Life and Death

Our visitor at the weekend mentioned a Catherine Booth quote that I hadn’t come across. He said the source of it was in Harold Begbie’s biography of William Booth and she is supposed to have said it on her death bed.

Apparently, she said (to her daughter Kate) “Why can God not keep a thing pure for more than a generation?” That’s a striking quote, isn’t it? At first it seems like a confession of defeat, of despair, a dark curse against her Father. She is clearly lamenting the Army, which at that point (the time of her death) was only 25 years old (ish) as The Army. She was obviously disturbed at what she was seeing.

I think the answer to her question doesn’t exactly come back to God, it comes back to the conditional promises that God makes to his people. God can’t keep a thing pure because people often mess things up…don’t we all?

I’m as guilty as the rest in this and its always the challenge, especially when you’re not operating at your fittest, to maintain the hope to speak hope instead of despair.

On the way back from the airport today, I was thinking about Ezekiel and his dry bones. God tells him to prophesy to the bones….Ezekiel doubts that they can live. God places him amongst the bones, the stakes get higher because he then realises that the bones are dryer than even what he had imagined. But God insists, ‘prophesy to the bones’ and he duly does. He begins to see flesh and sinews come upon the bones and they live, standing to their feet as a vast and mighty army.

I remembered Elijah after Carmel who always had to work out God’s purposes in the hard place. John the Baptist was forged in the desert. Jesus himself laboured in a culture devoid of moisture due to critical pharisee-ism.

We learn from Jesus, of course, who seemed to be able to speak life as well as curse the unfruitful fig tree. We can’t look at Jesus ministry and say there wasn’t time he spoke death to a thing…he didn’t always speak life, so it seems. The challenge lies in determining what you speak death to and what you speak life to.

In this, we’re all learning. In this, we can all inherit prophet syndrome and lose sight, but equally, we CAN all learn from Jesus when it is right to speak life and when it is time to speak death.

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