Dwelling in Structure…

2016 11p1I began this month looking for structure in my Christian life; seeking a way to build up my faith; wondering how a struggling Christian can hold on firmly to God. I am ending the month in wondering if the only way to hold on to God, is to let go of all else….

My thoughts began with this sketch from a few years ago in Wells Cathedral.  2016 11p2I remember being fascinated with the elegant beauty and apparent simplicity of the structural curved lines yet aware of the immense strength and engineering that lay behind them in order to support the building. So it was to this image that I turned to, as I stitched this month and contemplated the structure of my faith & Christian life.

Building Block 1: Faith

For me, it is my Christian faith that upholds my life. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Building Block 2: God’s Love for us

2016 11p3God’s love for me is the structure around which I try to base all else (and frequently fail!). Like the arches in the cathedral, it all looks so simple, yet in practice I so often try to make it so much more complicated.

Amidst the grind of everyday life, I can so often forget that it is God, Creator of the Universe, who made this beautiful earth for us His people, and who despite our wrongdoing continues to love us, giving up His Son, Jesus to die for each one of us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son that whoever believes might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

It is Jesus that is our cornerstone; the foundation and bedrock of all else… “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:19-21) We are asked to join together, in His love to build up the church.

Building Block 3: The Greatest Commandment

2016 11p4When someone loves you with an all-consuming love, as God does, it is hard not to love in return. We are asked to love deeply and profoundly for love provokes remarkable qualities in us, as we seek to love others, as God loves us, inspired by the perfection of love in Jesus.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Building Block 4: Actions speak louder than Words

I am asked not to just love God with all my being, but to love my neighbour as myself and I am truly challenged by these words, for this calls for deep action. How, in this world that is shrunk by global news, can I not act upon the injustice that I see? More importantly, what am I going to do about it? Love for God, calls us to stand up and speak out, give of what we have, go where we are called. This is powerful love and sadly, I am often found lacking. This month I am pondering how I might address this challenge without feeling overwhelmed.

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’ (Mark 12: 28-31)

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2: 14-17)

Building Block 5: Prayer

The way, I think that I can respond to being overwhelmed into inaction is to deepen my prayer life, learning to speak to God and listen for answers as to what my part in the solution might be. I cannot change all the injustice that I see, but I can be part of God’s solution to some. If we all played our part prayerfully, then perhaps we could live our lives as Jesus did, responding to that which God asked of Him and leaving the rest aside, trusting the Lord for the outcomes.

Building Block 6: Simplicity

This month, I have been challenged again about letting go. I have been frustrated by the sense that God is calling me to move on in some way but that whatever door I seem to push, seems firmly closed. However, it was the words of a good friend that have both helped me & spurred me into action. 2016 11p5“Perhaps you need to let go of lots of little things in your life in order for God to give you one big thing…. like being on a beach holding lots of beautiful stones & shells and having to let them all go in order to be able to pick up a beautiful starfish.” she said. These words have encouraged me and instigated me making small intentional actions in a bid to simplify my overly complicated lifestyle and to try to ensure that nothing gets in the way of having God at the centre of life.

Building Block 7: Trust

The Psalmist always seems to have an answer for most things that life throws at me, and now, as I end my reflections about holding on to God and developing a structure to help, I must confess to feeling rather overwhelmed about the enormity of how much still needs working on in my life. I guess I need to let go, cease striving and allow God free reign in my life…. easier said than done!

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands…” (Psalm 31:14)

2016 11p6Structure & Starfish…

Textile Explanations

The arched structure represents the upholding God who is the foundation of my life… the window represents the eye of God & creation that permeates our lives. At the foot of the arched structure is a small heart to show that the cornerstone is Jesus, and words from Scripture about loving God with all our being. The seascape at the top is the sand & sea, with stones that represent all the small things we carry. The main view through the arch is the “starfish” that God wants to give after we have let go of all that is not for now.

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