Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Bird Watching

Hi... i wanna write today about Bird Watching...

now for those who know me, NO i am not talking about the female variety, but the tweety creatures that live in trees. Here is a pic of where i do my bird watching :) From the large windows in my house i can see Blackbirds, Robins, Tits (hehe, still makes me laugh), Pigeons, Magpies and the well known demonically possessed seagulls who do the largest poops on my car, that you have ever seen.

What i have noticed is that these birds always seem to have a sense of purpose. (even if it is to frustrate the hell out of me by deafcing my car evry day). I have not slowed much to take time and watch this kind of nature before, but it is amazing how in their own way they are actively creating, building, storing and observing.

What i imagine is that they are not sitting around thinking, 'oh damn i didn't get that nest built in time'.. 'crap i forgot to marinate the worms when i left the nest this morning', or ' if only i could be on a nice palm branch somewhere'.

I have noted recently that i spend a huge amount of time thinking about the future and sometime in the past and do not spend a huge deal of time in the here and now.
I am becoming increasingly conscious of ' The Moment'.

Matthew6 vs25-26 ' I tell you not to worry about your life. Don't worry about having something to eat or drink or wear. Isn't life more important than food or clothing? Look at the birds of the sky! They don't plant or harvest. They don't store in barns. Yet your father in heaven takes care of them. Aren't you worth more than birds?'

Linked to the last blog about suffering i ask the question when reading this, ' well yeah but some people don't have food to eat at all and they are not taken care of... shouldn't they worry??'

On further thought and reading though i don't think that is what is being said here. Jeff Lucus points out.. that this passage does not mean we should not think about practical stuff, and give no thought to material things.. "My bird lodgers are industrius and busy and the bible is quite blunt about laziness...Jesus calls us away from a superficial obsession with stuff, away for settlng from mere survival, into a life of real significance and purpose "

Like the birds i want to be free from this kind of worry, kinda living in the moment. When people say life is for living and we need to make the most of every moment, i wonder how much those people spend thought and energy worrying about the moments looming the next day?? In a time right now, which for some is extremely tense, with looming reeundancy and economic collapse, i think these words are especially helpful. Lets focus on what we can change/do. Lets focus on the here and now, knowing God is with us no matter how hard it gets. This refusal to worry does not come naturally.
Worry produces anxiety and that is not a helpful thing to carry around with us. I am trying my best to lower my anxiety, take a breath and watch how the birds do it.

"Don't worry about tomorrow, it will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today" Matt6vs34

Thursday, 11 December 2008

A long suffering one...

i can not believe how many times i have been asked in recent weeks about suffering. it is also the key theme of the book "The Shack" that i am reading.
Why does God allow it?
Why would God answer your prayer for a parking space and not the cry of a little girl about to be abused by her father?

There are answers that people think are cop outs, there are suggestions that go part way and other thoughts that satisfy us for now.

The clear answer is we don't know. God knows. I think the question is more 'Do we trust God?'
If we don't believe in God we don't really need to ask the question or get flustered about someone having an opinion about why God does allow things. It is simply then part of nature and fairness does not come into it.

Why do we blame God? When we think about it, many of the monstrosities done in the world are in the hands of humans and some less obvious, cancer for example... how do we know what really gives us this. Something in the food maybe (artificial agents), the deodorant we use (aluminum), the chewing gum (aspartame)?? Who knows.
If you believe in karma you would believe anything bad that happens to us is deserved from a former life.

But okay why doesn’t God intervene when bad things do happen?
Why did he create pain in the first place?

When I think back to the summer before last, I recount an incident on a beach in Cyprus where a 4 year old boy was dragged out of the water in front of me, possibly unconscious for sometime his frail little body… still. I remember hearing a voice in me saying, go over and pray for him, touch his body and he will be restored. I didn’t. Others tried to resuscitate him but failed, he was dead. The next day I was reading my book. The first thing I read was ‘we need to trust God as we would trust that breathing life into a body can revive it’. Were these words mere coincidence? My heart sank. Could I have done something about this little boy, it brings tears to my eyes now. I don’t know. When I was 14 we were holidaying in France, My best friend Jonny saw a man in trouble in the water, I thought he was joking and ignored it. The next thing we saw screaming from the beach, my mother and I rushed to see a mans head bobbing up and down 200 metres out, we went to swim to try and help but the current was too strong and I turned my mother back, we spent time on the beach my mum consoling his newly wedded wife. His body was found 23 miles up the coast the next day. Could I have stopped it? I don’t know. Could God have, I don’t know? What possible good could be in that?

