Through the door

A reflection on 21-12

I am sure you all recognised the formula above the title… Something to do with the fraction of incident light reflected or transmitted. Glad I got that across. Dec. 21 (21/12 for us Europeans) is always an interesting date, shortest day in the northern hemisphere, date in 2005 when a group of friends ended in St Peter’s Sq. Rome at the end of a momentous walk from the UK, and for me a reminder each year. There was an event that I was sure would take place on Dec. 12 and would be a sign of the rise of a new apostolic wave. The event did not take place!!! OUCH! When that happens it is always disappointing, but somehow I was convinced I wasn’t wrong though all the evidence pointed that way. Long story… short version… I woke a couple of days later with the conviction that what I expected would take place on the mirror image of 12 (on the 21st) and would take place between 10.30 and 12.00 (Central European Time). Great when it took place right in that time gap. It marked in 2005 the beginning for me a realisation that what was to be expected would look almost like the reverse, but in reality if we learned how to see differently (mirror views?) we would be better prepared. [Maybe if I understood the formula in the image above the title that would have helped me? Or more likely if I learned how to be more reflective I might learn a bit quicker?] So here we are, soon to come to 2022, so a few reflections on this day, reflections that look forward.


A challenging end of year. I have been asked recently on a number of occasions to repeat, clarify or expand what I had suggested regarding the coming year. So here goes!

I suggested that a) 2021 would be a year when there would be some wiping of brows and a response of ‘we’re through that and at last we can get things back to where they were’, but that would prove to be a false hope and leave people disappointed just when they thought we were out the other side of the difficulties. And with regard to b) 2022 that we would encounter a number of setbacks that might not in themselves be enormous and manageable but stacked up they would prove to be of a greater challenge than the (COVID related) pressures of 2021.

A few notes first:

  • Although I do not believe God is outside of time, s/he does not turn the calendar over month by month. Nevertheless because we live with a sense of ‘new day’, ‘new month’, ‘new year’ God communicates into our world, hence there is validity in talking of ‘2021’, ‘2022’ etc.
  • Perhaps though we are better to see a group of months or years belonging to a season, and perhaps it is better to grasp these years as part of a season, rather than splitting them up to tightly.
  • Individuals might experience something very different to someone else, in the words of Scripture there can be no rain across the area but rain comes to one field in spite of the drought (or vice versa).
  • Nothing communicated concerning the future is to be a straight-jacket or taken as deterministic. Great trauma was predicted for Israel by Jesus, but he called his disciples to lift their eyes and avoid being embroiled in the trouble themselves.
  • And finally, the somewhat tongue-in-cheek yet serious post I wrote on there being a broad way that leads to life indicates that we should not think of only one narrow option being there before us. Is there a right way? Probably a way that is more right than the others, but God goes where we go, our task is the relationship with God and the trust that God is with us. We can miss opportunities but the other side of our choice we continue with a God who is there to maximise what can come out of that choice.

I find the end of this year interesting. Throughout the COVID there have always been words such as ‘reset’, with the emphasis on a global reset. I hope some things have been reset but there are also many aspects, particularly in the economic realm that have accelerated in the direction they were moving in before. [And economics is the barometer of spiritual shift.] Maybe there is a continuation of what has come through COVID as we have not really responded to the reset? Or maybe enough has been reset that we can continue with the changes?

And who is the ‘we’? Well for me the body of Christ is responsible for the world, so there might be a big bad ‘we’ out there, but there is often an irresponsible ‘we’ in here… and inside that ‘we’ there is an ‘I’… so moving along very quickly!

I see the end of the year like a door that we pass through, and it is not too pleasant, with some of the greatest growth in daily infections being recorded, with the threat of lockdowns and increased restrictions. The door kind of indicates that what is the other side is not without its serious threat… but!

I still see a major battle concerning how we are going to be oriented. If we hold on to a hope that the past will simply return and we can get back to normal this will certainly not contribute to the future coming into place with ease, but will only prolong the delay and the trouble. Within it for those who, even without knowing what to do practically, have been inwardly asking and desiring whatever alignments to come into place, will find amazing heavenly help to take them there.

