11. Security

Many young children love having close to them a soft toy, a doll or a special ‘blankee’. This item is their comforter or security and they are at peace within themselves while closely associated with this special item.

But, for whatever reason, if this ‘comforter’ is ever misplaced, the child becomes extremely upset and cannot be calmed until it is found and is once more in their possession. While the searching process can be most frustrating for all members of the family, the child will know no peace until they are reunited with their special ‘comforter.’

Among the final words Jesus said to His disciples before returning to The Father 40 days after His Resurrection were: “Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” He had also told them this on the night before He died. If our God makes a promise like this, who are we to dispute it?

Knowing the disciples would find it difficult to set about the task of taking his message of love to the world, Jesus told them to wait together for the ‘Comforter,’ the Holy Spirit to come to them. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled them with power and enthusiasm which was all they needed to commence the mission for which they had been prepared.

Had the Holy Spirit not fired up the disciples at Pentecost, heaven knows how we might be floundering around in the dark today trying to find the meaning of life, or for that matter, why we even exist.

We don’t have to go it alone in this world as Jesus, part of the Divine Presence, is constantly there for us. Why worry and be anxious as we attempt to control our own lives, when the Divine Presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is offering us the peace and security we need.

If we have doubts about our ability to reach out to this Divine Presence Jesus has promised, a simple prayer to the same Holy Spirit that energised the disciples, ‘Come Holy Spirit,’ could be all we need to say.

It is through our faith and our trust in this Holy Presence we will be comforted, just as a little child would be when their lost security soft toy or ‘comforter’ is found.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

More That’s faith – Transition Series stories.

10. The revelation

He remembered he had said he could only try and accept the cup Jesus had to drink from, if Jesus helped him.

He realised that by offering up as a prayer the hardships in his life, the pain, suffering, mental anguish, grief and loss then this was allowing him to experience some of the pain his Saviour went through for him.

His prayer to the Holy Spirit and his reaching out and holding the hand of Jesus each day was enabling him to more fully understand the human side of Jesus.

But then it started him thinking what happened after the Resurrection when Jesus walked for a day with the two apostles to Emmaus. Jesus was present as a Divine Spirit and his real identity was only revealed towards the end of the day. (‘We recognised Him at the breaking of the bread’).

Similarly, when Jesus just appeared in the room where the disciples were locked away for fear of being found by the authorities. It was as the crucified body of the Jesus they knew. (“Thomas, put your hand in the hole in my side”).

Then it dawned on him. The hand he was holding each day was that of the Divine Spirit of Jesus and in essence, it wasn’t him reaching out to Jesus, it was the other way around. Just as Jesus spoke to Thomas, it was Jesus who was reaching out to him, inviting him to take His hand.

The significance of what that meant hit him. The Spirit of Jesus who was ‘one’ with The Father and the Holy Spirit was inviting him to become ‘one’ with Him (“Father, may they become one with us as you and I are one”).

In taking the hand Jesus offered him, he realised he would become inexplicably linked with the Divine Presence.

He grasped the hand and became ‘one’ with his God.

All he could do was bow his head and repeat what Thomas had said, “My Lord and my God.”

No words can describe the wonder and awe he experienced as he sat in quiet contemplation within the presence of The Divine.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith

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9. Spirit world

He knew that all Christians had to believe in the spirit world. He was baptised as a baby and had been made aware as he grew that he had received the Holy Ghost (Spirit). We are told in scripture that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit at His Baptism.

As he became older and wiser, he asked himself why then should we refer to God as being ‘three persons’. There is no doubt that Jesus was a person. Yet, after the Resurrection we read how He appeared to people and disappeared. He appeared in locked rooms and disappeared. A person cannot do these things. Jesus had returned as Spirit.

He thought how fortunate for humanity that Jesus had become one of us. He realised that Jesus had proved to us through His humanness that He could only love us and that He was prepared to suffer and die that we might fully understand the love our God has for us.

It seemed to make sense to him that because God was a Spirit then that was why His God could be with him and at the same time, be with every other person in the world who sort the presence of a loving God in their lives. 

He smiled to himself as he thought how we as humans like to put things into compartments that all fit comfortably together. Hence the concept of The Trinity. There is no doubt that scripture defines for us separate roles our God possesses. The Father is seen as the ‘Creator of all things.’ The Son is our ‘Redeemer’ and the Holy Spirt is given the name of ‘Helper.’ How they work together in spiritual unison will probably remain a secret until we eventually come face to face with The Father in heaven.

He realised by asking the Holy Spirit to help him get to know Jesus better, he would get a better understanding of the person who had said that He and The Father are one. He remembered how Jesus had also asked The Father to make us one with Him so we could become one with The Father also.

