Honest Christianity – give God a chance

nativity

Sally preached this morning on Joseph from the lectionary gospel reading (Matthew 1.18-25). She pointed out that Joseph was committed to a course of action, quietly divorcing Mary. In many ways, this in its self could be seen and understood as a virtuous even godly act. But before he acts on his decision he sleeps on it. Sleeping on it gives God a chance to speak, Joseph has a dream and comes away with a new conclusion, he should marry Mary not divorce her (engagement at that time was a legally binding contract. God wants him to do something different to his original idea.

I wonder if Joseph prayed before he went to sleep for God to speak to him? What ever happened, the way Matthew describes the story, consciously or inadvertently Joseph gives God the opportunity to intervene, speak and guide.

This seems a very sensible way for us to live. When we have important, life-changing decisions, that we give God the opportunity to speak to us. This may not be in a dream, but by other means – someone may speak to us, we may read something, glimpse something on the media we use, or one of those amazing co-incidences that just must be God may happen which cause us to think again.

When we felt God was calling us to move to the city we were not quite sure which city! We investigated several and then Sally had a dream and in that dream Floyd McClung said that moving to Birmingham was a great thing to do. Sally woke up believing that God had spoken as at that time as Floyd was one of those people whose ministry we both respected and admired. It wasn’t quite an angel speaking but it came close for us!

Has God led you in a new path in an unexpected way? We would love to hear about it!

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9 thoughts on “Honest Christianity – give God a chance

  1. I spent a long time hoping and praying that God would speak, directly or indirectly, during the years where I sought to battle my doubts and find a way to reconcile a powerful, loving, caring father God together with the darkness of depression, selfharm and suicidality… After over 6years (and completing my cym degree) I still couldn’t make sense of it and still to me God was silent.

    So I wondered, what if God isn’t all that the bible and theology promises? what if there is no God at all?

    Without that glimmer of hope that one day God would speak giving me some answer or resolution to the fact I wished I would not wake up each morning, my world crashed in and I had to give up fighting to believe in God for fighting to keep myself alive each day.

    Often, sleeping on it (my thoughts and plans) was all I could do to survive.

    I no longer believe that there could be a God, perhaps my faith was not strong enough, my fasting and praying not sure enough but I had to let it go. But this doesn’t change the longing for an answer, a reason to carry on living when every day I wake up wishing I hadn’t…

    I have reached the end of the road, it is now a case of holding back the darkness in whatever way I can.
    After a lifetime of holding out for that dream, all want to do is make it all stop.

    I’m sorry. Please delete this comment if you don’t want it to remain part of your discussion

    • Reading what you write makes me cry (as well as having a look at your blog), I have no words, I don’t understand why God is silent and I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be. It wouldn’t be in the spirit of what we are trying to do with honest Christianity to delete your comment. I will continue to pray for light in your darkness if that’s okay.

  2. Before I reply to this post I would like to say well done and thank the person above for being so real and sharing what you did (sorry I do not know your name). I don’t think you have anything to be sorry for and your reply should certainally remain part of this conversation as you are being totally real about how your life is/has been. So many people would never admidt to questioning the reality of God. I am sorry you are in such a dark place but glad that you still have that sense of longing. I wish I had some answers for you and could make it all better. Try to keep reading this blog and keep being real-God will really honour and respect that even if at the moment you can not feel him with you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers particularly over Christmas.

  3. There are many examples I could give of how God has led me on new/unexpected paths but I will give 2 examples both of which are very significant in my Christian journey.

