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Archive for the ‘faith musings’ Category

Still fighting it…

One of my many and varied problems with life is the constant desire of my brain to live for the next thing. You know the senario, to get through the day you think of the great thing that will happen in the evening, to get through the week you ponder the weekend, to get through the weekend you think about the next weekend and so on. The problem is I fail to live right now. Right here.

Why is that a problem is a fair question. There is nothing wrong with looking forward to the weekend, nothing wrong with planning for the future, nothing wrong with anticipation. The problem comes when that is ALL I do, when all I think about and focus on is stuff that is not happening right in front of me. I fail to be present in the moment right here and now. That’s a massive problem because it drags me away from experiencing God, from loving people, from being focused on what I am doing, from a whole host of relating to people moments.

I wish my work day away and fail to love and honour my work colleauges. I wish church meetings away and fail to love the people in my family, I dream of fantasy futures and yet fail to love the person in front of me today. I escape this life right and now because it is too hard. I also miss out on the joys and wonder of this present moment – I feel guilty about all the people ‘out there’ I am failing to love but miss out on the person God has put in front of me today to love and serve. I worry about the millions of injustices in the world (well I do sometimes) and fail to act and treat the colleague in the next desk over from me with love and justice.

We’re called to live right here, right now. To know that the One who rules creation, who made us and chose us before the creation of the world has the future in His hands. And the only way I can experience His work is to be in this present moment, not wishing it away but asking for the Spirit to guide, to enable me to love and take note of the people in front of me. I am SO bad at this. A fact I am realising every day. I constantly plan for  future events, constantly work out my weeks so each moment is planned carefully for maximum enjoyment and comfort. By doing this I think I may be missing out on stuff God wants me to do that I am not in control of.

What happens now? What is the way forward? My ultimate future is secure. There are several possible futures of my life until then, some more likely than others. I know none of these for certain. What I do know is tomorrow I will get up, I will go to work and I will face the challenge of working hard, loving my colleagues, being there with them, or whiling the hours away until I cycle home, until the weekend and my birthday fun. It’s a flipping battle to do this, to stay in the present, but it’s one worth fighting, because I might just catch a glimpse of what God wants me to be doing tomorrow. I might just catch a glimpse of His love, power and glory because he dwells in This Moment. Future in His hands, Past dealt with. He is here. The one who was and IS and is to come. We live in the ‘IS’ and I long, I long to experience that now and tomorrow as I wake and know that He is still with me.

I also have a sneaking suspicison that the elusive Shalom that we all crave in our lives might come from this way of living, less running around trying to prove my worth in all the many things I am doing and more loving the people in my life today. Hmm.

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Every now and again my brain double de clutches (no idea what that even means but it sounds bad…) and rejects a word or phrase that Christians like to say a lot. When I say reject, I mean groan inwardly at, moan about it’s overuse, hate everyone who says it too many times etc etc etc. This might not seem like a huge problem but when you realise that these words are like, gospel, grace and others, things get a little tricky. These are big words that need not to lose their meaning. These are big fat words that need to stay fresh because what they describe is mindshatteringly vital to the whole of life.

So a bit of a problem, I’m sure you’ll agree… (unless you really don’t care and have gone to make a cup of tea, make one for me whilst you are at it please…)

The latest phrase, which if I’m honest has lost all meaning to me for a while now, is “the Glory of God”. Which is a problem on the level of no longer being able to read a John Piper book without getting annoyed at his constant obsession with the ‘Glory of God’. It’s a much larger problem on the level of our whole lives being about the ‘Glory of God’ and if those words have lost all meaning I need to find someway back to the mind shattering reality hiding behind them.

I’m not sure I’m there yet but due to listening to this rather excellent lecture by the lovely Andrew Fellows from L’abri I’m starting to ponder again what on earth doing things for the ‘Glory of God’ might mean. Mostly we’ve been told it means to give Him the glory, (helpful eh) which usually translates into us mumbling back at an encouraging person, “no no it wasn’t me, it was God, it was all him, nothing to do with me” (which is, well, true on one level, but he USED YOU so, accept the encouragement gracefully, ok? ;-)).  We then think we’ve given Him glory. Hmm

Or we think its about mentioning His name, doing Christian stuff, and, it might look like that in practice. But I’m beginning to think it might be more than that, more than what we say or do, and really about our whole orientation of life.  Do we exist to give God weight, (that’s what glory is about after all)? Do our actions give God weight? Do our choices give God weight and worth and demonstrate to all around us that we have a flipping incredible Maker who is full of unconditional love, might, grace and truth?

