As I’m sure it has been for others, this last year has for me been a battle at times. As I came into September, I spent some time pondering in a park, about what was in store this year. As I sat, I heard a little girl requesting to be carried by her father, and he responded by saying; “keep going, and I’ll carry you up the steep bit.” I sensed at that point, God was highlighting something about his character.
Sometimes we convince ourselves that God has given up on us, or is otherwise uninvolved or unmoved. This week, I draw from the Psalms, the Gospel of Matthew and the words of the late, great, Brennan Manning and his book ‘The Furious Longing of God’ to help awaken faith in God and his goodness, despite circumstances. Holy Spirit, open our minds to who God is.
Words for the Week
Matthew 7: 9-12
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
How we see God affects how we see ourselves, and how we relate to him. Jesus taught his followers to see God as Father. We may have picked up ideas of God (from the culture around, or before us) as a father who is absent, heavy handed, weak or tight-fisted. Ask the Spirit, whose job it is, to reveal to you the truth, that he’s the ultimate good Father. The good news is that even if we’ve experienced rejection from earthly parents or other people, ‘the Lord will receive us’ (Psalm 27:10).
If we struggle with this concept, Manning recommends we daily repeat ‘Abba, I belong to you.’ I have been using this centring prayer for the last month, and have truly found it puts me in my place, in Abba’s care.
Once we grasp that we belong to a Good Father, who will ‘give good gifts to those who ask him!’ (Matthew 7:10), the challenge is to ‘Taste and see that the Lord is Good’ (Psalm 34:8).
As a natural pessimist, I feel challenged to walk and talk like God is always good, whatever my experience. I am particularly inspired by one of my colleagues, who daily describes himself as ‘blessed man!’ I’m not saying we shouldn’t be honest about how our circumstances are affecting us, but it’s important to maintain the perspective that we are indeed eternally blessed.
The psalmists prays, ‘teach me your ways Lord; lead me in straight paths’ (27:11). When things are tough for me, I’m tempted to leave the narrow path to righteousness. Why is it we believe we can find freedom and fulfilment outside of his way?
One way to remain in God’s goodness is to walk out his ways, which are designed to lead us to freedom. Listen to this song, and revel in God’s goodness. Go walking today with kingdom swagger!
Finally, whatever comes our way, the call of the Christ follower is to remain strong and to ‘stand.’ I admire the courage of the Meshach, Shadrach and Abendigo, in Daniel 3:18, who were confident God would save them, and even if he didn’t, they refused to worship another God. Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38). That’s the kind of faith I want; to maintain confidence in sickness and health, richer or poorer, in death in life, that ‘we will see God’s goodness in the land of the living!’ (Psalm 27:13).
Own it personally…
- What is it that has stopped you seeing/believing in the Goodness of God. Share that with God right now, share with a friend,at a pastorate. Do not run from this, face into it.
- Practice praying ‘Abba, I belong to you’ inhaling ‘Abba’ and exhaling ‘I belong to you.’
After a few days of praying this, what do you notice?
- Call out (in society/or church) where God’s name and nature are challenged and pray the reality of his goodness over the people and the place.
- Find some people to share with about God’s goodness, and vice versa.
Speak it Out
Abba, Father I belong to you.
Though others may reject me, you will receive me.
Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight and narrow path.
Teach me to see your way as the best way. Thank you hat nothing can separate me from you love, and I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.