Friendship!

Another New Year’s Day, with all its hopes and dreams, was just a calendar entry away…

Reflecting back on 2002 while peering into 2023, I wondered if there might be a defining theme for this next year. 

I turned to Jesus asking him for the gift of a word or phrase that would, like a compass, provide direction for me. Such theme-words have impacted me in life-giving ways in past years, so I really wanted to know! 

I waited, curious, resting in the sense of his presence that was within and all around me. The word floated in like a gentle breath of air that filled my being with joy and peace and wonder. 

Friendship

As I let the word rest in my soul I wondered, Jesus, would you please show me or tell me more about ‘friendship‘?

It was then that a verse—Jesus’s words—from the Bible came to mind (italics mine):

“I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.”

John 15:15 (CSB)

There is so much for me to explore in the words of Jesus, not least the thing of identity—in the light of how God sees me in Christ. How I am to him, and to others. 

It feels like I’m embarking on a mission—a journey of discovery and adventure—with Jesus who calls me “friend” and shares secrets from the Father’s heart with me!

On another level, I celebrate those ones I call friend. I have met them throughout the world— Papua New Guinea and Greece (where I have lived); New Zealand, Philippines, Malaysia, Zambia, South Africa, Hong Kong, England, France, the USA … 

On another level I see that Daddy (it was Father God who asked me, to call him, ‘Daddy’) has heard the deep, mostly silent, cries of my heart in 2022. I finally recognised and admitted to him that I have felt lonely for meaningful friendship. 

In the most remarkable, gracious and unexpected (to me) ways, he has been connecting me with people who are becoming friends to me. What joy is this!

Even in the oft-maligned space of social media there are those with common bonds—writing is one of them—with whom I am developing a friendship. 

Some friendships are just for a season though their aroma remains in the fabric of who I am. 

Some friendships are close while others are on the edges—but equally precious in some way. 

My friendship with Jesus is a gift from the Father initiated by him. By the power of his Holy Spirit, he will continue transforming me into someone worthy of being called HIS friend.

And out of this friendship room in my heart, I will become a true (and truer) friend to the people in my life and those I am yet to meet. 

All this will happen as I keep hold of HIS hand and walk with HIM, following in the footsteps of Jesus—one step at time. 

As I think of you, friend, and ask God for a gift from his heart for you, I seem to hear these words;

“I invite you into a life of friendship. Come to Jesus and take My hand. I will fill the deepest parts of your heart that secretly long for connection. You will find that in me. I will not be a ‘fair-weather’ friend. I will not judge you, talk about you behind your back, abandon you for someone else, or even be disappointed when you don’t live up to those unreal expectations that haunt you. 

Trust me, beloved! Surrender to my love for you that saw me send my beloved, only begotten Son—Jesus—to the world. I am the friend of the outcast, the maligned, the sinner. I am a true Friend who will lead you into life eternal! 

Taste and see that I, the Good Shepherd, am GOOD!”

Heather Henson

Written December 31, 2022

Hush!

“Hush

Do you hear the whisper of My voice? 

Amidst the din, the cacophony of the loud hustle and bustle noise of the world, listen… 

Listen for my powerfully-gentle voice! 

I AM peace 

I AM joy  

I AM love

I AM the truth 

I AM wisdom

I AM the way!

I invite you to come to Me and rest in the glory-cloud of My goodness. 

Take My hand and walk with Me—one step at a time

I AM your Helper who never leaves you or forsakes you. 

My name is Jesus, the only begotten Son of the most-high God!

I came to seek the lost and bring them back to My Father who redeems all things for the sake of His holy, pure and glorious Name which is above all and before all and beyond all things. 

Surrender it all to Me. Where your treasure is, there also is your heart… so let Me hold it all.” 

Jesus, I see a picture of someone who is holding so very much. Their arms are more than full and it looks so heavy. As I watch, they are trying to protect what looks like gift-wrapped boxes from those who come, one after the other, to take for themselves. 

Jesus, the burden of trying to protect what they have collected, and are now working so very hard to protect, looks like such a heavy burden. I see the frustration and anger building in their eyes. I see desperation rising as they work to protect what they are holding.

What will they do? Who will help them? What will happen? 

Jesus, I hear you say;

“Come to Me. All of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, come to Me. I will give you rest. 

Lay it all down so that you are free to receive the gifts that I have for you. One at a time. 

What I give you is life-giving and is light to carry. And you will never be alone. My Spirit is (and will always be) your Helper, wise Counsellor, all-knowing Guide, and your Advocate. 

As you rest in Me, your weariness is washed away. Peace envelops you filling every part of your being. Joy is your everyday strength that builds you up. My loving-kindness fills you with hope that never leaves. You are now free to sing and dance as we walk together. 

One step at a time directed and empowered by My grace. 

Beloved, in Me, you are home—forever and wonderfully home! 

Welcome!

‘… Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”‘ – Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)

All is Well

“Beloved, I see your heart—your beautiful and tender heart!

I long to be THE ONE who, alone, gathers you up and draws you into the shelter of My presence. 

Within the beauty and serenity of My peaceful and joyful presence, the reign of My holiness creates an atmosphere where all is still. 

All is calm. 

