They are the famous words of Violet Bott (in ‘Just William’, you ignoramuses)
I gave someone really really good advice to a pal yesterday. I said… hang on, I’ll find the email and do a cut-and-paste jobbie:
I’m worried you’re reaching a sort of tipping point….. you are in big need, my darling chum, of standing still, listening, waiting on God. No rushing around, no trying to sort it, no arguing or discussion, just calm stillness. ‘Look to the Rock from which you were cut.’
Stop looking at all the things that have gone or are going horribly wrong. Look to Jesus.
Give yourself a break. You don’t have to sort it.
Hold on. Don’t do or say anything that will hurt, even if it’s absolutely right and you’re totally justified in saying it.
Rest . Be still. Wait.
Fabulous advice, eh? Tonight I need to give it to someone else.
Me. Oh, yes, wise words for Luce, that mad and difficult woman. Big time.
Tonight I am hanging on by the skin of my teeth. I think I’ve told you before about a friend’s email that I’ve printed off and stuck on my Mac… that email is ‘the skin of my teeth’. That’s the tiny tiny thing that’s keeping me from pressing the big red button labelled ‘self-destruct’. They are the words of encouragement and warning that are keeping me from doing and saying some very silly, and very wrong things.
It doesn’t matter what my gripe is, because I have no right to gripe at all. The gripe is irrelevant. The state of my soul is the problem.
But hell’s bells, and buckets of blood…. I want to lay about me with a flame thrower. I want to desolate the meadow I live in, chop down the trees of the forest, dam up the river, burn down the barns, slam doors and throw myself down kicking and screaming like the worst three year old you have ever met. Thcweaming and thcweaming.
I want to ruin my life, burn my boats, blow up my bridges and walk away. That’ll bloody well show them.
The ‘I want! Me! Me! Me! ‘ of a furious infant.
But the sad truth is that even if I did all these things, no one would notice. The swines! (oh, lighten up, it’s a joke. Sort of) So I won’t bother. I’ll do what I said so sagaciously yesterday, I’ll look to the Rock from which I am cut.
And as I was trying to do just that, a verse grabbed me, cuffed my ears lightly and told me to sit down and button it: It’s the first verses of Psalm 34, and it’s both an encouragement and a reproach (like that email stuck on my Mac) ‘I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.’ Do I? At all times? I might manage a few snatched moments of praise, between tantrums, slammed doors and self-righteous indignation but ‘at all times’ is pushing it.
The next verse is lovely; ‘I will glory in the Lord, let the afflicted hear and rejoice.’ That makes me think of my sick friend, who is so frail and ill that it’s hard for her to rejoice, but when we talk about Jesus together, her breathing calms, her eyes twinkle, and she begins to smile where before there was only pain. I can take her a picnic to tempt her, or a book to read to her, or some silly story to pass the long hours, but when we talk about, and glory in, our great God, that’s when I know we’re on the right track.
We laugh a lot, my sick chum and me. It’s almost impossible to be indignant or self righteous, or even hurt, when you’re laughing. It’s hard to be afraid when you’re laughing. It’s easy to forget pain, and the sounds of the hospital, the bleep-bleep of alarms and the crash of trolleys, when you’re laughing. But it’s also very very easy to love God in laughter. In joy.
I think we need to remember that when we glory in God, we make life easier for those around us.
‘I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.’
It’s a choice. Spoilt child or joyful disciple? Which am I going to opt for?
Hmmm. Hard choice.