Journeyman Journal: A Gnawing Feeling About A Change Of Direction …

For the longest time, I’ve had a feeling that’s been gnawing away at me. The feeling that the conventional approach to life is largely unsatisfying.

By that I am referring to the idea that life revolves around getting a job, getting a wife, getting money, getting on the property ladder, getting a motor, getting regular holidays, getting children, getting old, getting retired and getting dead. It’s a crude notion of the conventional, but tell me that’s not the brochure that at least unconsciously we buy into.

I think a lot of that gnawing feeling is about the life of Jesus I see in scripture and how it’s been taught to me. There’s something about that and the episodes of men and women in scripture that didn’t quite live up to the conventional approach to life. It’s like fulfilment in life is a lot more about what fullness of life looks like in putting all the energies and capacities given to you to being light in the world. That light is in no way limited, restricted to or expressed solely in the confines of the conventional. It’s like life in the Spirit gives you permission to do exactly what He leads you to do and that can be such a diversity and variety of exploits that the conventional alone cannot sufficiently cover.

Following Him can lead far beyond the conventional, even as it fully acknowledges and influences those in the confines of the conventional. Indeed sometimes it takes walking with Jesus to see how much more there is to life than  the conventional which can inform, enrich and expand the conventional – if you are to return there.

Yet that gnawing feeling in me – a feeling I have had for such a long time – where He leads me, I have to follow and every so often there is the nudge to go into …

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Open Doors, Closed Doors

Access approved. Access denied.

Whether it’s a door you’re trying to get open or a website you’re looking to get on, those phrases can be the difference between a relatively content experience and a frustrating one.

There’s a very good woman I know who clings dearly to a word that’s mentioned by Jesus in Revelation 3. To the church in Philadelphia, Jesus identifies Himself as one who has the keys of David and opens doors no one can shut and shuts doors no one can open. He goes on to establish for the sake of the longsuffering saints in the city of brotherly love that he has set before them an open door that no one can shut. Now I know that this good woman clings onto that word because for her there is an assurance that no matter what opposition may come to try and frustrate her in her efforts with Jesus, as long as He has opened the door, as long as she knows that, she is given greater confidence to proceed knowing the opposition cannot block the way that’s been opened for her.

It was brought to my attention recently that it’s good to know Jesus holds the keys and can either allow or deny access. It’s reassuring to know that as the Gate Himself as He describes Himself in John 10, He will not allow access to those that do not belong to Him. He will ensure that those who are in Hi are those who belong and all the opposing forces will be met by the simple phrase – access denied. For so long I didn’t appreciate this. Then when I got to considering again the great love with which He loves me and has done so much to protect me from dangers seen and unseen, His role as the Gate and Protector allowing and disallowing forces has got me thinking maybe it’s about time I built my trust and confidence in Him.

It’s also a challenge for me to be aware of where He’s giving me access and where He isn’t. Places I may very well want to go and things I want to do, with all the good intentions in the world, He may very well be shutting the door to that. Whereas He is opening doors to the right opportunities for me to see Him glorified – if I am sensitive to that, I can find myself walking into experiences that will see me changed all the more into His image and character.

It’s all about every being obedient to the One who has the keys that locks and unlocks the pertinent doors that allow access.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Journeyman Journal: Pursuing in Prayer Together

Recently I reflected on the role of walking with my Dad. In it I referred to how my brother and I would often walk with him when he went for his walks.

Looking on that in the light of life today got me thinking about the beauty of praying together. It never fails to amaze me what can happen when people following the Saviour get together and devote themselves to seeking His will and making their requests known together. There is something that develops in that sort of camaraderie. It’s like being on the walk and get instructions to make a certain turn in a direction and be prepared to engage in something exciting and challenging.

From reading in scripture about the birth of the church and its expansion emerging from prayers of people together, to reading in history of significant movements and projects that came about because people were praying together. It’s so inspiring and encouraging to know that our prayers can connect us to the walk God wants us to be on together. It’s all of those things and it stands as a challenge. Are prayers merely putting wishlists to God to grant, or whether can we appreciate that there’s a conversation God invites us to. That conversation, in the hurts and pains we go through, is to seek for His Kingdom to come and will done. Not just praying for it, but seeking it together and getting to practice it together.

The point of the Journeyman is not for solo wanderings. In  prayer, it is about what can be achieved in concert with others on the journey.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Journeyman Journal: Dad and the Walks

Dad did a lot of good things for me. A lot.

One of the best things, though, was to get me into enjoying walking. No not the rambling kind of taking a stick and needing hiking boots to walk up and down the mountain. Nah, not that kind of thing, just taking a stroll through the area we lived. If it was up to him he would walk everywhere. Having the car was a necessary inconvenience. He would walk it if he could and he loved the walking. It was among the best experiences of my life on a summer Saturday afternoon just spending time walking with my Dad.

