A brief introduction
It only seems right that I give you a brief introduction in case you don't know me. My name is Sarah Walmsley and I'm the Communications Director at in2one Community Church.
I'm a wife to a wonderfully supportive husband who I've been married to for 20 years, and who lovingly lets me get lost in books or amidst pen and paper (quill and parchment for those of us more decadent) for days on end. I'm blessed to be the mother of three lovely human beings, Jamie, Aiden and Emma, and most importantly I'm follower of Jesus.
I have only been working at in2one for a little over a year, but am finding my role ever growing and changing. God has used it to grow and stretch me in many new ways, and this is just one of them.
In the last few years, my professional career has taken me on a veering and winding path, none of which have allowed me to use the gift of writing that God has given me... until now.
For the time being, this page is going to full of whatever God has put in my heart to write. Some of it will be creative writing pieces, others more devotional in nature. I welcome any submissions, as well as any and all feedback. I'll post a form for feedback below.
Until then, may you be blessed and may God let His face shine upon you!
Cosmic Coke Machine God
Dear Cosmic Coke Machine God,
I’d like to register a complaint. I mean, I thought you’d be different than other vending machines.
But here’s the thing, I put in my cosmic prayer quarters and pushed E5 - For please forgive me for the dumb thing that I did yesterday and nothing came out.
And the other day my sister put in over $5.00 in cosmic prayer quarters E6 - for please save my friend / mom / dog from cancer and you know what? It started to come out, and then got stuck!! It’s a cruel thing. And no matter how hard we pounded on the glass, nothing came out.
I think maybe that row is broken. You should definitely look at fixing it, otherwise, people will go and spend their money somewhere else.
Carlie of Minnesota
Dear Cosmic Coke Machine God,
Over the years I’ve come to you quite a bit. I’ve made a healthy investment of my good deeds quarters in you. These quarters aren’t easy to come by. I’ve had to read my Bible, go to church every Sunday, take care of my grandma, loan my dysfunctional brother money more than once, fix my parent’s roof. I even returned the $50 bill that fell out of that guys pocket in the parking lot right in front of me. Just to name a few things in more recent days.
Out of these investments your offerings of:
F2 - answered prayer
F3 - financial blessing & prosperity
F4 - shelter from pain and hardship and all bad things
Only a few have worked (and only sporadically) over the years. Quite frankly, it’s a bit disappointing. I had really hoped for a higher return on my investment, so I’m sure you’ll understand why I’m going to put my good deeds quarters elsewhere in the future. I just need something with a higher yield on my return.
Dear Cosmic Coke Machine God,
So I’m ready to broker a deal. I don’t really have a huge amount amount of good deeds quarters to spend, and I’m not a big cosmic prayer quarter kind of girl either but here’s what I propose. If you give me any of the following :
G1 - free pass into heaven
G2- get out of jail free pass
G3 - pedestal of superiority and / or soap box of righteous indignation to stand on
G4 - winner of the best body contest
I promise to always earn and give you all of my cosmic prayer quarters and tonnes of my good deeds quarters . I’ll give them to you Cosmic Coke Machine God and no other vending machine.
There are a lot of them out there to choose from, but if you do this, I promise to choose YOU.
June 4 - About Cosmic Coke Machine God
This is written in hyperbole, but is not too far from the truth of the depth or type of faith many people have. It represents a faith that is shallow, that will wither under duress or first storm. It is a faith that is quickly dis-illusioned and abandoned because it makes demands of a God that is a machine, pumping out a product or the desired results when the appropriate fees have been paid.
And this is certainly not the God of the Christian faith. It is not the real and living God of all creation who sacrificed His only Son to save humanity, but many confuse it.
I have to confess that I have done similar things. I have bargained with God in prayer in times of trouble, I have expected things of God because of the acts of service, the volunteering, the fervent prayers I have wielded into the ether.
It has been a common mistake of many to believe that God works and exists for us, rather than the other way around. We want to have a genie God or a Cosmic Coke Machine God that defers to our wishes and requests, or pumps out a product or outcome according to our payment or sacrifice, but the God of all creation does not need anything we have to offer.
He desires a loving relationship, and requires from that loving relationship an obedience and sacrifice of the heart. A surrendering of our own will to His. Jesus bridged the gap so that we might have a real and meaningful relationship with a Heavenly Father. And as someone who has claimed to be a Christ-follower for most of her life, it’s easy to look at others and see them as the ones with a mis-placed face in God that doesn’t exist, but if I look closely perhaps there is a reflection of myself there.
It is a good reminder to me that my relationship must be reciprocal, that I must listen as much as I talk, that prayer is a conversation rather than a list of requests.
Forgive me Father, for the times I have regarded you in such an irreverent way.
How are you this week? How are you coping with life these days?
