Well…. Its been a few days since the UK’s most unpleasant weather for some while, made headline news. Many people lost roof tiles, cherished plants and greenhouses. Some people lost cars, homes and sadly, lives.
There’s no doubt that misbehaving weather is always a great leveller. It always reminds us of our fragile existence; how powerless we truly are and how easily our personal world can be shaken and turned on its head.
It was a bad storm, but not as bad as some.
In 2006 Sebastian Junger penned a non fiction work entitled The Perfect Storm. It was an account of a once in a hundred years weather event that hit the eastern seaboard of the US in 1991. A storm that was a confluence of separate meteorological conditions that became drastically aggravated to produce one of the most fearsome storms ever recorded. A storm that destroyed communities, sank boats, killed fishermen and tested the emergency and sea rescue services to the limit. The storm was a confluence of conditions that in isolation would have proved difficult but when combined was devastating.
As the Jewish captives returned from 70 years of exile at the hands of the Babylonians God speaks through Haggai the prophet…
6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.
Although these verses would have had a physical and immediate fulfilment in the years after Haggai wrote them; I love the hint of the ‘greater’ fulfilment to be realised through the work of Christ. A great shaking will cause the treasures that Christ died for to come into His temple (the church ). A temple greater because of the measure of glory it will house; glory which leads these treasures to find peace .
I humbly submit to you that I think God has been allowing a confluence of spiritual weather systems to stack up. The perfect storm is on the way. Our news stories have declared the first tremors of what seems to me a great shaking in our nation…
- The MP’s expenses scandal
- The international Banking crash
- The Housing/equity crash
- The Media phone tapping scandal
- The NHS Trusts cover up
- The BBC peadophilia scandals
When you examine these stories each one features an area of our society where great trust was placed… only to be betrayed. I believe God is narrowing the options in readiness… readiness to accept the one who is outrageously faithful in the demonstration of His goodness.
I’ll end with this clip of Russell Brand taking on Jeremy Paxman (contains strong language). I don’t hold to his politic or his indifference, but I do believe below the surface is a heart cry about the state of our nation and a hunger for what only He (Jesus) the desire of nations can bring – Peace. In the days of Wesley and Whitfield the nation was in a similar state. It was only the revival that followed that saved our nation from a bloody revolution. The answer is not Russell’s revolution, but it is the Holy Spirit birthing revival in the heart of His temple.. the church. The only answer is the people of Jesus Christ full of heaven’s presence, power and principles. Kings reigning with a servant heart.
5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (ESV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (ESV)
…those were the last words that I heard on 26th March 2008 as I stepped off of the Bloukrans Bridge (Tsitsikamma, South Africa) into a 216 metre leap of faith.
Pushing out and off, swallow-diving as instructed, I was immediately surprised by how quickly gravity kicked in and dragged me into a inelegant, silent, grasping, clawing, free-fall that would certainly end in death if my faith in the large rubber band attached to my ankles was in anyway misplaced. For a few seconds I glimpsed what a ‘jumper’ goes through in the moments before death. To be honest it was terrifying… and rightly so, because we had walked the same distance to the jump point as the drop itself; 216 metres of creaking, caged gantry, bolted to the underside of the bridge. As I fell, it felt like every single one of those 216 metres took an age… Plummeting, I waited for the bungee to kick in and do what it was meant to do… hold me up, preserve my life and stimulate that well documented ‘adrenalin grin’.
Something broke in me that day… Fear. That is why I’m sure God asked me to do it and that is why I’m glad I did.
In the intervening 5 Years I have been in many situations where fear has played its ugly card. Sometimes in the guise of powerless people who induce fear to feel in control. Sometimes in the guise of situations so overwhelming that all you want to do is hide under a duvet until the second coming. Sometimes in the guise of long redundant ‘religious’ doctrine designed to control and suppress. Sometimes in the guise of demonic voices whispering in the paralysing darkness of the night. Every time, I have returned to that bridge in my mind and said ‘…I’m not afraid of you, I jumped the Bloukrans!’
It had been an interesting Spring. After a flurry of prophetic ‘words’ from friends and strangers, Anne and I were at a gathering for our network of churches. It was a good equipping and envisioning weekend, served by a great apostolic team. Many people were greatly blessed. Having come through a turbulent few years we had merged with another church to join this network. Out of the blue at the conclusion of the weekend I heard God, clear as a bell, say ‘…well done for placing the church in safe hands… but I have not called you to safety.’
In a moment everything changed. All the ‘words’ we had received about change were no longer about finding our place in this new landscape. Suddenly, they were about stepping over the fence Abraham style. Being willing to sacrifice everything, risk all and waiting for God to show the way.
So here we are at the bridge once again… We have left full time church ministry and a nice regular salary. We have left the church that we were baptised in, ordained in, married in and saw our kids dedicated in. We have left many good friends and other relational threads behind. We are soon to leave our home of 14 years, the house that came with the job… and we wait for the first stepping stone to appear.
Many a well meaning person has told us how brave we are ‘stepping out’. To be honest, bravery would be staying when God has said ‘Go!’ In one sense we feel like ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’. If God is who He says He is… why would we not entrust everything to Him? He is the most ridiculously good, kind, faithful and loving father EVER! And even if we’ve got Him wrong, As Bernie Ooley says ‘…surely it is better to die in the will of God than live outside of it?’
So here we are at the bridge. We have stepped off the edge and are now in free-fall, aware that many are watching… Watching to see what this gracious God of love is really like and does He really do what He says in THE book? We wait for the bungee to kick in and do what He promised to do… hold us up, preserve our lives and fast-track us to the ‘adrenalin grin’. 🙂
Smith Wigglesworth said ‘It is when we are at the end of our own resources that we can enter into the riches of God’s resources’. To be honest we would have it no other way. We are happy, we have peace but most of all we have Him…. Selah