Colin Langran lives in County Wicklow, Ireland with his wife Joyce. They have 3 children and 8 grandchildren. I believe Colin has something to say to the Church today based upon his walk with the Lord and the integrity of his heart. In this post Colin shares what is on his heart and this sharing comes at a time when we all need to hear what it is that the Lord is saying to his people. We would like to hear your comments on this post and your own experiences.
This morning at breakfast as is my wont I turn on the news and find myself listening to the latest episode of our on going financial crises. Over the past two and a half years hardly a day has passed without the constant reminder over the air waves of the serious economic situation facing our world. New words have been added to our vocabulary and we now know about bond holders, subprime mortgages, bailouts, defaults etc. I am very aware of the terrible human cost of our present difficulties, and it would be a truly hard hearted person who would not be moved by the stories of unemployment, emmigration, home repossessions, bankrupt businesses etc. Very few of us have not in some way been affected and it is likely that further pain will be suffered in the future. Add to this, the political turmoil in the Arab World, the Iranian nuclear threat and the many natural disasters which we have witnessed during the past year and we can understand why many might be asking questions as to what is happening to our world.
Last night I lay awake for quite some time and found myself thinking of a scripture in Hebrews which comments on the life of Moses, by saying that he ‘persevered because he saw him who is invisible’. Moses is often presented as the prototype of the ideal leader, he was schooled in the Royal court of Egypt, trained in the political military and economic affairs of his time, but this comment points to the fact that he had an awareness of another dimension to life and this was the key to his very existence. We face great challenges at this time, do we allow the constant barrage of bad news to dominate our thinking thus becoming part of the prevailing malaise of doom and gloom or like Moses become aware of another dimension.
In 1 Samuel 9: 9 there is an interesting comment to the effect that an alternative name for a prophet in the Old Testament was a ‘seer’; a word we rarely use nowadays, it simply means ‘one who sees’. What did the Prophets see ? I think they saw God’s dimension or perspective on their contemporary world and it was out of that ‘seeing’ that they spoke and lived. Put another way they were aware that they were part of another kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven/God, and living as citizens of that kingdom they presented to their contemporary world a different approach to living. True, they were well aware of and deeply touched by the needs of society around them but this was not what shaped their message or their lives. I am only too aware that every World crises produces an array of so called ‘prophets’, and more often than not their ‘messages’ becomes a huge distraction to Christians and time often discredits the things they speak. It was no different in New Testament times as 2 Thessalonians 2 v 1-4 so clearly shows. With information so readily available to us even a casual glance via the web will reveal the extent to which present events are being commented on and interpreted.
Habakkuk has something to say to us
I have been struck by the journey of the the prophet Habakkuk, and feel his experience may be helpful to us, and you might like to take time to read through this Old Testament book. Habakkuk lived in difficult times, times when there was very little to encourage, uncertainty hung over his world and the future was very bleak with the ever present possibility of the total collapse of society. Though he was a ‘seer’ he could be confused and angry, and at times he directs his anger at God whose ways he was unable to understand; how could the Lord who loved His people allow such horrible things to happen to them ? Reading through chapter one you feel his frustration: ‘you do not save’, ‘you do not listen’, ‘why do you tolerate wrong’, ‘justice never prevails’, ‘justice is perverted’, ‘why do you tolerate the treacherous’, ‘why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves’. It all sounds so apt considering our situation where many feel aggrieved at the injustice and lack of accountability. The journey of despair for Habakkuk ends in Chapter 2. This is how Eugene Peterson describes the transformation in Habakkuk’s attitude; “He waits and he listens. It is in his waiting and listening which then turns into his praying that he found himself inhabiting the large world of God’s sovereignty. Only there did he eventually realise that the believing -in-God life, the steady trusting-in-God life is the full life, the only life.” The resulting change is dramatic and the final part of Habakkuk is in fact intended to be sung with orchestra and the song concludes with what is one of the most extraordinary statements of trust ever recorded in scripture, truly a song suited to the times we live in.
‘Though the fig-tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vine,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls
yet I will rejoice in the Lord
I will be joyful in God my saviour.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength,
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer
he enables me to go on the heights’
What began with despair ends with a song of trust and confidence as Habakkuk saw what was not visible to the human eye. This is no blind optimism but it is a glimpse into the world where God reigns and where His order prevails. Could it be that the Holy Spirit wants to inspire in us a similar song of hope for 2012 ? Is it not possible for us to be a people of hope in our confused and despairing world, so that in all our contacts and conversations we bring another dimension, the dimension of the Kingdom of Heaven.