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

The Kettle: Patient Passion

The kettle.

It contains water. Water that is in the process of going from one temperature to another. The state of the water previously was not good enough for the task required. The final state of the water will reach will be perfect for the task. You just need to raise the heat over time. In the suitable container that process can take place to the benefit of those who need the hot water.

Some people like it hot. Some people need it hot. Where are the kettles who can take the heat to deliver the goods?

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Running By The Rules

There is a saying going around that says that following Jesus isn’t about rules, it’s about relationship.

I hear that. I certainly get the gist of what it looks to oppose. There is a very real legalistic streak among some of us that is so rules oriented that the purpose of living and the real spirit of life gets extinguished.

Yet can you think of a world without rules? I mean the basics. Doesn’t your body operate by rules – you know, the way it says if you drink too much of one thing you can expect a shut down soon.

And anyway, don’t even relationships operate on rules? Informal, unwritten and casual though they may be, break them and see what happens. What happens when someone trusts you with something important to them and you break their trust. Tell me it’s not about rules then.

This is why the relationship with Jesus operates by understanding His own rules. You don’t have to get hung up on the rules side of things, primarily because the relationship is about liberating you to truly become what you were created to be.

That’s why it’s certainly worth knowing, in the race of life, what the rules are. It would be a shame to run it and lose because you were disqualified. It would similarly be tragic not to finish the race because you did not make the most of the support available to run the race well. The rules gives a lot of scope for help in excelling in running. The support on your side, if you choose to rely on it, will not just see you make it across the finish line, it will allow you to do it and win the prize.

That’s all there in the rules – if you take the time to check them out. Rather than than run into a dead end.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Affirming the Blessed

It has been a fair few centuries since He said it, but I wonder if the church He died for would recognise and affirm those He referred to as the blessed.

Those 8 characteristics are as counterintuitive and countercultural now as they were when He shared them with His disciples way back then. Sometimes in the bid to be people-pleasing and attractive to the eye, much is said to sell Christianity as something worthwhile because it’s like wish fulfillment, where all your wildest dreams come true and phrases about having the best in this life are appealing and gratifying, especially as they often coincide with what the world and the flesh suggest would be the best in this life – security, comfort, material benefits and happiness.

It’s jarring, then, to hear Him once more make the clarion cry that the blessed pursue something of far greater worth than security, comfort, material benefits and happiness. Indeed the blessed turn a lot of what others would deem that which truly makes us happy to that which ultimately makes us holy – not for our sake but for His Name’s Sake.

Yet how do we actively affirm what He referred to as the blessed?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What’s So Sweet About It?

One of the pivotal moments in my wall with Jesus took place in a church building in South London. It happened almost 20 years ago. The place was old and the inside was typically cold. Not many of us were gathered and that gave the place a sparse look about it all the more. Nevertheless we few got on with some words of encouragement and a few songs.

A hymn was selected that we sung. I had heard the hymn before and sung it umpteen times. But not on this occasion. The song was being sung, but not by me. I was paying attention to a narrative that described me to the tee.

I’m tired of sin, footsore and weary, The darksome path hath dreary grown, But now a light has ris’n to cheer me; I find in Thee my Star, my Sun.

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer, Till I am wholly lost in Thee;

It’s worth reflecting on the rest of the narrative in the song. It outlined an aspiration I had never taken as seriously as I did then. A desire to know God so deeply and so intimately that everything about me would only shine and declare Him. I cannot do justice in words to how transformative that experience in that dusty, cold structure was. Words were deep, God was more real to me than He had ever been. Tears flowed without inhibition as the encounter with the risen Saviour and Redeemer gave me a new lease of life.

Almost 20 years later, reflecting on that makes me applaud the goodness of God. It also made me stop and question God.

“What’s so sweet about it?”

Another song that came to mind was a golden oldie that declared The Longer I Serve Him, The Sweeter He Grows. I love hearing the song, it’s a real treasure. Yet, I looked on over 20 years of walking with Jesus and asked the question again.

