From my most frequent correspondent

Time to Repent

I had to undertake some serious repentance this morning.

My thinking was all wrong.

Two days ago I wrote about being deemed a so-called ‘Vulnerable Adult,’ at a heightened risk of a serious run-in should I contract what’s going around.

I wrote, So, I’m now locked in my home for 12 weeks. I have 81 days of confinement remaining, as of this writing.’

For this, Lord, I am sorry.

Here’s where I was wrong.

My mindset had me counting down to freedom. My eyes were only set on the day when I will no longer be confined to my home.

But what is freedom, really? Is it truly measured by my ability to come and go as I wish? Do I define it only by an untrammelled lifestyle? Or is there more to it than that?

What hauled me up short this morning was the reminder that I am not my own. When I gave my life to Christ, I set myself at His bidding and I look to Him for my freedom, not the ability to pass through the door of my flat.

I am so, so wrong to dumb down my definition of freedom to something mundane.

The classic verse on this is Galatians 5:1, ‘For freedom Christ freed us. Stand fast therefore and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.’

Or, put another way, ‘Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free – not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.’ (TPT)

Again it begs the question, how do I define my freedom? If my freedom comes from surrender to Christ, I can hold onto that freedom wherever I am and whatever I’m doing.

There are lots of memes floating about on social media right now about how Paul wrote half the New Testament while under house arrest, and how Sir Isaac Newton developed his theory of gravitation while ‘self-isolating’ from the plague.

That’s all well and good, but puts the focus in the wrong place. That focus is still on doing. We need to focus on being. It’s out of a state of being that all our doing becomes well-anchored, and makes sense.

Remember, God doesn’t call us to a life of doing to earn His love. He calls us to a relationship of love with Him, which stirs our hearts to then get busy and do, which is how we love others.

He calls us to take action out of love, not just be people who love to take action. There is all freedom in the former and less freedom in the latter.

‘Beloved ones, God has called us to live a life of freedom in the Holy Spirit. But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an opportunity to set up a base of operations in the natural realm. Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence that we become servants of one another, expressing love in all we do.’ (Galatians 5:13, TPT)

Back to my need to repent, and change my thinking.

I’m no longer counting the days to freedom. That would leave me ‘setting up a base of operations’. I’d be hunkered in my bunker, waiting to be let out.

The truth is that I was released from prison the day I gave my life to Jesus.

I have my freedom today. The only question left is, what shall I do with it?

After I celebrate with joy, that is.

The door to my heart

The Gods Fall Down

(A two-minute read)

I have a tremendous opportunity, perhaps the greatest I’ve ever been offered. My false gods, my idols, are falling on their faces one by one.

Let me explain.

Because I was treated for cancer in 2019, I‘m considered a ‘Vulnerable Adult’ by the National Health Service, and thought likely to have an unpleasant ride should I contract the Covid-19 virus.

They deem my chance of death to be higher than yours.

So, I’m now locked in my home for 12 weeks. I have 81 days of confinement remaining, as of this writing.

No matter that I don’t believe I’m more vulnerable than you.

No matter that my understanding of Scripture proves that I have authority over this virus. (‘Curse you, Covid-19, in Jesus’ name! Back to the devil that spawned you!)

This is also notwithstanding my revelation last December that I’m healed of cancer.

As my daughter Brenna put it, ‘On paper, you should be (considered vulnerable). Age over 60, recently off chemo- and radiotherapies, history of excessive vice.* Medical experts don’t account for (divine) healing, for better or worse.’

Yeah, yeah. No matter that even during chemotherapy my wife got sick twice and I didn’t rate a sniffle. I didn’t even get to complain. Instead, I got a text:

NHS CORONAVIRUS SERVICE: We have identified that you’re someone at risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus. Please remain at home for a minimum of 12 weeks. Home is the safest place for you. Staying in helps you stay well and that will help the NHS too. You can open a window, but do not leave your home.

Clearly that last clause is to discourage me from pitching out head-first in suicidal despair from my upstairs flat.

(Insert sanctimonious Christian grumble here)

Oh well, God bless the NHS for their care and consideration, even if they haven’t caught up with my reality. I shall comply. It could likely save others.

On the up-side, I now rate preferential treatment for home delivery slots from my local supermarket and pharmacy.

But I digress badly. This isn’t about special delivery due to the Wuhan Flu, it’s about turning away from false gods.

My false gods are falling on their faces, confronted in this season of isolation by the one true God, maker of heaven and earth. As they recede, He grows nearer.

Here’s my opportunity then: Turn away from the false gods that I love so well, so that when I come out of House Arrest I’ll have no desire for them any more.

It’s like the account in 1 Samuel 5. The Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, which Israel had brought out onto the battlefield. But they made the mistake of setting the ark inside the temple of their god, Dagon.

‘And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the Lord.’ (1Sam 5:3 NKJV) They stood Dagon back up again and the next morning they not only found it face-down in front of the ark, but with its head and both its hands cut off.

That’s what’s happening here in my room. I’m alone with the presence of the living God, Creator of heaven and earth. My idols are falling one by one at His feet. I’ll share a few examples with you:

  • My need to know, with too-frequent checking of news and opinion websites.
  • Questioning what the financial markets will do.
  • Pursuing what the medical experts think today (versus yesterday).
  • Having the freedom to go where I wish in the world.
  • Major League Baseball (the hardest of all – a personal passion since 1961).

One by one these are all crashing to the floor, heads and hands torn asunder, unimportant in the face of a God who heals, a God who loves. They cannot rise again of their own accord.

The critical question is whether I’ll be short-sighted enough to stand them up again when this is all over.

Or will I leave them earthbound, where they belong?

* My story of excessive vice is detailed in my memoir, Masterpiece (A Love Story) to be published in early April, 2020)

(Image by meesh, via Wikimedia Commons)

Reverse Direction

A Special Bulletin

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for a special bulletin.
You have no need to fear.

Yes, there’s a pestilence loose in the world right now.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in your health.

The stock markets are crashing and the economy seems to be dissolving.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in money.

Someone you love dearly may be ill, or may even have died.
I am with you in your grief, but you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in people.

You doubt the government knows what it is doing.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in government.

The media keeps harping on how bad it all is.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in the media.

The medical system may seem to be failing you.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in medicine.

Your church gives no answers about why this is happening.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in your church leaders.

It’s time to put your faith in the place where there’s never a doubt or failure.
Put your faith in God,
Jesus Christ says you have no need to fear.

“Don’t be afraid,” He said. “Take courage. I am here!” *
Yes, even in your self-isolation.

 

 

*Matthew 14:27 (NLT)

[Photo: Frisky 007 via Wikimedia Commons]