The Silence of Saturday

“You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos,
From the chains of a lesser law You set me free.

In the silence of the heart You speak,
In the silence of the heart You speak,
And it is there that I will know You
And You will know me” – Audrey Assad

“Communion with God in the silence of the heart is a God-given capacity, like the rhododendron’s capacity to flower, the fledgling’s for flight, and the child’s for self-forgetful abandon and joy.” – Martin Laird

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A few months ago I lost my faith.

Not my faith in God. But my faith in words, in human language. My faith in my thoughts and my feelings. My faith in my experiences. I lost my faith.

God was still there in mysterious splendour, in gentle humility, in magnificent beauty, in peacefully constant faithfulness. I just couldn’t find the words to describe him. How do we describe the Infinitely Indescribable? How is it that the Great Unknowable makes himself known?

In this place you tend to question a lot of things. Why do I do this? Why do I believe this about God? Why does a church gathering look like this? Am I just going through the motions?

God was still there. Shining on like the sun. Patient.

I have spoken much about surrender on this blog. The importance of going all in no matter the cost. Publicly and privately I have cried and wept, I have danced and flailed, shouted and sung, laughed, knelt down, laid down. I have gone on that journey of opening my heart to the Lord. Choosing to surrender in any way that I can. In the loud or in the quiet. I wanted to give my all.

The problem with all of the above is that they involved me doing things. Tim choosing to dance. Tim choosing to sing. Tim choosing to lay down. Tim choosing to shout. Tim doing whatever he can to surrender himself before the Lord.

I’ve come to realise, maybe even in the last week, that there is an invitation to a deeper surrender. A surrender not so much focused on doing but a surrender of being. A surrender of silence.

There is not much that the Bible tells us about Holy Saturday in the Bible. Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for Jesus’ body and lays it in a garden tomb. Luke’s account states: “It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” (Luke 23:54-56)

Everything stopped for the Sabbath. A holy pause. A silent moment where hope is seemingly dead. How did the disciples feel? How did they cope with the inner turmoil of the events that proceeded this silent Sabbath? The man they had followed for three years was dead. His body lay in a tomb. They had given everything – they had left all they had to follow him. They had believed when others doubted. They had become his friend. They knew him. They had seen the miracles, the signs, the wonders. Through him they had seen God. Yet now he was dead. Hope gone. Hope in the ground. Hope behind the stone. How did they feel? What grief did they experience? What questions ripped apart their very being?

And the response to their questions, their bitter pain, their devastating disappointment, their anguish and torment? Nothing. Not on Holy Saturday. Silence. Emptiness. Nothingness.

There’s not much the Bible tells us about this Sabbath because there is not much that the friends and followers of Jesus could have done. Sabbath… stop, rest, pause. Silence.

There is nothing that they could do.

There is a deeper place of surrender that does not revolve around what we can do. This is the surrender of silence. It is a surrender where we acknowledge that there is nothing that we can do. Instead we respond to the invitation to embrace the silence of Saturday. We acknowledge our questions, our doubts, our fears, our insecurities, our emotions but we are not defined by them. We let the confines of human language fall to the floor and we are simply still. Whereas my journey of surrender thus far has been dictated by internal thoughts and feelings, which have then led to external action, the surrender of silence simply stops and is still. The former is valid and important and I am not discounting what I have learnt and how I have grown to know God. He has loved my heart. However, the latter is beautiful.

The surrender of silence is a place where we learn to simply and profoundly be. The journey before was full of noise! Brash, bold and boisterous. What is more precious than sitting before Limitless Love and not needing to do anything other than silently be?

Have we truly learnt to surrender until we know how to be still? There is an inherent silence to surrender. A silence found in the deepest reaches of our hearts.

In this place we learn that there are no words, no thoughts, no feelings, no actions that can define us. There is only the love of the Infinite Father. This is a surrender that is no longer based on what I can do. It centres on who he is. Yes, I have my questions, my fears, my doubts, my insecurities, my frailties… but they are not my identity. They are not who I am. All that matters is him. Fix your eyes on the one who is Perfect Love.

There is a silence on this Saturday. Our precious Saviour lays dead and there are more questions than answers. Words cannot describe how we feel, the thoughts that rush through our heads, the pain we’ve experienced, the loneliness we’ve felt, the grief, the torment. We know not what to do.

Embrace the silence.

Breathe.

Acknowledge the questions, the doubts, the thoughts and feelings and move on into the realm of silent peace where we can gaze into the eyes of our heavenly Dad.

Holy Saturday is an invitation to surrender. It is an invitation to be still. It is an invitation to peaceful, beautiful silence.

