Sunday, March 14, 2010

Well, Well, Well....

I had a very interesting experience this evening on the way home from work the other day. It wasn't the wonderful sight of the setting Sun as I passed through the rural back roads (although that said, it was truly spectacular that night - a ruby red orb serenely hanging above the horizon). No, the experience to which I am referring to relates directly to some of the issues I referred to in my previous post.

Before I go any further let me affirm here and now that I am not a man who believes in coincidences... not really.

On Thursday lunch time, I skipped the reading in my Bible notes and thought to myself that I would stop off at church on the way home and read them there instead. Come 5:40pm I was very tired and sorely tempted to head off down the easy, more direct route home along the A46; however I decided to stick with my earlier decision and travel through Wilmcote towards church.

As always at that time of day, the church was quiet... and I made my way inside with my Bible notes. I looked at the reference at the top of the page and was utterly astonished.

The reading for the day was this:

"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."
Genesis 2:15-25

It totally blew my socks off, and if you're reading this having followed on from my previous post, I'm sure the amazing parallel won't be lost on you either.

Yes, it's exactly the same passage that triggered my angst filled February... but it didn't affect me in the same way at all. So apart from the fresh resolve I adopted towards the end of that last post... what has changed? How has a passage that has caused me so much angst in the past 30 days suddenly become something else so suddenly?

Context is everything. Same passage, different time, different place, different thought being presented to me.

You see I find that the sanctuary at Great Alne Church is a great "thin place". It's a place I feel I can go to in peace and solitude and know that I am in the uninterrupted presence of God (yes I know God is accessible in all places through Jesus, but I'm sure we all have places that we strongly associate with God's presence in our lives).

Equally importantly, I was alone and not bouncing off other people's thoughts. So there was peace outside and inside.

I feel like Elijah on Mount Horeb. February was the earthquake, wind and fire... God's attention getter. March (the beginning of it at least), has presented me with the still, small voice of calm. You'll notice that for both Elijah and myself, God addressed the situation with the same point before and afterwards (don't worry I'm not getting delusional and comparing myself to Elijah).

I have once again got to give thanks to the words of the late Selwyn Hughes, which as always when I find myself in these spots of bother, strike home at just the right point and in timely fashion.

Selwyn writes these words:

Loneliness is the feeling of being bereft of human companionship, the sadness that comes through the loss of a loved one or the failure to find a close and loving friend. Some Christians hold the view that all loneliness is a sin. One Christian writer says of loneliness: "If a Christian is lonely, then it means he or she is not walking with the living God; if they were, then we could never feel lonely. Loneliness is therefore a sin - a refusal to accept the companionship of God."

Personally I find such reasoning unacceptable. It is possible to walk with God and yet feel bereft of human companionship - thus lonely. Adam walked with God and although we do not read that he was "lonely", God clearly saw the possibility of this and, as our text today points out, provided a companion and a helper for him.
    I felt acknowledged. I really felt that God was drawing alongside me and saying... "Where you are now? Where you have been? It's okay, it's not held against you and I am with you in this."

    Just that simple act has shunted me in a positive manner. I was offered the opportunity to go out with an old friend the other night. Normally I'd have been my elusive self, but I had to concede to myself that if I've been so vocal about the fact people seem to be on a train running in a parallel direction to me but not noticing me banging on the window trying to get hold of them.... that when someone does start knocking back, only a fool would spurn the opportunity.

    So I went and was rewarded with another dose of healing medicine. One of my great fears and concerns when around other people, is that there are so few people who "get" me. However I  was surprised to discover that I am not alone as I think (or admittedly like to think sometimes). There are people out there who have my wavelength... and as few as those people may seem to be, now if I have found one or two... then I can have confidence that there are more out there. The only catch is that as unapparent as I am on the surface, those people are equally so.

    So I am now at peace once more and have had some of my initial optimism for 2010 restored to me. I also don't feel as restrained and restricted and believe in my heart that as unseen as things are, God is definitely working for me in this situation.

    I feel energized once more... and don't feel like I'm wading through toffee.

    It's good to be back.

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