Faith – Hope – Love

Faith – Hope – Love

Emma Wilson | 28 June 2020 | Sunday Celebration Testimony

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” – 2 Cor. 3:17

During this time in lockdown, I came across a song called “Be kind to yourself” by Andrew Peterson. I would really recommend listening to it if you struggle to cut yourself some slack every once in a while.
A little while ago, we heard a lot about kindness and the need to be kind to others, because we often have no idea what they are going through, what their story is. In this life we can often feel heavy and pressured, so let’s be on one another’s side, show each other kindness.
But I want to take that a step further and encourage each of us to show that kindness to ourselves, too. Often, we are our own worst critics, the least loving voice in our own minds.

But, before I go further in this train of thought, let me paint you a different picture of my mind and experience, particularly over the last few months.

As lockdown began, I felt quite shaken in many ways. A lot of uncertainties and a lack of point of reference quickly led me down a spiral of feeling pressured, incapable of balancing different things without a feeling of failing or coming short in one area or another – or all at the same time. As well as that, I felt this weight of expectation for this time of lockdown to be such a God-given gift of time for Him to speak, to reset priorities, to go deeper in my relationship with Him, to do a new work. It felt like all around me, there were people who now had this extra time on their hands to fix their house, their garden, resurrect new passions, invest in godly disciplines, and more. Having a 2-year old and being 6 months pregnant, I didn’t feel like I found myself there at all. And that was eating me from the inside. This comparison and feeling of not doing enough to see God do something in this time.

On a different page, I was being confronted with parts of my heart and mind that were not very pretty at all – parts that pointed fingers, parts that fear, hurts and insecurities, parts that were driven by performance and comparison, parts that felt so overwhelmed and anxious. Having less time to be distracted by or busy with other things left space for lies to sow seeds and my emotions to water them. In my head I was desperate to put things into place to see God do something, to do the “right things” to become closer to Jesus and more like Him in this time. There was this striving to stand pleasing before God in how well I spent my time or how much I did to pursue Him. But in that, there was no space for grace. No space for kindness towards myself. No space for love for myself.

A couple of weeks in, in various circles, we looked at the Holy Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” I knew that was what my heart was longing for, but didn’t know how to get there (once again…). Each day, I woke up saying, “Holy Spirit, I can’t do this myself. I want more of You. I know You have more for me and for my life than this. Fill me. Help me.”

And He did. Bit by bit, I could see how these heavy weights were taken out of my backpack, as it were, and replaced with freedom:

  • Freedom to do what I can and not push myself silly; to give myself grace and time to rest.
  • Freedom in knowing that God will complete the work He has started in me – Phil. 1:6. It is His desire and His doing and He won’t let me miss out when my HEART is postured towards Him.
  • Freedom that this season is not a reflection of me as a whole person nor will it last forever.
  • Freedom in knowing that God is not finished; and He is not finished with me.

Freedom on the other side of FAITH, not works.

From different platforms, the Holy Spirit highlighted all the ways He brings freedom. He showed me the Father’s heart that cares for me, that desires to carry my burdens, that abounds in grace and kindness and LOVE. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, I don’t have to earn my standing before Him each day; I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, including God actually. He sees my heart; He made it and knows what beats within. In Jesus, there is rest and freedom to learn from Him each day, to walk each day by His side, in His power, in His finished work.

So, in conclusion I want to encourage you:
When we look around us, it is easy to feel burdened by how we perceive others’ lives to be and how far our own is removed from that.
When we look within ourselves, we can feel the need to sort things out ourselves and make a plan to ease the feeling of guilt or fear or failing by doing “the right things”.
But when we look to God, we inherit a freedom on the other side of FAITH – faith in the work that Jesus has completed for us; faith in the Father who fully sees, fully knows and fully loves us; faith in the Spirit who searches the heart of man and desires to draw it closer to a gracious God.

My prayer for you is that you find this freedom that truly does set free from all heavy things and that brings life to the full instead.

Click here for the video and audio podcast of our Sunday Virtual Gatherings.

How faith is impacting where you are | Part 1

How faith is impacting where you are | Part 1

Phillipa on her journey in the Health and Fitness Industry

R – Reality

I – Integrity

S – Sincerity

K – Kindness

I have been in the health and fitness industry for over 25 years – quite amazing considering I was the one at school who avoided anything to do with exercise.  It was only after I had my third child, Matthew (who is now 27) that I found an aerobics class locally and realised that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  With a young baby on my hands, I would be up early every morning studying for my ‘Exercise to Music’ qualification, so determined was I to start teaching as soon as I could. I have since acquired many more qualifications.

Soon after starting classes in the community, my dream was to own and manage my own gym.  I have never had an athletic build, quite the contrary, but I was determined to encourage people of any shape and size to realise that exercise isn’t just for people who look the part and are comfortable in their bodies.  I wanted to demonstrate that the benefits of exercise are available to everyone and if I can do it so can anyone else.

Phillipa leading Aqua Aerobics class at Mote Leisure Club

My life has been all about taking risks. I’ve never been satisfied with going along with the status quo and after my fourth child had started school, I pursued the hard work of making my dream a reality. The time between receiving the dream and it coming to fruition in 2007 when I finally opened my own gym, Curves for women, was around 14 years.  It was quite a journey of faith, but as the Lord promises, our faith is always rewarded. I had the privilege of seeing thousands of women achieve their health and fitness goals over the 10 years I worked with Curves.

The exciting thing for me is that I am back in the Maidstone Community working as a Leisure Club Manager at Audley Mote Park, where I continue to have an impact supporting and encouraging the over 55’s in their health and fitness.

As my acronym above shows – these are the four things that I live by while taking risks to step out and trust the Lord with every step I take. You get close to people working in my industry and people soon learn whether you are genuine or not.  My heart is to demonstrate the reality of my faith in Jesus whilst keeping it real, being a woman of integrity, being sincere in everything I do and say, and treating all people with kindness.

I am so thankful to the Lord for the doors He continues to open for me to share His love and my faith and love for Him in the industry He has called me to serve in.


Photo by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash