A New Year message from Andrea
I write this as I am travelling home from the Peak District with my family. We have spent two days visiting Lyme Park and Chatsworth, walking and taking in the breathtaking scenery. For a moment it is possible to leave behind thoughts of the turmoil of the world; the issues that confront our nation and even to stop asking myself how we, at Christian Concern, play our part in 2017.
The tweets and messages have come in today as Aisling Hubert and Sarah Kuteh make Cranmer's 'UK's Top 100 most inspirational Christians 2016'.
One of my overwhelming emotions, and one that I sometimes need to resist is a sense of great insecurity when it comes to our work; I mustn't confuse this with weakness. Often the 'world' and our opponents think that we are strong. Sometimes, maybe, I look at them and think that they are strong – maybe they feel as insecure as I do.
Weakness, properly understood in God, reminds us that our very life depends on God. I am prone to anxiety and insecurity in moments which should be turned to true 'weakness' – a dependency on God. Very often I behave and act as if the very life of Christian Concern depends on me. It does not. God raises up and tears down- something that becomes ever more real as the years pass.
Fragility hits and I have been struck this year with the loss of loved ones and significant members of the preceding generation. I am reminded of what the Psalmist wrote:
"Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:16)
He is the Creator who upholds all things, and nothing can thwart his purposes. We do not and cannot take for granted even the fact of our own existence let alone the existence of Christian Concern.
As we face the new year, knowing our appearance of strength to many is a mask for anxiety and few resources, we must turn this lack into dependency, into the weakness that refines trust in God's wise and loving providence.
He will never leave us
History at Christian Concern teaches us that God never leaves us nor forsakes us (Joshua 1:9; Hebrews 13:5), no matter how difficult things become. We learn that he knows exactly what he is doing at all times, what he is up to through our trials, even when we can't comprehend it.
So we must learn to be less anxious in our ministry. We must learn consistency in submission to our Saviour and Lord, no matter what he brings our way, to grow in grace, be less stiff necked and to see our weakness as Christ's opportunity to shine, as we "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).
He works through weakness
As I think about our precious clients and I am reminded that all throughout the Bible, we see that God loves to draw attention to himself and grow the trust of his people by working despite and through their weaknesses and limitations. Sarah, Rachel, Moses, Gideon's small band, the young virgin Mary, Peter, among others. Jesus himself, the Lamb who was slain, ultimately demonstrates that it is the meek who inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). And that is why, year on year, He takes me by surprise by what He does in and through us.
The great — and subversive — wisdom of the cross is that God chooses the foolish, weak, low, and despised to shame the strong and shut the mouths of the proud. God uses our weaknesses to remind us of important gospel truths and to refine our trust in him.
So, do I still pray for excellence? Do I still pray for creativity, for wisdom, for favour in the courts, for progress in the public square, for real, lasting, cultural change on life, family, and liberty? Do I still pray that we proclaim Jesus; the love of Jesus, the Life of Jesus, the Hope of Jesus, the beauty and majesty of Jesus?
Of course I do. I pray that nothing thwarts us. But I do so knowing that it is His will that would be done, in His time, with His resources and with my weakness.
May we rest in Him in 2017, as we seek to make him known wherever He takes us using whatever means He makes available to us. As for the limitations and frustration? May we learn to detect and accept His path without fear or failing.