Time just seemed to stop. The Pause button for ‘living this life’ seemed to have been pressed and nothing seemed to matter in this moment. It all started over a game called ‘two truths and a lie’ in a secondary school christian run lunch club. The game is exactly as the title suggests. You have to tell those present two truths and one lie about yourself. Those present have to guess the lie. I learnt this game in Bible college would you believe!
Here we were though, Rachel (the co leader) and myself finding ourselves in one of those moments where the everyday repetitive nature of life is pierced by something. Some of the girls playing this game, somehow didn’t understand this game but two others were willing to share their two truths and one lie. One girl started: “I love dogs, I hate mushrooms, my mum died when I was 6”.
TWO TRUTHS. ONE LIE. When the truth came out that her mum died when she was six. Silence hit the room. The other truth didn’t seem to matter. It was long forgotten. This young student, a short, fragile, but incredibly brave girl had in one moment changed the atmosphere. A few moments later, another female student, completely unaware of the impact of this previous statement started with her TWO TRUTHS AND ONE LIE.
“My Grandpa died of a heart attack, my Grandpa did of cancer, my Grandpa died of a brain tumour”. By the time she had reached the final statement there was audible sobs and the feeling that something else had taken place that transformed this time together. Yet again, silence filled this classroom. Over the last few years especially I have been learning that sometimes it is best just to listen and not say too much when someone shares their life with you. I waited a few moments to share a few things I have learnt in the hardest times in life and how God had helped me. The students gathered, listened and responded with encouraging insights and thoughts.
The sound of the school bell seemed to bring an abrupt halt to our time together but when we were leaving, the school RE teacher stepped in to say how he had been overhearing our conversations and would like Rachel and I to return to the school to help in an RE lesson and share with the students. Upon leaving the school, the fresh crisp air seemed to bring the reality of everyday living back into focus. I felt I was leaving another world, a world I was privileged to visit. TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE.
The truth is we live in a world where sometimes (to me) it feels like darkness and death are all around. I may sound like a glass half empty person but I can honestly say that I am the opposite. But the photo of the sweetest baby in one of the schools on a fundraising board is seared into my brain. This beautiful baby boy tragically died at just a few months old, and a charity has been set up in his name.
These stories and pictures make me angry at times. Angry because I dont believe things should be this way. Angry because I feel that my faith in God, some of the time just leads me to being a better moral citizen. However, when I think about the truth that Jesus came to ‘destroy the works of the devil’, came to bring healing, hope and life to the full, I often think about his miracles, how the fact that he said to his disciples that they would do greater works than he did. I am desperate to see miracles, to see the power of God reach in and transform lives and desperate situations. Diseases gone, sicknesses healed. Cancers eradicated. We live in a world that desperately needs the love of Jesus but also visible displays of his power. I read and hear stories of healing and miracles around the world and I want to see them more everyday, here in our nation, cities, communities and cities.
I have so many questions about why God doesn’t heal. I have read so many books to do with coping with sicknesses, disappointment when God doesn’t come through, someone who has prayed so much for a healing and yet doesn’t see their loved one or themselves healed. For me, it has, in some way left me with doubts, uncertainties and the big question why? These can often cloud my own confidence in believing God being able to do more than I can ask or imagine.
So what do I ask or imagine? I want to throw my whole faith into believing God is still in the business of doing miracles and visible demonstrations of his love and power. The last few months I have been reading more of what God is doing in terms of miracles around the world and in different ways. It excites me, fills me with hope, expectancy, the belief that God could use me in greater ways than I could hope for.
I dont want to settle for anything less than God’s best for my life and for our world. I dont want to look back on my years and feel that my faith led me to just become a nicer person or a more loving individual. Many people who dont know Jesus are that, and more. Many give their lives to serving others, working for charities without a faith whatsoever.
The last few months I have been reading books on miracles, the supernatural works of God. I have never done this before and it took me a while to feel comfortable with these views that God is able to work in dramatic and what are humanely impossible ways. Why is this? One reason is that I have never ever heard any teaching on these areas and I often wonder why. I have to admit I have often thought that those who belief in these supernatural works of God are a bit over emotional and a bit ‘out there’. There are some of course but many just want to see God work in other ways. There is a hunger, a desire not to limit God or define him as one we can rest comfortable with.
Being a person who loves being outdoors, I see people everyday of all ages, backgrounds and different stages of health. Those that limp, those in wheelchairs, those on crutches. They all grab my attention and tear down my own deeply and daily held hopes that I wont be confronted with some of the uncomfortable realities of living.
October 20th was a special day. My wife and I took my son swimming in England for the first time. A wonderful time was had at the local pool here in Carlisle and he loved being in the pool with us. The thing about swimming though is that it tends to make you hungry. McDonald’s was a short walk away and somewhere we thankfully only visit once in a blue moon! As my wife stood in line queuing for our food I stood outside with my son in the buggy. Whilst looking around I turned to see if my wife was coming out of McDonald’s when an elderly woman inside caught my eye. There she sat on a stool eating her meal, looking as if the weight of the world was on her shoulders. I saw the reason why. A tube coming out of her nose. The visible displays of an unwell woman.
All that separated me from her was the glass window. GLASS. Something that can be smashed, shattered and cracked in a moment. My heart longed to take a risk, to go and pray for her and see Jesus heal her. What stopped me? It’s hard to know. I walked away feeling compassion for the woman and deep disappointment that I didn’t take the opportunity to step out and take what I am learning to believe about God being able to heal seriously.
My biggest hope now is that I will, over the coming months and years have a heart that does not settle for a faith that is powerless. Instead I will seek to see God break in and shatter the walls of unbelief around my heart that stop me from limiting him.
God after all is a good Father. He loves us so much and his deepest desire is that as his followers we would long and act to see his love, his power and grace touch and transform the lives of people all around us. That this desire of God would reach our hearts and cause us to throw off the things that hold us back. And most of all that the questions, the doubts and the losses would not stop us believing and seeking God’s best for our world.