A month ago I was bored out of my tiny skull. We had a sermon last year about that strange little parable/teaching in Luke 18:1-8 about being persistent….. and how persistence could bring results, so I tried it. It seems to have worked – even the creator of heaven and earth, whose patience is unending, has grown exasperated with my perpetual whinge of ‘Please, please, gi’e us a job! I need something to do! Why doesn’t anyone need me?’ etc etc….. and decided to give me shedloads of stuff to run after, pick up and sort through.
As I sit here, the house is in a state of mild chaos, my Mac is on the table, my desk is ready to be taken away, my grandchild says (!) she is tidying her room (twinned with Mount Etna), I have a month to come up with (and then write) 90 minutes of drama for Radio4, my granddaughter is about to embark on 2 years living with me, and there’s even a couple of months filling in as a part-time admin bod, until they get the person they really want. So, my little fruitcakes, be very very careful about what you ask for.
Haha! As I wrote that there was a thunk! as the postman delivered my Wiersbe commentary on Jeremiah. It’s titled ‘Be Decisive’, which seems a tad ironic. Is it too late to rein in some of those earlier requests?
This was my view on the beach this morning, as Canadian geese flew across the sun.
I am stuck on prayer, proper stuck. I can’t stop marvelling at the beauty of it, the essential beauty of it. Hang on, that’s a weird phrase, do ‘essential’ and beauty’ go together? Let me just look at the Thesaurus… Essential ” imperative, compelling, urgent…. absolutely necessary…. consequential.” Yep. I can go with all of those, so I’ll say again that I can’t stop marvelling at the essential beauty of prayer.
Listen, listen, I’ve never climbed a mountain or experienced tube riding off Malibu Beach, or gazed at the corals of the Pacific or … well, loads of things. But I have discovered, late in life, the giddy heights and the wondrous depths of prayer. Last night I again experienced night terrors and I shuffled through the morning, as usual, in a miasma of vague fear and dread. I’ve known these nights (and their hang-overs the next day) for over 15 years, ever since one December day in Norfolk when I learned that my father had turned a blind eye to the abuse of his children so many years ago. I became, in that moment of realisation, completely and utterly worthless. I know of course that this isn’t true but the sense of it lingers. I don’t volunteer for these dreams, and I do my best to lose the shadow of them the next day, but they persist.
Childhood trauma creates a cleft. I am cleaved in two. There is the Luce of today, with a rich and hearty lifetime behind me, and there is the Luce of long long ago. As I sat on the beach, looking up at that wonderful sky, thinking about the goodness of God, the shades of last night’s dreams whispered and drifted around me, and I was in two minds. Two minds. Ah, dear oh dear, we’ve had a lot of lovely teaching about being in two minds recently. It’s not a good state to be in. We’ve had teaching, too, about being whole hearted. Just last Sunday a young man full of enthusiasm and brio told us that that we are not what has happened to us. And of course he ‘s right. I am not what happened to me. I am who God has made me. Now. Today. New every morning.
But…you people who have never known the trauma of real terror and fear…. I am also cleaved in two. That’s the reality. God is good and pure and compassionate and always listening, and I am cleaved in two. Does that seem paradoxical? There is a consequence of sin, and we bear that consequence. I bear the consequence.
Thing is, and here’s the good news… get ready for it… I know now that prayers are answered. I know that even when I’m shaken and wan and feeling a bit sick after a night of nightmares, I can’t be kept from prayer. Nothing can keep us from prayer because God hears even our silence. Even when we can’t pray, if we open our hearts in honesty to Him, this in itself is a prayer. To love Him, wordlessly and in confusion, that in itself is a prayer. To look at those clouds and to know that every single billow and zephyr is part of His plan, that is a prayer.
Do you have ghosts from long ago, shades of the past, fears and maybe even temptations that you can’t dispel? Here’s a couple of verses from Philippians and they give us more, much much more than a command, they give us an unbreakable promise “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
That’s a promise. And He don’t lie! The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. Take a breath, and trust. Know that He will answer, and He will.
This morning, looking at the towering sky, the canopy Genesis speaks of, I remembered from Romans “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It’s true. Nothing can keep me from the love of God. There’s a funny old saying ‘There is nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Well, here’s the Luce version;
There is nothing to fear, not even fear.
In the middle of fear we are in the hands and care of God. He will bring us through. I refuse to be ashamed of my fear. It’s a scar and God will heal it. I’m a work in progress. Fear? Pah! Bunkum! Bring it on and He will overcome it. I’m tired of being afraid of fear. Did it seem to me that I was, for a moment , defeated? I wasn’t. I never will be again. Can anything in the past or the future separate me from the love of God?
Not on your Nelly, cheeky chops. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.