Streuth. What a week. I don’t think my life has ever been so turbulent. I had an experience that was like a road train hitting me from the left. A goods train from the right. A grand piano from above. And a cyclone bearing down on me from behind – and they all hit me at the same time. Oh, and I forgot to add the sink hole of depression that opened up and tried to swallow me. I wont go into the horrors of what caused this. Only to say that it was and is something that no sane man would even think they would have to face in the future.
But, despite the pain – I made a quick and urgent plea on social media and to some friends via email and text to please pray for me. Some trusted peeps I filled in with the details and they were able to offer me calming advice, prayer and friendship. One friend wrote back, “Praying for wisdom friend!” I can’t tell you how calming and encouraging it was to be called “Friend” in that moment of time.
The night the hurricane hit; I told my wife I was ok and that I wasn’t going to do anything stupid; but, that I had to go and find myself a paddock. I had to get to a wide open space. And so I did. My heart was heavy. I don’t think I have ever prayed so earnestly – “Father, deliver us from this evil!” A tangible weight lifted from me and a deposit of hope came into my soul. I looked up and saw a bleak over cast sky and told the Lord that that was like the condition of my soul at that time. Immediately some soft gentle rain started to fall on me. I felt it was the Lord encouraging me that the rain was a reminder of the power and gentleness of the Holy Spirit who had heard my prayers and that he was answering my prayers.
Friends, the horror is still there. Nothing in the natural has changed. However, I can honestly say that I am truly resting in God’s peace. The many prayers of those praying for me have been and are being and will be answered. 1 Cor 2:14 says that no person is able to receive the things of God without the Holy Spirit as they are revealed only by the Spirit of God. Some of my favorite prayers come from the letter to the Ephesians –
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,[h] would give you a spirit[i] of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the perception of your mind[j] may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.
I ask that you will join in this prayer with me: for myself and my family. And for all who are connected with this evil that has befallen us.
Now for some good news – During the week I was involved with a discussion with a couple of prodigals, who made a re-commitment to the Lord. My prayer is that God will seal the work he has begun in them and that they will go on from strength to strength. Joanne and I have been accepted as members of our local church. The church leadership team asked us what our strengths and passions are and we both said that we love pastoral care. So we have been invited to be part of the churches pastoral care team. We don’t don’t know exactly what and how that will look like at the moment – but, we are excited to see what the Lord has in store. Finally, my Sabbath from study has finished. I am getting prepared to get back into the swing of things. I have 3 subjects left to finish the degree – and prayerfully will finish by the end of next year.
This morning I woke up with the praise of the lord in my heart and on my lips. Filled with Holy Spirit expectant hope and joy, I know today is a day of triumph, for my God has triumphed over all things and because he is for me, nothing else that is against me can compare to his glory and might…
In saying this, there are times when we go through awful trials and tribulations. We can be the recipients of bad news. It can seem that our lives are falling apart and that there is nothing we can do to prevent it. At times depression, sickness, fatigue, worry and anxiety can wear us down in the journey of life. At times it seems that God is far from us.
We often read in the Psalms, my God why have you forsaken me, hear me, listen to my prayers, come near to me. Often we cry out, or our hearts cry out, God, Why? Or God where are you in this? Within this pain wracked cry for mercy and hope, God does answer us.
He says to us: I will never leave you or forsake you. Because I am for you, there is nothing in comparison to my eternal goodness that can come against you. And as we meditate on this love – hope builds up in our hearts, a cry of hope comes forth from our lips. And out of the peace this brings – we can despite our circumstances, praise our Lord for all he is and has done for us.
I am a privileged man. I serve The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace. The Creator of all that is seen and unseen. I live and serve the author and sustainer of all life. In him, all things have passed away and I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. Washed and sealed with his Spirit, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Raised up to new life through the resurrection of he who died for my sins.
What an amazing fact: that this very creator did this for me. Not only did he do this for me; he did it for all. It is his will that none shall perish. And he made the way that none should. And this is his very great and precious promise: Come to me all who are heavily burdened. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light and I will turn none away from me.
There are many who would try and convince me the error of my beliefs. However I stand on the Rock of Christ. And on this rock the waves of disbelief will be shattered. You see: when the king sends his messenger with a message – it is the king the messenger is to believe and not those who would try and convince him that his message is wrong.
And within this framework of understanding – I stand firm as an ambassador for Christ. It is his message of forgiveness, reconciliation which empowers me. It frees me. It sets me free from the power of darkness and unbelief. And it gives me the authority to clearly state that it is the King of Kings, whom I will believe.
The waves of life washing over my feet, hypnotically I stare ahead, not really noticing my feet sinking into the sands of time. It takes all my energy just to stand, against the forces against me.
The wind adds to the the pounding and the upheaval of the waves. Isolated and alone: though imbedded in a community of sand, each grain causing a community of likeness; where individuality is not rewarded. Together in unity they create the expansive illusion of beauty, while trying to stand against the eternal forces that are continually eroding and adding to their number.
It’s an allusion, for though it looks white and pure as far as one can see; the externality of the beach is lifeless. It’s deep down and buried under the beach where life abounds. Life abounds within and under the surface of the seas. As each wave crashes onto the shores, within the split second of cover, life devours that which the seas uncover, before covering that which it eroded so shortly before.
In the same way I hide from the ache of my soul. Yet the waves of life continually shows me that which I don’t want to see. Yet slowly, consistently and relentlessly I am buffeted from the winds and the waves which threaten to destroy me. The emotions of fear, anxiety, hopelessness and distrust are the waves of destruction which seek to overwhelm me.
Yet there is one who calms the storm. There is one who heals the ache. There is one in whom there is hope, mercy, peace, love and faithfulness. And its to he I cry – Lord can you not see the state of my soul. Can you not see what is going on in my life. Can you not see what is going on around me. Awake my Lord from your slumber and order the storms of life to stop, so that I may find your peace, stand in peace, and be covered in peace.
I am thankful for those storms. For without them, I wouldn’t know myself. I wouldn’t know my ache deep within. I wouldn’t be aware of my need. And in my crying out, I discovered that what I sought wasn’t what I thought and true peace truly enveloped my being.
Being a peace maker when your surrounded with those who are like minded and those who love you is easy. Being a peace maker when your surrounded with those who are not likeminded and loving towards you is not so easy.
Luk 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
Luk 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Luk 6:29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.
Luk 6:30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
Luk 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Luk 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Luk 6:33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
Luk 6:34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.
Luk 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Luk 6:36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
It’s a tough call to walk the walk of a peace maker. Our natural instinct is to raise up and retaliate. Our natural instinct is to raise up and strike back. Word for word. Punch for punch. Action for action.
It’s not natural to turn the other cheek. It’s not natural to forgive those who harm us. It’s natural to give when we know we are not going to get it back. It’s not natural to give to and love those who hate us…and indeed its this very anti naturalism that shows us God’s way.
Christ called out – Father forgive them, for they don’t know what it is they are doing. In the midst of pain, of the cruelty of the cross, he remained merciful and through his mercy we gain the benefit of forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation with God.
This offer of forgiveness, mercy and reconciliation is freely given to all of humanity, there are no exclusions. And because in Christ there is no distinction between gender, class, nationality and age… because of the inclusivity of mercy and forgiveness – we likewise are called to treat all who are offered forgiveness, reconciliation and mercy in the same way.
In doing so, not only do we speak about the love of God through words which are easy to speak…we show the love of God through our actions and we can do this because Christ first showed us the way.