On Saturday I performed some magic at a local village fayre. I was delighted that it was indoors as just as we were about to leave the house the heavens opened and there was a deluge of hail and rain. I was also quite pleased to be on the stage in the village hall, as it meant I could be comfortable about important things like people being able to see.
However, without giving anything away, one of the tricks was almost scuppered by an unscheduled needle on the stage floor. It got into my shoe and as well as being uncomfortable almost prevented me from being able to do a brand new trick that I had never before performed in public.
In the UK we have a saying to describe trying to find something that is small and well-hidden: “It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.” Well it seems to me that the best way to find a needle is to walk around on a stage when the last thing you want to happen is to find a needle in your shoe. It will find its way to you. (Of course, if you have lost a needle and want to find it again it is not likely to be on a stage if you weren’t on a stage in the first place, this plan only works if you need a needle and can’t locate one).
It is amazing how it is often the small things that can have a big effect. The Apollo 13 near-disaster was caused because 5 years previously the designers had changed the voltages and one component manufacturer was missed. One tiny thermostat in that massively complex space craft failed and it almost led to the deaths of the three astronauts.
There is an old rhyme that goes:
“For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”
(The opposite of my needle problem).
Details are important. Details matter. Logistical planning is vital. That goes for any venture in life, but here’s a possible scenario for churches:
“For want of a question the sad news was lost.
For want of the sad news the person was not prayed for.
For want of the prayer the person felt unloved.
For want of love they left the church.
For want of that person others left too.
And all for want of a question.”
It’s not an unrealistic scenario, sadly. I am acutely aware that I need to pay attention to the details in peoples’ lives as well as having the ‘big picture’ in mind. But in the scenario above that chain of causality can be broken at any time by grace and reconciliation. If we needle someone (deliberately or unintentionally) a gracious approach, an honest apology and graciously requested forgiveness are needed. And alongside that, plenty of prayer that God’s grace will abound.
We’re all human. It’s part of being human that we make mistakes. How we respond to that (either as the cause or the victim) reveals God at work in us.
Be blessed, be a blessing.