Reflection: Striving Versus Abiding – Canon Robert Vun

Weekly Reflections

Weekly Reflection (27th July 2020)

Good morning. A special welcome to you who are joining us for the first time and of course a very warm welcome back you the rest of you.

While the weather is rather bleak and cold and we are in the third week of our stage three lock down, how wonderful it is to know that we are free from the clutches of sin because our God has set us free in Jesus Christ.

While we may be inconvenienced because of the lockdown, we need to give thanks to God for all the good things we enjoy that is denied to the majority of the people in the world.  Having a positive outlook in life is so liberating, refreshing and empowering.

Let us pray:

O God of love, we yield thee hearty thanks for whatsoever thou hast given us richly to enjoy; for health of mind and body, for the love and care of home, for joys of friendship, and for every good gift of happiness and strength, we praise thee for thy servants who by their example and encouragement have helped us on our way, and for every vision of thyself which thou hast given us in prayer; and we humbly beseech thee that all these thy benefits we may use in thy service, and to the glory of thy holy name; through Jesus Christ thy son our Lord.  Amen.[1]

The Collect of the Week

Eight Sunday After Pentecost

O God, the protector of all that trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply upon us your mercy, that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Bible Reading

Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep tothose he loves.
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.


Striving Versus Abiding

It is frustrating to say the least. It is stressful to most people and even devasting to some. All of us have been impacted by this coronavirus pandemic. It has been the one consistent daily news headlines these past four months. There is only this much that one can take.

There is already a beginning to question the effectiveness of the government’s policies and strategies. Many are getting restless. This is because we are by culture a people of action. This is ingrained into us all our lives. We want to be doing something, we like to be in control of our circumstances, we relish the idea of forging ahead by ourselves, we strive to be effective.

Sometimes, God does not work this way. Instead of striving for Him, he sometimes wants us to abide in Him. Maybe this is one period in our lives that we need to learn the lesson of abiding.

Listen again to Psalm 127:1-2

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves”.

What does it mean for the Lord to build the house? It almost seems a contradiction when we consider that we might be the builders in this passage. Here, God wants us to allow Him to build the house.

God is telling us there is a way of living without striving. There is a way to getting things done without sweating and toiling. His reminds us to avoid thinking that the outcomes we desire is based only on our busily striving. The outcome of our lives is actually completely based on Him. All our striving is useless if God is not with us to help us.

Many of life’s best outcomes are based on obedience to God. These outcomes are sometimes more than we deserve. Sometimes they are less than we hoped for. However, God’s desire for each of us is to avoid looking to our own effort to gain an outcome. Rather, to see Him daily working in our lives to bring about the best outcomes that are pleasing to Him.

The main thing is to let God be God in our lives. Learn to trust Him as He order the circumstances of your life. Have faith to obey Him when you do not fully understand. Commit to abide in Him knowing that you are in the safest hands possible.

Does it still surprise you how Jesus can sleep in the boat while the storm rages and the disciples, who were fishermen, were trying in vain to save their sinking boat? You see, Jesus knew His Father well enough to entrust himself fully into His loving hands. That is faith, that is trust, that is obedience.

Today, ask God to show you the same loving trust and obedience so that you can learn to abide in His loving arms. It can be challenging as you let go and let Him take complete control of your all. He challenges us each to walk in the freedom and rest of abiding in Him. Will you take up this challenge of abiding in Him from today?

The Morning Collect

Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. May we rekindle the gift of God within us.

Thank you for sharing this time with me. Have a wonderful and blessed week learning to rest, abide and obey Him who loves you. Goodbye and till we meet again here next Monday. God bless you.

[1] Colquhoun, Frank (Ed.), Parish Prayers , Hodder and Stoughton, 1967. Page 363.