sees your sin and turns His back on you. Understand that He is for you and meets you with grace. Surrender yourself to Him and then prepare to wage war against sin and Satan, with God as your ally. Refuse to let this sin rule over your life, hindering your ability to glorify God and enjoy Him. Once you begin to take this battle seriously, you will start to experience God’s strong, mighty, majestic power to combat Satan, but also His gentle, patient, loving power to attack the sinful desires in your own heart. God longs to draw you close to himself so that he can work in your heart and release you into great freedom and joy:

‘The Lord appeared from afar saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you to myself with loving kindness. I will build you up again, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your timbrels and dance with the joyful.”‘ Jeremiah 31:3-4

Two.

Phone a friend. Tell someone. There is huge power and freedom in simply saying something out loud. I know it’s scary; it makes you incredibly vulnerable and open to judgement and rejection, but please, find someone that you trust and have them alongside to hold you accountable. Get them to challenge you monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, whatever it takes.

The bible instructs us to seek out this accountability because God knows how valuable it is: ‘Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.’ (James 5:15)

The only reason I am able to write this post now is because I eventually got to a point where I had to tell someone who could help. While it hasn’t magically made the problem go away, it does mean that I’ve got someone else in my corner, mopping my brow and making sure I’m still swinging the punches. If you can’t think of anyone that you trust then perhaps you need to be investing more in your Christian friendships to allow you to be more honest and open. Alternatively, speak to someone in your church, your CU or even contact myself or one of the More Precious team. We would so love to support you in seeking God’s glorious best for you in a life that is no longer ruled by shame and sin:

‘Do not be afraid, you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is His name – the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.’ Isaiah 54:4-5

Obviously this post is not going to single-handedly stop masturbation in the church. If only it were that simple! Realistically, what I want to see is a change in our attitude towards it.

Sex is a good thing. Wanting sex and having a sex drive is a good and healthy thing – even as a woman, though it is so often frowned upon both in church and culture. However satisfying that sex drive with anyone but your husband (including yourself) is not the way God intended. So, I don’t suggest we accept it or say it isn’t sin. But I do propose that we stop pretending this isn’t a problem for girls too, cloaking it in shame to the extent where people, particularly girls, feel unable to admit their struggles and be released into God’s beautiful freedom, won for us on the cross. Our job is to love our brothers and sisters in Christ as they receive God’s conviction for their sins, not to heap more shame on top of what Satan is already hissing to them.

As such, I urge you to share this post. Even if it reaches just one other person who feels cloaked in shame, to tell them that there is grace, freedom and joy found in God through accountability to others, then this horrifically painful display of honesty will have been worth it.

I’m a Christian, I’m a girl and I’m struggling with masturbation, but God, the mighty warrior, is on my side and I’m determined to live in His freedom, not the devil’s shame. What about you?

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Eve

Hi, I’m Eve, a Durham Theology student about to start her second year, who dreams of travelling, making the perfect quilt, having a family, and starring on The Great British Bake-Off. More importantly though, I’m passionate about loving God above all else, getting excited to see His Kingdom come, and encouraging other girls to pursue their beautiful God-given identity in Christ.

How Far Is Too Far?

Lovely girls, I am very excited to be sharing a post from Lara with you all this morning – she is one of the wisest, most encouraging and passionate people I know, and her pursuit of relationship with God regularly inspires me. Lara has been brave in tackling the topic of physical and emotional boundaries within relationships, sharing her insights and pointing us back to what God desires for us and where our identity rests. Filled with lots of wonderful Bible passages that show us glimpses of God’s character, this post is great for keeping perspective on who He is, who we are, and what our purpose ultimately is in this world. So – let’s try and honour God in the way we do relationships – as messy as they often are and as wrong as we often get them! Here we go.. L xo

Screen shot 2014-08-11 at 23.20.10I’ve not been quite sure how to go about writing this post if I am completely honest. My fear is that it might come across as self-righteous and condemnatory. Furthermore, the topic of boundaries in relationships isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Despite these two obstacles that have held me back from writing so far, I do believe that the Bible has some clear guidelines that have been helpful in my own life. I want to share these valuable gems with you and hope that they serve to challenge and encourage you in thinking about purity and boundaries – whether you are in a relationship or not.

If someone had said to me a few years ago that I would be in a serious relationship striving wholeheartedly for godliness, I would have laughed and said that serious kind of relationship was for much later on when I was ready to settle down and had developed some more self-control. I used to always view those super-godly couples as a cut above the rest with shining halos and pristine pasts. Yet now I find myself almost hitting the one-year mark in a more healthy and mature relationship than I ever thought I’d be in at 20 years old…and I certainly don’t have any sort of halo!

Inevitably there was that point fairly early on in the relationship where the ‘boundaries bridge’ had to be crossed and we had to ‘have the chat’. I was quite nervous for this chat because God had been challenging me in the area of purity and boundaries through a podcast series I had just listened to. I had had relationships in the past and drew the line at ‘no sex before marriage’ but I had crossed the line at other points and in other ways. I knew that in this relationship, I wanted to honour and uphold not only my own purity, but also his – and so I felt that it would be best if we didn’t kiss. I knew that this was pretty radical, even within a Christian relationship!

In making that decision, I didn’t think that I was better or more holy than my other Christian friends in relationships – I was simply being honest with myself. From my past experiences, I knew that kissing was bound to lead to more – not just physically, but also in my mind. At each of those past times, I was thinking ‘I’m not crossing the line. This is harmless and feels good’, but in reality, I was destroying the relationship by making it more about the physical than the friendship. I was feeding my own pleasure which is not loving at all! Love is not self-seeking… (1 Corinthians 13:5).

The Bible does not clearly outline the ‘thou shalt/shall nots’ on the topic of boundaries within dating (dating isn’t even a concept in the Bible!), BUT Ephesians 5:3 does say that there be ‘not even a hint of sexual immorality among you’. So asking the question ‘how far can I go?’ is simply not the right question to be asking if we want to pursue godliness. What that question is really asking is ‘How close to the line (sexual sin) can I get without crossing it?’ The problem is that Scripture explicitly tells us not even to ‘approach’ the line, but to turn and run from it. The question we should all ask — in any area of our lives — is ‘How can I best pursue that to which God has called me?’ We are all called to pursue holiness and purity in our personal lives – and so if ‘how far can I go?’ is a question you regularly ponder and ask, I would challenge you to examine your motives.

I know that personally, in the past when I would ask older wiser women that question, I was looking for confirmation that as long as I wasn’t sleeping with my boyfriend, anything else was fine. I was undeniably not wholeheartedly seeking to be like Jesus and please Him first. Song of Songs (2:7, 3:5, 8:4) says, ‘Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe – and you’re ready’. The question therefore is not ‘where is the line?’ but rather ‘when is the time?’. God is not the enemy of your love life (He made love and sex!) but He does set a standard. The desires you have for intimacy are good and right, but wait until God can look at it and bless it. Until that point, by God’s grace, we should strive for the standard that He has set, yet know that grace abounds when we fail.

For some this will be hard to hear as you have already made mistakes and ‘crossed the line’ – but the truth is that ALL of us have. Sexual sin is not just what we do with our bodies but also in our minds and hearts. Despite the times where I have fallen short of God’s standards in the area of sexual purity, I know that there is hope and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. If we truly repent of our past sins and turn from them and believe in the atoning blood of Christ, we are not ‘damaged goods’ but new creations. We are WASHED, sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus!

The gospel of Jesus is not for pristine people but for the unclean and broken.

If we look at how God related to his people in the Old Testament, we see that God relentlessly pursued His people and drew them to Himself even though they had gone astray, prostituting themselves with other gods. You are not too far from the arms of Christ’s redemption and He will make the valley of your shame into a doorway of hope (Hosea 2:15). As Christ’s bride, He delights in washing us clean. What was red as crimson has become white as snow, so we can confidently enter into God’s presence knowing that we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. For “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

A verse that has stayed at the forefront of my mind in this relationship is this:

‘Guard your heart above all else’ (Proverbs 4:23)

I really believe that in seeking purity in a relationship, emotional boundaries are just as important as physical ones. Jen Smidt says, ‘Be active, vigilant, and careful about how much of your heart you give to a man. Be able to walk away from a relationship with your whole heart intact so that a future husband would not be robbed of part of it’. This is an area that I think is most easy for me to trip up on. When you like someone it is easy to get carried away with emotions, and, while it is not a bad thing to feel, so often I forget to guard my heart. I love the idea of preserving my heart – and if I end up marrying a person, I want to give them all of my heart, not just a part. This long-term perspective has been good for me in setting emotional boundaries. Again, this is not a point to despair of if you feel like your heart has already taken a hit. Rather, it is another chance to see God’s work of restoration in making broken things whole!

Boundaries are really helpful in reminding us of the true status of a relationship. You are not married until you are married! If you get carried away acting like you are married, it can compromise the development of a friendship. Early in my relationship, we decided that we didn’t want to fall into the trap of looking forward to seeing each other merely so we could kiss/cuddle. We decided that we wanted to make sure when we met up, we were excited to spend quality time investing in each other rather than simply excited to get our hands all over each other.

The purpose of this post isn’t to incriminate anyone, but rather to give a reminder that God is faithful to forgive everything and anything you have done in the past. It is also a challenge to strive for His plan for intimacy – physical, emotional and spiritual – within marriage. Yes, it is hard, and yes, temptations will no doubt come, but hold fast to God’s plans which are always good. You must know that you are loved by God. Jeremiah 31:3 says:

‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’.

That desire you feel stirring within cannot ultimately be quenched by any human intimacy. The longing of your heart will not be fulfilled until you have tasted that steadfast and redeeming love.

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Lara

Hi I’m Lara! I’m about to start my final year of International Relations at Durham University and have loved (almost) every moment of it. I grew up in China and have an appreciation of all things Asian – especially spicy Thai food :-) I have the travel-bug and dream of seeing as many parts of the world as I can and experiencing as many cultures as possible. I can’t wait to get to heaven and see all the nations bowing before the throne of God!

The Ultimate Love Story

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This post has taken me a long time to write. I’d been praying about it for quite a while, but there just seemed to be no inspiration. I would write something out and then delete it, unsatisfied with my efforts.

Then a few days ago, I went to a Youth Conference in Austria called GYC (Generation of Youth for Christ). It was an incredible (and intense!) few days of teaching, fellowship, prayer, outreach… and some really great vegetarian food (as well as a few late night pizzas!). Christ was lifted up as He drew so many to Himself. The city of Linz was impacted by around 800 young people seeking to tell those who lived there about their Saviour, and God really was glorified in an incredible way! Amongst all of this, a small observation began to seep into my thinking. I began to notice that many of the young people there were either married or in long term relationships, a growing theme since graduating from university.

