Exploring faith with the Rev Keith V Garner AM
My own Christian story began one terribly foggy night when a young man from Northern Ireland came to my church to give testimony of his calling. I was 16 years old at the time. This man (who’d seen his father shot down in Northern Ireland) talked about the Christian faith being very real to him. For the first time, Christianity really spoke deeply to me. Here was somebody who could talk about losing his father in a pool of blood and yet talk about believing in God.
I found that difficult. But he sat down and told me what to do. He told me that I needed to confess my need of God, to recognise that my sins needed to be forgiven and to find a living relationship with God. He taught me how to do it.
It took a few weeks for the reality of what had happened that night to really start to express itself, and I think that’s always been important to me because young people expect things today, always today.
Sometimes God has to strip us of all the planks and the certainties and the things that make us important in order to be effective for Him. The moment came during a service two weeks later when we were singing a hymn, and the words were, “O the bitter shame and sorrow, That a time could ever be, When I let the Saviour’s pity , Plead in vain and proudly answered, All of self and none of Thee”—and I knew, that’s where I was. The last verse is, “Higher than highest heaven, Deeper than the deepest sea Lord, Thy love at last has conquered. Grant me now my supplication, None of self and all of Thee”. I knew that was where I wanted to be.
All the darkest words that you can think of, betrayal, hurt, bitterness, rejection, they’re all in the Cross. And the Cross is not just a theology we preach, it’s the life we lead: “I live by Christ who gave Himself for me”.
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Day 4
- Day 5
What meaning does my life have?
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV
Thought: Life can be challenging, but all of our troubles begin to fade away when we discover that God created us, and that he has created us for good. Many people will tell you that the ultimate purpose of life is to be happy, but what happens when troubles arrive? We all experience grief, stress and sadness, but when we know our true purpose we find hope that no circumstance can take away.
“A life directed chiefly towards the fulfillment of personal desires will sooner or later always lead to bitter disappointment”
Prayer: Lord, sometimes it is hard to know how I should live my life. Help me to live out my purpose. Show me the good works that you have created me to do.
What is my identity?
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:1-2 NIV
Thought: If we are to find our life’s purpose we need to return to our Creator. Every day, all around the world people make bad choices which lead to confusion and suffering. But did you know that you were made in the image of God and that we are his children? If the Creator is our Father and we are his children, he intends for us to be like him.
Prayer: Lord, I want to know you and find out how to be like you. Reveal to me more of what you are like, so that I can better understand who you have created me to be.
How do I find my purpose?
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV
Thought: God is offering you hope for the future, but his plans for you are also for a fulfilling, meaningful life right now. To find your purpose you must seek God, and when you call out to him he will listen.
Prayer: Lord, I call out to you now. I want to have a hopeful future and to fulfil the plans you have for my life. Please help me to not get tired in seeking you, draw near to me and help me to seek your purposes.
How does God want me to live?
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Ephesians 5:8-10 NIV
Thought: Like a child learns by imitating its parents, so we learn by trying to walk like our Father and act like him. To find the purpose God has created us for we need to be like our Father.
Prayer: Lord, help me live as one of your children, full of goodness, righteousness and truth. Show me how to walk in the way of love and to live the way that pleases you.
How do I know I can trust God?
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
Matthew 6:25-27 NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:33-34 NIV
Thought: We cannot find peace in trying to please ourselves. The security and fulfilment we find when we chase after wealth, power or pleasure leave us wanting more and never truly satisfy.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, show me how to trust you more each day. Keep me from being distracted by the things that culture says are important. Guide me towards a meaningful life, and the purpose that you have created me for.