Everyone wants life to be plain sailing with plenty of nice surprises along the way. No one plans or expects bad things to happen, but we all know they do.
The trouble is, there are to few explanations as to how we can journey through this life and when something does happen, we rarely know how to deal with it.
Fortunately there is an answer, but its not one that most of us want to acknowledge.
A few years ago Liz and I attended a series of talks about the origins of the Gospels. Now, to the uninitiated, this could be the most boring thing ever, however, it was such an eye opener.
We were relatively new Christians and wanted to find out as much as we could about this "faith thing" and attending a series of talks seemed quite an interesting way to find out more about the Bible.
The impact the talks had on us was quite simple. There was more written about Jesus than any other person in history and that the earliest record of the Bible dated back to 130AD and there are pieces of parchment/papyrus called The Chester Beatty Papyri held at Dublin Museum containing seven manusripts of the Old Testament and three manuscriptions of the New Testament.
So why is this important? Well, to begin with, it confirmed to me that the Bible was real and that there was substance to it. It wasn't just some book that was written 2000 years ago - it was older than that! And Jesus was real too. I knew that anyway, but it was helpful for someone to confirm it "academically".
I got to thinking - if the Bible is real and therefore true and if Jesus was who he said he was, this later became "is who He says He is" (for those who are in the know!), why was and is there so much controversy - you know, wars and all that?
Fast forward about four and a half years, nearly 100 books, reading the Bible three times, listening to podcasts, TV, seminars and conferences. Now I get it!
Without making this article like War & Peace II, God wants us to get right with Him. The reason being is that there are some dark and evil forces that make bad things happen to good people and vice versa.
God doesn't ever say that life will be a bed of roses, but He does explain:
a) He knows what happening
b) He's with us, and
c) He wants to help us deal with these situations.
To get us started on the right track and to help us from running in to trouble, God has set out some Do's and Dont's. The trouble is, because we don't understand the rules, we go through our lives doing the Dont's and not doing the Do's, making mistakes and not having any idea why problems are happening to us.
So, where do we start. Well, I'll tell you one thing for beginners, there is no point praying to God and expecting a bolt of lightening and your problem sorted.
An illustration: I met a guy not so long ago and he wanted to understand a bit more about Christianity. During the conversation I said to him, without knowing anything of his background, that to start on the path of faith, he had to forgive that person or persons who had upset him. Without a moments hesitation he said, "you've got to be joking, you don't know what she did".
You've guessed it, amongst other things, the place to start begins with forgiveness. Even the hardest person you know finds it too hard to forgive. Some people think that its normal to hold a grudge for years. But if you can't forgive, how can God forgive you - and before you say there's nothing to forgive you for, think again (also this is another article and I'll put a link here a bit later when its written).
I've had some really bad things happen to me in my life, and at the time, even the thought of certain people would start spinning me out. But I had to get this under control - which I did and my family will vouch fo rme on this.
The reality is that this whole faith thing isa two way street. We've got a part to play and the most important part of this is to know and understand that God forgives. He always forgives. He wants us to know Him and for that to happen through His Son Jesus.
I know, I know; you're reading this thinking that this is ending up like some sermon or pavement preach, but the truth is, there are so many church leaders who are too afraid to say something direct and prefer to speak to men as if they are women. Yes you read it right. God wants us to be men and stand up for His values and His "Do's" as He set out in the Bible, but much of the Church is directed at talking to its congregation as of they're all women which makes some Church services cringeworthy.
For a man, getting right with God means accepting that you're not the one on top, in front, calling the shots, the head honcho and so on. God was here first. He set all this up and we have a duty and responsibility to honour God and allow Him to guide us through our lives.
For women its a similar thing, but without the testosterone! You've still got to submit.
We won't and don't get this straight away, but to start with, its accepting who's the boss. Once you do, this amazing journey will start to unfold before your very eyes, like it has with us.