Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Great Unknown

I'm very taken by some lyrics from a Hillsong United song at the moment. The song is called 'Oceans' and the words go:

'You called me out upon the waters
The Great Unknown,
Where feet may fail.
And there I find you in the mystery
In Oceans Deep
My faith will stand....'

There is something in these words that resonate deeply in my spirit. Whatever some may say, as Christians we do not have a golden ticket to a happy, healthy and wealthy life. We are not exempt from suffering or disease. We do not know what will happen to us in this life. We are called out upon the waters to the Great Unknown. Both the great unknown in what may happen in our lives, and the great unknown in who God really is, the mystery of it all, the Cloud of Unknowing.

And yet, as these words say, there we find God. There we find God in the mystery, in the unknowing. In the suffering, in the everyday, in the wide and the deep and the long and the unknown. There we find God at work in our lives, sometimes most evident when we are at our lowest ebb, when we can no longer find resources within ourselves.

And there, in Oceans deep, our faith will stand.

It wobbles sometimes, if you're anything like me. Wobbles pretty violently, and nearly falls over. But then like the proverbial weeble we are up again, standing. I wonder if it matters to God whether our standing is firm or weeble-like. I don't think so, really. Do you? What I do think is that God holds us there, wobbly or not. 'In oceans deep' we are not lost or drowned. In the Great Unknown we are not bewildered and beaten. In the mystery we find God. Again, and again, and again.

'Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour.'


Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Great In Between

So, Holy Saturday. A day between the absolute hideous sadness and the incredible joy. Balanced somewhere, tinged by hope for us, but not for those on the original day. Hope had left. Everything had changed, shut down, gone. Nothing remained. Mary, her tears falling without ceasing as she contemplated, and asked Why.

For us, it can be like our lives are in this Great In Between time. Tinged by sadness, shot through with hope. Sometimes one weighing greater than the other. For me, I've lately been finding it difficult to take my own advice regarding contentment (see last few posts), let alone Paul's exhortations in Philippians 4. I've been stuck on one end of the great in between scale, feeling little of hope and joy. Letting my physical state take over where my spirit was. It's easy to do, and I don't blame myself, but why do I forget so easily? Why do I not take hold of the hope, spend time pursuing God, and instead wallowing in the hopelessness of me? I've been stuck with infection, mainly housebound for the past few weeks now. It's frustrated me more than usual; I've been exercising a healthy dose of discontent with this lot. I got a bit sulky and felt militant at the thought of blogging or tweeting, because, you know, I might have to actually face up to the fact that this time, I wasn't really coping.

I'm still not better, as far as that word goes for me, but I have a little more strength. The main factor that caused me to blog today though arose from the fact that I was housebound yesterday. There were Adventure Bloke and the kids, off to Messy Church, and there was I, cross about not being able to go. Cross at Adventure Bloke for telling me plainly I shouldn't go and cross at God that he hadn't healed me so I could get out of this <insert inappropriate wordage> house. But then God surprised me, as God loves to do. I decided I should take the quiet time I had to go and reflect a bit on Good Friday. After all, it's what we Christians should do, right? A bit of reflection? Yep. So I did. And there God came. Met with me in that broken and slightly sulky place. Took me out of the mards and into his presence. In the words of the great Bethel Music in their song 'I can feel you', it was 'like sun on my skin, warm to the touch'. A tangible experience of God being there in the pain again. Why don't I remember these things?

And it led me to today, to thinking on the in between-ness of this day. And reflecting that many of us live in the Great In Between. Not having fully taken hold of the triumph, joy and all consuming power of Sunday, and not being fully immersed in the grief of Friday (well....sometimes. And that's OK.) - but living in a kind of Saturday state. A friend posted this today, from the nuns at iBenedictines :

"There is a quietness and stillness about Holy Saturday — a day out of time — that belies the intense activity of Christ. We do not know what happened in the tomb, but the ancient belief in the harrowing of hell, when Christ descended into the underworld to set free all the righteous who had died before his coming, reminds us that God is at work even when he seems most distant, most unapproachable.

Today we have no sacraments to affirm the bonds between this world and the next, no colour or warmth to assuage our grief, no activity to distract us or give a false sense of security. We are simply waiting, all emotion spent. Most of us live our lives in perpetual Holy Saturday mode, our faith a bit wobbly, our hope a bit frail, but clinging to the cross and Resurrection with an obstinacy wiser than we know. Holy Saturday proclaims to anyone who will listen that when we cannot, God can and does. That is our faith, already tinged with Easter joy and gladness."

 That's it. That's where many - most? of us are. In a Saturday time, in the Great Between, in the Now and the Not Yet. And in this time we can find God there, working in our lives, achieving many things, things we might not even realise, and surprising us when we least expect it.  May we, today, this Holy Saturday, expect great things. May we, while living in the reality of the in-between, also grasp hold of the Great Hope of tomorrow, and live in the power of the resurrection, even while remaining in the brokenness of today.

It's Saturday....but Sunday's coming.

I can't wait.