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God in the middle of the storm

We serve a wonderful God. He comes to us walking on the terrifying waves & even invited Peter to join Him. It is amazing that His presence inspires such confidence that a man would even contemplate stepping out into the middle of a storm.

Earlier this year, I received this encouraging email from Craig Mackay from Reading Family Church. His story is so full of pain but so full of faith in the sovereign hand of God. I wonder how people can handle such experiences without the Lord. I am so glad to read that God features so prominently in Craig's thoughts & reflections on all that has happened. When I paused to type in the two tweets it never occurred to me that I would receive such a letter as this..

Dear Terry

I just wanted to say a big thank you to you…. I served as one of the Elders in the church in Reading alongside my dear friend Sean Green; a few years ago you came and preached with us and had lunch with the eldership team; it was a fabulous day; I recall your patiently minstering to all the people who wanted you to pray for them at the end of the meeting…many hearts touched through your words and as the Holy Spirit did the work that only He can do.

In 12th February, 2010, my wife of 16 and a half years, Karena, and the mother of my 3 children died from cancer; she was 48.  She had battled it through 2009 having been diagnosed on 31 Dec 2008.  As a family we were (are) utterly devastated.  My children were 13, 11 and 10 at the time.  My youngest daughter Olivia celebrated her 10th birthday in the hospice after an eventful trek there on foot through the snow of winter 2010 !  It was memorable for all the wrong reasons !

Aug 2008
 
Karena was a devoted mother, a wonderful wife (I always described her as being the 'wind in my sails'), she was very prophetic (some years ago she typed out a prophetic word for you when we were in Ben Davies' church in Bracknell before the days of the Reading plant…from memory, it was something about being like a comet (but I may be wrong there!)).  She was inspirational in so many ways…on the day (20th Dec 2009) we told our children that she was going to be with Jesus, I read from John 14 (In my Father's house there are many rooms…), and told them the most horrendous news they could hear.  Karena prayed for them all and prophecied over them all too.  Her physical condition worsened despite our prayers and she stepped confidently into the presence of her saviour just 6 weeks later.  My children watched her slip into unconsciousness and breathe her last breath.  It was a Christmas season which I will always weep about.
 
The good news is that in June 2011 I married Ellie.  Her story has similar pain to mine…her first husband Ben, and father to her two children died very suddenly, and without warning, in the night 12 years ago. He was 28; their children were 2 and not-quite-1 at the time.  They were at bible college (Oak Hill) pursuing what they believed to be the call of God upon their lives.

CraigEllie with children June

Ellie and I met at a Care for the Family weekend for young bereaved people.  We talked a lot and cried a lot over the coming months. Ellie is very gentle, loving, a beautiful disciple of Jesus, an outstanding mother, she is inspirational in her warmness and lack of any bitterness considering the pain of her journey.  God has blessed us both in so many ways…we have sensed his handprints upon us, upon our relationship, at so many times and in so many ways, supernaturally.  In the times of deepest darkness He has faithfully wooed us, sung over us, and held us close.  As our children have (and do) grieve at the loss of their mother/father, He has given us the strength to help them, to cry with them and to point them to our saviour in their times of despair.  It's been, and continues to be, a very tough journey.  We are now shepherding the hearts of 5 children together (it's very busy and noisy !!)…they are now aged 15,14,13,12 and 12 (It's tiring just writing it !!)….and by the grace of God, they all love Jesus and are pursuing Him.

The Team 

Today you tweeted two things which have stirred me and which have brought me to tears (once again! It happens a lot these days!) :-
 
1. Being in a storm doesn't mean you are out of the will of God.
2. Jesus sent them into a stormy lake.  Obedience to Jesus does not guarantee a storm-free life.
 
Both so true.  I know that Ellie and I are right in the middle of the will of God and yet we cry regularly about our journeys and those of our children.  Jesus is close by though and knows our pain.
 
Terry - I just wanted to encourage you as you follow Christ, to keep pursuing the gospel with all of your heart, to keep saying it as it is, to keep going the extra mile in His service, to keep inspiring others to surrender their lives for the gospel.  There is no greater calling, no more meaningful pursuit, nothing more worth spending everything on and being spent for…Thank you so much for all that you have insprired in me to date through your teaching.  Without inspirational bible teachers like you and Ben Davies and my dearest friend Sean Green, I would not be able to cope with the pain of this journey….please keep on keeping on… and keep following the promptings of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to You and through you…
One day we will all stand in His presence…
 
With love, and deepest respect.
In Christ…
 
Craig Mackay
 

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