Saturday, October 03, 2015

Truth Trimmers

As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Luke 9:57-58)

I came across this verse yesterday.  My daily study is based on some of the middle chapters of Luke’s gospel.  It’s about navigating the ups and downs of life.  The disciples had some incredible ups followed by some miserable downs – much like myself in recent weeks.

Nearly 40 years ago I was that someone saying to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” He didn’t talk to me about fox dens and birds’ nests.  I knew about the part of having no place to lay my head. The journey he called me to make, then, and now, is not one of comfort and physically putting down roots or settling somewhere.  The journey always remains a journey.

The safe place in that journey isn’t in a house or a home, or a secure 9-5 job (with weekends off!).  The safe place is Jesus and He doesn’t make His travel plans according to my whims and fancies.  His priorities need to become mine.

Yesterday was not such a good day.  At work we were fundraising for McMillan Cancer Support. I know what cancer is and why we were raising funds but I spent a few minutes at the start of the day flicking around their website and watching videos of some of the personal stories.  I have my own personal story, not of surviving cancer, but of watching someone else not survive.  It surprised me to realise that it was seven years ago, not just three or four.  Time moves on.

I tracked down my blog entries for that time and found loss and grief, and humour and laughter.  It was not all dark.  But it was a lonely time.  My family don’t live nearby and my friends mostly didn’t know what to do or say.  There wasn’t a fox den or a bird’s nest, a place of peace or rest, built for such a time.

Things happen in the world. Bad things happen. Last week I went to a book signing evening.  A friend had published a book about the Holocaust. There are always untold stories still to be unearthed.  My friend had talked to survivors and written down accounts of their experiences.  Throughout the pages of her book she had sprinkled her poetry. It was more of a memorial of an old ill rather than a celebration of a new book.

A few lines of poetry came to me as I watched the power point presentation

they took my shoes

what use have you of shoes when
you stand on holy ground?

There are no easy answers to satisfy the questions asked about the Holocaust.  In the midst of great suffering there are no easy answers to any questions about the presence of God, the love of God or the omnipotence of God. There isn’t a one-size-fit-all answer to any of it.

There is a sense in which we, as Christians, inhabit a spiritual no-man’s land. We are convinced God loves us and is able to do the impossible – but sometimes the scenery we find ourselves in doesn’t match the truth that we know. 

For some of us it changes the way we look at God – He is a shade less loving or powerful.  We don’t say it out loud, but deep down we think it and it alters the way we live our lives. We cut the truth to suit our circumstances. Trimming the truth is never a good policy.

I know I have the potential to be a truth trimmer which us why I commit myself to reading God’s word as honestly as I can.  I have to choose to surrender the spiritual scissors. 

I might not have the defined space and the fixed boundaries a fox den or a bird’s nest – but I have Jesus.  He is my defined space and my fixed boundary. He knows all the answers and because I am with Him, I am secure and it is enough.

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