Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Birth of Change in Grief as Compensation for Loss

It’s been said that on the tranquil waters of surrender the reflections of clarity appear (Bryant McGill).
Myriads of people who’ve experienced gut-wrenching primal loss have wondered if such death in loss has mete out death itself — surely death can’t be any worse than such loss, it is thought!  Such a scarily normal pattern of thought we ought always to be forgiven for.
There’s a bridge required right there.
What takes us to that soul stillness of poise amid the grief in loss where we grapple seismic moments?
There is the need of hope.  And the Lord’s provision is found in the birth of change in and through us; change, albeit, we’d never wish ever to be forced to encounter and experience.
Change occurs, and that change is growth, if we don’t become bent out of shape in the process of our grief.
Change appearing as growth is the compensation we’re given for the fact we’ve borne loss.  Grief takes us on a journey to another land of being, always to a fresher, more valiant perspective, even if we still hate what we’ve been forced to experience.
So out of change comes the awareness of growth, and that is the viability of hope that stretches us out in faith enough to cover the journey.
We may find it is grief itself that sponsors that journey so we can transition to that new locale we never asked to travel to, but that which is interminably good for us.  We often cannot tell until we get there whether it’s beneficial or not.  Even if we’re not enamoured of the outcome there is a maturity with which we’ve come to personify.
In the death experienced in loss is the birth of change; growth in our person for what we’ve endured.
Hope is resident out of grief when we experience the compensation of growth.
When surrender meets the moment of acceptance, finally loss gives grief its meaning.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Failure’s Okay, If You’re Growing

“It’s your only excuse,” said my wife — “that you’re growing.”
A little context.  I’m a pastor and I’ve found there are notable things in me that still require honing.  We’re all on a journey, and none of us are perfect.  As a pastor, not unlike some other professions, there’s no place to hide, and nor should there be, when it comes to character and integrity.  The latest iteration of growth set by God for me involved how I saw others, and inevitably how I also saw me.  We can muse about the humility of our journey, but the circumstances of our lives are the final judge.
When my wife mentioned these words above, I was amazed at their wisdom.  Suddenly, I imagined God saying those very words — that any moral failure we make is okay, if we’re growing.  A very operative word there is “if.”
In other words, what’s past is past, but what’s ahead we can still influence.  Our pasts can be forgiven us, but in our present and future are opportunities to either continue along the wrong path, or to make a course correction — now.
I had had a massive course correction.  That’s okay.  What’s life if we are never significantly re-directed.  Of course, there are those who live wisely enough to only need the gentlest of nudges — not me.
Failure really is fine, provided there is impetus to improve, not that we’ll be anything close to being perfect.
God’s work of grace heals faulty vessels, broken by dysfunctional life, surrendered through injustice and humiliation.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Prayer of Praise for the Grace Having Endured Pain

My All-Sufficient Father
through Your Holy Spirit
Incarnate in Your Son
Perfect and eternally voluminous in the power of Your grace, by the love of Your provision, You made it possible for me to endure; and today, because of it, I exemplified Your gospel’s spirit, which is alive, as a testament to the risen reality of the Lord Jesus.
Praise is due Your name for the truth indwelt in the power of Your grace, which demolishes strongholds, setting up victory from the throes of defeat; on weakness is that victory borne.
The power of Your grace knew the pain I had to endure, which became a panoply of bedlam threatening to overthrow my spirit.  Yet, You came!  I sought You, and You came.  You came because You are real; alive and tangible in the experience of my life.
You said, “Calm down!” and such a loving rebuke, spoken with robust tenderness, reverberated within my soul, resonating before resting, reviving my hope, even in the tremulous seconds where the spirit enemy circled, enjoying what would’ve been without Your help the imminent demise of its prey.  In the moment You wrested from me the odious anxiousness that defeats me through a busied, bothered, and battered mind.  You healed me when You came into my heart, so my heart could rescue my mind by cogent awareness to take courage!
Praise is Yours for Your Teaching Spirit; that You teach a lesson, through the power of Your grace, that only needs to be experienced once.  Once!  Power!  A power indwelt with the persuasiveness of truth.  An experienced power.
Praise is Yours alone, God of my being, even for the grace You extend when I fail.  Especially when I fail!  Your rebuke is a tender rod of encouragement, for me to get up, to get hope, to get going, through the getting of faith.
Praise.  For, in You is true and genuine resilience — for me, for all — for You, through Jesus, are the Way, the Truth, the Life.  Alone, through You.
Experience comes to be irrefutable in the golden mean of the truth we cannot otherwise know.
One day of pain, patiently endured, through the surrender of one won to dying, teaches us, that to suffer well is to live right.  It isn’t for long.  Then eternity.  And, in this suffering well, patiently enduring, is the gospel power won for all those who trust their entire momentary lives to Jesus.
One day of pain is all we’re asked to endure.  Then another.  And again.  One day’s endurance secures us the confidence that we can do it again and again, to the glory of God.  But only by going against all reason and rationality, for the gospel is an upside down reality.
The gospel goes against all reason and rationality,
for the gospel is an upside down reality.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Healing’s About Being Real About How You Feel

