Tag Archives: faith

Trusting God In The Fog

fog‘Trust in him at all times, you people;
 pour out your hearts to him,
 for God is our refuge.’
Psalm 62:8

Life has thrown me a few curve balls of late and sometimes it’s hard to know what the next steps should be. I am confused! Sometimes, I confess, it’s hard to stay motivated to make any steps at all, but I know that I must.

Life is often uncertain and unpredictable. We may face major questions about our health, the health or wellbeing of our loved ones, our homes, our livelihoods, our finances or our church.   The certainty is that we cannot avoid uncertainty in this life. We can however respond to it in a way that honours Christ.

Searching For Clarity

The ethicist John Kavanaugh tells of a time in his life when he was searching for direction regarding his future. He left the United States and went to Calcutta to work for three months at the house of the dying”.  The first morning there, he met Mother Teresa.  She asked, “And what can I do for you?’  Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.

“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked.  He responded by explaining that he had come thousands of miles to find direction: “Pray that I have clarity.”

She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.”  When asked why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”  Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for.  She laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.  So I will pray that you trust God.”
 
Clarity vs. Trust

There is something in all of us that wants clarity.  It is often an expression of our insecurities.  We would rather seek to understand the complexities of the road ahead than seek to become better acquainted with the wonder of God’s character.  Clarity can sometimes be spiritually counterproductive. It short-changes trust, a life of faith and a moment-by-moment dependence on God. Clarity could even become an idol that replaces real trust in God.

In Hebrews 11, we are reminded that trust is strongest when clarity is dim. Noah built an ark whilst waiting 120 years for a deluge.  Sarah was told to trust God for a child in her old age with no comprehension of how it could possibly happen.  The innocent Joseph waited in prison for 2 long years with no sense of when or if he might be released. Abraham went out, “not knowing where he was going”, and then thought he might have to sacrifice his own son without any clarity as to why.  There are many such stories, but they all demonstrate that faith flourishes only when we trust God more than we trust in our need for clarity.

We often want to “chart the course”, but the Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit.  We insist on a strategic plan.  Jesus says, “Follow me.”  We want all the answers.  The Lord tells us to trust Him, because of what we know to be true about His character.

Pray for Faith To Seek & Follow God’s Lead

Do you feel that you are in a fog? I do. Have you been there far too long? Yep! Does the present moment feel shaky while the future is unclear? Indeed it does! I, and perhaps you too need to remember that He is God and that He rewards those who seek after Him (usually without clarity).  Looking behind, we are familiar with His faithfulness and goodness, even when we did not see it at the time.  God’s character has not changed. We can still trust Him, even though the fog is dense. In God’s strength, I will keep moving forward and I hope that you will too, but as I step out, I will do so with my hand placed firmly in the hand of the one who knows exactly where we are going – the hand of Jesus Christ! Sometimes, He might have to drag me, but I know that He is not going to let go!

Perhaps it is time to pray that we will search less for clarity and more for the character of God because…..

‘Faith, not certainty, is the most important ingredient to a life pleasing to God’ (Heb.11:6).

 

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Inaugurating the Kingdom-A City On A Hill?

Globally, this is a time of uncertainty and disequilibrium. We are currently witnessing, (mostly through the media) a rise in global terrorism that shakes our sense of stability and security to the core. We are observing a growing exodus of forcibly displaced people – a higher number than at any time since the Second World War. It would be surprising if people didn’t find this unsettling!

During times of turbulent change, people often seek refuge in all kinds of fundamentalisms. Fear can make people intolerant of tolerance and disrespectful of differing points of view. Instead of seeking the often complex, hard to understand truth, people look instead for simplistic (post-truth?) answers, soundbites and scapegoats. These scapegoats are often provided by those whose thoughts, behaviours, racial identity or appearance are different from that of the observer. This may affect how the observer acts and how they vote. This sadly permeates the thinking, actions and voting preferences of many within the global church.

