God's Nevertheless, A Message from Bishop Fairley

February 21, 2017

"The thirst for God is a deep and mysterious thing, which we often try to quench by searching in far-flung places. Ultimately, though, spiritual refreshment is found close to home, in the wellsprings of our own being."  -Sue Monk Kidd.  "For in him we live and move and have our being..."  -Acts 17:28.

Therefore, could it also be true that the answer is right in front us, and not in some far-flung place.  I write these words with the understanding that many would call them Pollyanna especially in the climate in which we live today.  But even if they are Pollyanna I still believe that when we open ourselves to "severe grace" and the quieting of our spirit we might hear God speak a Word that was spoken in Jesus Christ. That Word will encounter us in new places and new ways even in the darkness of anxiety and fear.

What God given hope, joy, and peace have we missed simply because our souls have been constantly bombard with so much negativity? I must confess that oftentimes I feel like the Psalmist when he writes, “Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped."  "But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God..."  -Psalm 73:1-2, 16-17.

In our world, in the church, it feels like a wearisome task as we seek a way through the darkness, "a way forward" if you will.  I find comfort again in the words of this psalmist as he comes to this conclusion, "Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel…My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  -Psalm 73:23-24, 26.
"Nevertheless," in its spiritual context is such a gracious, grace-filled word.  It has within it a power that gives us courage to keep pressing forward in spite of whatever the darkness, anxiety, or fear might be.  "Nevertheless," God in Jesus Christ is continually with us even in the storms of life. God speaks a Word that we often miss in moments of crisis.

In Jesus Christ the creator shouts a redemptive "Nevertheless.” It is my prayer that we will calm our souls enough to hear the answer. It is my prayer that we would let go of our fear long enough to hear God speak in a voice we've never heard or even thought of.
I don't really know how any of you will receive these next words, but they flow from a cry similar to the Psalmist's cry in Psalm 73, "my feet had almost stumbled: my steps had nearly slipped...until I went into the sanctuary of God."  In the sanctuary of my soul God speaks His "nevertheless," over and over again in the "severe grace" of Jesus Christ. I confess the following journal entry came from a tender place in my own early journey.  I share them in all vulnerability because I know no other way, but to bear my soul to Christ when the darkness of midnight is all around me.
                                        Where is Jesus?
               I long to know Jesus without your walls, spiritual
              Self-righteous judgments always obstruct his face.
              What you taught me hides him deeper.
              Is there any place I can see him clearer?  I don't know
              Where to look.  I lost track in Sunday worship where
              Sleepy eyed clock watchers limit his story, one hour
              Not a minute more.
              I hear and feel the breath of his spirit blowing where
              It wills, fresh winds blowing against walls that would
              Limit, inhibit hope, love, peace, justice.
             My own house a spiritual fortress effectively
             locking Jesus safely away when he doesn't
             Fit my answers or questions.
                                                                  By Leonard E. Fairley