Tag Archive: restoration

a sense of loss

My colleague and close friend Carl Taylor, founder and visionary of Faith Hope and Enterprise, died earlier this month.

Carl was a quite remarkable man. Someone of whom, in my estimation, the world was not worthy.

His compassion for the poor and his commitment to helping people turn their lives around against the odds was absolute. He enabled people to overcome abusive childhoods, mental health illness, learning disabilities, addictions and their past offending behaviour to find a meaningful place in society. He worked for the benefit of others at tremendous cost to himself.

Even in hospital, in the last week of his life, he would talk to me about the future of the company and the people we currently work with. He never once switched off.

He was the kind of man who said it the way he saw it. He could be uncompromising and intimidating. He was honest. He lived out the call of God on his life for the whole of his life. In the last days we remembered God’s promises to “make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15), “to proclaim good news to the poor…to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Isaiah 61:1,2).

We remembered the promise of Jesus to the man next to him on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43). I know that Carl has also heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

Friendships like ours don’t happen very often in life. We were open hearted with each other, we shared common values and purpose, we felt that God had brought us together for a reason and we pursued that vision with everything we had.

I will miss him. I will miss his warmth and his love. I will miss his humour and his clarity of thought. I will miss his wisdom and understanding.

Carl leaves an amazing legacy in the lives of the many people that he supported and the many different projects and enterprises that he was involved with. His vision continues and his ministry lives on.

Well done, my friend.

Life seems to go in seasons doesn’t it?  So what kind of season are you in?

It’s an experience that we all share – with each other, and with the people of God through the ages.  When David explores the images of God as a good shepherd and generous host in Psalm 23, he seems to be drawing on his experience of different seasons of life and reflecting on what he has learned.

He starts with a season of restoration (vv 1-3).  We can enter a season of restoration for a number of reasons.  Illness, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, our own sin or the sin of someone else that impacts us, or family breakup to name a few.  The sense of loss, the hurt that we can experience, can change the shape of our world and it can take time to recover.  We may enter several such seasons during our lifetime.  Certainly David experienced a number of such events.

So what did he learn?  Well, he learned that when we have God, we don’t need anything else.  We may have lost something hugely important to us, but in God, “I shall not want.”  He learned that God makes us rest and gives us time to recover.  He learned that God doesn’t do a partial restoration job, “He restores my soul.”  This is the most intricate, detailed, loving and time consuming restoration there is.  And at the end of it, we are made complete.

And he learned that, even though we can become very self-absorbed at such times, this work of restoration is ultimately not about us, but about God’s glory.  “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

So if you are in a season of restoration, take your time.  God will restore you.  He will fully restore you.

Life takes us through different seasons doesn’t it?  Times of blessing and testing, times of great adventure and restoration.  When I read Psalm 23 again recently I sensed that David was exploring the images of God as a shepherd and generous host by drawing on his experience of God in three very different seasons of life.  You can hear my thoughts on the Jubilee website and I may also try to capture them in a short series of posts before too long.  But don’t hold your breath.

mental health relapse

In November, I experienced a relapse in my mental health.  It was nowhere near as severe as my meltdown of 2009 but was still a disappointing setback after a good period of steady recovery.  This time around I was able to see the signs a little earlier and take some evasive action, but when the emotions broke they were as fresh and powerful as they had been eighteen months earlier.  I had to process many of the same things all over again.

As I prepared to meet my GP, I spoke to a couple of close friends about a subject I felt would be an inevitable part of that consultation: medication.

When I first became ill I was consistently offered antidepressants and I consistently turned them down.  This was primarily because I felt that whilst they may have dealt with the symptoms of my poor health they could not address the cause – and that if I could tackle the cause, the symptoms would clear up as well. 

In counselling, I came to see that my health reflected how I had come to feel about myself and to see myself.  The solution was to change my ways of thinking – and this seemed to be consistent with my understanding of the bible, influenced by Neil Anderson’s Freedom in Christ material.

In truth, I still agree with that view – which is why I felt that the decision presented a dilemma.  On the other hand, I knew that without decisive action I risked slipping into a steeper and more damaging decline.  My GP was clear that subsequent setbacks could be increasingly difficult to overcome.  I was also advised that my low mood may have a chemical cause which medication would help to address and since re-training my mind and lifting my self-esteem seems to be a long-term process, I opted for the extra help that the medication would give me.

Beginning a course of antidepressants has been a strange journey in itself.  Some of the side-effects are just weird, and we may not have the right dose or medication yet but I’m meeting my GP regularly and waiting for some further counselling.

I have delayed posting about this because it’s taken me a little time to gain the confidence to do so.  It feels embarrassing.  Close friends, though, have been very supportive.  One friend told me how they had recently heard that having a breakdown wasn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign that you have been strong for too long.  There is some truth in this that I draw comfort from.  But I have also drawn confidence from some of the things that God has been speaking to us about as a family.  I know that He still loves me and wants to work through me, He still has good plans and a future for me.  Being a child of God does not make life easy but it does give us great hope.

an alternative 2010 review

Every Christmas, I spend a little time reflecting on the year that has passed.  This year, hidden away in the snowy hills of Snowdonia on a family retreat, I asked myself two questions.  What have I learned?  How have I changed?

Now these things don’t fall neatly into calendar years but the answers came to me fairly quickly.

What I learned is that God will provide. 

In a year when I experienced a lot of change and some difficult times, God wonderfully provided for me and my family.  He provided some great new friends, a place of safety in church life and relationships, He provided safe passage for our children as they continued to find their way in life, a fulfilling place of employment for me, grace and mercy when we called on Him for it, wisdom in decision-making, some wonderful memories and continued healing.

Jehovah Jireh.

How I changed is that I became much clearer about my personal boundaries and how to handle them – and how to handle people who are not so clear about them.  Sometimes that’s been difficult – but it has been good for me and for the people around me. 

If you ask yourself these questions, what would your answers be?

Over the last 12 months God also spoke some wonderful things over my life.  I have a lot to look forward to as well.  And so do you.

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