‘Sewing the Blue Sail’ is a series of blogs where I share what I’ve learned in the past month about bringing God into my daily life. The inspiration for the title comes from Ian Hamilton Findlay’s poem: ‘Evening will come, they will sew the blue sail.’
Surviving or Thriving?
I set out to read the whole of the Bible earlier this year as a spiritual discipline. It’s been a deliberately slow process as although the Bible is essentially a true story (and quite an incredible one at that), many people who choose to dip into the pages of this sacred book do so because its words feed their spiritual souls…. beauty, love, honesty, tears, forgiveness, reconciliation, wisdom, encouragement, HOPE, and that’s not something which can be distilled at one sitting.
Slow reading of the Bible gives opportunity for reflection and thought; an appreciation of the complexity of the overall plot and a greater understanding of the unfathomable ways of Jehovah. And the result is that I’m drawn into a deeper relationship with the Lord God through his son Jesus.
Just in case you are worried about my sanity, I spend all of my days on planet earth rooted firmly in the humdrum of daily life, however it feels like I was always meant to hear God’s story, feel His unseen presence daily and walk through this very human life of mine with the Lord of the Universe to guide.
I was making good progress in my faith journey till I reached the book of Judges. Of course I’ve read the individual accounts of Gideon, Deborah and Samson and many other judges too, even told these stories to children in Sunday School, but the whole story of the Judges of Israel shocked me to the core. I simply could not align my understanding of the God I had come to know and love and the Diety who seems to preside over the macabre party graphically described in the pages of the book of Judges. When God does show up, he seems to randomly select a rather eclectic mix of characters, who will, with God’s help, save this fledgling Israelite people from potential annihilation.
The Israelites were surviving but most certainly not thriving.
It may have seemed a long time since the Israelites had stood with Joshua, their former leader, and jointly and solemnly made a covenant with this same God to “fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness”, forsaking all other gods, knowing that in doing so God would continue to shower them with his amazing favour and provision. At the time they made this deal with God it was quite simply the best one on the table. God had just led them victoriously out of slavery in Egypt into their own land in Caanan. Other nations quaked at the mention of the God of Israel. It would have been a mistake to turn down this unmissable offer. The only down side was that if they chose to forsake God, and worship other gods, then in Joshua’s words: God would ‘turn and bring disaster on them’. The covenant had been ratified by the placing of a large stone under a large oak tree, near the ‘Holy place of the Lord’.
Many years later, the large stone would almost certainly be covered in some moss and lichen. Any words previously written on it now virtually indecipherable and few folks would linger around it. I wonder how long it took for the Israelite people to abandon the covenant? Perhaps it only took as long as it takes us to change mortgage or energy deals today, when we become aware of a ‘better’ offer out there.
Then, as is true today, following God may seem counter intuitive, counter cultural or plain old fashioned. We can be devoted to a thousand world ‘gods’ such as fame, materialism, self, yet call ourselves christian, go to church, even pray fervently to God like the Israelites did when things go badly wrong in our lives, and surprisingly God may even show up and save us from ourselves and our foolishness. But, are we surviving or thriving? Does God look on our lives with sadness when he thinks of all that we could have been, if only we had chosen Him over other ‘gods’?