I remember an occasion a few years after I began my journey of discovery, having a conversation with a fellow member of the church youth team as we were planning a session for our young people. He had been a disciple for a lot longer than I and I felt I had a lot to learn. We were reflecting on how it may be easier to be confident in our faith when all was going well but what if it wasn’t? What if our foundations are severely tested, like Job? How would our faith stand up then? I hadn’t at that time had a ‘storm’ in my life so I really didn’t know. I have always loved St Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus and prayed this for myself over the years:
Ephesians 3: 16 ‘I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.’
Like the parable Jesus told about the man who built his house on the rock such that it stood strong during the storm, would my foundations prove robust enough to stand when inevitably I encountered life’s storms?
Well, I was soon to find out via my twin 3rd key markers; my suspension from work and my father’s illness and death. I’m not going to go into the details of the work situation except to say that it arose partly through my own naivety in applying my faith to trying to help another. There was an investigation and an exoneration and lessons learned. When Dad was dying I cried out to God to save him. He didn’t answer that prayer by keeping him alive but he answered it in several other ways that demonstrated God’s infinite and unfathomable grace mercy and timing. I now understand why I had had a deep conviction that I needed to talk to him about Jesus during the 2 years leading up to his illness. When I was crying out to him for a miraculous healing, I wasn’t told that I would be granted my request. Instead I was given peace and the promise that Jesus would be with me throughs this difficult journey, helping me to be strong for my family. During Dad’s final days we were given a ‘window’ of lucidity that interrupted his descent into coma during which we could say the things that needed to be said and I was assured that God had indeed saved him. I look forward to the day when we get to hang out together again and he can given me the heavenly guided tour!
During those times I was aware of being carried by the prayers of my church family and by my Lord’s strong arms holding me up and stopping me drowning. The one who was the co-orchestrator of the beginning of time and the Universe, who can control the skies and seas was holding me up and enfolding me with love. I was pointed to some of the Psalms; 30 and 31 were the perfect salve and source of hope. The words of Brian Doerksen, ‘Faithful One’, have always spoken powerfully to me about this time and the wonderful art of Iain McKillop perfectly depicts how the drowning person is rescued by Jesus (by reaching out to His outstretched hand), the link to the unknowable all-powerful one.