With James Dudley-Smith (our Rector) off on a well-deserved sabbatical, I have had all sorts of people approach me with the following sorts of comments: ‘Oooh, you’ll be busy now I imagine!’, or ‘The buck stops with you now, how are you feeling about the added responsibility?’, or ‘This is a big opportunity for you, make the most of it!’
Frankly, I wasn’t too worried before all the comments! As I embark on a new adventure of ordained life and ministry without James around to call upon, I do get that uneasy fluttering of butterflies in the tummy. Will it all fall apart?! Let me share some verses from the bible that hugely encourage me now and may be a blessing to you in the midst of life’s challenges:
“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
The astonishing thing in these few sentences is this: Jesus knows. He gets it. He’s been there. He’s cried for the same reason. He’s felt the utter despair of being at the end of his energies. He’s felt the rejection of friends. He’s felt the impulse to just pack it all in. He’s also known the temptation to rely on his own strength. He’s known the temptation to take the short term gain for long term disaster. He’s known the temptation to throw God out of the picture because frankly he doesn’t feel worth trusting anymore. Jesus gets it. Wonderfully the letter goes on to say that ‘He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness’. Isn’t that a beautiful reality? So whether it’s me with my fluttering tummy, or far more seriously those coming to terms with the long-term devastation of the floods, or perhaps a particular trial or temptation in your life, we can approach our ‘Abba, Father’ with the confidence of the most securely loved child in the world.
And that makes a difference! It makes a difference because it makes me want to pray to my Father. When I forget that Jesus gets it, I tend to stop praying because I think God doesn’t care, or if he does care he’s obviously cross with me for the awful way I’m responding. The reality is Jesus gets it; God deals gently with us. It also makes a difference because we’re promised mercy (not getting the bad things we deserve) and grace (getting the good things we don’t deserve) when we come to him in the midst of it all.
So if you want to encourage me in the next few months remind me that ‘Jesus gets it’. I’ll do the same with you. And let’s pray that those in real difficulty come to know Jesus, who really does ‘get it’.