To keep the suspense for my final atonement instalment I am making you wait until next week with a brief momentary interlude: here’s the ‘thought for the week’ that I shared with EBA Ministers this week…
Don’t we just love the weather in this country? I’m not talking about any particular type or weather: just weather in general. It’s often the topic of our conversations (especially when we can’t think of anything else to say). And it always seems to provide us with something to complain about. Yesterday I was on a train that was delayed because it was so hot that the rails warped – cue complaints from other passengers about the wrong type of sun (and then reminiscences about the wrong type of snow)! The weather is too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot, too windy, too foggy… It is said that there is never the wrong type of weather when we go out, just the wrong type of clothes. I am not sure that always applies (what’s the right sort of clothing to wear in a tornado?) but I take the general point.
If your church is running outdoor events this summer I am sure that people (perhaps including you) will be praying for good weather. That’s understandable, isn’t it? We believe in a God who can make it rain continuously for 40 days and 40 nights (otherwise known as the traditional English summer); who can calm storms; who oversees the seasons to enable crops to grow and be harvested; and much more besides. So why can’t we ask him to give us the right weather for our church fete / barbecue / outreach / fun day / picnic / [insert alternative event here]? Surely he’s interested in those events going well, isn’t he? And we often thank him at the end of a successful event where we had the appropriate weather.
But what do we do when we get the wrong weather? Did God decide that he didn’t like our church fete / barbecue / outreach / fun day / picnic / [insert alternative event here]? Did we not pray fervently enough? Did God want us to learn something when he sent the hurricane through the garden party? I think the problem comes when we forget that the global weather system is a closed system. The weather here is like it because of the interaction between weather systems, cold fronts, warm fronts, cloud formation, rain cycles and so on. Precipitation happens. And if God started intervening for all of the church events every time we prayed can you imagine the chaos it would cause elsewhere around the world? There are enough problems caused by weather (in a creation that was already groaning and which human interventions through pollution have made worse) without our church fete causing more of them!
When we pray for good weather for our event we may pray with the best of motives but we are praying with blinkers on. It could even be said that we are praying selfishly. When he taught his followers to pray Jesus didn’t mention the weather. But he did urge us to pray that God’s Kingdom would come, seen in the way that his will is done on earth in the same way as it is in heaven. That is a prayer about our attitude and involvement. It is a prayer of submission: to our Abba in heaven and his priority, his mission, his purposes, his will. Only when we have genuinely been able to pray that sort of prayer should we come asking about our needs and relationships – physical and spiritual. (Perhaps instead of praying for the right weather we should be praying for a Godly response to the weather we get.)
Lynn Green (General Secretary of BUGB) has called us to a new season of prayer (you can read more about it at http://www.baptist.org.uk/Groups/260844/Beacons_of_Prayer.aspx) and that surely involves us first lifting our eyes from the pressing things that dominate our thoughts and time and energy and starting with ‘Thy Kingdom come…’
Be blessed, be a blessing