2nd March 2013

Letter from the Pastor

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth’

Psalm 46v10

I remember a Christian poster that was around when I was a student – a poster often hung up on the walls of Christian Union members’ rooms. If I recall correctly, it had the opening portion of the above, well known verse, written at the top of the poster which was of a wonderful scene from nature: a blue, placid lake reflecting perfectly the snow-capped mountains surrounding it. In short, it portrayed the perfect tranquil place – a scene of great stillness. And this is often how Christians consider these words from Psalm 46 being spoken, against a background of an untroubled, becalmed life, with nothing threatening to disturb this wonderful serenity and peace.
Well, most assuredly, the peace of God is wonderful – indeed a peace ‘which passeth all understanding’ (Phil 4v7) – a peace given by Christ Himself to His people – ‘not as the world giveth’ (John 14v27) – but the background to the LORD speaking these words in the 46th Psalm is a far cry from that picturesque Swiss mountain-lake scene. The Psalmist writes of ‘trouble’ (v1); ‘though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea’ (v2); ‘the waters thereof roar and be troubled’ (v3); ‘The heathen raged; the kingdoms were moved’ (v6) … desolations, breaking, cutting and burning. A scene of incredible upheaval is described with events which, if we were actually to witness such first hand, would make our hair stand on end and our hearts quail. It is against that tumult and shaking that the Lord speaks these powerful, blessed words: ‘Be still and know that I am God’.
Kyu has recently been reading the biography of C H Spurgeon. He speaks of his day and age being a most wicked and depraved one; a period of declension and the increase of sin. In a similar vein other evangelical leaders wrote throughout the last century of terrible moral and spiritual decline in their day. I wonder what such men of God would make of the events that are taking place in our nation at the commencement of the 21st century. It seems as if the moral declension and the seismic shift in our legislative code are beyond anything Britain has ever known. Regarding this nation of Wales – known as ‘the Land of Revivals’ – we have to ask: “Has the spiritual temperature ever been so low?” As we walk past Salem chapel and see the ‘For Sale’ board up – that large chapel that once was bursting with worshipping folk – do we not feel a deep sense of anguish and sorrow?
Surely, nationally we hit a new nadir last month when our parliament voted to give the second reading to the same sex marriage bill. Truly nationally we are experiencing revolution and dire upheaval: moral mountains are being ‘carried into the midst of the sea’; the spiritual ground – like the earth on which we stand, taken for granted and thought of as sure for centuries – is shaking and being removed; undoubtedly the heathen rage – even at the LORD, His righteous ways and His people.
But it is against this dark and fearful prospect that the LORD issues His decree to us, His beloved children, the church He bled and died for: ‘Be still and know that I am God’.
The tendency, naturally, is for quite the opposite: panic and fear; restlessness and a sense of despair. And if we fail to place Almighty God in our view as we survey the upheaval of our days, such feelings and fears can easily flood into our souls and take an unhealthy hold therein. But no. The powerful voice of the Spirit comes to us: ‘Be still, and know that I am God’.
And, of course, the two elements mentioned here are wonderfully linked: for the peace and stillness to prevail in us, the knowledge that our GOD is GOD indeed is required to bring about that tranquillity of spirit within, even against such an unfavourable background. That knowledge of the LORD that brings to us the assurance that He reigns in complete sovereignty over all His works: nothing is hid from His all-seeing eye – no event, no act, no word is outside of the view or the control of this great GOD: our GOD! The GOD before whom: ‘Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance’ (Isaiah 40v15); ‘He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers’ (Isaiah 40v22).
It may be helpful to ask yourselves and think: Do you imagine for one moment that there is any disquiet and fretting in heaven as the evil of our generation abounds and waxes bold? Are there any in that blessed realm, be they angel or soul of just man made perfect, who are anxious or alarmed by the strength of rebellion and anti-God sentiment that flourishes in our land in our day? Impossible you rightly say!! But why is this? Simply because they know God and are thus assured that He shall bring all His righteous will to pass … with ease, even redounding to His own honour and glory. We too, His people upon earth, are to share in their assurance and stillness, even through this same knowledge of the LORD of heaven and earth.
Much disappointment and perhaps even anger was felt by Christians across the land on the evening of 5th February 2013 as parliament voted for this evil bill – and surely there is a place and a rightness for such feeling – but such must always be tempered by and placed within the truth that GOD is GOD. The danger is that such feelings have the potential to run contrary to and to affect our faith. We must be guarded so as to prevent them detracting from or even destroying that stillness that comes from this blessed knowledge of the ‘Godness’ of GOD.
In truth, against this dark background we are given the opportunity to flex the muscles of faith and grow in grace as we resolutely, in the Spirit’s strength, continue to have our eyes fixed upon Almighty GOD, refusing to accept that these apparent setbacks for the cause of Christ will hinder His perfect purpose one iota; clinging to and believing what He has declared here: ‘I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.’ His triumph is sure over His foes, His reign unshakable. The words ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done’ are as much a statement of fact as they are a prayer!
It is difficult to conceive of how things in the UK can get worse, but they may; but if they do, all that occurs shall be within the reign and will of our GOD: thus, let us take these blessed truths to our hearts so that they may bring iron into our souls and ‘Be still, and know that I am God’.

Pastor Paul Ackerley