The Best Gift You Could Give Me

Isn’t a diamond, or a house, or a Jaguar; Diamonds aren’t for ever, I have a sort of house, and the last Jag I had was written off by some mad woman driving too fast and meeting a fox, so I know they ain’t for ever either. When I was listing, in my last blog,  all the near disasters I’ve lived through, I forgot that one!


This was my baby Jag before we met that fox.

Actually, the best gift you could give me isn’t an object and it isn’t spiritual and it isn’t eternal – and anyway I’ve already received it. It’s already lasted for a fabulous, joy -making, fascinating, satisfying, completely engrossing two days  and I think there’s probably another one or two to come. It’s a job! It’s indexing about 400 sermons, making an Xcel document (my first!), physically filing them and then bunging a contents list on each file. Doesn’t sound interesting? You have no idea how exciting it is!

As I typed out those sermon titles, they came flooding back – ‘Practising Stillness’ ‘Sit Stand Walk’ ‘You Can Run But You Can’t Hide’ ‘We Will Have Trouble -Don’t Worry!’ and the one that called me to peace and joy (actually the title of this one is a bit dry) ‘God’s Vision For The Church’.

But it got me! The dry title fronted a great promise of God’s enabling and provision and it called me, like a sweet siren but not to a shipwreck – to a future. It brought me back and back and back to hear more and more. This last couple of days has been like retracing my steps through a wonderland, and it’s made me so conscious of the clear clean oxygen I’ve been breathing, the water of life I’ve been drinking, the bread of heaven that’s been nurturing me, the deep joy that’s lifted me, the hard lessons that have struck home to me, and the growth that God has encouraged in me. Next month I’ll have been at the little red church for 4 years! Four whole years! Wow. God is good and He’s mighty patient.

These 400 sermons are messages from one hard working bloke, over nearly 5 years. 400! The mind boggles. Just entering them on the Mac, what a privilege.

I am not a joiner. When I applied for membership at this church it was huge step for me. The last thing I joined was the Army, when I was 17, back in 1960 something,  five or six. And  I am deffo not a churchy person. The Catholic Church and me had an amicable divorce due to irreconcilable differences, and I can’t stick ritual, I loathe icons and statues and symbols, I don’t want some old priest standing between me and my God, I sometimes swear quite richly and roundly in a desperate attempt to get my point across, and I’m thoroughly stubborn, and a bit reckless, and quite defiant….. and you know what? I love my little red church, and I love being a member, and I love all the bonkers people in its four walls, and yep, tonight I quite love me.

I think it’s called being happy.

That I, me, Luce, should end up happy! Who’da thought it? Hah! You didn’t know me back then, back when.

God is changing me. I’m not changing me. Sod that! I am not changing me one bit but He is. If I decided to change me, what would really change? I’d adopt a slightly different veneer, maybe a slightly shinier one, and I might smile a tad more, and put my head on one side when I ask you if you’re alright (while not caring tooooo deeply). If I decided to change me, what would we end up with? Luce Mark II, the old model with a bit of a make-over to fool the buying public – a new charismatic colour maybe, a quieter engine and a smoother ride, but the mechanics would be just the same, the rust would be silently eating away, the exhaust in my wake would still be toxic. And I’d still hit a fox in the dark.

Thing is, I know me. I know I can’t change myself. That’s not how it works. I can’t change me because I’m delightfully and irrevocably human. Everything I do, even the ‘good’ stuff has me at the heart of it. But when God transforms us, does He do it from the outside to the inside, so that for a while we fool the world? No, He changes us from the inside to the outside. So that there is integrity and wholeness even while we are transforming. That makes us sound like plastic toys, Transformers. I would like to be the one that changes into a Range Rover. Shut up, Luce, concentrate. “Even while we are transforming.’ which suggests that there’s a way to go yet, but in God’s good time….

I can’t fool Him and I can’t fool me, and I’m not even going to try to fool you. I’m a rotten old ratbag with a short fuse and a big ego and I need to be needed and I need to be busy and I need to say ‘I, I, I, I, I’ all the time. But for two days there’s been a really fascinating job to do, to help a very dear friend, and while I’ve done it I’ve been filled with delight, absolutely stuffed with thankfulness.

It’s made me think of a verse in Colossians 2; “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Overflowing with thankfulness. That’s me.

Mind you, listen, all that typing, and looking from the files to the screen, and searching through 400 bloomin’ sermons… two long days…. I’ve got stiff shoulders and a sore neck and my eyes won’t focus properly off the screen and no one understands how I’ve suffered and me, me, me ..and… and….. oh, hang on a minute… I think my halo’s slipping.


Tell you what, it was a mistake posting this photo. Now I really really really want a fag.

Night night

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