storming

Phone calls can be disconnected when the lines are cut
Phone calls can be disconnected when the lines are cut

I had a surprising phone call last week. It was from the hospital that has been helping me with my brain (and it needs a LOT of help). The battery pack that is supplying electricity to keep my migraines at bay is causing me some discomfort (I won’t go into details here in case you’re squeamish) and needs to be ‘re-sited’ (again, details omitted for the sake of the squeamish). The call was to say that they have a space for me to come in and have the operation.

The call was surprising for several reasons. First of all I was not expecting it. Secondly I was not expecting to be given relatively little notice in advance of going in (next Sunday afternoon!). Thirdly I was not expecting to be prepared to be in for up to 5 nights for what I was told is a minor procedure. Fourthly I was not expecting the Spanish Inquisition (cue Monty Python sketch)…

I think the thing that floored me most was how much potential disruption this causes when it happens at short notice. I was due to be preaching on the Sunday evening (I am very grateful to one of our members for standing in at short notice). I have several important meetings that week for which I will have to give my apologies. I have to prepare this week for the service on Remembrance Sunday, which throws out some of my planning for this week.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful that it is going to happen, and to all those at the church who have accommodated this short notice call up. But it would have been a lot easier with more notice.

And there’s the thing. I think that we are not so much floored by unexpected things as those unexpected things that arrive with little notice. Today the country is recovering from ‘The Great Storm’ that swept across us. We have had a few days’ warning of it and any precautions that could be taken were taken, as well as planning for coping with the aftermath. The famous non-existent Hurricane* in 1987 that swept across the country without warning was of a similar magnitude but seems to have had a greater impact because we weren’t ready for it.

I hope I am neither naive or insensitive to people who experience tragedies, especially the unexpected kind. But I have found that sometimes we are like Jesus’ disciples in the boat on the lake that was being swamped by an unexpected squall. They were panicking while Jesus slept in the stern of the boat, apparently unconcerned. They had not realised who he really was (which is why they were astonished when he calmed the storm) and were overwhelmed by their circumstances.

For those who are followers of Jesus we are not immune from being overwhelmed by circumstances, especially if it seems that Jesus is asleep in the boat while we are being buffeted by the storm. But I have found that it helps me to get perspective if I pause and reflect on who he is. Have a read of one of the gospels if you have time. If not try John 1 or Colossians 1:15-23. When we recognise whose in the boat with us, even if he seems to be asleep, we may not be as panicked or freaked by the storms of life.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*Have a look at this Wikipedia entry if you don’t know about it: the BBC Weatherman Michael Fish famously said that there was no hurricane on the way…

storming the weather

Let’s face it, we Brits are obsessed with the weather. It’s one of the default subjects of conversation, it often makes headline news and we are avid amateur meteorologists with our own ways of predicting what the weather will be.

One of the ancient legends is about St Swithin’s Day:

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

The theory is that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (15th July) it will rain for the next 40 days. Analysis of weather patterns has proved this to be incorrect. This week we have been told that we have had the coldest Spring in 50 years, and the fifth coldest since 1910. Global Warming (ironically) is among the causes that are being blamed for this unusual weather. I don’t pretend to understand it all, but there is no doubt in my mind that human activity has adversely affected our climate and that we will have to get used to different weather patterns as a result. It may be that in years to come the St Swithin’s Day forecasting method becomes more accurate.

If you want one of these weather stones, click on the image to go to a website that will sell you a personalised one.

One of the things that annoys me about our weather forecasts on TV is the amount of time devoted to telling us what the weather has been and what it is right now. We know what it has been. And all we have to do is look out of the window to know what it is doing right now. We want to know what it will be like. You might as well use one of these high-tech weather forecasting stones (which are available to buy – click on the picture to go to the website).

It has been said that it is not that the weather is wrong, it is that we wear the wrong clothes for the weather. That may be so, but it does help if the weather forecast can be consistent enough for us to be able to put the right clothes on. How often do we find ourselves ill-equipped for the weather – thick jumpers on days that turn out to be hot, t-shirts and shorts when it starts pouring down with rain.

Jesus seems to have had a lot to say about the future (paraphrased by me): don’t worry about tomorrow, worrying won’t change anything; prepare as well as you can for what you expect to happen; you may not know what the future holds, but you can know the one who holds the future.

Trusting God for the future is not as easy as it sounds. It’s not a case of sitting back and waiting for whatever happens, because we have a life to be lived to the full. And it’s not a case of being a control freak and then blaming God when our plans fail. There’s a delicate balance that we need to find, and I think it comes from a close walk with God. He’s not someone to be consulted occasionally: he wants to be involved in our lives – a partnership, a relationship. The more we involve him in our lives, the easier it is to trust him and to sense what he wants us to do. The more I have trusted him in the past (and he has come through for me) the easier it is to trust him now and in the future.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

To tell the weather, Go to your back door and look for the dog.

