Daily Life Kingdom Posts Questions Stuck Unstuck

It’s Not Linear

I sometimes wonder if we don’t get altogether too sweaty when it comes to seeking God’s will for our lives.
(Understand that when I say ‘we’, I often realise in retrospect that God in fact meant ME. With that understanding, read on, He might mean you, too)
My church family meets in a school building, and on my first visit there back in February I noticed this poster.
It made me smile at the time, because the reason we were even trying out a new church was because of a completely left-field life event, which involved a change of job for my husband and a move across country to go with it.
On the face of it, our lives had just fallen apart. In fact what followed actually lined up with a number of things that God had said to us over the years – and so we could move forward with quiet confidence that this was the right path.
Hence my smile when I saw the poster.
Our talk at church a couple of  Sunday’s ago was actually about vision. The church vision, and how our personal call can intersect with the broader aims of the church. Our lead pastor Arthur shared about how the vision has been honed and developed since God first placed it in their hearts to plant a church, 16 years ago.
The core vision to “change lives, one soul at a time” has, and is, being fulfilled- but the detail of how it happens is ever-evolving, refining, recalibrating.
I loved that Arthur shared the original vision statement, which by his own assessment was rather wordy. I loved that he shared that neither he nor his wife had any formal training, just a passion for God’s people and a willingness to say ‘Here I am, send me’.
I suspect this was by design (because he’s quite clever), but the end result in my heart of hearing Arthur’s talk was to say ‘Ok, Lord. Let’s forget all the reasons why not, and just launch this dinghy, shall we?’
On my own journey of the last 16 years, I have blundered about in the general direction of God’s call in my life, but often felt I lacked clarity on exactly HOW to do what God was calling me to. I’ve launched a few things, written quite a bit, joined in with lots of stuff – and I’ve seen obvious successes, and abject failures in equal measure. I’ve abandoned a few ideas, and got it wrong more times than I can count.
Perhaps that’s ok though. To see success and failure I mean. Perhaps the failures were part of His plan to mould me into who I am now?
Maybe, like the poster suggests, success is not linear. Perhaps God’s plan isn’t either.
I find myself with a more or less blank canvas in my life at the moment. It’s exciting, but a little scary too. That all too familiar thought looms large
“What if I choose the wrong thing?”
So following prayer from a friend, I cleared the decks and gave God a specific amount of time to speak to me about what I am to do now I’m in Plymouth.
Sure enough, after a few weeks, He began to speak and bring me opportunities.
Which brought me full circle
“What if I choose the wrong thing?”
To which, the quietly whispered answer came
“What if the only wrong choice, is to do nothing?”
So I will continue on with my wiggly line of obedience. Hand me that crayon, would you please?
Bible Study Daily Life Posts Questions

You Can’t Have It Both Ways

The following post is taken from a “New Testament in a Year” challenge that I was asked to write some contributions for by my home church, Gateway.

Matt 12: 22-45

I think we all have people in our lives – and people we meet – who are sceptical of our faith. Especially in the early stages when we first become a Christian, and especially if they have known us a long time. They are waiting for us to trip up. Watching to see if this new found enthusiasm and “the new you” will really last, or if it’s just another phase we are going through.

As we mature, if we are in any way vocal about our faith we will still meet people who are a little suspicious or even cynical about the Christian faith. Generally speaking, those people fall into two categories:

  1. The genuinely curious
  2. Those who just want to tear you down.

This second group of people isn’t a new problem, and Jesus has already modelled how to deal with these situations.

In our previous reading, we saw the Pharisees – the religious elite of the day, trying to trip Jesus up and accuse Him. They tried to get Him on points of the law – specifically that He broke the Sabbath. Of course, Jesus was able to answer their accusations in such a way that He exposed their legalistic and unloving motives. No wonder they didn’t like Him!

Today’s reading continues on the same theme. Jesus heals a man who is possessed by demons, blind and mute. When the man is healed, we are told that all the people are amazed. The Pharisees, however, are simply angry. Instead of allowing themselves to see the truth of what is happening in front of their eyes, they simply move the argument onto new ground.

“Well, he can only do that because he’s tapping in to the devils power”

Image by Lisa Wilding – used with permission

Jesus points out that this, too, is a ridiculous suggestion. If Satan is casting out Satan, then his kingdom is falling apart and he is defeated. If however, Jesus is casting out demons by the Spirit of God – then Satan’s kingdom has fallen because the Kingdom of God has arrived. Either way, the devil is defeated.

He continues in verse 33:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit”

In other words – you can’t have it both ways. Either what is in front of you is good, or it’s bad. I think everyone witnessing this exchange would have agreed that a blind and mute man being set free is a really good thing!

So next up, they decide they want a sign (verse 38). Jesus knows, though, that some people will not believe no matter what you show them. They are only interested in tearing things down. So instead of saying “See that cripple on the mat over there? Watch this!” Jesus tells them that the only sign they will get is His death, burial and resurrection. In other words, He decides to let the fruit of His life and ministry speak for itself.

In this passage Jesus has given us a template for how to deal with those people who try to trip us up, or tangle us up in arguments. Just as with the Pharisees and Jesus, there are some people in our lives who don’t really want to be convinced – and the best thing to do for them is just let the changes in your life – your own personal resurrection – do the talking.