I had a 2 line twitter conversation with a South African journalist and atheist over the weekend. He was at an atheist convention in Australia and discovered there was no whiskey in his mini bar and so he tweeted, ‘Lord why have you forsaken me?’
I couldn’t help but respond, in jest mind you, ‘do you really need to ask that question?’ He of course doesn’t know me from Adam (or Eve) – I only know him through a few of his on line articles and of course with twitter there’s no way of knowing whether a person is joking or not – but he replied, ‘No I do, you’ll always be forsaken by imaginary beings. Rather put your faith in the car guard’.
Small wry smiles, ‘my, my we are clever, witty, intellectual creatures’ I bet we both thought … ‘she really doesn’t get it’, ‘he really doesn’t get it’ – we both get it, and neither of us really gets it!
Faith in imaginary beings… Who puts their faith in an imaginary being? Well, I guess I do. Every day. Sometimes I struggle to place my life and well-being into the ‘hands’ of the unknown and then there are days like today when I can’t help but laugh out loud at how small minded and ego-centric I am when I doubt the presence and provision of God. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when the things that happened today don’t make sense for me, (or when I just plain forget that they happen at all), but sometimes I struggle with how come this happens for me and not others?
Then I have to remember that trust is a basic component of life for everyone, no matter how much or how little we may have… and it is relative, trust is relative to our levels of faith and need.
I should explain. My car needs new shock absorbers. Big money, small budget. So I am thinking creatively as I start my day. Can it wait? Will some money come next month? Maybe I shouldn’t have bought groceries. And as I am thinking creatively I pick up my voice messages that were left last night. One comes from my friend at a church community I work with. She says, ‘I hear you need shock absorbers, go ahead and get a quote and let me have it’.
Real need, real cost, real solution.
‘I lift my eyes to the hills’ we said in chapel this morning, ‘from whence comes my help?’
A real community has answered my need, through the prompting of my imaginary friend perhaps?
Moments like these happen over and over and over – a silent prayer for guidance, a person speaks about that exact thing. Discrepancy between outgoing expenses and new seminary stipend, a person offers to fill the gap. A heart felt need for companionship and friendship, a true and authentic person steps into my life. The list goes on and on and happens over and over again. A need in my new church community – over three days, three separate and random encounters offer the help and support we need!
What is that? … Mystery whispers into my heart and breathes life into my doubting self, the sibilant beautiful world and word of myssssstery… ‘ah yes my child – tis I, your imaginary friend…’
God takes care of my needs time after time after time. I don’t have abundance, but then again, surely having everything I need is abundance? I don’t need for anything, I want lots of stuff, who doesn’t, but I don’t need for anything. Where this gets tricky for me, like I said, is that whilst I am grateful, I recognise that others may not have their prayers answered in the same way – or do they?
People who display deep faith, also display unflinching trust, when they need that loaf of bread or that smile or that ray of hope beamed back at them, they recognise it when it comes. That’s faith. That’s trust. And for those who manage to display it in the face of insurmountable odds I am always slightly envious. People who have nothing seem far more faith-full than those who have much and I think it’s probably because they realise their needs are out of their sphere of control and so they have no option but to rely on the ‘imaginary being’ who some of us like to call God, the well spring and the provider of life.
The challenge though for those of us who have much, is whether or not we have the faith to share the much that we have. Do we trust that our needs will continue to be taken care of and that we can therefore share what we have? On the flipside, if we are waiting ON something, do we have the faith to trust that it will also be taken care of, in good time?
It’s a biggie – I’ll grant you that, but the beauty and the not-so mystery of creation is that there is enough for all of us, we just need to trust that knowledge and learn to share that which we have the great fortune to enjoy.
Today was a great reminder for a sometimes doubtful soul, so, to my imaginary friend (s) … thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
For those who are waiting on hope, provision, relief, release, light, guidance, love, practical assistance or strength, I pray you would give God a chance to do God’s thing – namely, step into the gap – and until that happens – let someone pray for you.
I will pray for you…
I lift up my eyes to the hills – From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
God will not allow your foot to be moved;
The God who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, the God who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
God is your keeper; God is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
God shall preserve you from all evil, God will preserve your soul.
God will preserve your going out and Your coming in
From this time forth, and even evermore.