I’m not listening, I’m not listening, I’m not listening.
I’m putting my fingers in my ears because I’m going to say something some of you won’t like and some of you will say is wrong, and some of you will shrug and turn away. So I’m not flippin’ listening to any of you and you can roll your eyes as much as you like – can’t see you. Because it’s heating up in me and if I don’t say it I’ll just smoulder, smoke will begin to rise, there will be a smell of scorching. And then I’ll combust. You don’t want that on your conscience.
What’s wrong with all us Christians? Because something is. We say we follow Jesus? Who are we kidding? Listen. If we loved Jesus, if we truly lived for and in Jesus, if we believed that there is a heaven and a hell, truly believed in the same way that you believe you’re reading this… the world around us would be very very different.
I’m not saying ‘you’. I’m saying ‘we’.
I know that what will follow will be a circular argument. That’s my frustration. I know all the cosy answers so if you have a cosy answer, don’t bother! I know that we are all ‘on a journey’ and that we stumble, and that God forgives, and that we dust ourselves down and carry on…. I know that God has His plan, that we are just a part of it, I believe Philippians 1:6…. but listen, just listen. You don’t have to answer, God will do that.
If I believe that the people around me are all heading towards a Godless eternity, why don’t I long, absolutely long, to show them the love of Christ? To be as kind and as strong, as powerful, as straight, as compassionate as Jesus? Oh, sure, I’d like to be Christ-like, but in all honesty, confession-time, I really don’t yearn to be. It doesn’t influence my every action and decision. The cost is a bit high, to be absolutely honest.
If I really want to live my faith, if I truly believe (I do! I do!) in Jesus, if I want to open my whole life to Him (yes, please) , to be led and empowered by His Spirit (come Holy Spirit, come!) , and if I really really really truly 100% believe in everything I intellectually claim to believe…. you would see a different Luce. You would.
First off (obvs) I’d be ‘nicer’. And all you who are saying ‘Amen’ to that…. Can’t hear you. Shame.
If I was living a Christ life, instead of a Luce life, what a difference! His power visible.
And now imagine a church like mine, a church of over 100 members, over 200 regular worshippers… imagine if each and every one of us was fully submitted to the way of Christ? Truly alight with the power of God?
Eeeh ba gum, chuck. We’d see some changes. We would. We would.
Yesterday evening we had a short message about the power of God and it tangled itself up in all the things I’ve been thinking about this week. It reminded me of the woman who touched Christ’s robe causing Jesus to realise that power had gone out from Him. And it reminded me of my lack of faith, and my lack of trust. It reminded me of good stuff too – it reminded me of standing in the dunes a few days ago and sensing Him there, right there, with me. Power over time and space and death, in simple prayer, standing in eternity with my God. He has all that power.
The most exciting moments of my day are when I pray. The second most exciting moments are when I read the Word. The third… well, maybe a Crwst* doughnut will sneak into third place. But listen, prayer is so exciting. We’ve had some great gales on the beach this last week, and I love walking into the wind, leaning into it, as if wading through water… the power is exhilarating… it snatched my woolly hat away one day…. I couldn’t put my weak left leg out… I had to stagger backwards and try again… you can shout into the wind and it whips your words away… the might of it! Exhilarating. The force of the wind is so much greater than anything a set of puny human lungs can do, so that you can breathe in but – hah! forget breathing out! You can’t! Prayer is like that. Prayer has that amazing power and more, power outside of us, power that overwhelms, power that dwarfs our efforts, power that whips our words away. It doesn’t have to be long prayer, loud prayer, a form of words, any words at all. It just has to be from the heart.
Yes, I love prayer but sometimes my impatience rises and my frustrations turn it into a bit of a rant, passionate but so confused, because I don’t understand. I just don’t understand. How can we live our little comfortable, neat smug lives and still love God? That’s what I do. How can I do that? Am I a total hypocrite? Or just a bit of one? Is that like saying ‘a little bit pregnant’? Are we all hypocrites, half-hearted, lily-livered, tepid Christians? And is that even the prayer I should be praying?
I have a very dear friend who is sane. Just the one. Occasionally when I’m deep in one of my bonkers thought-paths he will say some tiny thing that instantly recalibrates my route. He’s like a finger tapping on a compass to re-align it to true North. I wonder if I’ve wandered off true North again?
That’s what I’ve been praying about recently because I don’t want prayer to become all about me, as if I’m the most important part of this process! I know that prayer can be wrong. I wonder what Jesus would say to me if I met Him on the High Street today? Imagine if I asked Him my version of the rich young ruler’s question – my version would be “What haven’t I turned over to you yet, Lord?” I think he might say “Your pride, arrogance, impatience, works, temper, swearing, hypocrisy… and guess what, they were all right there in your prayer to me this morning.”
Wow. Even in my prayers, Luce is all self. Paul said he wanted to be less Paul so that he could be more Christ. That would be so good. I’ll sign up for that – as long as it doesn’t disrupt my little comfy life too much. Ah, there’s the rub!
Paul also said, in Romans, that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us …..” Cor, my sweet things, it’s exciting when that happens. That’s what needs to happen in my prayer life today…. all I can do is ask for His help.
So, here’s the problem, here’s my thoughts, here’s my prayer to Jesus today, and the question I asked at the start of this blog: Who are we kidding when we say that we follow Jesus? When we say that we love Him and believe in Him, and believe in His power? Who are we kidding if we don’t show the power of Jesus to the world? If we were showing Jesus to the world, this town would be alight. It would be one of the wonders of the world. People would flock to us, the lost and the broken, the clever, the successful, old and young. If we were showing the love of Jesus to West Wales, what amazing transformation!
Where to start? In prayer. Because alone, in our own strength we don’t have a cat’s chance in hell…. we simply can’t show the love of Jesus. Impossible. I can show only the love of Luce, a flawed, weak, selfish love. But with Jesus – stand back and be amazed! The love of Jesus is powerful, transforming lives.
I do believe that only prayer will transform our individual lives, our church life, our town. Only prayer. When we talk about the power of God I believe that it resides in the Holy Spirit, it reaches out from the Word and it is realised in prayer.
So. what will I pray for today? I am going to pray for prayer itself. Lord, help me to pray. Recalibrate me.
*Crwst is a local bakery. Fab doughnuts.