In Dr.larry Crabb’s book, ‘Moving through your problems toward God’, he helps me with these questions…

I Have spent my entire life trying to understand people and life…. And I have learnt much, but some things lie far beyond human comprehension. Godly parents lose their children to drugs ,suicide and materialism. Good families are torn apart by unresolvable tensions. LIFE IS SO MADDENING, so stubbornly uncooperative with our best efforts to reduce it to a straightline, cause and effect flow chart. When I allow myself to think deeply about it I realise I can’t guarantee that someone I love will not take his or her own life. Some things I can do will lower the probabilities, but playing the odds is not very comforting. If people were to balance everyday demonstrations of Gods kindness against evidences of divine indifference, and then determine their level of trust by the position of the scales, very few joyfully confident, exuberantly committed Christians would be running about. ….. ‘

He goes onto say how he has seen some horrendous things with seemingly no clear good emerging, utterly senseless, random and without redeemable usefulness. ‘ I have seen a godly woman contract a rare disease after enduring a dead marriage for many years, I have seen a happy young family torn into despair when the father accidentally backed the car over his three year old son’

I feel this is a deep issue that we each need to grapple with. I don’t think I can do justice what is written so well in books like the above.

I feel to some it is to apportion blame on someone because when we are faced with suffering in the world, We either ask ourselves, 'what can i do?' 'am i to blame?' This leaves us in a place of guilt which we don't like or we can quickly project blame elsewhere.

Maybe this for some does not get God off the hook and before we could possibly believe or trust in a God that cares, we have to ask the question why did he not care for that person we loved, or that helpless child??

I feel that this is where forgiveness comes in. Blame often comes from anger. There is nothing wrong with anger. Also everything is right with Justice. However, to appoint ourselves judge is not The Way. It is God’s job and actually God wants to heal and redeem even the most sick individual.
Matthew 6 verse14 – 'If you forgive others for the wrong they do to you your father in heaven will forgive you'.
Matthew 7 vs 1- ‘Don’t condemn others and God won’t condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are to others’

Also it can take years and a long journey for someone to forgive someone who has hurt them or someone they love. Even when they do forgive this does not always restore trust in that person or even mean that you now have relationship with them. But most psychologist agree that not forgiving someone damages us.

i think the reason i would ask God for a parking space (and i laugh when i do) is that i believe he cares about everything i do. The reason i would stop eating for a day to pray for a sick friend is because I HOPE God hears me and intervenes. But that is up to him. I wish I knew if I could do anything different to save people. I know I can do a lot more than I do now to save those starving and dying in pain every minute.

I wonder if actually the question of why does God allow suffering is partly a consumer idea? The concept that God is there for something we can get from him, rather than something/someone to be praised and adored? The opposite to asking what has God done for me? is what can i do for him? The opposite of hating God and blaming is to Love God and spend time trying to get to know him, ask the questions but give a chance to respond.

I don’t want to be contrite or insensitive…what is more important is that we ask the questions, don’t ignore the pain, face it, hard as it might be. Unforgiveness holds us back

God …

Breathe in me… deep
That I might breathe… and live
And hold me close that I might sleep
Soft held by all you give

Come kiss me wind and take my breath
Till you and I are one
And we will dance among the tombs
Until all death is gone

And no-one knows that we exist
Wrapped in each others arms
Except the one that blew the breath
And keeps me safe from harm

Addtional thought
I wonder if actually the question of why does God allow suffering is partly a consumer idea? The concept that God is there for something we can get from him, rather than something/someone to be praised and adored? The opposite to asking what has God done for me? is what can i do for him? The opposite of hating God and blaming is to Love God and spend time trying to get to know him, ask the questions but give a chance to respond.

Life is a journey… we can journey with or without God. With, is not the easy way out. Facing pain is not easy. But it is easier to face pain with God than without.

A journey with God is a road marked with suffering, the road less travelled. (see M Scott Peck)