Sunday, 20 December 2015
Among the many excellent and enlightening posts on this blog there have been just recently remarks that set up, for me, a chain of thought. On 16 December Lynda Alsford spoke of a way of prayer that in bypassing the mind allowed a 'turning away from my own needs and thoughts and simply seeking Him with all my being.' I have never had the gift of tongues nor, come to that, much success in turning off my busy mind, but rising above my own needs and thoughts seemed to me a goal worth pursuing. Then, further back, on 11 December, Deborah Jenkins suggested that perhaps our writing may not be the most important thing we do in God's service. I thought that perhaps of equal or greater importance may be visiting a sick friend, putting goods for a food bank into our shopping trolley, collecting someone's prescription, or even cooking a meal for our family. Deborah wrote, 'The highs and lows of the writing life...must only be part of our lives.'
In one sense, for me, this was a liberating thought. It took away some of the urgency to set aside time for myself, the frustration when I am thwarted, or the disappointment at perceived failures. I have given too much significance to my writing for, I suspect, unworthy reasons, not least a lack of humility. So I was led to pray something along these lines: Lord, let me know what you want me to do. Equip me with the means and the willingness to recognise it and to do it. And then do with it what you will, and may your kingdom be served by it - whatever it is.
All well and good, in theory. Just as I see the value of bypassing my own thoughts to contemplate God, but have no idea how, so also I can see the infinite value of leaving outcomes to Him but at the same time continue to be extremely grouchy when I want to write or edit but feel compelled to cook, shop or clean the house: all activities which are useful and innocent, but which I heartily dislike and often resent!
But then, perhaps there is a way to rise above the inevitable pettinesses of the daily round. The end of the year approaches, and my Bible readings are from Revelation. Here the dazzling imagery of the end of time invites us to look upwards, away from ourselves and our circumstances, to be aware, however fleetingly, that God's agenda is vastly more all-encompassing that we can understand, beyond our wildest flights of imagination. And at the same time as putting me in my place ( a necessary task!) it also cheers me up.
It is a truism that from our small and weak efforts, done in his name, God can make something grand and powerful. So I should be working on what he sends, whether it be writing my next novel, peeling potatoes or cleaning the bath, and rejoicing all the while. You never know: one day I might make some progress.