Warner's TheoBlog

Thoughts from a disciple who writes


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The glass bridge

I saw a video on Facebook today which I wish I had saved at the time. It was of the longest glass bridge in the world, over a chasm in China. The bridge is as long as three football pitches, about 1000 feet above the floor of the valley and constructed entirely of glass and steel. It has been designed entirely for the purpose and its parts are all far stronger than traditional building materials such as concrete.

As people crossed the bridge, the acted in interesting ways. A few of the people seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely, striding out over the drop with confidence. Most people on the bridge, however, were showing fear and trepidation of one kind or another. Some walked with their eyes closed, shuffling along whilst holding the hands of friends. Other crawled along, forcing themselves to move through their fear no matter how slowly they went. Still others were simply incapacitated with fear.

All of the people who walked onto the bridge were perfectly aware that it was a sound structure made from glass that is stronger than concrete and wires designed in such a way that not even the fiercest storm will destroy them… yet fear took its toll. Their imaginations ran wild and the evidence of their eyes altered their behaviour, their brains battling between logic and fear.

It dawns on me that the glass bridge is the perfect metaphor for me. It is how I feel when walking into a room of strangers. I know in my mind that everything will be OK, that I have a right to be in the room and that there is nothing to be afraid of… Yet, despite my knowledge, fear dominates me. I force myself to walk into the room and, more or less, talk to a few people, but, after not very long at all, I will be standing at the edge of the room watching everyone else and berating myself for the fact that I am too afraid to talk to them.

As for evangelism, think of the person who crawls onto the glass bridge as a sheer act of will. Inching themselves out, only seeing the chasm below despite the structure that holds them. In no time at all, the simple thought of going out onto the street incapacitates me. In reality, I know I am safe on the bridge of God’s love, but my mind closes my body down and I am simply unable to overcome my fear as an act of will.

My feelings then betray me, telling me that, “it’s better not to try the bridge. It’s only a pathway to terror and no good can come of it. All you will get is a bowel juddering sense of fear and an overwhelming dose of self-recrimination for your pathetic failure of courage.” I HATE THAT BRIDGE. I hate what it stands for, as the very image of the weakness of my faith and what it does to me. I HATE MY FEAR!

I hate the fact that the bridge exists and that I can, in reality, totally trust it to keep me safe from falling but that the truth of my actions tell me that I do not trust it at all. I hate the fact that even the thought of it makes my fear rise like vomit in my heart, paralysing me to inaction and making me feel awful in guilt and recrimination. I hate that I feel so guilty and stupid for trying in the first place; guilty and stupid for failing; guilty and stupid if I don’t try at all. I hate the feelings, I hate my actions and, inevitably, I come to hate myself. Mostly, I hate the devil for, over years and time after time, training my fear to be stronger than my faith so that now I find even the thought of going out fills me with fear.

I pray… “God does not give me a spirit of fear, but of love, compassion and a sound mind. PLEASE Father, let me live as if this is true!”

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Jesus who? – Another Christmas cogitation

My children have a wide range of skills and gifts, and I am very proud of them. Not all of them, however, are as positive as I might hope. One of their remarkable skills, that in this case I can only hope they grow out of, could be best described as ‘selective blindness’.

Let me give you an example.

One of my sons will want to wear his favorite sweater. He will ask where it is and my wife or I will tell him that the sweater he requires is in his bedroom, in his sweater drawer. My son will then race off to look, only to return 20 seconds later to say that his sweater is not in his sweater drawer. We will assure him that his sweater is, in fact, in his sweater drawer and send him off to look once more. A mere 25 seconds later, our son will stand before us, speaking with great vehemence, to tell us that the sweater is not in the drawer. We will tell him once again where the sweater is (in the drawer) and he will have. what can only be described as, a ‘strop’, shouting that we are wrong and flinging his foot towards the floor with a passion that can only be felt by a child insistent that his parents are ‘wrong’ and ‘being unfair’.

Any parent will know what happens next. We go with him into his room, to the drawer in question, and find, sitting on top of the pile of clothing inside his drawer, the very sweater that was required. He will then insist that it was not there only a few moments before.

This exchange contains an everyday miracle. The miracle is not that we have found the sweater which our son insists mystically appeared in between his searches. The miracle, as far as I am concerned, is that my son did not find the sweater that was on top of his clothes, in plain sight, in exactly the place we said it would be!

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:10-11)

Where is God? In a beautiful world that is wracked with pain, loss, disaster, disease and more, the cry goes out. Where is God? Why does God ignore us? We are told that there is a God, yet we cannot see Him.

The accusations follow.

There is no God. We have looked and He is not there! We have been lied to. If God is there, why can’t we see Him?

The truth is simple, yet profound. God is with us. He is in the midst of this beautiful, suffering, struggling, dark and painful world. Born in a stable, to live and die and rise again. He is right out in the open where all can see him… yet so many people miss him. It seems that the majority of the world suffers from ‘selective blindness’.

We may stamp our feet and shout our frustration, because we cannot see the presence of God in the world, yet… there he is. Right out in plain sight. Just where he has been declared to be for the whole of our lives. Jesus is God’s presence and rescue for a lost world. God is right there in plain sight for all to see, yet so many simply do not see him.

The miracle is not that God is in the world. The miracle is that we fail to see him! He is right there in plain sight.

It is for this reason that those of us who are Christians and can see God’s presence in the world right in front of us, must not get frustrated with the people who cannot see Jesus. Just as it is a waste of time and energy shouting at our children when they cannot see a jumper that is in plain sight, neither should we scream our frustration at the world’s selective blindness in their faces. Accusing the world of willful ignorance is a waste of energy and in no way displays the love for the world that Jesus exemplifies and calls us to. It might well be that Jesus is right in front of them in plain sight, but they genuinely cannot seem to see him.

What we have to do is simply walk alongside them and show them Jesus. Point to him, right out in plain sight, and hope that next time they will see him for themselves. Because, once a person sees Jesus for themselves, they simply cannot fathom how they were able to miss him for all the time that passed before.

Simple, yet profound. Do not get angry that others cannot see Jesus when he is right there in front of them. Rather, walk with them and show them where he is. Perhaps next time they will see Him for themselves.