7th August

I went to visit some neighbours this afternoon and found them to be Jehovah Witnesses who had come over to Ireland for the week to go around door-to-door. I decided to keep things light and chatted about how they found the locality. One lady said she had been to Australia and I asked her if she had learned what you’d call a kangaroo with a sweater: (a wooly jumper). They mentioned the Bible often in conversation and I asked them if they knew what the word ‘Bible’ meant: (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.) I asked if they knew the first car mentioned in the Bible: (it says in the Acts of the Apostles that they all lived in one (Honda) Accord). First motor bike (David rode on in Triumph). How many ‘born again’ people does it take to change a lightbulb? Ten, one to change the bulb and 9 to run outside to tell everybody they’ve seen the light. It was a good fraternal visit.

GOSPEL                     Matthew 16: 24-28carry cross
What has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

The following is a related reflection from Premier Christian Media – about making sense of the shadow of the Cross when it falls across us.

Romans 8:28 NLT “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

I recall hearing the words, ‘all things work together for good’ while in the height of struggles over Katey’s battle with MS. I had to admit I could see very little good in the hand we had been dealt. Yet, what were we to do? Blame God and chuck faith out of the window? Although we didn’t do that, let me tell you I think we came close on several occasions. We were certainly both upset and angry with God more than once.

It was only walking through those bleak years that we both came to understand something of what Paul meant through those words. This working together for good only ever works out while we are first aware of loving God for ourselves and secondly acknowledging that God has a purpose for our life. It demands a recognition that my life is no longer my own the moment I surrender to Christ.

For Katey and me, it was only as we embraced the reality and the bitter disappointment of the journey with MS that we were able to discover any aspect of God’s peace. Our preferred outcome was not to be. Accepting that was challenging. The tension between a physical healing and the ongoing deterioration was difficult to maintain. Yet, we had opportunity to learn about both ourselves and God as a result.

As we learned a whole new way of living, God began to reveal his heart for us both within the situation. Katey became a source of great hope to those who visited and sat with her. I discovered the God of healing who works so much more deeply than in the physical alone. We were both able to respond to God’s requests in serving his purpose from within our situation. The kingdom of God was enriched and grew.

PRAYER: Sovereign Lord, I confess I do not always see the truth of this verse, yet whatever happens, help me to love you and serve your kingdom purposes.