It’s a Choice – Life is Short.

How do I even start?

This week I received the devastating news that a good friend and co-worker had passed away.

Does my heart hurt? Yes.
Do I understand? No.

But what I do understand is this..
Life is short. So short in fact that we can be here one moment, and gone the next.

I know, I have been there, I’ve experienced it first hand.

It’s sobering, a wake up call. How much hurt and unnecessary pain do we hold onto? How many offences are we unwilling to cover with grace?

It’s actually not ok.

Once, I was in an incredibly painful position, I had been accused of something so wild that wasn’t even true, and it was even taken to my Pastors at the time, I could have had to say goodbye to everything I felt God call me to! Was I hurt? YOU BET, was I angry? You wouldn’t even know!

I was FUMING!
But one of my pastors said to me ‘oh Chantelle, looks like you have a bit of an attitude towards ______’

Oh really?! 🤦🏻‍♀️ Thanks for pointing out the obvious!?
I thought I had forgiven him, but there was still bitterness in my heart and an attitude towards him. My Pastor then told me I had no choice but to forgive. So, I wailed, not just the tears rolling down the cheeks kind of cry, but the ugly face kind of cry, then I would burst out laughing, then I’d cry / laugh at the same time, then I’d cry then laugh again.

Why?
My internal dialogue was this:

Me: I DONT WANT TO FORGIVE
Lord: But remember how much I’ve forgiven you of?
Me: BUT I DONT WANT TO
Lord: Do you want to be free?
Me: HE DOESNT DESERVE FORGIVENESS
Lord: Do you?
Me: BUT LORD WHAT HE DID WAS AWFUL
Lord: But do you remember how much I’ve forgiven you?..

This went on for at least an hour, my Pastor holding my hand – definitely thinking ‘what a weirdo!’ God won the argument (obviously).. (after an hour) and I forgave and chose my own freedom, and I genuinely love that person and even have a great relationship with them now!

Holding on to un-forgiveness and bitterness is like giving your freedom away to the other person. Joyce Meyer says,

‘Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’.

Is it easy? No, but it is a choice. Sometimes when I would see that person, I would feel a rage of emotion about to erupt like a volcano but my spiritual dad would say to me, ‘Chantelle, you have to remind yourself that you’ve already forgiven, and choose love.’

Around the start of this year, I hired a new young lady to work with me, she turned out to be a beautiful friend. I was blessed to be able to share the real Jesus with her and lead her into relationship with Him. She is now in paradise with Him. It was sudden and unexpected but I am so deeply thankful that God trusted me with His daughter, to share the truth and see her in eternal life with Him.

How many people are in your world right now that need a little light? Don’t wait till tomorrow to share the goodness of our Kind Father! Step out! Be courageous! Let go of your fear of rejection, THEY CANT REJECT YOU WHEN THE FATHER HAS ACCEPTED YOU! When I shared His love for my beautiful friend, she sobbed all day and was filled with joy!

We don’t know how many people’s salvation are on the other side of our ‘yes’. We are here, on earth for that very reason!

KEEP AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE!

Love and keep on loving! Share and keep on sharing! Shine and keep on shining! Forgive! And keep on forgiving! May our life’s story be ‘no matter what they did towards me, I never changed the way I loved them.’

THATS grace. THATS the gospel. THATS Jesus.

Unconditional love.
Without strings attached.
It’s KINDNESS that leads man to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Forgiveness also allows us to see people for who they really are in the eyes of God, not for the mistake they made, or a season they’ve walked through, or the pain they once carried.

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. 2 Corinthians 2:5-

How many people have left community because they’ve been overwhelmed with sorrow that their actions have caused pain? I’m not giving permission for poor behaviour, but what I am saying, is that ‘forgiveness restores the standard.’ (Danny Silk) AND to withhold forgiveness is to be outwitted by satan?!?! (vs 11).

Love is the mark of true maturity. (Colossians 3:14)
Are we truely mature?
Does this really matter? Is this eternal?
If the answer is ‘no’ then, LET IT GO!

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

Life is sometimes – most times, unexpected, short, BUT it’s also a gift. We can’t bank on tomorrow, we don’t know what tomorrow holds.

Do the people you love, know you love them? Have the people in your world heard the good news? Do they know there’s a Kind Father who loves them without condition?

Step out! Love someone today. Forgive someone today. Be a light somewhere today! Let God heal your heart and make a decision to ‘never change the way you love’ someone no matter what.

They might be here today, but what about tomorrow?..

Rhythms of Rest

In December / January this year, my family, close friends and I had a massive, life changing revelation. It is possible. For Chantelle to… get a tan. *mic drop* The thing is, in the 16 years prior to now, I’d not allowed myself enough time to rest to even find out. I just believed I was pale white in summer and pasty white in winter. That’s just how it was.

Let’s laugh at that lie. *Hahaha*

Rest is a wrestle I’ve had with the Lord for a long time, not that I don’t like rest. I LOVE rest. I love holidays, and spaces where nothing is required of me – long periods of time.. What I haven’t understood is how to position the heart to approach a full life from a place of rest so that my soul doesn’t wind up tired and exhausted. I’ve had moments of ‘Yes! This is what it means!’ I’ve heard so many messages on the subject, but then over time self-care slipped into the ‘not a priority’ pile in my big list of to-do’s.

