Last week I watched The Railway Children twice. The classic movie followed by the stage show in a matinee performance at Harrogate Theatre. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes to see Bobby’s father appear through a cloud of engine steam and to hear her response “Daddy, my Daddy”. During the theatre performance I sensed the Lord nudging me.
During the week my attention was also nudged by a reference to a phrase used in some of the research with adopted and fostered children: ‘Genealogical Bewilderment’. This has to do with the desire of human beings to know who they truly are. Then came the newspaper revelation about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s discovery, disclosed to him by some clever and insistent journalism, that his father was not in fact the man he had been led to believe. Putting aside the disturbing thoughts that such deep and delicate things have to be played out in this high profile way, it was extraordinary how Justin Welby handled it. He set this profoundly bewildering experience in the context of the knowledge that his true identity is found in Jesus Christ.
Three ‘nudges’ that got my attention.
I have sensed the Lord highlighting that the time we are in is one of bewilderment and uncertainty. The Railway Children lived out their story against a backdrop of confusion, uncertainty and lack of knowledge of what was truly happening. One of the songs in the stage show had a refrain that went something like “when you are dreaming there is someone working to make your dream come true”. The Lord is working on our behalf. He is busy for us – we can be certain of this.
I don’t think any of us likes to be bewildered. We like clarity. As I have read the Resurrection Narratives in the Bible I have been struck by the way in which Jesus enabled journeys of revelation, gradually revealing himself, allowing people to be truly discipled by encounters with him. In Mary’s case it was through tears, on the road to Emmaus it was a walk through disappointment and bewilderment, In Peter’s case it was through failing at fishing. For the disciples it was through a locked door and for Thomas the challenge to place his doubting hands in the wounds of crucifixion.
God is working on our behalf. Trust him. Be prepared to wait and Jesus will reveal himself. But this is not passive waiting: The Railway Children got on with life, they helped others, loved one another, supported each other and saved people (remember the landslide and the young man in the railway tunnel?)
Be clear: God is your Daddy who emerges solid and sure from the fogs of confusion and bewilderment.
I’ve had a sense that this Pentecost will be a time of the giving of power and authority. Our Archbishop’s are right to call for a Pentecost wave of prayer for evangelism. Archbishop Sentamu has undertaken a prophetic pilgrimage of prayer, Justin Welby has stated clearly that our core identity is in Christ alone. We stand and pray with them in our identity as the children of God and look to the power from on high to fill us and send us.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13)