At times of challenge and uncertainty God often leads me back a verse in Psalm 46, which tells us to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. God has used this verse before to let me know that whatever it is I don’t know I can know that he is God and that is enough.
I think one of the most important things in life is the ability to stop and reflect. Life can seem so busy and to move so fast that we don’t feel able to do this – we can feel that we are being swept along. People soon become jaded and burnt out by the expectations of modern life to be able to be everywhere, doing everything. Multi-tasking becomes juggling and sooner or later things start getting dropped.
Stopping and reflecting gives us a chance to come up for air and assess what we do and how we do it. I don’t think this is a good idea, I think it’s a necessity.
There are lots of tools and techniques that can be useful as this need becomes more recognised. Meditation is going mainstream. Some employers and schools are starting to offer mindfulness to help people get some perspective before they rush into the day. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) helps people to think about their thinking to break unhelpful ways of approaching life.
I think it’s all good but I think there’s more.
There are some who question these techniques. If nothing is done to change people’s circumstances they can be seen as a way of avoiding the source of the problem such as public servants being overworked.
My concern is that as helpful as these tools can be they place the onus back on the individual who’s still facing the same challenges by themselves.
That’s where for me, God offers more than a helpful moment of stillness. He offers fullness.
The very point of Christianity is that God doesn’t just leave us to get on with things – it’s not about us trying harder, doing better or attaining a better mental state.
What God offers to do is step in.
I bang on about grace a lot because I think it is the fundamental defining characteristic of the Christian message – it is countercultural, even too often within the church.
Grace says that where we come to the end of ourselves we find God – not with a set of instructions but with the resources that we need.
The other week I was struck again by the cross that is displayed at the front of our church and has been for years. The cross is not smooth but has jagged lines and light shines out of it.
And that’s the point. Life and light came out of cruel barbarity – hope splintered out of the cross. Jesus gave his life to offer his life – he literally shared it out so that rather than remaining in his hands as one person it has flowed out to billions of others. Think of it like the world’s biggest dandelion – the seeds are blown from the stork and float away to bring new life and to continue to do so.
One of the reasons I write this blog is to share something of the extravagant heart of God. He is not a harsh, distant figure but one overflowing with love. Jesus says in the book of John chapter 10 that he came to offer us fullness of life.
In our hour of need God wants to offer more than a breather, good though that is.
I asked a bunch of people to pray for me as I faced a challenge last week. One of the responses stopped me in my tracks. ‘It’s not about you’ came the reply.
It wasn’t about me and about what I could do. Not that there was no responsibility for me but that as I did what I could God would deal with the outcome.
I have no idea what this will look like for you today but just as a child with all its growing abilities should be able to rely on their parents to hold life together so God offers his hand to us. He says that however well or badly we are doing he has more for us. He has made us to be full of his love. He offers strength to endure and his creative spirit to do today well.