Before you invite the men in white coats to come around let me explain. When my wife, Sally, is around I will sometimes invite her to tell me if, for example, my tie goes with my shirt or a shirt is okay with my trousers. She has a good eye for these things. But she’s not always around when I am working out what to wear. You may be able to tell when those occasions are!
And then yesterday I had an epiphany – I can get fashion advice from my socks. Some of my socks have two colours on them and those colours work well together. So if I wear clothes with those colours on they should match too. For most of you this will not be new news. But for those who are fashion-impaired like me, it’s a great help. It’s not a foolproof system, of course. I won’t be taking fashion advice from the comedy Homer Simpson socks I was given for Christmas a couple of years ago, for example. And I do realise that some socks are designed with contrasting colours so that they are deliberately outrageous. But I think that on the whole my socks will give me good fashion advice.
I have now started to look for advice from other items of clothing. So far my jumpers have not helped me make technology choices and my jackets have not told me anything helpful about banking.
Of course strictly speaking it’s not the socks that are giving me the fashion advice. I am drawing on the expertise and experience of the people who designed my socks and put those colours together.
This epiphany has led to a couple of reflections for me. One picks up from yesterday’s bloggage about spaces and taking people for granted. There are so many people we take for granted in the supply chain that gets our food, provisions and property to us. Unless you live an entirely subsistence existence you will be reliant on others. Even if you have grown your own food you are reliant on the power suppliers who provide the energy for you to cook it. And even if you have a wood burning stove you are still reliant on the person who built the stove, your saucepans, water suppliers, crockery and cutlery makers and so on. We are interconnected but sometimes don’t realise how much we are interconnected.
The second reflection picks up from something I was saying in my sermon on Sunday evening – God speaks to us through unexpected people and circumstances. In the passage we were considering from Joel 2:28-32 God was promising his beleaguered people a new era and a new engagement with him. In that era the human limitations that had been placed on his activity would be swept away in a deluge of his Spirit: no longer would there be divisions based on age, gender, status or any other divisions. All people will be able to receive his Spirit and be in a relationship with him.
I have always been fascinated by the account of Balaam in the Old Testament (Numbers 22). He was a prophet (someone who spoke God’s words to people) and had been given instructions by God about what he should do. But he was being disobedient. He was on a journey God didn’t want him to take and all of a sudden his donkey turned off the path. Then it stopped and would not budge. He beat the donkey but it would not budge. Then we read that “the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth…” and his donkey spoke to him! The donkey had seen that God’s angel was ahead of them ready to smite Balaam and had stopped to save his life.
Regardless of what you make of that narrative, the point I take from it is that God will speak through the most unlikely of sources. I wonder who you would consider to be the most unlikely person through whom you would hear God speak? I think you should listen to them a bit more carefully in future because God might have something to say through them! And if you feel like Balaam’s donkey, be encouraged that God can speak through you too.
Be blessed, be a blessing