This is the first time I’ve written a blog and been unsure if I will ever post it. But I need to write it, at least. Whether its posted or not…. well, are you reading it?
Last night I went to bed early and, unusually, instead of a shower I took a long lovely bath. I do love a bath, and although I’m not into lighting candles or reading as I soak, I enjoy the luxury of bath oils, with music playing in the distance… ahhhh. I top up the water and top it up and top it up, until I am a prune. But last night I didn’t linger. I noticed something I haven’t thought about much for ages… on the inside of my left leg, just below the knee, is a small silver disc of satin skin. It’s the diameter of a cigarette. And it sent me hurtling back through the years. I remember when it happened, but it was a confused scene of tears and urgency and I don’t remember which one of two men did it. 60 years ago, or thereabouts, one Saturday afternoon, I was flat on my back, crying and fighting, trying to wriggle away, and one of these two big strong men, panicking that my cries would be heard, stupidly, madly, idiotically, stubbed his fag out on my leg. What did he think it would achieve? Immediate silence? How can anyone be so thick? I remember screaming, I remember the tears and snot and fear from me, but also the raw fear and panic and confusion of those two men. I can’t remember what happened next. I know that they will have found some explanation for my Aunty when I was taken back to her house (what? what could these two fools possibly say that was in any way credible?) but I know now, as I think I always knew at one level, that she was complicit, that she chose to believe their explanations, chose to ignore my distress.
Job 20 talks about the sinful man
Though evil is sweet in his mouth
and he hides it under his tongue,
though he cannot bear to let it go
and lets it linger in his mouth,
yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;
it will become the venom of serpents within him.
That’s it! What a jewel of a truth. We know the consequence of sin, but we love it so much we do it anyway. There must have been some part of those two men that knew they were sinking deeper and deeper in the mire, but they just couldn’t tear themselves away.
My Uncle and his friend that day, wanted to do what they wanted to do, regardless of the consequences. And then when it seemed that a consequence (discovery) might ruin everything, they made it even worse. It’s always been that way: Adam and Eve, our pattern, didn’t just want to be as knowing as God, they acted out that desire, they disobeyed and then to make sure that they really were in the shit, big time, they hid. But even that wasn’t quite enough so they lied….. and then they blamed each other.
Man, we are layer upon layer of sin. Why are we so loved? Because God is love, that’s why. Nothing to do with us.
Sin, wickedness, perversion, deviousness, whatever we call it in our culture, is inevitably stupid. We sort of know it. By the time we’re teenagers we know that lies and evil just ruin our life, BUT WE DO IT ANYWAY.
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Sin wrecks life. Fact.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Proverbs 5:22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
Choose sin over God’s way and it’s going to end in tears, not because God wants to smite you mightily and torture you for eternity, but because there are laws of nature… laws like gravitation, matter and light. They simply are. There is no reasoning with them, drop an egg from head height and you will see them all… no amount of bargaining will change what’s going to happen; Gravity, matter and light. Fact.
Did that cigarette burn wreck my life? Well, it didn’t do it a lot of good but no, it didn’t wreck my life. It wasn’t my sin. Did it wreck the life of the man or men who did it? I’m sure, absolutely certain, that it did. They lived in guilt, like Adam hiding from God, like Adam lying to protect themselves, like Adam torn from a peaceful loving life with God. My Uncle was forever scheming, lying, manipulating to get an afternoon alone with me, or with his friends and me. His fear of discovery made him angry and blustering, a non-Catholic with a lapsed Catholic wife (a rarity then, a mixed marriage) he turned up at Mass several times – was he looking for forgiveness? If he was, it didn’t last long. The night before me and my brother left his house for ever, my Uncle managed to get me alone. A few years later, in his early 50’s, he dropped dead in the cage taking him down to the coal face.
I wonder if he ever turned to God? It would be so wonderful if he did. Jesus died for him, just as he died for me, and he loves us both the same, values us both the same. I have a friend who tells me sometimes, quoting from Psalm 139 ‘you are wonderful’.
The actual phrase in the Psalm is I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
and his contention is that I am a work of God and so no matter how stupid I am, I am somehow wonderful. It’s taken me some years to understand that my Uncle, too, and his friends, were wonderful works of God and he loved/loves them.
If Uncle Alf was here now, what would I say to him? I would say ‘Hey, listen. Jesus loves you. You are his precious jewel.’ My heart is touched, my soul heavy, when I think that maybe, just maybe, no one ever told him that. Poor man. Poor, poor lost man.
If no one has ever told you that you are loved, mightily and perfectly, listen to your old Aunty Luce. You are loved with an eternal unfailing love. You are precious in God’s sight. Don’t be lost, don’t be alone, feel the love.
God’s way is good. Man’s way is not. God’s way has the natural consequence of joy and peace, and man’s way is a heart attack in a dark place, heading towards the bowels of the Earth, full of guilt and shame. Poor man.