Sting, Poison, Gift

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If you haven't seen the Lent blog we are running, here is a taste from a post, and you can find it here. ----------

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One of the things I have enjoyed about Volf's theology and books, is the way he relates his thinking to his life, with stories of God's work. I heard Volf talk about first and second order thinking, that there is value in academic thinking that provides tools for thinking and reflecting in general, but how they are a false dichotomy. I am inspired to see how he uses his own stories, breaking down this false dichotomy, and he leads us into (to use his own words) 'Theology for a way of life'.

I think the great comments in the first post show a deep resonance that Volf's theologically storied vulnerability brings to many of us. So I wondered if we wanted to share some more of our stories, in particular using the theme Volf has of how God takes the things of our life, the stings that are poisonous, and uses, transforms them into Gifts to us. As we get ready for Easter, and Christ's death that works against, and works through evil and suffering, how have we seen the power of the Gift of Christ transform our lives?

In my life, my father was always absent, when at home, he was emotionally withdrawn, usually sleeping and drinking, hiding from my mother most of the time. Then he moved abroad on contract to work, and came home for two weeks every 6 months, and began his new life away from us, and eventually never came back home to us at all.

My mother was very violent, emotionally and physically, and as the eldest son I often bore the brunt of that, and took on the co-dependent role of the helper, trying to make everything ok. Family is not something I have many memories of as a child of being loved, and nurtured, and supported.

Yet when I came to Christ, one of the most powerful experiences I had was of the body of Christ, the love of a family who adopted me at 17. A people who loved me unconditionally, who spoke words of life and that God had a future for me, that was other than the cycle of alcohol and abuse that is extant in my family. The pain and loss of my own family, allowed me to treasure the family I have in Christ.

Last year returning home from a speaking trip my wife and three kids came to the airport to pick me up. Surrounded by hundreds of people picking up their relative, my three kids ran down the arrival walkway, shouting 'Daddy, daddy, daddy'. Threw themselves at me in a group embrace. It seemed all eyes from the people around me were looking at me and smiling.

It was a Kingdom moment, a few seconds that reached deep into my soul, and heart and mind, that tore a 'thin space' open for me to experience the presence of God. It is gift transformed moments like that, in which I know that my redeemer lives. The experience of deepest joy, comes from a poison and curse that hurt so much much, and until I experienced Jesus, threatened to destroy me. -------

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