You know that moment when you see anew how tiny and irrelevant and inconsequential you are in the great scale of things? You must have those moments, it can’t just be me… can it? Well, anyway, I just had one of those moments. To disgracefully and shamelessly paraphrase Paul from Romans 7, I realised that I want to do loads of good and essential stuff, but I can’t manage it. Instead of doing all the lovely useful stuff that I want to do, I’m only any good (sort of) at writing… which is stuff that no one really needs.
And I want to be needed. Relevant. Vital. Superwoman!
You don’t need this blog. You don’t! And it gets worse – this afternoon I learned that some of the things I thought I was quite good at, felt quietly confident about, I’m actually rubbish at, and no one wants them. Once again my irrelevance as a 70 year old woman hits me like a slap in the face with a wet fish. Cold, shocking and a bit smelly.
Church is a great place for learning how crap you are.
But here’s the thing my little doodle-pips; there is a very precious and life transforming balance to be struck. As a Christian I must equably and humbly accept that in the trillions and scillions (?) of people who have lived and will live on this planet, I am no more able or vital than any other. No more valued or loved than any other. And here’s the balance… hang on… here it comes …. I am no less able, vital, valued or loved than any other.
So stick that in your pipe and smoke it! Like most people I find it so easy to believe that I am much less valued and loved than any other. But that ain’t true and to say it is.. well, that’s saying that God’s love isn’t perfect. And it is bloomin’ well is.
Christ died for me. That’s how special I am, matey! And Christ died for you, that’s how special you are, my friend! So, all we have to do now is strike a healthy balance between being just one speck of sand in a whole desert of the stuff, with being the most precious creature that God could die for, a fabulous jewel encrusted peacock perhaps, or a marble shimmering unicorn, or a soft hearted, flawed and wonderful human being.
If you think you’re unloved and unwanted, then when someone says to you “You’re no good at this”, you are going to crumple. Heck! You’re even less loved and valued than you thought you were! How low can you get?
In the book of Job, one of his terrible comforters got it totally wrong when he said
How then can a mortal be righteous before God?
How can one born of woman be pure?
If even the moon is not bright
and the stars are not pure in his eyes,
how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—
a human being, who is only a worm!”
We are not maggots. Maggots are maggots. We are beloved of God.
If you know, at the outset, really properly understand that you are loved so much that God give up His all, became sin for you, then you can listen and say “Oh! I didn’t know I was crap at that. Thank you for telling me.” and you can really really mean it!
Being loved means you don’t have to be perfect. Being loved means you can give yourself a break. Being loved means that when you hear hard truths, they land lightly. Or a bit lightly. Or without actually reducing you to a self pitying wreck.
As you’ll have gathered, I’m reading Job at the moment. Ploughing through him and loving every minute. When his mates have filed in with their false comfort and skewed opinions, he gets a bit irate and he says, with heavy sarcasm, “What wonderful advice you’ve given to a mixed-up man! What amazing insights you’ve provided! Where in the world did you learn all this? How did you become so inspired?”
Hah! Sock it to ’em, Job. I love Job. I love his wit and his anger and honesty. And guess what, God loves him too! After Job’s been ranting and raving against his friends (hurrah!) he turns his wrath on God (boo!) but at the end of it all God blesses him. I think He blesses him for his honesty, his open-ness, his broken-ness. And because God loves even the confused and impatient and cross, like me.
This is why you should belong to a church, my friends. If you’re Christian, you need to belong to a fellowship – you can call it a church or the Way or a movement, call it what you like. It can be plain and simple, or bells and whistles and robes…. doesn’t matter. You need other Christians around you, people who love you enough to ride to the rescue when you’re tired or defeated or about to go down a steep incline with no brakes. People who will talk to you in love and remind you that you’re just one tiny grain of sand in a world full of oceans and beaches, but that you’re also so precious that God will never leave you, never forsake you. People who will come in with real insight and not give you facile answers nor judge you. People you can trust to speak in gentle honesty. I was church-less for over 30 years and in those years there was no one to get to know me, get to understand me, see what struggles I was having and where I needed help… there was just me. It’s a bit like these writers who ‘make it’ and decide that they will produce and direct their own scripts. Disaster! They stop growing. Look at Dennis Potter’s work when he started directing his own scripts…. he slipped backwards. We need another pair of eyes looking at us. We need another perspective.
I’m glad that I’m as irrelevant as a grain of sand and yet as loved as a child of God. I am. And I’m grateful for fellowship, for bods who will come alongside and just be there.
I had a phone call from someone today who was very distressed and, after hearing some terrible news, was angry with God. I am so very glad that I’ve been reading Job, because I knew better than to offer any answers, any platitudes, I just listened and then, as the conversation moved on and I shared something that had intrigued me in Job, she was reminded of a verse that means a lot to her, Job 19:25-27 and she shared her insight. And so we met, there in the Word in that difficult moment.
Hah! God’s Word, a true comforter.
You know what? I think that God has led me to read Job and to wrestle with the ups and downs of all his arguments, because in the last two weeks I have been with SO many people who are going through a hard time. God knew they were coming up and that I would need help to know how to react. God knew! Who’da thought it?
Hey, I must just tell you… one of the members of the writers’ club (you know who you are) let it slip today that when she reads my blog she is overawed at how quickly I write it. I was puzzled. The other writers’ club member was puzzled. I don’t write these blogs quickly. “Yes.” she said “Where it says, at the bottom or the top, how long it’s taken you to write it….”
She wrote that in two minutes? I must find this woman and marry her.