Still in need of a Saviour
I have been recuperating for the last three and a half weeks from a back operation, so have had some time for reflection and thinking ahead, in the midst of Christmas celebrations which I probably didn’t feel like throwing myself into.
Nonetheless, I’ve had wakeful periods in the middle of the night, and times of clear-sightedness, and feeling that I’m hearing God with fresh clarity, which is deeply reassuring. In the midst of this, I have many reflections, past and present, and future hopes again! Most of them, however, are profoundly simple.
My overwhelming feeling, which I must testify to, has been a sense of how our ways are perfectly ordered by the Lord, and how incredibly well our heavenly Father cares for us, even when we walk through incredibly difficult periods. For Lorraine and me, 2012 has not been an easy year. She has had challenges with both her parents, both suffering from Alzheimer’s. We have had them living with us, and then moving on to live elsewhere. In all the challenges of this, we have known God’s direction and provision, while walking through the pain of their suffering and incomprehension. Equally, we have had other family pressures which I do not need to talk about. At the same time, I have been struggling with pain in my back for nine months; but at the right time, when all of my ministry commitments were covered, the operation came through, and I seem to be making good progress health-wise. The list of details that have constantly fallen into place in our lives witnesses again how every detail of our lives has been covered by a heavenly Father who loves us. How grateful Lorraine and I are for that. The specific stories are too numerous to recount in detail, but this is our story!
My first reflection is an entirely personal one. If God is such a loving Father, who watches over all the details of our lives as we trust ourselves into His hands, why do we worry? I have preached quite often on the famous words of Jesus:
“So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I have still battled with fear and anxieties this year – in our personal and family situations, with my health issues, with ministry and leadership challenges. I might have expected to be “further on” spiritually by now, mightn’t I? All this shows that I am still human, and still get pressed back into God at every turn, and this does me good! It is not bad for me, but my prayer for 2013 is that I may walk, personally, with a greater sense of daily peace and serenity, precisely because I am confident in my Father’s love and care. I need to keep going and growing in this. This is surely a journey for us all, too?
My second reflection follows the first. It is simply that everyone still needs a Saviour. When Jesus’s birth was announced to the shepherds by the angel of the Lord, the message was: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord.”
A young man, fairly newly married, whom I know quite well, was recently walking through challenging times with his wife, who was looking to him to “sort everything out” in her. He said to her: “Look, I can be a husband to you, but Jesus is your Saviour! Some things in us only he can fix!” I was very impressed with the wisdom and clarity that God had given to my young friend! The wonderful privilege of being a Christian is that every one of us has a personal relationship with the Saviour! That means that each of us also has a personal Saviour. I pray that in all our churches, we will encourage our people to find their hope, peace, salvation and deliverance in their relationship with their personal Saviour. Not in our counselling, our wisdom, our self-help programmes, but in the Saviour. And, as the book of Hebrews (ch. 7.25) reminds us: “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” All of our pastoring and encouragement of others points in this direction. And in our desire to be much more missional all round, this needs to be our essential walk and testimony to others. What we are living, we can shout about!
This leads me (conveniently, of course, but this is simply the way I think!) to my third reflection, which has been the focus for much of my prayer in wakeful hours during the night recently. I am still delighted to be yoked to Jesus for His glory and for His kingdom. I have the privilege of travelling in many nations, teaching, envisioning and training people about God’s purposes for our lives and for the church, and encouraging people to build as God wants them to build. I am grateful to God for his entrustment to me in this, and the risk that he takes in giving me this entrustment. But the deepest cry of my heart is that Jesus should be known as Saviour in all the nations, in the Western world, in Islamic nations, and glorified in all these nations as the one gives life to all. After all, he came to seek and to save the lost, and the sinner, and the person close to and far from God.
As we seek to be more missional and clearer-envisioned towards this, it is helping people know the Saviour - one who can fix people deep down in the areas of their deepest need. I long to see all our missional church strategies result in people getting saved! I mean thoroughly, permanently, deep down and long-lastingly saved by the Saviour of the world, and living different lives because of this!
As I spend these first few days of 2013 “up the mountain” in the presence of God, I find that this is my heart cry, over and over. I pray for all the churches in our Salt and Light family, that God would make us clearer and more effective in our goal to proclaim and demonstrate in every way possible that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, and the Saviour of souls, and that 2013 may be a much more fruitful year in this regard than ever we have seen before.
International Team Leader