Saturday, September 15, 2012

I am weak but He is strong.


"Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."
This apparently is a quote of St Augustine.
I am aware of the important place this man holds in Church history. I honor his influence and teaching.
I think I can see the point and angle from which he gives this advice.

I strongly disagree with it.

I would rather advise: pray and work knowing that everything depends on God, a God who is just and merciful, a God who loves his enemies, which included us, a God who loves us so much, that he didn’t hold back from giving up his own precious and dearly loved Son, for our sakes, and therefore has no reason to hold back any other good thing from us. A God who is truly unbiased, able to consider every individual in the course of events and history, in order to justly and mercifully bring about his purpose, which is to bring everything under the authority of his Son, Jesus. A God who is never far away from any one of us.

I think we can do a lot of damage when we act as though everything depends on us. Not only do we make bad decisions, unnecessarily offending/hurting people we don’t love, but also we burn out, realising the unending list of painful chores that we are faced with, having to fix the unfixable problems that inevitably raise their heads, every day.

And unfortunately, we do pray as though everything depended on God. We don’t really believe it, but we pray nicely, as if we did.

It is much better to pray badly, from a true need, knowing we are truly weak, unable to cope with the simplest issues in our own strength, and having exhausted all other resources. God is always present. He is always blessing and providing, though we often attribute our successes to our own strengths/abilities.

It is much better to believe that God can fix things, (which he does, in his way, in his time, in his love and mercy) and work at the tasks we are responsible for (our God-given responsibility), knowing that God gives us all the strength we need, in spite of Satan’s many devices, which God allows him to throw in our direction. And God promises never to push us beyond what we can stand, and always to have a way through our difficulties which he provides), even though this may mean walking through the valley of death (in his presence).

I am weak, but you are strong. I can do everything that you ask of me, because you are with me.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Child-likeness


Currently I am on my own, away, on work related travels. I've had time to think and observe. 
I may have good observational skills, or maybe just a good imagination, but I look at peoples faces, and often feel I can interpret their emotions. I hear snippets of conversation as I walk past total strangers. And adding to that, my own behaviours and attitudes, I get the impression that we spend a lot of time complaining, moaning, judging and generally being stressed and unhappy. 

There is an exception; children.
In particular, the under ten year olds.

They seem to make the best of their situation and find joy in the oddest places, yet they aren't embarrassed to express pain or disappointment very publicly, (as well as joy) but this expression seems more honest or wholesome or something (in comparison to us adults).  I also find children very prone to forgiving and forgetting.

What is it we loose as adults???

Security in the eventual good outcome of whatever our current circumstances are?
The ability to switch off the negative emotions and enjoy the moment?
Maybe we can't switch them off when we don't honestly express our pain, instead simply complaining about the person/people whom we blame for our suffering.  By the way, does getting even ever actually heal our pain?

There's something beautifully simple in childhood. Optimism and joy. Excitement at what is just around the next corner. Dreams about our future that we are patient to fulfil. Trust in our parents,. Trust in those in authority. Faith in God. A positive attitude about ourselves and our abilities.
How sad it is when we start doubting all of the above and reinterpret the world around us with a much more negative attitude.  Of course many painful circumstances take their toll on our character, sometimes at a tragically young age.

But Jesus  can and does restore our child-likeness .