Tonight my house smells of rebellion. Delicious rebellion. A rebellion as loud as my bright, defiantly pink front door and as silent. A solitary, strangely serene rebellion safely tucked away behind a solid door.
What’s the smell of rebellion? Easy – newly baked cake, red wine and cigarette smoke. A good Christian aroma.
This morning I was a bit late on the stormy beach, past 8. We dodged the rain and I enjoyed a wonderful hour and a bit trudging between the trees and flotsam brought in by the storms. Trudge and pray. Prayer can become a refuge that we don’t want to leave but I’ve learned that my prayers can slip into self-indulgence, and then they stop being about God, and become all about me and how I feel. And anyway, I had a few bits and bobs to do in church.
I should explain that there are a few things weighing heavy on my soul just now.
I went into town but ran into two people and my voice was strangled and I couldn’t even crack a smile, so I quickly got away from them, ran an errand and then – furious with myself- hurried home to …..
What had I hurried for? Nothing to write, nothing to do, no one to talk to, everyone too busy, no purpose. And having no purpose is crap, my chicks, especially when you’ve just stood by the crashing dramatic waves, committing the day to God, surrendering the big worry consuming your thoughts, asking only that the rest of the day will glorify Him
Home again, home again, jiggetty jig. It’s a real pain in the neck when the door closes behind you, and you’re all alone and wham! all the neatly packaged surrendered stuff comes crashing back, uninvited, onto your fed-up shoulders.
What will I do with the empty hours?
I could go to bed. No one would care or know. I could!
I could dwell on how rude I was to those two people, and how useless I am, and get sucked into the old familiar bog of self-hatred…..
I could wallow in misery and really enjoy it. Or…. or…..
So I gave myself a sharp dig in the ribs and started to make a cake as I listened to David Suchet reading the book of Esther. Esther… have you read it recently? It’s my first time and I learned a few things, and puzzled over a lot more things, and then David’s reading ran over from Esther into Job and I was busy clearing up so I let him carry on and then wham! (again). There it was! Luce’s lesson for the day: Eliphaz the Temanite said to poor old Job
“Think how you have instructed many,
how you have strengthened feeble hands.
Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
it strikes you, and you are dismayed.
Should not your piety be your confidence
and your blameless ways your hope?”
And I stood there, with my hands in the washing up water (my old cookery teacher drummed into us to clear up as we go along and I am obedient. Haha) and I thought about the people I’ve spoken to this week, people in trouble, people who are very sick, people who are lost, and I remembered how I listened, trying not to be a Job’s comforter, not offering facile ‘wisdom’, instead trying to be a peace maker, unshocked by what they said, not judging, or disapproving. How, hearing them, I remembered the words of Jesus ‘In this life you will have troubles.’
As I listened to David Suchet reciting the empty platitudes of Job’s trite friends, it was as if God Himself was saying to me ‘But now this trouble comes to you and you are discouraged?”
And you know what? I thought “Sod it. No. I am not discouraged. I am ENcouraged. I am encouraged because I am a child of God and every day He is my companion, every day He teaches me more and more.”
Once a year, probably, I buy a pack of 20 fags and keep them in my baking drawer, and they last the whole 12 months (OK, I might bum one occasionally but so few people smoke these days, it’s hardy worth mentioning). Today there were none left in the drawer so I walked down to the village shop and paid far too much for some tubes of dried and shredded leaves.
When I came back, I took the cake out of the oven and left it to fill the air with its sweetness, I poured a glass of red wine, I lit a fag and I said to myself (said I) “In this world I will have trouble, but I can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world. Even my world.”
The Bible is enough, always enough, but sometimes God adds a little mini-sabbath to recover our strength. Sometimes it’s a pious and serene sabbath, but sometimes it’s a tiny surprising delicious rebellion of a sabbath. For me, today, God’s words, via a long dead Temanite (a chap from Temania?) some cheap wine, a couple of fags, and a lump of cake have helped to mend a bruised heart. At least for today.
Yesterday I had a great, wonderful, rousing email from a friend, and I would like to share it with all of you who have troubles of your own. Whatever those troubles are, whether they’re from outside you, or a struggle with addiction or illness, or temptation… whatever your trouble is, here’s a wonderful prayer, and I’m saying it right now for you, all of you. You ready? Step into this golden prayer with me. Here we go:
May you know the Prince of Peace in this moment
and may His Holy Spirit bring you strength and comfort.
This is out of your hands, but not out of His.