Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bubbles of Hope in a Season of Despair

From within even the deepest grief there’s the foretaste of something paradoxical, illogical, nonsensical, new. The enemy will want us dissuaded in despair, but, as we hold onto the hope that God infuses into our hearts in that hope-filled moment, a moment we’re gifted with that runs cross-grain against the flow of loss that underscores the season, we have a first fruit of what’s coming.
The hope-filled moment is a bubble.
It’s the instant of experiencing a moment’s hope within even the rawest despair.
In an entire season of despair, there are thousands of these bubbles of hope, and as each bubble bursts we must remember the purpose of a bubble. Bubbles of hope come and bubbles of hope go, but one thing bubbles of hope do is they help sustain our hope.
Experiencing bubbles of hope in the season of despair seems cruel on the one hand, because that’s simply not our reality, but it’s kind on the other hand, because we sorely need such hope — and sometimes anything will do.
We need to believe that a new season of hope will shine through soon, even if it seems ever elusive, and even impossible some moments. It’s such a hope that keeps us hoping in the despairing season. This hope is not simply stringing us along — a hope deferred, making us sick (Proverbs 13:12) — because if we keep acting faithfully, obeying God by trusting Him for the promise of growth in the extraneous season, we’ll experience joy like a tree of life at the appropriate time (see Galatians 6:9).
But the point is this:
We must embrace the encouraging oasis vision
in the reality of the parched land.
If we don’t embrace what we can so easily be cynical or angry about, we cannot continue to act in the faith that transports us to that hope realised.
We find a way to steer past every grating annoyance and transcend every burgeoning fatigue.
Bubbles of hope contain sufficient oxygen to inspire life when despair threatens to kill our courage.
Where there are bubbles,
there’s oxygen,
meaning signs of life,
and where there’s life,
there’s hope.
As you sojourn in a season of despair, whether it ends up being a week or a year or three, may you be blessed in the knowledge of God’s faith in you as you trust Him.
Steve Wickham.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Looking Backward From the Future

The Abundant Life leads, step-by-tremulous-step, day-by-striving-day, into a Land we look back from. It’s the future as we see it right now, but, in its own time, it will be a time from which we’ll look back on — the future now being the past as we look back then.
Can you see it? — much as a new thing in the livery of Isaiah. If you anticipate it, the perspective will surely bless your day; if you live it, the perspective will certainly bless your life.
If we look back from the future we only see the past, and the worst result is regret. But if we look back from the future, by borrowing the experience of vision, we take aboard our ship of grace, wisdom, which is the ballast of the Abundant Life.
The wise look back as a function of moving forward. They don’t forget the vastness of wisdom in the matter of experience, for surely experience is a devoted and trustworthy Teacher. And how good is the Teacher who makes of extraneous lessons that which would otherwise be lost to experience?
Looking back from the future is God’s perspective over a life that is still so potentially fraught with error and folly. Looking back from the future, the Teacher reproaches the mistakes that are still yet to be made, cautioning for correction before it’s too late.
Reproof is better than regret, for re-assessment is better than remorse.
Meaning for the present is founded in looking backward from the future pondering a whole life lived.
May God truly bless you as you receive the Abundant Life of looking back from your future! — even from death’s door, as impetus for life that is yet to be lived.
Steve Wickham.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pushed Past Breaking Point Into Discoveries of Resilience

