Ever felt redundant or irrelevant? Such is the daily food of many relieved by Covid-19 of duty, responsibility, role, employment & previous routine which gave significance & meaning. And as we try to imagine ‘new norms’ for family, friendship, church, business, leisure, what are the vital vision & values, purpose & principles which will guide what vehicles you take up and let go of?
Who are you in your inner core identity? What are you really all about? Where & who are you drawn to ‘belong’ & find ‘significance’? What ‘human doing’ will flow from your ‘human being’?
A danger for us all is that we don’t allow the present crisis of pandemic to sort, sift & lead us into greater clarity & conviction about what our remaining hours, days, weeks, months, years & decades on planet earth are to be about (God Willing).
On a recent cycle I came across a dislocated wooden bridge, beautiful, but no longer fulfilling its original purpose. Hopefully it’s in transit & will be relocated to serve people & community in transporting from one side to another. But it is a stark caricature of our churches, groups, institutions & people who feel stranded in ‘no man’s land’, no longer able to fulfil our calling.
It will take great courage and determination to let go of buildings, strategies & activities, which are no longer ‘fit for purpose’. The accompanying lament & grief will be raw & painful for many of us, forced to let go of nostalgic bridges & vehicles which no longer serve our vision & values.
There’s a bridge at Belhaven Bay in Dunbar, which still serves its purpose of transporting people across water at low tide but which, at high tide, looks pretty silly. There are times when our old-fashioned approaches can still serve a purpose, though they may look pointless at times. Sometimes we’re called to be ‘Fools for Christ’ says St Paul. But this shouldn’t be used as an excuse to avoid the scrutiny of The Spirit, come to disturb the comfortable & comfort the disturbed.
Actually, the bridge image isn’t ideal for the purposes of this blog, too wooden & inflexible. Rather than a ‘bridge over troubled waters’ Christ gives us a ‘Way through’ them. Jesus, The Good Shepherd, knows & calls us each by name: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod & staff comfort me.”(Psalm 23:4). Yes, there are grievous periods when only one set of footprints are evident in the sand, as Jesus carries us; but more often my experience sees two sets of footprints, as Jesus journeys alongside me. Indeed, often there are also the footprints of others alongside, helping to steel my courage & determination to love God with my all & neighbour as self.
Christ’s Be-attitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) characterise this soul sifting (NO ‘bridge2nowhere’) with Jesus as he leads us:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. “You’re blessed when you get your inside world —your mind and heart— put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom…” (MSG)
Take comfort & courage, Jesus is with us, ready to lead us somewhere special!