A circus.

Circus[1]

Recently a travelling circus  happened to pitch its tent not far from our house. I intended to drop the older one’s at the circus & come back for them later, while the little one’s went home. I didn’t think they would last there for two hours. At the entrance I explained to the circus worker what I’m doing.

‘I don’t think the little one’s will last.’

‘Oh, most children are.’  His voice was full of confidence and pride in what he does. It moved me so much that I went and bought tickets for all of us. Their performance truly was spectacular: the  girl turning up near the ceiling  on the long scarf; the man eating fire,the acrobats,the clowns spilling water&popcorn all over you, the janglers.

For some time I could not forget the way this circus performer felt about his occupation in life. I’m sure there is nothing easy about his lifestyle. They live as gypsies: in caravans, traveling from place to place, not very highly paid, denying themselves in modern comfortable lifestyle, constantly practicing & perfecting their acts. If it is not for the passion, that he feels about what he does & immense pride that his job is important, he would not last on the road even a few months.

That made me think how I feel about being a Christian. If I’m not ready to separate myself from the world and its pleasures, if I’m not willing to suffer for His honor (if need be), I would find it extremely challenging & difficult to do. That’s why so many show great interest, but  late they can’t do it. As one of the young man puts it: ‘Your whole life revolves around Christ. I don’t think I can do it.’ So true. God is not interested in our weak efforts. He gave His whole life in its prime. He laid His divine, eternal glory aside for a time. We need to feel honored by it. Another young man went to Uni and he found friends who had interesting hobbies. He thought it was so much fun to be with them that he had no more time for the church. Later he told his mother : ‘I don’t think I was a true believer. I just followed you & dad.’ Perhaps. At the same time, he has fears that he can’t overcome. He doesn’t even drive a car because he saw two horrible car crashes. What about fear of eternal death? Who besides Jesus is capable to overcome it for us? That is the final question.

I was reading from Spurgeon for my devotional life. I don’t think any other writer can be so effective to bring a point across. As a Christian of many years, I was so challenged. Here what he said on verse in Hosea 7:8 ‘ Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over.’

‘ A cake not turned over is uncooked on one side. Thus, in many respects Ephraim was untouched by God’s divine grace. Though there was partial obedience, a great deal of rebelliousness remained.

Dear soul, I ask if this is true in your case as well? Are you thoroughly obedient  in the things of God? Has His grace so permeated the very core of your being that it flows through & divinely affects all your strengths, your actions, your words & your thoughts? You goal & prayer should be to become fully sanctified in spirit,soul,and body.  And although your sanctification may not yet be perfect, the process should be affecting every area of your life in equal degrees. There should not be the appearance of holiness in one area while sin continues to reign supreme in another, or else you will be a ‘cake turned over.’

As believers, we don’t have to display beyond average abilities & constant work to stay fit that the circus still hired us, all we have to do is to come to the Lord daily for His amazing, divine, surpassing understanding grace, to stay  fit spiritually.

A gay Christian.

How do we define a  Middle English word ‘Gay‘ today?  The word ‘gai/gay’ was first used in 14 century, meaning ‘happily excited’. In 21 century  it took a shift in meaning towards ‘a person who is sexually attracted to  the persons of the same sex’. Most of us know that. What  I didn’t happen to know was that, there are Christians out there, who are gay in both meanings of the word. Recently,I came across a book by Bev Hislop ‘Shepherding Women in pain’, where she goes to a great length, explaining emotional  experiences of the  Modern women today. One of them is a homosexuality: ‘ The truth is same-sex attraction does not stop at the thresh-old of the church door. People do not choose to have same-sex attraction and it can affect just as many people in the church as outside… There are women and girls in our churches, including our youth groups, who are grappling with these confusing feelings. Unfortunately, some leave the church because they don’t  find it a safe place to be transparent – especially after hearing our careless comments.’  I  won’t argue such interpretation here, since this is a relatively new concept to me, a conservative Christian, who believes that homosexuality is a choice.  But I  also do not wish to call those people, who claim otherwise liars. God’s ways are not like our ways, and His thoughts are not like ours – may be we all just missing something here. Regardless, the truth will always finds it’s way on behalf of those who seeks it. God makes sure of it.