So far, singleness has not been the greatest struggle for me. Of course, there have been times when it has played upon my mind, but so far, it has not presented the greatest stumbling block. And anyway, often life is so busy that it lends no time to dwell on my singleness! But at GYC, I saw the beauty of Christ-centred relationships in action. The way that mission was done together. The way that her mouth turned up into a secret smile when she talked about him. The way they prayed together. The way he strived to love her like Christ does His church.

I thought to myself, ‘I want that’.

A competing voice answered.

‘You don’t have it’.

Both sides drew arms as the internal battlefield began to open. But God, through one of the evening devotions, reminded my heart of Paul. Acts 20:24 is part of Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian Elders. As he departs for Jerusalem, where imprisonment awaited him, he states,

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (KJV)

The battlefield inside of me calmed as the still voice of the Almighty God whispered, ‘Do not let this move you’. Why? Not because it is unimportant, and not because it is not a valid struggle, but because in Christ, there is a higher calling.

There is a call to testify of the gospel of grace.

Throughout the book of Acts, Paul’s circumstances were continually against him. And whereas I’m not comparing singleness to shipwrecks or imprisonment (Check out 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 for singleness as a gift from God!) it still can be a struggle for many Christian men and women today. The circumstance of our relationship status can define our identity, rather than our identity in Christ defining how we react to our circumstances. Paul knew who he was in Christ, and it was this identity that shaped his mission.

But what does this mean practically? Personally, I feel most alive when I am giving my all for and to Jesus. Not as some kind of distraction technique, but because of the Biblical commission to tell those who have no hope that there is something to hope for, to show those who are afraid to trust that there is someone who will not fail them. Pray about your mission, your gifts, the ways in which you can serve your local church and be a witness to your friends about the blessed hope which you have. Ask God for opportunities to serve Him and seize each one He gives. Simply put, go for it! We are all called to be radical disciples of Jesus whether we have been single for 3 years or married for 40. As Christians, our hope need not rest in anything but Christ and his soon return (Titus 2:13).

Not only this, but the message of the Gospel displayed in the cross of Christ is an objective truth, no matter how you feel. It is a fixed point in history that demonstrates you are both unconditionally loved and worth everything. When our hearts present us with a thirst for love, the cross presents us with the source of Love that will fill us so that we never run dry.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not wrong to want a God-centred relationship. But if your hope begins to rest upon it, your thoughts are consumed by it, and your actions begin to reflect it as your heart’s intention, it can easily become an idol and replace the rightful position of Christ as the Lord of your heart and life.

Ultimately there is no Biblical promise that you will ever be in a relationship, or that you will be married, but there is a promise that Jesus will come again (see Revelation 21!), and that the greatest love story ever told, that of Christ and the redeemed, will be complete.

 

Written by Alex Browne

Letting God: Faith Under Pressure

Becky writes for us today about the lessons she learnt while feeling stressed under the pressures of academic work. Jesus promises to give us rest, to take our burdens and give us life – but do we remember to believe this and trust in this when things are tough and we’re feeling panicked? Becky points us back to the promises in the Bible and shares an important reminder to us all about the nature of the relationship we can have with our Father.

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It was coming up to the end of my second year of university, and I had two module deadlines. This was going to be a large majority of my mark. I had been feeling stressed already with different things going on, so I pushed my coursework to the side as I went home to relax over Easter. I was feeling okay about it until I started term again and only had a few weeks to finish everything. This is where the panic kicked in….

The more that I thought about the huge pile I had to get through, the worse I was feeling each day. The thoughts in my head were that there wasn’t enough time to get the work done, that there was too much to do – I WAS GOING TO FAIL.

As I started examining my thoughts I realised they were all negative. I had no motivation and I was tired. I realised that I couldn’t do it on my own, in my own strength. My work was my burden and it was weighing me down. As I thought about my work burdening me down, I thought of a song I used to sing in Sunday school, with the words:

“Cast your burdens unto Jesus for he cares for you.”

Something that I had often sung, but it just hadn’t clicked that this was a perfect time to put it into practice. Sometimes I think it’s easy to think that as there are so many huge, painful things going on the world, why would God care about me stressing over something like coursework? It seems so small. But the fact is – He does care, and nothing is too small for him!

The next morning came; I was waking up, already feeling crushed looking at the huge pile of work I had to do. I cried out to God for help, for motivation and positive thoughts. I admitted that I couldn’t do it on my own like I thought I could before.

Instead of feeling stressed by the amount of work I had to do I would start to say a little prayer: “Lord thank you for today. Please give me strength and motivation for today and keep my thoughts positive.” Throughout the day I would remind myself “Today is going to be a good day”, “I can get this work done”,  “I will finish in time”, and “I am not going to fail”.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7)

Everyday I woke up and repeated this process I had a good productive day. I got even more work done than I hoped to get done each day compared to when I was doing it in my own strength with a negative attitude and hardly scratching the surface. It was still hard and I had to put my head down,  I hardly left my room and had late nights. But in the end I finished not only both my modules in time but also a day early, which has never happened before. (I’m pretty last minute) So I am defiantly taking this new attitude into 3rd year (I think I’ll need it.)

But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.
(Psalm 59:16-17)

When you change your focus from what is stressing you out or worrying you, to focusing on blessings and on good things from God, it’s amazing how quickly things start to change.  My whole attitude changed and my mood was a lot better which I think my flatmates were grateful for!

Instead of letting academic work get me down, I was thankful that God provided me with a place at university. Instead of focusing on how much work I had left to do, I was thankful for how much I had completed that day. I was grateful for times where I could stop and have dinner with my flatmates. I was thankful for good Christian friends placed around me and for my mum for praying for me.

In Luke 18 the parable of the persistent widow teaches us to not lose heart in prayer not becoming discouraged but continuing to feel encouraged. She kept pleading with a judge, who didn’t care about anyone. She only got justice because she didn’t give up.

PinkAnd will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. (Luke 18:7-8)

We know that our judge (God) is kind and gracious, He answers in love, He is a judge who is interested in us and is ready to fight our battles head on. We need to be proactive making prayer the first resort instead of the last. Becoming more persistent, making prayers more passionate, being ready to see answers and change.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-)

The verse above is found in the lyrics of a song I loved when growing up. It’s all about trusting God, but trusting him with all aspects of your life. It shows us that instead of trying to keep hold of the bits we think we can deal with, or just handing over the bits we feel comfortable with, faith is all about letting go and letting God be in control.

psst. Did you know that More Precious is now on Facebook? You can follow us here to see all our latest posts and recent updates!

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Becky

My name is Becky Dobson. I’m currently studying Graphic Design at Sheffield Hallam. I enjoy cooking and baking, hanging out with my friends and have a good old sing song!  I’m looking forward to being a cluster leader at our Hallam cluster at my church up in Sheffield.

Faith I Call My Own

Whether you’ve grown up with Bible bedtimes stories and Sunday School each week, or you’ve only just heard about Jesus through a friend – it can sometimes be hard to know if being a Christian is “real”, or whether you feel like it’s just a habit or a lifestyle inherited from the people around you. I know lots of our readers will be be able to relate to Jessie’s post below, where she takes us through her thoughts on this. She reminds us that we can be sure in our faith, and that we are able to enter into personal relationship with our Father God.

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As a Christian, I know that “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7-8). As Christians, we all came to know this to be true in different ways. Whether it be at a seekers’ Bible study, surveying God’s creation, at camp, at home, alone. I should be praising God for using my family to tell me this great news. However, this isn’t always my natural reaction.

I was brought up in a Christian family. My Dad became a Christian at university after his friends brought him along to some Christian Union events and my Mum became a Christian when she was even younger. Because their faith is so important to them, they wanted to tell me about Jesus and, so, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been taken along to church. But, when I was about 17 or 18 I began to wobble a little, at times doubting whether the faith I thought I had was really mine.

After going to some summer Christian camps, I realised that some people had different, far more ‘exciting’ conversion stories than me. They’d have a particular date when it all made sense to them. They could pinpoint an eye-opening conversation, or a mind-blowing talk or a miraculous moment when God suddenly opened their eyes to their need of Jesus and immediately put their trust in Him. Me? I didn’t have a specific moment. I’d become a Christian over a longer period of time, gradually figuring out what it was all about. But, this meant that I began to worry. What if I was only a Christian because of my parents? I feared that my parents had made the decision regarding my faith for me and that I’d just got carried along by it.

On top of that, sixth form was a stage when my friends began to ask me more questions. “How can you really believe the Bible when it tells you that you’re a sinner?” “How can you live your life for something that was written 2000 and more years ago?” “Why don’t you just have fun? YOLO!”

This meant I had some thinking to do. Ultimately I had to ask myself a question:
“Who do you think that Jesus is?”

Jesus lived.

He made outrageous claims about himself being the Son of God. He died and He rose again. If I believed that happened, then there was no other logical explanation.

He had to be God.

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, put it like this:

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic…or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”

Some verses that helped me in my doubts were from Isaiah 53. These were written hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, yet perfectly depict what he came to do. How amazing and reassuring is that!?

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.”

Seeing this reminded me of what I had known all along. That I was living life for myself and had turned my back on God who had given me all good things and so I needed forgiveness. Reading these verses always amazes me. Out of God’s love, Jesus took my place and took the punishment that I deserve.

Every conversion is a miracle, whether you’ve been a Christian for as long as you can remember, or whether you’ve only just put your faith in God. We are ALL part of God’s family. We are all sisters in Christ.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t still have my doubts from time to time, but it does mean that I can have full assurance that this is my faith. I should spend more time thanking my parents for telling me the amazing news about Jesus! God used my parents to bring me into his family, so thank you Mum and Dad for sharing the gospel with me.

If you doubt the truth of the good news of Jesus then I really encourage you to read the book of Luke in the Bible. Luke writes that “since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:3-4).

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Jessie

My name is Jessie Purvis and I’m a recent graduate of Durham University. I am very excited to be starting Relay for UCCF in about a month and moving to Bradford!

Identity Status: Single

Bekah is writing for us today, in a beautiful post full of encouragement and honesty. She is refreshingly open about her own struggles in wanting a relationship, and she challengingly reminds us where our worth is truly found, breaking down the lies that tell us our value is in relationship with others. Whatever stage of life you are at – whether the desire for relationship occupies an uncomfortable proportion of your thoughts, or whether it’s something you haven’t considered yet – this post is a valuable reminder of our identity as a saved, loved child of God.

