unwelcome epiphanies

Last night I had an unwelcome epiphany. I woke up at about 4am with my brain processing all of the sermon preparation I had been doing yesterday. I am exploring 1 Corinthians 2

It's dangerous to wake some people

in our evening service and have been struggling to find an overarching narrative that makes sense of the passage. I had delved deep into the passage with the help of commentaries and prayer and had a sense that I understood what Paul was saying to the church in Corinth (and us) in each verse but there was still an unease in my mind that I had not really made sense of the passage as a whole.

Obviously my subconscious had been processing this while I slept and then, thankfully, I awoke with a concept in my mind that I felt brought the passage alive – even in the fog of waking up at 4am! I managed to kick myself out of bed and stumbled downstairs so I could record those thoughts before trying to get back to sleep. Thankfully (again) this morning the writing is sufficiently legible and coherent for me to be able to understand it and I think make better sense of the passage.

Isn’t the human mind an amazing thing? It can process things even when we are unconscious! And God can engage with our minds when we are in that state. I sometimes wonder whether he finds that easier than when we are awake and easily distracted! I also have a sense that when people (through illness or infirmity) lose touch with this world they find that they are more in communion with God. This was affirmed to me when I visited one of our older members whose memory was almost completely gone and who found it very difficult to talk. Yet when I spoke of God and the church she visibly brightened and was relatively chatty. She also used to join in with singing hymns at the care home when people came in and led Songs of Praise sessions.

I am not diminishing the terrible experience for an individual or their family when they suffer from such illnesses. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to lose touch with the person whom you have loved and known for so long. Visibly they may appear the same, but the real person is lost in the mists of memory loss and illness. Yet, it seems to me, that this is precisely when the God of love will enfold such a person and reassure them of his love and presence. God never stops loving us. Even though our loved ones cannot commune with us, God will commune with them. Jesus is ‘Immanuel’ ‘God with us’ for everyone, not only those who are able to articulate that reality.

This may be simply fanciful theologising but if God can speak through dreams and break through the fog of sleep to communicate with me, my experience of him is such that I cannot doubt that he also breaks through the mists of memory loss and illness and communes with his loved ones – even through the valley of the shadow of death.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Oh yes, the epiphany was unwelcome because of the timing. I know that God never sleeps but I would have preferred that he wait until I was about to wake up at a more normal time!

In the middle of the night a wife awoke to find that her husband was not in the bed beside her. She got up to look for him and found her husband standing over their baby’s cot in the nursery. Silently she watched him from the doorway.

As he stood looking down at the sleeping infant, she saw on his face a mixture of emotions: disbelief, doubt, scepticism.

Touched by this unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, with eyes glistening she slipped her arm around her husband.

“A penny for your thoughts,” she said.

“It’s amazing!” he replied. “I can’t believe it!” He paused before continuing. “I just can’t see how anybody can make a cot like that for only £50.”

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