Tag Archives: faith

Augustin Hirschvogel: Sandals with Classical Ornaments

The Road to Emmaus

There’s a story in Luke’s gospel known as the Road to Emmaus.

A pair of Christ’s disciples were walking from Jerusalem to a nearby town after the terrible Passover during which He was crucified. Jesus joined them, although they didn’t recognize Him at first. They were discussing His crucifixion; they didn’t understand it.

This is a snapshot of my own walk with Jesus.

Jesus came alongside me when I didn’t know Him, or expect Him (indeed, I had rejected Him as a younger man, effectively rendering Him ‘dead.’). With the people walking on the road to Emmaus, He slowly and surely revealed Himself to them by showing them from Scripture why it was ‘necessary for the Christ to suffer these things.’

The invited Him in when they reached their destination and remained ignorant of Him until the moment they broke bread with Him. In other words, they didn’t know Him until they had communion with Him and were in relationship with Him. Then, the gospel says, they finally recognized Him.

He immediately vanished from sight (into the realm of faith) in the same instant.

God is like that for me. He reveals something and then, in the twinkling of an eye, departs until next time. But He has left His Spirit behind, to guide me, establish me and build me up (or wear me down) until I am deemed ready for the next encounter with Him.

My heart is a trumpet, 
Listen to it sing.
My heart is a torch,
Watch it burn.I gave you feet for a reason,
Now, use them to follow Me.’

Read more poetry here.

Image: Augustin Hirschvogel: Sandals with Classical Ornaments via Wikimedia Commons

The Dandelion

[A 3-minute read]

At the end of its blossom cycle, the dandelion waits for the breeze. It has come again to the pinnacle of its existence. Life-giving nutrients have poured in from the earth, navigating the tubercles, the hair roots, the secondary roots, through the tap root anchoring the plant firmly in the soil.

Day after day, the plant has turned its happy yellow face to the sun, combining water and minerals from below with carbon dioxide and sunlight from above: creating energy. By osmosis through its veins, nutrients get to each cell. I am like the dandelion. My water and nutrients come through my system and into the blood, also moving through veins, deposited in each cell of my body.

The dandelion is all potential and no pretense. When it is ready, it goes. There is no hesitation. The dandelion is faith in action. It is what I would be if I had no doubts. Although I too have potential, I’m often held back by pretense.

Each of the dandelion’s 2,000 seeds has the potential to produce anther plant. There is no pretense in this either; it knows what it is about. It is following God’s command to ‘reproduce after its kind’ The dandelion is certain of its identity, and unconcerned about its future.

A seed may land just a hairsbreadth from its parent, or on a calm sunny day ride a thermal for half a mile. But it matters not to the seed. When it goes, it is ready to go, and it flies without fear. It is ready to go be a dandelion.

The future of the seed is held in the nature of its landing place. If there is good soil with good growing conditions, it prospers. If not so good, it may still prosper, if it is hardy enough. But, if it lands in stones, or water, or on pavement, or becomes some creature’s meal, it will not sprout at all. The seed’s potential to be a dandelion will be lost.

I see myself in this too, spiritual being than I am. Because I have imagination, I unwisely concern myself with my landing pad. My brain insists on knowing about the landing pad before the launch.

However, faith does not work that way. Faith is leap first, look later.

As it is, God has yet to let me down when I leap. In spite of His faithfulness it always seems that, as I ripen into seed, I question whether what He’s prepared will be good, or at least good enough. And – is it safe to go?

In those moments, it is important to remember my advantage over the dandelion. God plants the seed, but I can do my part to help Him prepare the soil. By staying close to Him, by fixing my heart on Him, I remain able to follow His command to be fruitful and multiply.

Yet the dandelion has an advantage over me. It is not a thinking being with doubts and fears and anxieties. It never questions whether God will disappoint. It never ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil like I did. It knows no shame.

The dandelion boldly pushes ahead. It always has more than enough seeds to fulfill what God asks of it. You know what? So do I. The secret is choosing to let Him work and only help when He asks me to.

Not all my seeds may find the best landing place. But I can improve their odds, and that is the best advantage of all.

 

If you liked this essay, you might also like this poem.

(Photo used under CC licence from PiccoloNamek at Wikimedia Commons)

There are ponies everywhere!

There Are Ponies Everywhere

(A five minute read)

In my soon-to-be published memoir, Masterpiece (A Love Story), I talk about ponies, and how there are ponies everywhere. Ponies are the obsession of Little Johnny, and he wants one more than anything. One day when his dad had a truckload of manure delivered as fertilizer, Johnny started digging through it. His logic was, with that much manure, there must be a pony in there somewhere!

This may be an odd way to introduce the topic of divine healing – like the healing Jesus did – but bear with me.

Ponies are real, and they are all around us. I see them everywhere. But sometimes, they are not in the guise I expect.

Johnny doesn’t see a problem. He doesn’t see a load of crap. He sees an opportunity – the possibility of his wish come true. Johnny has faith.

In several Bible passages, we have Jesus instructing His disciples to have faith. Faith is the key to getting things done in the kingdom of heaven. Faith brings forgiveness of sin. Faith brings eternal life. Faith moves mountains. Faith brings divine healing. Faith raises people from the dead.

Faith comes from God. The opposite of faith, fear, is from the devil. It’s usually camouflaged as one or more of these: doubt, distraction or despair. They are powerful inducements to turn away from God and thus, be afraid.

Doubt, distraction and despair are simply variations on the same tired lie the devil has told since the very beginning: there is some problem or condition in my life that God can’t handle.

It’s a sorry lie, but sorrier still is the fact that I sometimes fall for it, even after all I’ve been saved from. I’m embarrassed to say I too often believe this lie. It happens when I allow what I see with my eyes to take precedence over what I know to be true in my spirit.

Even if things might look grim in the natural world, there is always something miraculous happening in the supernatural. So – where do I cast my eye? Do I stop with a pile of manure or do I search for the pony?

Changing my field of view from poop to pony began by substituting one word for another. I used to ‘have to’ do things. I have to go to work, have to service my car, have to do my taxes, have to get a root canal. Everything was a task, a burden, a problem.

Today I ‘get to’ do these things, so these same things become an opportunity or even a blessing. Why? Because I have a job! I am affluent enough to own a car! I am a productive enough citizen to be taxed! I live in a time and place where modern medicine can fix serious dental troubles!

You see? There are ponies everywhere, and we find them if we stop looking at the manure.

This essay is taken from a piece I originally wrote for Masterpiece. That original version was penned while I lounged in a chemotherapy suite at Guy’s Hospital in London in September 2019. I had a cannula in my right arm allowing toxic substances to be pumped into my circulatory system.

So here’s a case where things might look grim in the natural world. But what is the miraculous thing happening from God’s point of view? Where is the opportunity? Where’s the pony?

The cannula was my regular companion for many weeks because I was being treated for bladder cancer. I was definitely in need of physical healing! While I certainly welcomed supernatural intervention on Jesus’ part, and received a massive amount of prayer for it, I also recognized my healing path may have lain in the natural.

Or, as it turned out, be a combination of the two.

As I went through 15 cycles of chemo and 32 rounds of radiotherapy, no matter what happened, or how I felt, I never ever doubted the Healer. God is good. He gives ponies, not manure. I refused then, and will always refuse to adjust my understanding of God’s goodness downward to ‘explain’ any circumstance.

As I post this today, I have 100% faith that I’m healed and cancer-free. An MRI and CT scan to be done in a few weeks will verify this, and then the specialists will have caught up with what God has already done in my body.

Cancer patients often have many questions, even after they are apparently healed, or are ‘in remission’ as the doctors say. They’ll never say a cancer patient is healed for good and all, those doctors. Because in the medical world, any worst case is always possible (and then there’s the threat of a malpractice suit, but I digress).

Doctors have lots of statistics showing how cancer could reoccur, that I might need chemotherapy again in the future, or radical surgery to re-plumb my insides so I pee through a stopcock in my bellybutton.

None of that matters at present. It only leads to doubt, distraction and despair. I’m too busy living to worry about any of it. It’s not a today problem.

Future decisions aren’t to be made yet. And it’s not time to find any ponies there. But God has them stabled, and waiting for me. When the time comes, if it comes, He will give me the grace to find them, and the strength to ride them, and the joy that comes from being saddled up as a member of His posse.

Dare I say, I got to go through cancer treatment so that God could show me something I wouldn’t have learned otherwise? Time will tell. But I will lay long odds that this is true. How can I say this? Because I understand the nature of God. He can do me no wrong.

So I continue to pray, and bless the prayers from others made on my behalf. And I wait in the mystery of what’s to come, and bask in the freedom it brings. I’m not responsible for the outcome, nor are the doctors. It’s all up to the Lord, and so I leave it with Him, where it best resides.