Robert and Maureen McQuillan ask some relevant questions:
Amazing photo, isn’t it? Cunard’s Captain Kevin Oprey standing on the bulbous bow (what helps stabilise movement) of the Queen Mary 2, the world’s largest ocean liner, Photographer James Morgan took several photographs to mark the ocean liner’s tenth anniversary and Australia’s Daily Mail ran with the caption, ‘Welcome aboard my little boat.’
Although small of stature Captain Oprey looks so confident with all that mighty power that he commands behind him!
Reminds us of the might and power of the Holy Spirit and the confidence he gives Jesus’ servants. And of scriptures such as Zechariah 4:6 that encourage every Christian who earnestly desires to fulfil the Matthew 28 commission of building the kingdom – but feel inadequate: ‘”Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.’
Zechariah was a plain and practical preacher who knew his God, trusted his word and accepted his commission: God’s word was real to him, not some fancied hope; it came in the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit and he shared it with people and expected results.
Trust God, believe his word and rely on his Spirit
We can all feel inadequate at times – negatively thinking ‘Who am I, how could God ever use me, how can I ever serve him?’
What we must do if we’re going to follow Jesus and be effective in assisting build his church is this – we must unquestioningly trust in God’s supernatural power to back us up. We may at times feel we’re weak and without might or power but God doesn’t! He has given us his CEO, the all-powerful Spirit – whom Jesus himself fully trusted for his ministry. We too can rely on him.
Acts 10:38 (Mge) is a favourite scripture of mine (Robert) – ‘Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him.’
In Romans 8:26, Paul assures us that ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness.’ Our very weaknesses somehow become strengths when we trust him – Maureen’s favourite scripture is Romans 15:13: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’
Trust means choosing not to doubt or ask too many entangling questions. ‘God said It, I believe It, that settles it’ is often used to describe Galatians 1:15ff and first generation Christians (who like Paul…knew God personally and trusted him).
Of course life is life and dark days can suddenly hit us any time attempting to throw us! But let’s remember the ‘suddenlys’ of God – such as Matthew 28:9 (‘Suddenly Jesus met them’), Luke 2:13, 24:4, Acts 2:2, 8:39, 9:3, 10:30, 12:7 …supernatural encounters bringing assurance that God is there for us in every circumstance.
Back in May a ‘suddenly’ hit us. Without elaborating, but like Zechariah keeping it plain and practical: I (Robert) suddenly out-of-the-blue had to undergo an immediate heart operation.
It could have been panic time, much self-searching and negative thinking. But we didn’t get into that! We simply continued in our usual trusting God, his word and promises (recalling scriptures such as 1 Peter 2:24, Psalm 20:7, 30:2 and James 5:14). Many good friends prayed for both of us– two even travelled a long way to pray over us; others sent encouraging SMS messages. They still do during my recuperation.
As for us, we prayed, rested in peace, listened and personally heard God’s clear word to our hearts (literally in my case!). And it strengthened and reassured – direction re a new phase of our lives and ministry, confirmed by close friend (intercessor Geraldine – Impact category).
And God moved so quickly – I had, I believe, the wisest doctor, top cardiologist, best surgeon and theatre staff. Yet another good friend – Dr Jim (Bible Perspectives) – gave of his time transporting me to and from hospital. Maureen naturally was chief backup – and subsequently the best home nurse and carer.
For decades we’ve known the power of the Spirit to intervene in life’s tenuous situations. God proved yet again that he’s in charge and all we have to do is trust him without getting tangled up with too many questions. He’s the master of all ‘in the nick of time’ situations. He even ensured that Maureen and I didn’t miss out celebrating our 54th wedding anny!
Got stuff going down?
Geraldine Brandt writes this month of the Spirit’s power behind our remembering what God has done for us. As I lay on the operating table sleepy but aware of what was going on around, I did so, praising God in tongues, the Spirit’s gift. Memories of God’s goodness flooded my mind. As did the opening lines of that wonderful old Augustus Toplady hymn… ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.’
Traditionally, it is held that Toplady drew his inspiration from a personal incident in England’s Burrington Combe gorge. Travelling along it the preacher was caught in a storm. Finding shelter in a gap in the gorge, inspired he scribbled down the initial lyrics.
In any case, the great truth for every Christian is that no matter what storm (or demonic activity) that comes against us, or decision that has to be made, we can trust the power of God’s intervening Spirit to answer prayer and bring us through and be at peace.
We ourselves always encourage everyone to pray and trust God, to never hold back in following Jesus and to remember that we can serve the Lord even when we feel weak. After all… the Holy Spirit stands behind us – bigger, more powerful that the QM2.
Pray positively, ask the right questions
On this reality, another Robert reflection – indeed another Cunard story. When I left school – only 14 years old – and began my working life I was a booking clerk for the Cunard Line arranging berths for holidaymakers and immigrants.
Now that was more decades back than I care to remember(!) and things were very different back then…few cars, no computers and I was but a naïve teenager lost in the big bad world. Few homes had telephones and I had never even used one.
Cunard’s booking procedure to make reservations was to phone Liverpool office and speak to the appropriate department – first, second or third class. My first phone experience was trying to book folk on the old Queen Mary. Feeling proud and clever, I said: ‘First Class, please.’ But the lady responded in a thick Liverpudlian accent that I couldn’t decipher no matter how hard I tried, ‘Which ship?’
I kept saying, ‘First Class, please’ and for some ten minutes (I kid you not!) she kept repeating, ‘Which ship?’ getting louder each time.
Finally in desperation she screamed ‘Ship, ship, ship! The big thing with funnels and floats in the water!’
Duh! It suddenly dawned on me and feeling so foolish – a real dill in Oz slang – I sheepishly whimpered, ‘Queen Mary, please.’ Then she immediately put me through to that department.
I had learned a lesson that also works when asking God for something – get to the point with the right wording! Too often we go all around the world in our prayers instead of cutting to the chase! He knows already what we need (Matthew 6:25ff) and his Spirit is there to help us. He’ll cause us to be effective kingdom servants for Jesus – no matter what’s working against us!
With the blessed Holy Spirit behind and backing you, you too can be so confident and fearless and stand tall – and board Jesus’ ship of kingdom opportunities.
This month’s links: Impact – Geraldine Brandt’s Remembering Leads to Impacting / Inspirational – Elizabeth Shreve’s Becoming Fearless / Missional – George Forbes’ More Divine Encounters / Opinion – Mike Shreve’s For Such a Time as This