Saturday, June 25, 2016

A 'Remainer' Reflects on the Referendum Vote

Change can be unnerving. Britain faces a massive change following the referendum vote this week in which a small majority voted to leave the European Union. So the UK and the EU will go their separate ways and nobody can foretell what the outcome of that choice will be for good or ill. After more than 40 years of entanglement with the European project under its various names or formats, it will not be easy to find wriggle-room and pull away. The tendrils of the EU will surely be with the UK for a few years to come while this divorce takes place. Some people fear the whole process and are worrying about what is to become of their future now.

One thing is clear - there will be no going back from this vote. The decision taken this week will now determine the UK's direction for the foreseeable future and beyond. Our children and grandchildren will feel the outcome for good or ill. So, how should a Christian react to these critical events?

Fear is never healthy or helpful in our lives, no matter what is causing the heart to be afraid. That's why the Bible tells us 'don't be afraid' 365 times - once for every day and a spare one for leap years! God is still on His throne and does not plan to vacate it soon, whatever votes may be taken on earth. The Bible also teaches us that He has a plan for us that is for our good (Jeremiah 29:11 'I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord - 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future!'). This knowledge has been a mainstay for me through all the troubles I have seen, and I believe it can also help you to overcome fear.

This is also the time for us to increase our fervent intercession and prayer for the leaders and potential leaders of the UK. It is rightly said that evil triumphs when good people do nothing, and we need to pray for the nation now more than ever.

Our little island of Guernsey has done very well outside the EU (as one French foreign ministry spokesperson acknowledged this week) and the UK can do so too. Now, more than ever though, we need the peace of God that passes all understanding to keep hearts secure through a time of change, and a sincere trust in the living God who wants to guide us all, whether in or out of the EU.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dealing with Disappointment

Waiting is never easy. It can cause immense disappointment when you get 'psyched up' to have a major operation, for instance, and then it is postponed. That's the situation I am in now and it is really tough to handle.Our working-up visit to Newcastle went well, and after seeing people in 9 different areas in 3 different hospitals it really seemed that the op. booked to take place on June 23rd 2016 would go ahead as planned. I was dreading the surgery but really hoping for the new start it could well give me, - and then suddenly - STOP - well you can imagine how I felt. Apparently I am not sufficiently recovered from the acute attack that put me in hospital for 3 weeks after Easter to allow the Professor to proceed as scheduled. Now, instead of going for it next week, we will have to have scans in August and subject to those showing marked improvement, the surgery could take place in September.

Some few years ago I was asked to lead a seminar at Elim Bible Week on the subject of "Dealing with Disappointment"!  Well this week, in the spirit of the old saying "physician, heal thyself!" I have been dusting down my notes for that seminar and reading them again. I said then that among the weapons that we have to help us cope with disappointment is learning to trust that God is in charge and is working out some unseen but beneficial plan for us in love. I quoted the famous prayer of Reinhard Niebuhr:
'God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference'.  My disappointment is certainly in the camp of 'things I cannot change' and I need to let go and let God have his way in my life.

Another thing that can help in this fierce battle with disappointment is learning to embrace mystery, and along with it, the power of stillness and rest. It's not that I am worked up about this - amazingly I feel quite at peace about it - but that is something I have to choose and work at each day of the long waiting period.

So if you are disappointed, I hope that you might find help in what I am sharing here today, and the realisation that although these things do happen for us, Jesus is not a disappointment and he has "got our back" and is silently planning for us in love.