James’s Blog: Lighting Fires.

James’s Blog:  Lighting Fires.

Talking of managing anger, there was once a time when Ruth and I were going through a stressful situation, but we were confident that it would all work out because we had Boris on our side. Boris (not his real name) had said that he’d make sure that everything was sorted out. There was a problem though – namely that Boris wasn’t following up on this, and he wasn’t delivering on what had been promised. I was feeling let down, anxious and quite angry about it all. Then one morning, as I was waking up and before I’d had the chance to erect my defences for the day, a thought sneaked into my head, like the last sentence of a dream. “You’re putting your trust in Boris rather than in Me”. I tell you, it’s really something to start your day with a divine slap across the wrist.

It’s easy to talk of ‘trusting God’ when the bank account is full, no-one is sick and England haven’t yet been knocked out of the tournament, but the reality is that, when these unconscious supports erode, many of us find our ‘trust in God’ evaporating in the face of panic. It turns out that our trust wasn’t really in God in the first place, but rather in our own resources, in our savings, in our clever plans or in Boris.

Larry Crabb, in his excellent book Connecting, calls this ‘Fire Lighting’.

Who among you fears the Lord
    and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
    who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires
    and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
    and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
    You will lie down in torment.

Isaiah 50:10-11

Crabb suggests that the only cure for this malady is a period of intense darkness where we have no choice but to reach out into the black and take God’s hand. Then we come to learn that He is the only one worth putting our trust in. Painful lessons are best learnt once.

James’s Blog: While it was Still Dark…

James’s Blog:  While it was Still Dark…

Darkness does strange things to the brain. Sometimes, when you wake in the middle of the night, the darkness makes easily manageable problems seem insurmountable. In the darkness, all our fears and worries can sneak up on us unseen. It’s even worse for those of us who are blessed with an overactive imagination. But God being God, it doesn’t surprise me at all that He does some of His best work in the darkness.

Imagine being there at the start of the world’s calendar, surrounded by the rolling chaos of oppressive darkness, and then to hear that first command – “Let there be light”. God does some of His best work in the darkness.

One Sunday, Mary carried her grief all the way to the tomb where Jesus was buried and finds the stone rolled away. John tells us that this happened ‘…while it was still dark’. Mary is there, in the dark, both figuratively and literally, pondering what has happened. I’ll tell you what has happened, Mary. While people were asleep, surrounded by the light-smothering night, God was getting on with the business of resurrection. God does some of His best work in the darkness.

Imagine that.  God takes the night, which to us spells death and fear and suffering, and makes it scream of life and light and joy. Of course He’d do it that way. Of course He would. Do you not know Him?

Sometimes the lights go out in our lives and you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Don’t be afraid, because you know what happens in the dark.

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