Sunday, 26 June 2016

James 5 : (1)Prayer, Faith and Wooing back those who have strayed. HCFC 26th June 2016

When I was a little boy I loved to watch the cowboy movies on TV with my Dad. I loved John Wayne and one of  my most prized possessions was the  Cowboy hat  the waistcoat, leather belt, guns and holster that I got one Christmas. I wanted to be a cowboy and whenever there were horses or donkeys about I wanted on them. In fact when I was five I fell off a wild donkey in  Donegal and broke my arm.
I never mastered being able to ride a horse and have only been on one about twice since I was a kid.

Before I tell you this story which is quite humiliating but there was a lesson I learnt from it. In fact I felt that it was going to be an unpleasant experience and I had asked the Lord to teach me some spiritual lesson.

 Well while on holiday recently when Rachel our daughter was with us the old urge to be a cowboy again came back so we decided to go pony treking. So duly dressed with my cowboy hat I sat on a horse called Marley,  probably one of the most docile of the horses there as I told the leader that I'd practically never ridden a horse before. But at least I looked the part and tried to pretend I knew what I was doing. The truth would be out soon enough. Rachel who had had a few lessons in primary school was behind me and the instructor behind her. I was shown the reins and told how to hold on to the neck strap and also told to press down a bit with my feet on the stirrups.
Anyway within five minutes of   riding the horse I had ten blisters on my hand and every time it went into a trot and was heading down an incline I had to hold on to the neck strap with all my might  and pull it backward to stop me falling off.
 Rachel was trying to tell me to adjust my feet. On the way back I got more into the groove, previously when the horse was going up , I was going down making it very uncomfortable. Now I was able to go up and down properly making it slightly more enjoyable. But when the horse went into a trot and i had to hold on with all my might to the neck strap with my now raw hands ,  the blisters now broken, it was agony . I then thought to myself how a girl like my daughter who would not be as strong could possibly manage to ride a horse!

When I got off the horse I showed Rachel my blistered hands I asked her how her hands when she was holding onto the reigns and neck strap. She was horrified when she saw my hands and then said that she hardly had to hold onto the reins and neck strap and when she was riding it was as if the core of the horse and her core had become one.
Certainly that wasn't the case with me. But it was that which spoke to me regarding living the spiritual life.
 I was dressed like a cowboy and was sitting on a horse but I could not ride the horse as a cowboy should. I was struggling. The horse and myself were not one. No matter how hard I tried to hold on and do the right thing The more I struggled. A bit like Paul's spiritual struggle  in Romans 7 where he says

18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
I was dressed for the part but had not the skill to carry it out.

Actually, after I was on the horse a short while I decided I didn't want to go on a horse again as it was much too difficult. By the end of the trek though bloodied and having found it slightly easier I was keen to go again. But I knew I had a lot to learn.

Likewise we sometimes think that being a Christian requires just our effort. We want to do the right thing but we continually try to live the life in our own strength A DIY Do It Yourself Christian life  when the Lord wants us to live close to him. As James tells us in chapter 4
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

I t  encouraged me to send some  Bible texts to the Band of Brothers around that time and one was the verse in Corinthians:
'He who joins himself to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.'
 What a glorious word is that.
 Another one was the words of Jesus to us:
 As the Father loves me, so I love you. Abide in my love.
Even the words of Jesus where he says come


28 Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 The Christian journey is a learning and discipleship process where we become one in the spirit as our spirit and his spirit are joined together.
as the hymn writer  put it so well
 O that I, as a little child,
May follow thee, and never rest
Till sweetly thou hast breathed thy mild
And lowly mind into my breast!
Nor ever may we parted be,
Till I become one spirit with thee.
 That is the aim during the process- to be joined at the hip if you like, to experience an intimacy with God rather than it seem sometimes to be a cold tyrannical relationship. His yoke is easy -perfectly shaped for us by the kind carpenter, so we can aim to keep a close account with God. Don't let things drift. ( see part 2)

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