The challenge of walking with the God who knows me  

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Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.

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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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John 17:3

“Now this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God.”

A red van suddenly appeared, going at speed, breaks hard on, sliding on the gravel strewn road.  I slammed on my breaks, but it was too late, the dreaded sound of tortured metal said all that was needed.  It was our first accident in Portugal, first in many years and it soon became apparent that it was my fault.  I had not seen a stop sign and had been so confused by the road layout that I had not seen the van coming.

In London after three accidents in a row, we had worked out that they had happened when I was in a hurry.  We come up with a strategy of ensuring that I was not in a hurry when I drove.  With this we had avoided accidents.  Now I had just had one, though not in a hurry.  So the question came back to why?  Why O God, had you let me down?

As I was praying in the aftermath, I came to this text:  “It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.” (Psalm 44:3-4 NIV)  Sounds great, doesn’t it.  Later the writer goes on:  “But now you have rejected and humbled, you no longer go out with our armies ... you sold your people for a pittance gaining nothing from their sale.” (v9)

It is easy to see victories coming through God’s love.  And the disaster as some form of punishment yet the psalmist continues: “all this happened to us though we had not forgotten you.” (v17) So, what is going on?  The thing that struck home to me was that the victories came in God’s love, but so did the defeats. The circumstances may have changed, but God’s love did not change!  The disasters too came as a result of God’s love.  His purposes were clearly very different, but God was continuing to interact with his people in love.

So, in this situation I did not see some great sin that merited discipline, as I had certainly experienced on other occasions.  Probably the biggest contribution was having come back from the UK and being a bit confused about left and right and where to look for signs.

There was however a lesson, a lesson that made the accident in a sense ‘worth it.’  This text hammered home an implication that runs against the whole way that I want life to be.  I want success to flow from following God, but the success I want is in terms of the way I measure the world.  That ‘fruitfulness’ (See John 15:5) would be something that one could read as success.  That God would want results of some form.  This accident happened at a time when it seemed that God was putting in question the future potential success of the ministry.  He was taking from us the potential of a visible success in the future.  The accident helped me to see that the way God sees the world, whether or not there is some outward form of spiritual success is secondary.  That he is far more concerned about my life with him, a life which had been deepened in some small way through an accident which gave me a clearer view of the reality of who he is.