Getting Saved!

I can barely let the 17th October pass without some reflection on the anniversary of my conversion…or at least the beginning of my conversion!  I will never forget it and it is etched on my mind as a distinctive turning point, a decisive moment which has shifted the direction of my life more than once, but certainly then.

What was it that moved me towards following Jesus?  Deep satisfaction and questioning the meaning of it all as a 15 year old boy with a head older than his years.  The love, compassion and acceptance of a loving church family, the likes of which I’d never experienced. The engaging teaching of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel (which is as far as I had got in my little red Gideon’s bible from school) and the inescapably fascinating character of Jesus himself, who, it was claimed, could ‘save’ me.

Save me he did.  I understood it simply then, and whilst that simple trust remains, I am now much more aware of the vastness and significance of that work he began in me back then.  He saved me, largely, from self-destructive tendencies.  He saved me from wandering listlessly through life.  He has given purpose, direction and a life goal second to none for me.  He saved me from a crippling sense of alone-ness and I’ve honestly never been unaware of his presence…even when life has taken me to the depths I’ve know for real that ‘underneath are his everlasting arms.’

I never have to sit down and make all this up, because it’s the living reality of my every day.  I don’t always find it easy to understand how God is so apparently vague to one person and totally not to another, but this is Mystery we are dealing with here and I guess if we could explain it all we’d not be dealing with any God at all.  But ultimately, I believe God can be known at least in part…and enough to open the vaults of transformation for every person.

My faith has not remained static over the years.  There have been shifts in revelation, understanding, theology and perspective but when all is said and done, I know that I remain held in an embrace that is much bigger than my own and that makes room for all sorts of possibilities.  I don’t think my experience is rare or restricted – I believe he invites everyone into this same embrace, however understood.  My life’s goal is simply this: that others might encounter him too.

I am so thankful for these 21 years.  I’m trusting him with the rest.

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Passion

What is firing you up at the moment?

What moves you?

What is giving your life purpose and meaning?

Those are good questions, but also fundamentally challenging ones if you find yourself in a bit of a no-mans-land.  I’m certainly not running adrift, and I’m keeping quite healthy these days, but there are still large questions of passion, vision and that all elusive concept of ‘calling’ hanging around.

There are definitely times in my life when I could have answered those questions straight away, and certainly some of the answers are still intact, but the challenge is expression and means for output.  Bearing in mind I’m just coming out the other side of radically changed plans where I sensed I was really going to be able to put all my passions to play, its been a hard road adjusting to relative low key alternatives.

For me, I have to accept the reality that I seem to be removed from all the things that were natural passions.  I have a keen sense of exile still, and for reasons I can’t put my finger on.  I’m not so much kicking against it, but I’m certainly seeking to listen to God in the midst of it.  What is this new season saying?  Where will it lead?  What do I have the opportunity to learn?

For what its worth, here is what is coming to the forefront for me at the moment:

1)  Renewed vision of prayer.  I’ve been struggling with old paradigms of prayer that are more akin to hocus-pocus than rooted and grounded prayer.  For me, prayer is about receiving God’s gaze, and then returning it.  In other words, keeping a good perspective on God’s view of me and then seeking to understand what God’s heart is.  That SHOULD then inform life.  I firmly believe that God answers more prayer through us acting on our revelation of God’s heart than he does through divine interventions.  I believe he does do stuff in the world, but also have a greater sense that he moves us to action from the place of prayer to work for Kingdom transformation.  So, engaging in this contemplative action approach to life needs to be a renewed focus if I am to hear what God would have me do in the here and now, in this period of life.

2) Building community.  I have to confess that I’m passionate about helping churches be less churchy!  Formality can be the enemy of transformation and I’m doing what I can to bring warmth and increased sense of community where I am.  The worship stuff still happens, as does the administrative purposes – they will always happen in organisations – but community doesn’t always just happen.  It has to be build and developed.  People don’t join organisations, I believe they join meaningful communities.  Where I am, we need to work on that.  Having said that, we must always guard against our ideas of community being a barrier to community.  We need to remind that we are as much human as we are divine, if not more so!

3)  Life.  This is a very personal one.  Many years of heavy ins and outs of depressive episodes are currently in the process of being broken.  I’ve known the darkness of not wanting to live.  But, I’ve been considerably healthier this yearn for loads of reasons, but mainly because I think I’ve started to live more.  Savour more.  Enjoy more.  Rest more.  All that has meant I’ve become more productive and maybe even a bit more balanced, although I need to let others judge that one!  I’m frightfully aware that life is bloody short.  I’m also aware that it is wonderfully fused with meaning and significance and that we’re not just waiting around for glory.  Instead, glory comes to us when we are living fully alive.  God is in the business of transformation and although I can’t imagine the details, I believe that God will renew it all and so every moment lived in the light of his Kingdom is all working towards that transformation.  This is the source of our hope.

Finally, all my old passions for tackling poverty are alive but not finding a ready outlet and I feel moved to be exploring how I can continue to keep that passion active.

So, what about you?