Saturday, July 30, 2011

Deciding for Peace

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV).


In the angering moment,

Potential’s still there,

To rock off our laurels,

Frustrations to bear.

Winds of change mount,

Inspiration’s known,

Options to count,

Decision’s now shown.

Deciding for peace,

A moment of reason,

Logic on the increase,

Defining the season.


We can literally draw on peace any moment we like, but we must go unconventional—against our prevailing, frustrated thought pattern.

We decide to go against the default grain.

Any frustration—or any number of them that cloud our consciousness concurrently—can be converted; borne in peace.

The Moment of Agreement

This is because, as the winds changed to anger us, they just as well change again in obedience to our obedience—the Lord’s will is that we’re calm of spirit. As we agree with the Lord, all’s okay.

In one moment of agreement—the reasonable moment—the incisiveness of the angry mind, and the worrisome heart underpinning, dissipates.

This moment of agreement with God is a prayer—as the peace that “surpasses all understanding” comes, so does the matter of God’s momentary healing, as we prefer the logic of plain reality over our feelings, hurts, disappointments and hindrances.

A new season is, hence, born. And it is most welcome. Thanks are presented to God.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Go Long, Go Far

“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.”

~2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NRSV).


“It’s not where we are now,

That matters so much,

It’s where we’re headed,

The end-point and such.”

Further than here,

The process contends,

Outcomes are wished,

And new life extends.

Soon enough we’re there,

And the past has wasted,

Groans are ceased,

And grace we’ve now tasted.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hope Past the ‘Dry’ Season

After a rather comfortable season where grace showed us favour rarely experienced, it comes as a shock that we’re thrust into a season deprived of certain things we began to take for granted. This ‘dry’ season deludes our hope. Our patience is being tested for growth. And grow we will. Job did. We can too.

The pieces of the puzzle,

Strange as it seems,

Are not here to muzzle,

Or disparage our dreams.

Those pieces play their part,

Yes, strange to suppose,

Creating another start,

Transforming these woes.

Wait for the seasons to change,

Be patient and let anger cease,

If only we’ll allow God to arrange,

Then, eventually, peace.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mr Geniality and Miss Optimism

In an age where humankind’s never held its destiny so more dearly by its own hand we’re a people strangely darkened by pessimism. We forget, familiarly, the power of the Spirit that has won us.

Beyond simple optimism and geniality stands us; if we’d see the hope altogether visible. It’s the victory of obedience; to believe upon the deeds of the Saviour, Jesus. Further, it’s the commitment of ongoing repentance—turning to God so we might go beyond that which stilts us.


Mr Geniality and Miss Optimism,

Went from here to there,

No matter what annoyed them,

A cheerful smile they’d bear.

Some trips were terribly tough,

“Sure!” they would say,

“But not all of life is rough,

Perhaps not even today.”

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Explaining the Inexplicable

“Daniel answered the king, ‘No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or diviners can show to the king the mystery that the king is asking, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries...’.” ~Daniel 2:27-28a (NRSV).

Some things may not be understandable.

Every now and again—or a lot—the answer to life’s questions eludes us.

More often than we want to accept this, we must. That’s all there is.

There’s no answer in the inexplicable; nothing we’d be satisfied with. Yet, there’s a strange peace in that.

Answering that which has no comprehensible answer is remarkably easy when we arrive there. It is what it is. We smile even though we don’t like it.

Perhaps the loftiest height of the spiritual life is the humble acceptance: we don’t know; may never know; and, indeed, may never need to know.

When confusion surrounds, perplexing as it is... we obey God by being still; know the quiet silence where God remits peace.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Unparalleled Beauty of Reality

“Some people are still unaware that reality contains unparalleled beauties. The fantastic and unexpected, the ever-changing and renewing is nowhere so exemplified as in real life itself.” ~Berenice Abbot.

I recall being at a group therapy meeting years ago and a guy getting up describing a scenic flight over the Antarctic. He relayed the story in awe to the group of fascinated listeners. Breath-taken as he took us into the vision of the sweeping vistas, the cool, innocent light and the enormity of the images his eyes could see; he remarked memorably, ‘Now, God, you’re really showing off here.’ He was high on life.

The reality of nature is often awe-inspiring, but the Berenice Abbot quote above alludes to something of far bigger and broader significance.

Shrinking from Reality?

We not only take our time and our responsibilities for granted, we also don’t appreciate reality for what it is. Instead of embracing its beauty we often shrink from it.

Some find it scary and painful, and altogether too powerful a concept to take in all at once, all of its truth—they can’t cope.

It takes much courage to live life truthfully and at complete harmony with reality. Many cannot yet do it and unawares to them, substitute parts of reality for a crutch—a food, a drink, a drug, or a myriad of other forms of escapism.

We get all sorts of rhetoric quoted in politics, and not all the ideologies and philosophies espoused hold true. The following however, I believe, is a sensible way forward. To embrace this approach more is the very sense of courage that can help us make each aspect of our lives work:

“For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, and to provide for it.”[1] ~Patrick Henry (Speech before the Virginia Convention of Delegates, March, 1775).

