Thursday, July 31, 2014

Waiting Upon God’s Faithful Timing

“But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.”
— Psalm 69:13 (NRSV)
“God has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and it takes a lot of faith, but it’s worth the wait.”
— Author Unknown
Always precise, never late, and a joy to behold,
Is the timing of the Lord’s purpose, from the beginning to the end.
Through such a thing as life, time’s used to mould,
The characters of humanity, if souls, to God, will bend.
Testing patience and endurance so as not, before time, to fold,
God’s power in mortal weakness, made available, to lend.
From beginning to end, through the corpus of time, the Lord’s enrolled,
Humanity to the course of study known as ‘The Only Way to Fend’.
Again we hear it, and we’re destined again, if we’re bold,
To surrender human capacity to the Lord, all flesh to rend.
Going against God’s timing is folly we’re told,
For faith will supply, so God’s faithfulness can for us mend.
The precision of the Lord’s timing is gold,
And it’s the faithful who’ve received who God can send.
Accepting Life’s Current Situation
If we are to do anything about God’s timing of satisfactory means we must trust in the present moment, holding our hopes aloft before the throne of God while simultaneously enjoying, as much as it is possible, the intervening time.
Enjoying the present moment is sometimes too much for us, but if we are aware how important it is to trust God in this way, God will give us the power to hold on patiently.
Acceptance is a great power because it abides by obedience in God. Maturity is made golden to the colour of acceptance. When we can accept our current situation, nobly, we are prepared all the more to wait, to be blessed, and to be the purveyor of joy—no matter what.
Going to What Provides Hope: The LORD Every Time
The provision of hope can never be underestimated. We know we need hope when we feel helpless in the journey of time, seeing little of the promise coming to fruition; little or no chance of it.
To enjoy our current situations we need access to hope; we need to go to what provides hope; we hope in God, even despite the lack of visibility for blessing.
Trusting God’s timing is generally a tortuous exercise; let’s not mince our words.
But, with hope beyond what we can see—for true hope exists with no vision of hope—we have a way of enduring patiently, one day at a time. The journey is bound to ebb and flow, to take us through the winding valleys and the occasional hilltops, in between lots of surprising hairpin bends, frustrating chicanes, and gorgeous views.
The harder the meandering journey is, the more tremulous the valleys, the more wondrous is the experience of God’s faithful timing in bringing the hope we have to pass. God is faithful and he will do this thing.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

10 Things New Friends Taught Me In Just One Day

New and special friends have taught me the following ten things, having been included within their community. The makings of wisdom that can only be learned by hard experience, these ideas, and more, we pray will be the making of us from this day forth – even as God has already been working in us:
1.      Horrendous journeys often have their own incredible blessings. I received this as part of a message from a new friend: “... the journey your family is about to begin is more rewarding than almost anything you’ve ever done.”
2.      The power of love in community to hold us up in hard times. This is self-evident as I observe a community of nearly two hundred people interacting on social media, notwithstanding my direct experience of the church for the provision of pastoral care.
3.      If there are questions, don’t ever hesitate to ask them. A resounding refrain. People have learned by direct experience how a lack of information has set their family and child backwards. There is a commitment to sharing knowledge and wisdom.
4.      Whatever the battle is, others have stridden that path. What a refreshing encouragement this is; we are not alone and never are. If our problem seems unique we just haven’t connected with those who have suffered a similar fate. We are nowhere near as isolated as we think we are.
5.      Leadership capacity is unearthed in trial. Rarely are leaders born; leaders are made resolute by drinking the water of adversity and they are sated and grown on the bread of affliction.
6.      Slow down and take time to enjoy an unexpected destination (Holland). As in Emily Perl Kingsley’s poem, Welcome to Holland, some destinations of life are hardly expected – some require massive and ongoing adjustment. The key is to slow up, take the pressure down, and lower our expectations. In that we find contentment.
7.      Be open to learning about love’s limitlessness. Nothing teaches us so much as love. We all have exponential potential to learn about love. Where we are focused on learning, love will blossom in our hearts. Where we are purposed positively in love, we cannot help but learn.
8.      God’s glory is manifest in every soul. We are all – there are no exceptions – made in the image of God. Every human being exemplifies the potential of the essential characteristics of God.
9.      Enjoy those times of boredom; life won’t always be that easy. We have all had unstimulating moments and seasons in life where we have cause to complain about nothing really. But looking back from a stark reality we are struck but just how blessed we were to find ourselves merely bored.
10. Resist resentment and do what you can do. Life is very simple and abundantly more meaningful when we understand we should just do what we can do – no less and no more. This has to be a key strategy in managing mounting resentment and putting it quickly to bed.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Creating Change By Making Tomorrow’s Start Today

