It snowed overnight! Glasgow and Edinburgh airports have been closed, and at last we’ve seen some of the snow that has buried northern Scotland for much of the last week or so (prior to this here we had about half an hour of big dancing flakes that didn’t settle about a week ago and that was pretty much it). I took some photos, but somehow they have been lost and deleted, goodness knows how I managed that. I’m quite disappointed – they included pictures of the communal garden under several inches of virgin snow (a vast improvement on what it usually looks like I must say), and also pictures of lots of my pots completely submerged (I had to go and knock snow off quite a few plants as they were so bowed down with the weight of the snow). Anyway you’ll just have to take my word for it. Church featured a select remnant only – most of our congregation are elderly, and only the main roads and none of the pavements appear to have been gritted so there’s no way that most of them would have been able to get out and about today. I’d say by the end we just about got to about 20 in the entire congregation (usually we have about 60 there I’d say) plus rector, a couple of servers and a choir of 4 (it’s usually about 10 people, and meant that this week the choir was 75% men, I don’t think that’s ever happened before! I really felt for the solitary soprano!).
I think God (in the form of Dith, Deeleea and the church lectionary amongst others) is on my case again. A couple of days ago as a response to this post of mine where I was feeling sorry for myself, Dith posted a comment which pushed a few buttons and which I thought needed a longer response. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while, God’s promises, and mulling over and wondering about. I think about my early days as a Christian, where I was in a very charismatic evangelical CU at university, and after that at a very charismatic evangelical church, and I have to be honest that it seemed like every passing emotion was passed off as “God is saying x.” Over the years, and I’ve seen and heard a few people say similar things more recently too, I’ve noticed on lots of occasions where things (particularly, I have to say, relationships and parenthood) were referred to in language of God’s promise to them. I did it myself, and there were certain Bible verses that I’d read and because they pressed particular emotional buttons at the time I’d feel sure that that meant God was promising whatever it was that that verse had stirred up in me. In one particular household I lived in about 10 years ago that was taken to its extreme and ended up being quite destructive, I think. And – a big ‘but’ here – all these years later (and admittedly lots of cynicism later too) I honestly can’t remember most of those things that seemed so real at the time and so obviously God speaking – why did I believe that x had been promised? What verse/word of knowledge/odd random thought was it that convinced me? I honestly don’t know any more.
Now that I’m no longer part of the charismatic scene at all, and for some time before as part of my process of moving away from all that, I started to examine what I did believe, and what I did want to hang on to, and my notions of truth as opposed to whim. I expect I’ve thrown out at least part of the baby with the bathwater, and hopefully with more time and distance I’ll have the courage to pick bits up again when I see them as useful and true and not just as unhelpful baggage. In terms of promises, I have no problem with the great Biblical promises – “I am with you always”, “I will never leave you or forsake you”, all those sorts of things, and I can hang onto them pretty unflinchingly in the face of all the seeming evidence to the contrary. But the other stuff, the more personal stuff, the stuff I *want* – I really don’t know if God promised them or if I just wanted him to so much that I attributed my desires to God when it was really just me.
So this is where I’m at. I find it terribly difficult to ask God for a promise, or expect to receive one, because I simply don’t trust myself to get it right, to hear the message correctly (or at all), if there is in fact an answer (I’m not always convinced). In response to Dith’s question, I think I carry on giving each day to God, offering him my future, trusting him to get it right where I know I may not, knowing that he’ll remain with me whatever choices I make, but I honestly don’t think I can do more than that. Even that results in some interesting past baggage rearing its ugly head (“well, if it doesn’t happen then that’s why, you didn’t pray/seek a promise/believe enough”). I try to reject that kind of thinking, I’m convinced it’s wrong as it denies God’s grace, but on the other hand I also wonder how much day-to-day involvement God actually does have with me – he’s given me a brain, and initiative, and a bit of nous, and I think he’s quite happy to let me get on with my life. Not that he’s not a huge part of my life, he is, and not to say that I don’t think he intervenes, I do, but I find it difficult to accept that there is a specific “plan” or destiny for me – things happen, I make choices, I deal with life as it happens and find God in the midst of it all. That’s how life best makes sense, for me anyway.
Today at church the first two readings were from Genesis 17 (God promising Abraham that he would be the father of nations, and that Sarah would bear a child although she was very elderly) and Romans 4 (Paul talking about Abraham’s great faith in believing this promise against all hope). And then I came back home and took a peek at the wibsite and found deeleea’s post [edit: don’t know why that’s not linking, I’m sure the code is right. Anyway it’s dee’s entry for today] which I think is touching on the same issue from a very different angle to me. I don’t know if I’m being prompted to have more faith, to be more specific, to dare to believe differently, to “name it and claim it” (I doubt that one!), I really don’t know – but I think that somehow, vaguely and indefinably, God is on my case – at least a bit.
I do sometimes have these times where everything seems to be pointing in a similar direction and I can think and muse and stroke my chin and pontificate and wonder and all the rest of it. It would be nice though if, just once, it was more than an intellectual exercise and ended up with something more tangible. I need a snog! 😀