Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Allowing God the centre

In recent months, something has begun to change in how I see God's role in my life.  Doing what God wants has always been very important to me and has already influenced a number of aspects of how I live day to day.  However, I've recently come to think that what God really wants is to be the centre of my life.  Absolutely everything I do ought to be shaped by and flow from that centre.
What does that mean?

I'm not all that sure yet.  For some people it means living a quite unusual life, such as the life of a hermit or of a wandering preacher.  But without a specific call to do so, it seems to me wrong to let go of the income, house etc. that you rely on to stay alive, or even to let go of the things that make you happy.  On the pragmatic side, I've recently had it brought home to me that I find it extremely hard to put aside my grumpiness and serve other people when I haven't done anything fun recently.  On the theological side, the Western Church has long believed that the chief end of man (and woman!) is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

It does, however, mean that it shouldn't be possible for 'the things God wants me to do' to get squeezed out of my life, as I shouldn't be doing anything at all that is not part of his call on me.

I find this an exciting way of understanding how I should live, and I look forward to seeing what comes of it.  It's already given me a new angle on Jesus' instruction to love one's neighbour as one's self.  Sometimes I've heard people say that that command includes an implicit one to love one's self, but that's never really felt right to me.  It doesn't really seem to fit with what Jesus was saying, plus I'm suspicious of such a comfortable reading of one of Jesus' parables!  Just recently, though, I've come to think that I'm probably not capable of loving my neighbour like that if I don't look after my own needs as well.  I think that that gives me a yardstick that I expect I'll find helpful, even though it's a very subjective one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Making requests to God

As mentioned earlier, for years I've felt that it makes no sense to ask God for things.  He already knows everything, and can work out much better than me what needs to be done.

But just recently I've realised I've had it all wrong.  God wants to relate to me.  That's at least one of the reasons why Jesus died: so that God could talk to me1.  So of course I should tell him about what's important to me and how I'd like the world to be.  He went to some pretty extreme lengths so he could be in communication with me!



1 If that sounds to you like it's bordering on the blasphemous, it does to me, too!  But I think it's true, too.  Before sin entered the world, God hung out with Adam and Eve.  Then sin cut them off from him, and hence he from them.  Jesus came and died in order to remove that barrier that kept people cut off from God and God from them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cheers for the BBC

Last week I had chance to catch two BBC programmes about brutal prisons: an interview with Marina Nemat, an Iranian woman jailed shortly after the revolution 20 years ago which kept me sitting an extra 20 minutes in the car, and another with Kim Hye Sook who spent 27 years in a North Korean gulag because her grandfather defected.

Terrible stories, and in some ways I don't want to hear them. Heather definitely has to turn them off, as CFS makes her emotionally labile and these stories are literally bad for her health. On the other hand, it is important to know what is out there. Outlook in particular makes consistently good programmes, revealing so vividly the details of life for a wide range of people. Many thanks to the UK government.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hyacinths!


The first of the year, just starting to open!  When the spikes* are fully grown and the flowers are all open I'll bring them inside where they'll scent my bedroom and make me smile :-)  They're descendants of bulbs given to me nearly 6 years ago by Martin's Aunty Elspeth and every year it's a real treat when they come out.

*you can sort-of see another flower spike beginning to grow on the right of the photo.