What a strange winter we have had. It rather defied the prediction made in October or November last year that we would have a hard winter. This was based on a certain breed of swans arriving much earlier than usual at Slimbridge.
So much of life is unpredictable such as the British weather. More seriously, our day may begin as usual but end with having had a car accident or an unwelcome heath diagnosis or other bad news which can have the effect of turning our lives upside down.
The hymn: ‘Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same; all may change, but Jesus never…’ tells of our God who is constant and reliable and always with us.
However, we may find ourselves questioning ‘Where is God when it hurts, where is He in the pain and suffering, why doesn’t He deal with the terrorist, why are some of our prayers seemingly unanswered?’
So is God really unpredictable as well? Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8) and learn to trust Him. To live by the faith that declares that whatever we may see or think, His ways are beyond our understanding and He is always with us.
I have read several heart-warming books by Philip Yancey. He has travelled to many places in the world, often observing people living in very difficult circumstances. He gets tired travelling and wondered why he did it. He recognised that it gave him material for his books but, he says: ‘I remind myself of a deeper reason why I travel…. I go in search of faith that matters’.
He looks at the questions like the ones I mentioned above that many ask which could be summarised as: ‘Why doesn’t God intervene more directly?’
He concludes that we have no sure answer and only fleeting glimpses of God’s ultimate plan and that God chooses to make Himself known through ordinary people like us. (Yancey: ‘What good is God?’ p 271/2)
He tells of a woman who kept visiting prisoners in a notorious prison in the States and for it to be transformed from one of violence into one of grace between those who lived and worked there. When she was asked to explain how this happened she said: ‘… God was already present in the prison. I had just to make Him visible’.
When Jesus died on the cross, his last cry, according to John’s gospel, was one of triumph: ‘IT IS FINISHED’
For humankind the work CONTINUED. The mantle has fallen upon US to make God visible.
We may be insignificant in the world’s eyes, the problems may seem so insurmountable that we cannot see how any small contribution that we might make can make any difference. But, as someone once said (I have forgotten who!): ‘If you think a small thing can have little effect then you haven’t shared a bed with a mosquito’!
Well, we have something even more powerful than a mosquito in our lives and that is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changed the world through that defeated small group of disciples who were in despair after Jesus died.
As we walk through this unpredictable world with its many problems, with our questions, with possible feelings of inadequacy, shall we seek to make God visible by reminding ourselves of the Holy Spirit ‘mosquito effect’ and letting Him do His work through us?