I’m not going to edit this. There is no plan. It’s just the overflowing of my heart. Sometime you just have to go with the flow. I want to be open and honest, so what comes, well, that’s what you’ll get.
I was driving back from taking my granddaughter to her home, and on the way the weather had been lousy, the wipers going full pelt, unable to keep up with the cloud burst and the spray from the steady bank holiday (!) stream of traffic, visibility terrible. But now, on the way back, the rain had cleared, the sun was setting in a cloudy sky, and my thoughts were all about words, and teaching, and inspiration. Quite a few thoughts, then.
Today I’ve listened, twice, to a sermon I heard two weeks ago about a simple parable. Does that sound pious and dull? If so, you don’t know me (I’m not pious) and you don’t know our pastor (he ain’t dull) . I wasn’t thinking so much about the focus of the sermon, having spent a chunk of the day on that, but about the gift of communicating truth, of reaching out. Wondering how the hell he had such insight and such skill, and wisdom, and how he’s just so … I dunno.. anyway, wanting a bit of it for me. I suppose I’m still mulling over yesterday’s blog which asked ‘Why am I writing this?’ and “What’s the point?’
I realised that what I’ve often said about this pastor’s teaching is true, and seems to get true-er (sorry) with every passing week; his gifts are clarity, simplicity and depth. Simple and deep. That would seem to be a paradox, but his teaching is like the Bible itself, the more you hear the more you discover, the deeper the truth hits home, the greater the nourishment, and the more wonderful the revelation.
I was thanking God for his teaching, and not just for his – for all the men and women like him, for my pastor in Durban all those years ago, for all the work of God’s spirit in the human heart, for the vitality and power of the Bible thousands of years after it was written. How is it that I, me, bonkers, pig-headed, critical, anti-social, eccentric me has found teaching like this? Teaching that inspires, encourages, enthralls? And how is it that God has humbled me enough so that I listen to it and learn from it and live by it? I mean… ME! What’s happened that I have, at this great age, learned how to ‘trust and obey’? I was, truly, lost in wonder, awe and praise.
I’ve listened to a load of preachers and sometimes they’re thought provoking and sometimes they’re banal, or tedious, or ungifted, you know – all human life is here. I’ve listened to a few ‘greats’ too, wonderful evangelists like Billy Graham, but often – for me, anyway – even the great preachers get in the way of the message. And I loathe the A B C ‘three steps to salvation’ mawkish messages of many. ‘Step up, put yer hand up, slam dunk! Yer done!’ To find true and uncompromising discipleship like we have in our little red church here in Cardigan, wow, my little ducks – that is simply the greatest gift that God could have given me.
The roads over the Preselis (a range of hills in West Wales) are winding but empty, the skies are huge, and the temptation is to put that right foot down and soar. Fly. My little car is old and a bit scruffy but it goes like a bullet. It’s a temptation I sometimes give in to. I ain’t proud, but I ain’t a liar either. I am Mr Toad, vroom vroom! Parp! Parp! Delight.
I accelerated around a bend and glanced in my mirror and suddenly my prayers were stilled. Silenced. Stunned. My foot eased on that pedal. And it wasn’t the sight of a cop car that did it. I drove on to a lay-by and took this photo for you, my friends:
Because ‘The heavens declare the glory of God.’
Because words don’t do what this does.
Because my heart is full to bursting with gratitude and love.
Because my God has been so good to me.
Because life with God is exciting, and challenging.