by Drs Robert & Maureen McQuillan (Guest Writers)
Feel like you’re surrounded by smoke and shadows?
Worldwide there is continuing trouble with wars and rumours of wars. Governments seek peace and financial stability. Promises are made and promises are broken.
Health issues, including mental balance, cancer, the destructiveness of smoking, excessive drinking by youths and obesity problems hit the news lines. General approval of same sex marriages is pushed and gambling problems are causing governments huge amounts of money. Sadly, what seemed happy marriages, even Christian ones, are suddenly broken and some churches have problems.
Solomon, who studied what was going on around, came to this conclusion: ‘No one can predict misfortune…men and women are caught by accidents evil and sudden’ (Ecclesiastes 9:12)’. In fact he concluded that so much in life is like ‘smoke and shadows.’ Regarding the future, he said, ‘It’s true that no one knows what’s going to happen, or when.’ (8:7).
But, in the midst of continuing world and national uncertainties today Christians who deeply trust their God can work through even the bleakest of situations and come out the end of every dark tunnel. No magic formula, just a simple trust in a great loving God and his word.
Winston Churchill, in the dark days of World War 2, delivered many strong positive comments to encourage a little island under threat of defeat on several military fronts and probable invasion. Such as the following abridged collection of insights: ‘It is a wicked thing to take away man’s hope. Doubt cramps energy. Belief is power. To believe is to be strong.’
Christians have hope, great power in Jesus Christ.
But unfortunately many, who are supposed to be positive in every situation, seem to foolishly delight in living in the past! Yet we are meant to be people of the present creating – with the Holy Spirit’s help- a great future. Grabbing hold of the biblical promise of Jeremiah 29:11 and living life to the full. Getting on with life. But all too often we allow the mistakes and the bad-case scenarios of yesteryear to bind us today from enjoying life and ‘moving on.’ We must refuse to live there and move on!
The truth is that we’ve all made errors of judgment both in speech and action – including some things we’re ashamed of, but one of the precious things about being a Christian is that when we ask forgiveness we’re totally forgiven and can ‘get a life.’
Scripture has several examples of people who blew it but they rose up and moved on. One is the prodigal son. His life was in a mess but he came to his senses and in Luke 15:18 determined: ‘I will get up and go…’
He then rose up out of the pigsty and made for the only one who could help him re-establish and gain a better future – his father. And things worked out fantastically for him!
This story is wrongly referred to as simply a wonderful parable of God’s love and grace. But it’s more than that. Such parables also call for action on our part.
Yes, this one clearly speaks of the confidence we can have in the heavenly Father, the God who cares so much for everyone. But the mixed-up son had to do something… He had to make a move towards a better future and security, to come away from his confusing place and predicament of shadows and smoke.
And he did. He rose up and moved on!
For anyone to move out of the shadows and smoke and change their situation one needs to get up and out of whatever is binding, holding down. Otherwise there is a wrong holding on to the past and current circumstances. We can have great hope in God and move on into a future of confidence with him – as we trust him!
Not letting go of the past means that we can be our own worst enemy by holding onto it or burying ourselves in it. It continues to be the prodigal son’s pigsty, his personal ‘downer floor’!
One of the greatest declarations of Jesus was his dramatic statement of John 8:36 that he’s made us free! He also said that ‘God is the God of the living not the dead’ (Matthew12:27). Believe these words of God! If you’re living in the past then you bound to it and living among the dead!
Think of the various New Testament people with needs – Mark relates the miracle turnaround of many… such as the blind, lepers, demon-possessed and sick people. All were in a kind of pigsty or downer situation, all decided to rise up and go (or were brought by caring friends or a parent) to Jesus the one who changes circumstances.
William James (1842-1910) said, ‘The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.’
Hope and power in Christ
Maybe that’s what you need to do today – rise up and determine to meet Jesus in a life-changing encounter that will result in a new future for you. There’s always hope in Jesus! Just refuse to live in the past!
Countless years ago there was a comforting old song with the line: ‘Standing somewhere in the shadows you’ll find Jesus, he’s the only one who cares and understands.’
What great words! They are a perfect direction of hope and comfort for all who are feeling troubled by what is happening, even not happening, around them. Jesus encountered many shadows and much smoke in his short life but he trusted his Father God. We can do likewise! Going through shadows and smoke? Remember and trust Paul’s Romans 15:13 prayer, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’
Drs Robert & Maureen McQuillan