Lewis has been battered by gales over the past week. Even as I write this, snug in my bed, the wind is raging around the house. Up until a few years ago, I would have slept on, oblivious – but this has woken me and will not let me sleep. You see, I am the householder now, with all the responsibility that entails. If a slate goes, or a window comes in (it’s late, I’m a bit hysterical), I’ll be the one looking for a tradesman.
Yet, I cannot really claim any anxiety. In fact, in the last few weeks, I have been experiencing a period of unexpected and – it rather goes without saying – undeserved blessing.
And that also began with something of a storm.
It isn’t something I want to go into too much, because to do so might draw the wrong kind of attention. Sufficient to say that I experienced a cowardly and insidious attack on my beliefs at the end of last year, days before Christmas. Someone, masquerading as a proponent of tolerance, sought to undermine my peace and my reputation with lies. Nevertheless, while I continue to live rent-free and, indeed, Wee Free, in their troubled head, I am enjoying a tranquility that can only have one source.
Initially, and for a short time after learning of this latest onslaught, I was troubled. But, God bless that anonymous stranger, because what they intended to harm me actually brought me ever closer to the throne of grace.
See, like every Christian, I imagine, I pray not to be a conduit for evil. I don’t want to be the door by which the enemy enters the sheepfold. Every time I suffer these attacks, however, I wonder whether I am doing more harm than good. Sometimes what keeps me wakeful is not the weather outside, but the storm of doubt in my heart.
The days following this latest were no exception. Prayer was giving me no peace either way. Finally, exhausted by my own feelings, I decided to do serious business with God. I prayed in a way that I always think of as ‘putting my shoulder to the wheel’. Was I, I asked him, misguided in my attempts at witnessing. If he willed it, I told him, I would put down my pen forever. All I wanted was for him to be glorified; and this just didn’t feel like a great stride towards that aim, I said.
Of course, God doesn’t always answer immediately. He did that night, though. This is the text I got:
‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name’.
And there it was. So much of him in that little verse. He was reassuring me that my liberty comes from him. Yes, he was saying, the enemy could crush you in a heartbeat, he could use you to work his will – but he is not dealing with you; he is dealing with me.
These words are precious, but I believe I already knew their truth.The gold for me was really in those first four: ‘I know your works’.
They have been the balm to my soul in the early days of 2020. If I focus upon glorifying him, then it only matters that he recognises it. Whether my witnessing has any effect is ultimately not my business anyway, but his. After all, if I do with might what he gives my hand to do, then I am glorifying him in obedience. Results are the department of the Holy Spirit. It is certainly of no consequence that the enemy despises my work. Indeed, it doesn’t even matter that some of the brethren disapprove. What is any of that to me, if I am following him?
He, himself, was able to sleep in a boat at sea in the midst of a storm. That is, God in human form slumbered, while the God of all Creation continued to rule the universe.
When we know with all our hearts that this is the God in whom we trust, what on the earth of his making should ever steal our peace?
I have been feeding this unrivalled sense of calm with his beautiful songs of praise. Every morning of this young year, I have been reading and praying through the psalms. There is nothing, I think, in the whole of Scripture, that comes closer to painting him as he is. As surely as God spoke the world into being, these psalms sing a wonderful image of him.
He is my Father. He is my Lord. He is my hope and confidence. He is the stronghold of my life. He is my high tower. This God knows me, he knows my heart; this God knows my enemy, and yes, he knows my enemy’s heart. He is mercy, grace, love, truth, justice. From him, the Father of Lights, all these blessings – and more – flow down. This is the author of my providence, the keeper of my fate, and there are no safer, surer or better hands than these.
This year, it is my prayer that those who are blind to his beauty would have their own storm stilled. It only takes a moment in his presence to become aware of your smallness. Yet, when that realisation comes, it is also accompanied by an awareness of his greatness.
His greatness is in his name. And his name conveys all the attributes that make him God. Rest on that, and no night will be too long, no storm too savage.
‘He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler’.
I will never stop witnessing to that.