The blue grey glow on Coniston Water, the twinkling lights on the shoreline and the snowy peaks of the Old Man are a feast for the eyes. At 17:00 the sky is still softly lit and with days getting longer, relief from the dark days of winter is in sight. Still we have to pinch ourselves that we are here, alive in God’s kingdom, where his glory shines in the hearts of men even when the sun doesn’t shine.
On an airplane in December I closed my eyes and saw visions of healing (always the colour of lapis lazuli in my head) in souls close to my heart and then I saw a throng of people as a great mass and each one of those persons had a tiny blue dot in their heads. This lapis lazuli dot was revealed to me as God’s light in each man. Whether those men choose to acknowledge God’s presence or not, God is there. So the world is not so black and white. The God seed is there, it just hasn’t found fertile soil.
A continuing theme everywhere I went in December is that Christians make a lot of work for themselves and are worn out from trying to do everything. They are exhausted. Sometimes the stress is a burden of success like my brother who has pastored a church for so long that the younger ones are growing up, getting married and wanting him to go anywhere to preside. Sometimes it is where congregations are losing more than they are gaining and the few doing the work are tired of doing it all.
If you were to start a new church today, where would you start? What exactly do you need to consider yourself as a church? What is your purpose? Who is going to help you build your church?
Some of the problems I saw in the U.S exist in this country on a more massive scale. Here, throughout the country are dotted countless churches in rural communities built during boom times and now the burden of care is falling on a population that doesn’t recognise this blue dot in the centre of everyone and everything.
Today I received a newsletter from my home church in the U.S. Two souls just died and a family that had been a large part of the church is splitting apart – the children are moving to China and the parents are moving to Chicago. I felt the pain of these changes through my heart. I love these people and this church. They have worked tirelessly through some very big changes. The previous building was sold and they now have a profit of close to $2 million to rebuild but not enough bodies to carry the load.
Is all this work falling on blind eyes? Do all our wails fall on deaf ears? God has a plan and we are part of it. Every day is a testimony to his great work. Thankfully, Lent begins this week. God never intended for man to ignore his natural laws in our daily lives. In the first chapter of Genesis, at the end of every day, ‘God saw that it was good’. We can’t live without this knowledge that what we are doing is good. We need to hear it ourselves and we need God to tell us and sometimes that means that we need to tell others that God tells us. This praise and thankfulness needs to filter through our very beings in everything we do.
I don’t know the answer to the problems of our churches but God does. This Lent, let’s spend extra time just listening to what God wants. I know what questions I am going to bring to him. I also know that God’s plans are better than anything we can conceive. Let’s turn it over to God and spend time listening.
So for me, whatever the weather, I am going to find more time to go outside to feel his presence in the world of creation, to study the Bible more thoughtfully, to listen to the CD-rom ‘Relaxing into Prayer’ available on this web site, to be thankful for every blessing. God speaks and I don’t want to miss a word he has to say.