“You can have it all Lord,
every part of my world.” – Brian Johnson


Thank you to Richard Rohr and Martin Laird who, through their writings, have provided words and inspiration for this journey when I had no framework or words for myself.

Embracing the Journey: My Story of Worship

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I have a story to share. It is a story that began 16 years ago. It is a story that began when I was 10 years old.

It’s funny which moments you remember from childhood but I remember two moments of a certain week in the summer holidays. The first was this: I was at New Wine in one of the children’s groups when Holy Spirit showed up in my life for the first time. It was quite an overwhelming experience – the only other clear memory of that day was my sister who was two years younger came to meet me so we could walk back to our tents together and I basically shouted at her and ran off because I was overwhelmed by what had happened! A hilarious first move for a 10 year old who had just become a Christian. Thankfully my parents explained to me what had happened and encouraged me in the early days of my walk with God.

A few days later the team had invited Scott Underwood, a worship leader, to speak to the children. That, in itself, it turns out was pretty generous as this man was a well known worship leader and author in the Vineyard movement. Anyway, I don’t remember any of the session but I do remember at the end there was an invitation to anyone who felt God might be calling them to lead worship. I was only 10 years old but for whatever reason, I felt compelled to respond. We went forward to the right hand side of the stage and I remember Scott Underwood praying for us.

After the session I recounted to my parents what had happened. Now, my mum has since said that when I told them the story they laughed to themselves – this was a small boy stating he was going to lead worship… a small boy who had never shown any interest in music, had practically failed playing the recorder and couldn’t really sing. They didn’t really think it could happen. I don’t blame them!

The good news is my parents are fantastic and have always invested in us. This time they bought us an electric guitar. The only problem? I didn’t play it. It collected dust in our downstairs hallway. I had a go here and there but never really got into it. To this day, I’ve never really played that guitar.

A few years into secondary school I got significantly stuck into the music scene. I loved music. All my money was spent on CDs. Music spoke to me in a way nothing else did. I was inspired by it and challenged by it. I met God through the lyrics and the sound. It expressed what I felt on the inside but couldn’t find the words to describe. When I was 15 I borrowed an old acoustic classical guitar and taught myself some chords. It was a ridiculously hard guitar to learn on with a really wide neck. I still couldn’t sing but with a small bit of input from an older guy from church I taught myself the basics.

I kept going, never really investing in learning in any meaningful way, but trying to pick up a few songs here and there. I started trying to write some of my own (most are awful). Along the way I found that I could actually sing.

I kept playing in my room. Since I was 10 I always had an intense passion to be in the presence of God. I worshipped my heart out in my room whilst I was at college and then at university. I went through some hard times but I felt close to God when I sang. I poured my heart out before him, strumming and singing to myself. Me and the creator of the universe. Looking back it was like King David in a lonely field. I give Him my all. I learnt to lay down my life before Him with a sacrifice of praise.

I never played in front of people but people who didn’t know me very well kept giving me prophetic words about having a worshipping heart and leading others. I rationalised that this wouldn’t be in a music way as I wasn’t good enough for that kind of thing. I couldn’t sing properly, I couldn’t play guitar properly. It’s a heart thing, I thought.

I did Form (discipleship / leadership year) and ended up involved in our ministries for 18-30s at my church in Sheffield. Somewhere along the way, leaders who I trusted started saying I should lead worship. They were gentle but forceful. They were patient as I was very opposed to any thought of me being at the front of church, let alone playing guitar. I was nowhere near good enough to play the guitar in a church!

My leaders encouraged me and started giving me opportunities. My parents bought me an electro-acoustic guitar. I started leading in small groups with students and young adults. I was asked to sing at a friend’s wedding and played a song I had written. More importantly I kept pouring my heart out before God in my bedroom. I worshipped Him in a quiet and secret place. I wasn’t great at the guitar, I didn’t have the perfect voice but I knew He loved to spend time with me.

The first big opportunity I had to lead was at a worship event called His Presence. The organisers rang me a day before saying the person they had to lead couldn’t make it and could I play. Erm…?! I led with another guitarist (also called Tim) and my sister on keys. It was the first time I had played plugged in. It actually seemed to go well. I still didn’t think I was good enough. I kept putting off joining the worship team at church. Nicole Brown asked me a number of times. I avoided the opportunities. I wasn’t good enough.

Throughout this time I would speak to my mum on the phone and she would always remind me of this prophetic promise that a little boy received at New Wine when he was 10 years old. Every time she spoke of this it sounded as though she was convinced God has spoken. I did not believe in myself but my mum believed in me. More importantly, she had come to believe in the word from a loving Father over my life.