I found this particular testimony extremely encouraging &  fascinating. I salute to this same-sex oriented believer. I only wish I knew about her testimony when I had an opportunity to speak with another blogger, who also happened to be a Christian & lesbian. I was speechless. I had no idea what to say to her. She seemed so sweet and gentle, unlike others you converse with at times. I meant to share this testimony for a while, but the cares of life took over. But this story beautifully &  so genuinely shared became unforgettable to me. Just perhaps there is someone out there, who can benefit from this powerful testimony. It surely moves me.

‘The night I asked God to kill me, I was weeping on the cold linoleum floor in my sterile apartment bathroom. My whole body shuddered with grief. I was a colossal failure, a disappointment to God… I was gay. I never wanted to be gay. Year after year, I prayed, I went to support groups, I even put a ring on my wedding finger to remember my covenant with God. But I always ended up the adulteress. The way I felt when  I was in the arms of another woman, so loved and secure, was too much to resist. My very self was torn in two. I could not live without God; I loved Him. Yet I was gay. Not by choice but by an unexpected and undesired fate. On the bathroom floor that night, death seemed to the the only solution.

My sexual attraction to other girls stole my dreams. I went to Bible college filled with aspirations of a life on the mission field. From a young age my dream was to grow up to serve God full-time. In my teens, I devoured books about missionaries and imagined walking in the footsteps of Amy Carmichael,a single woman who left everything to care for orphans in India. But when I was eighteen, I could no longer deny what I was feeling and that revelation haunted me. How could this happen? Weren’t gay people non-Christians who hated God? Gay people were weird. They were promiscuous, drug abusers, child molesters, and dangerous activists trying to force their immorality on the rest of us…I was just a teenager who fell in love with my best friend while at the Christian camp. That realization shattered my world. And I spent the next decade trying to bind the pieces back together. At the advise of a school counselor at my Christian college, I ended my relationship with Laura. During my senior year I was buried in deep depression, mourning the loss. Life did not seem worth living. God was not who I thought He was. He was a stranger – a deity who played cruel, cosmic games. Over the next several years, I became involved in three other lesbian relationships, eventually ending them out of guilt… I could not fathom how I would find strength to live a single, celibate life – longing to be loved & share my life with another person was so strong & natural. That’s why I asked Him to kill me. I couldn’t stand my failure and I couldn’t stand His harsh gaze.

But God didn’t kill me that night, or the next. What I slowly came to understand was that God didn’t want to kill me. He loved me, not because I was a ‘good girl’ who had hoped to be a missionary, but because I was His.        

 He loved me in the midst of my deepest turmoil and my greatest failure. For the first time, I began to grasp God’s grace. This realization that God loved me whether I was gay or straight, whether I was messing up or succeeding, changed everything for me. He kept holding on to me,and over time, I began to find my way out of that painful place.

Ultimately, I came to a deep spiritual place in choosing not to be in same-sex relationships. Not because of my fundamentalist upbringing. Not because of family or peer pressure. Not because I was afraid God would hit me over the head or send me to hell, but because the Spirit testifies in me that homosexuality is not what God wants for human relationships. I still have same-sex attractions. Navigating the challenges of a single,celibate life is not easy. But the world looks a lot different that it did during those ten hard years. I feel joyful instead of hopeless. I learned that Christian walk doesn’t magically appear overnight, but that with perseverance – and sometimes years-God can give us a peace in the midst of our circumstances that we didn’t think possible.

Although I once considered it a curse, I now regard my same-sex attractions as one of the best things that ever happened to me. It took me out of my comfortable ‘Sunday school life’ and forced me to ask hard questions about God and Christianity – it made my faith real. And most of all, it allowed me a glimpse into the magnitude of God’s kindness and patience.’

 ‘Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him….’

Why are you so bubbly?

I got a text from a friend this week. She was offering to babysit while my husband and I can go out on a date. Since I could not recall when we were on a date last, I thought it would be mad to miss an opportunity. So I quickly agreed.

As usual, the day went like a rocket,  looking after the children. After a prolonged winter, we were happy to be in the park, soaking up the sun. At 5 pm my friend was at the house, ready to take over. But I was not ready. By 6 pm during dinner’s noise or lack of it, everyone were eating chicken soup in great concentration, we slipped out. Towards freedom & silence!

