These are some ponderings. Ponder them with me. You up for it? If not, turn away now.
First off, I’ve been wondering if we really should we be thankful for everything in our lives. I know that we are to be thankful in all circumstances but does that mean we should be thankful for all circumstances? When there are sad times, grief and pain, when there’s addiction in those we love, or mental health issues, or cancer… should we be grateful and give praise for all these things? Can we attribute them to God? I can’t. Because our faith is a growing process and sometimes revelation lands with a thump, maybe I’ll come to some other conclusion in time, but for now, I can’t believe that God visits this horrible stuff on us.
Only good comes from good. Can bad water come from a pure spring?
I don’t believe that our totally good God would send bad things but it’s evident that he allows them. So, OK, do we thank him for allowing them? Hmm. Not sure about that, either emotionally or intellectually.
What I do thank him for, even in the very worst and darkest hour, is his presence, his love, his unfolding plan. I think that’s what being thankful in all circumstances means. I thank him that he uses these hard times to teach and tenderly reprove and to bring my faith to a firmer place. And I thank him for the Gospel.
I scrubbed my tiny tiny yard on Saturday (it really IS tiny) because it was covered in horrible green slime. As I scrubbed I wondered if green slime came from God. I poured a bleach preparation on it and thanked God that there was a cure for the slimy stuff in life. The steps up to my tiny tiny courtyard are steep and deep so it took a few dot-and-carry-one steps, to get up there, carrying a bucket of water. I felt a sciatic nerve beginning to throb. Hmm. Sciatica crippled me a couple of years ago… do I carry on or give up? Did I thank God for this? I didn’t give up but I didn’t thank God either. You get it. I thought on God, and he was there, but I didn’t blame him for the decay. That’s down to the fallenness of the world. If that’s a word.
That’s a trivial silly example, but in the small things we draw near to God, we explore our lives and our attitudes, we care for our our souls… and in the daily round God prepares us for the big life sorrows. In the small daily exercises of life, in obeying good teaching, reading the Bible, we develop core strength, good habits, muscular Christianity, so that when the bad times roll in we are not alone but standing with God, who can do all things.
My second thing, the second little itch I have to scratch:
Earlier tonight (ooh, it’s well past midnight already) I was thinking about how the church talks to the world. I think we have to stop talking like the church. Paul writes in 1Corinthians (this is the message paraphrase)
‘Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!’
There’s a real danger that Christians relate only to Christians, and so when we look out at the world we look out at strangers. And when they look at us they see….. erm, possibly this…
I don’t want my neighbours to see something a bit weird and earnest and do-goodery.
I want them to see Joy. I can’t help but be excited by the world and my life and eternity, and so I’m jolly well going to tell them that they don’t know what they’re missing. And if they roll their eyes at me, then I’ll laugh with them, and love them and put up with them just as much as they put up with me. That’s friendship.
If we are in love with Jesus, why is it a problem to talk about him in our everyday lives? Doesn’t everyone want to talk about their greatest passion, their reason for living? I look at the life God has given me, the laughter and the sorrow and I see its richness and variety and I just marvel!
My only job in this world is to draw closer to God. If I do that, then he will do the rest. He will change this clumsy, stumbling, anti-social, impatient, sharp tongued loner into someone you might want to know. He will change me into someone who can show his love to the world. Not my love, a third rate threadbare kind of thing, but his.
And when you see that fabulous love, IF you see that fabulous love, guess what – you’ll want it!
And now, here are some of the good things God has given me. Every minute, and hour and day of my life is a gift from him. These are some of those days. What a fabulous God we have! How His love for us and our love for Him feeds our souls and lifts us.