Over the last two years I have had more and more opportunities to lead worship. I finally joined the worship team and Nicole has always been generous in helping me to learn. As everything I’ve learnt was self-taught it has been a steep learning curve! Since September 2015 we have been having Worship Nights at our church and Andy Stone (church leader) has basically forced me to play with him! He saw something in my heart, encouraged me and believed in me.

Since the beginning of this year I’ve had the beautiful opportunity to lead worship with my lovely wife-to-be. Honestly, this is a dream come true. She has a stunning heart and an equally gorgeous voice. Her desire to pour out her praise to Jesus is contagious and inspiring. I have been very fortunate to meet a girl who I get to sing with. I have been very fortunate to meet a girl who believes in me – who sees things written on my heart by God and stands with me to say them come to pass. All praise to Him!

Finally, last Sunday morning – Sunday 28th February 2016 – I led worship at church during our Sunday gathering. 16 years since a boy heard an impossible word. 16 years of getting to know the heart of the Father in an empty bedroom.

Am I an amazing guitarist? NO! I still struggle to play in time! In fact, last Sunday was the first time I had led with a drummer and it was a new challenge. I am still learning. But this is what I have realised: God has given me the heart. I may not have the skills that others do, I may prefer to revert back to the same four chords, I may struggle with tempo, I may not have the best singing range… but I have the heart that God put in me a long time ago. 16 years ago in fact. It’s a heart that grew in a similar way to David, in the quiet places, alone in a bedroom. It’s a heart that has been encouraged by the generosity of my parents and amazing leaders. It’s a heart that was invested in year after year by New Wine. And it’s with that heart that I am able to lead worship.

Let it be a sweet, sweet sound.

I’ve often written about the process of discipleship and I hope that this story encourages you to hold on to the promises God gives you. In this instant culture we expect quick fixes, immediate answers and instant breakthrough. This is not the way of the kingdom: “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” (Mark 4:27) Sometimes (and I’m going to argue more often that not) it is a slow burning journey to the promised land. Patience is a valuable gift. Little seeds take a long time to grow. We can do things to nurture them but it is a mystery how they grow. Some seeds take many years to become tall trees. Make the little decisions along the way that invest in your heart. Get to know His heart. There is no logical reason for me to have ever led worship in a church service. It is all through the grace of God, combined with the little decisions to get to know Him in the secret place.

Last Sunday felt like a culmination of a long journey. It is a time to give thanks for all God has done. But it is a journey that is only just beginning.

 

#allin resurrection: embracing the journey from Friday to Sunday

The life of a Jesus follower is one of crucifixion and resurrection. It’s death and life. Friday and Sunday. In the early hours of 2014 I wrote in my journal:

“Lay down.
Let go.
Stand up.
Take hold.”

If you know me (or have read my blogs), you will know that laying down and letting go have become an intrinsic part of my life. Just read my last blog about surrender. This is an essential part of discipleship: willing to die, willing to pick up that cross and let go of the things that hold you back from encountering the fullness of His love. God has definitely taken me further on this journey of #allin surrender over the last few months. However, I have come to realise that I am not so good at standing up and taking hold of all the promises that God has spoken over my life.

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Jesus set the standard of what a life of #allin surrender looks like but if He had stayed in the grave then we would still be there too. He laid Himself down, let go of divinity and united Himself with us. But if He stayed in the grave then death would not be beaten, it would still have a pretty painful sting and we would still be subject to all of the burdens of death and darkness. Jesus did not stay there! And we cannot either! Good Friday is not at all ‘good’ without the resurrection life that Jesus embraced on the Sunday. When you lay everything down and surrender your life to God, He meets you there and brings you to new life. He does not leave us on the floor. He meets us there. He puts good things in front of us. Psalm 23, after a voyage of death through the shadow valley and a meal in front of enemies, says “surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” Surely! Surely there are good things to come! John 10:10 states that Jesus “came to bring [us] life, and far more life than before.” (JB Phillips). What a promise!

The nature of resurrection can be nothing but #allin. You cannot stay half dead. Lazarus came out of the grave and people had to remove his grave clothes (John 11:44). You don’t need to remain in the stench of the grave and you’re no longer required to wear the rotting grave clothes of the past. You’re either a new creation or you’re not. So many people walk around in the grave clothes of past regrets, carrying around the stench of the burden of unfulfilled dreams. Jesus’ grave clothes were folded up and left in the grave (John 20:7)! It wasn’t a partial resurrection, it was #allin. He left all signs of death in His tomb. If we’re going to embrace Jesus’ #allin resurrection we must cling to that journey from Friday to Sunday. We have to lay everything down but still allow Holy Spirit to resurrect and call forth from within us the beautiful and significant God-given and God-ordained gifts that flow naturally and gracefully from the place of our oneness with Jesus. In Him we have been raised to new life. There’s an abundance of glorious freedom and joy that rests on that truth. The journey from Friday to Sunday is embracing and allowing our mind to be renewed by Holy Spirit. The old has gone and the new has come. You and I are new creations! Come on!

