Here is the book I recommend in this video.
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (31 Oct. 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1529308380
And if you prefer to read rather than watch, here is the text:
Living well when you are feeling wobbly
So how do you live well when you are living in a precarious reality or you have an internal jumble of wobbly feelings or both those things going on at the same time?
The answer is that you need to live in a story- a true story is the best kind of story to live in – this story needs to frame your perspective on how the world is and who you are in that world. In another video I will talk about how you might choose that story, but for the sake of brevity on this subject let’s assume that you are already choosing to live in the framework of belief that is the Christian story.
When you live in this story then you have three tools to help you live well when you are feeling wobbly.
The first tool you have is your anchor and the name of your anchor is hope.
I am going to use an analogy that is about rock climbing, even though I am not a rock climber. And I’m going to draw a diagram even though I’m not an artist.
So if life is like a long hard slog up a cliff face, we can certainly understand and appreciate why it is full of scary wobbly moments all mixed up with moments of joy, achievement and exaltation. If this is an analogy of life then hope is your anchor and it needs to be fixed here at the top of the cliff.
You need an anchor that is strong and stable, something to hang onto and in the Christian story that firm strong tool that steadies us is called hope.
But it’s not the fingers crossed behind your back kind of hope, it’s not the “here’s hoping/may be/maybe not” kind of hope.
It is much more solid than that. The Bible calls Hope an anchor and this anchor actually rests in two places timewise: one is the future what will be: death will be overcome God’s rule on earth will come, all will be well
and it rests in the past, what has been: the coming, the death, the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus into our world. Historically verifiable facts.
So what holds this anchor in place? If this is an anchor you are claiming because you want to live in the truth of the Christian story then it’s likely that you have done your research. It’s a reasonable, well documented, verifiable story laid out in the four Gospels, you don’t have to commit intellectual suicide to believe it – these other things that have convinced us head wise. And/or we’ve experienced the truth of this story in our lives, we’ve observed it in others, we are convinced heart wise.
Our assessment our subjective view of this anchor, this hope is simply that, our assessment and our subjective view. The truth of this hope as an anchor is not actually dependent on what you or I think about it. It is actually true (or it is not true) regardless. But when I accept it as true it’s like I am attaching a line to this anchor, and here is the line, it is my climbing rope to use the rockclimbing analogy and I am hanging onto it for all I’m worth and this line is called faith.
And faith is not faith until it’s all your hanging onto. If under your feet you are leaning heavily on lots of other things, let’s put a ladder here, then what you are exercising is not faith it’s a sort of self-improvement program. I am making my way up this cliff face but it’s by my own dint of effort: my achievements, my status, my hard work, my good works. None of these things are bad but they can only get you so far, and how many steps on your ladder are dependant on what kind of hand you were dealt: privelege, education, intelligence, opportunity.
The faith that will take you all the way to the end of your life through all the wobbly scary moments of life is not dependant on any of those things and it needs to be all that you are hanging onto and it needs to be fixed to the hope which God secured for you when Jesus came.
This hope is rooted in the past, something that definitely already happened but it’s also in the future, something that definitely will happen. Check out the first few verses of the letter to the Colossians “faith and love spring from the hope that is stored up for you” some future certainty stored up for us, is what gives us the courage and the perseverance to keep on climbing up the cliff face of life. We will get the top. The clouds will clear. The view will be magnificent. And theologically speaking death will be defeated. (See Isaiah 25)
So we have hope, the first tool to keep us from wobbliness. We have faith, which is the act of attaching ourselves to this anchor to this story. Hope and faith, two tools. But that line in Colossians mentions a third, love must be the third tool that helps us to live well in spite of living in a wobbly precarious world.
So where does love go in this picture?
Love is the rope that has got your back. Love is the rope that takes your weight, you can lean back on it, it is under your bum you can sit on it, it will not fail you.
So how do you lean back into God’s love? Possibly the subject of a whole other video but just a few quick thoughts here.
Firstly you practice the discipline of a quiet place and a quiet time with God. Notice I said you practice it you don’t just think about this discipline. It’s no good thinking about how fit you will be if you go to the gym you have to actually go.
If you want to experience the presence of God then you have to actually give yourself enough space and quiet in order become still enough to become aware. Our lives are a frenetic jumble of crazy busyness and internally our minds are no different.
A daily practice of setting aside time to be still and quiet with God will begin this process of learning to lean into the love of God. I’m going to quote from a book I have been reading called “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer …..” subtitled ‘how to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world‘.
Paraphrasing him slightly, he tells us that we need to be there, with God long enough to decompress from all the noise and traffic and stress and non-stop stimulation of modern society and when we do this we start to feel, at first we feel the whole gamut of human emotions not just joy and gratitude in celebration and restfulness but also sadness and doubt and anger and anxiety and it is usual to feel all the lousy emotions first, that’s the reason why we don’t go to this quiet place. We don’t want to feel those lousy emotions. We don’t want to acknowledge fear, anxiety, disappointment we think if we just stay busy enough and avert our eyes they might go away. We also think that God would be decidedly unimpressed with us bringing such negativity into what’s meant to be a kind of holy place or time but, here is the reality, and I’m back from quoting from Mark again
“when we face the good, the bad, and the ugly in our own hearts our worry, our depression, our hope, our desire for God, our lack of desire for God, our sense of God’s presence, our sense of his absence, our fantasies, our realities. All the lies we believe as well as the truth we seek to hold onto. Our motivations. Our addictions. The coping mechanisms we reach for just to make it through the week. All this is exposed and painfully so. Rather than it leaking out on those we love most, it is exposed in the safe place of the father’s love and voice”
In silence when the cacophony of all other voices has faded away we can hear God speak his love over us we can hear him speaking to us about our identity, we can get his perspective on our life. And we come to a place of freedom. Our failures slowly lose their powers over us. As do our successes. We get out from under the tyranny of other people’s opinions-their disapproval or approval of us we become free to be just as we are the mixed bag that we are.
So that’s the discipline. That’s the answer to “how”: spend a little time or a lot of time quietly, consciously in the presence of God. Give yourself time to breathe, maybe reader a Psalm or a story from the Gospels, maybe listen to the worship song, maybe not. Maybe God will say something from what you’re reading that will feel life changing but maybe not. Maybe just being there will help you process your anger over something that is bothering you, may be being still will allow your mind to settle like an untouched pool.
So there you are. Three tools and one discipline all of which will help you to live well, even when you are feeling wobbly.
Thank you to my friend Carol for passing on this wonderful poem on the same theme, with permission from the author.
It is not comfort we are promised
The colour coded sweetness of computer culture
Our only right is the green of the earth
The blue of the sky
And all the myriad variations of creations theme
It is not safety we are promised
No freedom from shock or sudden fear
It is not companionship we can be sure of
Except His the eternal friend
We are not cloistered from grief, distress bereavement or loss
All these are ours at one time or another
And He is ours also
The Eternal Guide – urging us up the rock face
Persuading us on giving us joy
With the wind in our face, the sun in our eyes
And the tears flowing
It is not safety we are promised
But the wounds of an active life
And He with us tending our hurts
Preparing the cleft
Leading us higher to the summit
Where one day
We shall see the view
We shall see His face
And we shall be satisfied.