'I've come to see that God moves towards his world with deep grace'
Kirk’s story | The importance of testing your motivation
“I have a tendency to be ambitious and driven … or idealistic, perhaps, so I need to watch that these tendencies don’t slip into my motivations for ministry. Years ago, I had to pause before starting training for ministry because I needed to sort out the importance of serving God out of freedom and joy, not to somehow make myself more acceptable to God.”
“Given this background, it has been no small thing to experience plans changing and even being blocked. Our family story has involved years of caring for one son with uncontrolled epilepsy, experiencing the death of a daughter with anencephaly and my own episodes of clinical depression and anxiety. The son with epilepsy is now a young man and he needs care with most activities due to intellectual impairment and autism.
“Proverbs 19:21 says that ‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ It seems that I need to keep learning that.
“Along the way, I have had the chance to engage with sections of the Old Testament in depth because of my work in preaching at church and in lecturing at Sydney Missionary and Bible College. The book of Deuteronomy is precious in showing me the lavish graciousness of God’s love and his commitment to doing good for his people, including the way he sets up a society that creates a just and openhanded community.
“The book of Isaiah is important to me. Not only do I find its clever crafting of poetry and story-telling very moving, I keep getting amazed at how God’s intentions to save cannot be stopped. The ways that God saves are surprising in the book. It may be through a little child or a king who looks sick or weak, or even through a foreigner who temporarily carries the title ‘Messiah’. God’s ways are not what we always expect.
“I have also had occasion to sit closely with the book of Job for years. Its vision of creation especially fascinates me. Under the good hand of the Lord, the creation is wild, dangerous, inefficient but endlessly fascinating and beautiful. In a similar way, Ecclesiastes has taught me that there is an intrinsic fragility and transience to life. While this can make us frustrated and sad, it also means that little pleasures and moments of beauty can be received for what they are: fleeting gifts, beyond our control but full of joy and grace.
“Over the years, I’ve come to see that whether we think about creation or God’s story of redemption, God moves toward his world with deep grace. I see this in the Bible and, as I look up, I see it in the world, in his people and in the life that God has brought to me through Jesus.
“At the moment, my wife and I are embarking on a new plan. We would love to start a Christian community for people with disabilities, with an aim to encourage a world where people are drawn to the outsider and the marginalised, where disability is not seen as a mistake, where there is an understanding of God being present in what we might describe as the worst of experiences, and where people grow in their trust of Jesus, through whom God knows the experience of disability more than we might think.
“Of course, yet again, I must learn to hold this plan lightly, knowing that it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”