Walks didn’t always mean talks. It could just be walking. The walking was something that Dad knew about, roughly, but I had no idea. I didn’t know where he was going and when we took certain directions I recall having looks of confusion and  being bemused. So I would ask Dad where we were going and he would feel under no obligation at all to inform me. He would just tell me to keep following him and the destination would be clear in the fullness of time. Those walks would involve a variety of terrain even if it wasn’t mountain hiking. Different scenery would bless the walks. Sometimes urban, sometimes countryside. Passing other walkers, or just us on the path. He was not in a rush. He wasn’t in a race. If it was done for health reasons it wasn’t about fitness more than it was about the health in enjoying God’s planet.

Walks could however include the occasional talk. Ahhhh those walks with conversations. Those conversations that would sometimes be as winding as the walks themselves. Topics wide and diverse. Dad wouldn’t be waxing lyrical putting the world to rights, but he would contribute, make the passing comment, asking the incisive question. It wasn’t just the two of us on the walk. Sometimes my brother and even on the rare occasion my Mum and sister would join us for the walk. If it was just us males out on the walk Dad could set up something that would get my brother and I talking and rambling around in conversation almost oblivious to where Dad was taking us.

In it there was something that Dad knew about the journeys we were taking. He was assured about them without having to spell out what what was going on and those journeys would take us on so many interesting paths. I am so grateful for my Dad setting me up for life in appreciating it’s all about following the Father along paths of righteousness that He takes me on.

Reflecting on those walks and considering where I am now, I appreciate how important it is to trust that the Father knows where He’s leading us. The paths of righteousness are not supposed to be smooth – they take us through some really rough and trying places. We’re going through those places for a reason – one particular one being that it was here that the Father found us and so we can see others who need to get on this path as opposed to ones they’ve been travelling before. The variety of paths He leads us along also reflects how multi-faceted His creation is – appreciating that is appreciating Him.

Where I am at on the journey is not quite a desperately pivotal crossroads, but it is at a stage where a change of terrain is up ahead. No, that’s nothing to fear in itself, it is something to get very excited about, but it’s something to be all the more careful to follow in the footsteps of the One who leads, so I don’t stray off the path.

The Journeyman’s trails continues … Thanks Dad.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

About Blaming Circumstances 

Words. 

They open and they close. They illuminate and they conceal. They console and they provoke. Their effect on the attitudes,  behaviour and condition of people cannot be underestimated. 

Something happens. The words we use describe a picture and a narrative that we buy into. That narrative can do much to see how we will respond to what happened. We arrive at the things that happen with a narrative already running in our head. The words we buy into either reinforces that narrative or changes it in subtle or dramatic ways. 

The words that should really matter are the words from God that can help in the shaping of the narrative we should be buying into. However, there are plenty of other options available – and we are only too happy to explore those other options rather than give the truth a chance. Nevertheless, it is what we do and as a result we veer away from what would lead to peace in the light of what happened. 

There is something about what leads to peace that should appeal to us, especially if words we hear can drastically change our approach to what is and leads us to realise what can be, if we pay attention. 

There are those days when I just want to complain. True story. I can talk about what could have been. I can wish things were better for me and my family. I can mope and grumble. That is well within my locker. Recently, however, I was challenged again with this question: who is really writing this story that is my life? If I am the main writer, then no wonder it’s never good enough, no wonder I can’t see right for all the wrong. If it’s all down to my words, I am in a whole lot of trouble. 

What if I acknowledge there’s a better writer. What if I acknowledge He has a narrative that is as much about what He reveals about who I am now as what there is to be later? Trusting life in the hands of the Word is a good way to allow my perspective on my circumstances to be one that leads to peace is a better way of living. 

In the meantime, enjoy some good … 

Words. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

A Place for Grace 

It is only when I think of the grace extended to me that I begin to recognise just how crucial grace is for life. 

There are times when people do some things and they are well up for the lambasting. Their behaviour was wrong, their attitude stank out the place, they should have had the book thrown at them twice. Forget being read the riot act, some of these people should have been tuned into Riot Act Reading on a 24 hour loop for a year! Rather than that being their portion, however, grace was extended to them to have the opportunity to carry on with the access to resources to carry on their efforts. 

Sometimes it feels as though it’s not fair, until the spotlight is turned on my life and the episodes where great kindness was shown in my life. That kindness wasn’t shown because I deserved it. That kindness was shown as ongoing expression of how grace operates. It’s times like that where I am grateful that His love is not dependent on my actions. Despite how we often work on  that premise, it is the challenge of holiness to act in the same grace that God shows to us. 

There is still a place for grace. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden