What’s in your “Grab Bag”?

If you were living near a volcano, which could quite easily become active at any moment, you would probably have a “grab bag” in the house – stuffed with all the essential things you would need if an emergency occurred.

It might contain a mobile phone, a torch, a radio, a map, a compass, details of your insurance policy, water, items of food, maybe some extra clothing. Not too much – you want it to be light, so it does not weight you down. And some emergency buddies to help you in your time of need would be good too!

So what about our spiritual “grab bag”? What do you have to grab hold of in times of spiritual need, when the volcanoes of this life start to rumble for you, Rob Evans asked us recently? We all have volcanoes rumbling nearby, don’t we. They are the quiet, unpredictable, yet always present issues, just beneath the surface, that could “go off” at any moment. Maybe it is world politics, financial issues, health, work, study, relationships, climate change, resource shortage, population growth, tuition fees, epidemics, Islamic expansion – there are lots of things that we keep a watch out for, that could rumble into action to affect our lives.

So, what is in your grab bag, to help you cope? Maybe the Bible, to light your way, to provide direction, to act as your spiritual compass. What about insurance? How about Jesus, a sure and certain guarantee of a safe future. Something to help “keep in touch”? Prayer is a good way to tune in to real advice about what matters.

And how about emergency buddies? Your fellow believers, there to help you when times are tough and uncertain. And a role model, to inspire and guide. Jesus again, the one we seek to imitate. Food and drink? Our true food and drink is the bread and wine we share to remember to our Saviour. And water? The water of life, flowing abundantly, from the Gospel.

Jesus exhorted us to be on our guard, to stay alert. He encouraged us to be ready. He wants us to share this readiness with those around us. As the “end times” start to unfold, and the world around us wakes up to changing times, we can provide the reassurance, certainty and comfort that others seek. As the “volcanoes” start to rumble we dip into our grab bag for reassurance.

Are you ready?

Overcoming Anxiety

ARE you troubled by sin? Well, we all are really, aren’t we! But, what if it is causing you difficulty in your faith? A recent letter to The Chrsitadelphian magazine may be helpful.

For some, the problem is anxiety, about our sinful nature. About our inability to harness our desires. About our inability to stop sinning. About our perpetual inability to do the good we would do, and to end the wrong that we keep doing.

If that anxiety is yours, it can feel like the anxiety itself is a sin. We know that we must learn to rest in faith upon the strength of the Lord. We know that we should follow the positive instruction to “be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6,7). Furthermore, we should follow our Lord’s words to take “no thought for tomorrow” (Matt 6:34).

However, such statements cannot always be taken in isolation. What if these instructions to dispel anxiety could be read as exhortation and guidance rather than as commands? After all, it would appear that our Lord himself experienced anxiety, to an extreme degree. Immediately before his arrest: “being in agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:39-46).

The problem is that if we describe over-anxiety as a sin, then the same logic could be applied to stress, depression and loneliness. Rather than label these as sins, it would seem to be more appropriate to regard them as trials that we have to learn to overcome as individuals and as an ecclesial family.

We remember that even our Lord was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).