Thursday, September 24, 2015

Every little thing's gonna be alright?


No. Jesus never said that.

To follow Jesus isn't a pathway to prosperity. I grew in the secular west (as you might've), wanting to be healthy, wealthy and live for a long time. And none of those three things are necessarily bad. But, they're just not promise the Bible offers.

I believed the secular edition of the so-called prosperity gospel (which is no gospel at all because it simply cannot deliver, and when occasionally the system falls in your favour its no real salvation to have some more cash in the account).

The Christian 'gospel' is Jesus. Follow Jesus and you get him. You get him, and his Father in heaven as your father, and the Holy Spirit who fills the believers relationship with Jesus and adoption by his Father with his self-giving life.

For most of my life everything basically went ok. I passed my driving test first time. I didn't quite get the A-levels I wanted but I still got on to the course I wanted to do. I couldn't really do that course but I just passed it. And I've been employed pretty much continuously for 15 years since I graduated. (Though my current contract has an end date that gets closer by the day...)

Over the summer I realised how easy it is to 'trust God' when the money is coming in. You can say all sorts of things when you know the bills can be paid. I never struggled with anxiety. But when that security falls it's a different story.

Firstly, there's learning to trust God when its a tougher. And secondly, there's realising what came before wasn't really trusting at all, it was just the luxury of financial security - which some people have and many don't.

Anyone can look confident in God when the sun is shining.

The challenge has been similar facing serious illness with my wife and one of our children over the past three years. As things wobble, creak and smash into a thousand pieces on the floor, I begin to get the opportunity entrust myself to one who is entirely trustworthy.

Yet: the temptation is to believe he can't be trusted. I sin like Adam - betraying the one who loves me. Denying him, turning in on myself, assuming he's out to get me, rather than to rebuild and renew me.

"Through many dangers, toils and snares."
Remaking me isn't plain sailing.
The bumps aren't abberations.
In this messed up storm of a world, maybe the calm spots are the freak times.

Take up your cross. Hard-pressed. Many trials. That's what Jesus said.

The temptation is the trite answer. Baptising disney promises with Christian language.
"Search for the hero inside yourself..."
"Reach for the stars..."
Kill me now...

In troubled times I need a listening ear and practical help more than words.
Words are great for preparation and fortifying in the lulls.

I was humbled today to see a friend who has been through a far far worse than me in the past five years with his family. He made time for me. Keller's Walking with God through suffering in his bag. His storm has subsided a little lately, and he's refreshing himself with the help of another.

In the midst of it all: pray, weep, be. Silence. Coffee. Hugs. Time.
In those moments easy answers do more to make the speaker feel that they've helped than actually help. Though even the most blundering attempts at love are loving.

Words run out when I try to pray with my friend facing a horrible and chronic situation.

In the end: amazing. Yes. But generally not yet.
In the end: Jesus. And, in the middle of it all: Jesus.
This God knows what the storm is like.

Another friend, reminded me of this verse yesterday:
"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."

Jesus knows prosperity, resurrection, on the otherside of crucifixion.
He prospers having generously given himself for me.
He refreshes me and so knows refreshment in heaven.

Paul writes to Philemon:
"you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people."

I need such brothers, and I'd like to be such a brother. A refreshment to others hearts.

The Father promised his beloved Son. Utterly loved, crucified in love, for love, because I betrayed him. He is exceedingly more than enough in the darkest nights and as the dawn breaks.

"A bruised reed he will not break, 
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out."

Image: Broken Taco - Creative Commons.

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