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As I sit on my bed, half eaten bar of chocolate at my side, propped up by cushions to prevent the stinging of yesterday’s sunburn, I realise that I don’t really know how best to start. Talking about something that you’ve struggled with arguably more than anything else in your Christian life is, unsurprisingly, pretty difficult. At the same time, that seems to be all the more reason for me to share.

I am a perpetual singleton.

With an apparent propensity for the over-dramatic.

As I’m only approaching twenty, I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that a little bit too early to resign yourself to the eventuality of becoming a ‘crazy cat lady’? Perhaps you’re right.

Nevertheless, my relationship status is probably the thing that I have most frequently wrestled over with God. Reading back on prayer journals from the past few years, aside from a worrying over use of the word ‘I’, the theme that comes up most frequently is my love life. 

‘Why won’t he like me back?’
‘Why haven’t I found someone yet?’
‘Where is he, God?!’

For the majority of my walk with God, I shamefully admit that I have rarely been fully satisfied in Him, spending most of my teenage years obsessed with the idea that I was incomplete unless I was in a relationship. 

I’d repeatedly tell myself ‘seeking a godly man isn’t a bad thing.’ And yes, it’s true. Seeking to be in a godly, Christ-centred relationship is not a bad thing. The problem came when this search consumed every part of me. I’d spent a long time capitulating to the cliché of a Christian woman: I’d written lists featuring such essentials as ‘taller than me’ and ‘prefers dogs to cats’; I’d heard near enough every talk that I could find on Christian dating; I’d even read Joshua Harris’ books. But still, nothing was able to fill this man-shaped gap in my life. 

It was in the summer before my gap year that I started to understand the gravity of the problem. Attending various Christian camps, I’d find myself, instead of listening to the talk, glaring around the room, asking God repeatedly whether my future husband was sitting anywhere near me. I’d massively overreact any time a Christian guy even spoke to me. I’d see smiling faces announcing their engagement over Facebook and curse their happiness, and my singleness, muttering 1 Corinthians 7 under my breath. It was almost a disease; it utterly consumed me. 

It was with this realisation that I decided that I would take a year out from relationships. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? A girl who isn’t in a relationship taking a year out from them? Nonetheless, on 11th November 2012, just over a year and a half ago, I started out on my year of singleness. 

If I’m brutally honest with myself, the main reason that I did this was because I thought that God would reward me by giving me my husband at the end of it. Suffice to say, this didn’t happen. Instead, I began to learn something far more valuable: God started revealing to me the truth. For however many years of my life, I came to learn that I had believed pervasive lies about who I truly was. In learning the truth, I’ve found unexpected freedom. My prayer is that, as I tell you about these lies that I believed, God will show you his glorious truth as well.

Lie #1: I’m single because I’m [insert word here]

For me, that sentence ended in an infinite number of ways. Because I’m too fat. Because I’m too ugly. Because I’m too boring. Because I’m not funny. I’d look around at other girls who were in relationships and compare myself to them. I’d think that they were prettier than I was, or more intelligent. I’d think that if I became more like them, I’d instantly find a boyfriend and therefore, be happy.

I can’t even begin to express to you the extent that this is a lie. Comparing yourself to other people is like a disease; it damages every single part of you. I am not somebody else for a reason. I am created in the image of a powerful, beautiful, creative God (Genesis 1:27). 

I may be throwing every Christian cliché out there at once but this is the truth, whether you’re single or otherwise:

You are the daughter of the King of Kings. He has called you by name. You are beautiful. You are worthy of love. There is nothing that you could do that could make him love you anymore. Nor can anything make him love you any less.

Lie #2: My singleness defines me

This is something that I’ve struggled with enormously. Having to force out a smile when asked the dreaded ‘have you finally found a boyfriend yet?’ at family parties, the fact that I’m single has caused massive problems with my identity in the past. I’d allow the word ‘single’ to permeate every aspect of my life and I believed that I was truly defined by the absence of a relationship rather than the evidence of a whole lot of other stuff in my life. My singleness began to define who I was; I thought my value and worth came from my relationship status.

In my year of singleness, God showed me that I wouldn’t suddenly gain an identity if I were in a relationship. I began to learn that I had an identity already; I was already defined by something else. I am a new creation in Christ and that is where my identity lies (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not in whether I have a boyfriend. Not in whether I remain single forever. God gave me value before I was even born, value that can never be taken from me. I’ve started to understand that my singleness doesn’t define me. God does. 

Lie #3: Nobody can fill this man-shaped space in my life

In the midst of my angst and worry about my relationship status, I’d begun to notice that I had created within myself a void that I believed only a man could fill. I didn’t think that I could be fully satisfied in life were I not in a relationship and eventually married with children. I was determined that this was where my life was headed and nobody, not even God could stop me.

What God revealed to me was not what I expected. He showed me that I did have a hole in my heart which needed filling. A void in my soul that needed satisfying. But it couldn’t be contented by just any man. It had to be filled by him. Only by putting my trust and hope in the only one who will never leave me, never forsake me, never let me down, can I be truly fulfilled. Only God can satisfy my soul.

It’s taken me a long time to realise these truths. It feels like the journey has gone on forever. 

Will I ever put my relationship status above God and treat it as an idol again? Undoubtedly. I’m not perfect. I’m not going to pretend that one year has completely transformed my way of thinking forever.

But perhaps now, I can walk into a church without thinking with hope that maybe my future husband is somewhere in this room. I can see another Facebook status about someone’s engagement and be overjoyed by the gift of marriage for them and not have to feel alone and envious. I can know that my identity is in Christ and that I am the apple of His eye, the crown of His creation and the daughter of the King of Kings.

I’m never going to be the perfect wife. And I’m never going to find a perfect husband.There’s only one person that will ever complete me. Only one man that can ever fully satisfy everything I need. Only one who would give everything for me, no questions asked.

His name is Jesus. And He’s already given it all.

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Bekah

Hello, I’m Bekah. I’ve just finished my first year studying English at Durham and absolutely love all of its quaint coffee shops, wonderful people, and beautiful scenery. When not studying, I live in the Midlands and spend my time reading books, drinking copious amounts of tea, binge watching cookery programmes, pinteresting, and writing. I’m daily overwhelmed by God’s awesome grace and mercy in my life and he’s given me a real heart to seek justice, love the unlovable, and live out Isaiah 58.

Beauty & Trust: More Than Skin Deep

This is the first post I’ve ever read on how to deal with skin problems from a Christian perspective, and yet I think it’s an issue that occupies so many girls’ thoughts and conversations. I think it’s really important for us to be thinking about whether we’re acknowledging God as our King over every single part of our lives – and this includes how we feel about the way we look, even down to our skin. This is why I’m so glad to be able to publish the post below on More Precious this morning, and am so grateful to one of our writers for opening up about how her own particular struggles led her closer to our loving, sovereign God. I hope her encouragements might point you to Him too. Enjoy…  – L xo

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“People look at the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart”

At its worst, my skin was a mess of spots, scars and red patches that left me feeling self conscious, despondent and upset. What had begun as a few spots on my forehead an “inevitable part of growing up” that I would “soon grow out of” quickly became acne that spread across my face and chest and threatened to stay, consuming the appearance I took such pride in.

I can clearly remember talking with a girl in my English class and watching her eyes snatch glances at my red, raw, lumpy cheekbones as we spoke. I chatted and laughed with her but inside I was painfully self conscious, desperate to leave the room before she could take another discreet look at the skin I hated. What was she thinking? I panicked that people would think I didn’t care about my skin when in reality I’d used every wash and cream on offer, had dutifully eaten my five a day, had been to the Doctors and taken different types of antibiotics yet still my skin remained the one part of my appearance that I simply couldn’t control.

Our culture tells us quite plainly to get rid of our blemishes; our spots are not what people want to see. Instead, TV and magazines present images of girls with dewy skin, they are pore less and perfect.

When I was struggling I found comfort in reading that whilst “people look at the outward appearance” God looks past our exterior – “but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) In a world where our image is so often judged before our character how great to have a God who is concerned only with our ‘inner selves':

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight”
(1 Peter 3:3-4)

We spend so much time agonising over, talking about and bettering our appearance, I wonder if we ever think to spend that time working on our “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit?” I know that I certainly don’t, yet God sees our unfading beauty to be of “great worth.”

It’s exciting too, to think of the new bodies we will receive in heaven, “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5). We will be made perfect like Jesus in heaven, given heavenly bodies that do not dissatisfy us like our current bodies as they inevitably change.

Medication has now cleared my skin up but looking back God has taught me many lessons through my sore skin. I’ve been humbled; I’m not in control of my appearance – God is and I must commit my appearance to him. My skin showed me how judgemental I can be towards people struggling with their appearances – it’s easy to judge those with problems you don’t have, much harder to be the one being judged.

Please don’t think that I’ve grasped all this and that my appearance is no longer an issue to me, of course it is. Once my skin was treated it didn’t take long for me to find other parts of my body that I was dissatisfied with rather than being thankful for the healthy body God has given me. I continue to struggle daily to trust God in every aspect of my life – including my skin but how great to know that we have a loving God who loves us whatever our appearance.

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Living For Something More

Sometimes it’s misleadingly easy to read and write these posts, safe in the More Precious bubble. Surrounded by a sphere of subscribers, followers and encouraging comments it’s easy to forget about the people who find the posts ridiculous, who find Christianity outdated and irrelevant; I forget that living for Jesus is hard and uncomfortable a lot of the time.

What I dreamt for this blog was that it could be a place where God was honoured, stories could be shared, and we as girls would be encouraged to live with Him as our King in everything we do. Little by little, God has used the site to do just that – and some of the messages we get sharing stories are incredible. So many of these messages have included questions about how we can manage to live as a Christians in the face of peer pressures at school, at college or beyond. This struggle isn’t shared by everyone, and my post won’t cover all bases – but it’s something that I’ve found hugely difficult, have thought about lots and would like to explore in my little contribution to our Summer Series.

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“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life: your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
(Romans 12:1-2)

As Christian girls, not only do we have to navigate the complex, messy world of teenage girlhood – but we also have to make tough choices as we try to love God and honour Him with our lives. These years of growing up are hard: how do we know what decisions are right? What kind of person will we grow into? What do we want to do, be, say and achieve? How can we fit God into any of this?

When I was at school, I didn’t really know many girls who had continued living for Jesus past their early teenage years. I had great role-models in my life, but they mostly seemed to be older and at a different stage of life, and didn’t always understand the agonising balance of trying to fit in at school while not compromising on my Christian values.