It was only as I was brought to the point of sheer frustration, recently, that God was able to show me a new thing; that is, a new thing for every person who follows Jesus. The point I was brought to would have caused a different response until a short time ago. Yet, like He did first thirteen years beforehand, the Lord showed me that everything in life is a test. Seeing this is most of the battle.
The trials that confront us are faced by all human beings; however, God is dependable: he won’t allow you to be tried beyond the limits of your endurance, but with the trial [he] will also provide a means of escape, enabling you to endure it.
— 1 Corinthians 10:13 (USC)
This is such an important theological principle. One that is most often misread. The trials we face are common to everyone, and yet these trials will push us to the limit, before we learn that our limit isn’t actually where we think it is. We think we’re pushed too far, but limits were made to be pressed too far. It’s how we come to be resilient. It’s only when our limits aren’t pushed that we fail to grow. But when we’re pressed past our limits we find God was always there to catch our fall.
So, in this, we learn a vital lesson. In being tested, and in being taken to the brink, even to the point of stumbling and failing, God provides a means of escape which enables us to endure it.
Then we find the resilience within us is like the treasure Jesus speaks of:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
— Matthew 13:44 (NIV)
The treasure is worth more than any tangible possession, just as it is worth treasuring up within us — the experience of being confident in our faith to endure the test.
Within the testing time comes with the snapping point. And it’s only as we reach and go past the snapping point that we find we’ve discovered a new resilience.
It’s that point where we have been cajoled to rage, succumbed to despair, or simply pushed through it.
Resilience is what helps us to know that the point of discipleship is to be pushed beyond our limit; to be stretched to breaking point, and to realise that that point is the very precipice that brings us to learning.
God needs to break us out of our dependence on comfort, to bring us to the discomfort that comes in the test, which is the nexus of learning.
Within the snapping point is the treasure. By noticing what once would break us, but now no longer does, we’re shown our growth in the grace of resilience.
God won’t expose us to every test common to humankind, but we all experience the tests He ordains for us. Some of these tests will push us to and beyond our limit, for which there is growth in the faith. When we reach breaking point, we find there is something more; a great treasure worth hiding and hoarding. If the tests of life cannot destroy us, nothing can.
God’s goal in our practical lives is to expose us in experiencing His gospel power at work in us, resurrecting us to a victory over the tormenting tests simply because we pressed on.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

How God Meets and Grows Us Through Our Emotions

Why does my heart feel so bad? Why does my soul feel so bad? Oh the pain… enough of this! It’s okay. I can find comfort. I can find an escape
No. There’s an opportunity cost in denying our rawest emotions, or bypassing them through cynicism.
The opportunity we miss is a deeper, more intense connection with the Spirit of God. Intimacy through pain, treasure through adversity, blessed favour through weakness.
The point of the starkest emotions is that they break us down. Our emotions level us sufficiently, that in our surrender, in the loneliest depths of our being, God ministers His gentle, salubrious, gracious Presence into the nodules of our spirit, healing us spiritually in our soul. This healing requires the discretional capitulation of every defence to allow God comprehensive access to our vulnerability. It cannot work otherwise than by the access-all-areas gate pass of the purest trust of faith.
A deeper relationship with our relational God is secured through deeper connection via the truthful expression of our emotions. The lonelier we happen to be, the better.
Adversity is a vehicle to get us into the emotional state of ego’s renunciation.
This is, I’m sure, why God gave us David’s laments, Job’s travails, Lamentations, 2 Corinthians, and the like. We need to read something of God’s spiritual ministry when we’re at our lowest emotional ebb. True to life, without cause for escape, the great biblical characters had to cling to God. If we only had victory stories in the Bible we would be sorely ill-equipped to receive the Lord’s spiritual healing. But God shows us in His Word just exactly how the heroes of faith received spiritual encouragement — by being open to Him, emotionally.
How peculiar: God uses adversity to force us to trust Him in our emotional need which grows us spiritually.
May God truly bless you as you eagerly expect an encounter with Him when you’re crippled by adversity,
Steve Wickham.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This Day, the Lord Has Made, for the Living

One day it will be all over: life. Many have come. Many will come. Then there is us. You and me. Ensconced on the nib of time. Life. What we have. Now. For this time. Only.
Then what comes, comes.
But now is the time, to plan, to prepare, the best we can, to live what life we can. And in the planning and preparing to find time to live. To have sufficient faith to plan, knowing that plans may come to nothing. Yet still to plan.
As a husband I enjoy being married, but it’s as a father that I sense that time marches on, and being a father of a pre-schooler occasionally concerns me in the opposite way — what if I die before he can remember me?
Life makes me contemplate because of the tenuousness of life. Like the near-miss on the road — a second earlier or later: history is written in these events. Lives are placed upside down and find themselves ever in a spin. Then, more than ever, we realise just how fragile life is. Cancer diagnoses, marriage breakdowns, as much as clean bills of health and announcements of impending weddings… the events of life that happen in most if not all lives.
As a parent, there is time in the presence of our children we don’t capitalise on, yet when we’re away we miss them terribly at times. As a partner, we think of our spouse, and we don’t often enough thank God for them.
Life. Blink and we miss big bits of it. Yet, it lingers and takes literally a lifetime to live.
The imperative is to live. Live. As if there were no tomorrow, and we were about to meet God and give an account of our lives.
You are living, so live. Live the best you can this very moment. And if it’s rest you’re called to, rest. If action, then act.
God gives us this day. What we do with it is up to us.
May God truly bless you as you live, senses engaged in realm of time,
Steve Wickham.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Oh, to them who die

