Lonely road of faith is about Bernard Preston's leap of faith.
Really, it's a life-long journey that we all tread. In
that I am no different to you, dear friend. Not to choose to walk in
faith, is in itself a choice; the choice which I indeed made for the
first twenty odd years of my life. It's the decision faced by twins on their impending journey into a new world; you must be born is a beautiful story written by an obstetrician.
Lonely? Yes, indeed. For, though we meet other pilgrims along the way, the choices we make are irrevocably our own. By them we sink or swim.
Hundreds of thousands, even millions of books have been written on the Christian walk. Each is as individual and unique as we are ourselves, yet a thread of sameness runs through them all. The gracious nature of our God, the weakness of Man, the Trough of Despond and a striving to know God. Like the Southern Cross that flames the Milky Way, the cross of Jesus points, not South, but to the astonishing thought that it is totally within our grasp to stand confidently before God one day, blameless and without blemish. Confidently, but never arrogantly. Only the meek shall inherit the Earth.
Genesis is not a scientific textbook, but a remarkably simple reflection of the fact that a Creation without a Creator is unthinkable, absurd. If the theory of Evolution turns out to be the ‘how’ of how God created, then I don’t have difficulty with that. Others do.
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
Galileo Galilei, 1564 - 1642,
Galileo, the same man who along with Copernicus, discovered with his telescopes that the Earth went round the Sun, and not vice versa. This belief, that the Earth was not in fact the centre of Creation, nearly cost him his life on an Inquisitional rack until he recanted of his great heresy!
Really, the way we Christians love to shoot ourselves in the foot! Galileo was in fact a very devout Catholic Christian, but it didn't save him from being set under house arrest for the last 15 years of his life. Read Galileo's daughter? A masterpiece.
Set B is a subset, not to scale. Boring? but yes, I come from a
mathematical background. It is the set of all the humans ever created.
All were created in the likeness of God … with the ability to
distinguish right from wrong. God loves his whole creation, the good,
the bad and the ugly. Nothing difficult so far. Now comes the awkward
part, the supreme arrogance: not all are His children.
"For to those who believe in and receive the Christ
is given the privilege to be called the children of God."
Set C is the subset of God’s adopted children, those who have welcomed Jesus into their hearts and lives, and not because they are any more special or good, but simply because they have taken the leap of faith. And so the hackles rise: what an arrogance, what about the Chinese, the Muslims, what about me?
Indeed, it is a great arrogance, a great difficulty and yet so simple. God has laid down a way in which we may be rescued from the dominion of darkness and welcomed into the kingdom of his son.
This is the great dilemma.
In the set B is much that is good; we are after all made in the likeness of God, and yes we Christians have to admit that in the set C there is much apparent darkness. There is no place for Christian arrogance. How do we explain this paradox?
When we take the step of committing ourselves to the kingship of Christ, firmly, with great determination, planting a foot in His kingdom, and take our first tottering steps along the lonely road of faith, some things are immediately settled:
So very simple you say, but … Yes, there are indeed many buts. The biggest for me is that many things remain unsettled. My understanding is that at conversion, we firmly plant one foot in the Kingdom of Jesus, but the other foot remains tentatively rooted in the Dominion of Darkness. The lonely road of faith is about learning to shift all of our weight from our ‘darkness’ foot to the ‘kingdom’ foot.
Or, another way of putting it, is this initial response to Christ is only the beginning of a lifelong campaign to substitute His righteousness for our own self-righteousness. There are times when we make great strides forward in the faith journey but, looking back, we realize there were times when we were standing very firmly on our ‘darkness' foot. Things we did and said, even our thoughts. Christians are like baby flamingoes; learning to stand on the kingdom foot. And not finding the balancing act at all easy on the lonely road of faith.
While the Church Universal, the body of Jesus, has both feet firmly planted in the Kingdom of God’s Son, we have to admit that our individual churches (being made up of fledgling flamingoes) have often lost their balance and sometimes have even shifted both feet back into the Dominion of Darkness.
We hang our heads in shame. There can be no arrogance on the lonely road of faith. We are continually reminded by our Lord: "By their fruits you will know them." It's all about engagement with our God. Anything less is boring religion and not worth the time or effort. And it certainly won't get us to heaven.
Yet, paradoxically, our heads are held high. We are the children of God, our sins are forgiven, we are confident of eternity – provided we continue in our faith, established and learning to stand firmly like loving, mature flamingoes on the kingdom foot.
There can be no complacency on the lonely road of faith; God is not to be mocked. In his great Pilgrim's Progress one of the great classics that few of us have read, John Bunyan described it all:
it sound so, so familiar, fellow traveller? Read Pilgrim's Progress, free on your Kindle at Amazon.
So, will you join me today on this lonely road of faith, both of us firmly taking a stand on the Kingdom foot? Then, paradoxically, surely we shall fly. Heaven will come down from Heaven - and be gloriously established in our hearts.
LATENT HEAT FUSION is what brought Bernard Preston to faith. There are plenty of scientists in the kingdom of heaven yet contemplating the lonely road of faith here on earth.
The place of evolution in the life of faith is in my opinion one of the greatest red herrings ever to beset the church. Darwin's theory of natural selection doesn't bother me as a scientist in the slightest.
Enjoying a psalm a day in the early morning is one of the great joys of my life. Walk with me as I read these psalms of victory lyrics; they do indeed bring a song to the heart.
If you have a sweet tooth, but are trying to eat healthily, then you might like to try making HELVA. It's a traditional Middle Eastern dessert (not desert, that's where the Nomads wander with their camels!). Made of sesame paste, honey, nuts and a little sugar it's extra super delic! Probably a bit high on the Glycemic Index despite the tahini, for special occasions only. TURKISH HELVA FUDGE ...
The green journey is really to new and yet undiscovered parts within. And it all starts with a healthy disgust of our lifestyles, the crap that we call food, and the legacy we are leaving our children. In a real sense it's a spiritual and lonely road of faith; the majority do not care and you are rowing upstream.
Can we make a difference? Sure we can. Perhaps it begins with a prayer for Mother Earth, or planting a few green bean seeds, or simply purchasing an energy saving device like an induction stove.
But do start somewhere with something you are passionate about. Perhaps with a determination to wean off plastic.
In one sense it's a spiritual path, part of the leap of faith that we are each called to make. Perhaps the hardest part is to accept one another; for some dance to the sound of a different drummer, others lag behind, or some have surged far ahead of us.
Ankle joint pain can be a problem on these lonely roads, high and low as they lie; many are wounded soldiers.