As time went on, this balance became harder and harder, and I start to think that perhaps Christianity was outdated and irrelevant. It was easy enough to go through the motions on Sundays at church, but it felt frustrating and embarrassing to be a Christian the rest of the time. I found myself questioning: if God really was omnipotent, where was He at school? Where was He at parties? Where was He when I had to keep saying no to drinks, no to boys, no to using fake IDs, no to all the things that everyone else was doing as an unquestionable part of growing up.

I struggled. Deep down I loved God and I knew what Jesus had done for me; but I desperately wanted to stay popular and keep up with my friends. The keeping of rules that I didn’t understand gradually wore me down, and God seemed further and further away.

I’m grateful to God that I’ve learnt a lot of things since then that have made me realise how good He is and how He really does want the best for our lives. Most importantly, I’ve realised that Jesus died for me so that I am able to have a relationship with God, NOT so that I must remain bound by a rule-orientated religion. I want you to know this for yourself too.

This post won’t be a step-by-step guide on How To Remain Funny, Beautiful, Popular and Godly. (If you find one, let me know. My highest score remains a rare 1/4) – but I’m going to leave you with a few lessons that I’ve learnt over the past few years that I’d love to share – hopefully they will encourage you to keep pursuing God even when it feels tough.

1. Don’t base your life on rules, base it on LOVE. 

We are saved by grace and not by what we do. This is huge.  My halfhearted attempts to ‘stay Christian’ by doing the right things left me confused as to why I had to keep rules without believing that they were good or worthwhile. Yet once I realised that I could have real, living relationship with God – the idea of ‘rules’ was replaced with a desire to live wholeheartedly for God. This became a joy and a freedom. For if we trust God, we must trust His best for us.

Being a Christian girl isn’t about ticking boxes or jumping through hoops to please a strict, judging, fun-spoiling God. Life with God is so much more than ‘not getting drunk’ or ‘no sex before marriage’. These are tiny parts of God’s big, big plan for our lives, and our decisions must be based on a genuine, love-fuelled desire to please our Father and trust that His way for us is best – not on how far we can go in our own direction, before winding up guilty and despairing.

Don’t run on empty: don’t become burdened by rules and religion. Refocus your gaze on the One who knows you better than you know yourself; learn to love Him, and you will want to live for Him.

2. Don’t be scared of being different. 

Give up your dreams of blending in – as Christian girls we are called to be different and radical. Remember Romans 12:1? Don’t become so well adjust to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. 

To me at school, fitting in sounded ideal! I wanted to fit in, to be accepted, popular and liked by everyone – but actually, I don’t think Jesus was primarily out to be any of these things. He wasn’t cool or popular in the world’s terms – yet He lived the greatest, kindest, most radical and attractive life in history. I used to think it would be perfect if I could just fit in comfortably – and I was doing a great job if people didn’t even notice that I was a Christian. Reality is, Jesus wants in on every part of our lives: He wants us to be like Him – He wants us to be differentand while this can be scary at times, if we trust in God, He will provide, and we will never be let down.

3. Don’t let peer pressure cause you think that God spoils your fun.

Like a Father with His children, God wants the best for us – even if we are too young, inexperienced or stubborn to see what that ‘best’ really looks like. Even when we can’t see why God would have us say no to certain things, we trust that He is sovereign and He knows best in all situations. He wants to grow us, challenge us, shape us into the people we were made to be. He wants us to have rich lives, vibrant relationships, creative minds and a balanced view of ourselves. He gives life to the full, as we’re pointed to in Romans 12:2: “Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings out the best in you.”

4. Don’t be afraid to live for something more. 

Saying ‘no’ to things and upholding your beliefs isn’t a sign of being uncool or uptight… instead it shows that you are living for something BIGGER than the world. At school, doing things with guys or doing crazy things while drunk was a way to show that you were outgoing, fun or confident enough to take opportunities and be adventurous. As I’ve got a little older, I’ve notice that people tend to realise fairly soon that everyone can take these opportunities if they wanted to – and in fact, it is the people who don’t take them that gain the most respect. This is because you show that you are looking beyond the temporary and are focusing on what is constant and true. So: don’t be tempted to drop your standards in order to boost your reputation – Jesus saved us and we are designed to live with him: this is worth so much more.

5. Don’t think that it’s all about you.

Let’s return back to where we started in Romans 12 – a call for us to fix our attention on God, where we will be changed from the inside out. We aren’t changed outside-in, by our attempts to please God by doing good. The great news for us is that in our weakness, God is STRONG. He will change our hearts and give us the strength to live for Him even when nobody else seems to be. This is freeing and massively encouraging for me, amidst my many, many daily mistakes and distractions. I hope it’s encouraging for you too, as you keep pursuing God in all areas of your life.

I want to end by asking you to read over the opening verses of this post, taken from Romans 12:1-2. I also want to introduce you to the MSG version of Romans 12:3 (below), where we’re reminded of how big God is and how little we have to offer Him – no matter how ‘good’ we think we might be. Let the truths in these two passages sink into your heart as you remember that God is in control, and that we are understood by what He has done. How incredible it is that Jesus died so we could have real, life-giving, love-filling relationship with our Father:

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God.
No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

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Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

I’m Lucy and I’m just coming to the end of my second year at Durham University. I love my hometown Cambridge and I also love living in the beautiful little city of Durham, where the coffee shops are plentiful and the people are GREAT!

Running More Precious is one of my favourite things and it’s the biggest source of encouragement for me! Like I said in my bio, I’m still learning how to live out a little of the thankfulness of Pollyanna, the kindness of Katy Carr and the faith of the Proverbs 31:25 girl – perhaps one day I’ll get there!

NB: This post only skims the surface of this issue, I know – and definitely misses out lots of wise and helpful advice. We are hoping to explore this topic in more detail over the next few months on the blog – so do keep checking back for updates, or feel free to send in your own stories or pieces of advice to lucy@moreprecious.co.uk – I’d love to hear from you! 

Does It Really Matter Who I Date?

Dating has never been a simple task, but choosing who to date is a whole other minefield. Here, the fabulous Emma has offered up her thoughts and struggles with the commitment to only dating Christians. After all, does it really matter who I date?

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When I was at school, I wanted two things: (1) to get into university, and (2) a boyfriend.
I figured out that a good way of trying to get into uni was to work hard. So I knuckled down and hit the library during the holidays to make it happen. But finding a boyfriend was proving tricky…

At school, my close girlfriends were an amazing group of lovely, caring and also incredibly beautiful girls. They always looked stunning, wore great clothes and were confident in themselves. I was always a bit jealous of how they always had a guy who was interested in them, how there was always someone on the scene, and he was usually sporty, attractive and fun. In stark contrast, I was just the girl that the boys copied notes from in history class. Not exactly what I was after!

If I’m honest, thinking about the priorities that God has in terms of dating did not really enter into my thoughts at this stage. I knew that if I were ever to get married, I wanted to marry a Christian but when I was 16, this seemed like a lifetime away. Surely who I dated wasn’t going to affect ‘proper’ relationships that I might have in the future?

When I was a fresher at university, lots of things changed. The types of boys who had previously been interested in my friends at school were now paying me more attention. A couple of the sporty boys who were popular and fun to be around began to ask me out. They were exactly the sorts of guys who I’d wanted to date when I was at school. I liked it that the cool guys liked me. It gave me confidence and made me feel part of things.

However, right at the same time I began to think more about the priorities that God would have in terms of dating. (It’s funny how the timing worked out…!) These guys, great though they were, were not Christians. Did I think it was ok to go out with someone who wasn’t a Christian?

My thoughts were muddled. Surely it is ok if it only lasts for a little while and I know where my boundaries lie? Can I try to make God my number one priority while going out with a non-Christian? I still knew that ultimately I didn’t want to marry a non-Christian, (not that I was planning on getting married anytime soon!) and realised it might be harder to break up the longer we stayed together.

The Bible doesn’t really talk about dating. It talks about marriage, and a bit about singleness, but little about dating. So what was I meant to do? I asked my Christian friends for advice and the overwhelming response was that I shouldn’t go out with a non-Christian. I didn’t like this. I thought they were being boring, and that they wanted me to be uncool and have no fun. What made it worse was that the boys at my church were totally disinterested in dating. It wasn’t like any of them were planning on asking me out, so was I meant to turn someone down and stay single even though I really wanted to be in a relationship?

Things came to a head during the second term of my first year. During one of our college ‘bop’ events (which was basically a night of cheesy music, fancy dress and dancing) one of these guys came over to me and we started to dance. Dancing turned into kissing, and what made it worse was that everyone had seen it happen. I felt so bad about it, and knew that I had to make a decision.

Was I going to pursue a relationship with someone who wasn’t a Christian, or was I going to try to prioritise my relationship with God even if that meant being single?

It wasn’t easy. I really wanted a boyfriend, and I was quick to make excuses: “he doesn’t mind that I go to church”, “my church friends get on well with him”, “he even came to church with me this week”, “the Bible doesn’t actually specifically say that it’s wrong to go out with a non-Christian”.

But, and this only happened because of God’s abounding grace, I began to realise a few things that helped my decision become clearer. Firstly, I began to realise that I have the best thing ever – a relationship with Jesus. I don’t need anything else. I don’t need popularity, or a boyfriend, or anything else at all. Nothing else will really satisfy me or make me feel content.

My contentment is found in Him and Him alone.

He is by far the best thing that has ever happened to me, and nothing is going to change that.

Secondly, I began to understand that because God has given us everything, through Jesus, our response should be that we live lives that worship him. That means that all of my life should have the aim of praising God. Sometimes this will mean that we have to give things up that we want to hold onto, and it might feel costly. This isn’t because God doesn’t want us to be happy or is trying to ruin our fun, but it is because he knows what is best for us, and sometimes, even though we don’t like to admit this, we just don’t see this. I had to give up my desire to be in a relationship because it was going to get in the way of my relationship with God. I had to take the risk that I might not look as cool, or be as popular, because going out with a non-Christian meant that my time and energy would be going into a relationship where two people were ultimately pulling in different directions. It just wasn’t going to work.

Even once I had decided, I still found it difficult. But I knew that my small sacrifice was nothing compared to the amazing sacrifice that Jesus made so that I can be in relationship with God. It doesn’t even register on the spectrum in comparison.

It really does matter who we date, whatever age or stage we are at. Let’s not settle for second best and date someone who doesn’t love Jesus. It just so isn’t the best thing for us.

We can trust that we have the absolute best thing already.

