At the deacons meeting this week, we were reminded that the Israelites would often recall their history, so that they never forgot that God had brought them out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. In recounting their story, they also had to face the reality that their ancestors had frequently forgotten God’s goodness to them, so that they risked losing their relationship with Him, their great provider and sustainer. This had happened within a short time of their release from Egypt, when the visible reminder of God’s presence had been in their midst as a cloud of fire and smoke, so that even in those days of miraculous provision the people still forgot that He was with them and grumbled when they couldn’t have what they thought they needed.
It is easy for us to do the same when it is so difficult to be together in person, sharing our stories of how God has blessed us, and there is a real danger that we will begin to forget about God’s goodness and His everlasting purposes. As we leave the enforced strictures of the last few months behind, the danger is that, like the Israelites, we become anxious to have what we believe we need, and so try to rush ahead without God‘s guiding hand upon us. This is particularly true with regard to opening our church building again, which is something we all want, but the accompanying lengthy documents with pages of guidance on what we must do beforehand, means that is neither right nor fair to proceed without due care. We cannot ride rough shod over the government’s advice, and we have responsibilities which we cannot shirk, even if they are very onerous. But that does not mean we should complain or forget who is really in charge, because the God who brought the Israelites out of slavery is the same God who rescues us today, and He will take us at exactly the right pace for us.
When the Israelites became increasingly aware of their inclination to forget what God had done for them, the answer lay in making remembering the past their shared responsibility. Psalm 78 begins with these words:
My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth…things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.
The truth is simple and it sets us free: Our God is Lord of all and when we cannot see how best to progress, we can recall what He has already done, and remind all those in our church family that His deeds are praiseworthy, and His power endless. Through Jesus we have the assurance that our sins are forgiven and that our relationship with God the Father is eternally assured. He has built His church and promises that the gates of Hell itself will not prevail against it, so we need not fear that our fellowship will end because our services together are delayed by restrictions which seem burdensome and even sometimes unnecessary. Remember what God has done for us, remind each other when we grow weary and seem likely to fail, and let Him do the rest.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline