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

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 

More Than A Group of Individuals 

There is something a little annoying about the focus on the individual. 

If human existence was just about the individual why on earth were we made as relational beings whose greatest expression is found in individuals getting together, working together, connecting together? 

Anyway, recently I was reflecting on the great experiences I have had at work in a team. It’s easy to be in a company where you are nothing more than a cog in a machine who is only useful as long as you work yourself to a frazzle whereby on the end of your usefulness you are disposed if for another cog. But that is not the case in every workplace. There are those sweet occasions where it is a joy to go and work because you are a part of a team of people who love what they do, love the people they get to work with and ultimately love to collaborate with their colleagues to construct something of great benefit to those they serve. 

It does not happen overnight, but there’s an intentionality about it that overcomes some significant odds to strive and thrive in supporting each other, getting the best out of each other and knowing they can depend on each other. It’s a beautiful place to reach and yet is the platform to something better. Far better as accomplishing targets and goals is seen in the greater light of the positive impact on the lives of people we serve by seeing us together as more than just a group of talented individuals. 

The bond, the jokes, the camaraderie, the cooperation, the knowledge that there’s no failure in this kind of team, there is always support. There is always care. There is always the stimulating for growth and releasing people to further fulfil their potential in other teams that will essentially benefit because of us in our team. 

No, I am not being idealistic or delusional. I know that which I speak of, I know it to be real and know it to be something worth making every effort to achieve in the glorious pursuit of fruitful life and productive work together. 

That thought certainly helps address the annoyance over the over-emphasis on the individual. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Easels and Brushes

There is a good friend of mine who is gifted with word pictures. I asked him a question about two people and he let fly again with a wonderful way of looking at their relationship. He said that one was the easel in which the other could paint masterpieces. Recognising the point made,  I duly applauded his great way of seeing things.

It’s a pity that life can be presented as so individualistic that we do not often see how well we compliment each other when we we’re not in it for selfish gain. Beautiful pictures truly come alive when we celebrate the beauty in the work of the easels and brushes. One finding room on the other, finding space to express. The other bearing and setting the environment. Yet both in and of themselves only instruments for the colour of life to be put in display. 

Then it’s not a matter of who is greater or who is more essential, it is a case of acknowledging and applauding what happens with the easel and the brush. 

(HT: @theprayingpoet for the inspiration) 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 109 – Sort Them Out, God 

It should be apparent by this stage in the collection that the Psalms covers a wide range of human experience and emotion. It is not there to just be pretty in praising and saying how beautiful God is. Sometimes it’s raw and brutal. This Psalm is one of them. 

From the start we are aware of the travails that the Psalmist is going through, but it is his response to his hardship that should arrest us in our tracks. For the grief and evil he has endured for no reason at all from those who He extended friendship to, the writer is clear what should happen to them and it is fairly forceful consequences – death and misery before it. For such great pain caused, great pain should be their lot. It is a far cry from someone looking for forgiveness whilst suffering on a cross. Yet before we decry the message in the Psalm, there are two things to remember. 

Firstly, this Psalm is referenced by Peter when it comes to time to replace Judas as the twelfth Apostle (Acts 1:20). That would give credence to the place of such outpouring for the fate of a traitor. (That’s not permission to go looking for hurt for those who betrayed you.) Secondly, Jesus Himself wasn’t backwards in coming to the point of what would happen to the one who would betray Him (Matthew 26:24). So the same Jesus that forgives does not let the wicked go unpunished. 

Therein lies a good place to take a stand even as the Psalmist does at the end of the piece. His desire is to be in a position of praise to the assembling of the saints because God will rescue him – which is the pressing issue and meanwhile God can be trusted to deal with the wicked, whatever contributions we may want to give God in advising Him how to sort them out. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 108 – Ways to Win the Warfare

We were playing a board game. I wasn’t doing so well, but being the peace loving and peace making sort that I am, I merely proclaimed that I would vanquish them all anyway because God was on my side. Obviously in the light of such bold proclamations I finished up in last place. 

The Bible has violence and has a stream of military and conflict language throughout. It is unavoidable. The man after God’s own heart was a man marked by military exploits. It’s no surprise then that there’s a Psalm that goes from the place of praise to the place of conflict. Unsurprisingly, some will jump on this as corroboration for a bloodthirsty God. Others will cling to this as reason to claim is on their side in their own conflict – and it does not have to be military at all. 

What’s often missing in these thoughts and proclamation is the relationship that underpins everything. Hearing what God has to say on a matter is pivotal in this Psalm. Knowing this Word in the context of His plans for His people I’d critical. Understanding His heart in these affairs is the engine driving the action. 

By the time we reach the exultant climax of the piece, this is not reason for us to hope that God will get rid of a boss we don’t like or help us in warfare against another country. This is about what God wants triumphing over all who oppose it. That should lead us to wonder what God really wants. That should prompt us to explore a relationship with Him to really know Him, love Him for His beauty, wonder, holiness and righteousness. 

That way we  can flow from the place of praise to the purpose He has for us to see His Kingdom come and will done on earth as it is in heaven. A purpose that sees His enemies conquered even as they were on the cross, in the grave, in the empty tomb and in an exalted Saviour at the right hand of the Father. 

It will also stop us from thinking it will give us the win in a board game. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

December Thanks #23: Food 

There are few physical experiences more satisfying than that of the sensations received on the completion of a great meal.

My upbringing instilled a great respect for engaging with the plate of food set before us and finishing every part of the meal. Leftovers were rare. That was usually because the meal that was prepared would be a sumptuous one. This was not because my family were cash rich and so brought in the best possible foods available. It was down to my Mum exercising her God-given gift of turning anything at her disposal in the kitchen into an unforgettable mouthwatering feast.

Unsurprisingly, I grew up with a large appetite and a great appreciation for meals prepared and presented well.

Nowadays not only is there great pleasure in enjoying that meal, there is even greater delight at sharing that experience with family and friends. The role meals have played in establishing and deepening relationships has been a powerful experience. It really is a great way to serve and honour others and setting the environment to be open and engaging on a wide range of issues.

These experiences have not just proven to be food for thought. They have shown again the value in celebrating Jesus as the daily bread and sharing Him with others over such great things as that sumptuous meal. I am forever grateful for that.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden