On The Run: The Problem in a Memory

“I remember …

When they were young, they would fall, hurt themselves and come running to me. They ran to me because I could take the pain away. They ran to me because I could make it better. They ran to me because everything they needed was found in me.

They got older and thought it was a sign of maturity to not come running as often. They thought it childish to come running all the time.

Yet as they stopped running to me, they discovered they didn’t have the wherewithal to fix it when things got messy, when things hurt. Instead of running to me they thought they could run elsewhere and get the same care, get the same attention, the same warmth, the same care, the same wisdom and the same love.

They ran to other things because they thought as grown ups they didn’t need to run to me anymore. Only to find themselves caught in the trap of pride. Too proud to admit they were running to the wrong to make things right. Too proud to see that they could still find what they needed in me without diminishing their growth. On the contrary running to me wasn’t a sign of immaturity, it was an indication of the faithfulness that underpinned our relationship. But they were too proud to admit it.

So they carried on running to the wrong to make things right. Until they got tired of running and eventually tired of living.

But it never needed to be that way. It didn’t need to be that way at all.

Because I remember … ”

(This keeps running …)

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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The Blanket: Comfort from the Cold

As the sun sets and the last embers of its warmth fades, so is ushered in a chill breeze. It goes from a breeze to an unrelenting battering against the body. The shudders makes it clear that this is not welcoming weather.

Yet there is a welcome ally. The blanket.

Wrapped up tight around you, it’s not just the warmth that is offered, there is familiarity in the comfort. Shaped against the contours. Snug and roomy, long and close. It is with you and it is for you. As you wrap yourself up in it, so the external forces are kept at bay.

You find relieving comfort from the cold.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Hub

One of the best memories I have in life is of The Hub.

My good friend Andy lived in a place that we loved to refer to as the hub, where God could do business with us because it was a place of transparency, hospitality and honesty that encouraged vulnerability. The occasions I would enjoy just sitting on the sofa at his place as we went from laughter to tears and back again, deepening friendships and being a lot more aware of the issues that prevented people being real.

Being a hub turned out to be not just about a physical location. It was an agreement among brethren. The environment could be created anywhere as long as saints were of the same mind and heart. Not to perpetuate rituals for the sake of it, but to relate to each other and God as time allowed.

This was not an exclusive club for believers that was inaccessible to those who were not as yet believers. The conversation was about life. Points in which people could connect and then get to see a gospel perspective.

I love The Hub and am grateful for the lessons learned from the experience that I have the privilege of practising today.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Moreover Blessing & Even Though Love

Moreover Blessing

It was something Authrine reminded me about. She was talking about how God responded to Solomon’s request. So I went to read 1 Kings 3 and loved how Solomon put himself at the mercy of God to just get the wisdom required to operate in his position as king. That degree of humility was something I took very seriously. No way I can carry out any of my responsibilities without that degree of humility – that knowledge that without God I am going to mess it up big time, but walking in line with Him, I can be thoroughly faithful in what He calls me to do.

God’s response to the prayer was the really exciting thing. The writer describes how Solomon’s request pleased the Lord. I love that thought. That thought that God smiled at it, as if He nodded his head because that was the kind of engagement he was looking for. Then that word in the NIV version popped up in verse 13 – Moreover. It got me excited to see God delighted to the extent that whereas Solomon asked for one thing, God gave Him so much more. That word moreover – suggesting it was time for God to show again He is a God of more than enough. As a man’s ways were pleasing to Him so He poured out a Moreover Blessing.

What I also noted carefully was how that bonus blessing was based on maintaining that humble desire to stick close to God. Things would go well for Solomon just as long as he remained committed to this relationship through obedience. It was sobering because it reminded me of that tendency to look for something from someone and as soon as the thing came the someone was either dismissed outright or became significantly less important. Yet here God emphasised how it’s all about the focus on the relationship. It’s not about the goodies we get from God – it’s about embracing the Giver as of far greater value than the gift.

The big deal was being in line with the heart of God and delighting Him to the point that we enjoy His Moreover Blessing!

Even Though Love

There’s brotherly love. It’s a great love among family, it is about those ties that boasts of a depth far deeper than casual and convenient acquaintances.

Yet, there is something about the love of God in Jesus Christ that still humbles me tremendously. What kind of love keeps trusting the people you will bring closer to you than anyone else even though they will misunderstand you, leave you in the lurch when it matters most, denies you three times and in one person’s case even betray and sell you out? What kind of love keeps going even though the wife you died for and longed to beautify time after time brings your name into disrepute?

No wonder it’s referred to as an amazing and divine love. That kind of even though love. A love that Paul evidently had in mind when referring the church in Corinth to it. This kind of even though love lifts us above the bitter resentment that lingers after hurt. This kind of even though love pours out liberating forgiving mercy and grace to others even as we are grateful recipients from an amazing Saviour who loves us even though

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Looking Back, Going Forward

It’s funny how I remember some things.

The other day I was reflecting on the account of creation in Genesis. I love contemplating on that beautiful account of God and the world we live in. I was thinking of lessons to learn from the account, like things starting in a mess but ending up very good indeed. Implicit in that was God in control orchestrating order out of chaos, light in darkness, fruitfulness and fertility from the muddle and mess. While He could look back at stages at that which was good, He would move on to the next stage towards completing something very good.

