In the last couple of months I feel my life has tumbled into chaos, and I’m only too aware that I am far from God; a painful thing for a Christian to admit. But, if I have one thing, at least it’s honesty!
How many Christians pretend that their lives are perfect and everything’s ticking along just nicely, when the truth might be very different? I’ve known people who seemed to go from one crisis to another in unfortunately quick succession, and I’ve known people who seem to breeze through life and never seem to have a troubled moment. Me? Well, I tend to be somewhere in the middle; I go along nicely for a while, and then for some reason everything seems to collapse around my ears. When we are happy or relatively untroubled, we don’t really reflect on why, but when we are troubled or something unpleasant occurs, it’s perhaps then that we might reflect. I’ve suffered on and off with depression for over half my life; I know when I am suffering as I begin to struggle to get out of bed, and for some reason I start questioning everything; the meaning of life, why we are here, what does it all mean, and so on.
Suffering seems such a large part of the human experience; I think everyone suffers in some way or other, suffering that we bring on ourselves because of what we have done and suffering that often might come out of a clear blue sky, so to speak. No one escapes it, and we all have to come to terms with it. It might be for some Christians that the suffering they are going through is because God is trying to bring them to an understanding or a revelation of some kind. I have lived in so much error as a Christian, and endured so much of God’s punishment, really correction, that I have developed a kind of savvy, a kind of wisdom, all ‘after the fact’ I may add. I can speak of God’s mercy and I can speak of His wrath because I have personally experienced both in my life, and a number of times too. What have I learnt? I have learnt that God means what He says, and that He has the power to operate in our lives and move mountains too.
The Second Chance
If we are being honest, we all need a second chance from time to time. I don’t just mean criminals either, I mean every one of us. God has the ability to allow us to start again, to begin afresh, to be made anew, so that we can find in life just what it is God wants from us and for us for that matter. Being a Christian, trying to actively serve God on a daily basis, means we more than most will, hopefully, be more in tune with God. What does God want with us, after all? Why should He be so concerned with a bunch of hopeless sinners anyway? Well, He created us, so maybe He has the right to involve Himself in our affairs.
A second chance means that we can get right with God again, when perhaps we haven’t been serving Him at all really. I need a second chance quite frankly because I find myself in the wilderness, and struggle to see any signposts and struggle to make any headway in my life at this time. But I have a tenacious faith, it’s probably the only thing I do have in abundance. I’m right in the middle of the storm. I am I feel in a transitional period of my life, waiting for something to happen but not knowing what; isn’t that only too human?
I think those who are criminals need a second chance as well; if we don’t allow people to change and to move on, and to enjoy God’s mercy, what happens when we ourselves cry out for the mercy of God; won’t He ignore us? I have found that I have so much of my own sin to contend with that I just haven’t any time to look at anyone else’s sin. I think God wants us to be aware of our own faults before we start pointing out everyone else’s.
I have understood this too; God’s mercy is bigger than His wrath. I have experienced His mercy and His wrath throughout my adult life. It has taken me a lot of ups and downs with God to come to some understanding with Him. I don’t go to a church as yet, and am just in the process of sorting this out, so it has always been just me and God. It is obvious that, sooner or later, God wants us as individuals to have Christian friends to share in the Christian walk. Being quite a private and even shy person, at times anyway, this has always been hard for me to come to terms with; but, slowly but surely, I see the first beginnings of my Christian life being shared with others.
So, certainly God’s mercy is more important than His wrath; His anger lasts but a moment but His love lasts for ever. I find myself going from one stage of life to another, I also find that I have to have faith in God each day to see me through each painful day; without leaning on God I would probably be an alcoholic or a burnt-out wreck, a shell of a man in fact. And, once, without God I was a wreck, a complete mess going nowhere and going from one unhappy experience to another almost in quick succession. That period of life has gone now. I won’t tell you that my life is perfect now, but it’s a whole lot better now than it was. God’s mercy is beginning to shine brightly in my life.
Mind Your Own Business!
Part of our walk with God is an utterly personal and completely individual experience; we are all often very different people and God deals with people as He finds them. We are all at different places with God. To some, God needs to be hard, to others He is gentler than a new born lamb. To one person, He is the brightest star revealing everything, and to another He is darkness itself, almost unfathomable and unknowable; for a season anyway. We are all going towards the same light, but we are all coming at Him from different angles. This means that my walk is very different from someone else’s; we can share our experiences of God with each other but we can’t often know what someone else is going through and because of this God treats us all individually. I also believe quite firmly that there are no favourites with God of any kind regardless of class differences, racial differences, whether we are men or women, American or British, Jew or Gentile. I believe God loves us all equally and can take anyone of us and raise us to great heights. In the light of this, sometimes it’s best for us to be concerned about other people and care for them, but not to get too hung up about their walk with God; mind you own business, in other words!
Troubles of all Kinds
If we look around us, even in wealthy societies and nations, there seems a never-ending stream of suffering people, and certainly unhappy people. I suppose I was one of them. Some people seem beset by problems of one kind and another, whilst others breeze through life, or seem to anyway. What is the answer to such unhappiness? Especially if it seems people have no serious thing to be unhappy about. What is the cause of so much trouble and unhappiness in wealthy western countries? Are we ever satisfied with what we have? Aren’t we, if we are honest, always clamouring for more, when we don’t really need it? One of the things I have learnt as a Christian, is that we should learn to be grateful for what we have whilst not worrying about what we don’t have. I’m not suggesting we accept poverty in our lives or anything like that, I don’t think God wants anyone to live in any kind of poverty, just that we should count our blessings before we complain.
God is the perfect source for bringing us better lives, of all kinds, and He can bring us peace in the storm.