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 

Things In The Dark Come Out In The Light 

There is this thing some of us do to protect people. We don’t tell them everything. Now what is true is this – people don’t need to know everything. They don’t. It is not for them to know each and every aspect of everything we have ever done. 

That, however, is not what is really meant by not telling people everything. What is usually meant is that we withhold information from those who get close to us to protect them from the truth of what we have done and even worse what we are still doing that would damage people’s opinions of us if they found out. So to protect them, oh sure and to protect the self too, we just withhold that information. In time we also go onto reason to ourselves that what they don’t know won’t hurt them. Before long, because we can keep it going, we even justify it because things are great as they are and don’t need to be spoiled. So we keep it going. 

That’s fine with those who we think we can manage that way. It is not as simple as that in our relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact one of the most fearful and liberating things about life in Christ is that He is the light and in Him there is no darkness – that means that habit of withholding to protect, which, sometimes in the honest moments is us choosing to stay in the darkness – is confronted with irrepressible light. At that moment Jesus offers us a hand out of the darkness. He offers us a hand out by forgiveness, He shows us the way by His grace. In following Him, He assures us that rather than investing efforts in  protecting our image, it’s worth embracing the new creation we are in Him where there is no condemnation. That means there’s no need for the secrets. No need to hide. 

That is not about going around giving full disclosure to everyone about what we did last summer and the summer before that. It is, however, the joyful sound of freedom if we want it to turn from the darkness to the light. 

Meanwhile, there is the reality that some of us won’t be able to get to that stage, because we have convinced ourselves that things are alright as they are. No need to rock the boat. Just keep things going as they are. In fact we love things just as they are. No need to change a thing. Even if that brings us to reject the very light that could lead us to a better way of life. 

Either way, though, sooner or later, what is the dark will come to the light. 

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 

Dryden on the Freeflow

Tomorrow is scheduled to see the last important football match of the season. It’s the Champions League final. After that there will be a few international matches here and there with some youth tournaments around, but to all intents and purposes those of us who enjoy feeding from the game of football will engage in a ten week fast as we patiently endure the holidays. 

One of the things I enjoy about the game is how it depends on a collection of individuals who are motivated, trained and organised to function in a particular way that maximises their combined abilities to win games. Folks will say it was individual brilliance that won a game – and though it appears appealing, there is more to it than that. For though a player scores, he needs his teammates to ensure they don’t concede rendering the whole scoring thing redundant. The game is made of a collection of contributions from players to stop opponents scoring and to set up opportunities to score too. That works best by the players knowing their roles, working well together and passionately pursuing the prize together. 

I am fairly certain there are people who don’t appreciate how important they are to passionately pursuing the prize of peace. So well have we been molly-coddled and pampered and encouraged to just be consumers, customers and clients, that being active participants knowing our role and working well with others to achieve the prize worth pursuing, part of the challenge is to even acknowledge how important that is. 

God in His infinite wisdom, sees it fit to be glorified most in the relationships we have with each other. The sooner we get to grips with that, the better for our families, communities and far beyond. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

June Check Up: A Dryden Update 

The last time I gave an update on things was back in the beginning of April. That feels like a long time ago. It’s just two months, but that has been a packed two months. 

You may have gathered that the vast majority of that time on this blog has been dedicated to continuing and completing the series on the book of Psalms. There has been more to my life than just the Psalms. 

Among the highlights has been witnessing my middle daughter celebrate her 11th birthday. Abigail is a tremendous girl with so much going for her it is incredible. I love her a great deal and am grateful to God for having her as a crucial part of my life. 

There’s been a fair amount of things going on in my life and it’s sometimes a wonder there is time to breathe. In it all, I am learning to let go of things to have the space to take up others as well as learn more about what’s worth keeping and for how long. It has been my pleasure to engage with learners in different settings, that’s been great. I love to learn and it’s great sharing that love to support others in doing the same. 

A great friend of mine had a wedding celebration which I was privileged to witness. The road trip back was also very memorable. It went to show that journeys are great to take in good company. It’s something I love that there’s good company with me on the journey. 

It is a journey, it is going somewhere and it’s growing in becoming on the way there. I am seeing opportunities to grow intentionally on the way there. That calls for further changes, but something I am aware of is the importance of praying, planning and putting things in action. I am not you. I am me. The me I am is realised as I cooperate with God in hearing Him, walking with Him and learning to do what He is showing me. That often is tough for me. It’s tough because it draws me out of me and it brings me in contact with the parts of me I prefer to repress. That’s necessary though. To walk in the light means giving everything over into it. A reluctance to do that is a step towards harbouring that which should never be harboured. 

Finishing Psalms feels like a gap in what I do here on the blog, but the writing thing is not something I want to let go of at the moment. The rhythm and regularity is good for me and may also help just in case … In the meantime, however, there’s some free time to put some thoughts on a range of subjects right here on this blog. 

Thank you again for popping along. It’s my heart’s desire to see the Kingdom of God here as it is in heaven. It’s my desire to see that impact those from the centre to the circumference of my life. Lots of lives to be touched by the goodness of God in Christ. Whatever part I can play in that is a delight. 

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