I was watching Master Chef, not really engaged, just mindlessly resting my eyes on the TV screen, the voice-over as muffled as waves on the shore, when a vague thought surfaced: friends are going away for the weekend soonish. Is it this weekend? The sight of a perfectly cooked piece of venison had reminded me of a meal, and that had reminded me of a restaurant, from there it was but a tiny step to a hotel, and that had nudged me towards weekends away, and then there I was… thinking about my friends who may or may not have been at that very moment sitting down to a lovely meal in new surroundings. Our minds are amazing – so many micro synapses leaping across neurotransmitters, images playing out on the retina of the mind, so that I saw them both, dear faces, aware of their influence on my life, feeling affection and concern …. and all this, all this… involuntary and without words. In a split second. A split second of a split second. It’s amazing!
Amazing and a blessing, and when you feel blessed, you pray. Don’t you? I stepped into a short prayer (I’m a short-prayer kinda soul) saying simply “Whatever they’re doing, wherever they are, will you please let them know your love and presence right at this very minute?’
And you know what happened? I knew His love and His presence. Right there. It just overwhelmed me. No more Master Chef, no more empty head, but a great inpouring, a lavishing, an awareness of God and of His reality.
It was so all-consuming that I had to turn the box off and come to this blog. I doubt if I’ll post this tonight because it’s a big, heavy, rich and sumptuous thing I want to say, too big and heavy for my bad shoulders and aching elbows (don’t be a writer, it buggers up your arms) and, anyway, I blogged yesterday and you deserve a rest.
I’m giving myself an impossible task, but it’s an exciting one too, and a compulsion. I want to tell you why I believe that Jesus Christ is God, alive and in my life. I want to tell you how I know that the Bible is His living word. I want to tell you about my experience with God and to show you, maybe just a glimpse, of how He fills and fulfils life.
Easy peasy, Ebeneezy.
Am I a gullible kinda person? A soppy ‘say the right thing and keep everyone happy’ kinda cove? No. I could do with being a bit soppier.
Am I desperate to believe in heaven because I’m terrified of dying into nothing? That’s never worried me. If there is nothing there, there is nothing to fear, but I know better now.
Do I look for movements to join? Hardly, I joined the Army at 17 because I was homeless and I didn’t join anything else (not even a book club) until I was 67 – and that was membership of a Baptist Church. For me, revolutionary.
This isn’t the testimony of a deeply churched and traditional Christian. It’s an exploration of what God has meant to a woman who spent her whole life being spiky, shut-off, sharp, awkward, rebellious and cynical. A woman who didn’t automatically believe anyone when they said anything (still doesn’t). A writer who looks for subtext (still does) and see the games people play (I see you, you stinkers!) and is extremely impatient with social hypocrisy (still is). Because of this I will make a real effort to avoid subtext, I won’t manipulate your emotions, and I will always be truthful. OK?
Can I prove anything I’m about to say to you? No. But God can. I can show you only what God has done in my life, and whether you believe that or not… not my problem.
I want to start by telling you about a dream I had several years ago: I have very vivid dreams and this one was unusual, nothing like a run-of-the-mill nightmare, or the confused nonsense-dreams we all have. This was quiet and stealthy and will never, I think, leave me. Imagine this: I’m sitting on the floor, in a large stately corridor, the ceiling high, the floor cold marble. My back is against a wall and to my right there’s a door. I’m waiting to be executed. To be beheaded. I know this, I’m calm and still but there’s a sort of silent terror there at the same time. An inner deadness and dull fear. Any minute now. There’s no thought of escape, only inevitability. This gracious palace is hushed, but I’m aware of distant movement, as if there are people out of sight, normal life continuing, while I wait. My life worthless, so I wait. The silence is heavy. After several minutes, time frozen, I hear the soft whisper of slippered feet, behind the door, slip-slipping…. a woman’s footsteps…. a very faint sense of murmurs, almost too faint to be a sound…. and then the unmistakeable tinkle of a teaspoon in a saucer. An echo of life. I wait.
That dream seemed so real that I believe I know what it is to wait to be beheaded in a marble palace while, just behind a doorway, golden tea is poured into fine china cups. The dream, my dear ole bloggies, was real. Because I can still see it and remember every image of it, it still is real. But it never happened. I will never confuse the dream with the reality. It’s important to me that you understand right now, at the outset, that what I am going to tell you about my experience with Jesus is not a dream. It is not a strong image, not a trick of the mind, of imagery and of dreams. I will never underestimate the power of the human mind to imagine wonderful stories and scenes, but because I am so aware of this creative power, I will at every turn establish that Jesus is more than wishful thinking. I’ve not been fooled by the Gospel. I’ve tested it and I know it’s true. Relax, I won’t ever try to fool or convince you. I’m just going to tell it like it is. Take it or leave it. Up to you.
Hang on. As I was writing that, I realised what this means. Bother.
I think that I have to write not a blog but a book.
Bother. I don’t want to write a book. And the weird thing is that the friends I was thinking of (para 1, remember?) are the ones who are nagging me to write one.
Sometimes these rotten synapses play a trick on you. Beware.
Really, bother. Big time.
This isn’t the blog I was going to write, either. How strange. Do I delete it or post it anyway? Do you want to see inside my mind?
Well. You just have. Is this the way you think, one thought hitching a ride on another, a notion ambushing you, your awareness turned inside out?
I think this evening’s writing is done. I need to think about this. Maybe a book beckons after all. Oh, triple bother. What a pain.