I hope this helps….
Yesterday I felt a sort of grief in my spirit, a concern given by God for those of you who are in difficult places as you have sought to follow the will of God. By that I mean that you followed what you felt sure was the call of God but have ended up in a situation perhaps in the church world, perhaps in the secular world of work that seems to be destructive of your well being. This was the thought that seemed to swim to the surface as I spent time with God.
I felt I had to put off writing a blog about this until today, as I don’t want to write something that may lead you to make a mistake as to the question, “Is it time to move?” or “Should I stay.”
In one sense, either could be right. Paul in the last chapter of 1st. Corinthians seemed to see opposition he was facing in Ephesus as one sign he was to stay, though it was only one of the factors that led him to beleive that. The other was that there was an open door to effective work. On the other hand, Jesus said that if His disciples are not welcome in a place as ambassadors of His Kingdom, they are to move on. Christian history is full of people who have persevered despite great discouragement, so much so that we can almost begin to think that is the norm, but perhaps when we overemphasise a truth it can become an error. This “staying in a difficult place” has been pressed at times to the exclusion of every other consideration. We need to respect the whole counsel of the Word of God.
There is a principle in Psalm 35 verse 27 that I feel I have to draw to your attention. It may not be the only principle to think about in deciding whether you should go or stay in a church situation, a relationship, a work place situation that is difficult, but I feel that God wants to raise the status of this principle in your thinking. Maybe you should allow this thought to swim to the surface rather than push it down and drown it as illegitimate or the thought of a spiritual cissy. “God delights in the welfare of his servants.” Do you realise that your welfare is a matter of delight to God? I know it is possible to be well in situations that are not good, but I am just saying that I think God wants some people reading this blog today to put more stress than their inherited spirituality is allowing them to place on the principle mentioned in this verse: God wants you well, whatever may be included in that word. That glorifies Him.
I am just going a bit further with what I fee the Spirit is saying…. How do you know things will alter if you stay? The same Paul who knew there were times to dig in, also knew there were times to move on. In 1st. Corinthians 7 he writes into the possible situation of a Christian who is married to a non-believer and because of the problems that mixture is bringing about, there is no peace in the house. The same Paul who writes about how godly behaviour can win someone around, also says that a non believing partner may walk out on the marriage. He is realistic enough to say, “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know husband, whether you will save your wife?” “But… but… if I just go after them and we try again….” He seems to say that there are times to move on, because God wants us to live in peace, which sounds very similar to wellbeing. Lift that principle into other settings. Perhaps the congregation will never change no matter how long you stay. Perhaps there will be no reformation of a situation in the work place just because you are there. Somewhere in the back of my mind is something that Jean Vanier said. “Jesus did not come to reform the system.” It may not be a direct quote I am remembering, but that was the flavour of it. In a sense that was perhaps John the Baptist’s confusion. In his cell, he begins to doubt he had got it right in testifying to Jesus. The system had not changed. The Sanhedrin, The Pharisees, the Sadducees, the political situation had not changed; it did not look as though the axe had been laid to the root of the tree. Jesus simply went around being light. Some people came to the light, others wanted to snuff the light out. Jesus did not try and change systems, He simply bore witness to truth. The systems actually didn’t listen and didn’t want to be changed.
So, I am not wanting to be directive here. I am not saying to those for whom the question “Go” or “Stay” in a situation is relevant, which you should do. I am just saying that in all your deliberations can you hear that God cares for you? Do you need to elevate this principle of Scripture so that it is heard as legitimate, heard as loud and clear as any other principle. Your wellbeing is God’s delight. Are you giving your wellbeing the same status as your Father in heaven?
I pray that you will be helped forward in knowing whether through the pressures you are facing your Father who delights in your well being is saying, “Grow” or “Go.”
(I am updating this blog to include a comment from my brother-in-law, Rev. Stewart Birse. What he says is so true and helpful: Thanks Stewart.)
“Thanks, Kenny. This applies to friendships too. If there are friends who are constantly pulling you down then sometimes we have to realise that this is not what a loving Heavenly Father would wish for our friendships. Yes, he cares for our welfare. But it is not easy leaving a friendship.”
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