God's Delight

Life has been a bit rough lately. Actually, over the past few weeks, it has been fairly hellish - to the extent of reducing me to floods of tears a time or two. I'm beginning to come out of it now, and have begun to work out what went wrong. Basically, I have been terribly busy for some months, and it all caught up with me.

A change of churchwarden had meant a change in responsibilities, and I swapped child and adult safeguarding for buildings oversight and health and safety. We had pretty-much got our safeguarding sorted - policies and procedures in place and working well. Buildings and H&S though, through nobody's fault, aren't quite so 'sorted', and I've really been overdoing it, trying to get things started - changing the way we organised the buildings work, plus getting started on various maintenance tasks and the beginnings of some improvements.

We have also changed our service pattern - going from two services (at 10:30am and 6:15pm) to three (at 9:00 and 11:00am and 7:00pm), and that has entailed a surprising amount of work for everyone - staff and volunteers.

Stupidly (I now realise) I fondly imagined that once we had moved over to the new pattern, everything would be easy, and I'd be able to have a rest and get my joy back. Not a bit of it! In fact it has seemed even harder, and I reached a point where I just couldn't cope.

That explains, at least partly, why I haven't posted anything to this blog recently. The other reason is that I have become discouraged by my struggle to write a coherent post regarding homosexuality, God, the Bible and church, which both laid out the 'bare facts', and also expressed God's love for all His creatures. I kept reading, writing, and writing and reading, and kept 'nuancing' my own view and feelings. In the end, I have more or less given up, at least for now, unsatisfactory and unsatisfying as it is. In some ways it seems a very simple problem, and one on which the Bible's teaching is clear, but in other ways it is incredibly complex and anything but clear.

Instead, I want to share with you something very simple, of which Craig Abbott, our curate, reminded me recently when we met (as we do on an 'irregularly regular' basis) to chat and pray. It concerns our relationship with God, and His attitude to us.

In the gospels we find a familiar story - of the time when Jesus went to the River Jordan to be baptised by that 'ultimate hippy', John the Baptist...

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11

The thing Craig reminded me of is that God says He loves Jesus, and that He is pleased with him before Jesus has actually done anything of significance... He delights in Jesus for who he is, rather than for his deeds.

Now, the bible also tells us that we Christians are children of God, albeit by adoption:

...the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:15-17

Therefore, we need to grasp the notion that God delights in us too, without us having to do anything to 'earn' His approval. I had lost sight of this in my too-busy-ness and I think I had, to a large extent, become 'task-orientated' rather than 'God-orientated'. Rather than knowing that God delights in me, first and foremost, and my 'work' being a loving response to His love, it had become almost a means of earning my salvation - and had therefore become drudgery; something to be endured - rather than a delightful offering of my love in response to His.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022