A memorable poem by Rudyard Kipling begins: ‘If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you’. It was written in the form of paternal advice to the poet’s son, John and was published in 1910. It encourages “a stiff upper lip” self-discipline. Soon after publication John was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Many recognize the poem today. The second stanza reads: ‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same,’ and is written on the wall of the players’ entrance to the Wimbledon Centre Court at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
In the Holy Bible there is a significant line which starts with the word ‘If.’ It is one of the great texts of the Bible, that has continuing relevance to the people of God: ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7v14). This is not a call to having a stiff upper lip, but to re-orientate our lives in line with God’s will.
The instructions continue to be relevant to today’s church. God’s people are special to Him and chosen to bear His image in the world i.e. reflect His character of being righteous, just and merciful. If we number ourselves amongst Christ’s people then we must put a stop to our sins, turn away from living lives of proud self-centeredness, pray to the Lord and submit our desires to His word as we seek to do His will. Then, He will grant a heaven-sent revival.
The words of promised restoration remind us that problems in our church and nation can’t be solved by human means. We need divine intervention to restore the church and our nation. Jesus said, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15v50). Our prayer life is a barometer of our spiritual health, as it shows whether we truly depend on Jesus or live independently from him. During September we have an opportunity to be part of a prayer initiative in preparation for the autumn.
Will you be part of this? I hope so!