The God-dynamic in our lives
In so many events of life, in what many would regard as coincidences, I see and experience the presence of God.
This month I have experienced what it is to fly to the opposite side of the planet and back again in the space of 48 hours.
I was meant to be participating in a two-week study program with members of the Board of Education and the Synod Youth Unit exploring new expressions of church.
When I arrived at Heathrow Airport in London I received news of the death of my mother-in-law and so, within a few hours, I was on a plane back to Sydney.
I had promised her I would conduct her funeral and I felt I needed to be home for Paula, my sons and my father-in-law.
When I returned, the suggestion was made to me, in light of this experience, that maybe all those other experiences of God were just coincidences.
The argument went like this:
If God were doing his bit he wouldn’t have let me travel to the other side of the world and back for no reason. Had my mother-in-law died 24 hours earlier I could have postponed my flight for a few days or, had she survived for another week, I could have benefited from participating in a significant part of the planned trip before coming home. The timing could not have been worse with the consequence that there was significant cost for no benefit. Where was God in that?
This caused me to reflect on the God-dynamic in our lives and the way in which we experience the activity of God in the life of the church.
I do not believe that experiencing the presence of God in the events of our lives is to be understood as God controlling or manipulating every detail of life.
Rather, it is as we experience God or allow space for God in the events of our lives that things happen.
Did God deliberately allow me to go to the ends of the earth? Was that part of some divine plan that will come to light down the track somewhere?
No, I don’t think so.
Is it an event through which God will be manifested, or through which God will make an impact on the lives of others?
At the very least I can affirm the presence of God in my prayers, in my thought processes, in my decision-making and in the support of those around me.
God did not create the situation, but God was present in it.
What we can affirm is that God is active in the events of life, whatever they may be, and not least through whom we are and how we respond to those events as followers of Jesus.
Surely this is significant as we reflect on our participation in the life of the church.
Sometimes we say that no-one is indispensable and yet, in the way we organise our life and meeting as a church, we acknowledge and affirm that the presence of one person can change the whole direction or character of a meeting because of the particular wisdom or insight that person brings.
That person, most probably, has not had any part in determining the timing, the format or even the business to be dealt with and yet has the potential to shape significantly and dramatically the future directions of the church.
Here is the God dynamic: God, not a micro-manager, but present using who we are and what we do in ways that we do not expect and do not intend.
As we approach the gathering of Synod it is important for members who have been elected not to take that responsibility lightly but to come prayerfully and with the attitude that they are indeed indispensable, that there is the potential for them to make a difference, to be the prophetic voice which opens the mind of God to others.
There will be things that happen at Synod that God has not put in place, but as we acknowledge God’s presence and as we open ourselves to God’s leading things will happen, God will act, our focus or direction will change.
God’s presence makes a difference.