It is appointed for us to die the one death — a transition that must take place in each person’s being, a return to lifeless flesh turning to dust.
It must occur. Once.
In each person. We only have the one death to endure. It is enough for us. It is a great encouragement that that one death is nothing more than anyone else has to endure. In this we face what all in humanity face, whether by pain or by peace. And death is but a transition.
For the loved one departed, they know only more than we do for a little while, and then we shall join them in that most remarkable of knowledge; a knowledge no one can know until they have graduated to that eternal stage, having been committed to that destiny beyond earthly redemption, to be at God’s all righteous disposal.
Oh, to them who die, who are transcended by life apparent, as time continues winding on, and yet they may see what we cannot.
Oh, to them who die, especially the one gone early, prematurely, without warning, gone in a heartbeat. And it’s peculiar how each death seems that way. We still miss that one. We could do nothing otherwise. This one never loses their grip over us. Thank God, we are interminably connected, through the binds of realms, beyond time in the heavenlies.
Then, as we miss that one — oh, to them who die — God shows us a fresh thing. Their memory and even their felt presence reminds us, as real as is God’s Presence, that eternity is real, and that reality touches us spiritually in ways that life could not otherwise.
Death is nothing to fear. Theirs or ours. Beyond time, death must keep us, until life eternal reigns.
Death connects us with the ultimate reality, for all we know is about to be swept away for something so wondrous that puts all the burden of this life into its context.
Death ought to touch us as it does, with unfettered emotion, but we should know something truly eternal, which is pure wonder.
It is thoroughly good to be touched, for to be touched is to be touched by God.
May God truly bless you as you bear thoughts of death peacefully and majestically,
Steve Wickham.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Conflicted Emotions Are Welcome In the Kingdom of God

When the lawyer heard the high court had ruled against his client — a deaf woman seeking to be a juror, necessitating a thirteenth person in the jury — he was (they were) both disappointed yet undeterred. They felt both emotions simultaneously.
We all do. Many situations in life we find ourselves having to put on a calm front whilst seething inside. Or, we may present a stoic exterior whilst being shattered within.
When our partner asks us what we think, or how we feel, we may at that time have two equal though opposing truths operating in unison within ourselves, such is the confusion we often face in our emotions.
This, of course, is a reality that is acceptable in the Kingdom of God. We were made that way; to be all at sea at times.
It helps and does not hinder that we accept this about ourselves — that certain situations leave us reeling for the ability to reconcile circumstances. Yet it would hinder us if we were told we had to ‘wise up’ and sort ourselves out and snap out of it.
God made us as emotional beings, and we’re best surrendering to the forces of truth that impact us. Being real in the moment, we journal about those feelings that well up from nowhere, and grasp the cognisance of the flurry of our thoughts.
Rather than reject our emotions as being silly, we’re silly if we don’t take our emotions seriously, and give them their due regard.
May God truly bless you through a shalom in your entire emotional world,
Steve Wickham.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Anger, Destructive Masquerade of a Soul’s Sadness

