Sparrows and lilies

Sometimes life seems to give you lemons. One thing after another, each of them big by themselves, but cumulatively huge.

I can’t pretend that the past year has been easy. I think, most of the time I have coped well, or at least thought I was. There have been more times than I really want to admit to, where I just feel tired. Not so much physically, (although often that too), but emotionally and spiritually. I’ve felt that I have probably given out more than I was receiving, and it seems to be taking its toll.

I have found that the cause of this is often my fault. This isn’t a self depreciating statement, but one of truth. You see, the One who has sustained me thus far on my journey hasn’t changed. He still feels the same way about me. He is still in control. He still has a plan. It is me that has moved. It is me that hasn’t been as attentive to His presence as I perhaps once was. This hasn’t been a deliberate act of course, but one that little by little has resulted in a distance which has created a feeling of loneliness at times.

The wonderful thing about God is that no matter how far we find ourselves drifting, it is only ever one step back to His arms enveloping us in Love and Grace.

I don’t necessarily think that the distance is all that great, it’s just that when one is used to being really close, to being constantly aware of His Pleasure and His Presence even a step away is too far. When one finds oneself even a step away from this, it is lonely.

I’ve found that listening to worship music can be a helpful way to realign my mind, and to reposition my intentions. It can quickly bring me back to a place where I feel His pleasure again.

The song “Sparrows and Lillies” by Pat Barrett brought me back to that place again tonight.

Life has be hard recently. But

“I have seen the sparrow
I have watched it fly
Though she does not worry
Tell me why should I?

So hold on love
Things are gonna get better
Things are gonna get better
I know it’s hard
Hold on love
Things are gonna get better
Things are gonna get better
I know they are”

If you are finding it tough to see His hand in your situation, can I encourage you with these words. In the words of another song “You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.” He really does have it under control. Join me in finding the Gold amongst the dirt of our situations. Sometimes it takes a bit of digging to find it, but I am convinced it’s there, we just have to believe, and keep digging.

Click here to listen to Sparrows and Lillies by Pat Barrett

People versus places

I think it is safe to say that the past year has been tough. Emotions have been all over the place, the sense of loss has never been far from my mind. I’ve done a pretty good job (I think) of holding it together whilst in public, but the reality is that I really miss my parents. It is often said that we don’t realise what we have until its gone, and I can confirm that this is very much the case with parents. I know that regardless of the amount of time I had spent with them, learning from them and just being in their presence it would still not have been enough, but I still wish that I had spent more time with them.

I have found that it is only since they are gone that I am finding out about things that I wish I had had the opportunity to ask them more about it. I hate the fact that much of what I now know about my parents is a result of the memories of others rather than my own memories of them.

I recently had the opportunity to travel to town where I grew up (at least for the first 10 years). The plan was to try and find some emotional closure, by visiting people and places that held a memory of one or both of my parents.  After the turmoil of emotions that the last year has brought, I felt that I would benefit from being there again, talking to people about mum and dad, and immersing myself in the places that they called home.

I found myself sitting outside childhood homes, churches, schools and even chip shops. I found myself searching for the memory that would allow me to move on. What surprised me was I found very little emotion in these places. The memories were free flowing, but there was no emotion.

It was different though when I visited with people from the past. People that remembered mum and dad (and my sisters and I) were full of stories and memories. These memories brought life back into the pictures that I had in my mind. It was wonderful to worship in the building that I had left as an 18yr old but was so much more special to worship with some of the people that had been there back then. We have all changed and our expression of our journey may be different, but the God who holds it and us all together was very much there in the midst of us.

The bible tells us that we shouldn’t “give up the practice of meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” I know that this guidance is for those that claim to following Christ, but have little time for His people, but I believe it applies to simply keeping in touch and doing life with those that are important to us too. I’ve never been very good at writing letters (the examples I have found amongst my parents ‘memories’ box is testament to that) so I am really grateful for the advent of social media that allows me to reconnect with people that I had previously lost touch with. Its not without its limitations though, and there is nothing quite like meeting someone face to face.

I suppose what I trying to say (and remember that the purpose of this blog is so I can process thoughts, and isn’t a final say on the subject) that “doing life” with people is really important. Places will still be there decades later. Those we love may not be. Take time to talk. Take time just to be with them. Learn from them, laugh with them, cry with them. As much as it depends on you, don’t lose touch. People matter.

I am thankful that I was able to take this trip. Some boxes have been closed forever. Some have been closed, and will be opened again at some point, hopefully with others present. What I find most interesting, is that I have found some boxes that I didn’t know were there, and now I have looked in them I want to keep them open.

I pray that you will find peace as you process the boxes in your life.

Logs in the eye

The moment someone becomes noticed these days it seems to be the practice of the media to dig into their past. The primary purpose for this doesn’t seem to be validate the persons popularity, but to bring them down.

The media, whether traditional or social, wants to hold those we ‘follow’ to higher standards than they can follow themselves.

I saw a (satirical) headline the other day. It read “Prodigal son kicked back out after old tweet surfaces.’ As is so often the case with satire amongst the intended humour was a deep truth to be examined.

I for one am thankful beyond words that social media wasn’t a thing when I was growing up. Not that I did anything illegal, just a bit stupid at times. I don’t wish to remember some of these things nor do I want anyone else to do so. At the time, even if I realised the error of my ways and stopped doing whatever it was, there were inevitably consequences. Some of these persist today. .

The beauty of being a Christian is that we have the same benefits as I do from being a little older than the ‘social media generation.’

My mum used to say, “confession is good for the soul, but bad for the reputation.” It really is. When I confess my sin, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 – emphasis mine)

Confession brings a cleansing that leaves us positionally right with God again, able to approach Him without fear, without risk of being banished. Once sin has been removed from our account we shouldn’t try and apply it again. It is done, it is finished.

The Psalmist reminds us that “as far as the East is from the West, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)  If God has removed them that distance, who are we to bring them back?

We have no right to bring back the sins of others either. If a brother or sister in Christ did something, their accountability rests with God, not with us. If they have been forgiven by Him, reminding them of their past indiscretions is of no beneficial value. There are of course situations that we must take account of past misdemeanours. In the same way I live with the consequences of my actions, so must they.  There are those that will be inappropriate for certain positions, but if true repentance has occurred, I believe, these people will understand this.

We seem to have a tendency in the church, certainly in the West to raise up leaders to lead us, only to discover years later that when they were younger they made a mistake. Someone talks to someone else and before we know it we are looking for another leader, just for the process to begin again. I’m not suggesting that we put up with continued sin, but if there has been true repentance, that should be the end of it.

Church, we need to remember the Grace afforded to us personally is the same Grace available for our leaders. Let us support them, love them and remind ourselves that a mistimed comment does not define their positional stature any more than it does ours.

I’m reminded of the verse in Luke 6, Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

I have enough to worry about with keeping my own life on track without worrying about anyone else. I suppose when I have me sorted, I can start on others.

I pray you do too.