When I was a child I trusted completely all that my parents told me. So, when I lost my new watch (the most valuable thing I had ever owned!) and cried to my Mother as if my heart would break, she assured me all would be well and took me back to the school where it was found in my gym-slip pocket, and all was well!
I began at that time, to pray fervent ‘Please Jesus help’ prayers when anything happened in my life and it seemed for most of the time that He did! The lost treasure was found, or the friend who didn’t like me anymore on Thursday was my best friend again by Friday tea-time!
I think I was in my early teenage years when I began to notice things that didn’t quite match up to this belief of ‘nothing bad happening if you were a Christian’ when I heard about a young woman who was murdered on her way home from teaching her Sunday School class. I felt unsettled by this but still clung to the belief that nothing tragic or bad would happen to me or my family.
As a teenager and into the next decade of my life I began to experience unhappy feelings which progressed into Clinical Depression later in my life. I couldn’t fit into the world in which I lived and constantly acted a part in order to get the attention I felt I desperately needed. On the surface, I was strong and secure in my faith, but inwardly I was confused and frightened, scared that one day I would be found out by the church and rejected ultimately by God. I was convinced that I would be one to whom He would say; ‘Depart from me for I never knew you’ when I came to the end of my life.
I made my way to the front of endless meetings to have prayer for healing, by people who told me that I either was ‘in sin’ because I was not healed or there was a ‘demon activity’ going on.
It was a tragically long time before I began to understand that this life I was living, this depression I was suffering, these questions I was asking, all made up the rich tapestry of my life and were in no way because of any sin or failure of mine, nor was it because the God who I had trusted from childhood had stopped loving me or turned His face from me.
Healing came for me when I reached out to God without any faith or expectancy and found HIm to be the one who had my life in His hands, and like the potter with the clay, was moulding me into someone He could use in His world.
And now, at this place on my journey I realise that this love is still there and this God is still ‘Planning for me in Love’.
In the ‘Still waters’ that have been my experience for many years now, it has been fairly easy to live the Christian life. But it is, I am finding, in the ‘Valley’….in the uncertainty….where the path ahead is shrouded with shadows and I cannot see the sun, that I am both challenged and compelled to find the reality of Faith in the God who is with me and who does love me and who will never leave me without His support and help.
‘I will not leave you comfortless’ Jesus tells the disciples when He is preparing to leave the earth. He tells them (and us) that He will send the Holy Spirit who will be their comforter. He also tells them to ‘Love one another‘ as He has loved them. Wow!….that’s a tall order isn’t it? We human-beings who have been following Jesus in all those generations since have had more problems with relationships than anything else on earth! Paul, writing to the early church is going on about a couple of women who are disrupting the church with a falling-out of some kind and then later, the great Apostle himself has a problem with that poor little fellow John Mark over some misdemeanour as well as with others!
And the original twelve disciples!….Well you only have to use your imagination a little when reading the gospels to see how that lot struggled at times! Peter, the great big blustering fisherman coming up against Mathew the Tax collector for instance! And then of course there was Judas….I don’t imagine he was exactly Mr popular, holding the money bag tightly and criticising Jesus for giving freely to sinners!
So….how on earth can we love as Jesus loves?……I think we just have to determinedly work towards it and His Holy Spirit helps us in the effort!
But what I am discovering again is this. That when the people of God do love one another and when they do pray for one another and reach out to touch another who is hurting…..they are….we are….being comforters too! And although love given at a human level is very valuable, human love given with the Holy Spirit inspiring us and enabling us, is JESUS LOVE!!….And that is a precious gift and helps us all on the journey wherever we are on the road.