the parable of the lovely notebook

Is it just me, or do others really enjoy having a new notebook or diary (if you still use a paper one)? There’s something attractive about having a notebook with crisp, pristine pages. I love it. I anticipate what I will use it for. I make myself promises that I won’t scribble or cross things out. I will only ever use nice pens to write in the book, and I will always use my best writing.

Recently for my birthday some kind friends of mine bought me this notebook.

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It was made in Italy and it’s got a lovely leather cover with that leather strap to keep it closed. It’s got my initials embossed on the front. The paper is lovely quality. I love it.

The only problem is that I haven’t used it yet. The book is too nice just to be used for taking phone messages or reminders.I want it to be used for something important and special. I want it to contain things that I will want to come back to and look over again in the future. I don’t want to spoil it with scruffy, rushed notes, or with poor quality handwriting, or with scratchy pens.

So the book is still in pristine condition.

But it’s not being used. It’s not able to fulfil its purpose. It’s being denied the opportunity to do all that it was created to be and do because I am concerned that it will not be used in the way that it deserves to be used.

Do we sometimes deny ourselves, or others, an opportunity to try something and to grow and flourish from it because we are afraid?

Do we sometimes forget that we have been given gifts, skills and personality in order to bless, delight and encourage others and keep them to ourselves instead?

Do we want to protect people or ourselves from harm and thus avoid taking any risks?

I have an idea of what to do with the book. I have resolved to use it.

What about you?

Be blessed, be a blessing

is that for me?

A few days ago I was preparing to phone someone who has been going through a very difficult time. Just before I spoke to them I had a look at an app on my mobile phone that pings me a verse from the Bible each day. It seemed quite appropriate for the conversation I was about to have, so I looked in my book format Bible (as opposed to electronic versions on phones, tablets and kindles, etc) and noticed that one of the page marker ribbons was in exactly that place, but I had just slid it into that place on a previous occasion.

“Hmmm,” thought I. “Is this merely a coincidence, or is Someone trying to get me to share this with the person I am about to call?”

I made the call, and in the course of the conversation it became clear to me that the Bible verse may be something that God wanted them to be reminded of, so I took a risk and offered it to them. The words blessed them, which was wonderful.

Why do I share this with you? Well, not because I am super-spiritual or anything like that – far from it (indeed I don’t think ‘superspirituality’ actually exists). Nor because I am slapping myself on the back in a congratulatory way. It’s to encourage you to take a risk if you sense that God may have something he wants you to share with someone else. If you offer it gently and humbly in a ‘I’m not sure if this is from God but I offer it to you and let’s see’ (definitely not in a ‘thus saith the Lord’ way) then it gives the person on the receiving end a gracious way to say, “Thank you, but I don’t think it’s for me,” (or similar) without it being a criticism of you.

giftI am pretty sure that they will be blessed simply by the fact that you were prepared to take a risk to bless them – it’s a gift that you offer which shows you care. And if it is something God wants them to hear then they will be doubly blessed.

Go on. You know He wants you to.

And the verse? In case it is something you also need to hear (Psalm 94:18-19): ‘When I said, “My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

Be blessed, be a blessing

evicted

Emergency ExitToday is my eviction anniversary*. 48 years ago I was unceremoniously evicted from the comforting, nurturing, nourishing place I had spent the first 9 months of my existence into a cold, bright, noisy environment that I had never imagined existed. I don’t think I wanted to leave the womb-warmth – which may explain why most babies start crying soon after they emerge.

But so much has happened for me since that I am rather glad that I was evicted (and I am sure my Mum was!). It may have been somewhat traumatic at the time (for me and my mother) but that trauma has been followed by growth, learning, friendship, love, companionship, excitement, sadness, distress, struggles and so much more. I have gone from the relative comfort of monochrome existence to the astonishing experience of beyond-high-definition multi-coloured life with more pixels than you can imagine and billions of colours and shades.

How often is that true for us? We like our comfort zones, our security blankets, our safety. Change threatens that security and we cannot be sure that it will be better so we often prefer to stay where we are than risk an unknown future. Yet, there is so much more to experience of life. If we stay in the womb we won’t experience all of that.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*Thank you to so many of you for your birthday greetings, that means a lot to me.