“Anger doesn’t solve anything. It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything.”
 Lawrence Douglas Wilder
I once knew of a man who gave up his whole life in a flicker of rage. He murdered somebody. In a fit of fury, he destroyed a life. He devastated several lives. He certainly demolished his own life. Prison time, however, was a time for recollection and recovery. He refused to be characterised by what was, quite definitively, his worst moment. He was able to do that in an encounter with the Spirit of the living Christ. He was a changed man, though all his days would ever be tainted by that one moment of madness. Yet such was the grace that this man had received, he knew he was no longer judged. He no longer judged himself, and he had learned to turn his regret outward into purposeful restitution.
He learned something else about anger.
Anger wasn’t all there was. Much deeper down something important resided, as if there was an alluvial quality to his emotions that he had not yet tapped. He discovered something in the peace of God. In the tranquil waters of his own soul he was introduced to a pool of sadness ever present in his material identity. There he found such empathy for himself, led there by the Lord’s Presence, that he forgave himself those horrific behaviours. He saw the fear generated sadness for what it was. It made sense, and acceptance was enabled.
Anger was merely the masquerade for a deep-seated irreconcilable sorrow that ran irrepressibly within and incessantly throbbed as an undercurrent in his life.
The moment he agreed to take a pilgrimage to his sorrow was the moment he was healed of the need of anger.
Anger needs safe expression, and that is through honesty expressed as sadness or fear.
May God bless you in your anger, as it invites you deeper into your sorrow, so you might journey with it, into a vast and deep emotional healing.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

3 Agonizing Journeys Through Anxiety

Funeral homes and hospitals, and even shopping malls for some, bear the same features. Job interviews, public speaking, and noisy environments, too. They can be anxiety-inducing places and situations. The list runs on. For most people, these places and situations evoke minor or moderate levels of anxiety. For some, certain places and situations evoke major levels of anxiety. What I will share with you below are not so much anxiety-experiences from places and situations, but entire seasons of anxiety.
My first season of anxiety occurred in the event of major grief. I carried a constant fear around with me, something I could not shake. When I felt particularly overwhelmed, which occurred I think about seven times, I had panic attack events. Times when I felt adrenalin was being injected directly into my heart, which resulted in the sensation of my chest feeling crushed. Fortunately, I learned diaphragmatic breathing at the time and found that, and getting away from people at the time of the attack, helped allow the panic to subside. I also learned the power of my thinking. I could literally think my way into these situations as well as think my way out of them (if I was sufficiently aware).
The second season of anxiety I will share involved an acute two-week sojourn into inexplicable fear — the state of constant uneasiness never left me for fourteen days (the first couple of weeks of 2010). I couldn’t explain it at the time, what the source of the fear was, but I did manage to identify that I was afraid of what was coming. And I had anticipated correctly. I recall how disconcerting the nagging feeling of dis-ease was; it was wretched. That year was tough for me in the workplace. The experiences were ultimately beneficial, though, as I was able to reconcile those particular matters by the year’s end.
The third season I will share involved a psychosomatic condition that didn’t leave me for six months or more, and probably closer to ten months. This was in 2011. It was a condition that I thought was linked to the amount of keyboarding I was doing, but I couldn’t have been further from the mark. The worst of this season was carrying a feeling that my arms and upper back were on fire. Anxiety had become buried into my subconscious mind, and was rising up through my body. It took over my conscious world and I journeyed with fear for most of the year. Only later could I identify the source of it. It emanated directly as a fear response to the manager I had at the time. I won’t go into the person, as the point is my anxiety, but suffice to say, I had never encountered such a personality before (or since). Just the thought of encountering this person began to make me swell with hypervigilance. Since then, however, I think I’ve developed coping mechanisms to better hold myself with such people.
Anxiety comes in myriad forms. Sometimes it’s our mind, our heart, or our body trying to tell us something. It’s never enjoyable, but it can be endured, and the objective is to find coping strategies to alleviate the pain, the thinking and feelings at source.
What I learned about my seasons of anxiety is they all started and operated differently. They were each a puzzle to unravel. Each season required courage, but more so patience.
The great benefit of having suffered anxiety, however, is we’re granted the capacity to empathise with those who also suffer mental illness. Most people carry such illness with them at some point in their lives, and many do so intermittently, regularly, or almost their whole lives.
As you journey with your own anxiousness, be in relationship with your fear, and I pray God piques your awareness, so you may be blessed in the learning of effective ways to accept and alleviate your anxiety.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Phil Collins, Divorce and the Barking Seals

