The urgency of waiting

I am not at the top of the list of ‘successful meditators’ nor of ‘creative poets’ but I woke yesterday morning to the words ‘the urgency of waiting’ which I understood was highlighting the need to wait amidst what we consider to be ever so urgent to get on with.

I thought about

  • A thousand years is as but a day
  • Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength
  • Imitating those who through faith and patience inherited the promises
  • The woman who went through the ritual of dropping her two coins in the temple offering
  • The person who moves too quickly is liable to miss their way
  • The instruction to ‘Stand at the crossroads and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
    where the good way lies; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.’

The urgency of waiting

Don’t delay, get on with it, later is always too late
urgent, understand urgency
don’t put it off
respond, act, move
and then I hear…
the urgency of waiting
don’t wait when you have nothing to do
but wait when you have so much to do
this is truly urgent.

The urgent, the pressure
but avoid it and survive? And yet it always comes round again to call, to persecute
so why wait? To procrastinate but have some life might be the way
but still I hear
the urgency of waiting

I wait, I slow, distractions press in
I fear the urgent will dictate
but I wait, I refuse the tyrannical voice
I gain sight, not much, peace and breath they come
but too slowly
and I am done with waiting.

I know what is urgent, what calls for movement and
action.
I know the voice of demand
that uses language I understand
a voice I can hear and obey.

And yet I ask in those moments did I truly hear
and if I heard what was it that came…
words of life and freedom
or simply a map for my future?

A new way, a new movement forward
standing and waiting, listening until…
but nothing comes and I return to the obscure map of the urgent.

I turn once more. I have to turn
aside.

‘Aside’, a different place, a location that is unfamiliar
for no map has been made, no clock has been fashioned
and so unfamiliar is this location that I don’t…
and yet a different sight, even a different breath
a new rhythm, a new harmony
simply arrives.

I will try this again for the old map though,
old and familiar has never
mapped the future.

How much can I see, what can I truly hear
what can I sense? Important questions
answered in the urgency of waiting.

Podcasts… Joseph Steinberg

My mate, Martin Purnell, hosts ‘Off Grid Christianity’ podcasts interviewing all sorts of interesting people (including the very famous Noel Richards… but includes me in so that Mr. Noel stays within boundaries!)… He recently did two interviews with Joseph Steinberg. Joseph is the CEO of International Mission to Jewish People and grew up in a Reformed American Jewish family who were opposed to any thought of belief in Jesus. Part 1 gives a wonderful insight into his family background and his amazing conversion… part 2 is on his understanding of the land the people and the current Middle Eastern conflict.

Theologically (he said he was a Calvinist!) and on issues of the land I would go a different direction, BUT his passion for Jesus and the centrality of Jesus means these two podcasts compelling listening. Easy to listen to and very inspiring.

Presence

If you have been following this blog in recent months you might have noticed a small sub-current of thought surfacing now and then – it is that of ‘presence’ not of ‘power’. I am far from a developed position, but here goes for a little re-surfacing.

I have been very impacted and continue to be by the inbreaking of God with power, so the ‘healing revival’ of 1948-58 (with all its flaws) has been of interest, the prophetic movement(s) of more recent decades and the like have also been a shaping influence on me. I am very grateful for the many testimonies of healing I carry… power. And power is part of the Gospel story. I am reading in Hebrews at the moment:

[W]hile God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will.

Signs, wonders and miracles… ‘The works I do you will do…’ in John’s Gospel where ‘works’ seems to be used consistently of the miraculous. Globally there remains a gap and also therefore a wonderful expectation, and into the gap appears some amazing testimonies.

A recent connection of mine wrote me:

The charismatic movement has framed gifts/charisms/mighty works as primarily about displays of superior power which invite/demand allegiance.

Can we move beyond that… without the loss of the miraculous? This is part of the season we are in. I am also aware that the wheels are coming off some flag-ship movements, thus indicating that the foundations were inadequate, but as always we will have baby and bath water scenarios. What a time to be living in and I am asking a BIG question as to what foundations are required now for the next season.

