With Him and with you

Sunday 15th June: The Most Holy Trinity. Another church calendar date I have no clue as to why. So here we are: “Trinity Sunday falls one week after Pentecost Sunday, and it is the day that the Catholic Church has set aside to honor the most fundamental of Christian beliefs—the Holy Trinity. Traditionally, the Athanasian Creed was recited in Masses on Trinity Sunday.”

And just what is this creed? “The Athanasian Creed: Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.”
http://catholicism.about.com/od/2014calendar/f/2014_Trinity_Sunday.htm (and follow the link)

I guess that means I should be in church today. Bummer! I had a lovely family day blooming and opening its petals! Now I have to pause that and trot off to church! Just enough time for a quick “quiet time” first … and then get my skates on! And today it is just one short verse:

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ John 3:16

And He stops the clock. Invites me in. If I allow. Because, with His fluorescent highlighter, He squeaks it back and forth through one word: “perish”. And then sits down.

Perish – but we are saved – aren’t we? Yet we all still seem to fear “perishing” (even though we all gather together and praise and pray and “believe”).


I am off to Mounce and the Teknia gadget.

“Perish” as best as I can establish from the range of contexts used for the Greek word, equates to “being no more” … I “never even existed”. Maybe our greatest fear is that. That no one even noticed (even Him?). Yet instead of wondering why we carry this inside of us … we just turn up and celebrate another “creed” … another ritual. And come away – still fearing no one will ever remember we were alive (not unless we fit in … receive another’s seal of approval … maintain our membership).

>>> Prior to today – and with hindsight (what else!) – He seems to have been preparing me for this moment. Because I have seen so many posts recently from many different bloggers. All with a similar undercurrent. A similar/different way of writing: beautiful words, beautiful writers, beautiful souls, lovers of Love and God and all things created. All with the same underlying theme.

A theme of fear.

A fear of being judged as irrelevant by others. Of being dismissed by others. Of being cast-out.

And as this is a virtual community of God – all in love with our lord … that is scary stuff!

* I know these words may upset others … * I am only a recent Christian … * I so often beat myself up … * I feel I am an outsider … * My thoughts are not appropriate … * I have questions I dare not ask … * I worry about a backlash from writing this … * I receive hurtful feedback …

This “advance preparation” was me bookmarking a number of posts. All seeming to have this same fear in different shapes and forms.

Because it saddens me – not because I am better, nor because I have something to offer. And not because I fear perishing any less than others. But because I drop pebbles. That is all I do. We talk, He guides, I plop. And my Lord owns the ripples. His work is those ripples.

And He guided another pebble today – this “important day” on the church calendar.


Perish. To never have made one tiny ripple. To have never existed.

That we get out from under the calendar of ritual and self-glorification. The ripple that is not of God. The ripple that is of Man (and Woman).

That ripple which causes me to compromise. To be someone I am not. To behave as someone I think I should be. Because the church says so because the calendar says so because they say so. And if I disagree I will be ever so lovingly and subtly and irrevocably cast out. I will perish – as though I had never been.

It is a ripple we feel. A ripples that pushes away. A pebble of fear. With manmade ripples.

Of not being good enough. Not clever enough. Not wise enough. Not loving enough. Not loving properly – yet. Not knowing how to love properly – yet. Not … not … not … not …

NOT HAVING BEEN SAVED “LONG ENOUGH” (ouch – that stings!!!)

“‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ John 3:16

I matter. You matter. Every single one of us matters.

He tells me I matter. He tells me I am important. No more no less than any other. He tells me to drop pebbles. He tells me he wants my ripples. He tells me they fit perfectly with just one single other. He says that without me …

… His one perfect other may be pushed away by this manmade ripple of fear.
… His one perfect other may even perish. Because they believed.
… His one perfect other may believe they do not matter.

He wants my pebble.

Because I am not newly saved … because my name was written in His book even before I was conceived.

I was saved before I was born. That is how much He loves me. That is why I will never perish. That is why I will always matter. Just like you. And you. And you. And …

Footnote: When he let the clock tick again, I see I have missed church. The one hour of service now almost over.

He just chuckled. Did that juggling thing with the highlighter. And pointed out that I am at church right now –

With Him. And with you.


22 thoughts on “With Him and with you

  1. This is a magnificent post, Paul. Thank you for your preaching this Sunday!

    And thank you for your Teknia contribution. Know what it made me think of? It rang a “harmonic bell” with another bit of Bible language I remember learning from a friend…

    Genesis uses three different words (Hebrew) for various kinds of “bringing into existence” (creation) God does in that first week. I’m not going to go off and look up the footnotes and homework there, just keeping this simple…

    Part of the “flavor” of the word for “created”…”In the beginning, God created…” is that it implies “created something from nothing at all”… and “without reference to time”.

    That is, God fashions from nothingness, as though His creation were always there.

