A Window into 2018

As you look out of the window of your life into 2018, what do you see?

I love crossing the threshold into a New Year. It is a powerful symbol of the grace of God in our lives. One writer called it the “shutting of a gate”, and by this he meant that what is passed is passed, and we can only walk forward into the year ahead. For those who follow Jesus, there are no “good ol days”,for the best is always yet to come. The life Jesus calls us to is lived in the present, with eyes on the future. God can, and does forgive our past sins and wasted days, so we walk forward in Christ’s abundant grace and mercy. Jesus is always making “all things new”. Hallelujah! 

So here’s an idea or two…

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail; and, if you aim at nothing, you will be sure to hit it. The truth is that many people are negotiating life with the attitude of “how can i do life with the least amount of effort and discomfort?” If comfort and a pain-free life is your aim, then be inspired by the cemetery; there’s no pain or discomfort there! Jesus taught us to embrace pain, to embrace self-sacrifice, to embrace hardship as necessary elements to a vital and full life. 

So what are you seeing as you look out the 2018 window? Maybe you are looking for work or considering a job change; perhaps you are fearful about the health or circumstances of a loved one or friend; maybe you are getting married; or are you concerned about your financial situation? Whatever it is, God wants to help you and bless you. So put yourself in an environment and attitude to take hold of God’s help and grace. In God’s grace to us in Jesus, consider these 4 elements for your spiritual life in 2018:

  • Grow: where do you need to grow and what spiritual practices do you need to embrace to grow spiritually in Christ?
  • Gather: who are your companions on the journey and are you invested in a spiritual community of Jesus followers regularly?
  • Give: How are you sharing and being generous with the gifts of time, talents and finances God has given you?
  • Go: Who are you reaching out to in Christ’s love and word, and are you seeking to make Jesus known locally and globally?

I would love to meet with you and talk with you about your plans and hopes for 2018 and support you in growing in Christ. Just ask! But don’t let the year pass thinking “business s usual”. God ALWAYS has so much more for us than we can ask or imagine. 

I don’t know if you noticed, but lately the world is pretty much going mad. So what is needed more than ever are sane an peaceable followers of Jesus that are living and sharing a different and compelling story of love, forgiveness, welcome and hope. 

Nicholas 

Is it time to walk away from Jesus?

Giving birth is really difficult and very painful. This is second-hand information, to be sure; but I have it on good authority that this statement is undeniably and universally true. Enough said on birth, let me extrapolate the point: things that are difficult and painful can be very good things indeed. For is it not life and new humanity that is the result of those difficulties and that pain?

But our culture is pain-averse and is largely therapeutic. That is, we spend much time and many millions trying to minimise and avoid pain, and though much of this is well-intentioned the truth remains that some good things, even great things, only come to us through pain and through difficulties.

Imagine for a moment the silly scenario of an expectant mother avoiding for years, if she were able, the birth of her child. She waddled around free of the pain and difficulties of child-birth, but no life ever came forth! In this imaginary scenario she avoided much pain, but she also missed out on much life. How tragic!

Or what about the young man who had a passion and a calling to become a medical doctor, and yet he was averse to the pain of study and the hours of research and training needed? Sure, when he came to his exams he had experienced little pain and discomfort over the year in his studies, but then he failed. By now you are thinking of the commonly used phrase “No Pain No Gain”, and so you should be. For reasons known mostly to Himself, God has woven pain and struggle into our humanity in a way that we are fools to always try and avoid pain.

True, some pain must be avoided and fought: the pain inflicted by violence or evil words, the pain inflicted by poverty, the pain inflicted by betrayal and rejection, and the pain experienced through loneliness. But not all pain is to be avoided.

In John 6 we read of a time when, due to the heat and pressure rising in following Jesus, many, yes many, disciples turned away. “It’s too difficult”, they grumbled. “It costs too much” lamented others. The result was that “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” Think about that breathtaking statement for just a minute: here they were with the Son of God speaking words of life and bringing in the kingdom of God on earth, and they walked away!  And then with the few friends he has left, Jesus turns to them and says “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Only Simon Peter spoke up and said “no”, which wasn’t really very encouraging for Jesus, was it?

Maybe in our culture and society at the moment we wonder if it is too difficult and too painful to follow Jesus. But remember that principle of pain leading to life? Those who walked away from Jesus missed the resurrection, missed the joy of the early church and maybe even missed the kingdom of God. It might be Friday in our part of the world, but don’t forget that with Jesus, Sunday is always on its way.

Nicholas Tuohy