This month we as a country have to make a choice, should we remain as a member of the EU or leave and try to make a go of things on our own. Whatever we decide it will change the future of this country and its citizens for decades to come.
Throughout life we all have to make decisions, some big, some small, some which we hardly notice, but all of them reaching further into the future in ways we could not possibly imagine. If my Great Grandfather had not decided to come to Liverpool from Ireland in 1840 or my Maternal Grandfather had not decided to move from Bristol in the early 1900’s then my parents would not have been born and later marry and someone else would be writing an entirely different Newsletter for this month!
There are other choices we all make which are so subtle we do not realise we are making them. These choices begin early in life and they are to do with the ways in which we act, in which we think and in which we present ourselves to other people. Slowly but surely these decisions help us create a view in us of who we believe ourselves to be. In psychology, that persona we create is often called the Ego. That phrase came in with Sigmund Freud, but the phenomena was known about centuries before. The Benedictine Monks, for example, referred to it as the ‘false self’. I like that phrase because it points to another ‘me’, the ‘real me’ who is hiding behind the mask that I have created.
One of the things in ministry that makes me sad is when people tell me they are too bad to go to Church, or that they don’t believe that God is interested in them. What they are saying, although they do not realise it, is that they don’t think God cares much for the person they have created. They are right, God is not interested in that person, nor is God interested in the decisions they made in the past: what interests God is the person behind the mask, the real person who stands before him in present moment.
Last month the Church celebrated the Feast of Pentecost (Whitsun) when we remembered the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. But it wasn’t an inclusive gift to just a few, indeed it was a gift for all of us. God, through his Spirit dwells in all of us. Sadly, the mask we have created, the false self, the regrets of the past and the worries of the future hide that realisation from us. What if we could strip those things back? What if, for a moment we could drop the mask, the regrets and the worries would we find God? Well, the Bible tells us we can and the experience of countless millions also tells us it is possible. There is a verse in the Bible which sums it up in just eight words “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Stillness and quiet can be difficult for a generation surrounded by noise, but we can start simply. Here is a basic exercise.
Sit comfortably, preferably with your back straight and your feet flat on the ground. Rest your hands on your lap, close your eyes and take three of four deep breaths. Then as you breathe normally repeat in your mind those words from the Bible “Be still and know that I am God” Do it just five or six times.
It may not seem much, but congratulations, you have taken the first step on the journey to discover both the real you and the God that loves you.
(This article by David Chambers was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in June 2016)