23 February 2018
RISKS - HELP US GROW IN FAITH
The other day I heard about a family from Mexico City who have come to live in Auckland while they are studying here.
Quite apart from the fact they are finding it very cold here and learning about such unknown comforts as electric blankets and heaters the real difference they are finding in is the way we live. They went to the local beach with NZ friends. As dusk approached and the children were still racing round and the parents seemed to be unconcerned about darkness falling, they were quite agitated. “ Was it safe? Is it safe to let the children run around? Shouldn’t we get home quickly because darkness is falling?”
They come from a city where murders happen daily , where the fighting between factions and drug cartels and gangs is so common the ordinary citizen does not go out after dark. Nor do parents let their children walk along the road in front of them in case they are snatched and kidnapped or worse.
Fear had become so much part of their daily life that their children have not known what it is like to have a barbeque on an Auckland beach as darkness falls, the fire flickers, and stars shine clearly in an enormous sky.
Those with them realised that what they take as a right — our freedom of movement and personal safety — [despite the efforts of the media to portray a fearful and unsafe world around us] — is in fact precious and not to be taken for granted.
Of course we have to be careful and be aware of dangers and even people who seek to harm us - but do we really realise how different life is when people are constrained by fear for their lives when going about their everyday work?
Places where the police force cannot be relied on to help but are made ineffective and even dangerous by corruption and the government of a country is not able to protect those who are vulnerable and weak?
Much of our time is spent on worrying about material things but freedom and trust of ones neighbour and the ability to walk in the streets are necessities of life like breathing and loving. Children need to be able to run and take risks, protected from dangers they cannot know about but free to try things out.
The old rope swing, hung from a springy Pohutukawa tree branch over the water. There was plenty of water at high tide and low. It was scary clinging to it, but gradually each time we got more confident and swung out and let go to fall in the water. Cautious kids like me looked at the branch to see if it was strong and at the rope to check it wasn’t fraying, but others just did it. Risky? Probably! But there were no casualties that I was aware of apart from a broken arm where a friend tripped over walking up the road.
Parents gave warnings, probably checked the tree out when we didn’t know it, and enjoyed the peace while we played. We didn’t exactly always tell them what we were doing. Tearing down steep dry grass slopes on the fallen nikau leaves—it felt scary and dangerous but we got faster and faster.
The little children were kept out of harm’s way by the older ones — and maybe on those summer days we learnt more about life and pushing the edges than we knew at the time. Those children of my childhood are now scattered round the world as are our own children, making a difference in many places.
As I thought about the Mexican family and about our freedom to experiment and make mistakes in a safer environment, it seems that faith is another word for risk taking. When we find we can trust enough to grasp the rope and swing out over the water, that is great, but then we find we can also trust to let go of the rope, and we fly free to dive and swim and play, We don’t know until we do it how much more we can do and trust and risk. The first steps lead to the next. Just when we think we’ve got it sorted we are pulled further and tested more, but always, always, we find that we are given the things we need to deal with the next challenge.
The Mexican family needed the encouragement of those who knew it was OK to stay that evening on the beach. We need the encouragement and love of one another as a church, to get more confident and not be afraid to trust in the God who calls us to come and follow.
Jesus was clear when speaking to his disciples that if they followed him they would not know what would happen, they might be hurt they may be scared. Sounds risky? Sounds like faith!.
He said when we let go and trust, he will be there and that where he is, God is, and there is love and life which is lasting.
A bit like grasping that rope and swinging high far above the clear water and letting go. Flying, falling swimming and doing it all again we don’t find out until we trust.
but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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