afraid not or not afraid?

Once upon a time there was a man who owned a radio-controlled sailing boat. It was a beautiful boat that was a model of an early America’s Cup 6 metre yacht, and it had been built by one of the man’s friends. The boat was 5 feet long and with the mast and sail was over 6 feet tall.

The man loved the sleek, graceful lines of the boat. He loved how the British Racing Green hull merged with the blue keel, separated by a white stripe. He loved the feel of the wooden deck and how all of the fittings on the boat were miniature replicas of the real thing.

He loved the fact that there were limited controls for the boat. He could control the direction by turning the rudder and he could control the speed by tightening or loosening the sails. But everything else was at the mercy of the wind and tides. There was no engine. The man enjoyed watching how a small movement on the radio control sticks caused the rudder to twitch or the lines on the boat to move.

The man was really happy with his boat.

But he was also anxious about his boat. What if when he sailed it the batteries ran out and he was unable to communicate with it any longer? What if it capsized in the middle of a lake? What if it got stuck on an underwater obstruction? What if it hit something and sank?

All of these anxieties would build up in the man’s mind and he would be afraid to take the boat sailing.

But sometimes instead of the anxieties he would remember how beautiful the boat looked as it sailed gracefully across a lake. He would remember the calming sound of the water lapping against the hull as the boat glided through it. He would remember the joy of being able to sail the boat into the wind, across the wind and ahead of the wind. He would remember how happy it all made him feel.

And then the man would pack his boat into his car and go off to sail it. The anxieties might still surface but the joy and relaxation he got from seeing the boat doing what it was built to do was far greater. And when he got to share that with his friends the experience was multiplied.

What holds you back from doing what you are made to do? Are you holding someone else back?

Be blessed, be a blessing

radio control

IMGP0410My sailing boat is radio-controlled (It’s the one with the green hull). I have discovered that there are two types of radio control units. The radio signal from my controller tells the receiver unit in the boat what I want it to do and the boat responds. But the two types of controller are different:

One, the type I have, is analogue and the signals are broadcast over a particular frequency but in a way that any other boat that is tuned into the same frequency will also receive the same instructions. So I have to have a second set of crystals tuned to a different frequency to change over in that event.

The other type of control system is digital. The controller and receiver are linked together in a unique way and nothing else shares that unique ‘signature’. There is no interference, no fear that someone else might be affected by my transmitter.

In my mind it’s the difference between a loud hailer and a mobile phone. A loud hailer (megaphone) broadcasts loud and clear to anyone and everyone in the vicinity. Anyone can hear what is being said. A mobile phone has a unique number and only the person who has that phone can receive what is being said (unless they are on a train in which case everyone hears).

Sometimes God speaks in the same way as an analogue signal, or a loud hailer. His words and thoughts are for everyone to hear. An appreciation of his creativity is available to anyone who looks at the wonders of nature. An awareness of his love for us and how much he values us is available to anyone who cares to read a Bible (if you never have I suggest you start with one of the Gospels – Luke is my favourite). A sense of awe about who he is available to anyone who attends a service in church or who gets to look at the night sky without any light pollution. You get the idea.

But sometimes he speaks with a digital signal, through direct phone number. Those words are specifically for us. The amazing thing is that sometimes that comes even when I am listening to a wider ‘broadcast’ from him. Specific words and thoughts come through to me (perhaps in the same way that my boat receives and responds to the analogue signals intended for it). And sometimes the words come to me through a person who unwittingly says exactly what I needed to hear. And sometimes they come as I read the Bible and see words that were written thousands of years ago that are exactly relevant to me today (not surprising if the One who inspired them is also the One to whom I am trying to listen).

But, as I said in my earlier bloggage, the art is to be listening to him. He never stops broadcasting analogue and digital signals. My job is to tune in to him, to be receptive to him and to respond.

Be blessed, be a blessing

a model citizen

I have bought a boat. It is a sailing boat. A friend needed to make some space and, having enjoyed sailing it with him in the past, I offered to buy it from him.

Yes, she’s a model yacht, but she’s still a big vessel (63 inches in length). Yesterday we rigged her for the first time (outdoors because the mast is too high!) and she looked splendid. There’s still some work to be done to make her ready to sail again, but it won’t be long.

What I found so relaxing when I sailed her previously is that the principles of sailing still apply, even if scaled down. You still have to be aware of the wind direction and speed. You still have to adjust the sails and your course. You can still have comparative silence as she glides almost effortlessly across the water. And, if you want, you can still get up quite a speed.

I am hoping that I will be able to share this relaxing hobby with others in due course, once I am confident I know what I am doing, just as my friend shared it with me. If you’d like to join me, let me know.

Some of you will have got ahead of me here, but I’m not going to go off on a ‘share your faith’ bloggage. Rather I am going to change tack (see what I did there) and suggest that as wonderful and relaxing as sailing a model boat is, it’s not sailing in a boat. You don’t travel anywhere (unless it gets stuck and you have to wade out to it). It’s great, but not the full monty, the whole experience, the big picture.

I wonder how much God looks at us as churches and as individuals and thinks, “Why are they messing about with models when they could be doing the real thing?”

Does he look at our services and think, “That’s lovely, but I would rather you worshipped me with your whole life”?

Does he look at the way we are with one another and think, “You are being kind, which is a Spiritual Fruit, well done, but it’s so much better when you love one another”?

Be blessed, be a blessing (full scale!).

The model husband

There are several men in the changing room of a golf club club, following a day’s driving, pitching, chipping, putting (and looking in the undergrowth for lost balls). Suddenly a cell phone that was on one of the benches rings. A man picks it up and the following conversation ensues:

“Hello?”

“Honey, It’s me.”

“Sugar!”

“Are you at the golf club?”

“Yes.”

“Great! I am at the shops. I saw a beautiful coat… It is absolutely gorgeous!! Can I buy it?”

“What’s the price?”

“Only £1,500.00”

“Well, OK, go ahead and get, if you like it that much…”

“Ahhh and I also stopped by the Mercedes dealership and saw the latest models. I saw one I really liked. I spoke with the salesman and he gave me a really good price … and since we need to exchange the BMW that we bought last year…”

“What price did he quote you?”

“Only £60,000…”

“OK, but for that price I want it with all the options.”

“Great!, before we hang up, something else…”

“What?”

“It might look like a lot, but I was reconciling your bank account and…I stopped by the estate agent this morning and I saw the house we had looked at last year … it’s been reduced!! Remember? The one with a pool, tennis court, acre of garden, beachfront property…”

“How much are they asking?”

“Only £450,000… a magnificent price, and I see that we have that much in the bank to cover…”

“Well, then go ahead and buy it, but just bid £440,000. OK?”

“OK, sweetie… Thanks! I’ll see you later!! I love you!!!”

“Bye… I do too…”

The man hangs up, switches the phone off, raises his hand while holding the phone and asks to all those present: “Does anyone know whose phone this is?”