Friday, 13 June 2014

Dancing through the rain….


I recently read this story on Facebook .  It was so encouraging and so beautiful that as soon as I had read it  I knew there was a sermon in it and a word for us from God about our walk with him.  It’s a story about  a little girl out shopping with her Mum and its pouring down with rain outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, because it’s in so much of a hurry to hit the earth that it has no time to flow down the spout. A group of people are gathered, just inside the door of a shop, quietly waiting for the rain to stop so they can carry on with their day. As the rain continues they become mesmerized by the rainfall, lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world.  Then suddenly a little voice breaks their hypnotic trance, 'Mum let's run through the rain,'   She said.   'What?' Mum asked. 'Let's run through the rain!' She repeated.  'No, sweetheart. We'll wait until it slows down a bit,' Mum replied.  The child waited a minute and repeated: 'Mum, let's run through the rain.' 'We'll get soaked if we do,' Mum said. 'No, we won't, Mum. That's not what you said this morning,' the young girl said as she tugged at her Mother's arm.  'This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?'
'Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, ' If God can get us through this, He can get us through anything!  The entire crowd stopped dead silent,  you couldn't hear anything but the rain.  The mother paused and thought for a moment about what she would say.  Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time when innocent trust was nurtured, so that it would bloom into faith. 'Sweetheart, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain.  If GOD lets us get wet, then maybe we just need washing.’  Then off they ran.
Everyone  stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and though the puddles. They got soaked.  They were soon followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars, and they too got wet because maybe they too needed washing.  Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health they can take away those you love. But no one can ever separate us from the love of God, nothing can take away our precious fait and there are times in our lives when  sometimes we need to risk getting wet, dancing in the rain and allowing ourselves to be washed.

For me this story speaks of faith and how God uses the dark times to build our faith.  How God builds our faith by testing it and how I believe the little girl in the story was testing  her mother’s faith as she urged her to dance in the rain. Children have a remarkable way of doing that don’t they?  I think God often uses our children to test and to challenge and strengthen our faith.  Because the truth is that God builds your faith by testing it, by putting it to the test, by trying it. Faith is like a muscle and when it’s stretched and it’s pulled then it develops and it grows stronger. When you test your muscles against weights then your muscles develop they become strong and they can endure and they can carry heavy weights.
I’ve been reading some articles and sermons about faith by Rick Warren who wrote ‘A purpose driven life’, and they have really encouraged me, and inspired me to write this sermon.  It is my prayer that my reflections on his words will encourage you too.   In  James 1:3 it says this "The testing of your faith develops perseverance   so that you may be mature and complete." And it says the same thing in Job 7:17-18 "What is man that You make so much of him and that You give him so much attention and that You examine him every morning and test him every moment."   I will just repeat that; “You examine him every morning and test him every moment."  God is testing us in every moment of our lives and in every test we all have faith building opportunities. The problem is that most of us don’t recognize them when they’re there. We fail the test because we don’t even realize it is a test and that through it God is trying to help us grow.
One of the ways that God tests our faith is through the difficulties we face in life. In 1 Peter 1:6-7 it says "For a little while you have had to suffer great and all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." What a powerful verse; the trials and the problems and the difficulties that come into your life come to test your faith and to prove your faith.  I don’t believe that anything which happens to a follower of Jesus Christ is wasted. Don’t misunderstand this - God doesn’t cause  or plan bad things to happen to us, in fact He doesn’t have to, because we live in a broken world.  But God will use our suffering and he will strengthen us through our hardships. Rick Warren says that; “our disappointments are His appointments”.

Like Rick Warren, I believe that God uses all situations and all experiences, all hurts and disappointments  to test our faith.  I can look back on the last fifty years of my life and see how the most painful experiences are now a great blessing to me.  If life were easy then we wouldn’t require a faith, sometimes God  has to remove the feelings of His presence  just so we learn to draw close, to  dig in and to  learn how  to trust Him in the dark times and through the difficult times.  I am always saying; ‘ there is no test without testimony’.   The bible is filled with the stories of men and women just like you and me who were tested and through their faith had enormous victories.  Their stories of testing can be our stories and by reading them in the bible we can be strengthened and encouraged to face our testing times.  The words of scripture provide us with our substance, the food to give us strength as we build up our faith muscles.

