Like yesterday sharing a meal worthy of MasterChef in a country hotel with some staff from a local college. No complaints there. But the day before must have set some kind of new record.
Parishioners are generally very welcoming to their pastor but not everyone wants you to call necessarily to their home. Some folk like to chat after church, some will arrange to meet downtown for coffee. All fine and good.
This week a gentleman invited me to come mountain biking in the woods!
He turned up with two high spec bikes and a spare helmet and together we sped round some woodland trails in an estate on the shores of Strangford Lough in County Down.
It was fantastic!
A bit treacherous mind you, in places having to negotiate tight turns, humps and bumps, low branches, jagged rocks. Once or twice I wondered if an enemy had hired him to arrange my death and ‘make it look like an accident’. I thought I might be seeing heaven a little earlier than anticipated.
In fairness he did also lend me some Spiderman-meshlike body armour and didn’t seem to mind too much that I made it to the end in one piece, laughing, exhilarated.
The bikes were German engineered, awesome kit, light but strong and here’s the best bit. They had battery power built in. On the uphills I just flicked the switch on the handlebar from ‘Sport’ to ‘Turbo’ and sailed up the track like the superfit athlete I am not. I was not in the slightest breathless, no undignified gasping or collapsing in the undergrowth. I was able to greet and give a debonair smile to passers-by as I whooshed past like a good one. Excellent. Santa, if you’re reading this……..
Now it wasn’t that I didn’t have to pedal at all. I pedalled away, very enjoyably in fact. My efforts were just supplemented by extra power from another source. The result was some seriously smooth distance!
It’s a proud man or woman who never admits to needing help. One of the fundamental steps to recovery for an alcoholic is admitting they need help from beyond themselves. I’ve often said I’d like to rename church ‘Sinners Anonymous’ for the bottom line is we all need to trust in the ‘higher power’.
Christians know this ‘power’s’ name. The Apostle Peter in the Bible says, ‘Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him Who called us…’ (2 Peter 1v2-3)
The power we need. Everything. Paul echoes the thought saying, ‘I can do all things through Him Who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4v13)
Recently in church we’ve been reading in Romans 8 and 12 how God not only deals with our guilty past and promises a heavenly future, He helps us now through the powerful indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. Grateful for His saving grace, ‘in view of His mercy’ Christians gratefully offer our lives in His service, eager to share this good news with the world.
Our depending on God’s greater power is not passive but highly active! Like me pedalling the bike but having all the necessary back up!
Paul writes, ‘We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labour, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.’ (Colossians 1v28-29)
What an honour! And how exciting, that Almighty God should underwrite our limited efforts of trusting obedience with His gracious presence to do something truly powerful.
Amen Lord, so may it be in us!