Giving God space to work …..thought from Ros Noble’s sermon this morning


As always, I loved Ros Noble’s sermon this morning – it was gentle, gracious, and encouraging. She spoke on the New Testament passage for today, from Mark 4:16-29:

[Jesus] said ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  As soon as the corn is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’

It’s a lovely picture, she told us, of God’s role and our role in living for God, and letting the love and light of God’s kingdom be seen in our lives. Like Jesus, we can be sure that we are not alone, that the Father is always with us.

Jesus’ story about the man sowing seed tells us that there were things for him to do – planting seed and in time reaping the crop – but there were also things for God to do, things which the man could not do: bringing a fresh harvest from the planted seed.

It’s a picture of the grace of God. We don’t hear about the kingdom in the newspaper, or at school. We need to be students of Jesus, learning to approach life, and tackle the challenges of life in partnership with God, reminding ourselves ‘I am not alone in this situation.

There are things for me to do  - but God is working too, in circumstances, in the lives of others – and we need to leave space for God to work, and not try to do God’s work in our way.

Perhaps we’re particularly prone to this, Ros suggested, when we are thinking about other people with problems. The temptation is to rush in and  try to fix things, grabbing the controls, desperate, in our love, to mend what is broken. But in so doing we forget to hand the situation over to God, recognising that God has a part to play.

Sometimes we say stuff which makes people feel condemned, and that doesn’t help. Sometimes we give people advice, and tell people about God’s love at the wrong time, when they are not ready to receive.

We need to learn and remember to hand over to God. God is at work. We need to respect other people, let go of our instinct to control them and their situation, remembering that they are responsible before God for the choices they make.

And we will find that we can help others, as God gives us discernment, and gives us clarity about how we should act.

At one point, Jesus sent out his 12 disciples in twos. He told them to be ‘shrewd as snakes, and innocent as doves.’ (Matthew 10:16) These pictures remind us, Ros said, of the need for discernment and perceptiveness, as we wait for the right moment to speak and act; the need to be gentle, without an agenda, not manipulating, respectful.

And, Ros reminded us, we can ask God for the people and situations which concern us. We can pray for the kingdom to come into those situations, and very gently, in openness to God talk to the people involved and act as appropriate.

And we remember that God’s plan and purpose is that we will be transformed and the world restored.

[In the week ahead, what would help me to remember that God is always with me?  Are there things, even now at the beginning of the week, that I know I will have to do, even though they may be hard? And what things do I need to entrust with God rather than rushing in  and trying to resolve myself?]

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