Dreams have shaped my thinking and also a recent experience while taking a Zoom class into a prophetic school in Brazil. I was asked to speak about ‘false prophecy / false prophets’, and over years I have had so many experiences there of confronting that manifestation – and where able to break it there have been literally a thousand or more testimonies of physical healing. At the end of the Zoom session I was asked as to how we should respond to a situation that they had recently experienced of a ‘prophet’ coming through who would give Social Security numbers to the person they were prophesying over as a means of affirming that they were indeed speaking God’s word. The ‘messages’ given after the affirming knowledge were totally controlling and manipulative. I said I don’t care about the preceding release of knowledge (the Social Security numbers) the words have to be rejected.

Can God give Social Security numbers / phone numbers / names and addresses – for sure. Does he do that – I would say ‘yes’. But… yes there is a ‘but’. Carl Wills (I was on Zoom to him this morning) says and they wanted to blindfold Jesus and ask him to prophesy as to who hit him. That is an impressive show.

I like Mr. Elisha (first name or surname?). He had intimate knowledge of what was taking place, much to the annoyance of the king of Aram, who wanted to know who was betraying their secrets. He was told

No one, my lord king. It is Elisha, the prophet in Israel, who tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber (2 Kings 6:12).

The same Elisha was also honest enough to say he was clueless about the distress a Shunammite woman was under:

Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me (2 Kings 4:27)

The gift of intelligent guessing would have looked more impressive than that! But the gift of the true prophetic is not about looking impressive. Social Security numbers sound way impressive.

Focus on (superior) power… be careful it can be very seductive. And in a seductive atmosphere seductions take place. Hence I am thinking presence as being the environment. On prophecy Paul says that the testimony should be, ‘God is really among you’. Present. God (in the body of Jesus) became present – ‘among / with us’. At the finale ‘God will dwell with them’ – presence. When present even shadows can have an effect as was discovered in Jerusalem as Peter walked past.

The platform has become the place where the presence is mediated – the worship leader ‘brings’ the presence of God, the prophet, the preacher… and so it goes on.

But the wind? Well…

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

You don’t know… hiddenness and visibility together. And ‘the wind’ is not an analogy for the Holy Spirit but for those ‘born again’. Platform giving way to the wind. [Perhaps that would straighten out the activity and hopes for evangelical movements who want to control politics.]

So a little resurfacing. There are ‘power’ words in Scripture… but I suspect that true non-manipulative power is to come through being truly, fully present. And to be fully present? That is the journey.

Picking sides

O.J. Simpson passed away a couple of days away. Just shy of 30 years ago was the famous trial and not only did he become a household name for those who had not heard of him before but the trial either catalysed a new era or was defining of a new era – that of picking sides. He was innocent, he had been set up… or he was as guilty as heck and should not escape justice. The publicity of the trial meant that we all had information – or so we thought. Fast forward and that polarisation is even ever-more present. Many live within the silo (echo chamber) of their social media feed. We think we have so much information so can make an intelligent decision. We are ‘pro’ or ‘against’ based on our knowledge, or in reality on our lack of knowledge and our biased opinion.

In an age when ‘tolerance’ is valued highly we are strangely quick to have an opinion that is not open to being challenged, hence the increasing polarisation. It exists in politics, and is exasperated when faith is added into the mix – and we hold to ‘so and so’ is God’s candidate. In 2005 (just after Bush was elected for the second time) I was in the USA and in a number of settings said that the candidate who enters the White House in 2008 will NOT be the one that is being prayed for, prophesied about, will not be the one of the ‘Christian’ choice, but he needs to be embraced – for if not there would be a double blow in 2012. And the reason for this is to illustrate that ‘you are already deceived’. Not deceived over who is ‘God’s candidate’, and that they had picked the wrong one, but that candidates are relative, and for that reason one person votes one way and another differently.

Let’s face it… we are all mixed, or as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it ‘the line of good and evil does not separate me from the other, rather it runs through me and the other’ (probably not an exact quote!). Allow me just for a moment to illustrate it with the US and politics – though the principle is clear everywhere. Trump is not God’s choice, but probably the choice of the majority of white, middle-class charismatic Christians. This says a lot about those making the vote – maybe it says good things about them.

