Friday, 18 May 2012

Unshakeable


Afternoon, Father God.

I've just had a thought. 

There is only you, isn't there? Only you who is forever. Nothing else.

Everything is subject to change. We have absolutely nothing that could not (and will not) be taken from us, except you.  All the things we hang onto, all the things we think of as precious, living or inanimate - nothing is permanent. Only you.

All the people I love will leave me, one way or another. Young or old, they will drift away, move away, pass away. All the things I hide behind might disappear; my home might be lost or destroyed, my bank account might shrivel and dry up, my job (if I had one) might be taken from me, the diamond in my engagement ring might be lost or sold. The food in my fridge will perish. The plants in my garden will die. The flowers in the vase next to my computer are wilting already. 

Memories fade. Hopes and dreams evaporate. Energy is spent. 

How depressing is that? 

Sigh. 

For someone like me, who hates change, it's a scary thought to consider that everything that I arrange around me to create stability and routine and familiarity might disappear without a moment's notice. 

Charles Spurgeon didn't mince his words:
'We have many things in our possession at the present moment which can be shaken, and it ill becomes a Christian man to set much store by them, for there is nothing stable beneath these rolling skies; change is written upon all things.'
CW Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Oh great. If my husband updates the operating system on my computer I moan for days until I learn how to use it again. If I change my mobile phone I whinge incessantly since I don't like new things. Every last stage of child development has brought delight and despair in different measures as I always wail that just when I know what I'm doing, it all changes. Is there nothing I can rely upon to be the same always?

You. 

Spurgeon:
'Whatever your losses have been, or may be, you enjoy present salvation. You are standing at the foot of his cross, trusting alone in the merit of Jesus' precious blood, and no rise or fall of the markets can interfere with your salvation in him; no breaking of banks, no failures and bankruptcies can touch that. 
Then you are a child of God this evening. God is your Father. No change of circumstances can every rob you of that.'
You are my Father. You will be my Father whether I have much or nothing. Whether I am healthy or sick. Whether I am happy or sad. Whether I am surrounded by loving family and friends or completely alone. 

Nothing can take you from me. People and circumstances can take everything else, but not you. 

When I have fallen and can't get up
Still you are there.
Take Job for instance. He lost pretty much everything, except his trust in you. He lost his family, his home, his health and reputation and his friends, but you - you stayed unchanging. I'm not one hundred percent sure that I get the book of Job; I have a few questions I want to ask you about it, one day. Like why? and How come? and Wasn't it a little unfair? But that's for another day. 

'The patience of Job'.  I wonder how patient I'd be if you stripped everything away. I'm hoping that you don't listen to me here and decide to give it a try. I imagine I'd be a mess. It would hurt me more than I can imagine. Would I waver and collapse under the strain? I don't know. But I do know that the only thing left would be you.

Quite often I get to feeling a little desperate with the way things are going - poorly children, disturbed nights, headaches, colds, worries, time management problems - and I wallow and whinge and wonder why me?  But I am blessed with so much. With my home, blossom on the apple trees, blackbirds singing in the garden, sun and rain and supermarkets and taps from which clean water comes. I am far from having nothing. 

But all those things are ephemeral in comparison with you. They sometimes get in the way; I sometimes focus on the mountains of things rather than on the things that matter. 

I wonder if the people we see on television who sit on the floor in aid camps waiting for food or waiting for death - I wonder if they see with any more clarity. I wonder if you reach down and lift their heads and make them know that there is one things that cannot be taken away? Where are you with people who have nothing at all? I don't know. Blind because of disease and malnutrition, blind because we can't see past the insignificant to the truth. Which is worse? 
'Our best portion and richest heritage we cannot lose. Whatever troubles come, let us play the man; let us show that we are not such little children as to be cast down by that what may happen in this poor fleeting state of time. Our country is Immanuel's land, our hope is above the sky, and therefore, calm as the summer's ocean; we will see the wreck of everything earthborn, and yet rejoice in the God of our salvation.'
Ouch. I don't want to see the wreck of everything earthborn. I like it here. I like it like this (mostly, except when I'm complaining). It's very hard to imagine a place where everything is so much better since I can only process wonderful as being like the best thing that's ever happened to me. My frame of reference is only this world; I cannot imagine something far superior. Forgive me for being too comfortable here.

So often I don't 'play the man'. Here I take it to mean woman as well, of course. I don't square up to disaster and loss so much as whimper under it. And whilst I know that you are mighty and undefeated and unmoveable, I confess that I sometimes don't find the joy that he speaks of. 

I don't look for it. I look downwards and inwards and I lick my wounds and I exclaim about how hard life is and I feel defeated and hard-done-to and resentful. Joy?  Yeah, right. Yes, I am quite often cast down by the things that happen, fleeting or not. 

The only thing worth hanging on to after a shipwreck is the thing which won't sink. The only thing that won't die, or rot, or fade, or disappear is you. We live in Immanuel's land. I like that. It all belongs to you. It points to you. The very best that we have or perceive down here on earth is a glimpse of what heaven will be like. I need to hold onto what I know.

A friend today asked me some deep theological questions about suffering. I didn't have any answers. I've read a few books by clever people on this subject and they don't know either. All I could come up with is that we need to hold on to what we know. And what we know is that you love us. Very much. Enough to die for us. If you'll do that for us, just because you love us, then why would you not do the little things? If we think that it's out of your control, it isn't. If we don't understand, or don't have the answers, then it's because our brains aren't big enough to understand. 

And in the absence of understanding, I just need to hold on to something solid. 

You.

Lord, help me with this. And by help me, I don't mean give me lots of opportunities to be brave in the middle of trouble, please. I once made that mistake when I asked you to give me patience. What I mean is help me to get things in the right order in my head. Not only with time management, about which I've been bleating lately, but with the importance that I attach to the things in my life. Let me strike a balance between appreciation and dependence, and involvement in the world without wholesale immersion in it. 
'"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed."
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.'
Isaiah 54:10

Let me hold onto what is unshakeable. When the wind blows and the rain comes and the plagues of boils descend, let me hang on to you. I am standing at the foot of the cross and I am a child of God.

I am holding on to the fact of your unending, unchanging, unparalleled love, and my salvation. 
To the fact that you love me so much that you died for me, so that I will live with you forever. 
To the fact that nothing on earth or in hell can take that away from me. 
To the fact that this is not forever. 

The best is yet to come.

Why would I ever think that anything else in my world might be more important than that? 




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