Do our lives reflect how full of reality and meaning they truly are because we belong to the King of Kings? Do we embrace beauty, cry at sunsets, fall over in awe at music? Are we left gasping at the full big fat picture of what it really is to be human, to be able to love, to write poetry, to explore the make up of the physical world, to touch and taste and see and smell and make tunnels, roads and bridges?  Do we stand amazed at the intricacy of a small insect, the beauty of a maths formula and the human brains ability to comprehend how to do brain surgery? Start doing that and you’ll pretty soon find yourself on your knees before the Maker of it all.

My BIG thought (and it’s taken a while to get here so bear with me a few more moments) is are we encouraging each other to take on the weight of this? Are we spurring each other to delight in life and our Maker. Do we long for each other to taste the depth of our God, Lord and King? Do we pray that each other would encounter this God each day and be transformed because they have felt their smallness and His Big Huge Overwhelming Presence?

Might things change if we did?

Hmm.

Your correspondant, high after an evening in, walk with her Maker on the downs and generally realising real Rest and Safety are only found in one place.

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Today I got up at silly o’clock in the morning to wave my aformentioned brother and sister in law and small nephew off at the airport. They are off on an exciting journey to Canada, Regent college in Vancouver gets the pleasure of their company for the next few years. It’s brilliant for many many reasons, not least my lovely Big Brother gets to do what he has always wanted to do, and lets face it, was made to do. I am a Very Proud sister, not least because he goes with his lovely wife and son and that makes me Very Proud of him as well.  I’ve always wanted to go to Canada and now I have even more good reasons to head out there.

Obviously I’m very sad as well, I love Mark and Roz and Matthew. They are my family, but thankfully we have a good Maker who made people who could invent skype and webcams and 3 years isn’t that long really.  They aren’t my possessions to hold on to, they are loving gifts of a brilliant Dad who loves me and who is our strength and refuge through all this. He’s got good plans for them and I’m glad.

So:

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand”

His hands are the best to be in.

Bruce Springsteen also says it well…

“On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
Always movin’ ahead and never lookin’ back
Now I don’t know how I feel, I don’t know how I feel tonight
If I’ve fallen ‘neath the wheel, if I’ve lost or I’ve gained sight
I don’t even know why, I don’t why I made this call
Or if any of this matters anymore after all

But the stars are burnin’ bright like some mystery uncovered
I’ll keep movin’ through the dark with you in my heart
My blood brother”

We have a God who is in charge of all this and who has good plans for the future. Whose mercies are new each morning, whose grace is ridiculous in it’s power and scope. He has washed us clean. He has set our times in his hands, He is always glad to hear our cries, He understands the language of tears and of laughter, He is our shade, our Helper, our Friend and our King.  He set us free and He calls us to explore this world, love the broken, hold out light and beauty and the pathway back home.  There’s a whole world out there of newness to experience and we are free to trust the one who knows the future and who holds us in his hands.

Phew.

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Around about this time of year in the last 5 years my brain has gone into meltdown at the end of the term with end of year type thoughts, long summer ahead, changing seasons and the like doing odd things to my brain.  Last year I combated with 31 daysof remembering our Creator’s brillant gifts. This year May has been weird (and brillant) for a whole host of other reasons.  Change is still rumbling on and once more I am reguarly faced with the reality that I am not in control of this world or the people around me.  Which is a pretty good place to be, even if it doesn’t feel like a pretty good place to be…

ANyway today I was reminded that usually I do a whole host of talks on Hebrews 13 at this point in the year to remind me (and maybe the people listening…) of the God who does not change.  Hebrews 13- It’s all about Jesus. He is the same Yesterday, Today and Forever. It’s all about a God who is our Helper through all this life and therefore we can live well, we can have hope and we can delight in that. Here’s some of it…

“5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
   “Never will I leave you;
      never will I forsake you.”[a] 6So we say with confidence,
   “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
      What can man do to me?”[b]

 7Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.

