Blessings #164 – A Story about a word

Stories can have a number of beginnings, but this story starts in a very traditional way, a homely way, a familiar way. Some of the best stories do.

Once upon a time, in a land not that far from here a Servant middling-in-age was walking along with his Master. They often walked this way, but not as often as the Servant would like.

During a day of unfamiliar weather the Master turned to the Servant and said – “I have a treasure for you to find”

“I treasure, really” said the Servant excitedly “what kind of a treasure”.

“This is no ordinary treasure” said the Master “it is not gold, or silver. It’s not even made of precious stones, but it is beyond all worldly wealth. No one could buy this treasure and keep it to themselves.”

Excited by the thought the Servant was now beaming from ear to ear. All sorts of thoughts were flashing through his mind – what kind of treasure could this be?

The Master continued “This treasure is small, very small actually, and yet is great in stature”

The Servant’s heart sank a little. He didn’t really like guessing games. His wife liked guessing games, but they just made him feel a bit dim.

The Master wasn’t playing guessing games though; he was talking about an adventure, a voyage, a discovery.

And so the Master continued “This treasure is already in plain view; it’s out in the open for everyone to see. Be careful though, sometimes it’s not really the treasure at all that’s there, sometimes it’s fools treasure.”

This still sounded like a guessing game to the Servant and he was feeling a bit dim.

The Master knew his thoughts and so he started to make himself very plain indeed “The treasure that I am giving you is a word. Only a small word, but a mighty and powerful word. I will reveal this word to you in a new way and write it into your heart. You’ll see this word in places you’ve never seen before and it will shout out at you. When it doesn’t shout, be careful because it’s not the real word, it’s a foolish use of this mighty word when people really mean a smaller easier more cosy word.” And still the Master continued “This word is also an unforgiving word, it doesn’t allow compromise and you certainly can’t shrink it or put it in your pocket.”

The servant wondered when it was going to stop being a guessing game and turn into something else.

At the moment the Servant had a panic “What if I do forget the word, what if I lose the treasure?”

The Master concluded “The treasured word that I am giving you is fortunately very easy to remember. Let me spell it for you, are you ready: The first letter is A as in Apple, the second is L as in Lion and the third is the same as the second”

“A.L.L -’All’ is that it. A.L.L.” thought the Servant to himself, he was far too polite to speak it out, even though he knew the Master could read his mind.

In due course the Servant did indeed see the treasure and it was in plain view so why hadn’t he seen it before?

And so the walk ended and the journey began.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive 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.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1

Blessings #159 – Thursday Morning Breakfast

Most Thursday mornings I go to a friends house for breakfast where three of us get together for a chat and a pray.

There’s no agenda, there’s no pressure, there’s no expectations even, we even overrun the scheduled time – breakfast, chat, pray that’s about as detailed as it gets. But or all their informality those times are so very special indeed, wonderful actually.

There are things I can say in those times that I can say in few other places.

There are feelings that i can reveal without fear of being judged or fixed.

It’s a wonderful safe place where I get to spend some time with some special friends.

In a world of face, pretence, uncertainty, perception, marketing, change, chatter, selfishness, disruption, one-up-man-ship and front it’s a time and a place that I find I increasingly need.

I believe that true worth isn’t found in the clammering of the masses, but in the day-to-day love of the few.

Blessings #156 – Crossing the Chasm of Inadequacy

Sometimes these posts come quickly as if my brain has suddenly gone into download mode – I’ve been working on this one since April 2010.

After 7 months I hope it’s well matured.

PathIn the spring Sue and I, along with some friends, went on a quiet day at Scargill House. This lovely place of retreat is near to the picturesque Yorkshire Dales village of Kettlewell.

Sometimes we do quiet days on our own, but on other occasions it’s good to join a lead quiet day where someone brings thoughts and reflections for the rest of us to contemplate. This time we were very privileged to have Adrian and Bridget Plass leading.

One of the thoughts from the day has been with me since that points. It was a challenge to be obedient:

Are you willing to be obedient by crossing the chasm of inadequacy because that’s where adventure lies.

I have a strong urge to be in control of situations and for people to think the best of me. If I feel inadequate in a situations I’m very uncomfortable, part of my drivenness is a need to avoid situations where I feel inadequate.

At the same time I have, for years, had a sense that God has been calling me to do some public speaking. Something that made me feel thoroughly inadequate. As you might imagine I wasn’t exactly pursuing this calling with much vigour.

Thankfully, God is patient.

I do a reasonable amount of presenting with my job, but this isn’t public speaking. Presenting is different, because over the years I have made sure that I am the expert in any situation where I might be speaking. There’s no chance of me feeling inadequate – a make sure of it. The problem for me with public speaking, particularly in a church context, is that there’s always someone who is more expert than you are.

The very thought of the lack of control required to speak in public made me nervous.

Thankfully, God is a healer.

The challenge to “cross the chasm” came within the context of being the people that God has made us to be, more specifically, for Graham to be the person God has made him to be.

One of my roles at church is to help lead a ministry called Celebrate Recovery. The tagline for Celebrate Recovery is to find freedom from life’s hurt, hang-ups and habits. Starting with my deep seated need for people to always think the best of me I’ve been on a journey of healing. This hasn’t been a quick journey, actually, I suppose it’s taken nearly three years to get me to this point. It’s been a journey of healing; being healed to be more like the person that God made me to be.

So, following the quiet day I took the first step across the chasm and volunteered to be involved in a series of talks about Life’s Healing Choices which is based on the Celebrate Recovery material.

The second step concluded this Sunday when I finished the second of two public speaking engagements.

Thankfully, God is faithful.

I can’t say I wasn’t nervous, but I can say that I wasn’t crippled with nerves.

I can’t say that I didn’t over worry the talks and have some moments when I wondered what on earth I was doing, but I can say that I saw it through.

I can’t even say that I’ve crossed this particular chasm.

Thankfully, God is love and grace.

because that’s where adventure lies.