Anyone here love the 1981 track by Phil Collins, In the Air Tonight, like I do?
The mythological feature of the song is unmistakable; the barking seals — a 3-second explosive drum riff midway through the song where the mood changes from simmering, subverted grief to full-blown expression, rising through the variegated ranges of anger regaling in the isolated confusion of a life event: divorce.
Many of us have been there; in the agony of separation, enduring the uncertainty of change, suffering the loneliness of loss. Each person who is divorced, whether they initiate it or not, suffers much. So much readjustment is required, and for what seems like years we feel decommissioned.
In the song Phil Collins enunciates what we cannot really find words for. Yet Collins himself says that the lyrics were all improvised. The song is full of anger, the expression of depths of sorrow.
That’s the nature of pain. Out of my own divorce over a decade ago, I was poleaxed in a moment. Overnight life changed. No more guarantees of the good life did I then know. I had no idea really what was about to take place. I had no idea just how lousy I was doing as a husband — how lonely my wife really was. The barking seals summed up what my life — at that loneliest of times — had come to be.
You may be enduring the excruciation of divorce right now. Perhaps it’s a friend or relative. Such a grief of separation is life-ending. Life must end before it can recommence. To be windswept by emotion seems cruel, but it is necessary. Grief suchlike insists upon our attention. What we cannot deny is for our own good. Anger, sadness and fear are all-too-real and all-too-important. Without them we won’t find out how much we need God.
The healthiest response in grief
is the expression of our ugliest emotions.
In a season of loss, grief forces us to relinquish self-reliance for what God teaches in the wisdom of God-reliance.
Though loss is unbearable, ultimately what it teaches us an abundantly good thing.
We must be emotionally real.
May God truly bless you and yours who suffer with His comfort of hope,
Steve Wickham.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mental Fracture and Emotional Fragility in Depression

The pages of my journal in the latter half of 2007 are bare for the most part; quite uncharacteristic for me during that period of life.  There is a story to be told, which those pages allude to tellingly.
I was in a murky depression.  Embarking on my forties, in a crisis of vocation, having recently married, surprised how unanticipated my life had become.  Life deconstructed.
This depression came as a Fujita-5 tornado, rapid and sudden; its signs only clear from hindsight.  Those symptoms appeared, unwittingly and unfairly, on our honeymoon.
Here is one story of how depression involves fracture of the mind creating enormous emotional fragility and spiritual crisis:
On an innocent enough Saturday morning I changed the engine oil in my Hyundai.  I’d done it dozens of times.  The job done, I started the engine.  Checking everything was working as it should I was shattered to find oil running all over the driveway.  I shut the engine down and ran inside absolutely broken, sobbing tears like a baby.  I met Sarah in the kitchen and fell into her arms, before flopping to the floor.  She didn’t know what had occurred and it took her a little while to find out.  I was inconsolable.  Normally I might react angrily that the job went badly; but in my depression there was no agency for such fight.
The fracture in my mind had contributed to the spilt oil in the first place; with depression it’s so hard to keep the mind on task.  I had failed to remove the old O-ring.  With a clear mind I would never make such a fundamental error.  Yet, as I recall doing the task, my lack of self-confidence was poignant.  Neither the mind nor the emotions could hold me up.
As I reflect over that initial period of our marriage I quickly feel for the plight my new wife must have found herself in; her new husband completely insecure of identity, warred upon from within, defences down, a victim of a broken mind, that ran unchecked according to its own will, and a heart vulnerable to the cognitive chaos it sat under.
For a period of just over three months I had a daily battle.  I was in a paid ministry role and felt completely inadequate to discharge that duty most of the time.  Many times I had to put my depression to one side and pray that the Lord would uphold my mind and my emotions whenever I was ministering with the youth.  God was incredibly faithful.  My senior pastor, too, graciously allowed me to continue in the work.  To have to continue to show up helped.  But there were days, also, when I couldn’t function, and nobody could make me if I couldn’t make myself.
Coming Out of It
What ultimately drew me out of that depression was the Word of God — Proverbs to be exact.  I began reading a chapter of Proverbs per day, and remained on that plan, meditating on chapters of about twenty verses daily, for eighteen months.  That book of the Bible saved my mental, emotional, and spiritual life.  I read little else of the Bible during that time.  Proverbs was a book in season for me.
Focusing on Proverbs got my mind engaged and steadied my emotions as the Holy Spirit spoke encouragement’s life into me.  It showed me how important the steadiness of studying one book or section of God’s Word is.  Proverbs gave me the character of God as a structure for the wisdom I sought.
Through Scripture, God was able to steady me enough to heal the fracture in my mind, and that helped fortify the fragility of my emotions.
Thankfully I came out of this depression about as quickly as I entered it.
And, for the record, I took SSRI antidepressant medication.  They were important; about as important as recognising the signs and symptoms and admitting I was out of control.  As soon as I have recognised I’m out of control, quickly I’ve been able to address the confusion and start on getting well again.
May God truly bless you as you go gently with yourself,
Steve Wickham.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Between Hope and The Dream In the Land Between

