Daily dose

New day. Open eyes, touch cold floor with warm feet, push upright. Consider what lies ahead. Sigh or smile, depending.

And deliberately remind myself that God is here, in my excitement or apprehension or boredom or sorrow. He’s here. More faithful to me than I’ve been to myself. Or anyone else. Needing nothing from me, offering nonetheless his companionship, his guidance, his love. His delight, even.

I am held, nourished and nurtured by the love I cannot see or touch.
I am stubborn and slow to appreciate the steadfast love which never ceases, the endless, endless mercies.

I am held, nourished and nurtured by the love I cannot prove or locate.
I am fickle and quick to dismiss the insistent riff from beneath, from beyond, Limitless.

Love

Wandering off

A story about Jesus. Been a while, eh.

Jesus and his parents have been down to the temple in Jerusalem for Passover. They set off for home, and after a day or so realise that Jesus isn’t with them. They check amongst their friends and relatives, part of the group they were travelling with, but he’s not there. It takes them three days to find him, and when they do he’s at the temple, sitting with the scholars, listening and asking questions beyond his years. When Mary and Joseph challenge him, Jesus asks them ‘Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my father’s house?’

It’s a well-known story. The absent-minded parents, the big crowds, the slightly odd discovery of a twelve-year old boy holding his own with the theologians…It’s cute and quaint and why am I mentioning it?

Because I do it all the time. I leave Jesus behind while I get stuck in my tiny dramas and forget that he’s the main attraction, not me. Invariably it takes a while to notice. Like Mary and Joseph I might wander round asking my believing friends when they last saw him. Unlike M and J, this would just be stalling. I know that I’ll find him in contact with God’s word, where the conversation is still very much alive, as He is. And that is where I tend to look last.

Once my kids are too old to have their hands held, we have a rule never to go out of sight when we’re out together. They mostly remember. Perhaps that’s the kind of distance I am most comfortable with, allowing me to check I’m still walking in the same direction as Jesus is but doing it independently. I know it’s not nearly close enough. Hard to hear the still small voice if I’m only in visual contact.

When my own children realise they’ve wandered too far by themselves and come back for guidance and reassurance, it is good to see them again, even better to walk with them for a while before they inevitably wander off once more. In the spirit of assuming the best, I am going to assume that Jesus takes the same delight in us when we come back to find Him.

Assuming the best

Integrity is when the reality matches the impression. When the inside matches the outside.

I need some of that.

I need the impression I mysteriously give to others of being calm, sorted and sure of myself to match how I feel on the inside. Let me correct that. I don’t need it to match how I feel, because that puppy is all over the place. What I need is for the outward impression I give of serenity to match real serenity on the inside. The kind of tranquillity that isn’t dependent on mere feeling.

Ducks and swans glide along but their legs paddle like mad beneath the surface. That’s me, dealing with an endless number of anxieties with no basis in fact. It’s a gift that just keeps on giving, operating across time and space, reaching forward into what could go wrong and back into what did go wrong, what may have gone wrong and what may have actually gone wrong but I didn’t notice. Sometimes I’m tired before I even get out of bed.

However. It does not honour God, or anyone else, to always assume the worst. It ignores and dishonours every good outcome, blessing and peaceful encounter of my life, which I can honestly say is made up more of positives than negatives. I have no right to pessimism or disaster planning. Nothing has ever been prevented by my worrying about it. On the other hand, I have wasted precious mental energy creating scenarios worthy of Hollywood.

Time for some new basic assumptions:

Things are probably okay right now.

Things will probably be okay, if not now, then in the end.

If things are not okay, I will probably be able to deal with it.

If an important thing is not okay and it’s my fault but I didn’t realise or notice at the time, I will discover it and then I will probably be able to deal with it.

And then it will be okay.

Sounds simple to the point of stupid, but perhaps it needs to be. It is possible that the point of believing in a loving God is that I need to actually, erm, believe that He is God, and that He loves me. That if I stop trying to fix things myself, He will help me recognise what’s real, where I’ve messed up and hurt people, and show me how to make things right. He will also help me to recognise and ignore the nonsense, the stuff that just messes with my head and makes me afraid.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 Jn 4 v 18

I know this is more than possible because he’s already done it for me countless times. I just need to remember. And adjust my assumptions.