Another encouraging verse to read during these times is Isaiah 48:10 "I have refined you though not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."   The Bible frequently compares our problems and difficulties to a furnace. I think at some time in our lives we all feel we have faced the furnace of affliction, I know I have. But what does a furnace do? What is its purpose? The furnace of a refiner’s fire becomes so hot that the gold and silver melt and all the impurities are burned away, an old silversmith was once asked, "How do you know when the impurities are burned away in the silver?" He answered, "When I can see my reflection in the silver." When God can see His reflection in you then He knows that the impurities in your life have been burned away. That’s the test, that’s the test of faith.  As we draw close to God and let Him walk through these dark valleys with us we start to take on more Godly qualities.  As our faith is tested and as we are strengthened the dust and dirt of the world is washed away and the armour of God is put on.

As we face these trials and as we are tested the Bible tells us we should rejoice, to dance in the rain.  I often think of my dear Bosnian friend Ergina, who says that whenever she is sad she puts on the radio and she dances.  This makes me think about the words to a song that Polly and I sang recently when we worshipped in a Pentecostal church. ‘Lower,  lower, lower,  lower, lower -  stamp satan lower’. As we dance in the rain, every footstep pushes satan lower, because by praising God in the rain we are binding satan we are preventing his mischief- we are rejoicing in Gods victory.  By dancing in the rain we allow God to have His way, we strengthen our faith in the furnace and we can see His reflection.  In James 1:2-3 it reads that when we face problems and difficulties  we should ; "Consider it pure joy... whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  This may  seem  impossible if you are facing difficulties now, it may seem ridiculous, or to some it may even seem like a bad joke.  But over and over again we are told to praise God in the storms, to give thanks God. Why? Because in those storms and in those dark times God is with us. God has a plan for you, He has a purpose for your life and He’s going to walk through the storm with you and he will dance in the rain with you until you realise that purpose.  Remember when Peter started to sink into the sea when he walked on water, Jesus lifted him and carried him through it. God’s purpose for our lives is greater than the pain or the problem or the difficulty that we may be walking through right now.

If we learn to rejoice in every situation then we are learning to live by faith.  The Bible says "Rejoice in the Lord always.  And again I say rejoice," because God uses difficulties.   He tests our faith and He builds it -  not in the easy times of life but in the difficult times. God tests our faith and He can only do this it through our challenges and our difficulties and sometimes this takes time and sometimes we have to learn patience and we have to wait upon the Lord.  Because if every prayer were immediately answered, if our every need were automatically met, if every problem were instantly solved we wouldn’t need faith and our faith wouldn’t need to be stretched. God will grow us through those times of waiting, in  Deuteronomy 8:2  it says; "God led you all the way in the desert these forty years to test you in order to know what was in your heart." That’s what happens in times of waiting.  God is not in a hurry, because God is more interested in growing our faith than anything else.  Why?  Because waiting develops our  faith more than anything else, I know He has tested me again and again in this area of waiting and over and over again He has used it to develop my faith.  Some of you may be waiting on Him right now. Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time. If you are, be encouraged,  because while you’re waiting God is there. He does not leave you alone. It just may be a test. Because God doesn’t just use difficulties to strengthen our faith -  He also uses delays.  I am the most impatient person in the world, and time and time again God reminds me that it always pays to be patient. Because while you are waiting - God is working. You’re not waiting alone. Waiting in faith means that you are trusting and allowing God to work through the situation. God is doing things behind the scenes, in your heart and in the hearts and minds of others.  That’s where our faith comes in, trusting that behind the clouds the sun continues to shine, that even after the darkest of nights there will be a bright morning sunshine.
So if we really want to learn to live by faith  we must remember to dance in the rain and while we do to wait on the Lord patiently.  Luke says to us in 17:5 "Lord increase our faith."  I wonder if you are you willing to pray that very dangerous prayer "God, increase my faith”  because maybe  that’s the prayer God is waiting to hear today.   I really want to encourage you to pray that dangerous prayer, and I will stand with you and pray it with you - Lord, increase my faith, I want to encourage you today to make that prayer, and to dance in the rain become sometimes we need to be washed.

Lets pray: Father God it says in your word that You are always pleased whenever we trust in You and by  our faith we can please your heart, maybe today someone is making a prayer right now to increase in faith and as they do, you are smiling on them. Father, together we thank You. We thank You for Your word that builds our faith. We thank You for Your unconditional love for us, we thank You that we do not have to earn Your love but that in faith we can receive it. Lord, I pray that we would trust You to use these tests in our lives to make us more like You and that in the furnaces of life we may see the reflection of your face, and that in lifes difficulties we will dance in the rain. Amen



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It is my prayer that my words may be of some comfort or may bless you in some way...I love to hear from you and your journeys...every blessing H