Control, Perspective and the constant love of God

Yesterday afternoon we gave into temptation in our house. I say we, I didn’t have a lot to do with it, except I had to pay for it. Getting an email saying ‘thank you for your purchase’ was a little disorienting when my initial though was – but I haven’t bought anything…. then I remembered Louise was logged into my account. What did we give in to? After Disney released Frozen 2 online early, we gave in and purchased it.

Many of you know, and I’m not ashamed to say it as a 28 year old man, I loved Frozen 2. Perhaps not for the same reasons as my girls, but I love the themes, the story, and the way various theological threads and themes can be woven into the narrative. Many of you know that because I’ve already used bits of Frozen in services, and shared our experience of the screen not working in my covenant sermon his year.

We’ve has the soundtrack playing in the car for many weeks, I can just about sing all the songs without thinking, but of course – I’ve only heard the story, the spoken word within it once.

Louise and the girls were part way through watching when I joined them, which meant to first lines I really heard were from Kristoff and Olaf the talking snowman, just after they have evacuated Arundelle from the storm that is engulfing the city.

Kristoff: Are you ok there Olaf?

Olaf: (playing with some children who are stuffing shards of ice into his chin) Oh yeah, we’re calling this controlling what you can when things feel our of control.

Frozen 2

Louise and I just looked at each other. It was one of those profound moments where God spoke, challenged, encouraged and affirmed all at once.

To be honest, much of this week has felt to me, out of control. The pace of the government’s measures to tacking COVID-19 has been incredibly fast, and for me it is part of the pace of change that has made me feel even more out of control, not knowing what announcements or measures might be next. Anxious for me, my family, friends, and all of you as we all, together, yes distantly, respond & react to the conditions we now face.

I that moment, I was reminded (and believe that this was God’s Spirit’s prompting) of the Serenity prayer, which I imagine many of us will know, though maybe not the second part quite so well…

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Some things are in our control. Some are not. I pray God helps me and us all to keep hold of a sense of perspective as much of what we know of life and church activity pauses, and we reimagine, rediscover, and reinvent what it means to be church, disciples and community.

These are different and therefore maybe difficult times for many of us, but I am also filled with hope. Hope because I have already heard testimony of how God is working in these days, how relationships are changing, growing and strengthening, how the absence of stuff to ‘do’ as church is enabling people to ‘be’ with each other in new, different and exciting ways. I am hopefully and excited (though also nervous about what may come!) that when we get to the other side of this period, God’s church has the opportunity to be stronger, wiser, closer to God and each other. I think we will appreciate and value gathered worship, meetings and events differently, and I suspect we may even find ourselves continuing to do and be church differently when we all this is over.

In these coming days, as we seek to make sense and become familiar with who we are and how we are in these strange times, having wisdom to know what is or isn’t in our power to change will be immensely helpful in our own navigation of these unchartered waters, as individuals, as families and as church community.

The full prayer then goes on to remind us to take each day as it comes, one moment at a time, as things are, not as we wish they were. Trusting that one day God will make all things right. There is much about our current situation we cannot change, but one thing that cannot change, is God’s constant love for us, God’s everlasting presence with us, God’s unending compassion and grace.

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 86:15 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

The Psalms are filled with the turbulence of human emotion, question and struggle and lament and thanksgiving. I encourage you, if you’re struggling to make sense of your emotions, or not sure you can find the words to pray at the moment, reading the Psalms may well be a helpful place to go.

I find this verse, which comes in various places throughout scripture, a rooting reminder, one that helps me refocus on what really matters that the character of God is constant and unchanging.

On this Mothering Sunday, as many of us do not see family as had been planned, nor gather with our church family for the first time of what is likely to be a number of weeks, I pray that we may all know for ourselves, in new and helpful and encouraging ways, the parenthood of God, who is love and mercy and grace and faithfulness in abundance. I pray as you experience the love and faithfulness of God to each of us, you are able to place your hope and trust in God in these uncertain and anxious times.

While much around us has changed, God has not.
God is constant.
God is everlasting.
God is God.

I leave you, with a video of Rebekah I recorded earlier this week, who has totally on her own made up actions to this song which she has been playing constantly all week (I’m glad the office isn’t next to the lounge!). I think & hope her enthusiasm, energy and creativity will make you smile – it’s been one of the many ways the girls have kept me going this week.

The song ‘You never stop loving me’ is from a CD collection called You’re a star by Chris Harding, who goes to my Aunt’s church in Tavistock. If you’re interested, this google search will point you to various sources for download and/or purchase.

Join the conversation

if you’ve got thoughts or something to share after reading and reflecting on this, you can comment below and share them with us all – I’d love to hear from you.

9 thoughts on “Control, Perspective and the constant love of God”

  1. Thanks for that Dan. I think that we will all learn so much in this period of isolation, not least looking at things from a different perspective and sorting out our priorities. Love and Prayers to you and yours, Brenda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bless you Dan, wise words and a wonderful video of your beautiful Rebekah. Love and prayers to you all
    God bless Debbie,Terry and Talitha.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your message Dan. Probably because of my background I have resorted to my favourite hymns and this morning our dog decided to join Tony and I in singing How great thou art! I think the way our friends are responding to the challenge is wonderful so again Thank you for being with us all in such a positive way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Dan for these wise and helpful words. At this time of great uncertainty, your words encourage us to hold onto the one who is holding onto us. It was also lovely to see my granddaughter expressing the words of the song.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Dan for the message. We are in a place we have never encountered before. With Gods love and wisdom hopefully the world will be in a better place when this virus has gone. The message was encouraging and positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tell   Rebekha she’s my top of the pops! Thanks for cheering us up. Lynne x

    Rev Dan Balsdon’s Blog wrote on 22/03/2020 07:13: > > danbalsdon posted: ” Yesterday afternoon we gave into temptation in > our house. I say we, I didn’t have a lot to do with it, except I had > to pay for it. Getting an email saying ‘thank you for your purchase’ > was a little disorienting when my initial though was – but I haven’t ” >  

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Dan for the very good message, Psalms is my favorite part, particular I love “The David Shepherd 23, 1-6,” a Psalm of David. Also Ying we enjoyed Rebekah’s singing very much, hope we can hear her sing often. God bless you all.
    Ying and Roger


  8. As we all feel, as Dan said, that things are out of control and we are helpless, i am reminded of the following story

    An old man was travelling along the road on a donkey and suddenly saw a sparrow lying on its back with its scrawny legs thrust upwards. The man said “ why are you lying on your back with your legs pointed towards the sky ?

    The sparrow responded that he had heard a rumour that the sky was falling down so we was holding up his legs to catch it.

    The man laughed and said “surely you dont think that you are going to hold it up with those scrawny kegs do you

    The sparrow with a very solemn look replied
    “One does the best one can “

    With God’s help, we can just do the best we can

    Liked by 1 person

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