How often have we wailed ‘why?!’ when things don’t go our way. In my experience this is a cry more often from the lips of believers rather than those rooted in their own philosophy. So why is it so hard as a Christian to understand why we fail? Why isn’t it coming together? Isn’t life supposed to get easier with a Faith and God to guide us? Why don’t we feel the protection and victory of God in our lives that we so often long for and desire?
Many questions such as these provoke many answers from those that mean well, from those who think they have it all sorted out and simply because the nature of humanity is we like to feel better than the other guy. ‘You mean you don’t understand why? Well I’ll tell you why..’ Often whether or not we have actually asked for their opinion. So despite the tongue in cheek irony that writing such an article screams lets examine what are hopefully a few helpful thoughts that come from my meagre musings on psychology, faith, Christianity and life in general seen through the kaleidoscope of our faith. After all who Jesus is to me, may not be who he is to you or anyone else for that matter. Faith is personal and that’s where this article starts..
Just as a Jeweller examines the intricacies of a diamond through a loupe we tend to examine our own faith through a similar lens. The intricacies spring out, the clarity, the flaws, the high notes and depth of the cut. But within this it is very easy to focus on the flaws, after all Jewels are about their flawlessness to determine value so the eye is trained to look for problems. My challenge to you would be to turn that perspective on its head. The value of a Jewel of faith is not in what is simply bright about it but the contrasts between the beauty and the ’ugly bits’, those parts we are somewhat less proud of. Moreover these less attractive parts could be regarded as the most attractive.
It is within these flaws that there is the greatest opportunity to observe Grace. By flipping our perspective we can see not our own failings, but where God has the potential to make something even more beautiful. Indeed when we think God has abandoned us we may simply be looking at it from the wrong angle, for God never sleeps nor stops working. Remember that precious stones are made under great pressure. As Christians we are no different.
There are many musing in the bible about God making the path straight, lifting up his people and so on, but ultimately it is about the walk. Even God can’t make a path straight if there are no bends in it to begin with. He cannot lift us up unless we have first fallen down, and he cannot have a strong, loving, two-way relationship with us unless we communicate, allow ourselves to love, be loved and seek love when we need it most. The Father desires relationship with his children just as any earthly dad does his own.
Sounds like a strange analogy doesn’t it? Particularly in this day and age of digital domination and seemingly less focus on ‘old’ ways. Some time ago I was going through a particularly hard time in my faith and life in general, it felt as if nothing was coming together, that I was failing and I was struggling to see the purpose. It was then that I had the very clear image in my mind of God beating and polishing a suit of armour as preparing for battle. Making it stronger, buffing it, shining it, testing the joints in the plates and the general fit. I was in the Founder’s workshop.
Foundries at their root really require two things to facilitate change and facilitate strength in the metal to which it is applied (at least in the mind of this layman). They require heat in order to be cooled and hardened and they require pressure, to be beaten, worked and moulded until the desired shape or purpose is achieved. To a significant degree we are no different. We are a metal in Christ’s foundry as he gives us the framework to be worked by the Father. As we face hardship we need to reshape ourselves, harden some parts and soften others to adapt to our situation. We allow the Father to work through his Holy Spirit to guide, mould, shape, in effect teach us how to become something new. We are renewed in the Spirit, stronger, more purposeful and with more beauty than ever before.
Ahhh.. pride, the ongoing problem of the human condition. Sometimes the simple fact of the matter is that life’s challenges aren’t just about us. But sadly more often than not we choose to make it so. We get confused in the balance between taking responsibility for what we need to own and taking responsibility for things beyond our control and personalising them. At the root of it all we are simply trying to live a Grace filled life in a fallen world. The best we can do many times is to accept the world for what it is and choose to be part of the solution in whatever way God chooses to guide us. In may ways our biggest mistake is often going rogue and trying to do things on our own. Just because we see an injustice, a problem, an issue that is dragging us down or not aligning with our world view does not mean it is necessarily up to us to be the change agent in the most direct sense. By all means defend the vulnerable, protect those in need and project the Grace of God in all we do, but don’t own what is not ours to own. That’s God’s job and he will stir those to action who He chooses to be on the front line for each specific purpose. Our relationship and being open to hear is the key, it is then we are most effective, feel most fulfilled and find the peace to know we are on the right path.
– Andrew Jewell , Wedgetail Ministries