2013, Australia, Back to the Future, cost of living, creature or Creator, delusion, Divine Nature, Elijah, fiery chariot, follow the path, Francis of Assisi, GOD or self?, Gospels, Guatemala, hobby-horse, Imitation of Christ, In Days Gone By, Jesus, Journey, Keep It Real, Larry Norman, life-changing series of events, Living God, one way, Philippians 4:13, prophet, Scripture, snese of security, sounding-off, Spirit of Jesus, still small Voice of the Lord, The Paradox of Life, USA, who do you serve?
Back to the Future
Leaving Turin on the 31st December, I arrived in Guatemala City the 1st January – the first day of a year-long lease of an apartment in Antigua. Once set-up, it will be earnestly concentrating on writing that will dominate the day. Also, there should be more regular contact as I will not be all over the world, and hopefully, internet and mobile phone issues that have plagued me in numerous places, will be a thing of the past. While in Guatemala the opportunity of doing some teaching may perhaps present itself. The book however is of first concern work wise.
‘Why Guatemala?’ you may ask. Firstly, it has been a dream of Joan’s for many years to live there and to contribute to a society in great need. Secondly, I wish to be with Joan, and to contribute in some way also. Thirdly, the cost of living is one-eighth that of Australia or the USA. Fourthly, the need of a quiet place where I can concentrate and focus on writing, free from the numerous distractions of life in Australia or the USA – Guatemala fits the bill perfectly.
In the near future Joan and I will marry. A date has yet to be set, paperwork has yet to be finalised, but the time will come. We have become indispensible to one another, and there are plans, at a formative stage, for a future joint project once the current book is completed. But more on that at another time, much water must pass under the bridge before any new thing comes to pass – The Paradox of Life has yet to be finished.
Keeping It Real
It may appear there is little or no mention of the Lord’s part in the two previous sections of this ‘epic’ post. To be honest, if it were not for Him being present in every step, in every event, overseeing all, these journeys – this Journey would never have taken place, nor in the manner in which it did. The still small Voice of the Lord that I hear has been guiding me, directing me, teaching me. Dare I say, the Lord has been providentially orchestrating the circumstances that have culminated in an incredible life-changing series of events that began twenty months ago.
Since leaving Australia and the little refuge into which I had secreted myself [where I learned to listen, hear and heed the still small Voice of the Lord], a little over five months ago, the Lord has taken me on a whirlwind ride: across the skies, over oceans, through wilderness, forest and jungle; traversing deserts, climbing mountains; to the foot of volcanoes, through earthquake, wind and raging storm; over creeks, rivers, lochs and lakes; into terrorist plagued areas, along highways, byways, streets and back alleys; into great and seething cities, occupied territories, forgotten ancient ruins, hidden and secretive monasteries, glorious churches, magnificent mosques, ancient temples, and proud pyramids.
I feel something of how I imagine Elijah must have felt when on the run from his enemies, driven out into the desert to hide in his refuge, a cave high on a mountainside. Waiting for salvation from the Lord, waiting for the Lord, Who did not speak in the reassurance of mighty and earth-shattering phenomena, but Who came to him as a whispered, still small Voice. Elijah required faith and trust if he was to proceed. I too have heard that Voice.
I am no Elijah, no prophet, and never will be, but I feel I know something of his experience in my own. The still small Voice spoke to me and led me out of my cave. Those of you who know me well know exactly what I am talking about. Like Elijah who later was whisked away in the blazing, fiery chariot, I too was whisked away to far and strange places where the Lord spoke to me, took me by the hand, provided me with an Angel to watch over me and act as my companion, someone after my own heart; He set me a task and provided the means to complete it.
I am merely an instrument, there is no greatness in me that is not present in every other person, ‘Lord make me an instrument……’ [so begins The Peace Prayer of St Francis of Assisi] ……..that is all. As an instrument, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength’ [Philippians 4:13], the verse that my father sought to live every day of his life; the verse that I too make my own every day as I seek to follow my father’s example, and to live my life in union with the Spirit of Jesus.
