Friday, October 29, 2010

A Fist Unfurled

Last evening our house-group came to call.  They wanted to pray with Diane and I before we set off for hospital in London.  We had a short but special time together reminding ourselves of God's promises and being the family of God.  Toward the end I had a picture in my mind of an upraised fist.  It seemed to me that this angry gesture was waving in the face of God.  I felt that God was showing me this so that we all could just examine our hearts, and especially me, to see if our attitude towards God at this time was the right one.  Now don't get me wrong - I don't think that God was saying that there is no place for anger in our lives.  Anyone who has read my book Storm Force will know that there is a whole chapter in it about the appropriateness and normality of anger when facing storms of all kinds.  Yet there is a good anger and a bad anger, a healthy anger and an unhealthy anger.

When I shared this picture with the group, one of them said that she was just going to read the verse Psalm 4:4 'Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.' which is very similar to Paul's advice in Ephesians 4:26 'Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath'. So it seemed that the Holy Spirit was trying to get through to us. The well known Christian writer and quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada has said 'Any crisis is meant to awaken us to the reality of God, His nearness, His care, His presence and His ever-present help' yet in my experience it is so hard to hold on to that kind of perspective.  My own battle with ill health is nothing compared to the conditions being faced right now by Christians in places like Iraq and Zimbabwe yet many of them have found it possible to keep trusting God in the most appalling circumstances and to remain hopeful and free from bitterness.  I aspire to those great goals... but hey, am I alone in saying that going is tough?  How should we respond?

The picture in my mind began to change.  The fist unfurled and the hand opened up, fingers flexing and extending.  God was showing me my part in the process, small as that may be.  He wants us to open up our hands to receive his amazing love, relax our anxious accusations and let go of our fears, worshipping and trusting him alone.  As Joni went on to say ''Will we allow the truth of God's promises to change the way we see life, with all its challenges and obstacles?  To ease our fears and calm our anxieties?  To give us hope and confidence when there doesn't seem to be any earthly reason for either?' (A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty)  As the group left our home last evening I felt more determined than ever to see God's perspective on yes even next week's trial, and to turn my fist into an open hand.  How about you?