He certainly felt more comfortable being in the presence of his loving God. It allowed him to trust more strongly than ever that Jesus would be with him loving and supporting him as his journey forward took him another day closer to the time when all would be revealed. Until then, he just wanted to become the bloke he had been created to be.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

More That’s faith – Transition Series stories

8. The go-to prayer

He had already decided to look more closely at prayer and thought the ‘Our Father,’ the prayer Jesus gave his disciples, would be the best place to start.

He seemed more aware now that he was holding the hand of Jesus because of his daily fresh commitment to do so as if he was a small kid.  While he trusted Jesus would be there for him during his day, he was also aware that he had an adult conscience and was free to make decisions for himself.

He decided to look closely at the words of the ‘Our Father’ and it seemed to him that the prayer was divided into two segments. The first half was a prayer to The Father through Jesus, because hadn’t Jesus said, “you can only come to The Father through me”. The second half seemed to him as though it was his personal prayer to Jesus himself whose hand he was holding.

So, in praying the first part of the ‘Our Father,’ he believed he was honouring The Father (‘hallowed be Thy name’). He was talking directly to The Father (‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done here on earth as it is in heaven’).

The second half was, in his opinion, more of a personal request to the Jesus whose hand he was holding and whom he was trusting to help him during his day. He saw it as thanking Jesus for being with him and giving him another day of his life as his loving carer and supporter. And for giving him food to eat for his sustenance. (“give us this day, our daily bread”). He remembered the suffering and death of Jesus and thanked him for forgiving him his past indiscretions. (“forgive us our trespasses”) Because Jesus was prepared to forgive him then he felt it only right that he should forgive anyone who had done him wrong as well. (“as we forgive those who trespass against us).

Because of his ‘free will’ he knew, even though he might be holding the hand of Jesus, he was still capable of giving into temptation. He asked Jesus that should such a situation occur, he wanted Him to lead him away from the distraction of sin and evil. (“lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil”).

This was it, he thought, the ultimate go-to prayer.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

More That’s faith – Transition Series stories

7. What is prayer?

He had a book of prayers for all occasions which he referred to if he wanted something done, like finding his car keys when he couldn’t remember where he had left them.

His new found relationship with Jesus, which he renewed each day, was making him realise if he wanted to be more like Jesus, he had better have a closer look at prayer. It seems Jesus used to disappear, sometimes for a full night at a time, to communicate with His Father.

He doubted Jesus had a book of prayers to refer to and he thought about how close the relationship must have been between Jesus and The Father for Jesus to have spent so much time in ‘prayer’ with The Father. 

The disciples obviously wondered about prayer as well, because they asked Jesus how they should go about it. Jesus taught them the ‘Our Father.’ Perhaps then, he thought, the ‘Our Father’ might be a good place to start to understand about prayer.

Already he had looked closely at the wording of ‘Thy will be done on earth.’ Because Jesus had said that ‘no one comes to The Father except through me,’ he decided that any request to The Father might best be channelled through Jesus. He thought that for this to occur he must really believe in Jesus and all that he had taught us during his 3 years with the disciples. He realised that the public life of Jesus was not just a meet and greet tour but an extended training programme, initially for the disciples, but in the long term, it was for us as well.

He recounted how Jesus had said if we ask, we will receive. However, he recalled in the past he had asked fervently that his sick friend get well again and his friend died. This had made him wonder about whether God actually heard his prayer. It wasn’t until he looked at the ‘thy will be done’ line in the Our Father that he realised The Father must have used his prayer in a way that fitted in with ‘His Will’ for his friend. Even Jesus begged not to have to go through the suffering and death he knew was ahead of him but accepted The Father’s ‘Will.’

He thought to himself why should he tell The Father how to do His job. Maybe in the future he should just pray for the person, because The Father knew what was best for that person under the circumstances to ensure His Will was done.

He reckoned, if he continued to trust Jesus each day as a little child, then maybe he just needed to set aside some time to clear his mind of what was happening in his life and just allow the presence of his God to seep into him. For, he reasoned, didn’t God know his every thought and need. He felt more comfortable with this form of ‘prayer’ than reading from his book containing someone else’s prayers.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

More That’s faith – Transition Series stories

6. Awareness

While he tried hard to maintain a non-judgemental attitude towards others, he knew it wasn’t going to be easy. As various situations arose in his day, his mind would immediately go into judgemental mode. However, he was schooling himself to firstly consider what he thought the response might have been from Jesus, before openly commenting.

This procedure tended to make him more aware of the people around him and he realised this was pointing towards another personal failing that needed some work.

