16 April, 2009

Peter's Shadow

Living in the shadows is an expression that has many negative connotations. We use it to mean living under a great oppressive force or being dominated. Living in someone else's shadow is seen as something that stops us showing the world what we're made of, it stops us achieving our own goals; taking second place to someone else's ambition. But there was one time when people would do anything to be in the shadow of another person...

In the book of Acts, Peter heals a crippled man and gets himself into a spot of bother with the local Saducees. The main problem that the Saducees had was that they couldn't deny the miracle; many people witnessed the wonderful change in the crippled beggar they saw by the gates of the temple and they believed because of it. Although Peter and John are warned not to carry on preaching, of course they did and we get to a situation where: "The people placed their sick on beds and mats in the streets, hoping that when Peter passed by at least his shadow might fall on them." (Acts 5:15)

Peter was not the promised Messiah. Some people may have thought that he was, but most would have known that he was just a man, and yet they had the faith to believe that if the shadow of this man who had known God fell on them then they would be healed. They didn't expect God to reach from the heavens and touch them with His own hand, they weren't seeking God's own shadow to crawl into, they didn't expect Peter to speak to them himself, all they needed was the shadow of a mortal man who knew God. Amazing. I want to live with that faith. More than that though I want to be a person who knows God so intimately that people feel like they can catch a glimpse of Him just by being close. I want to live in a way where even my shadow declares the glory of God.

If Peter was a flawed and mortal man who made mistakes and screwed things up (and he was), then I am even more imperfect, but God doesn't need perfection to work miracles and change lives. Sometimes, all He needs is for us to be willing to offer our lives for His use. Sometimes all He needs is to borrow our shadows.

02 April, 2009

Pieces of God

I always say that I am not the sort of person who gets images and visions when I pray. Yet, just occasionally I do see something. It is never a mighty mountain, blossoming flower or tall tree, as is fashionable, but always something strange and complex. Most I note with interest before moving my prayers swiftly onwards, one however has stuck with me for many months now...

I was trekking down a long, dark tunnel. The wall at the end of the tunnel was lit up and hanging on it was a huge piece of jigsaw. It was a piece of God. Walking down that tunnel, finding the jigsaw piece and being able to pick it up were all pretty exciting, but then I realised that I now had to carry it all the way back through the dark tunnel in order to slot it into place. The piece was very heavy and difficult to hold on to and the journey back down the tunnel seemed a lot longer than the outward journey had been.

I'm sure no one needs the potential meaning of this explained but humour me. We all have exciting times when we're discovering more of God: times when He is giving us fresh revelations about Himself or His plans for us. But once the revelation has been made we need to spend some time fitting it into our lives. It may be difficult to hold on to His word and it may seem to place a burden on us but if we just rush down every tunnel we can find, without ever picking up what we've been shown, we will never see the bigger picture. The journey we take when we are trying to understand all we know of God may seem very long and difficult compared to the excitement of discovery, but that is where faith is built. Anyone can be faithful when God appears before them in full glory, real faith is when we are struggling down a dark tunnel, under a heavy burden, perhaps not even sure we are going in the right direction at all, and still we choose to say, "God, you are my God. I search for You, I thirst for you..." (Psalm 63:1)