At the time of writing, we’re just 31 days into 2017, and if you follow global news events, you might think the world has gone mad?
If you prefer an optimistic outlook, it might help restore your joy to know that it is just 11 months until we celebrate the 2018 new year, and just 328 days until Christmas! Sorry. Too far? Perhaps, if you’re like me and a little impatient, you need something good available to you now? Many thousands of years ago, contained in ancient Scripture, the following words were written… “Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life.” (Pslam 56:13, The Message)
Surely the writer lived in different times to these, or he just had his head in the clouds? Is this not futile optimism? Isn’t just believing all will be ok ignorant, or nonsense?
Here’s the thing. This poem was written during a time when the writer was personally facing all sorts of trouble. His enemies were closing in on him, and given the situation at the time he could have thought the world around him had gone mad.
Instead however, the writer chose to remind himself of the peace and hope that he enjoys in the light-filled life lived in relationship with God. You see, his posture oriented his attitude. He chose differently. I imagine a man who was curiously different to others around him, and I’m certain that he would have caused quite a stir in his community, in fact I know he did.
I’m not making excuses for the craziness that often goes on around us. I’m reminded again that in history there were many occasions when people would have thought the world would surely be coming to an end soon. Whether it was the time the world was flooded, the plagues that troubled the people of Egypt and took the lives of many, when Jerusalem, the city of God fell into the hands of the enemy and God’s chosen were exiled from their homes, or more recently, the King of Kings – the Lord Jesus, was tortured and killed on a cross. Surely, at that time in history the world must have looked like it was coming to an end?
In The Bible we’re reminded that God knows the suffering in the world, (Exodus 3:7) and we learn of how, filled with compassion, he acts in history. In times of the world’s gone crazy, God positioned men around the world-leaders, and these men were able to be of great influence. I’m reminded of men like Moses who influenced Pharaoh to release the enslaved People of Israel; Joseph who worked in a position of influence during a great drought and was able to spare the lives of his family and people; Daniel and his friends who maintained their worship of God and influenced the pagan king to praise and glorify God in the years before his death. Also, women like Esther who was married to the king and able to stand-up for her exiled-Jewish brothers and sisters sparing them from further persecution. And Ruth, who through her marriage to Boaz bore a child, the grandfather of King David, one of the most influential kings in biblical history – and the writer of this Psalm!
At the time, when you’re up close in the middle of the storm, from that perspective life can appear completely chaotic. It is impossible to see above the waves to the place where there is calm over the horizon. Faith is a gift that has to be believed in to be grasped. These words in The Bible are given to remind us to choose “now” to “stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life”. Faith, at times appears foolish and if it was all about you it would be foolish, but faith is entirely not about you and entirely about God. He is who we are called to put our faith in. “…by faith” (Hebrews 11:24) we can trust in the Lord. When the world appears to be falling apart all around you, know that faith in God is trustworthy. He is dependable.
Today, when everyone else is going out of their mind worrying, we have an opportunity to live lives of influence and trust and to share the source of our hope. God knows these times we’re living in. He has seen the whole of history, and knows how it’ll all turns out. And Scripture tells us, it will be good.
Pastor Greg Laurie in a recent talk, available to watch online here, shared “world changers learn how to say no”. We can be world changers or certainly people of influence in our local community, and by saying ‘no’ choose to live differently. Standing by those in need, showing compassion and loving on the forgotten or downtrodden. Pastor Greg Laurie was one of several religious leaders that was invited to pray at the recent Multi-Faith Inaugural Prayer Service. During his prayers, however, he made a distinction of ending his prayer “in the name of Lord Jesus Christ Amen”. The point is this, Jesus instructs his followers, see John 14:13, to ask the Father “in My name”. Laurie reminds us that it is Jesus’ that has authority. We are invited to use his influence by asking in his name. When you are troubled, pray first, and do so in Jesus’ name.
It may seem a bit late for a blog about what the future holds and giving you encouragement for the year ahead, but be reminded that God sees you, he sees your troubles, he sees the world and the pain our neighbour is in, and he has positioned you to be a person of influence. To love as he has loved. To go as he has gone and to bring the good news into all the world that there is a hope for today and for the future. “Let not your hearts be troubled; Believe in God” (John 14:1)
My prayer is that now, you will find these words to be of comfort and joy to you as you live out the year ahead; May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you wherever he may send you; May he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm; May he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you; May he bring you home rejoicing.
“Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life.” Pslam 56:13