Faith Meets World

Reflections on faith in a messed-up but beautiful world

Category: Personal reflections (Page 2 of 13)


old-ship-164981I have been to many places
Climbed many mountains
Stood on many stages
Taken many bows and soaked up the plaudits
Worked hard and done my best
Tried to make everyone happy
Keep the whole train rolling

But as I stand here in this place
Surveying all this landscape
All this accumulated experience and supposed learning
Here’s the One Big Thing I’ve learned: I’m broken

I’m a broken man living in a broken world
Speaking broken words to people with broken ears
Trying my best to limit the damage
But so often just making matters worse

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Living in hiding

AfraidImagine two young children, aged around two or three years old. Each lives in a different home; each is physically and mentally healthy.

Let’s observe each of these children for a moment.

The first child seems happy and carefree. She is intensely curious and interested in her environment. When she sees something new or hears an unfamiliar sound, her eyes light up with excitement. She is vivacious and seems to have a natural enthusiasm for life. She appears confident in her relationship to the world around her. She responds openly and affectionately to human touch.

By contrast, the second child seems somewhat sad and troubled. Rather than display curiosity, he keeps himself to himself. He is generally listless and disinterested; he responds nervously to new sights and sounds. He is wary of human contact. Overall, he appears withdrawn and guarded.

Which of these two children do you think is displaying normal, desirable behaviour for a young child? Most people would agree that the first child appears to be emotionally and developmentally healthier than the second. One might say she seems well-adjusted, while he seems… what?

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Ruined pierThere are days and seasons when the sun is never far away,
at least in thought and expectation;
when steps are quickened by wonder and the energy of hope
and even the most mundane of occupations crackles with latent possibility.
Days of lightness and joy, when nothing can impede the onward rush
of this outrageous, uproarious adventure called life.

But then there are other days and other times
when, having set, the sun seems determined not to rise again;
when all is shrouded in a veil of gloom and fog,
hope is but a distant cipher,
and a cold blanket of despair lies heavy on the heart.
Every task an effort, every day an eternity,
and every glimmer of hope snuffed out by bitter regret.

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A thousand chances

3156541867_8f0e7f3fae_bIt’s New Year’s Eve. As we stand here on the threshold of another revolution around the sun, allow me to share a brief thought.

As I’ve written before, I’m not generally a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions; it seems to me they are often little more than a recipe for deferred disappointment. However, I do think New Year is a good opportunity to take stock of where we are and where we’re heading.

Of course, where we are and where we’re heading will differ for each of us, but it seems to me there’s one thing we all need in life, whatever our age or social and geographical location: more chances. We need the chance to learn from our mistakes; the chance to show grace where we have previously withheld it; the chance to say sorry where we have previously dug ourselves into a deep rut of pride; the chance to open our arms in welcoming embrace where we have previously folded them and turned our backs.

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Dealing with fear

paris-terrorToday I’d like to talk a little bit about fear. Not in the abstract, but in the all too concrete. To do so, I need to get personal and talk about a recent experience of mine.

I would say I am not generally a fearful person. I don’t go through life worrying about imagined future possibilities. But a couple of nights ago, for some reason, I had a bad night… a night of real fear.

I woke up in the middle of the night, as I sometimes do, but instead of drifting back to sleep I found myself thinking about the recent terror attacks in Paris and the likelihood – if not the certainty – that there will be more and much worse to come.

As I thought about the Middle East, ISIS, the migrant/refugee crisis, and growing social tensions in a number of western nations, my mind began to play out apocalyptic scenarios involving not only terrorist attacks, bombings and the spectre of a group like ISIS obtaining nuclear weapons, but also a total breakdown of law, order and the social fabric within my own country, and all the attendant impacts on home, family… even survival. Try as I might, I could not quiet my thoughts and go back to sleep.

I don’t know how long I was awake; it may only have been an hour or so, but as I laid there in a cold sweat and with my heart pounding, it felt like a lot longer. Then, finally, sleep came and I didn’t wake again until the morning.

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Some brief birthday reflections

268369035_95b83e4e8b_oSo, today I begin my forty-sixth revolution around the sun. I always think a birthday is a good time to pause for a moment and consider what has gone before, give thanks, and consider how one might be positioned and equipped for what lies ahead.

“Tempus fugit”, they say, and they are right. As my daughter prepares to go to university next year, I almost can’t believe it’s over 22 years since I graduated. Sometimes it seems like you blink and a decade flashes past. Such is life.

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Looking for God

SunsetI looked for God for a long time. My search took me to all kinds of places.

I looked for God in achievement and success; I found some short-term satisfaction in accolades and public approval… but I eventually found that these things could not make up for the lack inside my soul.

I looked for God in church and ministry: this seemed promising, because everyone talked about God and did all kinds of spiritual-sounding stuff. But ultimately I found there was a lot of hot air, a good deal of warm, fuzzy experiences… and not a whole lot of real substance.

I looked for God in the Bible. I found a lot of truth there, and I definitely saw glimpses of God there… but I also found a lot of religion and dogma, and texts being read and interpreted in ways that forced them into boxes they were never meant to fit.

I looked for God in family and relationships… and while I found a whole lot of love and goodness, I learned that others could not and should not be made to bear the weight of my own dependency and need.

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