When there’s so much to do…

So, what do you do when you’re looking at your To Do List, and it just seems to be getting longer every day? Who isn’t frustrated by that?
Then, this morning, I turned to Ps 131, which speaks of contentment in the presence of God.

My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your trust in the Lord both now and for evermore.

The child is not content because her mother satisfies her thirst – this is a weaned child. The child is simply content to be in her mother’s presence.

I need to speak that child’s truth into my To Do List today.

God is with me, I can be content. His presence can be my comfort and joy. I am reminded that he is at work, certainly through what I do, but – happily – way beyond that as well. More: he is at work irrespective of what I do. He’s at work whether I do anything or not. His work and its effectiveness does not depend on anything I do. But he works through me, anyway.

That’s his glorious promise: that this new life he has given me will continue to overflow, revealing his Kingdom even through my failing and faltering efforts.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Rom 6:4, NIV)

When there’s still so much to do, it’s a powerful comfort that God is at work well beyond my capabilities and capacity.

You may get your To Do List done today. Then again, you may not. But God is working through you anyway!

I am content with that.

The Nail Man

Which one was it 
that held the nails
and then hammered them
into place?

Did he hit them
out of anger,
or a simple
sense of duty?

Was it a job
that had to be done,
or a good day’s work
in the open air?

And when they
clawed past bone
and bit into wood,
was it like all the others,
or did history
shudder a little
beneath the head
of that hammer?

Was he still there,
packing away his tools,
when ‘It is finished’
was uttered to the throng,
or was he at home
washing his hands
and getting ready 
for the night?

Will he be
among the forgiven
on that Day of Days,
his sin having been slain
by his own savage spike? 

This amazing poem returns to my consciousness every Good Friday. Thank you Steve Turner for your profound and poignant reminder of the mystery of the atonement.

Proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes

Matthew 26:14-35

Coming Friday, many Christians churches will celebrate communion / Lord’s Supper / Eucharist.

Reading Tom Wright’s Lent reflections on Matt 26, I was struck by his statement that one of the purposes of the Lord’s Supper is to point us to the coming of the Kingdom (Matt 26:28-29).

I wondered how that understanding might influence our celebrations this Good Friday.

Certainly, communion is celebrating the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Coe 11:26), and our focus is often on ‘the Lord’s death’. But it’s also true that we do this ‘until he comes’. In the one act we look back and we look forward.

Here’s my thought: maybe it’s not just the duration of the celebration (until he comes), but the fact that he is coming has a bearing on how we celebrate, and what the supper really means.

In my church circles, the Lord’s Supper was, and still is, celebrated with great reverence and gravitas. But this got me thinking there should also be a celebration of the truth that Jesus died and rose again. This his death is the end of our death and his resurrection is the beginning of our life. That his living in us, him, being part of us, inside us – we have just eaten the bread and wine – is an assurance of his power to live his life in our world?

The message of the Lord’s Supper / Communion / Eucharist is not only that we have been forgiven through the blood of Christ, that out sins have been atoned, that our guilt is removed, that our death is conquered.

It is also that through his death we are truly alive, more alive than we ever dreamed (see John 10:10 MSG)! Alive to do his will. Alive to bring his life into this world. Alive to live his justice and righteousness. Alive to put things right; the way our gracious God would want them to be.

So, as we share the supper, is there a belief that Christ is, even now, through his risen people, making things right? And that this life, this new life, is the very life we are being nourished for in the Supper?

That would really be proclaiming the reality of the Lord’s death until he comes.

COVID19 Can’t stop us praying, right?

 

So we’re all coming to terms with things we cannot do…

  • Many cannot go to work, or have lost jobs
  • We can’t go to church
  • We can’t eat at a restaurant
  • We can’t have a drink with mates at the pub
  • We can’t go interstate (or even intrastate, really)

Social distancing is catching up with us all.

But we can still pray, right?

And we don’t need to be in a church to worship God, right?

So, if you’re looking around for a great way to experience community, why not sign up for Liberate LIVE?

www.IJM.org.au/Liberate

This is a single International Justice Mission (IJM) event here in Australia, where Christians gather to hear stories of rescue, sing to the God who brings freedom, and to unite in praying for the end of slavery.

We have done this previously on location Sydney, but now it’s a fully online event, and the best thing is you can access Liberate from anywhere in the world.

Our guest on the night will be Ms Anita Budu, Director of Casework at IJM Ghana.

We’ll be interviewing Anita, who will

  • Share her eyewitness accounts of child slavery on Lake Volta, where children are brutally enslaved on fishing boats
  • Tell stories of how God is bringing rescue
  • Show how the church is mobilising behind this effort

This will be a terrific opportunity for you to have some Christian community, right at this time when we actually can’t gather anywhere – how good is that?

It’s a great occasion for Christians to unite in prayer, calling to God for the end of slavery.

Details:

International Justice Mission Australia – Liberate LIVE

Free Registration here

Saturday, March 28

Time: 7:30pm, AEDT – we’ll send you the link when you register – easy!

Remember, you can access this wherever you are – and I’d just love to see you there!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Dave

Seeking Justice and Loving Mercy … and COVID-19

How does the rise of COVID-19, with all its disruption, make a difference to how we react?

What does it mean to be a follower of Christ in days of fear and heightened anxiety?

I wrote this for International Justice Mission Australia, and thought I’d share it with you.

It’s a call to

  • Lament
  • Hope
  • Pursue Justice
  • Respond generously

You can read it here

…and be sure to let me know your thoughts!

Jesus, what on earth are you doing?

While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes,” (Matthew 9:18–23, NIV)

Ask yourself: Where am I in this story?

Me? I find myself in the crowd, watching intently, excited about what might happen, looking on as Jesus indicates he’s about to do something special for Jairus and his daughter. I follow with the crowd as Jesus heads toward the official’s home.

Then: what?! Jesus is looking through the crowd – seems to be looking for someone, and he can’t find them. What has happened? What’s going on? Who’s he looking for? And why?

And Jairus is a walking machine! He hasn’t even realised Jesus has stopped – he’s striding ahead by some 20 or 30 metres, before he even realises Jesus isn’t following him anymore. What the…??

Doesn’t he know how sick my daughter is? Did he miss my exasperation? Doesn’t he get it? Didn’t he say he would follow me? Doesn’t he realise she’s dying? What on earth is he doing now, stuffing around in the crowd?

There it is. Confusion. Anger. Frustration.

How often have I felt this? That Jesus is somehow missing in (my) action? That I doubt he’s with me, or not fully cognizant of what’s actually going on in my life? Why isn’t he do it what, just a moment ago, he seemed so clearly to say that he would do?

There’s nothing happening to me – or you – today that Jesus is anxoius about.

Amidst all of my anger, confusion and possible questioning of God, I see Jesus in this story – and he is not flustered at all. Not. At. All. He is sovereign, and he has me perfectly and mysteriously in his hand.

I might think he’s making poor decisions (actually, phrasing that sounds as ridiculous and faithless as it actually is) I may not understand, and I may not accept what’s going on. But Jesus has it – me – everything – in hand. I may be bothered. I may be confused. I may be worried or afraid.

But not Jesus. There’s nothing happening to me – or you – today that Jesus is anxious about.

He has me in his hand, and what he does will bring brother grace and healing and restoration to those who maybe frustrating me. And he will bring that same grace and healing to those around me who are in such great need.