â€œMoments of clarityâ€
Genesis 15:1-6, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Luke 12:32-40
The other Tuesday, while helping pack up after the breakfast at the primary school and looking out the window at the kids playing I was filled with a sense of both joy and sorrow. Joy in that they seemed so happy talking and playing together. Yet a little sadness knowing that sooner or later they will know of the sheer gut wrenching trials of life. Some more than others, but all will face that day when life seems unfair and confusing.
A physiologist told me that in murder suicide situations, often the parent involved resorts to such a tragedy because through their own pain, they actually think they are saving their loved from suffering the same unbearable hurt. Jesus knows life can be hard and so no wonder his greatest burning desire is that people allow him to walk with them through the valley of the shadow of death.
Last week Janet gave me an article written by the son of a Vietnam veteran and how the emptiness and hurt played out in his life. Drinking to forget and taking out your anger on others. Conscripted randomly simply by his birth date into the tragedy of a war not of his making. A tragedy not for his two year tour, but for the remainder of his life and his son said that sometimes when drinking his father would quote a saying he brought back with him from Vietnam:
â€œYea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for I am the evilest son of a bitch in the valleyâ€.
So sad, and so frightening that given a different time and situation, that there bar the grace of God those words could have been emblazoned in our lives.
When I was sixteen, my friend and I while in Adelaide for work experience, each night would catch the last bus home from Hindley Street. On the last night at about midnight we were beaten up by a group of 15 to 20 youths of the same age. My friend particularly was in a bad way and though he was a kind and good hearted person when we got home he was in a fit of rage and though I talked and begged him not to, he said with or without me he was driving back to find them. Worried for him I felt I had no choice so I drove him around the streets of Adelaide where I didnâ€™t think they would be and talking him down that he may decide against using the loaded rifle he had in his hands and it scares me of what would have happened and where we would be if we came upon them.
Sometimes we have no choice and when we do, take the wrong one and as I looked out at those kids playing in the school hard and knowing of what they will face I asked myself how could we ever think that our God does anything other than grieve with the grieving and cry with the crying. Our God that will do anything that we trust in His Son Jesus Christ to finally know true peace when we meet him on our last day.
Looking out that window I asked of myself, that though we may fall to great depths in the valley of our lives, how could we ever doubt verse 32 in todayâ€™s gospel that â€œit is God the fatherâ€™s good pleasure to give you the kingdomâ€.
Looking out that window all I could see was youthful happiness, yet I felt sadness for what may come. A moment of clarity seeing Jesus on that same walk to his own death and now with us on our walk. Jesus having felt the pain for himself and now relieving it through us and I asked myself, how we can ever, ever doubt that we are saved only in faith in Christ alone and not of ourselves.
Looking out that window I saw the children, the Vietnam veteran and myself, and though I or you may fall on our walk through the valley, we can fear no evil, for it is his good pleasure that he walks with us with goodness and mercy on our way home when the last piece of the jigsaw be put in place and see that it is in the shape of a cross.
All three readings today are about trusting in God, both now and in His sure promise at the end, and in looking back over our journey we see that as Jesus journey did not end on the cross, but in his being raised so that he may walk with us.
Looking back to the cross we too see ourselves being raised on our last day, and if we look back on our lives so far, sometimes we have that moment of clarity and see it was him who led us this way instead of that way.
I have no idea why Iâ€™m up the front talking to you instead of the other way round and the only thing I can think is what my Vicar Father said to me â€œthat God seems to make a habit of not picking people from the top shelfâ€. I have no idea why Iâ€™m here but looking back on how it would have only needed one outcome to be different from how things played out, and though being a poor excuse for a pastor, I can only assume this is what Iâ€™m meant to do.
If you look back over your lives you to will see a measure of Joy and happiness and a measure of hurt, pain and anger, some of which will still make no sense. But even before the last piece of the puzzle is placed on your last day, if you look closely enough you will see Christ in them with you. Urging you this way instead of that way. Guiding you, weeping with you when you weep and carrying you in need, that you be here today knowing that you are a loved and saved child of God the father.
In Romans Paul has told us that â€œthe sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory of that which will be revealed to usâ€ on our last day. What a day it will be for when we meet again with those past, and what a day it will be for the Lord when he can finally give us the full measure of His kingdom.
That day will surely come like the silence after a storm and though today we know not all the answers, we are known by him. Though we may not always see him, we are seen by him for he has told us:
That â€œGod is our refuge and strength and a very present help in troubleâ€. As every word of God is pure and is a shield to those who put their trust in him. Because the Lord is faithful and keeps you from evil. For he most certainly restores your soul and leads you in the paths of righteousness, and whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be savedâ€.
All ye faithful rejoice, for in God we trust, for he most certainly rejoices in being faithful to us. Amen.