The strange shapes of seeds of faith…

“No sin can be faced without some knowledge of grace. No loss can be mourned without some intuition of new life.” (Henri Nouwen, “With Burning Hearts,” page 39.)

Facing our sin by confessing it, and mourning our losses fully, are a sign of faith; a sign we believe such endeavours are not futile; an affirmation that there can be fulfillment after loss; that mistakes and sin need not control the direction of the journey or stop the outworking of a destiny.

Mourning and confession show the seed of true God honouring faith is present. They are the evidence I am believing that another more hopeful story is still being written from eternal merciful love and wisdom into the time and space in which I live out my days on earth.

Even when my life is like a tree felled in the splendour of its prime, repentance and mourning happen because there is somewhere deep within a hearing of the heavenly message spoken over Nebuchadnezzar in the depth of his humbling and devastating losses: “Leave the stump in the ground.” When we hear that, we can face our most shameful moments and our most life altering causes of grief with hope.

Tears are a sign of faith. No earthly tears are a sign of unbelief and loss of hope or even loss of God; a sign I have lost sight, hopefully temporarily, of the God whose love is mightier than the most shame producing failure and the deepest, and most painful losses in human experience.

Have you seen in the News on T.V at some time over the years, these devastating pictures of children who are discovered in a forgotten orphanage somewhere, who are completely silent? They cried out in the past for sure, but they stopped crying out when they came to believe no one was hearing or listening.

Your crying as a believer is a sign that faith still has a beating heart and a voice, a sign of your assurance that a day of no tears is somewhere ahead and coming towards you. May the God who hears, answer you speedily, even if as you read this, you have been mourning through a long night. May the dawn of a new day of joy come for you.

God bless

Kenny

Barbed wire…?

Asked the Lord about something that rears its head from time to time over the years and causes me real distress. Asked Him a simple “Why?” Immediately into my mind came an image of barbed wire and the sense that to pry into the matter would be to enter forbidden territory: to know the answer would harm me, take me into a battlefield which He was saving me from, a battlefield where something would end up being destroyed

It reminded me of these words from Deuteronomy 29.29:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

In the many spiritual environments that have emerged in the last 20 years or so, that confuse being secure in the love of God with irreverent and godless “chuminess” it is a good verse, holding a good principle within it, to remember.

Today, or any day for that matter, don’t persist in trying to clamber over barbed wire which has been placed there by the Father who loves you. You may rip more than your clothes, even more than your flesh…

You discover if you have the heart of a son or a daughter when Father says “no” and, despite any passing disappointment or deep struggle, you love him freely and gladly, even if you don’t fully understand. In fact how we react when Father says “no” to us is perhaps the clearest test of whether we truly know God as Father at all, whether we are truly in Christ. He, The Son, The Son made flesh, is still The Son. He has never said anything but “Yes” to the Father’s will, either from eternity past, or when walking on the earth, and will say the same for eternity to come. If we are in Him, He helps us to do the same.

For your health’s sake get into The Son today….

God bless

Kenny

Passing on a question…

Today at first light, in the presence of God, a question I was asked by an Occupational Health doctor a few years ago now, came back to me. He was listening to my being grateful for the measure of health I still had, grateful for all the church locally and centrally were doing to help me, but he burst into my litany of thankfulness with exasperation to almost shout a question at me: “But have you mourned the loss of your health?” I hadn’t, nor did I intend to. I pushed the question away as the devil’s temptation, and could immediately think of selected verses of Scripture to justify my reaction.

Today, a few years on, with more health issues to contend with than ever, mostly as a consequence of my original lung condition or its treatment, Jesus my friend seemed to ask me the same question, and in the asking infer I had not heard his tone, heart or care behind that doctor’s exasperated question.

So, I pass the question on to some of you at least, to those of you who are in a fight with illness, who have faced it with the weapons of counting your blessings and trusting God. Jesus would commend that I am sure. However, would he ask you in a tone of caring exasperation a question to which he already knows your answer but needs you to hear it too, “Yes, but have you ever mourned your loss of health?” It seems from my sense of his presence drawing near as a friend today, that is not only allowable, but necessary in order to enter into his comfort more truly. Perhaps with me you need his help to mourn?

Actually, this is not just for those of you who have health issues now I come to think of it. Loss comes in all shapes and forms, right through a spectrum of every day losses which everyone who lives goes through, to the deepest darkest most horrendous losses way beyond the norm that many will never experience, but you may be facing right now. I am even thinking of friends, as I write this closing sentence or two, who at this very moment are living through one of those darker losses, one of the very sorest trials into which human beings can be plunged.

Perhaps you are finding a way through your loss by thankfulness and trust, but perhaps for you too what I am saying here is relevant. Have you allowed yourself to mourn? The thought of allowing yourself to do that might terrify you. If it does, read Luke 24 sometime soon. When Jesus draws near into expressed mourning and the grief of loss, and listens and talks as He walks with us, a miracle happens in the mourning: our hearts begin to burn within us.

God bless

Kenny

All sums have the same answer…

The simple, true-in-every-circumstance calculation of faith: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” In Christ it is always true. Get hold of that and you can stop all nervous working out the answer to a testing sum, throw away the Abacus on which you are trying to find the solution to relational, emotional, physical, mental and spiritual difficulties, anxiety about finding a way through. Calm your fidgeting fingers and wait, looking for the path of grace to unfold . The above quote from Scripture has held me in great peace over the years, not least in this last week….Oh and remember when you can only see option A or B as an answer to the sum you are trying to work out, God has options A to Z and back again and more….so…rest.

I am reminded of the most relaxed farmer I have ever known, Raymond, who lives on Stronsay. He was church beadle when I was minister there from 1984 – 1989. I once asked, in days that were particularly diffiuclt for farmers if he was worried and losing sleep. He gave a shy smile, and said in his familiar lovely quiet voice, “No, I never worry. I just add up what is walking about in the field and compare it with what I owe the bank and so long as it is a bit more, I am happy.” Finding a simple calculation when everyone else is getting lost in complexity, is a great blessing.

God Bless

Kenny

We all have one…

I have never worked out the answer to a wondering: Why angels? I suppose though you could ask the same question of any or all created things. I guess like all things, angels were created for God’s pleasure and for His glory.

Part of their God glorifying purpose is to minister to you and to me. I have one who looks after me and looks upon my Father’s face with me in mind, and so do you. I have met my Guardian angel, to use the common phrase. “He” never said a word. We simply exchanged glances. He did the miraculous deed and left the scene. To speak to one another would have been to steal the glory of God and take some to ourselves.

You have probably seen yours too and never realised it. No matter really. Oh, I know we are not to go into great detail or get puffed up by such things, but that does not mean we fall into the error of discounting them or despise any talk about the angelic at all. That would be ungrateful and unthankful for the faithfully completed assignments of these ministering spirits of fiery swift obedience. Maybe one day in eternity as I heard a preacher say not long ago, we will sit and talk with our Guardian angel, look back over the replay of our lives as he/she (?) says time after time, “See that? I did that. Your Father sent me do that for you. I was watching His face below the veil of my wings, and then I saw the gesture of His hand, heard His command, ‘Go! Go now! Go swiftly! Fly faster than the wind, burn with zeal to do my bidding! Go!’ “…and together we will praise the One who lives forever, give Him all the glory. He may cover his face with his wings. I will fall down.

God bless

Kenny