Raised to New Life

Last Sunday – Easter Sunday – I reaffirmed my Baptism vows: proclaiming them in my own voice before God and in front of around 400 people. Welcome to the family.

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Now my life is perfect and I’ve got everything I ever wanted, right?

Yeah, right.

I’m suffering with chronic fatigue – a condition that’s difficult for other people to see, and even trickier to understand: surely I’m just lazy/choosing this/enjoying not going to work. Actually, no. Of course, duvet days are great for us all now and again, but I certainly wouldn’t choose this every day of my life at the moment. I’m well aware of all the things I’m missing by spending 95% of my time resting at home. I miss my kids at school, I miss the daily routine of working, seeing colleagues, feeling purposeful; I miss the sunshine and the fresh air; I miss being active with my family and friends in all the early-spring-type-things they’re doing. I miss writing, being creative and communicating – this is the first time I’ve touched the keyboard in a month.

But this is where I am at the moment, and this broken body can do nothing more than wait, and hope and trust and pray. And really, that’s all any of us in this broken world can do. The world is broken because we turned our trust away from God and thought we could do things better by ourselves. I spent all my pre-Christian years believing that, and this is where it’s got me. Learning to trust in God again is the only way to live a meaningful life on earth.

First, we see that we can trust in the Gospel: we can trust in Jesus because He sacrificed His life so that we wouldn’t have to die ourselves. That’s true Love. That’s love you can trust.

Then, we see that throughout the Bible God always fulfils ALL His promises – always with the same unfailing Love that we see fulfilled in Jesus.

Finally, we can realise that the Promise of Eternal Life in God’s Kingdom WILL be fulfilled too. It’s a promise in God’s own Word. And He always keeps those promises – they’re made by His Love and written in His blood.

He doesn’t promise to give us everything we ever wanted in this life – our sinful hearts lead us too far astray for that. But He does promise to give us everything He IS in all His Grace, Love and Mercy, and everything He ever dreamed for us in His Unfailing Wisdom, and lead us into Eternal Life with Christ when the time of Glory comes.

And so, we can turn to His Word time and time again, whenever we are suffering, or longing, or waiting for things to change, knowing that we can trust in the promises He makes us and He will do the work that’s necessary to fulfil them. All we need to do, is wait.

“Those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31

So, although I’m not turning cartwheels yet, or flying like an eagle, or even running or walking very far without getting tired, I can trust that God is giving me the strength to wait for Him and that is all I need to do.

The New Life into which I’ve been raised isn’t one of perfect health, perfect looks, perfect lifestyle – yet. It’s a life of learning to trust in my Creator, learning to live in the relationship with Him for which I was created. A life of waiting, hoping, trusting, praying and bearing witness.

If I was in any uncertainty about these things as they unfolded to me during the week, they were powerfully confirmed in the sermon I heard at church last night, on Acts 1:1-11.

In verse 6, the disciples are still wondering if Jesus’ resurrection means they’re going to get all the things THEY want: ‘So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”‘

But He answers them in verse 7 by showing that they have been called as witnesses to God’s Glory, and there is still waiting to be done: ‘He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

In his sermon, the vicar Mark Redhouse made it clear that Jesus does not come into our lives to fit our agenda, and we are not given the gift of the Holy Spirit to fulfil our own desires. But we are called to be a witness to the ends of the earth and to wait until the time set for the fulfilment of God’s Glory. The Holy Spirit makes this possible.

The waiting is temporary, and we will be given the strength to carry us through. And when the promise is fulfilled, we will all share in the abundance of God’s Glory that is to come.

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