When I spoke to Ben about writing a post for his blog, I asked him if there was anything specific he’d like to hear from me. He suggested that maybe it was worth thinking about what insights I might be able to bring that he might not be able to – I imagine he meant something along the lines of some sage, feminine wisdom I could offer as a woman in church, or some kind of theological viewpoint he’s as yet unaware of, but I doubt he meant I should write about One Direction. Regardless, here I am. It’s potentially unfashionable to admit that I’m a big One Direction fan on the internet but I think honesty is important so I’m living that out. Ben, on the other hand, is “not a big fan, but he loves What Makes You Beautiful” (and who wouldn’t, it’s an absolute corker), so I think it’s safe to assume that Ben hasn’t heard Niall Horan’s new single This Town, and that he probably hasn’t had any spiritual epiphanies as a result of it. But because God is gracious and because he pursues us and meets us where we are, I guess he had to use whatever song was playing on the radio at about 7:30 one morning for me to get the message.
I have been so tired this week. It’s been the kind of week where everything has gotten away from me and happened too quickly, time has slipped through my fingers so fast and every spare minute has been filled with the jobs I didn’t have the time to do the week before. I’ve been grumpy, unfocused, and oversensitive – I’ve got annoyed with people too easily, been hurt by people unnecessarily, and it’s taken me ages to figure out what I wanted to write this post on because I’ve barely been able to concentrate on anything. I have dragged myself to the end of the week and have crashed almightily this weekend – my housemate phoned me from downstairs earlier to check I was alive because all I’ve done today is sit in my bedroom. Even as I write this, my back hurts, I have a headache, and I’ve just given up writing a post on a topic far more fascinating and probably much more worthwhile, because I don’t have the emotional energy to finish my half-formed thoughts. All I can do is be honest and say that right now all I want to write about, all I feel capable of writing about, is the grace I’m clinging to.
Which brings me back to the song that’s been in my head the past few days. I haven’t been able to shake one line in particular: “Over and over the only truth, everything comes back to you”. This is not about how Niall’s new song is about God – it’s definitely not, I think we can all agree it’s a bit of a sad song about a girl – but it’s about how God is in everything anyway, whether we make it about him or not. He finds us even when we’re not looking, and he puts himself in our paths when we should be looking and we aren’t. In the middle of a week where I was exhausted and worn out, he brought dry bones to life the way he always does.
He is kind and gentle in my loneliness and in my far-away-from-everything, and all it took was a few lines in a random song to remind me that despite stress and exhaustion, even despite great joys and enormous delight, he is and will always be the steady and consistent love of my life. He cares for me enough to take all my anxiety, loves me so much that it is his great delight to give me the kingdom, and even more than the mother who nursed me he will never, ever forget me. Even from far away, he knows my thoughts, he knows when I sit and when I stand, and always he is rejoicing over me with singing. That he remembers me always when I forget him regularly is the most amazing of graces, and in a week where I almost forgot him completely, mercy was waiting for me with the weekend.
I know that meeting Jesus for the first time is not always easy; it’s hard to believe in what we can’t see, and the intellectual challenges can seem more than insurmountable, so I can see why people don’t know Jesus. And it’s hard to keep on going knowing Jesus. Life is not built of spiritual highs, or moments of complete peace and clarity, life is hard. Sometimes life is just tiring. But if this week has taught me anything it’s that he is worth depending on anyway, and whether you know him or not I think the best piece of encouragement I can give you is that if or when you ever decide you want to know him, he has already wanted you from before the foundations of the earth were laid – there is no reason to hold back.
I know that most of my problems could probably be solved by self-control, or discipline, or just managing to put myself to bed earlier, and if I was the ideal of a good Christian woman that we’re all meant to be trying to be I wouldn’t need reminding of all this because I’d have a joyful and childlike faith that could underpin everything I do, so that the grace and love of Jesus was with me always. But this is not Proverbs 31 and I am not the woman of valour. Life is just life and sometimes, even often, it’s amazing, but it can also be too much of one thing or not enough of another, and half the time I’d forget I even knew Jesus at all I wasn’t in the habit of turning up to church. Yet at the end of it all he is still the one who runs to meet me, and I am still the apple of his eye, his pearl of great price. He is the home within me wherever I am in the world, and his words are still my joy and my heart’s great delight. After 9 years of knowing him I still get a nervous, excited energy when he starts to move, I still get butterflies when he meets with me, and everything always comes back to him.
This post was written by Emily Allsopp, a very good friend of mine who I’ve known for about three years now throughout our time as students at the University of Nottingham, and as members of Trent Vineyard church. For those of you that don’t know her, Emily studied theology at uni, and, when it comes to Jesus, is one of the most openly passionate people I’ve met. If you like this post, why not head over to Twitter and let her know, or leave a comment below!