I’ve been thinking a LOT about my dad lately. As some of you
know, he was in a bad way a few months ago and we nearly lost him, but he’s now
back home and although he’s not fully restored, he’s alive and kicking!
When you nearly lose someone, you get to think about them a whole lot more. The impact they’ve had on you, what they’ve taught you, what impressions they’ve left on you. I’m going to touch on a couple of the most prominent things my dad has taught me.
One day, when I was in my teens, I can’t remember exactly but I hazard a guess at about 14, and for some reason, I had a job to do that needed a ladder. Outside of my parents’ house we had this rather messy area full of stuff, a shed like construction with old car parts and the like, and on the side of this thing – was my ladder. If you ask my dad, I doubt he’d remember this, it was a really average occurrence, but to me it’s a really strong memory.
So, I needed this ladder, but as you may or may not have noticed, I am 5”3, or as I like to say 160 cm tall, as it sounds taller. The ladder was placed on some hooks, hung up horizontally, and it was ALMOST out of my reach but let me tell you, I had to do some serious tippy-toeing to reach it. As I was struggling to reach this thing, I could see my dad out of the corner of my eye, looking at me. He was watching what I was doing, and he was smiling, but he wasn’t intervening. He didn’t come to my rescue.
To some of you, that might sound mean. It might sound, a bit unkind, or unhelpful. But to ME, it was one of the most powerful things, one of the most helpful things he could have done. I LOVE that he didn’t step in. I LOVE that he let me figure it out on my own. I had to struggle, and sweat and reach and probably at that point, swear a bit, but do you know how it ended? I got the ladder down. By myself. And I did so, with a feeling that my dad knew I could do it.
And that lesson, I’ve realised in the last decade or so, is one that has stuck with me. We all know that being an adult is actually a whole lot harder than all those well-meaning people in our pasts told us. They told us about algebra, but not conflict resolution. They told us about nouns, verbs and all the rest of it, but not enough about community spirit and how to learn from each other. There was another thing that happened with my dad was when I first became a Christian. I always thought I knew God, but “I had my own thing” with Him. And then, when I first went to church at long last, after Karen having invited me many times, I got saved and actually got to know Him, and I got to know Jesus, but the one thing I struggled with was the Bible. I thought it was outdated, man-made, judgmental and full of bad stuff. One day, I was talking to my dad on the phone. My dad grew up in a Christian home but certainly hasn’t been a practicing Christian in the last 3.5 decades. When I told him, I had become a Christian he didn’t say much (that’s the kind of guy he is), but when I said to him I wasn’t sure about the Bible because I thought it had so much bad stuff in it, HE was the one who said to me, “it’s got a lot of good stuff in it too”. And because he said that, I started reading it, and it changed my life. Having read the whole Bible I can wholeheartedly say, it has changed my life for the better. And I know it’s going to keep doing exactly that for the rest of my life.
One of the things I took home from the Bible Course Steve Parker delivered a little while ago, was that when the people of Great Britain finally got the Bible translated to their own language, do you know what they did? They flocked to it! They were eager to digest it, to let it change their lives! Why don’t we afford it the time it deserves? Why does Facebook and ‘Homes under the hammer’ seem to be more pressing? How can we expect to hear from God when our Bibles are closed? We just cannot be half-hearted in our efforts to hear from God, because I really believe that is something that can keeps us going at half-speed most of the time. Half-speed is not many gear-changes away from reversing, especially when we live in an uphill-world.
Back in September, when I was about to go into the hospital
room to see my dad after his emergency brain surgery, I had a really well-timed
text from a friend. They asked me, how are things, and I told them I was going
into see dad and I had no idea at this point what I was going to walk into and
this friend sent me a simple text but it was one of the most profound I’ve ever
had. It said
“Christ in you, the HOPE of glory”
Simple. But powerful. I knew it was biblical,
Colossians, 1:27, To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
so it was true and safe, and I took hold of it and brought it into the ward with me. The holy spirit used it to strengthen me. In Christ I always have hope. I know I’m not on my own in this. He is Emmanuel, God with us.
Through the lens of the world, my 20-tens was spent being a
mum, cleaning other people’s houses, and serving pints. That’s what I did with
most of my time, through the last decade. But through the lens of the Bible, I
am a warrior. I’m a 5”3, feisty, loyal, bolshy little Viking, absolutely on
FIRE for building God’s kingdom, and through that very same lens – there’s
nothing you can throw at me that I can’t handle. Because I know that out of the
corner of my eye, my Father is watching me, ready step in when I falter, but
also quite confident that I’ve got more in me than I think I do, and He’s ready
to catch me when I fall. Through Him, I’m a BEAST. Not because of me and the
things I do, but because I invited him into my life and gave him the final say
of who I am. The worst thing we do sometimes is ask him in, only to tell him to
sit down in a corner and shut up. We don’t make him our Lord; we make him our
tea-boy. Well, when we choose to make Jesus our Lord and not a side-line
superstition, something that’s convenient to call on when we’re bored, that’s
when the game starts changing.
And here’s the kicker, if you’re in a place where you’ve maybe stagnated, or plateaued, or just can’t quite see the point in pushing for your faith to grow, I’m begging you to rethink and get to work. There are people in our congregation who need you, we need your story, we need you to be the person that we trust, who can give us a little golden nugget like “the Bible has good things in it too”. We need your experience. We need to hear about your failures, your victories, your times of perseverance. If that sounds easier said than done, then I urge you to pray for that to happen. Pray for God to deepen your faith, to make you bold enough to share, to make you aware that you are one of the flock. When God told us in Matthew 18 that he’s the kind of God that goes after that one lost sheep, I believe that there’s an assumption that the flock of the remaining 99 is a safe place to be. If you look around you here at RK on a Sunday morning and see too many new faces for your comfort, I suggest you look at them as people who need you. And if you’re a new Christian here, I urge you to start building relationships with people who are a bit further into the map than you, they will help you avoid some of the bumps in the road if you listen to them. We need each other to do this, because the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. So, bearing in mind he is with us, and for us, let’s get to work.
I’ll finish with a quote from John Bunyan,
“Run John, run!” the law commands, but gives us neither feet, nor hands.
Far greater news the gospel brings, it bids us fly and gives us wings.