“What’s so sweet about it?”

How is it sweeter now than it was in those heady days of loving Jesus and wanting to do His will with a seemingly unquenchable fire and zeal? If I based this on observation, it appeared that the longer you served, the more beleaguered you got. The more you got used to routine and the status quo. Indeed it appeared in some people’s case the longer you served Him the more cranky, tired and bitter you became.

“What’s so sweet about it?”

The answer came very helpfully from the sort of person who made it his business to consciously only sing songs he meant, not just because others were singing it or because the vibe was good. He reminded me to consider the one we serve.

Consider Jesus and consider Him deeply. Consider the invitation to travel from darkness to light as He leads. Consider He who knew no sin taking on sin so that we could be truly right in the sight of our Creator and Father. Consider Him who walks with us in our struggles and pains and can bear with us because He endured and overcame. Consider Him – gaze upon Him, rest in Him, grow in knowing Him, believe Him as He reveals Himself to you and see that serving Him is only possible because He gives strength, vision, joy and hope.

Doing that is no one off thing. Doing that properly is an all encompassing activity involving all of life. Jesus is considered in fighting injustice, Jesus is considered in enjoying recreational events. Jesus is considered at home, on journeys, in shopping, in paying bills, in grieving over lost loved ones, in celebrating the birth of newborn loved ones, in painting the kitchen, in ironing the trousers, in walking to work, in struggling with temptation, in having a good Thursday.

When considered in this light and appreciating that the consideration is a relational one ever growing in knowing, and that knowing brings greater light and joy even in times of confusion and despair. That consideration begins to explain why the will is sweet. It starts the path of exploring why genuinely serving Him gets sweeter as you do it more.

It’s a start. Of course to find out more is to actually accept His invitation for yourself.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Talk About The Committed Few

I salute and applaud the committed few.

When certain initiatives begin with the hype and excitement it can draw a crowd. People get caught up with promises of great benefits if they subscribe, participate and contribute. That all sounds good at the start. There’s also the appeal because there’s a crowd, so it must be popular.

Then of course the shiny new thing becomes worn and it’s harder to pluck up the motivation to get excited about it. Then as you see others dropping off from it, you feel like you might as well join them, especially as there’s this really exciting new thing that has just dropped on the scene. So the cycle of disappointment continues.

This is why I salute and applaud the committed few.

They see the benefit of keeping on keeping on whether there’s a crowd, a crew or just the core. They are not blindly following a routine for the sake of it, they see something of far greater worth, being faithful in the endeavour for the season God calls them to the task. Indeed the only eyes that matter to them is the pair from the heavenly Father delighted again seeing His son and daughter delighting themselves in Him, following in the way of the Master.

They just love spending time with Him, doing His business even as others go onto something else. They love moving when He moves, even if it means leaving the lucrative, the secure and the highly regarded. Remaining committed and faithful to what He has started is a lot more important than the crowd excitement that is here today and gone tomorrow.

I salute and applaud the committed few.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

… To The New

What keeps me going among other than is what I am going towards.

It’s like no matter how many times I read or hear of being a new creation in Christ and the old passed away and the new has come and the new heavens and earth and the New Jerusalem – the newness of it becomes all the more startling and appealing.

In it all, however, the most compelling element is the one who leads from the old to the new. He is the New Adam, He ushers in the new covenant in His blood. Though He was in ages past, He makes all things new in His light.

It is not about having a discard for the proven and true of times that have gone before. It is about the clear focus of what I am pressing towards. He who calls me from the Old, gives good reasons to keep focused on the new. As long as that focus is clear, even in troubling times and moments of indecision, I can find hope and rest in Him.

Hanging on to what used to be, works for some even if the outcome is eternal loss. Clinging on to the One who promises the new and embodies it works for the faithful, even if there is a temporary loss.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden