Trusting goodness, seeing good

 

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Jeremiah chapter 17 describes two kinds of people.

In verses 7-8, we have a beautiful picture of a person who has encountered the goodness of God.  They have experienced His unconditional love for themselves and they have responded to it with trust and faith in His character.  The result is fruitfulness, strength and vitality.  Their lives are established and abundant.

Then, in verses 5-6 we see a person who struggles to trust.  They just can’t lay down a lifetime’s habit of self-reliance.  So, they put all their hope in their own decision-making and hard work, rather than in God’s care for them.

And verse 6 says that the person who cannot trust, cannot see when good comes.’ (KJV)

It is hard to imagine how that happens. How is it possible to not recognize something that is good?  What causes this kind of spiritual blindness that distorts our perspective?

In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story about a wayward son.  He has a loving and generous father but he doesn’t see it that way.  He only sees restrictions and rules, unwanted responsibility and expectations.

He wants to live life his own way now and he doesn’t want to wait around for dad to kick the bucket.  So, he asks for all his inheritance.  His father reluctantly agrees, and the son leaves home with pockets full of his trust fund.

But fast living is expensive and soon he finds himself sitting in a pig pen, the money squandered.  At that moment, the penny drops and the son realizes what he has left behind.

And, all at once he is able to see what is good for him and what is not

And he heads home.

You see, in order to see good, we have to see God as He is.  We have to know Him as our father and be assured that we are safe in his care. Then we can be confident that His plan for us is good and we can stop trying to work everything out for ourselves. Knowing God’s character helps us to trust His will as well as His timing.  We will have the courage to hold out for God’s best, whatever the cost.

If we don’t know Him well, this will be a tall order.  If we aren’t sure God is trustworthy, we can fall back into old patterns of independence and miss out on His supernatural answers, provisions and blessings.

Because the truth is that some things that are really good, don’t immediately look good at all.  And some things that do look good are not God’s best in the long run.  Situations that you are tempted to escape from can be a provision in disguise.  And sometimes what you think is God’s provisions is actually a counterfeit.

So being able to see good is imperative if we are going to live life well.

The key is trust.  It opens our eyes to what is good and what is from God.

We are not spiritual orphans.  We have a good Father who created us and loves us.  He is working all things for good in our lives.  We can, without exception, trust His leading and direction, even when it doesn’t make sense.

There is a place of abundant life and spiritual growth and it is called Trust.  It is the place we run to when the penny drops and we remember how good God really is.  It is the place we return to after stubborn wanderings and pig pen epiphanies.

It is where we find our Father waiting for us.

It is home and it is good.

 

 

Wedding invitations

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I read today about Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding of Cana.  And as I read I imagined the scene of this unexpected unveiling of the miraculous.

Bible scholars talk about the importance of first mentions.  It is a rule that says that when something appears in the Bible for the first time it is significant.

And the wedding at Cana is a significant miracle for sure.

Turning water into wine was a miracle full of symbolism and a Jewish wedding was the perfect backdrop.  Jesus was using this moment to announce that there was a new way, a more perfect way to come to God.  This new way would bypass middlemen and temple sacrifices and lead us straight into grace.

I love weddings.  I love everything about them.  I love the poignancy and the fuss and the beauty.  There is just something so special about getting all fancy and spending the day with people you love to celebrate a new marriage together.

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In truth, Jesus could have done a wine miracle or sermon almost anywhere. But He chose a wedding.

I like to imagine Him celebrating, laughing, eating and dancing.  Jesus was a local Galilee boy and this was His community, His friends and family.  Everyone was there.  It was a meaningful milestone, part of the social fabric of people’s lives.

And I can feel the embarrassment of the host when the wine ran out.

But there was good news.  Jesus was there.

He wasn’t off in some monastery on a mountain.  He was invited to the party and He came. And because He was there, the miracle was possible.

Long before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be called, ‘Immanuel’ which means ‘God with us.’

God’s plan of salvation was never going to be just set in motion from a distant seat in heaven.  The plan was always about a near Saviour, a God who is with us.

God came to us so the miracle was possible.

And He is still here by His Spirit.

The salvation that Jesus came to bring is for now, today, in the midst of mundane routine or beautiful celebrations and everything in-between.

If we keep Jesus for Sundays, we are missing out. God is not bored by the ordinary and the earthly.  He happily accepts the invitation to join us in whatever we are doing, whether that is a wedding or washing up.

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In Psalm 46.1, David describes God as our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Another way to say that would be that God is our  ‘help at hand.‘  He is near, available, present, on-call.

And because He is here with you, a miracle is possible.

So, don’t be tempted to limit God to religious activities or to save Him for emergencies.

This God of new covenants and best-saved-for-last miracles is here with you right now.  He is interested in your life.  You are precious to Him.  So, invite Him.

And He will join your celebrations, your milestones, your loss and your grief.  He is just as comfortable in your Monday morning ‘blahs’ as He is in your Sunday morning best.  Empty pots don’t worry Him.  Disappointments and doubts are safe in His hands.  There is no need for pretence so don’t waste the time.  Be real.  Ask Him for what you need.

He is God and He is near.  You are loved and the miracle is possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I have learned from starting a blog at age 49.

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I have been blogging for over a year now.  It has been scary and challenging and a lot of fun.  And after sixty entries, I have learned a thing or two.

First of all, I have learned that is good to try something new.  Stepping out of my comfort zone has stretched me and caused me to rely on Jesus in new ways.  Because I  can’t really live out my God-given destiny and not take risks, however unnatural that is for my personality.  The parable of the talents (Matthew chapter 25) teaches me that the treasure I am given is not supposed to be buried for safe keeping.  Only investments, even risky ones, yield the returns that will please my Creator.  It just isn’t possible to be full of faith and overly cautious as well.

When I was a little girl, I tried a lot of after-school activities.  My poor mom would buy me all the required gear – ice skates and cute skating dresses,  colourful gymnastic leotards, horse riding boots, etc.  And every time, after a few weeks, I would quit.  And it was always for the same reason.  I quit because there were girls much better than I was and so I lost interest in trying.  If I couldn’t be the best, really quickly, I didn’t want to bother at all.

But the problem is, there is always someone better.  There are writers I love whose command of the English language makes me want to cry.  There are books I have read that are written so beautifully they are like works of art.  It would be easy to compare myself and give up.  But what I have realized over the last year is that there is great satisfaction in trying, learning and growing. It is okay, even enjoyable, to be a beginner at something that you love.  And, it is a whole lot better than not trying at all.

And I have also discovered that the aspects of God’s character that I can learn about, think about and write about are endless.  When I first started this project I had a backlog of writing that had filled journal pages for years.  I was worried that once I had used those ideas I might run out of things to write about.  How silly!  Every time I open the Bible there is something new to see.  Every time I take the time to really think about a passage of scripture I am rewarded with a fresh revelation of God’s beauty.

I have been a Christian for a long time.  As a Sunday school teacher, I have taught most Bible stories several times.  I have a pretty good grasp on basic Christian doctrine and theology.  And yet I am only just scratching the surface of who God is.  He is so above-all, so multi-faceted that I could study His character for my whole life and there still be more to know and experience and love.

Any time we are tempted to think we have heard it all, we are in danger of missing out.    Being a careful follower of Jesus means being a life-long learner.  It means having the humility to know that I don’t know it all and the spiritual hunger to keep digging.

Finally, I have learned that I have something to say.  And so do you.  The Bible calls it the word of our testimony.  It is the things that we know are true because we have experienced them.  It is the lessons learned in dark places and the character formed in adversity.  And our testimony is valuable.  It is our personal, ever-evolving story of His goodness to us.

And, someone needs to hear it.

Our story can be shared with a hurting friend over coffee.  It can be sung or painted or blogged.  It can fill a book or a sermon or a conversation over the fence.  But know this, it will be good news to someone who really needs good news.

Don’t be afraid.

It doesn’t need to be perfectly articulated, just sincere and true.  Nobody can tell your story, only you.

So, take a risk.  Step out in what you know God is calling you to do.  Don’t be afraid to be a beginner.  Start.  Learn.  Develop.  Grow. 

Keep learning about who God is.  Keep digging and seeking and getting to know Him.  Read and listen.  Pray and wait.  Open your heart to His Spirit and open your life to His voice.    

And don’t be afraid to tell your imperfect, unfinished story.  Someone is waiting to hear it.  It is beautiful and it is yours and it can change the world.

1st Birthday