Emma Fradd’s morning keynote address to the Shine Gathering, 2018.
Check out Emma Fradd’s talk at the Proclaim Lismore Youtube.
G’day everyone, how’s it going?
I lived in Canada for 6 years and then England for 2 years. It’s really nice to be able to be with a group of people and be like “how’s it going?” If you do that in Canada they just don’t know what that means.
I want to tell you a story. When I was younger, I don’t know if you guys ever do this, but I was hanging out with my brother one day and I was really bored, and whenever we wanted to eat… which was all the time … we’d ask mum and dad for some money to go around to the shops. But, we always knew that mum was more likely to give us money than Dad.
Is that true for anyone else? Maybe it’s the opposite for you but we had kind of figured out that mum was often feeling a bit more generous.
So I was hanging out with my brother. We were on the computer, feeling a bit peckish, but mum wasn’t home. So we were like, “alright, what’s the best way to do this?”
My brother was like, “okay, go inside, make Dad a cup of coffee. Wait until he’s had a sip, while he’s still holding the cup and then ask him.”
So we had created this big plot. I go inside, “Dad, do you want a cup of coffee?”
Dad, “yep.” I make him one, probably tastes like poo, give it to him. I’m just sitting there, just watching him … waiting. He finally takes a sip and right away I’m like, “Dad, can I have a couple of dollars to go to the shops so me and Tom can get some lollies?”
… and he said, “Yes.”
We felt so triumphant that day; it was a very big win for the Fradd children.
Now, I tell you this story because obviously we go to our parents for a lot of things. You know, maybe when we want some money, probably mainly when we want some love and acceptance. We may go to friends if we want advice or we want to have a bit of a laugh. Maybe you guys, as was just shared, maybe you’ll go to your YMO’s or maybe a Catholic Priest if you have those questions, deep religious questions. But today I want to talk about why should we go to God? And what should we even expect from God when we go.
Now, the funny thing about God is, obviously yes, God has so many gifts to give us. He is a magnificent God and all He has to give is good. But, in the Catholic Church, what I love about our faith is that we don’t just go to God to get stuff. We go to God because He wants to have a relationship with us. So it’s not like we go, get filled, and bugger off. Like no, God is actually interested in every part of your life. Hey, He wants to know everything.
He wants to know what you like and what you don’t like. What makes you bored, what annoys you and well, He just wants to know everything about you. He is so fascinated and interested with you. He thinks you are so interesting. This is why He says, ‘ask and receive,’ (John 16:24) not just so we can get things but so we can get to know Him and journey with Him.
So the scripture we’ve been focusing on from John’s Gospel, “Very truly I tell you; My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything. Ask and receive, and your joy will be full.” (John 16:23-24)
Let’s have a look at what this scripture ISN’T saying. The scripture isn’t saying that God is a genie. The scripture isn’t saying that God will give you everything that you ask for.
Has anyone ever maybe prayed for something and not got it? I have, doesn’t feel very good does it?
Our faith tells us and the Bible tells us, that ‘God’s ways are above our ways’ and ‘God’s thoughts are above our thoughts.’ Sometimes, in my case, His thoughts are really high above. But we can trust that He has a better plan in mind for us than we could even fathom ourselves.
What this scripture IS saying is, “ask and you’ll receive,” you’ll receive something good. It may not be what you think specifically, but we can trust that all God has to give is good. The scripture is saying if you want the fullness of life, don’t go anywhere else because God has that for us. And for a lot of my life, I went everywhere else.
What you guys have going on in your Diocese is dope. It is so awesome that you guys can all get together and talk about your faith. I’m from a really small town in South Australia called Port Pirie. ‘Port Paris’, I like to call it. Growing up I had no one around me into their faith and as a result, I started going everywhere else to look for this ‘fullness of life.’ I was starting to ask and receive from other things, and this may sound like a very cliché story. I was from a small town, got involved in a lot of different drugs and alcohol, impure relationships. To be honest with you I was just taking whatever I could get because I just wasn’t satisfied with life, I wanted more. But it would never really fill me. I was always left with this sense of, “really? Is that it? Is that really what life is?”
My brother challenged me one day, at the time I didn’t believe in God. He said, “Emma, you can’t say God isn’t real if you’ve never tried praying to him.”
I’d be like, “Matt, let me tell you, mum dragged me to Mass on a Sunday, and we have to pray Grace. School takes me to another Mass during the week, like, I pray, like, I don’t get it. It’s boring, there’s nothing there.”
He said, “well sure, if someone forces you to pray it’s not going to feel very good. But prayer should be something we feel as if we can choose freely. We can make that choice for ourselves.” He encouraged me, “Emma, find your own time, your own space and say your own prayer to God. You don’t have to say a set prayer, just say whatever you want.”
So I thought, ‘okay, I’ll give this a go and when it doesn’t work, I’ll prove my brother wrong.’ This is what my prayers sounded like, “Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Hey God, if you’re there, which you’re probably not, but if you are, could you just show yourself to me? Okay, bye. Amen”
That was my prayer every day for about 2 weeks.
But slowly and slowly I became less and less cheeky in my prayers. I started spending time with my brother, going along to his different youth groups, going along to Mass and asking the questions I had. Not just shutting it off and saying no, actually asking the questions and being open to the answers. More and more I realised what the Catholic faith says. The Catholic faith says that God loves us so much that He died for us, that He actually made a way to reprimand for all the bad we ever do in our lives, so we can come in full union with our Creator and be with Him forever.
If that’s true… I thought if that is actually the truth … then of course I want to live my life that way. I want to live my life in the truth. I don’t want to live some lie or some mask, or go on all my years not knowing the truth about why we were even here or why we were created.
