I have been thinking a lot recently about the way that God represents his faithfulness to us, so that we know it and are secure in it. A fortnight ago, while I was attending a planning day with Epiphany just outside Manchester, we began to play a blessing for one of the couples present.
If you are not used to this sort of thing it can be a bit unnerving, but it just involves musicians playing the music they understand God to have given them, there and then, by the Holy Spirit, and presenting it as a vehicle for God to speak to, encourage, build up, warn, etc. the individuals concerned. I have been blessed by this approach to individual ministry for over 20 years now, and have taken part in blessing others in this way. It often results in people seeing pictures, hearing words, remembering scriptures, etc., that are the means of God’s blessing to them. Sometimes it results in tears, sometimes in worship – God knows our hearts and he can use the musical offering as he likes, being God and all. It is always wonderful – that is, a source of wonder. It is also a good habit to get into when playing for children in collective worship – inviting the Holy Spirit to use the music to encourage, comfort, build up, teach, etc.
Whilst we were playing, I had a strong, almost visible picture of waves flowing back and forth into this couple’s lives, as a mark of God’s faithfulness to them over many years.
The thing with waves is that they don’t stay in the same place, but that they ebb and flow on tides that alter with the rhythm of the created order, the sun and the moon. Every wave is different, and so is every tide, itself oscillating across springs and neaps as the moon progresses. And so they function as a reminder of the fact that God’s faithfulness is not a static quantity – rather it is present in different ways and at different times for different purposes. But what they also say is that there is an inevitability to God’s faithfulness. Eventually he shows up in ways we can understand and feed from.
Eugene Peterson, in the excellent Christ Plays in 10,000 Places talks about the requirement in creation both for patience and for urgency. God’s urgency is shown in the forcefulness and repetition of wave after wave on a shore, and yet the same slow erosion of our resistance is a mark of God’s patience with us, and a sign that he is relentless in his love and faithfulness.
After a wonderful but somewhat super-charged first half of term, this faithfulness of God, day in day out, different on each day depending on what we need and what we need to learn from him, might be just what we need
A further thought. These pictures are from my favourite beach, probably – Aberavon, near Port Talbot, taken last Tuesday. Steelworks at one end, the old Baglan Bay chemical works at the other. The sandpipers don’t seem to mind. They feed well, resupplied by the hand of God day after day, as prescribed beautifully in Psalm 104. God’s faithfulness is not bound or prohibited by circumstances, and therefore, nor should mine be, toward those I have responsibility for “feeding”.