Good to be back from holidays.
Cheryl and I had our time away all sorted out and things got tossed on their head the first week in. We ended up back in Perth and didn’t get away again. Family stuff…..you know how it is? In fact, I felt God gave me a picture of the St Philips congregational life as I considered my own challenges. The picture was of the sea off Cottesloe……
On any day it can be different, from mill pond to storm-chop. That’s what we are like as congregations. Imagine us as the sea: some days, as individuals, things are internally quiet and calm; other days we are internally like storm-chop. And the thing is, as a group we would, likely as not, have no idea what is going on for others; certainly no idea what it’s like inside each one of us. But God does. As a friend of mine said once. “Our problem is we judge our insides by others’ outsides.”
Anyway, we had a wild, uncertain holiday. But here is the thing – call it the confession if you like – I found myself only infrequently going to an intentional bible, prayer, devotional space to get help. Mostly I read Jeffrey Archer novels, slept and went fishing. When people fret, they often get very focused on where they think solutions might be found, like the story-come-joke of the man who is clearly drowning who starts promising ever-increasing amounts of his precious possessions to God if he saves him [things that Kieran last week described as “boasts”]. Then, when his plight lessens and he can see that he might be saved after all, one at a time he renegs on the things he has promised God, until finally he declares there is no God anyway and that his rescue was inevitable.
God and I have been banging around together for a long time. What I found in my plight was his deep resource, a resource that has built in my life over time. The bible calls it a repository of faith. It’s a mixture of bible knowledge, wisdom and a huge amount of experience. I often refer it by its container …… my bucket.
In my plight I would again and again draw from this bucket, this well of salvation – another bible term – to find peace, reason, hope and perspective.
During our tumultuous break, I put very little back into the bucket. I just drew from it. I spent capital. Sometimes, in an emergency, when the waves are high, you have to spend your spiritual capital. It is a good spend.
But afterwards, later on, we have to do the spiritual work to continuously fill that bucket with the grafting work of reading, learning, sharing, exercising faith and finding God is faithful. It’s investment day after day that builds up our spiritual capital. That’s what the New City Catechism is about. It is just one way we invest in spiritual capital.
So here is my question for you. Do you have ways to intentionally invest in spiritual capital – small regular amounts of drip-feeding that you can draw on when needed?
Secondly, in hard times, in crises, where do you go to get the resources you need? Is there anything in your spiritual bucket to draw from or are you a Christian who really lives as a practical atheist. In other words, when it gets tough God is the last resource you go to, perhaps because there is not much there?
There is a challenge but also an invitation into relationship that redefines or recalibrates priorities in such a way that we invest in spiritual capital.
We are weathering our storm ok thanks very much. How are you going with yours?