God gave us the overwhelmingly amazing gift of his only Son, his Spirit lives in us, we have a hope of eternity with our Father who is the King of the whole universe. The more we realise just how amazing this is, the more we realise that this is the most precious gift, and we don’t need anything else.

Click here to read the rest of our summer series.

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Emma

Emma graduated from Cambridge two years ago, having studied law. She now enjoys working in finance, which comes as a surprise to those who know her. Emma lives in Cambridge and loves being a member of Christ Church. She loves music, food, her friends and Jesus and is very excited about her wedding next April – (PS. Emma is now married! Yippee!).

An Insatiable Hunger

Few of us will remain untouched by the world of Eating Disorders and Mental Illness. With 1 in 3 now experiencing some form of depression in their life, we should be ready to offer up our love and fellowship to those who are battling.

Below is a story of how one girl found herself in the depths of Anorexia, only to find her way to the light with God’s help.

Unfortunately, not all stories end in recovery.

However, Eating Disorders and Mental Illness vary from person to person. One girl’s struggle will never be the same as another girl’s, and that’s one of the most important things to understand when dealing with illnesses of the mind – the stories are never the same.

My eyelids open, my stomach groans. Fifty sit-ups – it’s habit.  I sneak out the house and run. I run until my heart aches. I run from pain, run from pressure, run from people, run from breakfast. I jump in a freezing cold shower, scrub my skeletal body.  I make an excuse and plaster on a smile… today is another day. Dark thoughts creep in, thoughts that aren’t mine. I see the stares and hear the whispers – you think I don’t know? I smile, laugh it off. Everything is fine… “I AM FINE”. My stomach groans. 

Three years ago I had anorexia. To be honest, I never thought it would happen to me. I grew up in a  loving Christian family and wore the ‘Christian’ label all through school, but Jesus for me was  just someone who, like everyone else,  was someone I had to protect, impress and convince I was good enough. 

I managed to keep this up until I was 16 and I have to say, I managed it well. I had lots of friends, was known for being responsible and kind. Most important to me, I was admired by my friends, teachers and parents for being the ‘good girl’.

But then I got tired. I got really tired of pleasing people, tired of the pressure, the fear of failure and the silent tears. I don’t remember the actual day that anorexia took over my life and stole my happiness, but what I can tell you is that the illness escalated at a alarming rate. 

It’s hard to write down about the 18 months that followed, but it was dark… very dark.The number of  habits spiralled out of control and my trusted identity of the ‘good girl’ was quickly replaced with awkward eye lowering, gossip and avoidance from my peers.  This only made things worse and the amount of times I wished I was simply dead are countless. I never felt as lost as I did in those months.

After countless days of shame, secrets, lies and fear, and when I had absolutely nothing left, something within me urged me  to pray. In all honesty, my prayer was ugly and  I doubted anyone was listening, but I pleaded with a God to help me… and to my surprise he did just that.  As I prayed  that day, he took the weight of guilt from my shoulders, as well as the pain and self hatred that I had been wearily carrying, and replaced it with an overwhelming sense of love and delight.  ‘He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.’( Zephaniah 3vs 17) 

God uses broken people – he uses people with mental illnesses, addiction and those who are lost. God chose to use Jonah for his glory and to advance the kingdom, a man in the Bible who asked God to kill him so that he didn’t have to endure his life.  If you are reading this and are currently battling an eating disorder (trust me I know it is scary even to admit that) take heart, because God has overcome (1 John 5:4). 

Recovery is terrifying. To recover is to do the one thing you and I fear most but first, know that your situation is not your fault. The bible says that: 

“The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy but Jesus came so that you may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.’ ( John 10vs 10). 

Be assured that you are not defined by this hold, but instead are called a ‘daughter’ by the King of Kings and in his grace we are hidden in him (Colossians 3:3). Be encouraged that healing is promised to everyone, if not now here on earth then upon his return.  We can look forward to a heaven where there is no such thing as an eating disorder, and we can feast with him without guilt and without fear. How I long for that day!

For me, on that day I prayed, I gave up control over the one thing that controlled me to a God that loved me so much that he died for me.  God so graciously healed me of anorexia and led me through recovery, but more importantly he welcomed me into his family and satisfied my deepest hunger.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have to  take up my cross three times a day, but Jesus’ love his beautiful sacrifice spurs me on to honour him at meal times. I boast not that I am strong, but in my weakness he is strong in me.

Right now, we need to stand up, as people of God we need to not shy away from the stigma of eating disorders ‘for such a time as this’ (Esther 4 vs 15).   There is reluctance from both society and the church to engage with this issue that affects 1 in 4 women and an increasing number of men. It breaks my heart. So here, I want to offer some support to anyone who knows or has a friend or a family member living with an eating disorder.  I am neither a medic or qualified in mental health but I urge you brothers and sisters in Christ to see past the illness and mimic our Lord by looking to the matters of the heart.“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). Eating disorders are often just associated with food, but they are far more complex than just skipping lunch. When supporting a loved one with an eating disorder, valuing their spiritual needs and treating them like any other person in this broken world is vital in addition to showing your love to them in order to create a safe and sensitive environment for you to discuss your concern sensitively  with them in order to ask them how best to support them in recovery.  There are plenty of helpful resources written by medically trained professionals to support a loved one with eating disorders, a useful weblink is: www.b-eat.co.uk/get-help/about-eating-disorders/worried-about-someone/.  

And to everyone else, let’s not be afraid to talk about eating disorders. The more we address this topic the less it is brushed under the carpet and the more we can shine his light upon this illness. ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 4:6) 

Click here to read the rest of our summer series.

The Infinite Shades of Grace

A few months ago, Lucy and I were toying with the idea of scheduling a summer series for More Precious that revolved around living a Godly life in the 21st century. But we were nervous – anxious about discussing topics that truly terrified us.

And then this post found its way into my inbox, and God made the decision for us.

Below is a post that frankly breaks my heart. It is a story that is not all that uncommon in the church, and yet pornography among women remains a taboo – a taboo in popular culture, nevermind in the church that can sometimes be a few steps behind. But the body of the church has to be willing to discuss the things that are hidden in the shadows, and we have to be determined to bring them into the light.

What you’ll see in this post is the consuming darkness of a fallen world, but you will also see the redeeming light of the cross.
That’s what makes this post so remarkable. – Hannie xo

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I don’t know where to start when writing this post. I suppose with the fact that it is a miracle, a testament to God’s amazing grace and power, that I am even doing so. I have to tell you that I’m absolutely terrified – but I believe that it is important and I pray that it will help all of you who have similar struggles or those with friends who have. At the very least that you would see what an amazing, astonishing God we have! So here goes:

I struggle with pornography. 

Even writing that down is scary. I already want to hit the backspace button and give up. I have struggled with pornography since the age of 14 and only seven years later was I able to tell just one person. To say it out loud. So I’m writing this for my 14 year old self and anyone who has ever been or still is in my situation.

For seven years I often felt like I was living a double life. By the time I was about 14 I knew that I needed Jesus as my Saviour and wanted him as Lord in my life. I was astonished by God’s love for me and in awe of his forgiveness and acceptance of me. But now it was time for me to get on and be a good girl, right? I went to church, to CU at school, I read my Bible and I prayed with my friends. To people at church and to my friends I was that girl. Sure, I had little problems, but so does everyone. 

However, at the same time I was becoming addicted to pornographic literature, increasingly aware that it was wrong, in and out of trying to exert self-control and stop, stuck in an absolutely helpless spiral of self-loathing and despair. What would people say if they knew? Wouldn’t my friends be disgusted? And what about God? How could He love me? How could I say that God has forgiveness for this? How can I pray to a perfect God? This is what sin does. It isolates us, entangles us. It drives a barrier between us and God and between us and other people. All sin. And unfortunately there are some sins we are so afraid to admit that they are like poison in our relationship with God and others.

And here comes my favourite word from the Bible…

BUT.

But God in his infinite mercy did not leave me in this situation.

Through some bold sermons by people unafraid to talk about the ugliness of sin and amazing grace of God, by people unafraid to talk about the sins we like to avoid talking about, through quiet whispers in times of stillness that told me again and again of God’s mercy and eventually through a brave friend who opened up to me about her struggles with pornography and God’s amazing power for change in her life, God allowed me to admit my sin without fear, to receive his unbelievable forgiveness and to accept his power to change me.

You see, this was my problem: I had been trying to fix myself – to use my own efforts to stop going back to pornography. Trying to pass my own test of ‘goodness’ before I deemed myself worthy to go to God.  But all along God had given me the gift of His power in me. He gives us new hearts. Hearts ruled by Christ, not by sin. Hearts free to live joyfully for Christ, not despairing hearts enslaved to sin. 

So when tempted, I don’t need to believe the devil’s lie that there’s nothing to be done, I can’t avoid sinning. I can look to Christ, knowing that all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27) and that I can live by the power of Christ:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

And when I have given in to sin, which I do and will, I don’t have to run from God in shame, but can run to Him, my loving Father, free to admit and repent of my sin, free to receive his forgiveness with trust in its sufficiency, thankfulness and joy and trust in his promise to transform me into Christ’s likeness.

Struggle with sin is hard. For all of us. We all stumble and fall. Some of us will have times when we feel irretrievably far from God’s love. Don’t believe it. Remember: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) NO condemnation. This is true for all of us who believe – just look at people in the Bible like David. I mean talk about far from God – he committed adultery and had a man killed to cover his sin. But was he too far for the reach of God’s grace? It’s fair to say we can answer that with a resounding NO. And therefore, we can say along with Paul:

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-9

Click here to read the rest of our summer series.

Below are a number of online Christian resources to provide accountability and support for any who are struggling.

However, it is important to note that one of the most powerful tools will be simply telling a member of church leadership, or even just a friend.

There is no shame in Christ – you are covered in His grace and righteousness. Do not let the lies of The Deceiver tell you otherwise, precious daughter.

www.covenanteyes.com

www.covenanteyes.com/2014/06/30/resources-women-struggle-porn/

www.dirtygirlsministries.com

www.xxxchurch.com

Marriage and The ‘O’ Word

Welcome to Part 2 of Emma’s exploration of a Godly marriage. I am a strong believer that dating and marriage are two of the biggest witnesses in modern culture, since there is no doubt that God’s original creation of marriage is a far cry from the 212st century equivalent. Here Emma explores these stark differences, beginning with the concept that cause so many of us girls and women to shrink away: submission.

The ‘O’ Word

To obey, or not to obey, that is the question. When Tim and I were planning our ceremony, I was asked if I wanted to say ‘to love, cherish and obey’ in my vows. A contentious issue in many marriage ceremonies these days, so what does the Bible say about wives obeying their husbands?