There is a place we all hate to find ourselves.  In the land between.  Between one good situation and the next good situation.  Between a good period of life and the next good period of life.  We’re presently in that place, and it’s hauntingly familiar.  Still, we’re God’s people; we learn what we can whilst we’re here, and we don’t give up.
The land between good places is littered with bitter, humiliating, and despairing experience.  This is land between hope and the dream, never quite either, terrain tantalisingly alien to both.
The land between is where we learn to stay in the day whilst holding onto the vision hoped for, though not yet seen.
In the land between we learn not to focus on being in the land between.
It doesn’t mean that being in the land between is something we should avoid.  We cannot avoid it, so why try?  Though the land between is a wasteland, it piques growth opportunities, so we sit in the ugliness of those emotions, collect conscious memory of them, and, with Jesus there, we venture out of that wilderness, into the present moment, believing God has a plan to get us to our dream.  We get ready, and we stay ready.
The land between is a topography of complaint and exasperation, but it is also a vista replete with the provision of guidance for the humble of heart.
Jesus teaches us to trust when every scaffold of security is ripped from our grasp.
And then, as we finally envisage the dream emerge into reality, we find our newfound trust is indispensable equipment for what God has been preparing in advance for us to do.
The land between is preparation ground for the ultimate purposes of God through us.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Four Reasons You Inspire Me

When other people inspire us we know we’re close to God.  When we see little of what should frustrate us in life, yet we see life’s beauties, we’re blessed by a Presence that can only be God.  And, yet, when frustrations and judgment against others mount, we’re reminded what’s missing: God.
Let us see the God-infused goodness in each other.
You inspire me, because:
1.     You won the race.  You defeated all-comers to become you.  That was a competition of the millions.  If you ran the Boston Marathon, you’d probably not finish in the top 100, but the day you were conceived you won a marathon for life!  God made you possible and you agreed to be created… and you were.
2.     In spite of the trials you have or have had as an infant, a child, a teen, and young adult, you’ve still resolved it’s not too late to reconcile these matters.  In your deepest places, you’ve not given up on becoming better.  And you will have seen the fruit of such a resolve.
3.     Though you complain about life when it’s not going so well, you decide to keep going.  You persist.  Perseverance is something you’ve mastered and will continue to improve at.
4.     And finally, you will finish your race.  Don’t give up.  God isn’t done with journeying through you in this world.  When He says it’s over, then it’s over; not a moment beforehand.
So, in sum:
1.     God created you, and you agreed to be created.
2.     You endured the trials through your development into adulthood.
3.     You persevere the best you can.
4.     You will finish your race.
These are the four reasons you inspire me.
I am thankful for the cogent Presence of God, today.  Tomorrow is tomorrow’s matter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