Polarisation, flowing from our biases. We have it in the New Testament: ‘I am of Paul / Peter / Apollos / et al’. Who are these people, Paul retorts, they are servants and stop aligning with them for they only have purpose if they serve you and your destiny.

We have to learn to live with more uncertainty. I don’t know the answer, I have a perspective that seems to be ever more tenuous. Uncertainty over our own opinion and more secure in the anchor point of what was done on the cross to bring about a transformation of the world.

The disciples on seeing a man born blind quickly presented the options – who was to blame? The man himself, or was it something generational? Jesus cut right through that with a response into the situation and simply went for the solution, the way forward. No time for an opinion, time for action. The disciples looked back Jesus opened the future.

Picking sides, politically, theologically and personality-wise usually stems from our past. What could happen if we could shut down all of that and began to act and work toward a future different to the past. 2020 – a year of great sight surely indicated that we entered an epoch when global resets were within our grasp.

I dare say that forthcoming elections will indicate that we have not moved on very much… but they might just accelerate the end of an era.

Neither this man nor his parents sinned; so let God’s works be manifested in him.

(My translation… an important use of what is termed the ‘Imperatival hina clause’.) No… your analyses are totally inadequate, no time for discussion – we are carriers of God, so we look to the future. Let the present change, let the future come.

Now that is different. So many situations are simply ‘same old, same old’. Agents of change – begins here and now. Stop picking sides.

April 1… what is this day called?

So here we are with another of those dates that come round once a year. Some are global changing, even if we have the dates wrong – the ‘big’ dates: Easter, Pentecost, Christmas. Then there are the personal dates – birthdays etc… They seem to mean something if there is some kind of link to the growing number we experience and the development of who we are in becoming who we are. Then there are artificial dates, and this one is perhaps one of the better ones – April fool’s day.

Once a year it seems appropriate to have a day that reminds us how foolish we can be. Paul tied two aspects together within a sentence of each other. He was a fool and he was an apostle:

I have been a fool! You forced me to it… The signs of an apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, signs and wonders and mighty works (2 Corinthians 12:11,12).

He was a fool, forced into it by the people who were not up for rating him, so he boasted in his transcendent experience of being properly in the third heaven. Should he have done that? I think even for Paul the jury was out whether he did the right thing or not. There are clear transcendent experiences, angelic visitations and other experiences that are very difficult to really work out what ‘happened’ – and that probably is not the question we should be asking as it makes what we understand, can touch, feel as being the only reality. Can we process the realities that are beyond that?

Even if Paul was OK in the ‘boasting’ that he puts out there, it is probably a sensible conclusion that he only mentions one of his experiences, thus it probably means we should be very careful in what we share, for the effect is that of exalting ourselves in the eyes of others – not really the ‘kingdom’ way to go! Paul indicates the way to go is to boast in our weaknesses: not the material that sells books!

Then off he goes to what he is sure about, his apostolic call, in spite of his weaknesses. That long term vision that manifests in the immediate. The immediate of the miraculous and the long term vision that accompanies ‘utmost patience’.

If we are open to being a ‘fool’, of recognising (at least once a year) that our maturity does not accord to our age, perhaps it might open up for us getting connected to our purpose and embracing that our contribution today is for the long-term future.

[Perhaps an aside: I am currently focused that perhaps we have been wrong to focus on ‘power’ and attribute to God ‘power’… Maybe it is presence not power that is the major attribute – did creation spring forth as a result of God’s creative power, or his creative presence – yes has implications for the ‘how old is creation’ question and a whole bunch of others. But if this is not an aside – Paul is present and the miraculous takes place… I know if this has any legs I have a lot of ‘power’ Scriptures to work through, but hey ho! Aside or not – April fools day maybe tells me to be present – warts and all – or maybe in Paul’s language – as a fool and as someone appointed within God’s order, even if that appointment is undefined or small.]

Perspectives