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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Trustworthy



Over brunch the other day, some friends and I were discussing that Facebook friend everyone seems to have whose life is so unrelentingly fantastic, whose spouse so unflinchingly beautiful, whose fitness so unequivocally gladiatorial that you are left with no choice, in the end,  but to block them.

I'm aware that this panic reaction I have to the lives of the seemingly perfect comes from my failure to trust God with the way my own life is panning out. I wish I could be sharing my 800 slide wedding album, or posting about the safe birth of my eleventh child genius, I wish my profile was filled with a skinnier, more tanned, more athletic version of myself, and so on. Of course, it's Facebook, I don't really care*, but these fears my Newsfeed remind me of exist even when wifi doesn't...

* I kind of do sort of care sort of maybe but I shouldn't. Sort of. 

As I get older, I find myself wrestling more to trust God with the way my life is going. I'm aware of those battles Tim Keller articulates when he writes that "worrying is believing God won't get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong."

And so as I struggle with disappointments or self-condemnation (and the accompanying intense emotions!) the request, "please help me trust you" is one that I find myself making quite a lot.

The other day I caught myself saying this to God and wondered what I was really praying. Was "help me trust you" really code for, "do things my way"? Because I know that part of me wants my Father to demonstrate himself as trustworthy by aligning His will with mine.

As I prayed, I was reminded of  this awesome verse in Psalm 9 that says, "Those who know your name put their trust in You, for You have not forsaken those who seek You." (verse 10)

Those who know God, trust Him.

This truth is both a challenge and a comfort to me.

As I reflected on it, in the midst of my battle for peace and thanksgiving rather than angst and discontentment, I was challenged that I needed to know God, because those who know Him, trust Him.

It makes sense that daily intimacy with God makes trusting Him easier. Older Christians I've admired who have trusted God in times of trial, who've remained peaceful in the pits of disappointment, faithful in the face of fear, joyful in the valley of despair have got there because they've known God. They've known Him! Being familiar with his faithfulness in the Bible (to doubters and braggers and murderers and adulterers and despairers), looking morning by morning to Jesus, getting used to leaning on His mercy day by day by day is what enables us to trust Him.  The challenge is one beautifully articulated by Bethany Dillon: "I'd be a fool to forfeit the chance to take a moment for You to rise like the dawn, over my cold, tired heart...."

Or as Peter puts it,

"Pay attention to the word, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the morning star rises in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19

Of course, if I knew God more, if I knew his wisdom and his ways, his ability to redeem, his grave-conquering love, the anxiety and the bitterness would subside, I'd trust Him more.

But I also find this verse really comforting, because it demonstrates that God's trustworthiness is sure.

The joy of this verse is that it is not our trust in Him that makes him trustworthy. He is trustworthy because that is who He is, and that is who he has always been. His Name is His reputation- and He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- the God who has redeemed slaves, established nations, wrought miracles, called the weak.... This is who He is! I don't think it's meant to condemn us for not trusting enough, but in the context of the psalm it's a reminder to rejoice: the Lord has made himself known, remember? And from everything he's revealed, you know you can trust Him.

The second part of the verse says, "for you have not forsaken those who seek you." And he hasn't.

The centre piece of history is the cross, where He forsook Jesus so that, in Him, we'd never be forsaken.

So even on those days when I don't completely trust Him as I should, on those days when I don't even come close, when I am stumbling about in darkness that feels pretty consuming, when I'm desperate... even on those days, He is trustworthy. He will not forsake.

It's helpful for me, faced with anxieties and fears and the temptation to discontentment, to remind myself of the Lord's reputation for kindness, providence, redemption- and to remind myself of the One who knew His name best. The one who knew the Father most thoroughly was able to say to him, even when faced with death and pain and betrayal: "in to your hands I commit my spirit". 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Spurgeon Says It Better



As you may have noticed, recently I have struggled to find good things to say. 

So here's some good things Spurgeon said instead. Enjoy!

"Hope itself is like a star- not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. "

"The Lord's mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction."

"Those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls."

"Is there nothing to sing about to-day? Then borrow a song from tomorrow; sing of what is yet to be. Is this world dreary? Then think of the next."

"By perseverance the snails reached the ark."

"Leave Christ out of the preaching and you shall do nothing. Only advertize it all over London, Mr. Baker, that you are making bread without flour; put it in every paper, “Bread without flour” and you may soon shut up your shop, for your customers will hurry off to other tradesmen. … A sermon without Christ as its beginning, middle, and end is a mistake in conception and a crime in execution. However grand the language it will be merely much-ado-about-nothing if Christ be not there. And I mean by Christ not merely his example and the ethical precepts of his teaching, but his atoning blood, his wondrous satisfaction made for human sin, and the grand doctrine of “believe and live.”

 
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