The day after that, though, I got to reflecting on the journey of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. I considered soberly how the great Creator of the Universe proved Himself again to be in control of all things even against the greatest earthly political and military power of the day. Yet in spite of the mighty works He displayed on behalf of His people, they still actively rebelled against Him. Rather than looking to Him, they preferred to look back and idealised what had been abject, oppressive existence under the foot of Pharaoh. It’s a sad state of affairs when you prefer the prison that kept you bound than the promise of the rest and liberty found in the truly greatest force of love, mercy and grace in the entirety of creation. So rather than enter the rest, only two people survived the journey from the land of slavery to the land flowing with milk and honey.

Later still, my beloved wife and I were conversing over our lives. It’s good to look back and see where we’re coming from noting God’s immense mercy, awesome grace and transformative love. As we talked, we thought about if there was a year we would want to go back to because it was such a great year. Considering carefully some really beautiful memories and superb experiences, we reached the conclusion that actually there wasn’t such a year. In as much as they had their notable moments and there were some truly outstanding years, as it happened, there was a sense that looking back is only as good as it helps us to move forward.

I don’t believe in a progressive approach to human history. I don’t think we are qualitatively ‘better’ creatures now than we ever have been and on a continual upward curve as a species getting better and better with each passing generation. Having said that, I also don’t totally buy into the thought that this is the worst generation of the species to ever set foot on the planet. My hope in Jesus leads me to believe that those who live in Him and allow Him to live and rule in them are ever growing and maturing through every situation, good or bad. They are becoming more Christlike and that is progress that impacts on a variety of levels. At the same time their growth is taking place in a cultural context praising economic economic and technological advances with little to show for real growth and maturity in the way of wisdom, compassion, justice and righteousness. This is not new. This is ever the way of humanity.

The key to it all is in learning from what we see looking back and look on to Jesus moving forward. I believe for those who choose to follow Jesus, there are brighter days ahead. Those brighter days may not live down to your definition and understanding. They can be so much more deeper and richer than that. This can lead to the joy of knowing whatever great years you have experienced, it is not to limit God to way back when. It’s to set our minds on Him, set our desires for Him and look to Him, wait on Him, trust Him and see how He leads us to those brighter days.

Creation, the Exodus, the settling in the Promised Land, the ever changing loyalties of God’s people made me weep bitterly for our human condition in the light of such a great God. To see the culmination of all this in the life, earthly ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His commission to the church gives me another dose of thanking God for what was and following Him into what will be.

This links in beautifully with what I was mentioning recently about the project and so ….

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Living Beyond Ourselves 

OK a brief football reference, then I will move right on, honest. 

So, Wayne Rooney is the leading goalscorer for his club, Manchester United and his country. He has won every trophy there is to win in the game at club level and has scored crucial goals in the run up to that. Yet for all those accomplishments there are some who are not convinced he really lived up to his potential. A friend of mine who supports United (keep praying, keep fasting), suggests that Rooney sacrificed himself for the greater good of the team he played for. Whilst others progressed to bigger and better things, he remained even as his role diminished, but he persisted and made himself available in whatever position he was called to play. 

Beyond football, there are some really good examples of folks who know what it is to live sacrificially to advance the cause of the wellbeing of humanity. The best examples I have found are from those who do not need and have never sought the limelight or needed the accolades for their efforts. Their reward is in their faithfulness and desire to serve. They are happy to see others flourish even if they are forgotten in the celebration. 

The heart of the servant living beyond themselves is a great way to see what it is to follow Jesus. He who laid His life down for His friends and did it so they would know what it was to serve and to love to the degree far greater than any love seen before. We follow in that way by seeing others around us, however flawed we are,  as possible friends rather than potential foes. In the light of the possibility simply exploring how to be a platform for the other to flourish in all they could do to be a blessing to the world. 

Part of being that platform is to invite them to consider this example of endless and selfless love that can make those who feel like the least be treated like they’re the most. Most precious and valuable in the eyes of a loving Father. Not for their egocentric boost, but so they can join in the joy of sharing this great news in deed and truth at work, at home, at college, on the bus, in the coffee shops (whilst drinking orange juice, obviously), in the park, sitting next to the homeless beggar in the city centre, watching the classic with the previously lonely widow who never thought anyone cared, supporting the child with severe learning difficulties on the brink of being excluded from another school, standing up for justice and righteousness for the poor and marginalised in the community. All of that not to draw attention to yourself, but point the light on Jesus. 

Whether Rooney really did sacrifice his career to advance the cause of his teammates will remain a point of contention. What is irrefutable is that God in Christ showed us how we can live in a way where others experience the amazing love of God. That is the way of living beyond ourselves. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 136 – Enduring Love 


There is a song called, Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong. The sentiments of the song may appear rather cheesy to some, but amongst those lyrics is a sense of love that has enduring power. 

That theme of enduring power in love dominates this Psalm. The love of God described here takes on epic proportions because it is a love that has last the ages. From creation to Kingdom formation, the enduring love of God – His mercies ever extended – declares His faithfulness and commitment in every circumstance. 

This enduring love restores, it overcomes, it guides and leads through the wildernesses to lands flowing in milk and honey. It sees a people revel but never loses hope. It is not a sentiment, it is not a feeling, it’s far more than a force, this enduring love expresses the character of God Himself. 

This is not a love exclusive to a people group in a given period of history. Echoes and effects of this love can be felt throughout the world through all time. Even now this enduring love transforms lives and has the greatest power in the universe. A power that lift people up to where eagles fly on to a mountain high. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden