Living in or on?

Some of us have little choice about where we live, others do have a choice. Some have no choice, and I should really write ‘many’, having no home, fleeing violence, war, persecution, hunger or desperately searching for some work. It is ever so easy to pontificate when one is part of the top 10% (probably more likely top 5%) wealth-wise in the world. There are luxuries we have that others do not have. We turn a tap on and drink the water; we go to the fridge and can put something together to eat. I am aware of our luxuries as I write.

Land has been an important part of my life for as far back as I can remember. Maybe being born on a farm gave that to me? I recall back in 1991 receiving a prophetic word about moving geographically. It impacted me greatly and the seeming imminence of it felt as if it was immediate. At 5.30am the next morning I got up walked the area, and can remember stopping at one of the corners saying to the town – don’t worry someone will come and look after you, considering your interests before their own. One Christmas I was in Paris, and in a dream I was taken to the bottom of the Eiffel tower. There Paris came to me and said, ‘People come here from all over the world. Romantic words are often spoken, engagements take place. But when will someone come here just for me, to love me for who I am?’ A short while later I woke with a tear-filled face, the pain of the land being very real.

So many conquests have been to possess land, to change the civilisation. Even a lot of tourism follows suit. Plant restaurants that cater for our taste buds, our culture, buy a second home… The result is an enjoyment of the land, but a living ‘on’ the land. I could go on and comment on financial investments in countries that profit us but long-term impoverish others. I realise we live in a complex world (though the drop-out culture does appeal at times) and our feet certainly get dirty whatever direction we walk in. I am not knocking those elements per se, but simply relating the above examples to indicate that so often we see it as our right to something, and never connect with the land, other than as an observer. Sometimes that might be all we can do.

But, if at all possible, we need to live in the land. At this moment of time Gayle and I are immigrants in the land of Spain, but we are seeking to be in the land. To be in the land does connect one to the voice of the land, the cry of the land, the history, the pain, disappointments but also hope and destiny. To marry the land does bring about a phase of receiving from the land what is in it. It can affect one’s finances, even one’s health. But the long term issue is for the land to be affected.

We cannot – God does not and we cannot – control outcomes. We cannot override peoples’ choices but we can stand in prayer and stand in attitude and stand in humility and stand in persistence and stand, so that there is an interchange to the land, so that the land begins to gain the benefit of who one is in Jesus. The land begins to change; (bad) fruit that was once fruitful no longer grows; good fruit begins to appear, small at first then in greater measure.

We have had some major setbacks these past weeks. We have stood and drawn a line. The line has been walked over. The very words we have used (they shall not pass here) as we have stood have been literally spoken back on TV news – the ‘conquerors’ saying publicly ‘we have passed’. Even after 2015 and the incredible shifts noted by every newspaper after we prayed at the Valley of the Fallen; after going to Franco’s birth home in 2018 (11 hours away) and the government passing the next day the edict that they will move his remains from the Valley of the Fallen – we are back with the governments edict being stalled and resisted. I could enter a few other such examples, and truth is we are very sore indeed.

I could also outline other positives, some of which have been recorded even in the press beyond Spain.

There will be setbacks. But to live ‘on’ and not ‘in’ the land is something we have to resist. We have to stand but the standing is in the land.

I am not looking to trample on anyone’s convictions, but I consider that we all have to regularly ask if we are simply ‘on’ or are we ‘in’ the land.

And to those in the land. Stand. The day of evil does pass, even if not as soon as we would like.

Who will I vote for?

April 28th fresh elections in Spain for the national government. I do not have to make a choice as to who I vote for as I am not a Spanish citizen, but when it comes to elections choosing where to place one’s ‘x’ is a challenge. If the circus of the Brexit gridlock is anything to go by we are again, in some measure, seeing the façade being raised and the weakness of democracy as we have it being exposed. As I have on numerous occasions written what functions in part is simply the democratic system, a system that falls well short of democracy. Democracy is often in name only as it is so difficult to put in place. For example, Gayle is a member of a political party in Spain who seek to work democratically. If a post comes up to be filled résumées of the various possible candidates are sent to the members. I applaud the process, but who can read through dozens of such résumées, sift through them and make a fully intelligent response? The alternative is a decision made from the centre and down.

I have had some Skypes of late where the response has been so positive about what has taken place politically in their nation, but the elected candidate’s policies, for me, would be substantially in such a different direction to how I would understand an outworking of the Gospel in society. In Spain we have the rise of a party that has pulled in some level of Christian support, probably because of their stance on abortion. The same party has publicly said the greatest achievement for women is motherhood. I am not decrying parenthood nor motherhood but that is in direct conflict with the values of Jesus.

(For a link to an excellent article on the state of politics in Spain, the reason why an anti-Catalan stance pulls in votes, the situation with the new party (VOX) that I mention above, the situation in the current post-Franco era, etc., the Observer / Guardian carried an excellent article yesterday:

Franco’s shadow: reburial battle sees Spain confront its darkest days

A great revelation is about to follow: there is no perfect party! The answers are not held in the ‘right’ nor in the ‘left’. We might lean one way or the other, and of course we are ultimately looking to see a change of heart so that society is marked by healthy relationships. Yet there is something more that we have to push for. If the church carries responsibility for the society where it is placed it becomes our responsibility to hold a shape in which certain values can grow and others are restricted. Societal change is the barometer to measure the extent to which spiritual change has taken place. If the church lives with making a name for itself we should not be surprised if society cannot step beyond that level.

Prayer… intercession in the fuller sense of not simply prayer but in becoming that intersection between heaven and earth. Planted for the society and shaped by heaven’s values of love, justice and freedom. If the church is just a waiting room to keep people clean for the exit we will be guilty of denying the incarnation, the very means by which God’s glory came to earth. If the glory of God does not enter our society we might still have great gatherings… but to what purpose?

We cannot vote on April 28th. And for those who can vote who to vote for is indeed problematic. (Indeed a calculated non-vote can also be a vote if it is a considered choice.) We can however stand, and in reading the Guardian article I hope you understand our measure of distress. We alone cannot change things, people always have choice… but on our watch? We would be happier with seeing something change here for the sake of Europe than having to dig out an apology for what has grown up and is threatening the space of freedom, dignity and love.

However we are taught when there are shakings that it is a marker of time that something can enter our world that cannot be shaken. I despair some days when I watch the Brexit proceedings, the rise of Fascism in Spain and Europe, the shutting of borders and the rise of nationalism to unhealthy levels. But I must daily rise above despair and participate in the maintaining of a shape that will change the articles that are written in our newspapers.

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