Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Why me?

I am puzzled by why I react differently to some others when looking at the existence of God. Why did I look at the futility of using just reason to work out if there is a God and find in that discovery the freedom to choose faith? Why do others get to a similar point and reject God? The following is a response from someone on the ex-christian.net website in response to reading my blog.

"I am definitely on the way back to finding some kind of faith again. The relief is huge! Following on from my last post, I finally realised the futility of trying to work out with just reason if there was a God." ( The Patchwork Blog from Monday 17th January 2011)

This person wrote the following in response to my blog on the ex-christian website. "Abandon reason and believe the unreasonable!   Obviously, some people aren't happy unless they have a belief in magic even if they know it is an unreasonable position as this one does. It seems that many people want so badly to think there is a god they will take the leap of faith that tells us fairies don't exist until we believe in them.   I see it all the time, but I still don't understand embracing unfounded beliefs while recognizing it goes against reason"

Getting to the same place as I did led this person to choose to reject God. It gave me the freedom to choose to have faith as an act of my will. What is it in me that makes that choice and in another person makes them reject God? Is it personality? Environment? Their past experiences of Church? Does it just boil down to the fact that I want to believe in God and so am happy to make that leap of faith? Maybe the other person did not want to believe in God and getting to that point gave them the freedom to not to believe.I don't suppose I will ever know the answer this side of heaven but it puzzles me and also makes me eternally grateful that I have chosen faith in God. 

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Why did I become a minister of religion in the first place

I have been thinking about why I became a minister of religion in the first place. Did I really have noble aims of 'reaching the lost' and 'introducing people to Jesus' or was it something else? Maybe it was a mixture of things.

I think part of it was responding to a call from God to be involved in full time ministry of some kind. I spent much of my nursing career (I was a nurse before I worked for the church) terrified that God would ask me to go to some developing country where it is really hot and they have scary creepy crawlies. In fact when the call came it was to minister to the people of Britain not anywhere else. I was hugely relieved I can tell you! My view of God was 'if you dread doing something, that is always what He will make you do'. I remember being challenged and hopeful at the same time, when I read something by Gerald Coates  in which he said, 'your ministry is probably something you enjoy doing'. It was the first time I had seriously thought that maybe God would not make me do the very thing I dreaded.

On the surface I was feeling 'holy' and wanting to 'serve God'. Maybe a part of me was feeling proud of the fact that I wanted to do these things with my life. That in itself is not a good start! The more I have thought the more I realise that I was trying to earn favour from God. I thought if I was in full time ministry then God would be more likely to really love me and give me what I wanted. 

Although on the surface I was saying all the right things about why I was in ministry underneath it all was a little girl trying to earn love from her heavenly Father.  I was trying to prove to myself, and to God, that I am loveable. It was like I didn't think the cross on its own proved that God loves me.

Virtually all of  my understanding of God was head knowledge not heart knowledge.  I could say the right things, I could teach others the right things. I taught about the grace of God, His unconditional love and acceptance. But at a heart level I was still trying to earn His love and acceptance by being a 'good girl'. 

Obedience is a reaction of gratitude to God's grace, not a way of earning His love.  John 14:23 says, "Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."    When I used to read that verse I would see in my  mind an angry God wagging his finger at me, saying petulantly 'if you loved me, you would obey me', implying we don't really love him, and that to prove our love for Him we must sacrificially obey Him.  That is what I was subconsciously thinking when I went into ministry.

Now I see that verse  in a different light. I am beginning to realise that Jesus is saying 'It is your love for me that will give you the ability to obey me'. The more we love someone the easier it is to do things for them. The love we feel for them motivates us to do things and make sacrifices for them. Obeying Jesus' teaching is the same. The more we love Him the more we will automatically want to obey Him.

I am at the stage now where I need to concentrate on my love relationship with Jesus. I want to learn to really recieve His love and have a genuine relationship with Him. For this reason I think it is vital now that I don't rush into anything at all. I just take each day and each moment as it comes, learning once again to hear God's voice.

 ©Charlie Mackesy      www.charliemackesy.com
The picture to the right is called 'The Prodigal Daughter' and is by Charlie Mackesy.  I find it deeply moving to look at and have a small copy of it in my lounge (copies are available to buy on his website - see under the picture). He also has done one called 'The Prodgial Son' as well.  He's also done a scultpure of the prodigal son as well. If you are ever in the Brompton area of London, then Holy Trinity Church Brompton have the statue in their church. I could sit and look at it for hours!www.charliemackesy.com

Monday, 17 January 2011

A step of faith

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole  staircase, just take the first step."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
 I am definitely on the way back to finding some kind of faith again.  The relief is huge!  Following on from my last post, I finally realised the futility of trying to work out with just reason if there was a God. By excluding faith, Scripture, personal experience, others' testimony, and tradition I am saying in advance 'there is no God' because I have excluded most of the ways He uses to speak to us. I am left with reason and how I see the universe around us and how it started.  It was almost like I had to work out what I believed before I started looking at evidence so I knew whether or not to include or exclude certain types of evidence. I wanted to remain totally open to there being a God or not being one.  I decided I wasn't going to exclude evidence simply because it assumed an existence of God.

It came to me that it's a choice. I can't prove it  one way or the other. I have to take that first step of faith into the unknown without being completely sure. I did that last week. I just decided as an act of my will, and not feeling it, that I was going to believe there is a God. It was a conscious act of my will and my mind. Once I made it, I felt a huge sense of peace. 

I am not going to rush things though. It would be too easy to rush into a Christian life as it was before which would be a mistake. It is important to me that I take each step one by one. I've decided there is a God. I never really doubted Jesus being the Son of God, if there was a God. For me I always knew throughout my time of doubting that if there is a God then Jesus is the Messiah, he is the Son of God.

I've been reminded of when the Israelites crossed the Jordan river. The river didn't part until after the priests at the front of the line stepped into the water. They had to step in before the miracle occurred. "Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away" Joshua 3:15-16. 

 I think I will just live with that for now and enjoy where I am without trying to rush into anything else. One step at a time.