Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Exercise unto Godliness

As some, perhaps both? of my readers are by now aware, my wife Sarah and I, together with our three youngest offspring are leaving the UK sometime next year to follow God’s call to Aotearoa -
‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’.

Already this has been a faith expanding call as we’ve contemplated leaving a land we have known cumulatively for over 100 years, family and good friends, to say nothing of our two church communities and then, having considered these things, taken a deep breath, turned and said ‘Yes’ to God.

Of course we travel on in God’s Grace towards new relationships, and already through the process of discerning this call they are being made.

One new friend sent me an email this morning, which spoke uncannily accurately to how we are feeling about all of this at present. She spoke of

‘the God who never lets us stand still and is always moving us on - sometimes further and faster than we might like!’

It was a reminder if one was needed that the life of faith is a life of growth, expanding ever more fully into all that we are created to be as children of God, as we are by the death and resurrection of Jesus set free from the old stories of sin and death which held us in bondage.

Growth and Learning, and this is always about entering the unknown, the new. As the disciples follow the call of Jesus it becomes increasingly clear that they do not know where they are heading but in obedience to him they step out in obedience into New Life and as they do, God hugely expands their lives and sight finally bringing this new human creation to full birth through the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost.

My new friend’s words at once spoke to me in different ways of two things.
Firstly as I read there was a sense of excitement, the excitement of being caught up in what this Living God whom we worship is at work doing.
Secondly I was reminded of a powerful illustration of what it means to live such a life of learning and growing into faith told by John Stackhouse of Regent College, Vancouver.
He likened the life of faith to learning to ski, and that life in God continually and necessarily throws us off balance so that we develop the muscles and instincts necessary for the Life he is calling us into. And indeed these challenges are often larger and come at us much faster ‘than we might like’ because, as he said –

‘We are learning to ski down the mountains of Aslan’s Land’

This New Life is vast and as Stackhouse said, ‘often overwhelming’, but that should not surprise us for it is the very Life of God we are being called into.

Brendan Manning wrote a wonderful book, the title of which was enough to persuade me to buy it – ‘The Furious Longing of God’. God’s Passionate desire for us, to live the lives we were always created to live, lives of pure faith, is like a Storm.
Furious as it is, it can often seem that His call is just too much.

When we were first called to New Zealand both Sarah and I responded by coming up with many reasons why we could not possibly go, but it became clear that it was God’s call and thus although we are learning to ski down the awe inspiring and oft terrifying Black runs of life in Christ, we know we are held in his Passionate embrace.
We go knowing that Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus – thus set free to Live into this new adventure.

Stackhouse finished his reflection on the Overwhelming of God thus:

‘What a faith, What a Life!’