It is time to stand up and take hold of all that God has called us to be. Here’s the truth: you are amazing and you are made for amazing things! Jesus picked you out and chose you before the foundation of the world. Just read Ephesians 1:4-5! It’s time to embrace resurrection life, the complete fullness of life, and step into all that we are called to be. Many people reading this will have promises and dreams that have been cast aside or stolen but I feel as though it is a time to take hold of these promises and dreams and become all that we are called to be.

This has been my heart in August. There’s still an element of surrender as all the good things come from Jesus – I always want to have that in mind and only take hold of what He puts in front of me. I want to be willing to lay it all down as He guides at a moment’s notice. But it is time to take hold of who God has called me to be. I don’t want to miss out on the things right in front of me that God has placed there. For too many years the thief has stolen and distracted us away from the things that God has placed in front of us. It is time to take hold of them! What does that look like for you? For me, it’s remembering who I was created to be and letting that reality partner with His prophetic promises. It’s deliberately and intentionally taking hold of the opportunities to walk that destiny and reality out in the every day moments of real life.

Here are some of the truths I am taking hold of:

  • I am a son. I have the best Dad who knows my needs.
  • I am a leader. Holy Spirit guides me and I can guide those around me. I can release what I have learnt to people as they follow me.
  • I am a prophet and I can speak life, truth and destiny into people’s lives. My life points to a loving and incredible Father.
  • I am a worshiper, a singer, a writer, a musician. I am creative and whatever I create can change lives, atmospheres and situations.
  • I am a teacher. I have the mind of Christ and I have Holy Spirit revelation that I can unlock in other people.
  • I am a man, a father, a husband. I love with compassion, sacrifice and purpose. I release destiny to others. I live in community not in isolation. I encourage and build up those around me. I am extravagantly generous with every resource I am blessed with.
  • I am a fire starter. I live in His presence and therefore where I go people will be healed, delivered and set free. I will go to different parts of this world and bring life and love.
  • I am an intercessor. I see what is on the horizon and I call it into being. I stand in the gap for people, especially those overlooked and ignored.
  • My life is marked by passionate pursuit of His presence, adventure and fun, laughter and joy. I am a man who has resolved to fix His eyes solely on Jesus. I will not look to the right or the left.
  • I am who He made me to be. I will be a person who embraces the cross with #allin surrender and I will be a person who embraces everything God has placed in front of me and experience resurrection life.

This is who I am.
Who are you?

This is who I am. Who I’m called to be. I don’t mind that I’m not walking out these values every minute of every day yet. No, instead I resolve to not miss any God-given opportunity to step into my purpose and destiny! I refuse to let fear steal anything that God has called me to be. I will not dwell on past mistakes and regrets. I will continue to grow and recognise that we’re called to a process, but I will take hold of every little thing that God has given to me. I will not beat myself up when I miss an opportunity*, I will not give the enemy a foothold. I will gladly take the next opportunity and I will live in the fullness of life that Jesus bought for me through His death and resurrection. I will not live solely from the surrender of Friday but I will hold it in tension with and will make the journey to Sunday.

This is who I am.
Who are you?

You have been raised to new life. It’s time to take hold of it and all the adventure and possibilities that come with it!

Who is with me? Who will embrace the life to stand up and take hold of all that they have been called to be?

  1. Do you find it easier to lay things down or take hold of what He has put in front of you?
  2. What is God calling you to take hold of at this time?

*I wrote most of this blog on the 14th. The following day I had a terrible time in a particular situation. I was stressed. My decision making process was more influenced by the thoughts of other people than what God thought of me. Yes, I was caring about what people would think of me. I wasn’t being the Tim I was made to be. I definitely was not taking hold of everything God was calling me to be. It is a process. There’s something freeing in that reality. When we’re caught up in the brambles of life He searches us out, picks us up, brushes the dust off our clothes and takes us home (Luke 15:1-7). It’s always a new day in the Kingdom of God. Stand up. Start again. That’s part of the journey. That’s the path to #allin resurrection.


If you’re wondering where the #allin hashtag came from you’ll need to read this blog I wrote. I’ve also written a blog about #allin compassion here and #allin surrender here.