Addressing an INcontext Weekly Meeting – 1 April 2021
⭐️When I think of INcontext the words foremost in my mind are…
Discerning the times…
Every age has its unique challenges, and the ability to discern what God is doing on earth, in our country and in our community at any given time can, as you well know, help us make decisions that will better facilitate His purposes. Or at least help us be less anxious about what is going on.
Over many centuries people have reported on what they have seen and heard and what they make of it. Seeing things from other people’s perspectives is in my view important as we are all uniquely placed and have unique perspectives – simply put – listening and learning.
One of my favourite committee chairs during my years in Parliament used to express his awareness that his view was only ‘in part’, by starting every statement he made with the words “seated where I am seated…” None of us see every aspect of every situation and we can only interpret situations within the context of our own experience, knowledge and view point, so listening to others broadens our perspective and ability to see more completely and more clearly.
Listening, observing, studying and researching means examining different perspectives and not just listening to those seeing what we see and saying what we want them to say – being more like Caleb and Joshua (the spies who went into the promised land) who were sent to check out the lay-of-the-land!
Discerning the times is a skill that is developed like any other. It takes time and commitment. Yet those who take the time to develop it, put themselves in the best position to make a significant contribution in the time in which God has appointed them to live, by illuminating a path less travelled and bringing clarity. Like in all things however – some may be more gifted than others but this makes me think of GARY PLAYER who once observed that “the more I practice the luckier I seem to get”!
It is the rarest of writers and narrators who manage a degree of objectivity while being upfront about those things that could affect their objectivity. Their work is honouring in that it does not try to manipulate but instead leaves the known and unknown facts to speak for themselves and leaves room for the Holy Spirit to do His work. Assumptions and gut feelings should not always be expressed as predictions or prophecy – in my view that is!
The recent examples of respected men and ‘women of God’ locally and globally, going to great lengths to propagate their preferred narrative regarding politics, especially in the USA, but also locally and globally have been somewhat disturbing. Narratives containing some facts and many many assumptions. It is one thing to appreciate Gods ability to work in and through anyone He chooses but quite another to transfer our hope and confidence in our saviour to any one person.
In my view this conduct stirred up division, anger, hatred, bitterness and even violence in the name of the Christian Church. Love, kindness, grace, forgiveness, generosity, long suffering being all but entirely absent.
Fear, of course is a natural response to many situations and probably why the words, ‘be anxious for nothing’ appear in various ways in the Bible often. When I see fear and anxiety motivating a response or when I hear words meant to stir up fear and anxiety I hear alarm bells. Courage of course is not the absence of fear but refusing to give in to anxiety and doing what needs to be done or saying what needs to be said in the face of that fear.
I have great respect for the work of INcontext and others like you, precisely because it always seems to me that you ‘let God be God’ and don’t second guess him or put words in His mouth… we pray… God answers one way or another… then we get on with the job we have been given, working with what we have and NOT what we wish we had. Thank you for your part in refusing to be part of a culture of stirring up negative emotions.
Key for me is also the concept of:
A Different Spirit…
We know Caleb is referred to as having had a different spirit (Numbers 14:24) which is why he offered a perspective that differed from the uniform reports that everything was bad and that so much could go wrong. Caleb would have seen the challenges BUT he also chose to see what was good, what had potential and he looked for the OPPORTUNITIES hidden in the negative aspects.
Those who stay open to understanding the times from God’s perspective are likely to respond and recommend responses that may NOT seem obvious to others because they will have a ‘different spirit’. Like you, my prayer is that God will give us the ability to discern the times and the wisdom to know WHAT we ought to share and HOW to share it. Courage and patience are also needed precisely because seeing the opportunities others cannot can make you feel like an outsider at times.
In the work I did in Parliament DISCERNING PEOPLE was also key – understanding NOT just WHAT they were thinking but WHY!
The Labour Laws Amendment Act was an example of this as discerning the root of the problem in many dysfunctional families and the cry of the working man and woman’s hearts was key. Not to mention the hearts and minds of my colleagues in Parliament. Succeeding in getting the majority in Parliament to agree to Portfolio Committees being mandated and capacitated to respond to accusations of State Capture was another of many examples.
My book ‘Through My Eyes: Life, Politics Religion, is available in stores and through my website https://cheryllyndudley.com
is the story of a veteran politician and a conversation about how life and politics relate to beliefs and vice versa but it is also a call to people everywhere to CHOOSE HOPE AND REJECT FEAR… ‘