Stop, Look and Listen

When I was just a little boy there was a campaign to promote safety for pedestrians crossing the road and it had a jingle that mentioned the three ways in the blog title. I remember the jingle, so I remember the phrase. I even remember what the drive of the campaign.

It’s good to know a few years later that the advice is just as necessary now as it was then and not just before crossing a road safely.

Not only is there a rush to get this, that and the other done. There is a relentless drive of routine and ritual. It must be done, but never questioned. It just must be done. It has always been done, there is safety in the regularity of it being done as opposed to the threat of the unknown when doing something different.

We get sucked in and before long it’s just the norm. It’s just what we do. There is little thought about alternatives. We just keep on going and keep on doing what has always been done.

Thankfully the grace of God will invite us to stop. There’s a day in the week given to stop. There are times in the day given to stop (not just sleep). That invitation to stop is a great mercy when we take advantage to do just that.

As we stop, the next invitation is to look. What a wonderful invitation – look back on what has been done even as the creation narrative shows God often looking at what was done. As we stop we can review, reflect and be refreshed by what has taken place. But not just look back, but look around. Take in the now. Observe the present. Behold the current surroundings. Not just drink all that in, but then look ahead at what things might be, what path is ahead even for the next step. All this observing is done after we stop. There’s no need to be active doing all the time. Creation is around to observe and joining God on His mission has opportunities to look as well.

Yet in all the observations having stopped, there is also a chance to listen. It is so difficult to truly listen because it is not about the self, it is about what is beyond the self. If we were to submit to truly listening there is much that could be really helpful for us and others. If we pay attention and listen, there is a voice calling. There is a voice engaging and inviting us to deeper relationships, deeper intimacy, deeper joy in knowing and that being the spring from which all other action can take place.

This isn’t about navel gazing and being introspective for the sake of being deep, profound but ultimately pointless. This is wisdom to see how love in doing is connected in love in being that is defined by a relationship with God that often sees Him invites you to stop, look and listen to His heart to hear what He’s saying.

Following what He says in those moments can allow us to enjoy the fullness of life found only in Him.

(Photos: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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Walking With …

That’s quite a trek.

Plenty of twists and turns on the path and it doesn’t look like there is any safety on either side of the path. One false step could lead to harm or worse.

So for a journey like this it’s good to know it doesn’t need to be done alone. When that is said, some refer to the fact that at least the Way is with them highlighting the Truth in terms of the steps to take to Life.

This is a reassuring reality. Yet there is also the opportunity to travel with others. Like-minded pilgrims who appreciate that this journey cannot be accomplished alone. Like-minded travellers who have progressed because they realise the key is to make it together. They realise that if one should slip, another will be there to keep them from falling. The other will be there to restore and refresh. Together they can challenge each other to progress and keep going even when fatigue sets in, even when others give up.

It’s good to know it will be a case of walking with …

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What Would Lead to Despair?

It’s not the best of emotions to consider, but despair is a fairly heavy emotion. To feel it and express it says much about the condition that leads to it.

The king in question in this verse is Josiah. Of all the kings to be found in despair, he is one of the odd ones. Odd, because up until this point, he has been unwavering in his devotion to God and desire to see the people rid themselves of idols to serve the one true and living God who established them in the land.

So what would it be about the words of the Law that would leave him in such despair?

As you consider that, think about if there are words in the Book of Life that could lead you to despair? Before you answer quickly rushing to your favourite parts about blessing and joy, consider what lead Jesus to cry and then look at the world around you …

Selah.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

On The Run: Epilogue

Wouldn’t it be tragic if you trained for so long and put in the hours of performance in a competition that turned out to be the wrong one.

You might not think that would happen. Surely someone would notice and correct things. No one would persist competing in the wrong race. Surely not.

Reality is not only does this happen, but some actually benefit from perpetuating it. As long as you are wasting your energies and resources on the wrong race, you don’t pose a threat by being successful in the right race. It is thus an industry in itself to let people continue in their deluded efforts until they have spent themselves completely and have nothing but regrets.

So many folks be running after things that ultimately mean nothing. I was reminded today by a great man of God how Esau despised his birthright because he settled for the immediate rather than hold on to the ultimate. The race he ran to feed his immediate craving cost him big time. I would scoff at him and think how stupid can you be to give up all of that for the sake of your immediate hunger. Subsequently when I consider some of the foolish decisions I have made because of lust and desire for immediate gratification, I don’t scoff so much at all. Instead I ask God for mercy on me and grace that I will actively learn from these failings and get myself fit for the race for life, rather than waste it all on a race to a place I don’t want to end up in.

This race definitely isn’t a sprint. Indeed someone would suggest the race isn’t given to the swift or to the strong but to those who endure and endurance is not from your own capacity. It’s from recognising your inability to even choose the right race to run in, so humble yourself to the one who set the race and knows you better than you know yourself.

That should ensure that the tragedy of running the wrong race will not be my portion. Instead there is the hope to be able to say like someone else that I have run my race and there is ahead a crown of life not because I am any good, ahhhh but there is one who is good, who did run the race and won and through Him, I can run this race to win.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

On The Run: Running on Low

It’s great to start on a high. The excitement, the buzz, the positive vibes and there’s the essence of feeling you can make it all on your own. The same excitement that started you can probably be the excitement to keep you going.

Until stuff happens.

It’s tragic to see people running on low. That which was done with ease at the start looks a painful slog now. The joy that couldn’t be erased from your face is a thing of the past. But sure you’re still running, right? It’s still going, because you’re still going, right?

Running on low, usually ends up …

(This keeps running …)

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

On The Run: The Old Run

The route was a familiar one, carved and conditioned over time.

Something would happen to upset me and I The running continues)would set off to run in that direction, on that route to that destination. It became automatic. I would make the run to that place and before long I would nestle again into that old and familiar habit. I convinced myself that here was safety. No one else was involved. No one else had to know and I wasn’t hurting anyone else as far as I knew. I could cope when I ran here. It was my shelter from the hurt and a place where I didn’t have to engage with any of that which caused the pain.

Sure there was something that didn’t quite feel right and in as much as it provided escape and it was a coping mechanism, it didn’t make things any better. It didn’t provide any healing or hope. The peace it provided was more about the cessation of hassle but not the inflow of wholeness. The escape it provided was hollow. The way out was illusory.

But this was my place. My place to run to. And I ran there often. The run brought with it a thrill to find something there that I was used to, however ultimately empty it would prove to be. At least it would mean I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain at that moment.

That was the old run. To be honest, from time to time I feel like going on that run again.

What’s wrong with that? People need to have their way of coping. People need to have that place to escape to from the hurts and pains of life. What could possibly be wrong with that?

(This keeps running …)

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Plant: Fragile to Flourish

There it is. The first signs of growth. Bursting through the soil reaching tentatively to the sun.

There are so many factors going against it. What if there are is an adverse climate? What if the surroundings are made hostile? Perhaps a rodent or pest may trample it down before it ever has a chance to really get to its fullness. There is no guarantee that it will survive from day to day.

Yet, somehow, despite the factors going against it, it does not just survive, it thrives. Adapting to its environment, drawing nourishment and strength from within and it’s roots, that fragile looking plant slowly but surely finds its place and flourishes. It is a beautiful sight that did not happen overnight and was not always meant to happen, but from deep down within it flourishes from the inside out and its flourishing is a blessing to those who see it for what it is and how it has got there.

It’s flourishing may last but a brief time, but the ripple effects may last way past its time on earth.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden