ONE: They camped beside the sea, a migrating nation, refugees from the tyranny of dictatorship. On either side desert and mountainous terrain, in the far distance the rumble of chariots of war, throwing a cloud of dust metres into the air. Terror gripped as the cloud moved ever closer, heralding the fast-approaching elite troops of the pursuing army – forces of an ancient superpower, under whose dominion they’d suffered such cruel bondage … it’s an IMPASSE, there’s no way to go. Annihilation is their only prospect. Terror-stricken they turn on their leader, Moses – “we’re done for, finished – why on earth did we listen to you – what a fine mess you’ve got us into”… Moses calls on God – God speaks … “Tell my people to advance” – Impractical ? Yes. Absurd ? Yes. BUT, the rest is history … for God and His people there is always a place called forward…
Without doubt there are times we all feel hemmed in by circumstances, when we see no way out, when everything looks bleak and humanly impossible. The Exodus and the Red Sea crossing are divinely set in Scripture (exodus 14) as a constant reminder to God’s people of all time, that ‘with God NOTHING is impossible”.
Got any rivers you think are un-crossable
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through
God specializes in things thought impossible
He can do just what no other can do
TWO: The small ‘band of brothers’ were utterly demoralised…Uncertainty & fear gripped their minds. Thoughts reeled, senses benumbed by the incidents of recent hours. Two of their number were dead – one by a gruesome suicide, the other a victim of cruel torture. Now, traumatised by what they’d witnessed, they met in secret – like fugitives escaping some awesome predator … What conversation there was – concerned betrayal, injustice, abuse, and was mingled with a sense of sheer disbelief and desperation. Bereft, leaderless, dreading the sound of heavy footsteps outside their locked door … they waited in hopelessness … That was Good Friday … but we know that RESURRECTION DAY was fast approaching … and with that Day a place called forward.
There is so much to be gained by reflecting on the dramatic effect of JESUS’ resurrection on that ‘band of brothers’ and their immediate friends. Within a matter of weeks, a transformation of such epic proportions occurred, finding its culmination in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost … BOTH Resurrection Day and Pentecost proclaimed THEN and NOW … that in God’s economy there is always a PLACE CALLED FORWARD
The battles, traumas, stresses of recent months may have been intense and left us drained. It is probable that we have felt like the ancient people of God confronted with the Red Sea – maybe we’ve even resorted to complaining, like they did, turning our frustrations on one another (in particular our leaders). It is quite possible that our thoughts, even our conversations, may have mirrored those of the early disciples in the Upper Room – no doubt there have been moments of anxiety and even fear …
Whatever our case we do need a fresh understanding, and with it the re-assurance, that for US there IS a place called FORWARD. Finding that Place may mean different things to different people, but let’s fix our thoughts for a moment on two unchanging realities, definitely applicable to each one of us:
OUR SOVEREIGN GOD
“The Lord reigns” is the oft-repeated refrain in many of the Psalms. Let’s never lose sight of the SOVEREIGNTY of God. Let’s not forget the crucial lesson, taught by the Apostle Paul, and learned by saints of all generations in the topsy-turviness of existence, that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (NIV Romans 8:28) – you will have your ‘preferred’ version … which says precisely the same, albeit using other English words … The KEY is that, like Paul, who wrote those words under inspiration of the Spirit, we KNOW or are ASSURED of this … and it is through the effectual working of the Holy Spirit that this assurance is given and grows stronger within us. We are in constant need of fresh ‘impartations’ of the Spirit’s life, enabling us to travel the path that is forward
OUR PERSONAL UNIQUENESS
A Quote: Canon Cheslyn Jones: “God the Creator of the universe has made me in His own image by no process of mass production; I am a specially designed reproduction of His image. So there is a place in His providence that only I can fill. I have a unique responsibility before Him which cannot be delegated to any other being. Moreover, I have a capability of understanding Him and loving Him which is in principle unique.”
Let’s never allow the circumstances we face or the organisation we belong to, to rob us of this sense of our own personal uniqueness, of that which makes us individual (and so, so special)
I’m closing with a prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to touch hearts – to enter into places of hurt, of weakness, of disappointment, and of failure – into the very stuff of our lives, where there may be an impasse … you’re welcome to use this prayer personally – it could make all the difference, and take you to the place called forward- God bless you.
PRAYER: “Transforming Spirit, come into my life, walk through the corridors and chambers of my inner being, opening my eyes, healing my heart, renewing my mind and bringing fresh purpose and direction. Take me to the place that is FORWARD, empowering me to walk in wholeness and fruitfulness, enabling me to serve Your Will and to give myself selflessly in serving those around me, as You may lead. AMEN”