Articles and Publications

Pilgrim's Guides


  Facing the Reality of Grief
Part Two





Knowing God
Faith or Presumption?
The Shock of Severed Hopes and Shattered Dreams
Broken Relationships
When the Grief is all our Own Fault
Shrinking Horizons
Changing Roles
Shock and Guilt in the Aftermath of Loss (i)
Shock and Guilt in the Aftermath of Loss (ii)
No Pit so Deep
Eleventh Hour miracle?
Removing Trauma
Never too Late to Grieve
Yielded Hearts and Altered Perspectives

The Power of Letting Go.
A Pilgrim Restored
Angelic Assistance
The Treasures of Darkness

  Oh my God . . . You had something far better for me than that I should waste my life in enjoyment – and repent though eternity. But at first I could not understand that and could not do it, and so force had to be used, just as one puts splints on a broken leg. The education consisted in leading me to be able to do freely what at first I had to be compelled to do.

Real renunciation, yes the delight of renunciation, is simply a lover’s understanding with God. Truth obliges me to admit that it was God who gave the hint. I had not dreamed of it, neither had I believed myself capable of it. But it was as though God had whispered the secret to me: renunciation is a higher relation to God; it is really a love-relationship, and for me, at least, an enchantment was spread over renunciation – I have never been so enchanted.
Søren Kierkegaard

  Writing from her own unique standpoint, this is how Robbie Davis-Floyd concludes her article:
  Just as even obstetricians cannot explain the mystery of birth (they still don’t know what initiates labour), I can’t explain the mystery of this death/near-death/rebirthing process that is still taking place in me . . . I can give you no facile explanations or easy answers, only perhaps the sense that in fact, everything is as it should be. Certainly it is as it must be. As with labour, we can either surrender to the truth of death, or fight it till the effort kills us.

When I gave birth to my son at home, I learned the power of surrender to the tremendous force of life. Now I am learning the power of surrender to the tremendous reality of death.

May these two kinds of surrender balance and sustain me, teach me to let go of my fight to understand, and embrace the paradoxes my life encompasses. Like a mother who has just had the courage to give birth without knowing who her child will become, I am here, not knowing who I will become, but open, cracked wide open, to whatever life may bring.

I subtitled this book, Experiencing spiritual growth through loss because the Scriptures have much to say along these paradoxical lines. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul teaches that: What we sow does not come to life unless it dies (1 Corinthians 15:36).

This verse points us to a remarkable truth that usually lies hidden from our eyes until something happens to bring it to the fore. Somewhere in the course of our pilgrimage, the Lord brings us to the point where the seeds we sow, the visions we pursue, and even the promises He gives us must fall into the ground and die before they can reproduce exponentially.

Just as Jesus entrusted Himself to death on a cross, so Paul, when he “enlisted” in the service of the risen Christ, was obliged to lay down his hard-won reputation as a scholar and a leading Pharisee – and with it, all forms of earthly security.

At the heart of God’s finest works and ministries lie occasions (usually out of the public eye) where men and women of God reach the end of themselves, and are obliged to hand their most cherished hopes and dreams back to the King of Kings. This may sound radical, but can you imagine anything worse than having bits of your life that are “yours” rather than “His?”

Catherine Marshall writes powerfully about what she calls the “prayer of relinquishment” in Something More. She testifies that yielding is the “golden key” that enables God’s purposes to prosper without any of the glory “sticking” to the group or individual concerned.23

The Lord is so gracious that even when He takes something precious from us, He finds ways to bless the outcome as much as if we had handed it back to Him of our own free will! It was certainly like that for us in the way in which the Lord developed a new and broader-based team in time for the 1987 Message For Our Times Conference in Malvern, which did so much to launch our ministry wider.

It is an awesome moment when the Lord fans smouldering coals back into life again. It was here that we joined forces with a wide range of exceptionally gifted musicians, pastors and teachers.

As surely as there is blessing when we yield to the Lord’s will, there is nothing but grief and frustration when we run away from it. Think of the desperate plight the Israelites found themselves in when the Lord told them that He had finally had enough of their prevaricating, and was no longer prepared to go up with them to the Promised Land. With the notable exceptions of Joshua and Caleb, the whole of that generation perished in the wildernesses.

Faced with such a dire sentence, the people immediately put it to the test, much as we might check the strength of a door we suddenly found ourselves confined behind. Hurling themselves against their enemy, they were soundly defeated, and left with no choice but to accept the terrible consequences that come when we push the Lord too far.24

Some of us hang on too tightly, as though everything depended on us. Yet all the time He is wooing our hearts to let go of all that tethers us, and to venture further out on the sea of trust – even when He leads us into waters we would not have chosen to sail in.

  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves Me.
John 12:24-26

There is one exception to this. Jesus speaks in John 10 about the devil coming as a thief, a murderer and a destroyer. Like a skilled pick-pocket, the enemy is forever trying to steal things from us. He achieves most when his work goes undetected.

Not content with taking what is rightfully ours, the powers of darkness aim to dispirit us to the point where we “give up” on the rest. (This is the actual meaning of the word “murder” here). Subtly, they may even try to make this destructive temptation sound like “holy yielding.”

Let us be under no illusion: if the Lord is not asking for something back, giving it up might be part of the devil’s strategy for our life – in which case we need to respond with with resilience rather than surrender. God can send the grace we need, despite the darkness and the opposition.

Reflect and Pray
God of unique distribution,
and faithful intervention,
Since nothing exists without Your will,
God of the “no accident”
I bow my knee
to Your singular choosing,
and pray for grace
to embrace this new found vista.

Serif photo dvd



A Pilgrim Restored
By way of illustrating the power of yielding in the right way, I would like to introduce you to Leo Tolstoy’s moving story about Martin the Cobbler. One freezing cold day, this ailing man is standing at his bench, forlornly plying his trade. When his hale and hearty friend Vladimir walks past and invites him to join him in gathering wood for the winter festival,  Read More . . .
23 Marshall, C. Something More. Chosen Books.
24 Numbers 14:26-45

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