Of course Christians can and should have a view about politics and current affairs. Perhaps they have more reason to do so that those of no faith. Personally, I long that followers of Jesus serve in politics at all levels (and in many of the parties) so as to bring something of the values of the Kingdom to their work here on earth. Christianity itself, however, must never be co-opted by Government or ‘the powers’. It is vital that the Church herself maintains an appropriate and critical distance, particularly in these challenging times. If she fails to do so, she will fail to be the much needed prophetic voice that she is called to be!

Sadly, at times in history (and in the present) the Church has been co-opted. God himself, however, cannot be. He is always on the side of the poor, the oppressed and the powerless all over the world. If a person is blessed, that person is called to be a blessing. If a nation is blessed, that nation is called to be a blessing!

You cannot be God’s representative on earth whilst always putting yourself ‘first.’ That is selfish. That is wrong and that is not the godly response of a ‘righteous’ person or a ‘righteous’ nation.

God has a high calling on his people; his church. He is calling her to be shaped by his own ethical, holy character….to reflect his righteousness, justice and mercy to a world filled with evil, oppression and injustice. That is the mission of God’s people. There is no mission without ethics. There is no discipleship without ethics. There is no holiness without ethics. In each case, it must be BOTH AND! Isn’t it time that a Holy Church rediscovers the ethical responsibility of her calling?

Like a ‘city on a hill,’ God’s people/his Church must serve as beacons of hope – standing in solidarity with those whom God would stand with; with those who ‘cannot speak up for themselves.’ A church in alliance with oppressive powers or a church that fails to challenge an unjust status quo is a church that deserves to lose its’ credibility. Worse, it will be a church that is failing to be church on God’s terms and on that basis God may pass his judgement. That, for me, is a sobering thought.

Jibing At Sea…

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Monique is an accomplished sailor from Brittany. She set out from the Canary Islands over 2 years ago and has since been sailing around the world. She has called in at various ports along the way and during this time has, amongst other things, learned to surf, skateboard and sledge.

The world has too few well known female rôle models, so I am pleased to be able to say that I am in awe of Monique.

I am particularly in awe of her because people said that it wouldn’t work out. After all, she started her journey as an inexperienced sailor on a 39 foot yacht heading out into the vast unknown! People said that she just wasn’t cut out for that sort of journey or that sort of life. They said that she would find it far too stressful and that she would be much better off spending her life doing something ‘normal’ and more in line with her natural talents and abilities.

I know they say that you should never meet your heroes, but I would like to meet Monique…..

because Monique is a chicken…a hero chicken….

….a hero chicken who has been travelling round the world with a human called Guirée Soudée. Soudée has found, contrary to many peoples expectations, that Monique has been the ideal sailor companion for him. Whilst only eating rice and corn (plus the odd fish) she actually provides him with freshly laid eggs at sea. In addition to this, Monique provides him with company, entertainment and, says Soudée, ‘Compared with people, she doesn’t complain at all.’

Sometimes, we box ourselves in. We tell God that he can’t use us in this or that way because we are just not cut out for it. Perhaps we think that we are not experienced enough, gifted enough, eloquent enough, knowledgeable enough, old enough, young enough or whatever. Maybe we think that we are just too shy or perhaps too mouthy!

God can work in and through anyone in any way he likes!

God may assign us a task that is far beyond our power or resources to accomplish. Perhaps only then will we turn to him for the power, the knowledge, the skill and the resources that we need. Let’s stop focusing on our talents, abilities and interests to determine God’s will. Instead, why not seek God himself and just watch and wait as he equips us for whatever assignment He is wanting to accomplish in and through us.

When we tell God what we can’t do, we are actually saying more about our faith in God (or lack of it) than we are about our own abilities. Either God is all powerful or he isn’t. If He is all powerful, then we do not need to question our ability, strength or resources to complete His assignments. He will equip us to accomplish all He calls us to do.

Be like Monique…….I’m sure she never questions the call on her life or her abilities to fulfil the task.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36475672

*Tacking more than 180 degrees to avoid a jibe (usually in harsh conditions) is sometimes referred to as a ‘chicken jibe.’