Trusting God

Layfetta: Like so many others, our children returned to school recently. I dropped them off, then drove to my placement church in absolute silence. Silence in the car for the first time in six weeks. Well, I’m won’t lie, it was kind of… nice!

I smiled along my merry way. It was not long before I started wondering what they were doing and how Reception class was going for our four year old daughter. She had been doodling on paper all summer in preparation for the “important work” she had to do in Mrs J’s class.

My mind then rested firmly on my year ahead and the work I have in store. This will be my final year at St Mellitus College, North West. Conversations about curacy have begun and God has most certainly got His feet firmly on the pedals driving me forward.

I evaluate where I am up to, in terms of what I have learnt and how competent I feel. Not very. I think I felt more competent last year as I was about to begin 😊. My last sermon took five drafts before I felt at peace. Surely this is not supposed to be the case? “I should be churning them out a lot more quickly”, I thought to myself, not more slowly.

This might have something to do with being more aware of what a good sermon should contain, who knows. Interestingly enough, as I experience turmoil within, members of the congregation have begun saying ‘well done’ and sending me emails about how blessed they were by my sermon, how God spoke to them, and more shockingly, comments on how I am growing in confidence and ‘presence’.

I want to tell them, I have done very little other than pray “Help!” every day. I have come to realise that I should never act without being led, no matter how tempting. How do I know I am being led? Inner peace. The sermon that I took for a spin five times was on Joy. A few days later I was listening to my Bible in a Year App on my phone, by a very well-known pastor, and he had plagiarised my sermon! Well, not really, he simply said nearly the exact same things I had preached on. It gave me comfort, as though God was confirming something in me. Reassuring me that I did hear from Him.

The truth is, even if his comments were different, I still trust that the inner peace that God rests inside of me is sufficient. I won’t always receive approval from others or confirmation from an App. Doing what He says in His word, or what He drops in my spirit, that is my only desire. To hear and be obedient to my one and only Lord Jesus.

Like my daughter with her bit of paper and a pen, I see this as “important work”, and if it takes me five drafts to phrase what He is trying to say to His church, then I consider it a great joy and a privilege. It does get easier, right? 😊

Confidence vs Faith

Layfetta: Having spent 17 years in education, I believed that my confidence came from being prepared and well organised. I set out to implement these tried and tested skills in my new journey as an ordinand, but why were they not working?

The answer was not immediate. It started with my supervisor insisting I commit to a Sabbath rest. OK, I’ll take an hour here and there. Well, God would not let go and neither would his assistant – in the form of my supervisor. Never before have I had to juggle so many situations (I have 4 children and am doing a full time academic course) and still put an entire day aside, in my opinion at the time, to do absolutely nothing.

The lesson has been never to compromise my time alone with God. My early morning daily devotion takes about 40 minutes. I have been tempted a few times to use that time for essay writing instead, but by midday I have found myself on my knees instead, being reminded that time with God is important if I want things to go well.

I am called not to strive for confidence in being the best Layfetta I can be, but rather to have faith and trust Him to mould me into what He would have me be.

Surrender. Living one day at a time, the children of Israel had manna for each day. The results of taking life one day at a time and trusting God may not sound radical but, although not easy, are very rewarding.

Last week in my alone time, I felt compelled to write a completely different sermon, for our 9am congregation of a few lovely elderly ladies. In the stillness of my prayer time the entire sermon came to me. It was wonderful! God spoke to each person powerfully that morning.

Obedience is indeed sweet. I have found that doing His will is always worth it, and that faith is confidence in God not in my own abilities.

Jeremiah 17 v 7-8 says “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Amen.


Our Christmas gifts

The lead up to Christmas saw an end to my first term as an ordinand. Academically I have been challenged with the rigours of study and I began a new journey with a new church family. Advent began and came to an end quickly, before we knew it, it was Christmas Eve. My husband and I had been very organised and managed to get pretty much exactly what each of our children desired for Christmas – all four of them.

My husband had placed a few prezzies under the tree a few days prior. Mostly the ones we didn’t mind little fingers piercing through before Christmas morning. The important stuff we had wrapped together and I had placed in a large bin liner. Always the best camouflage over the years.

The kids went to bed and our youngest only three left Father Christmas a cookie, some milk and a carrot for the reindeer. In realisation we did not have a chimney my nine-year-old quickly to the rescue responds, “Santa has a magic key to all houses”. The boys all know that all good things come from God, having asked a direct question two years ago.

Off to bed they went, and I proceeded to fetch the large bin liner to “stock” our tree. I could not find the bag, which should not be so hard to find considering its size. I telephoned my husband who was at a midnight service with a friend. I told him where I had left the bag, he simply said “I’m on my way”. He was leaving a midnight service at 11.30pm; this was not good.

As it turns out, like every year for the past six years, we had friends round for Carols and Prayers a few nights before at our home. This always involves Jamaican and Pakistani food generating a lot of rubbish from paper plates and cups, so yes you guessed it. My husband had accidentally thrown away our gifts, thinking it was the bin from our carol singing night! Christmas Eve became a nightmare instantly. My husband arrives, mortified, and I sob.

I questioned why God had allowed it to happen. We may never know. What did happen though, after an hour or so of real sadness, was we made a conscious decision to divert our gaze from our “stuff” to our “provider”. Amazingly, even without those gifts our children were happy with what we had under the tree. That was God!! We still had so much more to be thankful for, and no, being a Christian or even an ordinand does not mean an end to our trials. In this situation we saw that God does not always free us from our situations but He frees us on the inside.

I say to you as we begin 2019, with Brexit looming and every uncertainty besides, let us decide in advance to bless the Lord at all times, may His praises forever be on our lips. Happy New Year! Jesus is still on the throne!

Even though Christmas was a challenge in some ways I am so conscious of all those who are experiencing greater difficulty this January. It allowed me to take stock and be grateful.

(Thanks to my darling husband and best friend for allowing me to share our real life family blooper.)

Meet Layfetta

I am Layfetta, a first year Ordinand at St Mellitus College in Liverpool. I am a Jamaican married to a Pakistani, and we have four children. I am only four weeks into my course and look forward to my Mondays at college where I can share my heart with those walking a similar path as me.

Prior to taking the plunge for training as a vicar in the Church of England, I wrestled with thoughts of how I would cope as a Jamaican woman in full time ministry. What if God sent me to the most remote part of Kazakhstan? I am pretty confident that is not in my immediate future so no need to worry about that… for now.

I find myself thinking about the communities for which we will be released into though. Cities tackling knife crimes on a reduced budget, rising homelessness, eat vs heat families, the widening polarisation of society, and if I allow myself, I am overwhelmed by it all. However, as usual, God is always on time, as you might have heard before, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”.

As I travelled on the train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston for my first residential weekend, I heard from within my spirit “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. I whispered it under my breath and entered in His space of peace. I am reminded that whatever our journey, He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us.

Layfetta residential

As I mulled this over in my mind, a few days later I sat in my kitchen and looked up a printout of the focus scripture for our church for 2018, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to bless you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

We may have our moments of questioning but with His promises in scripture and our personal experiences of past faithfulness, we press on in the good fight of faith.

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