A work in progress

I am not yet what I one day will become

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Are you like me? Do you get impatient with yourself? rage-1015611_1920Wishing that you could change aspects of your character, frustrated with recurring failings. I am not someone who is always down on myself but there are things about me which I wish I could change and just don’t seem able to. Even after years of being a Christian I find myself still battling with the some of same stuff that I did when I was first saved.

I was in a meeting this week when someone read aloud the following C. S. Lewis quote. It was one of those moments when a truth hits you between the eyes.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship”*

You see we are not yet what we one day will become.  I think that is worth saying again. We are not yet what we one day will become.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as He is.” (I John 3:2).

This is what C S Lewis was getting at . One day we will be like Jesus! The theological term for it is glorification. We are being glorified! That sounds strange doesn’t it? Surely it’s God who is glorified.. Well yes but the Bible is very clear that we too will be glorified.

What does that even mean? We were created in the image of God. In fact  we are “partakers (sharers)  in the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). That image of God in us has been spoiled by sin but our glorification means that it  will be fully restored. That is why we will be like Him.

Isn’t this all a bit like pie in the sky stuff? No! This bit of theology gives me hope for today when I feel I am failing. God is at work in me. I won’t always be as I am now. I will change.

star-1553671_1280We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[a] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[b] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)

There’s that word again – transformed, we are being metamorphosed from something  dull and uninteresting (in CS Lewis words) to something Godlike. That is quite something to get my head around! It is a transcendent truth.

It also gives me hope for  tomorrow – one day I will not only be like Him but I will also see Him! I find I can get so caught up in the minutiae of my life that I forget to think about Heaven. I forget that this life is like the blink of an eye, it is transient, but Heaven is eternal.work-in-progress-24027_1280“Be patient with me, God’s not finished with me yet” is such a clichéd expression but maybe we should address it to ourselves. When we want to take back the words we didn’t mean, when we give other drivers “the look”, when we are over-sensitive to what others say or do, when we do that same old thing again. It is not ok to sin but we can cut ourselves some slack knowing that we can’t transform ourselves.It is God who does that and when he does, it is not by tiny unnoticeable increments. No He takes us as we are and is making  us like Him. How amazing is that?

* CS Lewis “The Weight of Glory”

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Once, twice and three times blessed

This benediction is wonderful! I want to live in the good of it everyday.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Cor. 13:14)

This is Paul’s way of ending his second letter to the Corinthians. The words are familiar because many of us would have recited them at school or as part of our church liturgy. They are often used by the minister or priest at the end of the service as a benediction (blessing).

I have been thinking about the three elements of this blessing and how vital they are to us in our everyday lives.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is one of those phrases that encompasses so much. It is like a Tardis which you enter and find is so much bigger on the inside than on the outside. It is by grace that we are saved (Eph. 2:5). The word grace is used to explain all that Jesus has done for us at great cost to Him and none to us.  We become Christians through grace  but more than that we carry on living in that grace.

Grace means that I don’t have to strive to earn God’s favour because Jesus has already done that for me. This is why I need this blessing, not just in the past as a once and for all entry into God’s kingdom, but daily so that I don’t slip into working to earn my salvation. I can so easily fall into following rules – I have to do x, y or z to be acceptable or to be a good Christian (whatever that means). A daily reminder of the Grace of the Lord Jesus is a daily preventative against legalism and following a different gospel.

 

file_000-13It’s so hard to communicate in words just how wonderful grace is – I don’t and never could deserve it but IT’S MINE! Nothing can take it away from me. Jesus has died for me and because of that I am now clean and righteous in God’s eyes. WOW! Just meditating on grace fills me with wonder and thankfulness. I could NEVER achieve this for myself yet it has been given to me as a free gift. Even as I am writing this I feel joy rising in my heart. (You see meditation is not dull!)

There is not only grace for today but for tomorrow too. I am confident that all that God has already done for me will continue because it’s not about me but about Him. That is such a good thing! We get so easily ensnared by the thought that we can do something to earn our salvation. That is the gospel of me. Trust me, no one would want to rely on me for  their salvation. The good news is that we don’t have to because it is truly all about Jesus, our Wonderful Saviour. That is why I can trust that grace will still be there for me tomorrow because Jesus is the same, yesterday and tomorrow. He will not change, He will not leave me, He will always be faithful to me. Are you getting excited? This is such wonderful news and it is truly freeing. I love these lines from the song

In Him we have redemption
Through His blood through His blood
In Him we are forgiven
According to the riches of His grace
Which He freely lavish’d on us
Freely lavish’d on us
And bestow’d on us in the beloved*

Those are juicy, fat words – riches, freely, lavished – and all for us to enjoy deeply and fully everyday. You have riches not given begrudgingly but freely and not just a small amount, they are lavished on you!