There is, of course, the famous passage from Ephesians that says ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.’ On first glance, this doesn’t sound like it fits in with the modern, independent woman of today. To suggest that a wife must be submissive to her husband throws up images of fixing sandwiches and tending to his every whim and need.

But this passage is not saying that women are of lesser value or have a lower place than men – it is not that at all.

The Bible says that marriage is a partnership – two people coming together to worship God better together than they could alone.

1 Corinthians 7:1-16 talks about a husband and wife belonging to each other equally and stresses the importance of both parties fulfilling their duties to each other, not just the wife to the husband.

Biblical obedience is different from the word ‘obedience’ as it is used in today’s society. It is not about being submissive or inferior as it is portrayed in the media. It is important not to take Ephesians 5:22 out of context. Yes, the Bible does indeed say that wives should submit to their husbands, but we are forgetting the very important last part of the verse – ‘as to the Lord’. We are obedient to the Lord, and part of that obedience is love and worship and honour. So, part of a wife’s obedience to her husband should be love and worship and honour, with as much respect as she reserves for God.

The passage then goes on to state that husbands should love their wives ‘as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’. And what did Christ do? He died for the church, to present it holy and blameless.

If a husband is following this message, then it is his job is to present his wife just as pure and holy and blameless as Christ did the church – to present his wife in the best possible light, so that no one is in a position to criticise her. The husband’s job is to love and protect his wife and even be willing to die for her. 

Submitting to your husband is not at all about shutting up and letting your husband make all the decisions. Obedience is about trusting your man to step up to his job as a husband, trusting that he will love and protect you and your family with as much force and strength as Christ did the church. 

The Wedding

I was never one to dream about my wedding or the man I would marry, but when it came up in those late-night sleepover conversations, I had a rough idea of what I wanted – a sunny day and a big white tent in the field of a fancy manor house. But let me tell you, once Tim and I started dating (and probably way before that, if I must admit) and I discovered Pinterest (or ‘Hinterest’ as Tim likes to call it) the wedding bug hit hard. And once we were engaged it got worse. I like to think I was a laid-back bride, but let’s be honest, everyone goes a little nuts about matching table cloths and napkins and hem lines and where exactly the grandma you don’t really like is going to sit without offending anyone. It’s natural, and it’s perfectly normal.

But there were a couple of times in the midst of pre-engagement and pre-wedding fantasy that I caught myself only dreaming of the wedding – what it would be like getting ready, how Tim would react to seeing me drift down the aisle in a cloud of tulle and lace… and I realised that I was forgetting why exactly I wanted to get married: to be with Tim.

Many of us are guilty of wanting everything immediately that we rush into relationships or jobs without a moment’s thought. And so many girls fantasize about The Wedding so much that they forget why they want to get married in the first place – because you love and trust someone so much that you are willing to share everything about yourself with that person, for the rest of your life.

Marriage is not about a wedding in the same way that a wedding is about a marriage.

Marriage is tough, it requires hard work and it changes with time. It is known that the rush of infatuation you feel at the beginning of a relationship fades over time, to be replaced with something more relaxed and contented. Marriage is not about having the white dress and the cake and the fairy-tale happy-ever-after. It is not the end to your life as a single girl – it is the beginning of your partnership as a wife.

Yes, the wedding is insanely fun – but it’s only a party at the end of the day. If there’s a power cut and dinner is an hour late or your dress gets mud on it or the DJ forgets your first dance song (all things that happened to us!), at the end of the day it doesn’t matter.

What matters is you and your new husband, and the promise you have made to God to work to love Him and each other. 

Click here to read the rest of our summer series.

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Emma

Emma lives and works in the fabulous city of Leeds with her husband, Tim. She has a passion for encouraging those who are low in spirit and loves to hear stories of God’s perfect timing. Her favourite things include a good latte, travelling, eating dessert for breakfast, dim sum and making people happy with food.

Click here to read the rest of Emma’s posts.

When To Say “I Do”

Choosing to commit to someone in marriage is always a loaded and multifaceted decision. However, in a culture that increasingly rejects the idea of holy matrimony, how do those of us in relationships make the decision to enter into the covenant of marriage? With God at the centre, of course.

The beautiful Emma is back, and this time she’s here to tell us about how her and her husband Tim found themselves walking down the aisle at 20 and 21.

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About three times a week, someone will exclaim to me, ‘you’re twenty two and you’re married? But you’re so young!’

Questions along these lines have been frequent for the last year or so since I got engaged, along with well-meaning enquiries about how we would support ourselves once we were married, where we would live and the loaded question, ‘don’t you want to experience life before you settle down?’

Tim proposed when he was nineteen and we got married last year when he was twenty and I was twenty one. I had finished my undergrad degree a few months earlier and he had only just finished the first year of his. Being at uni or being newly graduated is stressful enough, but to throw marriage on top of that? We must be crazy! 

It wasn’t that long ago that no one would have batted an eyelid at a twenty year old getting married, but we are not normal by the standards of today’s society. We are an anomaly. Why did I not wait until I had a job? Why on earth didn’t we wait until Tim had finished university? Are we mad?? But in my hometown, if I told someone I was pregnant they wouldn’t bat an eyelid, so why is it so controversial for me to be married at twenty two? The answer is this: because I have chosen to be committed to something serious at a young age. There are many people that will doubt whether our marriage will last and they are not unfounded in those thoughts – my generation has developed a reputation for jumping in to things too quickly and not sticking at them.

But there is something unusual about our marriage because there are not just two people in it – God is at the centre.

It would have been very easy to move in with Tim after I finished university and wait until he finished his degree to get married, but we believe that God reserved that intimacy for married couples. We didn’t have sex before we were married because we believe that God created sex for marriage. We did not enter into marriage lightly; we both asked God whether it was something He wanted for us, we spoke to our families, sought pre-marital counselling with another couple who have an awesome marriage, and made sure we were aware of the difficulties we may face in getting married young. But our faith in God is our biggest and strongest uniting factor – it is because we discovered that we are better equipped to serve God together than we are apart that we decided to get married. 

Yes, we are both very young, and we may miss out on some aspects of our youth and we still have a lot of growing up to do! But we have chosen to do life together, and that means growing up together and travelling together and struggling together and chasing our dreams together and learning how to worship God together. I believe that it will make us stronger in our faith.

None of this is to say that getting married at twenty two is better or greater than getting married at thirty two or seventy two. God rejoices when two people come together to worship him, whatever their age. It just so happens that God blessed me with a partnership early on in my life. And just because we’re married doesn’t mean we’ve lost our youth – where would the fun be if you had to be serious when you’re married?

Does God tell you to get married? 

‘God is writing my love story.’ 

I had this little quote pinned up on my wall while I was at university – I suppose it was a little reminder to me to trust in all that God had planned when Tim and I were dating and that if it was meant to be it would all work out.

But did God plan a love story for me? Did God tell me to date Tim? Did He tell me that I would marry him one day?

The honest truth: I don’t think He did. God can be pretty clear in his intentions and I’m sure that with some people He could lean down and whisper ‘that’s The One’. But that just wasn’t how it happened for me. I don’t think He was in anyway clear about whether He wanted Tim and I to date or marry. To be frank, I just don’t believe God plays matchmaker like that. 

To quote a great talk I heard at a wedding, ‘you do not fall in love – love is a choice’. And we know that God is the same – He is not a dictator; we must chose to love Him and so in the same way, we must chose to love other people. 

A little quote from ‘The Problem With Dating’ says, ‘the key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person, it’s learning to love the person you found.’ It might not be true that God told me to love Tim, but God placed him in my life at exactly the right time. Whether we are perfectly matched is up for debate, but I chose to love all of Tim and not just the parts that I like, just as God loves me, all of me, including my failings and flaws.

Be sure to check back on Saturday when we will be publishing part 2 of Emma’s post!

Click here to read the rest of our summer series.

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Emma

Emma lives and works in the fabulous city of Leeds with her husband, Tim. She has a passion for encouraging those who are low in spirit and loves to hear stories of God’s perfect timing. Her favourite things include a good latte, travelling, eating dessert for breakfast, dim sum and making people happy with food.

Perfect Standards for an Imperfect Soul

There are two different kinds of perfection I’m going explore in this.  The first being perfectionism as the world sees it, particularly focussing on high standards.  The second being perfection as God sees it.  I personally believe the two are polar opposites of each other.
The first is self-seeking and often defined by a fear of never being good enough.
The second is a radical call to self-sacrifice entirely motivated by love.

When ‘perfect’ isn’t good enough…

I have dedicated as much time as possible of the last 21 years of my life to becoming ‘perfect.’  I have always loved being the best and frankly being ‘Miss Average’ terrifies me.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve, but when perfectionism crept in, I lost all perspective.  I became disillusioned and focused on myself. It has been an idol I have worshipped and placed before Jesus so many times. 

For me, it took shape in academia and my relationship with God.  I worked out of fear through my time at school to get the grades I deemed as ‘perfect.’  The fear of not reaching my high standards became uncontrollable to a point where I had constant panic attacks. In terms of my relationship with God, I was constantly striving, always trying to make it better.  I wanted to be the perfect Christian and have my life sorted. I slowly but surely lost all perspective. 

This left me feeling far from perfect. In fact, I felt worthless and disappointed in myself.  In this place, I would project these feelings onto my relationship with God, constantly asking Him to enable me to reach the bar I had set for myself.  Then my eyes were opened.  As I was praying about all of this God gave me a picture of me doing high jump, but I was constantly missing the bar.  I then saw Jesus walk over and instead of him lifting the bar as I had expected, He took the bar away and said, ‘Sarah, I never placed these expectations on you.’  

I don’t know if you have ever felt that this – if you’ve ever been deeply disappointed with not being able to attain the high standards placed on you by society, by friends, family or even yourself?  What is it in your life that you so desperately try to improve?  Is it your exam results, relationships, your looks…?  For each of us there will most probably be an area in our lives we try to make ‘perfect.’ Now I’m not saying setting goals or wanting to be good at something is necessarily a bad thing.  However, we can’t allow this to define us, to steal or compromise our identity as children of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)

The mask of perfectionism…

If I truly allowed the word of God to define me, would I strive for this kind of perfectionism?  The painful, but honest, answer is ‘no’.  We live in a fallen world which parades around in a mask of this so called ‘perfectionism’. 

A mask, that’s all it is. 

