With Thanksgiving

Philippians 4 v 6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Do not be anxious about anything – easier said than done, right? As a self-confessed worrier, the idea of never being worried about anything ever again, despite sounding great, seems totally unrealistic to me. Sometimes I even see my worries as essential to my success. If I’m not worried about an exam, surely that means I haven’t worked hard enough for it!

Our Father cares about us. He wants to calm our fears and give us good things. The answer to our worries? He’s got it, and all we have to do is ask.

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Maybe you’ve noticed the “with thanksgiving” clause in the verse. Could it be that, like Santa, God demands thanksgiving to put us on his list of good children? Do we need thanksgiving to avoid finding a lump of coal in our stocking instead of an answer to prayer?

The answer couldn’t be further from it. God isn’t dependant on our thanks; He is God! Sure He loves it, but He doesn’t need it. No, He calls us to give thanks because it sets us straight. When we thank God for who He is and all that He has given us it changes our perspective. Instead of focusing on how big our earthly problems and worries are we see how much bigger and greater He is. In comparison to Him all else loses focus and what we see as important starts to come into line with what he sees as important. As we focus heavenwards this changes us.

Personally I find it easy to feel overwhelmed by problems, and giving thanks to God for all He’s done for me is definitely something that I’m working on (aren’t we all?!). Let’s aim to be people who give thanks.

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My Year Abroad Diary: A New Housemate, Hochschulnacht and Church

Aloha my friends! We come to the end of yet another week here in Germany so I guess it’s time for another blogpost.

In many ways, I’m feeling a lot more settled here now… I’m getting used to working in the school, I’m figuring out what classes to take at the hochschule and

Ah, so interesting things that happened this week? First of all would probably be the addition of my new housemate Lena to the house. Lena is really lovely and friendly, and on of the first things we talked about is cooking together which is so nice because it means I spend less time eating alone in front of the tv!

We also tried to go to a sports class together on Monday, but it ended up being overfilled so we ended up going home. Tuesday we went to the Hochschule’s semester Gottesdienst which was very traditional, but Lena says that usually she goes to a bible study on Tuesday’s which I’m looking forward to going to with her.

On Thursday there was the “Hochschulnacht”, a night out for students in both of Weingarten’s Hochschule. It was really great to go on a night out, meet some of Lena’s friends and dance, and I think that we all had a great evening really!

On Friday I went into the Hochschule to pick some classes to take, at the moment I think I’m going to do one about German grammar, because I’m pretty sure that I need it! And possibly one other, maybe politics or something?! I’m really excited to get back to studying, I never thought I’d miss it, but I really do! I think it makes me even more aware how going to uni was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

You can see for miles from the Basilica!

Autumn has definitely come to the PH Weingarten

On Sunday I went to try out a church, and I really enjoyed it. The style was very similar to my church at uni and in my home town. The only thing was I felt a bit lonely and didn’t end up speaking to anyone, whereas at both of the other churches, maybe due to their smaller size, people were far more welcoming to newcomers. I think I’ll go back next week and try again though, because other than that it was a great church where I felt really at home.So a couple of prayer points are pretty much the same on going ones really! And that’s that I’d settle at a church and that I’d continue to enjoy my time and depend on God during the inevitable lows. Thank you so much for praying!

Until next time,

Abi xxxx

Do you love me?

One of the biggest lies this world tells me is that this life is for me. It’s all about what others can do for me, what I can do for me. It’s about what will bring me the most happiness… a good degree maybe? A successful career? A loving relationship? Travelling the world? A family with a white picket fence? But then that poses the question: will any of that ever be enough?

Let me tell you a story: As a child I dreamed of living abroad. Africa, China, France, Germany… you name a place, I probably dreamed of living there. Maybe that was why after my first French lesson, aged 10 or 11, I asked my teacher if we could have the next lesson entirely in French. I wanted the thrill of doing everything in a foreign language, to buy baguettes and sit in little french cafés eating croissants. I dreamt of adventures around the world, experiencing other places and other things… I thought that that was what I was made for, I thought that it would fulfil me.

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But it doesn’t. I live in Germany now, I’m “living my dreams”, and don’t get me wrong, it’s great. I’m so happy to be here (despite the occasional bout of homesickness) and I’m glad I can experience all this, but it’s not what I was made for, it’s not what will fulfil me. This idealised idea of what will bring me fulfilment will at some point let me down. It will let me down when I feel homesick, or when I feel disconnected from people because of the language barrier, or when everything normalises and it’s not all new and exciting anymore, and at the very latest, when I die.

You see, I wasn’t made to travel, actually I was made to love and be loved by the creator of the universe. The God who loves me enough to send his Son to die for me, not despite being so far from perfect, but because I am so far from perfect.

In Luke 10 v 25-28, a teacher of the law asks Jesus what he has to do to gain eternal life, or put more bluntly, life that will satisfy and fulfil him. Jesus’ response is ask him what the law says, and as such a clever man of the law he replies “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus reminds him that He and loving Him is the only thing that can satisfy us. As great as things in this life are they will end. They will not be, and have not ever been, enough.

I still want to travel of course – this isn’t me saying that I shouldn’t enjoy living abroad and experiencing new cultures, it’s more a reminder that His love is the only real steady constant in my life and the only thing that won’t let me down. Today, he asks everyone who follows him one simple question: ‘do you love me?’.