It rained here yesterday evening.
Only a few minutes, but a welcome relief after weeks of blistering heat. It took the heat out of the house and cooled the air inside, making it fresh and bearable – if not completely comfortable. Such is life in Cape Town this year.
I don’t do well in the heat. I used to wear short sleeves in the snow in England, so 30+ degrees in Africa isn’t pleasant for me.
It’s been raining here for some time spiritually. In a very negative way, there’s been a flood as damaging as the storms beating the Devon coastline in England for the last few days going on for several years.
For a guy who believes with his whole heart that the price Jesus paid at Calvary includes more than just life after death, much more in fact, it’s been difficult.
I believe that as Christians bought by Christ’s blood on the Cross that He gave us certain rights through that sacrifice – and I’m basing on witnessed experience as well as Scripture here.
1) Eternal Life: Eternal means “unending”, not “after this one”. It starts here. It starts now. Jesus says (John 17:3) that Eternal Life is to know the one True God, and Jesus Christ who was sent by Him. Ergo; Relationship with God restored is the first fruit of being Born-Again, and that can only come by Faith in Jesus.
2) Salvation from Hell: Along with Eternal Life comes Salvation. The term has been so badly abused in just my adult life (20-23 years depending on if you take 18 or 21 as “adult”) that it almost makes me want to cringe. Almost. When I’m talking to myself or people who think the way I do, I still use the word as there’s a common understanding of the use. Outside that circle, I try to avoid it. But I struggle to find a more accurate word in modern parlance that fits the concept. Mike Yaconelli at Greenbelt in 1991 suggested “Captured” – a concept I liked, but it has a connotation of something against one’s own will. Whatever the word we use, not going to spend eternal existence seperate from God (Truly Hell) is a big plus.
3) Physical & Emotional Health: Whoa there, David… You mean healed after we die, surely? NOPE! In this life. Of any illness. I don’t care what the doctors say (bearing in mind I’m married to one!). In Christ there’s no such thing as “incurable” illness. OK, maybe that should be “unheal-able” illness. Illness is part of the curse. The Law insisted on it. The Law has been fulfilled. Our command was to lay hands on the sick and see them recover. Heal the sick. Not pray for them. Heal them. Cancer? AIDS? Diabetes? Yep. All of them and more. But it’s harder to live this than Eternal Life and Salvation. There’s no physical manifestation of those in this life. But people can see if you don’t get better.
4) Prosperity: OK, too far now… That just means Spiritually, surely?. Not from the context Jesus teaches. He talks about trusting for the least when He talks about money. If we can’t even trust for our daily bread – or the cash to buy it – how can we possible trust for Health or miracles? Yes, financial wealth can be a manifestation of the Spiritual state. Not the only one, but the most straighforward to see.
5) Persecution: Hang on… that’s a blessing? Yep. It keeps you honest. If you don’t ever come under fire from the enemy, maybe you’re movong in his direction.
Point 5 makes sense of the other 4. It keeps us in perspective.
I hate it. But it’s real.
In the last few weeks most of my life has turned upside down. But not on me directly.
I really don’t care about my physical being. Live or die is easy for me. But I get bugged when things happen to the ones I care about.
For a long time I kept people at arm’s length. It cost me my engagement in 1999 – but that was a good thing for both of us. I’ve lost much because of that. Now I hold the ones I love close, but that means getting hurt when my Faith takes a pounding as they suffer.
My wife has been unwell. Seriously unwell for some time now. We lost our business in December and moved in with my mum so we could get our house repaired enough to put it up for sale for as much as we owe on it. We still will probably be short now, but a lot closer than we were then. The stress has been very hard on her and exacerbated her condition. Financially, we’re broke. Spiritually we’re prosperous. The two terms are not synonyms. But “broke” is a state of bank balance. “Poor” is a state of mind.
Yesterday my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. My wife took the news hard – she seems to almost be closer to mum than I am right now. The stress of it meant we didn’t sleep last night. I’m currently running on one hour’s sleep in the last 38. I expect to pass out before I finish writing.
My mum, however, has no fear. Not showing any anxiety. Got up today and did her normal stuff. The only mention of the diagnosis is her irritation that in this heat, because of the wound where they took the biopsy not fully closed yet, she can’t cool off in the pool! Well, that and her maltese dog, Scallywag (a name that fits him) keeps jumping onto her lap and bouncing off the bruising around the wound.
I always thought of my dad as the “spiritual” one of the two. He died of cancer in 1999, but we shared many conversations and revelations of our walk as Brothers, as well as father and son, over the years. Getting mum to talk about anything meaningful to me has always been difficult. I think my wife actually knows her better than I do – not because we haven’t tried to communicate but because we don’t speak the same language. Not even remotely.
So I’m encouraged by my mum. It’s an odd feeling.
But she’s reminded me of something.
When persecution causes rain to fall in our lives, whether it’s persecution in the form of discrimination, illness, financial ruin, death threats or anything else that by withdrawing from Christ could alleviate the issue through unethical or corrupt behaviour, the key to survival isn’t staying dry.
It’s dancing in the Rain.