Are any of you feeling stagnant, isolated, lonely, or discouraged?
Do you feel disconnected, scared or stressed?
How is your spiritual life doing? Do any of the above feel like they are also indicative of your spiritual life?
This weekend, I was going through my notes and found an entry where I had journalled about a conversation that I had with a friend of mine about Satan’s influence in our lives. Her thoughts on the matter were so profound that and I was reminded of how God used her and that conversation to reveal some pretty amazing truths to me. My dear friend and sister in Christ really helped me in that moment to keep my EYES UP, as we say at in2one.
Even more amazing, is how profound, true and just as applicable those words are today as they were over a year ago when we first had this conversation.
We were talking about the difficulties we were encountering in preparing to share our Life Verses with our church family. It was a struggle for both of us as we realized how much God was revealing to us in the process of preparing. I kept telling everyone that all they had to do was read a verse, no big deal. It’s just a verse. And yet, it was a struggle for many, it seemed. I had to keep asking why? What was the big deal?
In the course of preparing her verse my friend wanted to do more than just read the verse, she wanted to share some context but found a deep struggle in deciding what to share. She thought about reducing what she was going to share, questioning what she was saying at all, then considered cancelling and then she said the most profound thing, in a most off-handed way. She said,
“you know, all the ways that the accuser attacks those whom he will never own.”
That was a light bulb moment for me.
All the ways the Accuser attacks those he will never own.
God spoke volumes to me that day as I thought more and more about it. I prayed over it and tossed this idea over and over in my head.
What are the things that the Accuser does to those he will never own?
Well, he accuses. He is the voice inside that says, “You’re going to mess up and look like an idiot” “You can’t speak in public” “No one wants to hear you blathering on, or being too preachy”
He says, you’re not good enough to do this, you’re too sinful, too shameful, too nervous, too simple. You’re dumb, you talk too much, you don’t talk enough. You CAN’T do this.
What is his purpose in doing this? He is the Deceiver. He wants to deceive me into thinking I cannot and should not do or say what God is urging me to do.
Why? Because Satan would like nothing better than for me to feel isolated and alone. He would like to keep me from supporting and encouraging others. He wishes to thwart my spiritual growth. He would prefer me to be scared, stagnant and discouraged. He would like nothing better than to keep me from connecting with others. Sound familiar?
But these are all indirect actions. Satan is not doing any of these things to me. No one is actually standing in my way. I am not alone, and I am not any of those things he is accusing me of, but Satan will do his best to deceive me into thinking that this is the truth.
The underlying truth of it screamed out to me in my friends words, “ the accuser attacks those he will never own.”
Satan cannot, does not and will never own me. Nor will he have any power over me except that which I give him because...
I belong to the Almighty God.
Satan has no power over Jesus and therefore he has no power over me because I belong to Jesus.
The blood of Jesus purchased me, and at the same time washed away all my sin and shame and unrighteousness.
I belong to Jesus. The Jesus who defeated death and Satan. And the truth of Jesus is the only truth.
His truth says, I am worthy because He made me so. His truth says He is my King and my King is all powerful. He gives me the ability to speak, to share, to encourage others. He wants me to connect with others and to share the great things Jesus has done in my life. He has given me a mission to help others on this journey in pursuit of Him. And in His name, in the name of Jesus, I can humble myself and call upon the power of Jesus to stop listening to the lies of the accuser.
In the name of Jesus I can resist the schemes of the evil one. No matter how hard it may be, I can proclaim the truth of Jesus and what He has done for me, and in so doing help others to also keep their EYES UP.
Will you do the same? What is God calling you to do? What are your NEXT STEPS in your faith journey?
Hello in2one family,
As I was doing my devotions this week and thinking about what is happening within our church family, my places of work, friends, and the world at large, one word just kept popping up.
Whether watching the news or talking to friends and family fear seems to be a common theme. With the COVID - 19 pandemic still running its course, it seems an inevitable topic. No one knows what the future holds, how long this will last, who will get sick and what the secondary and tertiary consequences of this pandemic will be. I thought a lot this week about its impact on us as Christ followers and a few things came to mind.
It’s so easy to fall victim to fear and to be paralyzed and beaten down by it. Especially in these times. Fear can be a heavy weight that drags us down. It can threaten our well being, stunt our spiritual growth and paralyze us.
Satan can use it to discourage us from our mission, to isolate us and use it as a vehicle to whisper deceptive lies about our worth, about our value, and our abilities.
Sometimes, if we live too long with fear and entertain it - it puts us in bondage. It becomes something that follows us around all the time and seems in-escapable. How can you not be afraid in a world so full of scary unknowns?
How? One word. One name. Jesus.