We have a Maker who does not change. Who is our Helper. Who walks with us through change, through weird times, through brilliant times, we have a God who IS and WAS and IS to come. The whole of history, the whole of our lives are shot through with the reality of Him and His presence.

That means through all the change to come and change that is happening right now He is the one constant, he is the one who is always with us and always at work in our lives. That means we are free, free not to cling to our comfort, free to let others head across far seas, free to allow friendships and relationships to shift and change because they do not belong to us.  We are free to look to the future with hope because we know that whatever it brings, the One who created this world out of nothing and said let there be light (and there was) is at work in that same future. We are free to live now, loving the people we encounter each day because our times and relationships and friendships are in His hands.  And He is really, very, strangely, wonderfully good.

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Ok, ok second link to this blog in a very short space of time, but I cannot really express the hope that this brings. Or the emotions that a brother standing up for his sisters stirs in me, a male voice that isn’t crushing but seeking to be life giving and affirmative. I’m grateful that I know a few men like this in reality but oh for a more redeemed way of men and women relating to each other generally. I really really can’t stand the constant putting down of womens thoughts and ideas in some church cultures, generally done with humour so if you get annoyed you are seen as having no sense of humour.

I really really can’t stand the reverse as well, women belittling men, again with humour, laughing at incompetence and generally taking the superior line. This is SUCH an issue in our lives. We need to be SO counter cultural in the way we love and respect each other as brothers and sisters. We all (men and women) need to get a whole lot better at the stuff Glen touches on in his post, the listening, the understanding, the self sacrifice of MY point of view. The battle of the sexes is the oldest kind, we fight for power and position, seemingly forgetting that Jesus sought neither. But we fear that kind of vulnerability, we might have tried it in the past and been stamped upon, I know that’s what stops me being vulnerable, what fuels my fear of opening up to brothers in my life. There are many issues to work through. But we must, not just because Jesus taught us how real forgiveness was possible, but so we really do reflect Him to the world around us.

It seems so obvious to start with Jesus, He gives me hope, he related to women in the most loving counter-cultural way ever. He is the lead to follow in bring out the beauty in the women around him, of loving their tenderness and compassion and loving them in their brokenness. Good men do this, they help us unfurl into the beautiful women we were made to be.  And you don’t need a husband or boyfriend for that to happen, good men are those brothers who know how to listen, to relate well to and love, I’m so grateful to the guys God has put into my path over the years who have been friends, who haven’t been afraid I’m going to jump them, who haven’t feared that we’re going to enter into some kind of competition, who haven’t put me down but have valued my input and nurtured me as a sister.

(just realised this a whole new line in blog posts for me, it’s not about tea, not about heaven, not about struggling and not about the Lake District. Interesting…)

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One girl to join a missional community household in Brighton. (see here for some explanation of that slightly jargon filled sentance…)

We’re a friendly bunch of people who are living in community together to bless the community around us.  We’re under no illusions that we are easy to live with but we do have a pretty strong basis for being able to love each other and forgive each other, Jesus. Due to unforseen circumstances of a brillant and generally overly exciting nature one of our housemates has had to move out. We need someone. Pretty soon.

So, if you know anyone who is up for it, wants to live in community, find a job in Brighton and get stuck into a church which will be family for them and they can be family to, get in touch.

Seriously. Think about it. Talk about it. Dream about it.  Are there any ex Relays who don’t know what to do next, any people you know who are up for some big challenges, risks and crazy surfing of God’s sovereignty…?

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Today at church (that’s seven of us in our living room) we reflected on the cross, heartbroken we realised again the enormity of what Jesus has done for us. We felt the darkness of that moment. At the end we pondered that it was right to feel the weight of the darkness but also taste some of the hope we have. This video is a little cheesy but makes the point very clearly. It is Friday. But Sunday is coming. We do know the end of the story. We lament today. But we do so knowing that a glimmer of light is flickering on the horizon. It’s Friday. But Sunday is coming.. 

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