The Lover’s Arms.

It turns out that the second year living in another country is very different from the first. Things become more real. The adrenaline wears off. Sustainability becomes our first priority. New relationships that are deep and lifelong have a history to them. Older friendships back home have greater strength, because there is a sense in which God is weaving all our lives together, in Him. From Irish soil to the fabric of South African life. This reminds us daily that our lives are not about us. God is placing His children in families and we get to join Him. It is worth seeing. He is writing His story and the Godhead are the main characters.

Behind our public Penuel face of building 2 new children’s homes, lies some personal pain. We said goodbye to dearly beloved friends and family in Ireland (who are the best any girl could ask for) and we miss them. When Jesus said “come, follow me” to Peter and Andrew, they left their nets immediately. There is a cost attached to this life that we have seen in the last 6 months. Distance from loved ones. We have had to trust Jesus with our family as first my Mum and recently Richie’s Dad, became critically unwell and required emergency care. In both scenarios Jesus radically saved their lives and both are now journeying paths of recovery. Jesus is so kind to allow us to have more years with our beloved parents as part of our lives. We are forever grateful to Him for this.

Our decision to pursue adoption of Mamosa, means that we cannot travel with her until this is finalised. As such, Richie flew back to Ireland alone to be with his Dad when he became unwell. During times when Richie and I are apart, the Lord reveals Himself to me as my first love. Two months before I first met Richie, I was worshipping in my bedroom and the Lord gave me a vision of an engagement ring. Isaiah 54 says “The Lord your Maker is your husband”. I knew in that moment that He was asking me to marry Him. At this time I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be married. The Lord was asking me to lay down my desire for marriage, and to receive Him as my husband. My first love. The only one who can be more than enough for me. Who will always love me perfectly. I said yes to Jesus that day, knowing that He was asking me to be satisfied in Him alone. That day I received the fullness of His love for me. I believe this is the heart of God for every believer. He desires to be a husband to us. This is why the Church is called the bride of Christ, and not the friend or the disciple. One of our staff members during a time of prayer recently asked Jesus the question: “how much do you love me?” Jesus replied: “enough to marry you.” It was a beautiful moment for this “single” mother of two to realise she was no longer single. She now had the most faithful and loving husband in the universe.

I married Richie because he was the one most like Jesus whom I’d ever met. On our wedding day, we locked eyes and exchanged vows. During those short minutes I had an image of Jesus standing behind Richie: beaming! I don’t think Richie or I took our eyes off each other once that whole day. We didn’t see anyone else in the room as we exchanged vows before a crowd of witnesses. We only saw one another. So it is with Jesus and His bride. You. When He looks at you, you are all that He sees. And He loves what He sees! My prayer is that you would always see yourself in the reflection of His eyes. Psalm 32 says “I will guide you with my eye”. We need close eye contact with Him. I am learning that we are called first to be lovers of Jesus. Not servants nor even friends. Lovers. I am beginning to grasp hold of who I am, in this regard. This is not arrogance, it is a revelation of how much Jesus loves His bride. That He would betroth Himself to us in such a way that is inseparable and completely free from fear.

Jesus told us that to find our life, we’ve got to lose it. We are crucified with Christ to our sin and old ways, and then we are resurrected. Hidden in the resurrection life and love of Jesus. This means that no-one can kill us. Our lives are already laid down! If someone tries to take our life, then we get the privilege of leading them to Jesus. If they kill us, then we are more alive than we’ve ever been, with Him in heaven. I am learning that it is possible to live like this. Completely free from fear! The enemy is the father of lies and therefore fear is a lie. We need to stop listening and believing lies as the bride of Christ, and instead choose perfect love which casts out all fear. On our wedding day Richie and I were not worrying about divorce, sickness or the future. We were in love! The posture of the body and bride of Christ is to simply be in love. Permanently so.

I am more in love with Richie now after 9 years of marriage than I was on our wedding day. He has become more like Jesus,  so I am more in love with him. Richie has been God’s greatest gift in this life to me. Those of you reading this who would call yourself “single”, need to know that you are not. You are married to Jesus. He is the best lover you could ever have. Jesus reminded me whilst Richie was at home visiting His Dad that when you are in love you behave completely differently to your life as it once was. You sleep less. You eat less. You are happy all the time. You do things you would never have done before… all because you want your lover to grasp how much you love them.

When Richie and I started our relationship we would send each other text messages that always ended with around a million “xoxoxoxoxoxox” (those). These messages were always long. When it came to saying goodbye to one another after we’d spent time together, one of us would stand at the doorstep of their house & the other of us would stand at the car or walk away, all the time doing scissor jumps. The reason for this was that we were physically making the X shape out of our bodies, for the other person to understand how much we loved each other. It was also a giving up of dignity or respectability, for the sake of the other. A way in which we were saying to each other “you are worth me becoming undignified for. This is how much I love you. Enough to become a spectacle of love for you. So that you would understand how deep this love I have for you truly is”. Richie & I still do a few little scissorjumps whilst saying goodbye to each other in airports, once we’re through the security gate. No-one else watching us in the airport understands… they might even think we’re nuts. But therein lies the beauty of love. We don’t care. We are in love. And that’s all that matters to us both.

So it is with worship of Jesus. As the bride of Christ, we must live in a place that doesn’t care what others around us are either thinking, or not thinking. All that matters is that Jesus is seeing a demonstration of worship whereby He understands just how deep the love that we have for Him goes. He must understand how much we love Him. Sometimes worship looks undignified. The reason for this is because we are crazy, head over heels in love.

With Jesus.

He is beautiful.

(and you are made in His image).

So…  do you want to fall in love?

This song is by Ray Lamontagne. To me it sums up perfectly the dialogue between two lovers who cannot be apart.