The Deep Peace of Wild Places (Iceland, August, 2019)
I consciously (though sometimes unsuccessfully) try not to invest emotional energy in politics, just as I try to invest no emotional energy in sports, including the Olympics or the World Cup. Why waste energy on things whose outcome I am unable to influence? (Of course, an individual CAN influence politics, but it takes a calling, and a massive amount of energy, and the time to build a politically-oriented platform… none of which I have.)
British politics is going through a particularly interesting and turbulent week… one of the many particularly interesting and turbulent weeks we’ve had over the last three years.
For all my desire to not be emotionally invested in politics, I had very strong emotions and opinions at the time of the EU Referendum in 2016. I was one of the polarised in this currently polarised country. But over time, I, like many other British citizens, I suspect, found myself mellowing. Many of us began to see the other point of view.
And now, what I now truly believe is best for me, for my family and for the country is the exact opposite of what I thought was the best for the country, and what I really, really wanted to happen three years ago.
And so, I am watching the political circus with a detached interest and, I admit, some amusement. What will happen? You know, I don’t hugely care. I have left it in God’s hands. I own a small business, we export, and for all exporters, Brexit, deal or no-deal, and the consequent weak pound, in the short run, is financially beneficial. However, I travel frequently, and for frequent travellers, EU membership is great… health insurance when we travel, seamless borders, cheap mobile coverage, cheap airfares, the ability to easily take our Golden Retriever, Pippi, and Labradoodle, Merry, their pet passports with us to Europe… So I am going to wait and see, without any emotional intensity.
And I wonder, is this what living with trust in God looks like?
Jack Miller of World Harvest Mission, now Serge, used to tell his story
Tom walks down the street and meets Dick, who is smiling delightedly.
Tom, “What are you so happy about?”
Dick, “Well, I’ve met a man who promised to do all my worrying for me for $60,000 a year.”
Tom, “60,000 dollars a year! How are you going to get that?”
Dick, grinning, “That’s HIS worry
None of us learn this level of care-freeness naturally– the carefreeness of the lilies whom Jesus commends, who are relaxed in the natural beauty of creations of God, and so fret not about clothes or whether they are blossoming, flourishing or withering; the carefreeness of the birds who live songfully day by day, and the Father keeps them alive as long as he wants them to sing… To live carefree, trusting God, takes a constant effort of trust and surrender.
What does living like a lily mean? Jesus said it in the context of clothes. Do not worry about clothes, he says, because you are a child of God, made by him, and who you are, the beauty of your smile and personality, is more important than what you wear. So sally forth as a beloved and unique creation of God, and don’t worry about clothes or how your appearance compares to the other lilies of the field.
What would praying like a lily or like a bird look like? Prayers like this, perhaps…
“I leave Brexit in your hands, and I trust you with it. If it happens and turns out to be financially beneficial for my family and the country, thank you. And if it isn’t, I trust you to lead us to new levels of creativity, ingenuity or simplicity.”
“I place my latent and unused talents in your hands. I will trust you for the time and energy and wisdom to use them well. To have finished the work you have given me to do before I die.”
“I place my body and my health in your hands. Please help me make wise choices so I may be full of energy to serve you and fulfil your call on my life.”
“I place my children, my finances, my creativity, and my future into your hands, and that is a very good place for them to be.”
Difficult prayers need to be re-prayed daily. I try to remember to surrender myself and my day to God every day… and repeat that surrender through the day. When I am stressed, I want to live empty-handed, with all I hold dear in God’s hands. I sometimes take these things back and worry about them myself, instead of letting God do the worrying. Instead of letting go and letting God. But God knows that. He is a Father after all. And then, I just need to take my niggles and worries and put them back in God’s hands… and just keep trusting my Lord.
(P.S. There are times when Christians cannot be passive in politics, but I see Brexit as a political rather than as a moral or Christian issue. I believe, for instance, that American citizens should add the weight of the snowflake of their voices to a snowball of opinion against the inhumane treatment of migrants from the Americas to the US, just as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the White Rose group, and Otto and Elise Hampel did the little things they could to oppose the inhumanity of the National Socialist regime during the Second World War.)
And here’s a song I really like
And what, what if I believed in Your power
And I really lived it
What, what if I believed Christ in me…
I would lay my worries down
See these hills as level ground…