The return to more lockdown restrictions is not unexpected but it is disappointing isn’t it? Have you had plans gone awry because of the changes?

I will mention it again later but for now let’s put it to one side. What has your week been like otherwise? 

Last week I talked about stories. Have you had any new stories to tell this week?  Did you tell them?

I love listening to stories that show me more about the person in the story. Particularly when it shows something of how that part of their story shaped their lives.

When things are said, when things happen, they can shape someone whole future.

Did you read Sarah’s story when she shared about times as a young child? Go take a look. Her story shaped her life as she grew up but then GOD came into the equation.

When God becomes part of a story it can make it really interesting. His unchanging character means that if HE is in a story then the changes made, the lessons learnt, can be relied upon and carried with us into a future where we will be different person than we were before.

OK let me tell you a story of something that happened to me way back, very way back.

Once upon a time . .

When I was a child, very young in years as the saying goes, my family didn’t have lots of money to spare. My parents though were careful with what they had and in the main we did well.

When I was an older teenager and left home I had learnt to manage money and was generally quite careful in making choices about what I spent. There came a day though when I lent someone some money – I knew them fairly well and fully expected to be paid back – but I wasn’t.

It wasn’t a huge amount of money but as time went on it began to irritate me.  I didn’t feel able to say anything to them about it, and my irritation grew out of all proportion to the amount of money involved. It was eating away inside me and I did not know how to deal with it.

In the end I brought it to God with a very specific prayer

“Please God take away my irritation, change my attitude towards this person”

Now I am not saying that was the best thing to pray. There were other choices.

  • I could have asked God to remind them to return the money.
  • I could have asked for strength to go and ask them about the money.

But, for whatever reason I chose to pray this prayer.

“Please God take away that irritation, change my attitude towards this person”

The best bit of the story is in this though – “God granted my request!”

And my life has not quite been the same since.

You see I now KNOW that God CAN change my attitudes. That means I do, often, come to him and ask him to do exactly that. Now I admit it doesn’t always happen that quickly or that easily. Sometimes there are deeper issues within me that God will deal with first. Sometimes I persist in harbouring feelings, not really wanting to let them go.

BUT the fact remains that back then, I learnt something about God that has changed for ever the way I process similar situations.

I know that He will work in me to good purpose

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

Psalm 57:2

Another true story . . 

This is a story about someone else, a man who lived long ago. We don’t know a lot about his life but we know his name.

When his mother gave birth to him she was in lots of pain, so much so that she called her son Yabetz, which is a Hebrew name meaning “He causes sorrow”.

What a torment that must have been for a young boy growing up. How much teasing and bullying did he endure? how many things were unjustly blamed on him because of his name? Can you imagine it

“it’s his fault – his name says he causes sorrow!”

We don’t actually know any details. History hasn’t recorded that for us, but our imagination can fill in the possible scenarios that could have added to his pain.

History does tell us this though – This man grew up to be an honourable man.

He didn’t pay back any evil done to him with more evil.  He didn’t seek to get his own back, he didn’t deal wrongly with people because of what was done to him. He grew to be a godfearing, honorable man.

What an example for us. It is so easy to pay back evil with evil but to be like Yabetz and pay back evil with good is something I would desire to be strong enough to do. What about you?

A bit more about this guy. One day he prayed. He called out to God and asked a whole list of things

  • That God would bless Him
  • That God would enlarge his borders
  • That God’s hand would be with him
  • That God would keep him safe from harm so that it may not bring him pain

AND, an amazing thing we do know for sure.

The bible tells us “God granted what he asked”.

Note: The English version of the man’s name is Jabez. You can find his story in the Bible in 1 Chronicles chapter 4 verses 9 & 10 and this prayer is often referred to as the prayer of Jabez.

Our Lockdown Stories

For some, lockdown will have involved pain and heartache. Maybe for you that is continuing. Maybe for you the return of some restrictions has caused you to have to change plans yet again. It has for me.

I think for all of us lockdown has to some extent reduced what our lives encompassed – less people less places, less contact overall. All that has happened so far in 2020 has had the effect of shrinking our borders and changing our lives.

Now, as lockdown eases, as we move forward into the rest of 2020, what is going to be our story?

How would our story change if we prayed the same prayer as Jabez did?

What new stories would we have to share if we put God in charge of enlarging our borders? It may seem impossible that our borders could be enlarged when yet again we are prevented from visiting other homes but remember our God is the God of the impossible.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26

So Will you do it?

Will you seriously pray the prayer of Jabez and ask God to enlarge your borders whatever the situation we are in? In these times it is something we cannot easily do ourselves.

Are you with me in this?

Even if you have not known God like this before then you can still pray this. Now is the time to put the future in His hands and see where he will take you.

Let’s do this together and see what stories we have to tell of the amazing things God will do – even in our lockdown.