Job 14, Renewal, Resurrection, Revival, Risk and Change, the Holy Spirit

The Scent of Water… (Job 14)

The phrase Scent of the water ones from Job 14:7-9:

7 “At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.

I heard this image shared at the Fellowship of Parish Evangelists conference, and the image stuck with me, this idea that just the tiniest bit, the smallest morsel, can be enough to cause lasting change and transformation.

From a dead tree, yet new life can sprout from the dead place, not from a flood or a puddle, but rather ‘the scent of water’.

As I thought of the idea of the scent of water my mind wandered to the images of living water within the scriptures:

“ Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn.4.13&14).

Water a picture of the Holy Spirit, able to satisfy that deepest desire at core of our being, that “deep cries out to deep” call towards God which we all crave and are thirsty for. God putting eternity with the hearts of humanity.

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (Jn 7.38).

Just a taste of the real thing is what our heart craves.

Maybe this why scripture urges us not to “despise the day of small things”?

God’s mustard seed can flourish from seemingly nothing to becoming a great tree.

As I thought of the power of light and hope, often it is the smallest glimmer that helps spur us on. I was reminded by the faith of the woman with the issue of blood, who knew she could and would be healed by one touch of the hem of Jesus’ garment.

The tiniest touch of Christ can bring more change in a life than a man made flood of good intentions.

A recent poem had the line : “don’t give me the sky when I ask for the light?” (citation need).

Perhaps sometimes in our evangelistic strategies is “less is more”

Jesus left people to work stuff out rather than give people a neatly packaged “just add water” solution to life, the world and the universe.

Perhaps you are only called to be a small link in a chain of events which sees lives turned around, all God might be-calling you to is to be faithful in your small scene and role rather than the whole production.

Perhaps our keenness to drench people in theological flood had more to do with our desire for instant results and wanting to “give God a hand”.

I wonder whether Spirit Led Evangelism is saying what God wants us to say, no more, and no less.

Sometimes it takes a step of faith to trust the journeys of those we love, pray for, and with who we have sowed seeds, or nurtured green shoots, to the God who makes the seeds bud and the crops grown.

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Easter, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Resurrection

The Third Day…

“It’s FRIDAY but SUNDAY is coming” -Said Tony Campolo, but some you might be asking, what about Saturday, isn’t there anything to say about Saturday?

The THIRD Day appears often in scripture, obviously and most famously Jesus’ resurrection, but it was on the third day that Lazarus was raised from the dead and it was on the third day that the wine ran out at the wedding at Canna.

The first day is the event happens, the change is made, something is done, and the third day is the day when we see intervention, but the Saturday is a day of waiting, of watching, of faith (and of doubt),  it is a time of powerlessness, and a time of reflection.

We live in a world of cuppa soups and instant coffee, a rushing society, a society that wants everything yesterday, twitching impatiently whilst waiting for an instant broadband connection.

Waiting, complexity and the reality of the ebb of faith and the flow of doubt (and vice versa) are in many ways a gift, in the pressure and darkness of a rose-bud is what produces its colour and scent, the pressure, the waiting, the wrestle, the space to explore, the journey and not just the destination often teach us so much, and yet it is human nature to try and short-circuit waiting, watching, uncertainty and doubt, the time when (like the rose-bud) God wants to shape, fashion and work within us.

Sometimes, in the time of waiting, we encounter ourselves, not as we would like to be, but as we really are. I wonder whether the book of Acts would have ever been written had Simon-Peter not had time and space over the hours between the Crucifixion and beach encounter that ends the Gospel of John.

Growth is rarely instantaneous.

Shaping is rarely painless.

Pressure can turn a lump of coal into either a pile of dust of a beautiful diamond.

I was wondering whether the Third Day was a picture, not just of the time between the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but actually a picture of the reality of the life we live in. We are people who live post-resurrection but we are also people who live pre-Christ’s final return.

In the resurrection we have salvation assured and the reign of the King begins but is yet to be fully realized until his return in glory to judge the world. Some have likened this to the time in between D Day (when the 2nd World War was won, and before the peace was declared in V.E Day (Victory in Europe Day). In many ways our whole lives are lived on something of a Holy Week Saturday, waiting patiently for the coming of the King. Living in the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet’ tension of life where we see the Kingdom breaking into ordinary lives but not in its fullness and entirety, where things aren’t always as we expect, want or hope, where we have questions of faith and doubt ebbing and flowing in our minds and lives.

Yet in this crucible time, are we letting God shape us, grow us, develop us and fashion us; he wants us to become diamonds not piles of coal dust, he wants the work he has done within us to be like the rose bud beautiful and fragrant.

So let us not rush to Sunday just yet, let’s be open to what the Holy Spirit wants to do in us and through us on the Saturday which will add the the beauty and richness of the arrival of the Sunday.

Lets not waste our Saturday, but say to God;

“What do you want to teach me?”

“What can I learn in this time?”

“How are you going to shape me?”

So let’s make the most of the Saturdays God gives us.

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Easter, Resurrection

Some thoughts on Death and Resurrection.

A massive Easter theme as the whole story is about death and resurrection, but I was thinking about this as phase and pattern of life too.

We need death, sometimes things that were once full of life become redundant and need to die, so something new and beautiful can take its place, the classic example of this is of course the caterpillar which goes into its Chrysalis and comes out a butterfly (although some of us might argue that is only pseudo death).

I think sometimes we as Christians do play with pseudo death, we’ve not really died, we’ve just laid down for 30 seconds and held our breath, but the problem is when we do this we rob ourselves of very real resurrection.

Resurrection is so much more than re-branding and re-energizing a corpse.

Resurrection should never be mistaken for Resuscitation.

Resurrection can only follow death, real death.

Death has a sting, perhaps to admit something that has worked no longer works feels like failure?

Perhaps we have become so familiar with the status quo that we cannot imagine life without it?

Perhaps our very identity has become tied up with what has died/is dying.

Death feels final.

It is a laying down of visions and dreams, requiring us to trust in a resurrection that as yet cannot be seen.

We try to avoid death where possible, it is the last taboo in our society.

To be the one that administers death feels a massive responsibility, and yet somethings need to die, as it in kinder and more loving to elevate suffering that prolonging the agony.

Often everyone knows something has died, yet no one wants to admit that death has occurred, or is occurring, being the one who acknowledges the elephant in the room is a brave thing to do (often a bit like the child in the story of the Emperors’ new clothes, who noticed “the Emperor is in the nude!”) -Could God be calling you to be the Elephant spotter or the Child?

And yet without death we cannot have the glory of resurrection.

We have to pass through the sharpness of a Good Friday pain, the nothingness of Easter Saturday in order to witness resurrection on Sunday Morning.

We live in the moment, and we avoid the pain of Good Friday and the emptiness of Easter Saturday but leave us robbed of the glory of Easter day, resurrection day.

Jesus said that “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground AND DIES it remains a single grain of wheat, but when it dies it yields a harvest of 10, 20 or 100fold!”

Too often as Church and as individuals we want to stay as one grain of wheat, rather than experience death and come out the other-side with a hundred fold harvest.

It is about laying down what’s in your hand to be ready to pick up something new.

Leaving behind something in order to move forward into something else.

In the scariness of the uncertainty, sacrifice, loss and emptiness we discover the miracle of new life, greater life and a new harvest.

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