Handled, Part 3 image

Handled, Part 3

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At a recent Newfrontiers wider leaders gathering the brilliant Phil Moore spoke compellingly about lessons from the life of William Booth. A couple of biblical illustrations Phil used really caught my attention, chiming as they did with things I have been focussing on in terms of the way we handle difficult circumstances.

One example Phil used was what happened to Miriam when she complained to Aaron about their brother Moses (see Numbers 12). This is a familiar story, but the point Phil brought home with fresh clarity was the mundane nature of the incident – Aaron and Miriam were having a family moan, apparently in private, and yet God’s anger was kindled against them. How many of us have had behind-closed-doors moans about those God has set in leadership over us? Or, to drive the point home, are there any of us who haven’t? We might not think these conversations are particularly serious – “We’re just letting off steam” – but God takes them very seriously indeed.

The next example was about Peter getting out of the boat to walk to Jesus (Matthew 14). This is a great story of faith – and of failing faith after Peter took a few steps and then began to sink. The question Phil posed was this: If it hadn’t been stormy would Peter have got out of the boat in first place? Probably not. A tiny boat battered by the storm might not have seemed to offer as much security as walking to Jesus. Or, if it had been calm, perhaps Peter would have simply jumped out of the boat to swim to Jesus, as he did following Jesus’ intervention in a later fishing trip (John 21).

These examples got me thinking again about how I respond to things that happen to me. Maybe there are times when Jesus allows uncomfortable things in our lives in order to compel us to respond in faith and walk towards him. Maybe if everything was plain sailing we would never get out of the boat. And maybe God really does care about the gossipy, negative things we say (even in private, with close friends) about those he has set in spiritual authority over us.

Maybe the way we should respond – even when we feel we have been handled badly – is by trusting Jesus and honouring our leaders. Doing this can be difficult and costly; but on balance I think it is less difficult and costly than getting leprosy or drowning.

This is the third article of the Handled Series.

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