It all built up, my prayers were getting longer, the weeks were going by and I came to a bit of an event like this, put on by NET (who I now work for) and it was during that time that I encountered praise and worship; like what we had yesterday or this morning, just a lot of people singing loud with their hands in the air. I’d never seen that in a small town. I was like “where am I?” You know, I thought I was in some cult or something. But looking around I was like “this is silly”, but all I could do is sit there and watch everyone. I was thinking, “wow, people look like they’re not pulling my leg. They really looked like they’re entered into this whole God thing.” It made me look at myself and really get in touch with that feeling of there’s just something not right. Like my life just isn’t fulfilled; something is missing. It led me to pray what I think was my first real prayer to God. It essentially was what I prayed at the start, but a bit more heart-felt, “God, if you’re really there, would you show yourself to me in a way that I will understand? You don’t have to come down and give me this big, you know, fireball experience. I don’t know, but God I just need to know, like I’m asking you, I’m opening myself to you. Are you there?”
The next day I heard the talk, and the talk was talking about how God loves us so much that He killed a part of Himself to save us. I tell you all, I’d heard that message for 18 years of my life but that day when I heard the message I knew that without a doubt that this Man was telling me the truth. It just hit me, and oh my gosh, I cried for about 6 years. My whole life transformed in that moment. I began praying every day, learning more about God, and just becoming closer to Him. Next week is actually my 10 year anniversary, how cool is that? Party on.
But you know, that nice moment I just described to you, that wasn’t just a once off. God is not about once offs. He’s not about just giving you an experience now and handballing you back home, never again. He wants all of us forever; your good bits, your bad bits, all of you.
So to sum up why should we go to God? Because He has that ‘fullness of life,’ and that is the fullness that we can actually encounter and get to know, and be in relationship with.
Next I want to talk about when we pray to God, what are the 3 things that He says to us? When we ask for something I believe God either says, “yes, not yet, or I’ve got something better in store for you”.
Let’s start with ‘yes’; how many of you people here have prayed for something and got it? Yeah, how good does that feel? You’re like YES! Oh my goodness, my will is in align with God’s Will. This is so good.
Sometimes I’m a bit too surprised, but we shouldn’t be surprised that God wants to gift us with good things. I would encourage you guys, if you’ve had your prayers answered share them with a buddy, share it with a stranger; this is how we get to know God. We see Him work in our lives and in others’ lives.
So yes, God can say ‘yes’ and give us what we ask for. God also might say “not yet”. God’s timing is not always our timing.
Has anyone here ever done like a plan for their life? I know for me it was like, ‘okay, I’ll leave High School at 18, I’ll go to uni for 4 years studying teaching, teacher’s college, be married by the time I’m 25, 3 kids by the time I’m 30.’ We are so good at planning out our lives. I think we may inherit that from God, who is like the ultimate planner.
But I’d tell you what, I’d never have fathomed that at 18, I would be giving up 2 years of my life doing mission work; spreading the Gospel all around the country. I never would have fathomed that. I was like, ‘I’m going to move to Adelaide, I’m going to move into a house and I’m just going to work on my band.’ That was my plan. But God, sometimes He has plans for us that we can’t even fathom. So, God’s timing is not always our timing. We often find ourselves waiting, but don’t let the wait skew your beliefs about God.
Have you ever prayed for something good and not got it? “God, please heal my friend”, “God please help me to take away the stress” or we can pray for good things and not get them and sometimes it can skew our beliefs. We can start to have thoughts like, ‘God doesn’t care. God’s playing games with me.’ But our faith tells us no, that’s not who God is. So don’t let the waiting skew your beliefs about God.
God says, ‘yes, not yet’ and sometimes His polite way of ‘no’ is, ‘I’ve got something better planned for you.’
One of my favourite/funny scriptures is, “which of you Fathers if your son asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead. Or, if he asks for an egg, would give him a scorpion. As bad as you are, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?’ (Matthew 7:9-11)
I think this is too funny… can you imagine waking up one morning, going to the breakfast table, your Dads there, “G’day love.”
“Just some eggs…Argh!” and there’s a scorpion.
God gets it! God gets what you want. God knows your heart more than you know your heart. He’s not going to play games with us. He knows what we want more than we know what we want.
“God’s plan is not for ruin, but to give us a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
So in conclusion… bringing this to a bit of a close.
Sometimes this ‘life to the full’. Sometimes it means we don’t always get what we want. In the world today people say, ‘yeah, that’s life’. But we know, that God just has something better for me. He has a higher plan. If you think that sounds boring, then maybe you don’t know God as well as you think you do.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I find that really boring: praying for something and not getting it. I’m like, “…arghhh, come on!!” But I need to re-meet God in prayer, “remind me who you are, I’ve gotten all mixed up here. So I don’t go looking somewhere else.”
So we can go to God because we know that all He has to give is good. It’s ok if we ask for something that maybe He doesn’t have install for us. He still wants us to bring it to Him. He wants us to bring all our desires to Him because He can purify that.
More then what you can do. God just wants you.
And more then what God can do. We should just want God.
It’s actually quite simple, we can complicate it. I can complicate it.
This is bloody hard. It’s so hard to want what God wants. That’s why we pray. That’s why we sang prayers like last night with Emmanuel Worship, “Be it in me according to your word.” Really praying, ‘God let your Will be done.’ That’s what that means because we know that it’s better than anything we could imagine.
Emma Fradd has worked for NET Ministries internationally and is currently based in Brisbane Australia. She graces crowds with her musical tones and bold vocals. Her band Heaps Good Friends can be found trending the Triple J radio waves. She loves a big bowl of guacamole, a bag of Mission Chips and get’s a twitch when she sees a drum kit.