I thank God for those who feed me fresh spiritual bread. I am signed up to receive daily readings from the writings of Henri Nouwen. You might want to sign up for that as well. If I was more technical I would tell you how to do it, but all I know is I did it so you can do it too!! I remember hearing a minister speaking at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland saying that his ignorance of things technical was so great that it could be considered profound! I identify with that.
Anyway, today with the help of Henri Nouwen I was thinking about Jesus saying to His disciples that it was better for them that He went away. I am sure none of them believed that at the time, and would have wanted to put up a strong argument to show this was patent nonsense, but if Jesus said it, then it must be true. He went on to teach them about the ministry of the Holy Spirit by Whom He Himself would come to them again and by Whom they would be brought into remembrance of all the precious things He had taught them, and indeed would receive greater insight still. Through the Holy Spirit anyone who wishes to can access the presence and person of Jesus wherever they are. From the day of Pentecost any place can become a holy place, a place of encounter with the risen Christ and with our Heavenly Father.
As I thought about this my mind went on to think about people that have meant a lot to me over the years, who have helped me as a person in the deepest sense. I was thinking of one in particular, a Pentecostal minister by the name of Hugh Black. Even though I was not one of his fold, he always had time for me. In fact the gift of his time and counsel made me feel valued and worthwhile. Often he would ask me what I thought about things and would dignify my blundering opinions with his attentive listening – even though I always felt he knew the answer to what he was asking my opinion on. When he died, I felt so sad. In many ways it felt like the loss of a spiritual Father. Who would I turn to now?
Friends, we can and should be grateful for spiritual guides, mentors, ministers, pastors, whatever we want to call them. However when in the course of time they are removed, is it indeed possible that as Henri Nouwen suggests their absence from us can be a gift as well that the Holy Spirit can help us enjoy? In a sense I grieve Mr. Black’s passing still, but over the years some of the things he said to me or helped me see have become even more valuable to me than when he was alive. His passing too helped me to do something he would have approved of: To stand more fully on my own two feet in the grace of God. Though grateful for anyone who has helped us grow in spiritual things, they should never replace our own direct relationship with the Lord.
So some questions to chew over….
Do you need to come before God with renewed thanksgiving for those whose counsel and words have helped you grow?
Are you still feeding upon their words and counsel?
it is possible that you need to thank God for someone’s absence as being a way to understand them and appreciate them better?
Will you live so as to be a non essential but very real blessing to others?
I don’t know if I am allowed to hate anything as a believer but I do hate the way that Christian ministries market their ministries as though you need them in order to learn the secrets of victorious living, which of course always means making them richer in the process. Friends you have the bible and the Holy Spirit. I have a simple message today. Be truly thankful for those who have taught you where to find bread, but remember they are not The Bread. Christ is the Living bread. Ask the Holy Spirit right now to help you into a relationship with Jesus that is so real and fruitful that you will be able to say, “Amen, Yes Lord!” to the staggering statement that it was better for every follower of Jesus that he did not remain on the earth.