    Struck me that that is such an apt opposite to “perish” here…

    God “creates” and empowers from nothing, as though it always was. Jesus came to prevent the very POSSIBILITY that God’s grace could be undone, that we never fear “vanishing as though we never were.”

    Cool, no?

    Grace — LM


    • Dear LM – cool Yes!!

      And prompted another thought. All this fire and brimstone and eternal fire … Nahhhhh. Just a very quiet and silent image. An image of a name written in His book … simply and silently fading. Until it never existed. Nothing. Just … it never was.

      And a re-run: I am saved, always have been. There is no lost world. Simply an invitation to accept. A simple yes. That’s all … if I allow.

      Or I can say no. Uninvite myself (the soundtrack of a parable or two running in the background as I type these words), put off responding, imagine I have a time of my choosing. And my name starts to fade. Until I never existed. Never was. Never allowed.

      Maybe hell is just that. I never was.


    • Don, your name fluttered around my head as I was talking with Him this morning. And yet something at a tangent …

      This Martian expedition of LM’s prompting. That maybe this virtual online community comes closes to all the wordage and what-if. That we find ourselves with that church already here. Alive and breathing, with a pumping heart and glowing soul.

      This online community is the essence of what we yearn, bemoan and imagine. Maybe.


  2. Thank you for this today, Paul. Something in it is swirling very deep in my core this morning.
    I made a conscious decision not to attend church today; I wanted to spend time alone with Him – my Father. I also knew this would be a family day at church, and since I’m an older, single woman I sometimes feel on the periphery of church activities.

    You brought church alive for me this morning. You brought my own fear to the surface, “of being judged as irrelevant by others. Of being dismissed by others. Of being cast-out.” You welcomed me into this virtual church, this virtual community and brought tears of joy to my eyes. You brought the love of Christ to my heart.

    I matter; I am loved; I am here in this beautiful church with people I admire and respect, who treat me with dignity, who see my value, who love God and who are my brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no building, but there is a temple here.

    Bless you, and Happy Father’s Day.


    • Susan, with moist eyes here I have tried twice to reply. And each time deleted.

      Your words … … … … … Thank you … … … … Moist eyes are good.

      You are truly my dirt sister. And I am forever your dirt brother. You matter.



    • Julie – not quite sure how He does the pebbles – let alone the ripples!! Just grateful I don’t have to understand. And thank you for a lovely comment. 🙂 🙂


  3. love your post!! i’m with ya! saved is saved…the end…been there,done that…won’t go back…i’m thankful for the loving, full of grace Daddy we have…He rocks the house, He’s the ONE and He’ll make the rules, throw the pebbles and make the ripples…and we just have to watch and listen…thanks for sharing your heart…i’m moved by your words…bless you! 😉


  4. Paul, I wish I could come up with a nice comment for you like you so often do for me. My mind is tired tonight from our crazy adventures. But thank you for this.


    • Reading the latest of your “crazy adventures” brought a wonderful tear to my eye this morning. Is there anything better?

      So a warm thank you from me too. 🙂


  5. Paul, I’ve curled up with this post a few times, warming myself by the fire of your words of “perish” and “fear” and the relevance of the ripples we create from plopping pebbles in our Father’s pond. John 3:16 is one of those verses you memorize as a child: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” But seeing this verse and His Word through your insightful eyes has shed new light on it for me.

    What struck me was God’s use of verbs: Loved, gave, believes, (may not) perish, (may) have. Five verbs. All beginning with love. God loved and He gave SO THAT we would believe, not perish, and have eternal life. Wow.

    Cradling those words in His Word, savoring their relationship to each other, plucking them as individual notes in a harmonic chord of context, meditating on them has given me such peace.

    I sit back, watching as the truth of your moments with Him unfold in reverent silence and grateful conversation, and I imagine that God’s calendar for you is loaded with gold stars and smiley faces. You haven’t set aside one day as holy. Every day for you and your Father is holy. You are living out relationship, not religion. You are loving the Father Who loves you. You are giving back to the Father Who has given so much for you. You are believing in Him. SO THAT you will never perish and have eternal life.

    Thank you so much, Paul, for sharing this with us. I am grateful to be a part of this church.


    • Heather you are a delight. He has had me walk in a very different way of late. As always with no understanding on my part.
      And your comment draws me back. Always does. To the wonderful moment on that Sunday when He literally highlighted that one word and then sat down. Without a word.
      And then His ripples and you do something so very special. You plop a pebble in your comment and His ripples come bobbing back so different and so the same. In awe of how He and you see details, different emphases, something I never did with Him.
      And I see church writ large all over again.
      His church. Not ours. Yet ours because it is His.
      Without the shenanigans. With the love and affection and building up.
      You remain a very special battery charger to my soul. You are a builder upper of the first order. Thank you.


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