Almost one foot out of the door, my husband asked our friend: ‘Any suggestions for places to eat?’

‘The pub in Buxhall is good.’

‘A meal under a tenner?’  We all laughed.

My husband knew the answer well, but it is ALWAYS good to hope for the impossible!

The evening was still sunny.  Still rather early to eat out. The village was just around the corner. So we went on a long drive in the country, listening to a comedian on a radio. No children. An amazing experience if you haven’t done it for a long time.

After driving for about an hours on country lanes, watching the sunset, watching out for rare sports cars zooming by, we spotted our pub.

‘A bit small,’ – my husband, a city man could not help noticing.

‘The smaller, the better quality,’ – I overruled as our family nutritionist pro.

Still, we sat there looking at each other, deciding who is going to make a choice.

‘It is going to be so much money.’ True.

Because  I didn’t fancy spending my only free evening in the car park, I started rapidly calculating in my head : ‘Let’s see. Last time we were out, it was my husband’s b-day which is July, it will be about 9 months since we were out on a date!’

Look, we have not been out on a date in 9 month. That is full term baby! (Since I’ve five children it is easier to count in babies sometimes to get the point effectively). That was the last straw for the argument to eat out. I don’t think my husband (definitely not me) is ready to even think about another baby!

A tranquil looking pub, going back to the 17 century stirred my imagination. Would be amazing to pip through history spyglass how life used to be here.  To enter, we had to bend out heads. Are humans taller now, must be! The first thing that greets you was the fire! There is nothing more desirable than cozy fire on a fresh April’s night. Especially this year! After getting our drink, we sat on the sofa right next to it, ready to go to sleep. Also, no one is about to ask: ‘Dad, look at this case on ebay. That’s what I need. Can you bid, please?’

The food was heavenly. We ordered ‘beef bourguignon with dumplings’. The meat simply was melting in our mouths. The pub was almost empty on a Friday evening. All villagers probably snag near their own fires. A few locals came in with their beautiful dogs, probably just to get out of the house for the dog’s sake.

I was surprised they let them in. ‘No, you don’t leave a dog like that outside. It would be gone in a moment.’ That was my husband’s verdict.

After we practically licked the plates, I was sure, no matter what the cost, I can’t leave until I’ve tried the ‘chocolate pot’. It was advertised as six pounds per any desert. The main dish was that impressive. At last, after 12 years in Britain, I’ve found a pub that can produce impressive food. It is not some ‘unidentifiable mash’ or ‘everything over fried’.

The ‘chocolate pot’ was so tiny, I had to look at it for 3 minutes or so.  I expected a massive pot with chocolate rolling off the edges. Why good things often come in small portions?!!!

Anyway, the experience was unforgettable. My husband had a few pints of local beer, good thing I could drive us back home. I checked on the children & got a text back: ‘They’ve been great so far. No need 2 hurry back.’ But we did anyway. What can you do in a village after 9 pm except drink more?

The minute we walked in, I began to share our dinner experience & answering all the questions that children had  at the same time. My daughter was baking and I glad she did. So we sampled her cakes and biscuits. My friend looked at me, laughing: ‘You are so bubbly. Have you been drinking as well?’ Guess what? Not a drop. Just one glass of pure orange juice. I think it was the joy of the Lord spilling over as the chocolate from that pot should. I was so happy to be out in public, treated to a perfect dinner, not worrying about the children (my friend is not only capable, she is a Christian, deeply spiritual woman you can entrust your children), having a good time. Somehow this reminded me of  Jesus’ return. Right now, as we carry on with our lives, going out to restaurants or not, some of us Christians are in prisons and under severe persecution. Only because of spiritual convictions. The dogs are treated better today! Can you imagine not being able to go out and see sun when you please? No eating the food that you like? Not touching your children as you used to? Their love for the Lord had cost them everything. That gives me an idea how these brothers and sisters are praying from the depth of their hearts: ‘Come, Lord Jesus, Come Quickly!’

This analogy of going on a date also reminded me that those who are imprisoned  & suffer all manner of difficulties, will enjoy heaven, God,  so much more. As I did, because I haven’t been out without the children to enjoy myself in nine months. But I only have a faint idea myself, when compare my life to theirs. At least so far… But if all good things come in small portions now, they will never end in God’s presence!