Some of the signs for the fresh alignments will have been / will be that there will not simply be new alignments but ones from the past will come back round but in a new setting; and that those alignments will in some way be a tool to open the ancient pathways. Ancient trade routes, ancient practices, ancient values, practices and wisdom, seem to be necessary to be uncovered.

And the future will also be signed there… situations that press their uncomfortable presence right inside the boundaries of one’s beliefs, one’s comfort zone… pressing in without our prior invite! The future cannot be seen through projection, it will be seen first distorted / mirror imaged before being seen clearly. It though has to be welcomed, the mess of it before it it understood. I am not talking about naively receiving whatever, but what has been / will be pressing right in on pre-set boundaries seems to be one of the main marking elements that this belongs to the future. (For some time I have been suggesting that the future is breaking in and it is messy. It is not coming with agreement by one and all, so consensus will not help us as an arbitrator in this.)

2022 then I see as coming in announcing itself with disruptions to the normal. The first few months being bumpy then with, at first a number of rumours that seem (phew!) to go away but (false phew earlier!) only for either what was rumoured or something akin to those rumours beginning to align, with the result that corporate bodies do not know quite how to respond. In the economic world incredible swings in very short periods. We are told to pray for governing authorities but we are not told to put our faith in them! That certainly would never have been the case in Paul’s days, with many of the apparent positive things stated being incredibly ironic statements…

The big corporate world of government / finance is not, for most of us, our companion, so what about 2022 and ourselves personally?

I guess I see it swinging in two directions. End of year door is here. I like doorways for how we go through them kinda determines what we step into. If we continue with the hope and prayer that we get a return to normal I consider we are on a wrong trajectory. Although chronologically we enter the future from where we are, I think the future arrives rather than we enter it, it comes to us… if we welcome it, make space for it; otherwise time is simply cyclical, reflective of dear Mr Ecclesiastes and ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ perspective. There are new things… new things to enter my life, and indeed to enter the world.

Yes the end of the year is an annoyance. ‘Here we go again’ with shutdown threats etc., new variant(s)… back to where we were, but not back to where I want it!

However, I am optimistic. For those who are allowing the inconvenient pressures to encroach and even ride rough shod over their nicely drawn boundaries I do believe a year ahead is one of opportunities. Doors, not one but multiple opening. No need to panic as to which to go through. If they present themselves simultaneously choose one. The others are not about to disappear and be lost. Even if they disappear for you they will remain open to someone else. Partnering, laughing together.

Quick answers to new burdens. I see an acceleration in responses. There is an unlocking of blockages to the river of life, and we should expect the waters of life to be flowing into areas where we thought the river does not go. ‘Wherever it goes it brings life’. Mirror imaging gives us sight also backwards… I have been struck by the invisibility of God when trudging forward. But looking back? God left Eden – that is a backward view. Only seen much later by the couple on the road to Emmaus. In one sense God has always been where we will discover his / her Presence to be but we have to go there to discover that.

A year of frustration, and year of ‘no not more of this’ and a year of opportunity, through entering the messy path that is the other side of this door. A walk in the mud is not too bad! There is a lot to see on the path.

No need to understand the formulas. The formulas might predict what could / should happen. Formulas are not enough.

Preparing

Get ready for what? Now and there

Once a year I have had an event on the same date in August. (Kind of repetitive?) I’ve had quite a few so maybe I will move to an every-other year marker. Why not? Anyway… I kind of enjoy it as it is always a time for a few reflections, and also realisations. I have enjoyed getting older, and also realising that it is fairly irrelevant that I am a slow learner, some people might just enter the second half of life at an appropriate time, but I am certainly not ready for that yet. Too much to kick, and simply glad that God works with our attitude of ‘give that a good old kick’; seemingly well able to sort it out. The future of the world does not depend on my maturity!

Anyway been some good days. The presence of God – always present – but ‘felt’ presence is always wonderful, and in that presence there often comes sight.

Nothing new in what I am writing but the sense of ‘preparing to inhabit the future landscape‘ is what is on my mind and heart. To inhabit is to live in it comfortably, not challenge-free, but also not reluctantly. (By landscape I am more indicating the ‘spiritual’ reality than the climate issue of landscape… with wild-fires and record temperatures we certainly face a challenge and a verdict of neglectful stewardship.)

Change… the image on this post is of a river. The philosophers raised the question – can one step into the same river twice, or has it changed since the last time? This was responded to with a further question, ‘can one step into the same river once?’ Constant change!

In writing about change there is always a proviso. Much continues as before when change is announced. Saul’s kingdom ended ‘this day’ but he was still king the next day, and the next, and the next year… and the next decade. Nothing changed, but everything changed that day. I am not about to announce that all has changed ‘this’ day, but in this season (marked by COVID) all is / has changed.

I had some very profitable Zoom calls yesterday. One into a city in the UK where there is a battle on for a redefining of identity and direction (those two are related). I have prophesied there concerning innovation in the University, and that the clock that had been stopped is no longer stopped, yet in spite of that there are delays – that was the nature of the call yesterday. As we talked it became evident that the issue was for a healing of the corporate memory. The ‘stones’ are crying out we can’t go with change! (Land being the reservoir of the corporate memory.) Memory is a wonderful gift, and an amazing terrorising captor – in equal proportions. We see this with God instructing people ‘not to forget’ and to ‘remember’, while also telling them (in the context of radical hope for change) ‘do not remember the former things’.

Memory can inspire us to rise again. Or can become the ruts that prevent a new direction. This is certainly one of the great danger with a rehearsal of ‘revival’ history; the memory can dictate what the future expectation is. The only common factor between past and future is ‘God’, ‘who is, and who was and who is to come’. The order of the three time related phrases seem important, and the change of phraseology, thus indicating direction in the last of the three phrases seem important. The connection between past and future is God, not that of a repeated event. God might (reluctantly) allow a repeated event; we might jump up and down… God might sigh.

Memory is tied to the past, we do not arrive at the future from the past alone. If we try to do that we simply continue to live in a ‘rutted’ present. There has to be a journey first into the future so that it can then enter the present. Thankfully there are catalysts that come our way to facilitate that.

Change is constant, but not all change takes place at a constant rate. There are accelerated times of change, such as we are experiencing now. Those changes are going to affect politics and economics. They have to be affected as those are the ‘sign realms’ whenever there is a major shift spiritually.

How do we prepare?

I saw this year as (falsely) bringing things back to normal, and expected that to be the case in the latter half of this year. I still anticipate that with economic pick up, measure of travel restored and some ‘best trading year yet’ reports. I wrote ‘falsely’ not because the reports or the figures are not accurate, but because the report is based on what can be seen, not what is unseen.

I don’t know how hard 2022 will hit, but it will certainly signal that we are not out of this crisis.

How do we prepare?

I have always found that any shift external has to be initiated at a shift internally; and gladly that what we do, for example, with what is in our pocket affects the big purse out there – after all the context of the widow who put the two coins in the treasury Jesus seemed to tie to the demise of the grandioseness of the Temple edifice, certainly Luke, the observant writer on economics, seems to make that connection.

Here then are a few areas where maybe we will need to give attention:

  • Memory and the aspects that have rutted us into an expectation.
  • Money. ‘Losing’ money strategically will be… strategic! In other words it will be a strategy to unlock our personal economics (unlocking does not necessarily mean ‘increase’ but certainly means liberating of us) and if so to release something wider that will unlock a flow related to justice. I strongly suggest, particularly in new areas to keep one’s eyes open for where we deliberately do not profit from what might have been possible, that which was our ‘right’. Entry to the land was marked by this (Jericho, Achan etc.)
  • Politics. Yes I vote, but the party leanings that I have are not an endorsement of their kingdom alignment. God is not ‘party political’ aligned! But politics is simply to do with shape of society (polis: Greek city / city state). Eyes outward. How far? To the neighbour. ‘Who is my neighbour?’ is a question we have to answer. Amidst political extremes we are to be political, a love for our neighbour.
  • Health. Yet there is something bigger than health that gets threatened. It is that of whether we choose life. I have just completed one more calendar year on planet earth, and have worked out that I am probably(!!) more than half way through my life. The higher call is not to live in health but to live, to choose life. To choose life we do not orientate ourselves in trying to avoid death. Avoiding death is never the instruction. The kingdom of God does not orientate itself around the negatives (there are some) but the orientation is around the positives – eat of all the trees was the first instruction. Life is never defined (unless Adam is the model) by what happens inside, but by what happens externally, as ‘felt’ by the neighbour.

