ready salted

Salt SpoonMy Bible reading today  was from Matthew 5:13-20, part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was talking to the crowd about being salt and light – making a difference for him in our communities. Sometimes I am tempted to think that this difference has to be a big thing. Then I read this today:

When Desmond Tutu was a boy, he saw a white priest doff his hat to his mother, who was a black domestic cleaner. That small courtesy changed his life.

Little things can make a big difference. To whom will you doff your hat today (literally or metaphorically)? What small thing does God want you to do that will put some savour in someone else’s life or shine some light into their darkness?

Be blessed, be a blessing

bleary eyed blogging

It’s all that spider’s fault.

There I was, sleeping enthusiastically, dreaming about something that I can’t remember, and being replenished, when suddenly the smoke alarm went off last night. I was very rudely awakened by the ear-piercing beeping and staggered out of bed and onto the landing where the alarm was located. It kept screaming at me for a few seconds and then going quiet, then resuming the alarming purpose for which it has been installed.

Spider

It was clear that there was no fire and there was no smoke. I suspected that some local wildlife had infiltrated the alarm and accidentally made the connection inside. I tried to open the cover but in my haste to find out what was happening I did not put on my glasses and was struggling to see where the catch was. I fumbled around for a while and, just as I was about to open the cover, the culprit emerged.

A tiny spider sheepishly sneaked out of the cover and scuttled across the top (or is it bottom) of the alarm. I flicked him away, confident that I had sorted out the problem. I then staggered back to bed and flopped back onto the pillow in the hope that I could resume where I had left off.

The good news was that the alarm did not sound again. It was clearly the spider who was the culprit (why did he choose the middle of the night rather than the day?).

The bad news was that I found it very difficult to get back to sleep again and so today am feeling a bit groggy as a result of spider-initiated-sleep deprivation.

It’s often the little things isn’t it? The seemingly insignificant things that can disrupt our life. The lack of change for the car park leaving you in the dilemma of whether to leave the car there to get some change so you can come back and buy a ticket, hoping that the inspector won’t call in your absence, or whether you drive off somewhere else. The phone that runs out of battery at a crucial time in a conversation, or when you need to make an important call. The bin bag that splits, distributing the smelly contents all over the kitchen floor, just as you were getting ready to leave the house, putting the rubbish out on the way. The spider that sneaks into the smoke alarm in the middle of the night. The piece of gossip that you pass on to someone ‘for prayer’ and leaves the subject feeling hurt and betrayed.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Getting needled

needleOn 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.