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As with many Saturday afternoons I had dropped Isaac in the park to play tennis which meant I now had an hour to spare. This happens most Saturdays so I head to the coffee hut, get a takeaway and spend the time walking around the large London Park. I tend to listen to a podcast, maybe pray a bit and enjoy some music.
Last Saturday I found myself halfway around the park when the heavens opened. It was torrential rain with lightening and as a idiot I’d left my raincoat in the car. I started to hide under trees, but realising this was going to continue for a while I needed to make my way back to Isaac.
Trying to dart between trees I tried to get enough cover to only get a small dampening but as time went on I became increasingly aware that I was getting damper and damper and that now I was at that point of no return. I was getting so wet that there was little point trying to avoid it any longer.
So I stepped out into the downpour and walked right under the heaviest of it. I was soaked.
Dripping from my glasses, hair, and ears all the way down my body.
As I walked along I remembered Hosea 6:3, a verse I’d been reading the day before and it kept coming to mind. “He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that drench the earth”.
Spring rains don’t drizzle, they drench.
I realised something. When it comes to the spirit I’ve been darting back and forth under trees for a while. I want to control how wet I get.
Gods drenching the earth and I’m stood under a tree trying to keep cover.
But as I got wet there was no turning back, I stood there and became drenched. I arrived at the tennis courts to find Isaac stood undercover laughing at me. He’d seen me at a distance and thought how wet I was, was hilarious. In reality it was.
My prayer is that I want my inner life to be as drenched as my outer life was last weekend. I don’t want to dance under trees but enjoy the full drenching that Hosea speaks of.
Many of us have this Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde thing going on inside of us. Not that were flipping in and out of split personality but that we struggle with two areas of our Christian belief. I could say between Mr Hope and Mr Disappointment.
We hope that God will do things but at the same time disappointed when we haven’t seen prayer or miracles happen.
There is a danger that our disappointments have a greater effect on our imaginations than we would like to think. I spend so much time talking about God having a more powerful work in and through us but many of us are frozen in our own souls because of doubts and disappointments. We have heard people speak of God being able to do ‘Immeasurably More’ but we are locked in a place of disappointment that is now crippling us in the future work God has for us.
I recently asked a group of Christians ‘who in the room is a little disappointed with God’. The room was filled with hands going up all over the place. You could feel an audible breath as people in the room had that ‘me too’ moment. We aren’t the only ones disappointed, we have all secretly and some not so secretly carried this disappointment in our hearts making us a little bitter, jaded and cynical.
We need to be a real church where we can speak about disappointments, mental health, anxiety and depression. A church that doesn’t brush hard issues under the carpet. There has to be a way for us that is so beautifully Jesus like and can hold the heartache and the expectancy of the resurrection together. Jesus had to die before the resurrection but it is noticeable that too often we rush to the resurrection of Easter Sunday while trying to skip by the sadness of Good Friday.
Christianity is a faith build upon a huge disappointment and then a even larger triumph. You simply cant have the triumph with out the sadness of loss.
We need to be a church with high hopes and high expectations while at the same time not ignoring the pain and rejection felt when it hasn’t worked out?
I believe in the powerful work of God but at the same time struggle with unanswered prayer. The question for the church and its future is can we hold the tension and honesty of our disappointments? There is a danger that our disappointments in fact imprison us in fear. We ask ourselves ‘what if I pray for a miracle and nothing happens’? So we don’t pray, in the hope not to be disappointed.
Sometimes our disappointments can be down to a lack of faith that God is even capable. Essentially the question for us is ‘Does God care’? If he does in fact care then we can ask ‘Do we really trust him? If God doesn’t care then we can’t trust him and if he does care then surely we can trust him.
The reality is rather than focusing on the glorious and powerful work of the Holy Spirit we focus upon the storm, mountain or catastrophe before us. We see the problem as bigger than the God of more. This can and will cripple us as it tells us that God isn’t as powerful as we hoped or dreamt. God isn’t able or capable.
Can I dare us to hold our disappointment and cynicism while at the same time have a growing sense of anticipation for something God could be doing?
As David reminds us time and time again in the Psalms there is only one way of shifting this crippling overload of fear, anxiety, worry and disappointment. Praise, worship and adoration. As we worship we get a bigger view of God and as he grows we are able to fall into his arms realising he is far more powerful than we imagine.
I’ve been working on a new book which will be the theme for Spring Harvest next year called IMMEASURABLY MORE. Check out our promo film for the event.