Yet, reality can be coarse and too much to bear at times. We get the unexpected result in life and we cringe. The ever-changing nature of life can crush the fear-submitted spirit, overwhelming us. When we feel immersed in stress where do we go?

Counsel From Psalm 17

And this simply reminds us that we do need safe refuge at times.

In Psalm 17:7, David is found crying out to God: “Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.” Foes are not always represented as other people. They can be our own fears, and even the fickle nature of life represented in reality—we don’t always like what happens to us, do we?

We can seek the wonders of God’s great love—as great as nature is, it’s only a part of God’s love-gift to us. His Spirit waits eternally to break into our lives, to refresh and renew us.

This is where we need a ‘crutch’—the only permissible and beneficial crutch—via the Person of Jesus Christ. When life turns pear-shaped, Jesus alone can provide the way home; we can still even sense the Spirit of joy, a peace that surpasses knowledge, in these troubled circumstances. And, we don’t need the other crutches when we have his Presence.

A Fresh Assault on Reality

If we pray for God to keep us as the apple of his eye, and to hide us under his wings (Psalm 17:8), at these times, we can hope to see his face and sense the presence of his Spirit calming us for a fresh assault on reality—when we’re ready.

And we do this by trusting him and not taking matters entirely into our own hands (Proverbs 3:5-6), beyond doing what we should do to help ourselves.

Let’s take reality for what it is, holus bolus. When we look to nature and the wonders in the universe, we can be sure that God’s showing off his love for us manifest in his entire creation.

Reality, seen truthfully, in the light of God, is simply gorgeous; nothing to be afraid of.

When we’ve learned to embrace our stark realities—as God’s revealing them to us—we know what it means to be friends with God.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

[1] John Frost, The American Speaker, (New York: Arno Press, 1974) p. 92.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Faith in Times of Change

“Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.” ~Hebrews 12:2a (TEV).

Change causes us the temptation to worry, because everywhere about us circumstances are in flux; times are impossible to predict. The people we relate with today are not always the people we’ll relate with a year from now.

Whilst circumstances change and people come in and go out of our lives, it’s good to be reminded of our soul’s connection with God and that that never changes.

We are blessed when we spend intimate times with the Lord, as we acknowledge the truth that when we have the Spirit’s Presence with us we have no need of anything else.

Let’s check that thought.

God is All We Need

Our loved ones are given to us—and we to them—for our mutual enjoyment and safekeeping (as far as it’s humanly possible), so part of the relationship is for our blessing and part is for theirs.

Life is about the duty to love, and in that, we’re loved—others love us and we love them. God underpins such love; indeed, he commands it. God is love and he’s designed creation around love.

But as love lands in its most basic form, we have to recognise there are temporary manifestations of love—that shift, ebb and flow—and there’s the permanence of God’s love, woven beyond time into the eternal realm.

As we might focus on our losses around love—the fading into nothingness, except memory, of these temporary manifestations—we’re never more reminded of love’s permanence in God.

It might be difficult to grasp, but God is all we need because God is all we have.

Soul’s Link with God

Our souls are linked in love with God—an unchanging and unchangeable reality.

So, as we worship God by focusing intently on the permanence of the Spirit’s love, we can be reminded of our safety with God in eternity, and even as that reality stands now—eternal life also being a concept lived here and now (John 17:3).

About those losses that pain us, many questions of life are raised—things beyond our present comprehension.

Why does life hurt so much as it changes?

It’s because of love.

The eternal binding of our souls to God is also somehow entrapped in an oft-broken world that cannot respect, understand, or achieve, the entirety of God’s love.

As difficult as it might be, only with God—only with need of the Spirit—is this contention acceptable.

As we fix our minds, hearts, thoughts and feelings on Jesus we find a moment’s respite from the changes tending upon our lives. Only when we cling to that Rock will we find our changing worlds peaceable.

The very presence of change in our worlds propounds that which never changes—God’s love and the sealing of our souls in that love.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

God’s Got More

Limitless; the bounds of God are truly immeasurable. This is not some banal fact; it’s vitally relevant for everyone. Even for the person presently blind to God, God’s got more. The realm of light is hope—one that grows ad infinitum.

So much more,

Promised every day,

God’s got galore,

At the place where we pray.

So much more,

Journeying along,

God’s angels implore,

“Continue to belong!”

So much more,

To be had in the Presence,

To worship and adore,

God Almighty’s omniscience.

So much more,

Battling in the sun,

Becoming rich when we’re poor,

God’s deeds are never done.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Way Our Grief REALLY Works

First we obviously deny. Then what follows: anger then bargaining, some more denial, a few more seconds of bargaining after which a little bit more anger, then through a fleeting period of acceptance, besides the moments of depression that comprise the valley of reality.

Grief is not a linear process.

It is normal to experience sharp volleys of anger even after we’ve primarily reached acceptance.

It is normal to continue to bargain.

It is normal to have the occasional depressed moment; even after we’ve well landed in acceptance.

Grief lasts longer than we want it to.

This we must plainly accept, for it is the reality. But we must also understand that acceptance is a land that we conditionally inhabit. Taking a sojourn from time to time is normal.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.