I picked out those four elements (memory, money, politics and health) as there are very real corporate threats around those. The external (big world) is related to the choices made in the small world (my life).

We are in a phase where things can be confusing. Where is God?, not in the sense that s/he can’t be seen, but sometimes s/he is being seen where we did not expect to see God, and sometimes not seen where we expected to see God. Maybe the question is not ‘where is God?’, but ‘why is God present there?’ and ‘why in reality is God absent here?’.

We are truly in the (to you, your children)… and to ‘those who are afar off‘. This will result in mixed responses. God is there (great)… oh no it does not fit my box.

The future is messy… and not just for a short period of time.

The small world is the key.

If we are worried about where is Jesus in all this mess out there, there is an internal question to be asked, that question being far more important than the external question.

In this mess, there is a new bumper (Gayle’s current sense) environment. All it is asking for is for those to walk in the mess there with Jesus. Encounters with Jesus are to take place there.

Many years ago I had a word that God was going to give some people two homes. I am not talking of a nice holiday home, or two luxury pads. A home in Scripture is not first (nor last) implying a building, though a building can be home. A home is a place where there has been a reconciliation, it is the return of the prodigal; it is a place where heaven and earth meet. Money might say to some, ‘OK’ it is easy to have two or more houses… but it is not easy to have two ‘homes’. That requires faith and grace. I now see a further element. Two homes. Home in the ‘clean’ place, where no-one swears (as if!) and a home in the ‘dirty’ place. HOME. In both places where there is a reconciliation of heaven and earth.

The bumper time is here. Explosions. But there not here. I probably should not bother with another August event for the next 8 years. That is the season that is here now / the season that is there now. The timing is consistent (now) the place is not (there).

Looking back… way back

When one is young looking back 20 years is such a long time ago. I had an email asking me for some reflections relating to a period of time 20+ years ago. For me ‘a long time back’ so that helps me live out another day of fantasy. I am really still ever so young.

It was interesting though to respond, as for me (and also Gayle) that era was so formative of who we are. It gave me a fresh appreciation of how God can transform a life, the reality of the Spirit, that fire spreads etc. Deeply appreciative, and of course (like everyone else) I see where I am today as a result of the path(s) that I have been led on. Maybe a little (and remember ‘little’ is a small word) more humble that suggests that if I have any (hope ‘any’ is not a small word) integrity it is the path I have been led on, without suggesting it is THE path. Jesus is the way, but the path seems to be uniquely honed for each person (not to be read as all paths lead to God… I am talking about one’s life).

I think there were expressions back in that day that could not really go further because they were not multi-racial nor multi-cultural. There is something of fullness that can only come through with a greater ethnic, generational and gender expression. But beyond that there were expressions that had to come to an end, had to come to an end as the post-Christian and post-Christendom (and pre-Christian) era demands that.

Twenty plus years ago, any view of the ‘afar off’ was to see them as those who needed to join ‘us’ or ‘our children’. The ‘afar off’ though are to be joined by ‘us’ (and for ‘us’ who can’t make the journey, by ‘our children’). (Illustrated as per Peter and Cornelius). The catalytic nature of 20+ years ago opens everything up for where we are now in the West. An increasing exhalation of the breath of God. It will be felt in the vicinity of where it is being experienced.

History teaches and we learn; history holds us back and prevents us seeing what we have never seen. History is a foundation; history prevents development.

The last paragraph can be deleted. It is our response to history that is determinative.

A ‘decrease so that there might be an increase’ has to be embraced willingly. When there is a decrease but not embraced willingly some debris is left in the path and it is more difficult for what should appear that is ‘greater’. Not greater by status but ‘greater distance’ as in beyond.

Twenty plus years ago. Deeply appreciative. Twenty more years – full of anticipation.

Perspectives