Heathdale flower 22nd July 2020

Faithfully Consistent

Sometimes we can act in way that seems out-of-character, like my Mum at the footy, but God is our consistent bedrock.

Heathdale flower

Have you ever been in the situation where you thought you knew someone really well, so much so that you believe you could guess their reaction to most things? Only to find yourself being caught by surprise by something they unexpectantly did or said. Their reaction was so unexpected, it challenged your perspective of that person!

I grew up in a family full of keen followers of AFL Football. When I first started dating Sue, I made the bold move of inviting her to join my parents and go to the football. We were comfortably seated; Sue on one side, my mum and dad on the other and the game began.

I spent the first half trying to explain to Sue some of the nuances of the game. Then, without warning, my mum jumped to her feet and started screaming at the top of her lungs at one of the opposition players. My mum had just witnessed this player hitting her favourite player behind the play! I still remember Sue’s reaction to this day. Her face was one of complete shock and she didn’t know what to do next.

This was clearly not the woman Sue had met several times before. This outburst was not consistent with this person she had come to know as a hospitable, warm-hearted, gentle, kind lady who had made everyone feel so welcome. Sue was now observing a woman who was clearly the opposite of this. My mum was upset because her favourite player had been unfairly felled behind the play. This moment had made Sue question all that she knew about my mum. Prior to this moment Mum had acted consistently over time so it meant that Sue could start to predict things like her favourite colour, foods and books she enjoyed reading. The incident at the football shook this understanding as it wasn’t a consistent behaviour.

When a person acts/reacts in a consistent manner, they not only build a reputation for being like this but people start to expect them to behave this way. This predictability proves to become a surety, a bedrock that enables the friendship to form and flourish.

We get this sense from the writings of David in the Bible as he reflects on His God. David sees The Lord first as his Shepherd and then he builds on this when he adds the phrase, “I shall not want” Psalm 23:1. What a bold and positive statement to make!

At first glance, however, the words seem almost laughable. When David penned the 23rd Psalm, it was not in the time when he was looking after his father’s sheep. Rather, it was in a time of intense challenge. He was being hunted and hounded by hostile enemy forces and deserted by his closest friends and many of his supporters. Yet in some way this statement (I shall not be in want) is quietly affirming!

I have heard it said that there are some followers of Jesus who today have great difficulty understanding this phrase. They feel conflicted and say ‘how can I really say this with meaning when I am lacking in so many ways? I want a happy family, I want to be well and safe, I want a fulfilling career, I want the chance to relax and have peace and quiet, I want a soul mate’.

The meaning behind David’s words becomes a little clearer when we when we dig a little deeper into the original Hebrew words used in this text. As one translation puts it “I shall lack nothing”, and another puts it ‘I do not need a thing’. The focus on the word ‘want’ is not so much on ‘desiring’ something as on ‘lacking’ something needed. When David declares, ‘that no matter what hardships, challenges or difficulties come my way, I am sure of one thing – that I will have the expert care and tender supervision of my Master, the Great Shepherd — God. David’s thinking here is, ‘He will comfort me, He has done it before and I know He’ll do it again. He is consistent in this!’

There were many things David lacked at the time he penned these words: the comforts of life, family affection and physical security to mention but a few. However, what David did not lack was the assurance that God was with Him constantly, in all difficulties, managing his affairs. The assurance of God’s care enabled David to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

It is the same God we speak of at Heathdale Christian College. He is our faithful God. We know this and have experienced this. This is why the Bible talks of our Lord as being consistent, the same yesterday, today and forever more.

In the midst of these most challenging days, the prayer of the Staff and myself is that every student and their family will know the blessing and surety of God. He is the consistent in His love and care for you and me.