Putting off change is something I’d become a past master at. I was always going to do something ‘this Monday coming’, which was a bad habit to give up or the start of some exercise routine or diet. It never worked.
The only way change works with good effect is by starting tomorrow’s change today; to sacrifice to God those vestiges of the flesh that insist on a last day’s comfort.
Once a sacrifice is made, and we have committed so far as saying, “God, you are first in my life,” we have power for the coming few days. Then the next test is when we begin to wane into ambivalence; we begin to relax and get overconfident and compromise on the things we have been firm with ourselves on.
One Day At a Time – One Moment in Time
We can change anything in our lives if the thing we wish to grasp or let go of becomes either the centrepiece or lesser to God.
God should be that centrepiece, but there are also many ways that we focus on the acquisition of good things by putting them first for a long enough time that they become habit.
If we wish to let go of something that has clung to us unhealthily for too long, we do so best just one day at a time. We can do anything when time is broken down into bite sized chunks.
It all depends on how important this thing is. Is it worth focusing our energy for this time, at this very time, to solve things once and for all.
The only sustainable way for hope when it comes to change is to do it right away, with no delay, but with enough of a plan as to have a reasonable opportunity to succeed.
We are our own reasons for success and failure so much in life. When we can take responsibility for what we alone can do, we have a half a chance to improve our stakes. But if we blame others for what only we can do, or we refuse to engage in what God is calling us to do, we make a pathetic choice that will only serve to harm us.
Regarding change, we are our own best guide or our own worst enemy. If we can make a sacrifice, and keep making them for some time, we will forge new habits whilst breaking old ones.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Joy As a Consequence of Faith Expressed As Obedience

“Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence. It is not what we have to acquire in order to experience life in Christ; it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience.”
― Eugene H. Peterson
The fruit of joy is a much vaunted and confused thing in Christian circles.
Of course, we all want to experience joy, but how are we to know the experience of joy if we have never truly experienced it? We all have our ideas about what joy is, but we find it extremely difficult to create or recreate the circumstances that contribute to the bringing of joy. The more we chase joy, the more it eludes us.
But Eugene Peterson gives us a hint as to the role of joy in the Christian experience. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, so it comes as a consequence of walking in the Spirit. The more we simply obey God, the more we are blessed with joy.
We worry about not having enough joy, never really understanding that joy is a consequence of faith expressing itself as obedience. In the simplest terms, if we obey the Word and will of God there will be joy as an outcome. Then we know joy.
What does this mean in practical terms?
It means looking beyond the struggle that are our circumstances, and looking up to God. It’s not easy, but faith makes it so. It means understanding that every human being is capable of betrayal, just as each one of us has betrayed God. It’s not easy, but faith makes it so. It means we are grateful for having been saved from the consequences and the entrapment of our sins. It’s not easy, but faith makes it so. It means our focus is continually trained on blessing others, and we are routinely less self-interested, apart from our intense interest in our own character growth. It’s not easy, but faith makes it so.
Suddenly the most important relationship is our relationship with God; it takes precedent. We are also most likely to begin to be open to seeing how we are contributing to the problems in our life. We will also be more than interested in a life of repentance; of routinely turning back to God. It’s not easy, but faith makes it so.
Faith makes obedience possible. It’s because faith is surrendered to God without reservation. When faith expresses itself as obedience, joy is an inevitable outcome.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Living the Will of God By Prayer and Peace

Change can be scary.
The moments are unpredictable.
Ranging emotions.
The full circle of grief
Yet no promise of relief
Or that’s how it seems.
What has happened
That has cast doubt
On so many of my dreams?
Change, they say, is inevitable
But ‘they’ are not living
My life.
Then we feel guilt
For having people feel
Sorry for us.
But it’s love, kindness,
And compassion they share.
It’s because they care!
And now I feel loved
Even when life is disjointed
And all up in the air.
Change is difficult
But it’s not a journey
We have to travel alone.
People will understand
When we need to groan.
As does God.
Did you read that Jesus suffered?
If He, then why not me?
These thoughts appear randomly
And it appears our Western world
Does not like how the Eastern Jesus suffered.
I am encouraged
Because I am not alone
It’s God with me
Through those who love me.
I am not alone
And that brings me
Great comfort.
I am not alone
Through this life change
And if God is for me
No matter what is against me
It cannot conquer me.
Change is coming our way and God is readying us for a storm. Indeed, we are quickly reminded that Jesus and his followers lived lamentable lives, in the midst of being empowered by the Holy Spirit to ensure whatever life could throw their way.
The point of pain and change is endurance, and whenever love is poured into our lives we have enhanced capabilities to endure. Life may never be easy as we endure it, but at least we have the will and ability to keep stepping by faith, as one step follows the previous step and so on as we keep on stepping.
And as we step by faith we are fortified by the prayers of those who love us. Where there are many prayers there is much peace, and where there is much peace God’s Kingdom is glorified.
As brothers and sisters band together in responses of love, those enduring losses in grief do so with the strength they cannot explain.
Living the will of God seems hard, but it is much easier when we live life in caring Christian community. When we have accepted that life is no longer about us, that we are living for a broader purpose, we have power to live the will of God, and we are blessed with much peace.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.