If that is not enough, there is also The Love of GodI am loved by God. Little old me, warts and all. Despite my failings, my sin and all my shortcomings, God loves me! True God loves the whole world but he also loves the individual. file_000-12Parables show us that God is interested in the individual, he had 99 sheep but one was missing. What did He do? Did He say 99 will do? No he went after the one lost sheep. We are individually important to Him. He is a Father who welcomes home the lost and the Prodigal because He loves us.

Paul prays for us that we may be “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph 3:17b) . Plants draw sustenance from their roots. Their roots anchor them. This is what God’s love is like  for us, it  sustains us every day, whether things are going well or not God always loves us. His love gives us security. Psalm 3 says that God is the lifter of our heads. We can lift our heads every day because we are loved by God with an everlasting love.

Finally there is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. I can personally enjoy the presence of and communion with the Holy Spirit. The same Greek word koinonia is used to describe the fellowship of the believers and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The root of the Greek word is to something shared in common; the disciples shared life together, they shared what they had with one another. So too we can share our lives with the Holy Spirit. This is what fellowship is about – sharing ourselves, our days, our hopes, our dreams, our disappointments and His thoughts, direction, vision, comfort etc.file_002

The Holy Spirit was sent to be a helper to us. One who would be with us after Jesus had ascended to the Father. The Holy Spirit now shares His power with me as He fills me with His Spirit, He gives me boldness to speak, he gives me gifts of the Holy Spirit such as healing, and prophecy and he reveals the Father to me. What a gift He is to us! I can fellowship with Him whenever I want.

This benediction is wonderful,  I want to live in the good of it everyday and I pray that “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Christine

 

 

*Song: In Him We Have Redemption by David Fellingham, Copyright© 1984 Thankyou Music
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A Strange Season

Each year the Summer Holidays can be difficult for me.

This Summer has brought mixed emotions for me. We had a fabulous week’s holiday with our sons and family friends in July. Then I came back to August. Such a strange month for me. No regular midweek small groups, friends away on holiday or busy with their children, people away serving at a Youth Event, Sunday mornings depleted. It’s a season without routine and regular fellowship.

I am a people person, I really need other people around me.  It’s with people that I derive stimulation, where ideas emerge, where I am inspired and encouraged. Each year the school holidays can be difficult for me. I feel alone and isolated and I can easily become dry spiritually. This year I just felt very flat. From past experience I knew that I needed to make arrangements to see people but this year it just didn’t seem to work out. Even friends who were coming on holiday with us cancelled. There were many days when I was working from home and didn’t speak to anyone from the time my husband left for work until he came home again. For some of you, I know, this would be your idea of bliss but not me!

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At times like these I can struggle with negative thoughts, “I haven’t got any friends”, nobody ever calls me, etc. It’s because it is a vulnerable time for me. We all have them. We need to know ourselves and be prepared. The bible warns us to be watchful as the enemy is “like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8) I don’t want to present myself as easy pickings to him. I need to take action. The trouble is that it takes me a while to realise or notice what is happening. For me there is a subtle slide towards feeling low before I notice that I’m not doing so well.

When at last I realise what is happening,  I begin to consciously  “draw from the wells of salvation” (Is.12:3) Drawing water from a well is physically demanding and time-consuming. If you are thirsty, you may become even more thirsty as you haul on the rope to draw water. You need to keep going.

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What are the wells of Salvation? I like to think of them as the deep places in my soul where I have stored up promises, past experiences of God’s goodness, truth about God (and me) and where the living water that Jesus talked about to the Samaritan Woman bubbles up.

How do I draw water from these wells?  Firstly I have to start; this is often so hard when we are in a difficult or dry season. Secondly I have to work at it; I need to make it my priority and to give time to it. (When I am feeling low I can become so lethargic and lacking in energy  that everything feels too difficult.) Thirdly I need to keep going; it’s no good reading one verse of the Bible and saying that didn’t work! Lastly I revisit old journals,  prophetic words and our book of answered prayer which really encourage me. They are like the memorial stones put up by the children of Israel to commemorate what God had done and to be a lasting reminder for anyone who revisits them.

Of course I ask for the Holy Spirit’s help in all of these things because He is the One God sent to be with us and help us.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”( Jn. 14:26)

Not only this but the Holy Spirit fellowships with us. He talks to us and encourages us. What an amazing provision of God He is to us!

Was I still lonely? Yes I was at times but I know that this is a season and soon life will be very full and busy again. I know too that my Father is with me in every season and He never leaves me.

We all have seasons that are different, a bit dry, or just flat or even very happy; at times like these we need find God in and through our circumstances.

So to those of you who have wondered why there has been no blog, or indeed where have I been. I’ve been drawing  water from the wells of salvation. In fact not only drawing water but swimming in it, luxuriating in the life-giving river of God.

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