It seems like the pause button is on and the endless hurry and driven rush and bustle of the world is silenced. 

In this ethereal silence—filled with the sound of My love and majesty—you breathe deeply of My hope, wisdom, confidence and joy carried in an endless stream of loving grace and mercy.

In this place, you are secure in your identity in Christ.

In this place, you are free to explore life, hand-in-hand with Jesus.

In this place, fear takes a back seat because courage inspired by a kingdom-of-God mindset fills and floods the room in your heart where Hope now reigns.”

And I turn to You, Jesus and know that all is well!

There is a future that beckons me to enter—confident and assured of Your ever and very present moment-by-moment help and guidance through the stream of Your empowering presence. 

You, the only wise God magnificent and holy in all Your ways, is for me. Your plans for my wellbeing are always excellent and trustworthy in harmony with Your heart. 

And I hear You say…

“Be still and rest in My eternal goodness, and together, we will continue to walk through life—hand-in-hand—one step at a time!”

Transition

Where have I come from? Where am I now? Where am I going?

It’s been two years and seven months and twenty-nine days, but who’s counting?

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. It just didn’t make it on to my blog…

While living in Greece, I wrote a lot – journal entries, emails, messages, social media posts, newsletters. It was all personal work and necessary to keep the vital highways of communication open with our (my husband Ross and I) family, friends, and partnership support team. Added to this, there was my (volunteer) work of writing, compiling, proofreading and editing as a member of the Hellenic Ministries’ Media and Communications Team. Beyond all of it was the business of living in a cross-cultural context complete with learning a new language, adapting to driving on the ‘other’ side of the road / car, and moving apartments in Athens four times in two and a half years which also meant new shop, streets etc.

So that was Greece.

Now this is Australia.

Then there was Papua New Guinea.

When I scan memories of my 60-plus years of life, I see that transitions happened from early childhood with a frequency that didn’t allow any moss to gather under this rolling stone!

One evening during the three years my family and I lived in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the 1990s, I had a strong ‘aha’ moment. As if I was the first person to know this, I told Ross, “I don’t think Jesus likes our comfort zones!” We agreed to be watchful and prayerful in the hope of avoiding settling into those ‘familiar, safe, comfortable, confining and predictable’ zones in life where a dull, sleepy spirit might resist exploring an invitation…

In between living away from Australia during our years in PNG and Greece came a long list of international itinerant work-related and missional adventures. Ross and I travelled to destinations I had only dreamed about: Zambia, Hong Kong, Cambodia, China, Philippines, South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand.

It felt like I was on a fast-moving train that regularly paused at stations all called “Transition“.

The drama surrounding the move our family made to the PNG provincial capital of Mt Hagen after one year of life in the rural Baiyer Valley remains a strong memory. That transition, which came after months of serious law and order problems (23 people were killed around us in tribal conflicts), culminated in a third armed ‘hold-up’. This time it wasn’t Ross in the middle of it all – it was our six year-old son and I. This distressing situation was not what any mother would knowingly choose for her son. But Jesus, our redemptive God, had the final amazing word. But that’s a story for another time… 

How am I going to land this plane?

Transitions of all sorts have come and gone in my life, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: they will come again. How do I make sense of them? How do I live, and thrive, while I’m in the uncertainty and stress of transition?

Jesus is the answer! Our heavenly Father has promised that the Spirit of Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5b) There is no good reason why we have to make our way through life on our own, or on our own terms. The ‘Ancient of Days’ (see Daniel 7) always keeps His promises. After all, He is the Truth, so it is impossible for Him to lie. Jesus is a proven help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1), something which I continue to experience as I abide in His empowering Presence.

In a life-changing experiential encounter with Jesus in 2002, words that came to mind opened up a new space in my heart that I’ve been exploring with the help and guidance of His Spirit ever since.

“Think of the highest mountain you can!”

Going to my memories of PNG, I was just about to look up at the huge mountains that had made the little aeroplane in which I was a passenger seem even smaller when the Spirit of Jesus spoke again…

“But don’t look up. It’s too high. Take My hand, and we’ll walk one step at a time.”

More than a decade later, I was in a much larger aircraft flying at high altitude when these words came to mind as I focused my mind on to Jesus: “In every footstep of Jesus, there is so much to explore.

In every footstep of Jesus, there is so much to explore.

A transition might be just a word that describes the process of exploring the adventure of moving from one divine footstep into another.

I know where I have come from. I know where I am now. I don’t know what lies ahead of me, but I do know the One who holds me secure in the uncertainty. I can choose to keep hold of my heavenly Daddy’s hand (agree with and yield to God’s wisdom and will) freely extended to me by His grace with such love, always confident that He knows the way forward – one step at a time – viewed through the lens of eternity spread out before Him!

Points to consider:

  • Do you fear change and transition? Why?
  • Some of my transitions have been rougher than others. The smoother ones have come as I have connected with, and being surrounded by, a supportive and loving community, including the help of a professional counsellor.
  • You and I won’t usually know what is around a corner on the path of life, but God knows it all. And in Jesus Christ, we are secure. Turning to He who is Love – choosing to focus on Jesus and coming close to Him – gives me the freedom to explore life with joy, and in peace.