Only in being one with Jesus, trusting the inner Voice of God in heart and mind, and choosing to respond [to follow] instantly and totally, can I live anymore. Yes, He was and is present in every step, every turn; there can only be One Way to live, as the old Larry Norman song proclaims:
Two roads diverged in the middle of my life
I heard a wise man say
And I took the one less travelled by
And that’s made the difference, every night and every day
So I say one way, one way to Heaven
Hold your hands up high
Follow, free and forgiven
Children of the Sky
A Refresher and a Reminder
Even if you have heard it all before and think it is a load of crap, or are advanced in the ways of the Spirit of God, it serves us well to hear again what it is we are called to in an intimate personal relationship with God:
Turn from your old way of life, reject all that is evil, embrace a new life from God. Let go of controlling your own life, give it over to the Father through Jesus – totally – do not hold anything back. Even if it means looking like a fool in the eyes of others – union with God [eternal life] is worth it.
Spend time every day with the Father, the Son and the Spirit in repentance, and prayer for yourself and for others, giving thanks and honour to God for all you are and have received from Him.
Increase the amount of time you spend being with God [praying] as you become used to doing it – and very importantly, be prepared to wait until you can sense the Presence of God with you – in you; listen for the still small Voice – then converse with Father, Son and Spirit…… And, especially – listen……… When the still small Voice of the Lord speaks to you, respond instantly – ‘Yes Lord’ or ‘Yes Father’, or whatever is appropriate, and then do what He asks of you – do not hold anything back.Read the Scriptures, but the Gospels in particular, a brief section at a time every day, and reflect on what Jesus says and does – ask the Spirit who lives in you for help in doing this. Allow this Spirit teaching to guide and inform your thoughts and actions.Listen to and follow the advice of older and wiser heads than your own. Do not think you know better. Daily read and reflect on brief passages from the writings of spiritual and holy Christians – the Saints of all ages. The Imitation of Christ is the best starting place in my personal experience and opinion, though there are many others.
Consciously, stay close to the Lord in your heart and in what you do; avoid temptation if possible, ask the Spirit for help if tested or tempted. Repent if you fall or fail – and then – start again.
Stick with it, day in, day out – persevere – or none of this will work effectively.
Personally speaking, I can attest to intermittent daily prayer and brief ten or fifteen minute prayer sessions, along with prayer at moments of need, as barely sufficient to keep me alive spiritually. When faced with the worst crisis of my life, it was wholly inadequate; I was in an emaciated state spiritually. Although I had thought I was doing alright – I wasn’t! Over time [months] with consistent, regular and increasingly longer periods of prayer, the strength and intensity of prayer grew, my capacity to hear the Voice of the Lord developed, I refused to give up. I repented with tears daily and the tears have been a gift from the Lord – I have been broken and crushed. It was only then that the Lord could restore and renew me. ‘A broken and contrite heart O God you will not despise’ [Psalm 51:17b].
I have gone from strength to strength following the path I have outlined above. I sound like I am blowing my own trumpet don’t I? – I am not you know. Without the Lord doing all this in and through me I would still be back there wallowing in the same old mire of an existence I was drowning in before. There is nothing about me that makes me stronger than anyone else; I haven’t suddenly become a spiritual person through my own efforts. To be honest, all I did was genuinely hand over the running of my life to the Lord – truthfully, I gave up.
I gave up on trying to control my own existence – as if I could anyway! [Think of the world in which we live – control is a delusion we use to give ourselves a sense of security] That’s it plain and simple. Following that, I began to live the life I outlined above – not just read about it, or imagine it, or dream about it, or wish I could do it – I am living it right now as I write these words to you; and as you sit there reading them. You can have the same change if you want it badly enough.
Why not put the Lord to the test – ask Him to take over your life, let go of everything into His hands – turn your back on your old way of life and start afresh. There is nothing like a fresh start!
If you thinking I am on a hobby-horse, or am sounding-off, or preaching to you – well you are right – I am. It is what my Voice has asked me to do, and I follow His requests of me – yes requests, not commands – He doesn’t force compliance, I freely offer it, for I love Him because He first loved me; He gave His life for me, and made me a participant in the Divine Nature. The Living God lives in me, and in all those who give themselves to Him – if only we were truly aware of this incredible gift and blessing……….. God, the Creator of all that exists, living within His own creatures. Stop and think about that!!!
2013…. Time to Decide…. Who do you serve…. Creator or creature….