H. Two. OH!

At the moment, I’m paddling.

My entire life has been spent in church, or at church-related events, once to twice a week, ’round the calendar.  I reached a point a couple of months ago where I felt “all sermoned out”.  As my pastor put it, it was never supposed to be about what I should be doing, but about what I could have.  At that point, however, I just couldn’t feel it.  Gone was the gratitude for 43 years of free, high-quality regular “professional” development; I just wanted to be told, “You know what?  He did it all for you.  You’re free.”  Because all I could hear, good intentions notwithstanding, was “You haven’t attained this yet, and that yet, and don’t even start me on the other.”  Again, hear me, it wasn’t supposed to be a beat-up; it was meant as “look what else is on this buffet! come and eat!”  But things just aren’t clear when you’re on a precipice.  And my precipices are certainly not my pastor’s fault.  He’s a good man. 🙂

So I’m paddling.  And what I mean by that is this.  I am a missionaries’ daughter.  I grew up in a fishbowl.  More, I am a New Zealander.  I’ll never be sure if my lifestyle of looking over my shoulder to see who’s watching and judging, comes from the MK, the NZ, the NLC, the AOG, my tall-poppy-a-phobe high school, or if it’s just my quirky family, or if it’s just quirky me!  But that’s how I am.  Put on a good display, Beck.  Oh, and make it real.  It can’t justlook real.  That’s hypocrisy.  No, you have to make it real.  Make God look good.  He is, even if you’re not.  So honour Him.  Be SEEN to be honouring Him.  People are watching.  At Sunday School.  At church.  At youth.  On the church Board.  At school.  At work.  On the bus.  On the stage.  You should be better than this.  You should be past this.  You should be maturer than this.  You should be bigger.  You should set a good example.  You should be more unselfish.  If you’re enjoying your incredibly inconsistent and lame-lengthed Bible reading, you’re probably doing it wrong.  If you can’t pray for more than 2 minutes without your slippery-as-soap ADD of a mind straying, you’re a pretty poor daughter.  You should give, do, be, think, pray, read, serve more.  Should, should, should, should, should!

Why did I never attribute this drive of a voice – this voice of accusation – to the Accuser?

The truth is that God gives grace to the humble.  And there’s nothing more humbling for a Christian than trying to live with the realisation that you’re not very good at it.  In theory, that’s all of us.  But rather than berate our lack of strength, in Matthew 5 Jesus concedes our weakness and blesses it.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” He says – and I imagine all the times I’ve responded on altar calls, pushing past the thought that everyone now knows I am greedy and needy and pathetic and a failure at whatever I’m responding for – “for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  In fact, it’s the very first Beatitude.  He goes on, escalating as He does.  Mourning, meekness, the thirst for righteousness in those parched with the dust of failure – all these are encompassed in His vast understanding embrace.  The time for shaping will come.  But the day of small beginnings, the day of coming in feeling pathetic, grief-stricken, wordless and grubby, should never be despised.  The Kindgom of Heaven is populated with those who cannot help themselves.  It’s the leveller.

(The other truth is, of course, that nobody really gives a rat’s what Rebekah Robinson’s church-stock level is, because everybody is flat-out dealing with their own guff!)

There’s a passage in Ezekiel 47 where the angel? Christophany? shows the prophet the River of God, flowing out of the Temple.

The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple … he measured off 530m and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another 530m and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another 530m and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another530m, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in – a river that no one could cross.  He asked me, ‘Son of man, do you see this?’ 

Some other time, I’ll explore the implied threshhold covenant, which is an exciting concept all in itself, and the use of that wonderful phrase “Son of Man”.  My point is this: the life of God is flowing, and it’s nobody else’s business whether I’m floating in the depth of the current, or diving, or attempting the 500m backstroke, or doing handstands.  Right now He just takes my hand and says, “Come paddle with Me in the shallows for a bit.  Don’t worry about what it looks like to others.  I know you can swim.  The depth is between you and Me.”

The beautiful thing about the shallows is that only in the shallows can you take the time to turn over rocks.  You can see all the little coloured pebbles and the shells and the sparkle of the glass-faceted grains of sand, or the cilli on the fronds of emerald moss waving its languid dance at the Saviour.  You can watch light making liquid lace.  You can spend all day catching cockabillies.  And the shallows go for a long distance – half a k.  Plenty of scope.  Plenty of room.  It suggests that even dabbling in the life of God yields rich rewards, though the payoff downriver is beyond imagining.  Undergirding all that rushing, heady current further on is the same beautiful aquatic tapestry as the shallows, but it’s less noticeable.  It’s a fine thing to lose your head in the exultant cataract, but know what’s underneath it all.

It’s nobody’s business if our day of small beginnings is a long, long day in the dappled sun, in those broad rippling shallows.  For He meets us there, as He would any of His children, and with endless patience reveals to us the secret treasures of His Kingdom.

To be continued …

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