5 Reasons to Stop Expecting Life to Be Just and Fair

Having observed that transformational growth only occurs in us when one precondition is met with one response, I have learned not to expect life to be just or fair at all.
The precondition is 1) when life is tough, together with the response, 2) we submit in humility — a strength that can only be issued in weakness.
Life isn’t fair and it isn’t just.  Yet very often we’ve all been blessed with favour far beyond the fickleness that life has the potential to execute.  Not always, however, have we been thankful when things have rolled our way.
Gratitude ought to be our response at all timesEspecially when life is unfair and unjust.
Of course, it’s easy to say that; much harder to live it.  Thankfully grace forgives us for botching it so often.
Here are five reasons to expect less justice and fairness in life:
1.     It’s unsustainable: we cannot hope to live an emotionally balanced life with imperious expectations.  When we give up our expectations for justice and fairness, all of life suddenly becomes manageable.  Expecting life to be fair and just creates a lack of sustainability in life.
2.     It’s unrealistic: if all we had to do was expect justice and fairness to receive it, or to see it within the lives of the downtrodden, or within the lives of loved ones, we would all live fantasy lives.  Reality dictates that we win some and we lose some.  Expecting life to be fair and just is plain unrealistic.
3.     It’s irrational: courting virtuous disaster, all hope, joy and peace ekes out of us when we’ve had our expectations dashed.  We’re quickly found irrational when expectations run awry.  Expecting life to be fair and just makes us irrational.  Sometimes it’s our expectations that contribute to poor mental health.
4.     It’s unreliable: do you really think you can dictate any reliable percentage of the fairness and justice of life?  Expecting life to be fair and just banks on the shifting sands of fortune that bear alignment with reality just a fraction of the time.  We would never gamble on such odds.
5.     It’s irresponsible: people depend on us everywhere in life.  When we come to expect justice and fairness in life — ours, and for others we care about — we tend to let people down, and more often.  But responding in accepting the fact that we cannot control the fairness and justice in life builds empowerment in us as we speak it, and within others, too, as they endeavour to live in the same vein, because they see that if we can attempt it, surely they can too.
When life is tough,
even more important is it to submit in humility.
May God bless you as you press patiently into His graciousness in trials,

Steve Wickham.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wandering the Golden Path of Healed Emotions

Home 40 years ago.
There are ample opportunities to reflect in the work I’m presently doing.  One location my work takes me to is my place of residence in 1975—a bygone era that is patchy by memory.  As I drove into this area recently there was something incredibly emotional going on within me; a sort of giddy excitement because of the mysteries represented in the anticipated reuniting of me with my memories.  Never does this drive become banal.  It’s always filled with a mind in the eternality of the experienced past.
As I pulled up across the road, noting the house was for sale, I wondered if it was vacant.  It was.  Excitement built within me, because, to the onlooker, I had a reason to be there.  I peered through the lounge room window, and could see through the bare room into the kitchen.  The dimensions I could see made me wonder of the experiences I had with my brothers and parents in those spaces, a time that still seems vague amidst the clarity of certain things of that time—like the precious little box I had that I kept special things in, on my dresser.  I remember the army uniform I got for my eighth birthday.  I think of my youngest brother crawling around the house.  I sense my mother preparing the evening meal.  I recall the fright in me starting school mid-year in a foreign place, much colder and wetter than I was used to, having to make new friends.  And then, back in the present moment, I realise afresh that over forty years have passed us.
An experience like this is a gift.
God has gifted the aged to portions of joy in the everyday of times that have passed.
The older we get the more precious and eternally mysterious is the past.  We can no sooner travel back there than we can fast-forward time, or be in the heavenly realm with Jesus, until that is our time.  Whatever we cannot touch is eternally significant—a distance all too far that evokes within our awareness something piquing wonder.
These experiences can only be enjoyed—or more accurately, are best enjoyed—when we’ve succumbed to the healing of Jesus through sojourning with our truth, past and present.  Both dimensions of time perspective are crucial, for peace in the present is the indicator of the work we’ve done to reconcile the past in order that our future can be restored to us.
The older we get the less we may worry about the future; provisional on healing.
Healing tends toward us more power over fear, guilt, and shame.  Then nothing can defeat us in the moment.  The abundant life.
This abundant life is paradoxical.  The more we realise we depend on God daily for healing, the less we struggle in this life.  The more we understand that our identities depend on failure, the less failure worries us because we depend on God.  The weaker we seem, the stronger we actually are.  The more we realise we’re failures without Jesus, the realer He makes us, so fear, shame, and guilt no longer drive us.
Healed emotions beget healed emotions, and the best of this is the embracing of all emotion with courage, energised by faith.  The meeting of reality without contrivance.
That’s freedom.  The gospel promise of the abundant life.  It’s real.
Peace in the present indicates we’ve reconciled our past by faith so our future/hope may be restored to us for love.
Wander the golden path of healed emotions.  If that isn’t within your capacity right now, promise yourself to your journey with Jesus; through surrender, the sweet embracement of your vulnerability.  Jesus takes us there.  It’s what we were born for.
Wrestling with ugly emotions warrants healing that feels like gladness and gratitude for what we had earlier endured.
Until next time, yours in The Lord,

Steve Wickham.