Some might not see it as a failing, but when he had set himself a task, he attempted to complete it the best way he could, sometimes quite oblivious to other things happening around him. It always felt good to finish a task knowing that it was completed successfully. Also, it was good for his ego to be praised for a job well done.

For him to have a successful outcome, it could be said he had used the gifts God had given him to the best of his ability. And rightly so!  But where he felt he had a problem was that he ignored anyone with whom he came in contact who had nothing to do with the task he was in the process of completing.

His life experience had taught him that everyone you meet or pass on the street was internally suffering some form of trauma. It may not be evident on their features, but they may be facing a relationship problem, or have kids that have gone astray. There might be a serious illness in the family or they may be grieving a personal loss. Whatever the problem might be, he knew it was generally hidden from public view.

Jesus was aware of the presence of those around Him. In a crowded situation He even felt a woman touch the hem of his cloak. How then, would Jesus react in today’s society?

Perhaps a smile for a passer bye, a kind word and some thanks for someone providing some service and the offer of assistance where it was required. He felt this would be the form of love that Jesus would provide.

He looked at how often he shied away from helping with domestic tasks, generally finding excuses to absent himself. He resolved to become more aware of the needs of his family and those around him and less of what he saw as his own needs. Although tired, Jesus still invited the children to come to Him. Like Jesus, he felt he needed to be more aware of those around him.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

More That’s faith – Transition Series stories.

5. The journey begins

Having passed through the difficult period of doubt, which he reasoned was brought about by an attack from his ego, he became more determined than ever to follow the promptings of the Spirit within. However, he was thankful for this temporary delay as it had brought him down to earth and to what he now saw as a more balanced attitude towards attempting his goal of becoming more like Jesus.

He started to examine some of his failings to determine where he needed to change. Wow! A kaleidoscope of issues immediately raised their heads. So much so, that he decided the best course of action might be to look at each one individually.

His being judgemental of others was where he decided to make a start. He found it so easy to make a critical statement about someone who, in his opinion, was not performing in the way he would prefer. Or about the person themselves who didn’t fit the mould he envisaged for them.

Sometimes he knew these judgements corresponded with similar views held by his listeners and discussions would often ensue that painted the person being criticised in a very poor light indeed. In addition, he felt he would also gain a heightened personal approval for his stance and this was good for his ego.

The words of Jesus came to mind, “Judge not, lest you should be judged.” So, he thought, how am I going to let Jesus do the judging and I instead, do the loving?

His first reaction was to become aware that when someone else was criticising another, then he needed not to enter into the conversation, or if asked for an opinion try and offer something positive about the person. He knew this type of reaction wouldn’t win him many friends but then he thought about how the Apostles had tried to shield Jesus from people seen as ‘undesirable.’ Yet Jesus had offered to dine at a tax collectors house and had saved a prostitute from a stoning.

He was determined to ‘bite his tongue,’ as the saying goes, instead of blurting forth with a tirade of cynical remarks whenever he saw something he didn’t like. This would not be easy, as it required him to stop and think before he spoke or responded. While to some, this might seem boring and place a dampener on the discussion, a person, created by the same God that created us all might not get the lambasting that would have been handed out, had the discussion continued in the normal manner.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

More That’s faith – Transition Series stories.

4. The reality

Like many projects he had taken on during his life, he approached this daily walk with God with much enthusiasm. And like many other projects it didn’t take long for reality to set in and he started to become more aware of the enormity of what he was attempting.

He questioned his capacity to achieve what was obviously a more complex project than he had first envisaged. He realised how stupid he must be to assume he could even become faintly like Jesus. As for trying to understand the mind of God? What was he thinking?

His grandiose ideas of living the rest of his life as an integral part of the Holy Trinity stopped him in his tracks. Who the heck did he think he was? He said to himself.

It was then he felt a gentle tug on the hand he had given to Jesus to hold that morning. He bowed his head. He was questioning how he could possibly have imagined his God would want to allow him, who had offended God so often, to become part of his daily walk through life.

His humble prayer was to ask Jesus to forgive him his past indiscretions and to allow him to continue to trust that God would be in control of his life. He gently asked Jesus what he needed to do to become more like Him and the words given to the rich young man in scripture echoed in his mind. “Can you drink from the cup from which I must drink?”

He looked to the heavens knowing the difficulty of what was being asked of him. He responded, ‘Lord, I don’t think I can, but with your help I can try.’

He immediately felt the presence of the Holy Spirit offering him inner strength and realised that if he was to ensure he fulfilled the ‘Will of God’ he must continue in his effort to become more like Jesus. However, he felt he should review his approach to the task and attempt to perform it in a more humble, down to earth, way than his initial euphoric enthusiasm had suggested.

