Or is it?
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the mileage on my car had crept above twenty thousand. This is a concern because when I got the car it was at ten thousand so I’ve done another ten thousand in just two months. And my annual mileage on my insurance is exactly that. I phoned the insurance company to increase my mileage allowance. “I’ve done ten thousand miles already” I said. The nice bloke on the other end said, with a huge question in his voice “Ten thousand miles in 8 weeks?” “Yep” ses I. “Are you sure?” he says? “Oh, yep.” ses I.
Him: Have you been touring Europe?
Me: No. Just, you know, down to the beach and up to Tesco… oh and a friend is 12 miles away and I see her three times a week.
Him: (after a pause) I don’t think you could have done ten thousand miles, madam.
Me: I have! I know it seems mad, but I have!
Him: Could you just check the mileage again? I’ll hold on….
Me: (peeved) It’s raining. I’m telling you…
Him: It would be a shame to charge you more –
Me: (exasperated) Oh, well… OK then. Hang on.
So I went out in the rain, started the engine, checked it. And, of course, I was absolutely indubitably, obviously, right. Back inside, pick up the phone:
Me: (triumphant) There you go – I’m right. It says twenty thousand two hundred and thirty eight miles.
Him: (distracted) One moment, madam. (voices in background) Hello… Madam?
Me: I’ve just thought, do you think there’s something wrong with the mileage thing?
Him: I’ve just spoken to a colleague. Erm…. he suggests… erm.. we think… do you think it might not be twenty thousand miles but just two?
Me: (amused, indignant) Two miles? Give over- it’s more than that to the beach and I do that every day.
Him: (very patient now, as to an obstinate infant) Not two miles. Two thousand. Could you look to see if there’s a decimal point in the mileage read-out?
Me: A what?
And of course there was. It didn’t say 20,238 miles, just two thousand and twenty three miles point stupid eight. Apparently sticking a dot in it makes all the difference. I may have got those numbers wrong. Something like that.
I bet he laughed about that all day. So did I. I don’t get numbers. They’re just plain bloody silly. They don’t make sense. When it’s my turn to count the offering in church I just count the notes and my counting partner does all the clever adding up stuff. Occasionally he thrusts a calculator at me but it never works out, so he’s given up on that and I sign my name, job done. I can trust you with that story because I can laugh at me with you. I trust you with that story because it shows my weakness but doesn’t lay bare my heart. Most of my stories about me don’t lay bare my heart. They invite you to share a smile, have a chuckle at my expense, along with me. My life has been, and continues to be, funny.
Here’s the thing, though – it’s been suggested that I write a book about my relationship with God. The idea of putting emotions and longing and all that stuff into words is hard enough, the notion of conveying the indescribable, unworded limited understanding I have of God, is something else. But even if those problems could be surmounted, can I trust you with my heart? Can I? If I try to write about my relationship with God, you’ll see the true Luce. Can I trust you with her? You can have the hopeless-at-sums Luce, the drive-too-fast Luce, the swear-a-bit Luce, the clumsy, silly, daydreaming Luce. But the Luce that God knows? Can I trust you with her?
When you read my stuff, you don’t need to ask ‘Is this true?’ because I’ve never had time for lying. I just can’t see the point of it. I’m not a saint, not a virtuous person, I just have never seen the point in being dishonest, in much the same way that I can’t see the point of cosmetic surgery or stamp collecting or mud wrestling. They’re all pointless activities which do the world no good, and just add to mankind’s catalogue of foolishness. So, long before I was a Christ follower, and not for any moral reasons at all, I stopped the childish stupidity of lying. What you get from me might be crap but at least it’s honest crap.
One of the problems I have with the society I find myself in just now, is the veneer of love and kindness. Sometimes it’s more than a veneer but often it’s just that – skin deep, a shiny acceptable patina, something resulting from all our lifetimes of saying the right thing in the right circumstance, the words that will grease our social interaction. A society in which people who can’t stand me smile sweetly and even give me a hug. And I am part of that society, returning the hug, smiling in response. Liar, liar, pants on fire. I may not tell lies in words but society demands that I act them out.
Is deceit and secrecy in our DNA? Is this what keeps us from true Godliness? Are we, through and through and in our very nature, private, shut off, self-protecting, solitary beings? Recently I wrote to a lonely young man
I do believe this. I may be wrong but I believe it. I believe that we can lose our essential aloneness and allow ourselves to be totally honest and open only when we turn to God. So is there any point in trying to tell you about my relationship with Him? And, with the things that I can share, can I trust you? Are you any more reliable than I am? Or are we all in the stew together? If I show you my faltering, stumbling, rebellious and joyful self, with all my contradictions, will you forgive me for being me, or will you hold it all against me? And worse, much worse, will my inability to communicate a relationship with God in some way open Him to ridicule?
Is it impossible or arrogant or foolish to try to write about a relationship with God?
Is a relationship with God something that we should talk about, or something that should remain intimate, intensely private? Can I write about something that dear to me, that vital and stay honest? If I write about my love for God… Oh, man…. Am I that brave? Is it even right to be that brave? Who the hell am I to talk about God anyway?
And yet I long to.
Jeremiah 9 (The Message version)
“Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom.
Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits.
Don’t let the rich brag of their riches.
If you brag, brag of this and this only:
That you understand and know me.
I’m God, and I act in loyal love.
I do what’s right and set things right and fair,
and delight in those who do the same things.
These are my trademarks.”
So, should I brag? I wonder…… to brag or not to brag…..