Jesus is the one who broke all those chains, who conquered death and all fear. His power is absolute. Nothing is unknown to Him. Nothing scares Him. And nothing is impossible for Him.
Jesus can free us from being a slave to fear, and is the one who sets us free to live the lives He designed for us.
It is because of Jesus and with Him that we can be bold enough to live out the mission He set out before us.
There is great assurance in knowing that no matter where we are on our roadtrip, if we break down, if we get lost, we know that Jesus will stage a rescue mission for us - we are His beloved- and He will put us back on the road to HIM and will empower us to help others join this great road trip in pursuit of Jesus.
We want everyone to join us as we seek after the Light, the bondage breaker, the one who brings peace and calm, no matter what is happening in the world around us.
There is such joy and freedom in that. I pray that today Jesus will give you peace and freedom from fear. That even in these times, you will know that He is in control, that He loves you and He desires that you be set free.
Much love and blessings!
Sweat trickless down the small of her back
She listens anxiously trying to hear past the hammering of her own heart.
Ears prick listening hard for that familiar sound.
Muscles twitch ready to run.
It is the anticipation that sucks the energy from her.
Her hands tremble, waiting.
Time slows, every second is agonizingly long.
Finally her breath slows.
Perhaps she was wrong.
She closes her eyes.
A sweet reprieve of inky black nothingness.
After a time they flutter open and there it is
Having stealthily crept over as she stood unsuspecting
Dark, looming over her blocking her way.
She opens her mouth to scream but it catches in her throat, a garbled noise.
She wills herself to move but her limbs are made of lead. Her feet are rooted to the ground. Her heart races a frantic staccato.
She is covered in a cold sweat.
It reaches out and curls its cold, cruel fingers around her throat.
She struggles, trying to pry herself loose.
The more she struggles the tighter it squeezes.
Stop struggling, it whispers, you’ll only make it worse. There is no escape. You should have moved while you had the chance.
She is gasping for air now. Lightheaded.
Don’t fight it. Just give up. It’s almost over its icy breath menaces. This is your fault.
With each struggle for breath she wonders how it came to this, for at first fear was just a small shadow that followed behind her, quietly, unperturbingly, silently, following her every move.
Then one day it seemed bigger, more demanding. It even knocked her across the cheek.
She reprimanded it and and herself for allowing it to happen, and then she put fear away, out of sight.
But somehow it always found its way out, and each time it became bigger and stronger, no longer happy to be ignored.
The next time it knocked her clean off her feet and then handcuffed itself to her so that she could no longer escape from it.
Now it sneers at her and whispers to her in her vulnerable moments.
She is paralyzed by it, it holds her back.
Soon it is a shadow that has eclipsed the sun. It had always threatened to overtake her but until today she did not realize its full power over her.
Tears sear their way down her face.
She is desperate now.
Give it up, it growls, but a strangled sound makes it way up her throat and out of her mouth.
The consonants and vowels of that word burn the tips of fears fingers like molten iron.
Fear immediately loosens its grip.
What? It hisses.
She utters it again, choking now on her own tears. It is a plea of desperation, a frantic grasp at a life preserver.
And as the names passes her lips, a bright blinding light appears piercing fear to its marrow.
It howls in pain and completely lets go.
She gulps in a full breath and struggles forward.
Fear is not so easily dissuaded and pushes her back again, reasserting its deadly grip.
She flails in panic.
Fear - encouraged and fed- becomes strong once again.
She pushes with all her might but it drains her energy quickly.
A gentle, soft, voice like a breeze whispers Be still.
For a moment she stills and then feels fear’s stinking breath and she struggles anew.
The cool breeze whispers again,
She drops her hands to her side in full surrender.
She is too tired to fight anyway.
Be Still, says the light
Be still and know that I am God.
She relaxes every muscle, save for the tears coursing down her face. She does not move.
The blinding light pitches forward with a searing heat and cuts her free of fear.
She stumbles forward exhausted, spent.
Come with me, the light says
And I will give you rest.
She flops into its arms, rag-dolled.
When she opens her eyes she is beside a quiet stream.
She can hear its soft gurgles, and feel cool, damp earth beneath her.
She can smell the sweet soft grass.
Warm sunlight dances across her skin.
Where am I?
And the Light answers, You called me and I came for you. I rescued you when you called on my name.
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you.
The Light covers her, restores her energy.
She feels weightless, unburdened.
She touches the raw skin on her wrist where fear had shackled itself to her.
You are no longer a slave to fear, the Light says.
I bought you, with my own blood. You are my child.
Do not be afraid. For I, the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go.
The light fades.
She can feel its warmth remaining on her skin. Tingling.
No longer a slave to fear she whispers.
Touching her bruised wrist she stands and begins jumping and whooping with joy, like a small child.
I am no longer a slave to fear- because I am a child of God.