As I listen to the Titanic soundtrack, memorials of loss are felt on the palate of my soul.  Music evokes something eternal within the deepest reaches of our psyche.  We enter a provocation of feeling; we’re drawn toward it, to enter it, and what we enter is a healing space, for we’re being real about how we feel.
Our soul must feel to be freed to heal; if it’s to be released of the baggage it’s asked to pick up and carry because of life’s tumults.  But if we negate our soul’s access to our feelings we force those feelings downward into the crevices of our innocence that were never designed to deal with such junk.
When I refer to ‘innocence’ I mean those parts of ourselves that can only operate under the premise of truth.
We were, from the beginning, designed that way.  Nothing’s changed.  We need to deal truthfully or we end up with a whole lot of healing to do.  The way life ‘happens’ to all of us, it’s inevitable.  Spend time in an abusive relationship where truth cannot be lived, for just one instance, and we end up conditioned by lies, and with much healing to procure.
When we endure loss and enter grief for a time, before we adjust to the new normal of an enduring sadness that is accepted, we’re not harmed by the grief if we’ve been real about how we feel.  Indeed, in the seedbed of loss, grief is the teacher of composed resilience that’s able to withstand greater pressure and pain than before.  Grief, when met the appropriate way, augments emotional maturity.
The right response to pain is to be real about how we feel.  It’s the application of courage, the expression of faith, and the commitment to persevere under trial.
Healing is about as simple as being real about how we feel.  That way God honours our honouring of the truth.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

Monday, August 8, 2016

6 Hard Life Events That Do Us No Harm

The lived Christian life shows us that some of the things we think are harmful are actually intended as good, to grow us up.
Here are six of those hard life events, that, though they’re hard situations that feel harmful, they end up doing us no harm at all:
1.     Loss — in all its myriad forms — the grief in losing a precious loved one does us no harm.  In fact, it’s inevitable.  Loss doesn’t have to define us, but it should refine us, bringing us to a knowledge of our own limitedness of capacity of control over this life.  Our griefs should facilitate memorials to our losses, for true healing only comes when we’ve memorialised what we’ve lost, and who we couldn’t love more and anymore.  See how, despite the pain of loss, it does us no harm, and actually does us some good?  Indeed, loss is the common experience of all.  A healed grief makes it possible to thank God for what we once had.  That’s a deeper learning in the destiny of every life under God.
2.     Change — involving its own varietals of loss, for what’s gone and what’s new, that must now be adjusted to — brings no harm in and of itself.  The more we change and adapt to, the more we realise we can do change, and such a knowledge is the epitome of empowerment.  If change can’t kill our courage, nothing can.  Adapting to change brings us no harm at all, even though it takes both faith and patience in the adjustment.  Change is actually healthy, long-term, because what’s embraced makes for joy; a well-earned reprieve from the monotony of life.
3.     Rejection — sooner or later, some massive rejection will come our way.  It rocks our world, and we experience myriad levels of grief.  But rejection does us no harm if we remember that, the most important person, God Incarnate Himself, is the only One, whilst we’re alive, who would never reject us.  To this we put all other rejections in context, and we find that human rejection can no longer decimate us like it did.  Rejection, in the light of Christ’s acceptance, only makes us stronger, and it does us no harm at all.
4.     Anxiety — never killed us.  Feeling anxious is the common lot of humanity, and, though some are afflicted with anxiety disorders, it is God’s opportunity for everyone to learn each individual’s coping.  We cannot learn resilience without being placed in that fire of anxiousness.  So, without anxiousness we couldn’t learn coping or how to overcome our weakness in His strength.  See how anxiety is good?
5.     Missing Out — this is something that often causes anxiety, for none of us want to miss out on a single thing.  But the fact is, we must miss out on some things, because we cannot do it all.  Every day we miss out, and in many ways.  And God’s design for such a state is we would see that covetousness is a sin that kills joy for greed.  It does us no harm to miss out.  Indeed, it does us good to miss out every single day of our lives.  In missing out is peace.
6.     Hard Work — there are seasons in life where we have to work especially hard just to stay afloat.  Then, if we’re really fortunate, we come to understand that a willingness to work hard is the virtue of diligence that will evermore protect us.  Diligence is a shelter.  Hard work does us no harm, and indeed it teaches us how to do life the supreme way! — to experience joy even in the midst of enduring difficulty.
The principle remains the same from birth to death: many situations we inwardly despise may actually be outwardly good for us.  We learn this as we merge endurance with hopefulness.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.