If the dog is at the door and he is wet, it’s probably raining. But if the dog is standing there really soaking wet, it is probably raining really hard.

If the dog’s fur looks like it’s been rubbed the wrong way, it’s probably windy.

If the dog has snow on his back, it’s probably snowing.

Of course, to be able to tell the weather like this, you have to leave the dog outside all the time, especially if you expect bad weather.

Sincerely,

The CAT

flash crash

lightningThunder: God’s way of telling you that you should have brought the washing in a bit earlier.

Lightning: God’s way of warning you that he’s about to send you a message that you should have brought the washing in a bit earlier.

Thunderbolts and lightning: God’s way of telling you to get ready to start singing about Galileo*.

There’s a little thunderstorm being hosted in the sky above our house at the moment (inconveniently interrupting my sermon preparation with a dash to get the washing in before it got drenched completely). I love thunderstorms. There is a magnificence and power that is unleashed which is inspiring. They are not to be trifled with: lightning strikes contain several hundred million volts of electricity.

Thunderstorms always bring to mind the phrase ‘the fear of the Lord’ from the Bible. Not because they scare me, but because they remind me that he is untameable, magnificent, powerful beyond my imagining. The ‘fear of God’ is not about being scared, but about recognising who He is and who were are in comparison.

If I am tempted to become too chummy and disrespectful with God the fear of God reminds me that he is the “Lord of lords and King of kings forever and ever” (cue Hallelujah chorus).

If I think that I can put him in a box marked ‘Sundays’ the fear of God reminds me that he is the Lord of eternity and time – all the days of my life are his.

If I think that sin doesn’t matter the fear of God reminds me that he takes it incredibly seriously – so much so that without Jesus it excludes us from his presence.

If I worry about things that may lie ahead of me the fear of God reminds me that if God is for me, whom shall I fear?

So, while the thunderstorm may have inconvenienced me, it has also put a healthy fear of God into me.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*Bohemian Rhapsody!

Whether the weather be wet…

Life is full of contrasts. People around us are experiencing light and darkness, joy and misery, laughter and anguish. Pain and peace. Sometimes these things are experienced by different people we know: sometimes by the same people in the same day.

We might say that this is part of what makes life what it is. How we respond to those different experiences is part of what makes us who we are. It is true that rainbows only exist when sunshine and rain are in close proximity, but it is also true that you can’t see them if you not in the right place. You need to be able to see the refraction of light and if you’re in the rain you won’t be able to: you need those outside to tell you that the rainbow is there.

image

When life is tough for us it can be helpful to know that others around us are seeing things from a different perspective. It’s not that we need their happiness, but we need to be reminded that life is not always rain. It will not always be gloomy. I think that is worth remembering / realising for us all.

For those of us who live in UK it may also be worth remembering that this summer as the rain comes down… somewhere someone is enjoying sunlight and rainbows!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Entry from God’s diary…

April 2012 – UK water companies have declared hosepipe bans because they fear a drought like 1976. Have they forgotten that they are in the UK? He he he. Time to turn on my sprinklers…

June 2012 – I wonder if they have had enough water in their drought yet?

Fawning around


On my way through the blizzard (aka light snow) this morning I saw a figure walking towards me. I thought it was Mr Tumnus, the fawn from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe!

They had an umbrella, lots of parcels and looking like they had hooves. It was only when they got closer to me that I realised that it was a lady with an umbrella and long boots. Perhaps the lack of fur and horns should have been a giveaway too.

I also witnessed some amazing driving. Some people clearly decided that because they were in 4×4 vehicles they could drive at normal speed. They seem to have forgotten that others would not be going at the same speed as them and that it will take a while to stop. There was a bloke slipping and sliding on a bicycle while cars tiptoed past him in case he slid in front of them. My favourite was the van driver who clearly decided that revving his engine and making his wheels spin really fast was the best way to achieve traction. Advice from the BBC seems apt: “Stay in a higher gear for better control, and if it is slippery, in a manual car move off in a higher gear, rather than just using first.”

If you want more advice go to: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8443690.stm

Of course, being British, we are unable to cope with extremes of weather, even though talking about the weather is one of our favourite things to do. Meetings are cancelled, airports are closed, trains are delayed… In the ‘good old days’ of course these things never bothered us. We stayed at home, we walked, we went on sledges… but it seems that today it is essential that our busy lives are not disrupted.

I suspect Jesus is having quite a giggle at a lot of us getting stressed by the snow at the moment. I suspect he would have two words for us all:

“Chill out!”