I Would Look Up

When I was at university, I went through a period of depression where I lost my self-confidence and any sense of self-worth. I went to church and saw all these Christians who seemed to be self-confident, talented and outgoing. I thought this is what you had to be to be a good Christian. How could I be a good Christian when I was the complete opposite, no self-confidence, no talents and introvert.

I became very angry with God. Why had a so-called loving creator been so perverse as to create someone like me. I told Him I was giving up on Him and would not go to church any more.

I don’t know why, but I went to church the following Sunday. The sermon was based on the hymn ‘I Would Be True’. The minister came to the line ‘I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift’. I don’t know why, but that line seemed to hit me like a thunderbolt. It was if God was saying, if you will just look up, I will show you things you can do to make a difference in people’s lives. The hymn didn’t specify conditions like you must be talented or extrovert to do this. The only condition was the need to look up. This changed my outlook on life.

I have not always remembered this line of the hymn, but when I have, I have found opportunities to laugh, love and lift. This is what is important in life.

There is a post-script to this story. A few years ago, our church introduced a ‘Mission Prayer’ and encouraged us to live this prayer daily. The prayer says, ‘God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me to be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.’

I was immediately struck by the fact that the message of this prayer was essentially the same as the line in the hymn that I have been talking about. This confirmed to me the truth of my original experience. It confirmed that we can all make a difference, no matter who we are, as long as we are just willing to look up and be ready to respond to God’s Spirit.

© Graham Wilson 2021 All rights reserved.
Community of Christ Leeds House Church Website.

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The Inn Crowd

One Christmas, I came across a quote which said, ‘Are you part of the Inn Crowd, or are you one of the Stable few?’

It was a question about where we want to be, about what we want to be. We all want to feel accepted, to be assured that we are a person of worth. We don’t want to be turned away as Mary and Joseph were turned away by the inn keeper.

The quote above suggests two possible options for us.

The first option is to be one of the ‘in-crowd’. The ‘in-crowd’ can be seen as people trying to be trendy, doing whatever it takes to be accepted, a way of life dictated by what others think of us.

The other option is to seek more stable relationships, to make a commitment to be part of a caring community. A place where each person is valued and loved.

God could have given his son a glitzier birth in a royal palace with the in-crowd, but instead chose a humble stable, a place where he was surrounded by loving, caring people.

The story of the birth of Jesus reminds us what is important in life. It is not about social status, but about lasting relationships. It reminds us we need to be a loving community, a community that provides a place for those who have been turned away by the inn-keepers of this world.

© Graham Wilson 2021 All rights reserved.
Community of Christ Leeds House Church Website.

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One day we were out walking and to our surprise, we saw an upside-down rainbow suspended high in the sky like the grin of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.  We wondered if we were dreaming or if it was a trick of the light, so we took a photograph to record what we saw.

We found out afterwards, it was no trick, but a rare event called a circumzenithal arc. It is caused by ice crystals refracting the light in wispy clouds at a height of around 20,000 to 25,000 feet.

In this event, the rainbow was not how we expected to see it and seemed to go against all our preconceptions.

In Genesis, the rainbow is portrayed as a symbol of God’s promises to us. Perhaps the upside-down rainbow is a reminder that sometimes God fulfils his promises to us in ways we are not expecting. Perhaps we need to be ready to let him turn our preconceptions on their head.

We need to learn not to put limits on how God works, but to be open to him prompting us to go in new ways and new directions. If we are prepared to be open to him, we might find him using us in ways we never thought of. He could just surprise us, just as we were surprised by the upside-down rainbow.

© Graham Wilson 2020 All rights reserved.
Community of Christ Leeds House Church Website.

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Wrong Answer

It was getting near bedtime when the husband asked his wife, ‘Do you fancy a cup of tea before we go to bed?’ She replied, ‘That’s a good idea, are you going to make it, or shall I?’ His quick reply was ‘Oh I’ll let you make it’.

Without a moment’s hesitation her reply was there – ‘WRONG ANSWER, TRY AGAIN’.

Are we sometimes like this with God? In our better moments we say, ‘yes Lord, I will go where you want me to go’. Then when the crunch comes and we realise what He is asking us to do, do we turn round and say ‘Wrong answer, try again’. Is it a case of – Lord I don’t mind doing this or even this, but please don’t ask me to do THAT!

When we ask God what He wants us to do, we need to do it in a spirit of openness and trust. We need to ask in the knowledge that He loves us and will not ask us to do anything that He won’t give us the strength to do. If we ask with exclusion causes, we are not asking in trust.

When you next ask the Lord what He wants you to do, just check you’re not saying ‘wrong answer – try again’.

© Graham Wilson 2020 All rights reserved.
Community of Christ Leeds House Church Website.

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I’ll Walk With You

We were on holiday in Japan and it was time to walk back to our hotel. We took out our street map to try and figure out the best way back. A Japanese lady saw us and thinking we were lost, she came across and asked if she could help.

We explained we were trying to work out the best way to our hotel. She then said, I know where that is, I work near there, I will walk with you and take you there. We said we just needed directions, but she insisted on taking us.

She had not seen us as two strange foreigners who should be ignored, but as two fellow human beings who were lost. So for her, it was not good enough just to give us directions, instead, she wanted to walk with us and make sure we reached our destination.

Isn’t this what God is calling us to do? There are people who feel lost and confused, trying to find peace in their lives. God calls us to see them not as strangers to be ignored, but as fellow human beings who are lost. He calls us not to just give them directions, but to walk with them, be there for them and love them.

Is there someone that God is calling you to walk with?

© Graham Wilson 2020 All rights reserved.
Community of Christ Leeds House Church Website.

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How do you feel about change and how willing are you to make changes when they are needed? I thought about change when I heard this joke.

Two local council employees were working on a road. The first one dug a hole, then the second one filled it in. They went a short distance down the road and did the same thing. They continued repeating this process all down the road.

A puzzled bystander watched them and eventually his curiosity got the better of him and he asked one of the employees what they were doing.

‘Ah!’ exclaimed the employee, ‘there are usually three of us, but the one that puts the trees in the holes is off sick today.’

By failing to adapt to a change in circumstances, they were failing to achieve the task they had been set.

Do we sometimes have the same problem with our relationship with God and what he calls us to do? Are we happy just to carry on, doing what we have always done? Circumstances change. Is your life still fulfilling God’s purpose for you or is God calling you to make changes in your life?

God sometimes calls us to new challenges and new ministries. How willing are you to respond? We get excited if we get a new mobile phone or new car and can’t wait to try them out. Do you get equally excited if God is calling you to new areas and new ways of ministry?

So where is God’s spirit calling you today? Have you taken the time to ask Him? Maybe He wants to set you in a new direction. If so, are you willing to listen to the prompting of his spirit and respond?

© Graham Wilson 2020 All rights reserved.
Community of Christ Leeds House Church Website.

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