The mask can take many different forms, which we each customise with our own fears and anxieties. Pride is a common feature of this mask, as perfectionism holds a fierce independence to do things in our own strength. But this is far from the words of Jesus, who knew he could do literally nothing in his own strength – ‘I can do nothing on my own.’ (John 5:30)  This is the Son of God, the perfect and blameless one, the one who defeated death – yet his identity was not fashioned from his own achievement, but from his relationship to the Father. 

In wearing this mask we don’t allow ourselves or others to see who we truly are.  We hope that one day we will reach this standard of achievement, but deep down we know that actually this stuff will never fully satisfy us. 

Lovely one, I urge you to take off your mask and to invite Jesus into that area of your life, let His perfect love drive out all fear and allow His word to realign your perspective. If like me, you know that striving for high standards and perfectionism is a weakness for you, then allow God into that place.  We have the incredible promise that in our place of weakness the perfection of His power is made known (2 Corinthians 12:9).  I’m not saying this will be an overnight change, but I believe as we submit to the process of being transformed into His likeness there is grace for every stage of the journey.  

A different kind of perfection…

‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ (Matthew 5:48).

As I said earlier when the Bible speaks of perfection it is on a whole different level to perfectionism we see in our day to day lives.  Matthew 5 is all about the radical, counter-cultural nature of the Kingdom of God; to live in humility (v3), being a light in the world (v 14) and to love our enemies (v44).  It is in this context that Jesus calls us to a life of perfection. As John Wesley wrote: ‘He well knew how ready our unbelief would be to cry out, this is impossible! And therefore stakes upon it all the power, truth, and faithfulness of him to whom all things are possible.’

Jesus is perfection itself.

On the cross He stood in our place, laid on Him all our imperfections that He would become our perfection.  Lovely one, there is a higher call on your life, not that you have to attain perfection by your own efforts, but Jesus, the perfect one has won for us a life of overflowing with love, not dictated by the law and a set of impossible standards to attain.  You are not defined by your outward appearance, your grades, your relationships, but rather you are defined solely by love.  Your life has value and purpose because of who He is, not because of what you achieve. My prayer for you is that you would know heaven’s perspective and grace in abundance as you choose to live by a different standard of perfection.

Click here to read the rest of our summer series.

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Sarah

Hi, I’m Sarah and I’ve just finished my second year as a Social Work Student.  I have the privilege of living in the beautiful city of Oxford and it’s fair to say I have totally fallen in love with it.  When I’m not studying I love spending as much time as I can with the many wonderful people in my life.  I am passionate about seeing God’s justice outworked for the oppressed and voiceless and love seeing His word radically transforming the hearts of the broken.

Guilt-Free Purity

This is a beautiful post where we see just how gracious, loving and good God is despite our continual failures, weaknesses and compromises. We know that we will all continue to make mistakes, including physical ones, but that we are not to despair, because Jesus has already saved us and we are forever daughters of the King! Read and be reminded our grace-giving Father who loves us no matter what we have done.

I think I was about nine years old when I discovered that the white wedding dress worn by brides symbolised purity and virginity. One of the Blue Peter presenters was getting married and I think there may have been a newspaper article on how her Christian relationship meant that she could ‘truly wear white’ on her wedding day. Six years later, and I was watching another wedding when the realisation that I could no longer ‘truly wear white’ on my wedding day began to sink in. I became a Christian 3 years later, and watched girls who had never kissed a boy dream about their perfect wedding, their perfect dress, and their perfect man, all the time their faces glowing with a kind of purity that I felt like I had forsaken years before.

But as I grew, I realised the truth and the revelation about Christianity: that I had been absolved of all my sin, and that I could stand pure and blameless before Jesus, as he had taken every sin that I had committed and had washed them all away. The relief I felt on that day was almost painful, as I gave over to God my past relationships and all the wrong things I had done. I got baptised and I died to my sin, coming back up a new creation in the Lord, determined to pursue this new purity I had been granted. I was determined to eschew my old life and grab on to this new start.

But what happens when this goes wrong? I feel as Christians we are so quick to talk about our old life and what has been done when we were ‘unsaved’ and still living with the consequences of our sin. But what about when we are living as a new creation, and we despoil that one too? Just because we are born again does not mean that our new life is without sin, or huge struggles, and I feel like as God’s people, we need to stop shutting these ‘problem cases’ away, to be dealt with elsewhere, but to really accept the fact that although we have a new life, we are trying to pursue Jesus’ example in a broken world, and there are times that we will mess up.

For me what happened was completely unexpected. If someone said to me last year that I would have gone through the things I did, I would have been very offended and would have completely rejected it. But we need to appreciate the fact that it is often at our highest point where it is easiest to get knocked. I had had a completely ‘Christian’ summer; Christian camps, mission trips, social action projects. I was reading my bible, praying, loving experiencing God in my everyday life…and then I met someone.

He was kind, funny, and intent on spending more time with me. I was flattered, and began to shut God out, more and more each day, as I let this boy in, more and more. He wasn’t a Christian, and I think the way I acted around him and things I failed to say must have portrayed me as a nominal Christian, not someone who just a month before had been so excited and passionate about pursuing God and putting all relationships to the side to honour Him. From the beginning I knew what I was doing. I knew I was disobedient. No one likes to be told off so I covered my ears to the One who made me, who loved me even though He knew what I had done, was doing and was going to do.

The day when I knew it had gone too far was the day I took off my ‘I love God’ bracelet, one that had been given to me by someone so dear to my heart, one that had been worn for months without taking it off. It, instead of being the beacon of my faith to the stranger walking past, embarrassed me. That was the day that I slept with him. It was incredible how easy my new celibacy crumbled, and how empty I felt knowing that I had run away from the God that had claimed me as his own. So I filled this emptiness with that boy.

I would still pray, sometimes in the dark at night. I would be angry with Him: ‘Can you see me now God? Are you happy? Why didn’t you stop this? I thought you were all powerful?’. I shut out my Christian friends, knowing that they would give me the uncomfortable truth. Because actually, when I had got so far, it was the hardest but most clear decision for me to make: a present, tangible worldly satisfaction of someone who loved me but made me shun God…or a righteous life with a Creator God, and an acceptance of the sacrifice that was made in my name.

I knew the choice was so painful to make, so I prayed. I said to my God ‘Father, I cannot do this in my own strength. Your will be done’. And His will was done. The decision was made for me. I look back and see only my weakness, but we know in our weakness, Christ is unbelievably strong. 

I love Romans 3:23: ‘For all have sinned and  fallen short of the glory of God’. For our Christian society, the sin I committed with my body, the way I messed up is abhorrent to them. It is considered a bigger sin than others, and for me, it was heartbreaking. But ALL have sinned and ALL have fallen short of the glory of God. It is so important to lay off judgement. Speaking out from this shield of anonymity I plead with you to remember that all sin is equal, that we all sin. For me, my immorality sometimes feels like a prison sentence. Not many people know about my not so distant past, so people talk about “those sexual sinners” in front of me – and I just hear condemnation. Worrying that no ‘godly’ man would ever dream about marrying someone with the past that I have had… I instead have to return constantly to the fact that ultimately I am forgiven by the only one that matters, who, when I was still far off met me in His son, and welcomed me home.  

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:19)

Because fundamentally, if I get married, I am able to wear white on my wedding day, not because of anything I could ever do or ‘make up for’ – but because God never changes. He loves us more than we can imagine – so I am not tempted to despair: I am born again. I accept the white robes, and the clean life He bargained for me.

When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there, who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died, my sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.

The great unchangeable I am, the King of glory and of grace
One in Himself I cannot die, my soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high, with Christ my Saviour and my God.

- Before The Throne Of God Above, C. L. Bancroft

Click here to read the rest of our summer series.

Introducing Our Summer Series!

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Well nothing says it better than welcome back to More Precious! Lucy and I would like to first apologise for the relative silence over here on the site. Lucy has been busy finishing her second year at Durham, whilst I have been starting at a new job. Yes, God is good indeed!

Another reason for the break has been due to some rather exciting developments that we are now ready to share with you all. Back when we published an anonymous piece about Eating Disorders, we were surprised and moved to see how many of you reached out and were grateful for content that spoke into areas that can sometimes get sidelined in Christian conversations. Lucy and I realised that we felt the same, that we were hungry for more girls and young women to speak up and share their stories. Stories of a fallen world colliding with God’s grace. We also sought wisdom and advice – how do we toe the line of living a Christ-filled life in an increasingly non-religious society? In sum, what does being a Christian girl or young woman in the 21st century look like, day in, day out?

And so we reached out to our fabulous writers, armed with topics that we were eager to cover. Each of them proved as faithful as ever, and we are pleased to announce that over the course of the summer we will be publishing each and every one of their stories. We will be discussing a multitude of topics, including the decision to only date Christians, struggles with depression, control and perfectionism, all the way to one girl who opens up about her addiction to pornography.

There are a number of topics that might require some consideration before reading. If you recognise a topic from your own struggles, then do take caution and responsibility for how you read the post. None of the posts contain any graphic content, but the girls have done an amazing job of being brutally honest with their struggles; therefore if you’re a little younger it may be best to read through any sensitive topics with a friend or a parent.

So – look after your heart, and look after your soul – God’s work can often be uncomfortable and intense, and therefore it is important to be supported throughout the process.

Other than that, I can’t express how excited we are about sharing these stories. Never before have I seen a collection of testimonies that speak so vividly of God’s power of redemption. We pray this summer will be a time when you witness God’s love and healing in your own life.

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Hannie Twitter-Bird@hanniefrost

Hi, I’m Hannie – Co-Editor here at More Precious. I recently finished my time studying at the University of Birmingham and have since moved back to Cambridge to start my new job as an Account Executive at a marketing firm. It has been a season of plenty as I am also recently engaged, and look forward to marrying Jake in summer 2015.

Running More Precious with Lucy has been more than I ever dared dream, and it has been a true privilege to see God working so plainly in the lives of the readers. Although the responsibility and weight of More Precious can sometimes be overwhelming, we rest in the knowledge that God directs our steps – without Him, we are dry bones.

 

Taking a Breath

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My “default setting” is action. I am always chomping at the bit to get going. I like to do as many things as possible, and preferably as quickly, efficiently and successfully as possible.

It is so often the case that I end up in the middle of a task that is falling apart, or project that is beginning to go pear-shaped, before I stop and realise what I have forgotten. Or really, who I have forgotten: my loving Heavenly Father.

When I stop and ask myself why this is the case, I realise it is because I’m not fully trusting that God is who He says He is. Instead, I am putting my trust in almost everything but God – in my ability to get stuff done, my can-do attitude, my work, my energy levels or my perseverance and enthusiasm. But these things can only do so much for me, before they let me down. My ability to get stuff done wanes as soon as I am distracted by an update on my Instagram feed, or an article about Prince George’s shoes. My energy levels let me down when I just sit down on the sofa for a cup of tea, and the next thing I know, I’m stirring from a snooze. My enthusiasm disappears very quickly when I haven’t been given credit for something amazing I’ve done or when I’m criticised.

