The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
“... false witnesses rise up against me breathing out violence.”
The video session had not gone well. We were hoping to film three sessions a day for five days for a total of fifteen hours. After the first day we concluded that the one talk of an hour and a half was not useable. I was feeling despondent. The idea had been for the speakers to give the talks that they would normally give in South East Asia. I had borrowed a couple of digital video cameras and was doing the filming. Others would edit the material into a series of talks on DVD. Having gone to great lengths to set aside this week, it seemed to be going down the tubes even before it had started. Only now was there a realisation of how little material one can put in an hour. There were two parts to the problem. They had lost the thinking time that normally came when the interpreter translated. Secondly, the audience in South East Asia were ready to listen to long talks, whereas in the UK the audiences are much more attuned to short, sharp presentations.
The night following I was up praying. There was a good start “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 NIV) I was encouraged that the Lord is always big enough to save and here he seemed to be reassuring that he would indeed save.
As is so often the case when I am praying about a situation, there were two conflicting messages. One, that of the Lord, brought peace and assurance. He would save, just trust in him. The second, always ready to leap in when I had a quiet moment of reflection was the voice of my experience. I had just been through a day of low achievement, the speakers were miles away from producing what was necessary and seemed to have rather a cavalier attitude to it all. “Maybe this is just a trial run, and we can get it right next year.” they had commented. Whenever I went down this road my heart sank into confusion and despair, no doubt as Peter's heart sank when walking on the water he looked at the waves. As a fisherman, he was looking at those waves with years of actual experience. He knew what he was up against all too well.
As I read on I came to this part: “Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me, My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:7-8 NIV) Peace would not come from careful evaluation of the situation, I needed the Lord's salvation, I needed above all the Lord and so sought his face. The text went on “Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.” (Psalm 27:12 NIV) I realised that though I would normally think of a false witness as a person, in this case the false witness was my experience. I struggled to believe that God could save in the face of the experience I had to the contrary. I was limiting God's ability to save us to the constraints of how I had seen people respond to similar situations. With this realisation I was able to surrender my experience and receive his salvation.
The Lord did indeed bring about his salvation. That night the speakers had reworked their talks, cutting back to the central thrust. It was hard work but in the end, with four talks a day instead of three, and feeling quite exhausted by the end, the Lord came through and the talks were filmed.
FALSE TESTIMONY, EXPERIENCE