Now coming to Darwin, I felt like I would be walking into a season of rest, learning the Fathers song over me, learning more about the worlds that exist inside of me but have been left untapped, undiscovered and unearthed. However.. what I didn’t realise was just how serious my good Father was about this.

I believed I would come to Darwin, walk straight into a Youth Work role with kids in crime, and use the rest of my time to give myself to what God intended to do inside me. God however had a different idea of what this would look like.

I applied for every – every – available youth work position and all I received was emails about how someone more qualified than me had filled the role. I was confused. Until I cottoned onto what God was actually doing. He showed me that it wasn’t in fact hard to get a job; it just wasn’t what He was doing.

So I gave myself fully to what He WAS doing. Fathering me.

I made quality time with Him the first priority of everyday. In those times (and still today), He brought my heart into a greater level of freedom, He showed me that I am His priority, just Chantelle, and that He knows what I need isn’t necessarily what I thought I wanted. Thank God for that! He placed me in a family, with beautiful friends who gave me the space to give myself to what He was doing. Requiring nothing from me, loving me extravagantly and speaking life into my heart in such kind ways. Who does that?! Not even asking me to pay rent? But just be? Be Chantelle?! I’m so thankful for the ways these people have demonstrated Jesus to me in this season! (You know who you are).

*Side-note: I now have a job in retail, also not what I thought would happen, but thankful for the kindness of the Father knowing better than me exactly what I need right now.*

Fast-forward, I’ve found a special place I love to go to be alone with God, be still and listen, on a cliff overlooking the ocean. My greatest complaint since arriving has been just how BEAUTIFUL the ocean looks yet.. I can’t even swim in it. I’ve had SO many people (with great intentions, because they love me and want me to stay alive) warn me about swimming and even going anywhere near the ocean. So I settled for my spot on the cliff. I’d watch people walk by me on the sand below and even have their dogs running through the shallows and I’d think ‘they’re crazy!’ yet they looked so content. Unafraid. Then one day, while I was sitting on the cliff, I was reading a book called ‘Love Does’ by Bob Goff (for y’all who know me / Bob Goff, y’all know this bout to get good)… something he said hit me between the eyes. Prepare to get hit between the eyes.

There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn’t come in an envelope. It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live.

Turning down this invitation comes in lots of flavours. It looks like numbing yourself or distracting yourself or seeing something really beautiful as just normal. It can also look like refusing to forgive , or not being grateful, or getting wrapped around the axle with fear or envy. I think God sends us an invitation to live and sometimes we forget to show up or get [tricked] into thinking we haven’t really been invited. But you see, we have been invited – everyday, all over again. (pg 80)

The Father used that to remind me of the time my ear drum burst, I was 15 and loved to swim, I was a water baby, I loved the beach, but now due to the size of the hole, I wasn’t allowed to get my ear wet – even a little otherwise it may lessen my chances of being able to hear properly again. In that time of my life, I allowed fear to govern me, I became so disappointed that:

  1. I couldn’t swim without getting my ear wet (not even molded ear plugs kept it dry 100%)
  2. God didn’t meet my faith and miraculously heal me. (I ended up having an operation, had to deal with the disappointment and then the operation wasn’t successful either).

So I developed a hate for the beach, mostly because it reminded me of the fun I could no longer have – until I decided not to allow fear to govern me anymore. I chose to plug my ear and swim anyway. I wasn’t going to allow circumstances stop me from participating anymore. I chose to participate, to engage.

Sitting on the cliff after this moment with the Lord, I slammed my book shut, took off my shoes and climbed down the face of the cliff. When I was young, my family and I used to walk along secret beaches and collect beautiful shells. When my feet hit the sand, I noticed there were beautiful shells decorating the waterline, left behind by a high tide. I felt the Father invite me into a walk along the beach to collect shells with Him like I did when I was a child. A childhood love. A long forgotten joy.

I felt invited into a moment with my Kind Father where He reminded me of the child within, of what it feels like to trust Him and not let fear govern my life any longer – even in secret seemingly small, unimportant ways. For me, walks along the beach with the Father where I can unravel my heart and be real with Him have become sacred rhythms of rest that I will treasure forever.

In this season I’ve been learning about the rhythms of rest that follow sons and daughters, the kind of rest that dwells within them and creates space for the people around them to participate in this state of peace and rest as well. I’ve never really understood what it meant to live from that space before, but through fleshing it out with God and trusted people, I believe it’s not about living a life that’s not full, sometimes we can’t help what a season looks like, but we can steward it. We do have choice.

Ask the Father what His rhythm of rest looks like in the current season. Maybe it’s saying ‘no’ to an extra shift to prioritise family, maybe it’s saying no to an event to prioritise time out, maybe its saying yes to a night out with friends for the sake of community and fun, maybe it’s saying yes to a walk along the beach without a schedule or another place to be. Maybe it’s about being present in the moment that’s right in front of us, fully engaged, letting go of having to move on to the next thing on the to-do list. I don’t believe there’s any rules, but about engaging with the lover of our souls and asking ‘Dad, what do I need right now?’ and being totally ok with that.

It’s a humbling space to be in, but the best one by far.