I desperately need to grasp more fully who God is, and the gift of grace. I find it all too easy to forget. I need to pause, take a breath, go back to square one and remember who God really is. I need to pray that He would imprint His true identity in my heart.

We are children of the King, who loves us more than we can even begin to imagine: ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

Through Jesus, God gives us the gift of eternal life: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16 NIV).

Through grace, we are saved, and he has given us the gift of a relationship with him: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.’ (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NIV).

He has promised to sustain us: ‘Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.’ (Psalm 54:4 NIV).

God is powerful over all of creation: ‘For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.’ (Colossians 1:16 NIV).

Prayer is powerful. God hears us and is at work in our lives: ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.’ (1 John 5:14 NIV).

He gives us the Holy Spirit who is at work in our lives every day: ‘[Jesus says] But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.‘ (John 14:26 NIV).

Perhaps pick one of these truths and pray that God would bring it alive in a new way for you. My prayer for all of us, is that God would show us more of who He is and help us totally, whole-heartedly and fearlessly trust in Him. I want my “default setting” to become one of utter love for and trust in God, so that my whole life, and all of the action that it involves, is for Him.

Image credit to Daughter by Design

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Emma

Emma graduated from Cambridge two years ago, having studied law. She now enjoys working in finance, which comes as a surprise to those who know her. Emma lives in Cambridge and loves being a member of Christ Church. She loves music, food, her friends and Jesus and is very excited about her wedding next April – (PS. Emma is now married! Yippee!).

I Say Worship

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I say worship, you say… What do you say? 

It is so easy to get caught up with the thinking that worship means singing a couple of songs on a Sunday morning, or muddling through a bit of thanksgiving prayer every now and again. Those are both great things, but did you ever think that if you find yourself ticking worship off the list for this week, then something is fundamentally wrong? As Christian girls in today’s world, are we lulled into forgetting that worship is supposed to be a lifestyle? Or, even more challenging, that worship might be a little more difficult than we take for granted?

‘Worship is the submission of all our nature to God, it is the quickening of our conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose- and all this, gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.’ -William Temple

Creatures of worship:

We have been created to worship. In fact, God allows all things to exist because they glorify Him. We should be aiming to worship Him in everything that we do – worshipping with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength and all our mind. (Luke 10:27). True worship should bind our lives together and point us definitively towards God. 

We are called to even submit, that is, to be sacrificial, in the way we worship. Every year, without fail, my Dad jokes he’ll give up expensive champagne and caviar for Lent. 

But giving up something that means nothing to you isn’t difficult. 

Maybe it’s that we only give up the small things to God, the odds and ends of life we think don’t really matter, and fool ourselves into believing we worship God with our whole lives. But this is the Creator God we’re talking about; He can’t be shrunk to pocket size. 

Worship with ALL your heart?

“When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations” Malachi 1v13-14

Blemished animals are no good. Like I said, we were created to worship – we might as well do it properly. Half hearted isn’t an option here – God wants ALL of you to turn to Him in worship. He gave us life so we could have it to the full (John 10v10), and therefore point it back to Him in glory. As the Great King to whom we have supposedly surrendered our lives to, doesn’t he deserve it? 

‘Do we give Him the best of our time?

Do we give Him the best of our energies?

Do we give Him the best of our thinking?

Do we give Him the best of our dreams and plans?’

-Ravi Zacharias

How quickly these things slip through our fingers as we try to hold them up to God, how suddenly we find ourselves worshipping idols and recklessly lending out all our ‘best bits’ to the world rather than the God that made them. 

We all worship something, it’s choosing who, or what, to worship that counts:

Turning our worship away from the short-term relief of this world towards the eternal gift of God is going to be hard. After all, there is no doubt that you will face pressure to worship the world and its idols.

“Nebuchadnezzar said to them “Is it true that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? If you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace” Daniel 3:14-15

Oh, I said pressure? Sorry, I meant the blazing, seven times hotter than usual, furnace kind of pressure.  If we don’t feel that pressure, then we’ve already given into it. God challenges us to be countercultural in worship and we should expect to suffer for it. 

There is a significant pain to be endured in pushing the world aside in pursuit of Jesus. There might be dominating aspects of worldly life that we have to ditch, but often the biggest challenge comes in a far more familiar form: ourselves. For instance, if it’s pride getting in the way of your worship, you can be sure ripping that out at the root won’t be a painless experience. And yet all the same, Jesus came to overcome. The great news is that we don’t walk alone, something found in Daniel 3. From within the fire we find that we are walking with Jesus, a man who has endured a furnace far worse than ours could ever be.

Be challenged by this! Turn to God and give Him everything because lack of worship in our lives is a lack in the source of joy and purpose for which we were created. But equally, worship is the way we draw close and walk alongside Jesus. We know worship will be our eternal occupation in heaven, so let’s get practicing.

‘Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” Revelation 4v8

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KatrinaHi, I’m Katrina. I’m in my last year at Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge and in the process of applying to study sport at uni. I love rowing, autumn and spend a copious amount of time baking. I’ve spent the last year learning on the job at being a CU leader but have loved every minute of it and am so excited by seeing God’s grace in action.

When ‘Productivity’ Becomes Your God

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Wanting to write this post came from a slow realisation that my life has started being defined by lists. To-do lists, and lots of them. They fall under categories of what I must do for uni work, for my summer plans, for the blog, for all my commitments, for the friends I need to catch up with, the phonecalls, the emails, everything I need to complete.

I know that when I’m stressed or busy, uncategorised time is a luxury and I make sure to label it so that I’m maximising what I’m doing at all times. I  know that this slightly unhealthy trait is one shared by lots of our readers – we get messages from the girls drowning in coursework, wishing they could leave school and not have to face another deadline, from the working girls who crash with exhaustion as soon as they get home; and then there are the what-I-can-only-describe-as superwomen girls, who seem to be responsible for stabilising the economy, tackling global poverty, running marathons and winning at A-levels all at once.

So I think that lots of us will understand this feeling where the ins and outs of life feels like a relentless wave that comes crashing in every morning. For me, I try and keep on top of it by creating a long and detailed list every week in my poor, long-suffering Moleskine diary. It was when things like ‘PM: pray’ or ‘Read 3 John before lunch’ started tiptoeing onto the list that I thought perhaps this approach wasn’t completely as God would intend me to spend time with Him. The worst one of all was for this very post – ‘MAKE TIME to write post on productivity!’ – so painfully ironic…

God’s place in my life should never be as a fairly low-down member of a long to-do list.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Matthew 6:33

Seek first the kingdom of God. How did I let all these other things get in the way of that? My thoughts turn again to doing, and being scared of slipping up. So… I’ll have to get up earlier, and make the days a little longer in order to spend enough time with Him first thing – and then I can still manage to keep everything under control. But wait:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Without Him, I can do nothing? I read this and believe it on the surface, but still deep down I still can’t quite let go of the fact that I have to continue to do things in my own strength, else things will start falling apart and people will see that I’m a failure.

But Jesus tells us to remain in Him, not to remain being productive and make sure we include enough Christian activities in our already packed schedules. We don’t need to try really hard to remain in Him in our own strength,  but rather, we are created to serve Him, and therefore everything we do needs to be for Him and can’t be through anything but His strength alone.

I need to be careful not to wrongly put ‘God’s Work’ into a subcategory of ‘My Work’. In my last similarly-themed post, The Idol of ‘Busy’, I wrote of my desire to honour the God that honours rest, and how rest is a really important way of telling the world that we live for something greater than ourselves.

Rest is built into the Ten Commandments, it is fundamentally built into the creation of the universe. And how many times do we see Jesus encouraging his disciples to rest, to escape the crowds and the commitments and spend some time with their Father. When you honour rest, you are making a statement that you trust in a God who is bigger than any of the stresses and strains of this world. When you rest you are committing your time up to God, trusting in His plan above your own.

I want to start committing my time up to God, not just by ‘doing’ for Him, but by being for Him. God doesn’t need my small to-do lists or my attempts to get things done. He uses me for my benefit, and not because He needs me.

Julia Sterne wrote the most useful and hard-hitting article that I’ve been thinking over for a good few weeks now. I found this quote from it really helpful:

“The greatest gift in the Garden was not the work given to Adam and Eve, but the presence of their loving Creator. I long for good work and productivity but even more I ache to be in the presence of my Lord, my Father, my King.
I have misappropriated my gifts.
Work is a good gift, but even better is the Giver.

Isn’t that so beautiful? Work, and therefore in a sense, ‘productivity’ is a gift from the Ultimate Giver. God does give us time. He gives us passions, skills and resources and places us in situations where we can flourish by bringing Him glory. And this is our greatest gift – not a somewhat obsessive penchant for making lists – but the eternal presence and promise of a loving Father who knows what is best for His children. We have the gift of Jesus, His life-bringing, sin-forgiving Son. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit, who works in us to make us better than we could ever be on our own.

I focus my gaze back onto the Giver, and I’m already feeling like I can achieve a lot more than I could on my own… For I was designed to praise my Creator, I was made for my Maker; and God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

Are we declaring to the world that we have a sure hope, a total dependance and joyful contentment in Jesus in the way we approach life? Are we trying to ‘do life’ in our own strength, or are we prepared to recognise that our time on Earth is fleeting, our capabilities are limited and our purpose to life can’t be self-designed or self-centred. 

For me, I think this will look as small and simple as creating space; being prepared to devote uncategorised time to learn more about the character of my infinitely good, saving, miracle-making Father. I want to wake up every morning and remember that I am doing His work first and foremost, to approach life with the right attitude: I am a servant – and God is not my butler…

I want to make time to remember that all I have comes from Him and that my primary goal in life isn’t to try in vain to propel myself forward in this life in a fluster of to-do lists and never-enough-time. I must be less so that He can be greater.

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Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

I’m Lucy and I’m just coming to the end of my second year at Durham University. I love my hometown Cambridge and I also love living in the beautiful little city of Durham, where the coffee shops are plentiful and the people are GREAT!

Running More Precious is one of my favourite things and it’s the biggest source of encouragement for me! Like I said in my bio, I’m still learning how to live out a little of the thankfulness of Pollyanna, the kindness of Katy Carr and the faith of the Proverbs 31:25 girl – perhaps one day I’ll get there!

Written by Lucy

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