He thought he could make a start by concentrating on improving the way he reacted and loved those with whom he shared his day. For, as he reasoned, if God is ‘LOVE’ then that would be a good starting point for anyone wishing to emulate the character of our Saviour.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith

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3. New responsibilities

Each morning he reached out and took the hand of Jesus and renewed his pledge to trust Jesus to be in control of all that happened in his day. While he was able to feel more at peace within himself, it didn’t take him long to realise that he might see the holding of the hand of Jesus as if he were a child, yet he still had given himself the task of living his adult life in close co-operation with his God. He was not used to this joint operation.

This involved a constant conflict within his mind as he was still confronted with temptations and opportunities to allow his ego to promote himself to others. He realised he had to become closer to Jesus so he might be able to understand how he might react to these situations the way Jesus would.

He immediately turned to the Holy Spirit whom he knew was present within him. He had read in Scripture of the gifts the Holy Spirit gave to those who asked for them, so his first request was to get to know Jesus better.

He reasoned he no longer could just react in his normal way to given situations because with Jesus holding his hand, he knew that if he was to achieve the will of the Father it would be essential to understand what action Jesus would take if placed in the same situations he faced in everyday life.

He told the Holy Spirit he needed to think like Jesus so he could act as Jesus would act. He needed to be able to immediately recognise the differences in how he would react in given situations as against how he felt Jesus would act. In reality, he felt he needed to be able to read the mind of Jesus.

This walking with Jesus was a whole life-changing arrangement for him. Being constantly aware of who was holding his hand meant that his life slowed a little and changed, in that he became more aware of what was happening around him. He was able to question his proposed actions with a better understanding of how he believed Jesus would respond. Temptations still existed but could be quietly dismissed using the same process.

It became obvious to him that he needed the Holy Spirit to constantly support his endeavours and to guide him in his deliberations.

He recalled the lyrics of a song he heard as a youngster called, ‘I’ll Walk With God’. 

I’ll Walk with God (From “The Student Prince”)

Constantine CallinicosMario Lanza

I’ll walk with God
From this day on,
His helping hand I’ll lean upon.
This is my prayer, my humble plea,
May the Lord be ever with me.

There is no death, though eyes grow dim.
There is no fear when I’m near to Him.
I’ll lean on Him forever,
And He’ll forsake me never.

He will not fail me as long as my faith is strong.
Whatever road I may walk alone,

I’ll walk with God.
I’ll take His hand.
I’ll talk with God, He’ll understand.

I’ll pray to Him,
Each day to Him,

And He’ll hear the words that I say.
His hand will guide my throne and rod,
And I’ll never walk alone,
While I walk with God.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith

More That’s faith – Transition Series stories

2. Thy will be done

He usually started his day by rattling off the Our Father and then spent some time thinking about how his day might unfold. However, this particular day was a bit different. During the Our father he stopped at the words, ‘Thy will be done on earth.’ He could understand how The Father would not be pleased with the way many throughout the world were not abiding by Jesus’ command to love one another, but he thought to himself that maybe ‘The Father’s Will’ might well have a meaning for us as individuals.

While in control of his life, he felt that generally, he tried to do the right thing by others. Although, he had to admit that some of his egocentric decisions were often aimed at ‘looking after No.1’. But then he thought that most people do this anyway, so it can’t be too bad.  He pondered within himself, wondering whether his way of life was what The Father’s Will was for him?

He remembered that Jesus had said ‘He was the only way to The Father’ and he also remembered Jesus had said we need to become as little children if we are to make it into heaven.  Mmmm! he thought to himself, there was a time when Jesus told His disciples to let the children come to Him. So, he imagined Jesus sitting on a rock with young kids playing around Him, the air filled with the joyous sounds that only kids playing together can make.

As a young 4 or 5 year old, he saw himself walking towards Jesus when Jesus looked up and seeing him, put out his arm with an open hand towards him. While he might be imagining himself as a kid, he still had an adult brain and realised that if he was to take the hand of Jesus, he would be totally trusting this bloke to lead him through his day. Ego said, ‘don’t lose control, you’ve done OK so far.’ It was a moment of indecision for the little fellar.

He reached out and placed his hand on the hand of Jesus who held his hand throughout the day with the Holy Spirit helping him with different personal decisions. Knowing that Jesus was in control, the day seemed to hold no fears for him. He reasoned that whatever happened Jesus would guide him through. He found it certainly took the worry out of his day.

Because he was prepared to put his total trust in Jesus, he realised then that on this particular day he could only be doing the Will of The Father.

He doesn’t rattle the Our Father off any more like he used to, but he finds each morning requires a new commitment to take the hand of Jesus, because there is always his ego in the background advising him against such action.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

More stories in the That’s faith – Transition Series