    The first was when I was a patient on the childrens ward at a local hospital shortly after my 15th birthday. I had spent a year of going in and out of hospital, at times quite ill (I basically stopped going to school at the end of yr 9). At the time I would have called myself Christian. I came from a Christian home and went to Girls’ Brigade but I hadn’t ever gone to church regularlly. There was a yearning in me to know more but I didnot have what I would now describe as an active Christian faith. I couldn’t understand why I (or other people) was ill and most of all why the drs didn’t just make me better. I was ill all the time for 2+ yrs, but every time I became worse and had to go to hospital more questions formed in my head. I just wanted to be a ‘normal’ teenager. I started to pray that God would make me better but he didn’t. Things became very difficult as I (along with other children/yp) was being abused by 2 of the staff. It started off just as emotional abuse but esculated (a member of staff was later sacked). I felt confused, scared, angry, lost and alone. I didn’t know where to turn. It got to a point where I was almost suicidal…I never wanted to kill myself but was scared I would. I didn’t really see any alternative…I couldn’t go on living like this and didn’t see how things could get better when the very people who were meant to be helping were doing this to me. My parents were aware of some of the abuse but not the extent. They wanted to discharge me but I was too scared…despite all the hurt I still had to believe in something, and that was that the drs would make me better. I was scared that if I went home I would never get better and also that it would be easier to kill myself. I wrote my parents a letter telling them how I felt and wouldn’t speak to them for 24hrs…I still feel guilty at what I must have put them through. In the end I decided to pray. I had reached the point of thinking there couldn’t be a God so I simply prayed, “If you are real then do something to help”. The next morning I was told I was being transfered to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. I didn’t realise it straight away but this was definitly an answer to prayer. God led me from the edge of suicide to a place of hope. The staff at GOSH were fantastic. They could’t instantly make me better but first and foremost they treated me as a young person, not as an illness (or someone to abuse). We’d have waterfights with seringes, stay up late with the nurses watching tv and I was given some much more age appropriate education (when well enough) as well as social opportunities like scouts and the radio station…I was allowed to be me. Looking back that was when my real relationship with Christ started. Ultimatly he saved my life and as soon as I was well enough my first priority was to start going to church!

    I’ll try to be briefer with the second example! This came when I was 19 and was doing a Christian gap year. I had always hated education and certainally had no intention to go to uni. As part of the year we did some modules from a Spurgeons college diploma. Our tutor asked us the 3 of us in one of the sessions what we intended doing at the end of the year. I had my plans mapped out so found it easy to answer. He then really annoyed me by saying he thought God was calling me to study with CYM. I told him not to be stupid and that I had no intention of doing a degree. He kept pestering me about it and it really bugged me especially as he didn’t suggest it to my 2 friends, neither of whom had any plans. In the end I agreed to phone up and ask for a prospectus and application form just to shut him up! I remember how mad I was at God the moment I opened the prospectus as he really seemed to be speaking to me through what I read…but I DIDN’T want to do a degree. In the end I sent the application form in to try and shut God up (I have since learnt that he doesn’t really work like that!). I prayed that I wouldn’t be accepted…that would prove everyone (including God) wrong and prove me right! Deep down I thought it couldn’t be God speaking to me and that I must be imagining it…hence thinking I wouldn’t be acepted. When asked in one of my interviews why I wanted to study with CYM I said I didn’t. Much to my horror a letter then arrived offering me a place. I accepted it, which led to 3 of the best, really challenging, God-fillled and most transforming years of my life.

    There is a lot else I could share but I will end by saying that due to illness I am currently on quite a dark and challenging path. I am not able to be living the life I hoped and dreamed of. For 5yrs I have prayed that God will heal me. Like in my teenage years I am frustrated and confused. I long to serve God but don’t know how. I have learnt that God works in unexpected ways though and will use all our experiences for his glory. I await to see which paths he leads me on…albeit rather inpatiently! If anyone has any ideas please let me know!!

    • It certainally is challenging although having been in hospital alot myself (and at at a hospice with Mummy) along with having worked at GOSH I know that many people are far worse off than me. There is so much I do not understand and probably never will. One thing that I do know though is that God is with me even at the darkest of times when I may not be able to feel his presence. I know how much he has used the experiences of things I have been through to enable me to support and relate to others in the past. That is something which has really helped make sence of my life. My current frustration is of not being well enough to be actively involved in ministry…something I long for so much. As months and years pass by, it is just as if my whole life is being wasted and I question if I am doing something wrong? Is there a reason for this? I simply don’t know. I think society in general struggles with long term illness so it is easy to just become forgotten. Thank you for the hope you help give me through yr blog. Although I have probably had to spend about 80+% of the last year in a darkened room, you have helped bring light into that place…being a Christian presence and guiding my focus firmly back to God.

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