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Archive for October, 2006

One more step.

There’s not much to say here. There aren’t many schemes, ideas, plans or wisdom that can be summarised here to work for the rest of life. There isn’t a nice neat plan of how things are going to work out. Sometimes I can’t see the mountain range mapped out in front of me. This is a journey that twists and turns, that goes down and up and spirals around. In fact, if you have time, it’s a little like the walk I went on with my Dad today. We meandered around some Surrey countryside (and saw where his tunnel is going to go- very exciting), we wandered down a steep path with one view of a valley, double backed on ourselves further down the valley, seeing things from a different perspective and then walked down the other side of the valley, getting yet another angle on the pretty scenery. We trudged up steep hills, on paths that weren’t all that obvious and back tracked on ourselves a couple of points along the way.

That is life. This is what we live, seemingly random and yet beautifully ordered in ways we will never know. And it’s not our place to do the guessing, it’s our place to keep walking, to trust in the weirdness, to look at the scenery and remember the one with us as we walk. It’s our place to interact, to recall to mind, to be reminded and to receive the strength and mercy to walk the bit we walk today. And yet, it’s easy to lose sight of that, easy to just do the bits of life that everyone else sees, rather than the hidden twists and turns, the hidden pathways on this journey that are essential along the way.

I’ve realised I’ve stopped doing the hidden things, the praying, preparing and planning (and other important things beginning with P). I’ve stopped remembering the One who is behind and through and in and who, well, just IS in all this stuff of life. It’s easy to blame my job, other people or circumstances but the reality is I’m sinful. I’m lazy. And I’m sorry. But I also know that I have a God who is unending mercy. (well this is what I am told and this I shall believe, and when I can’t someone else in this wonderful body can believe it for me.). A God who beats me in any staring contest, whose love is real, whose silence speaks louder than any silence I have known and a God who is committed to getting me home.

I’d love to put in a five point plan that would get me sorted out and able to keep walking without tripping up. But I can’t. I don’t have it, God is strangely silent when I ask him for such things. Perhaps because he’s not dedicated to everyone seeing how together Kath Arnold really is. He seems to want me to live in this moment he’s given me Today. He seems to want me to swallow my pride and receive. He seems to want me to take one more step, trusting that His grace is sufficient for this moment, and that tomorrow the mercies will be new. He seems to want me to love well, to eat and sleep and act with grace and mercy to those around me. He seems to want me to stop blaming and wallowing and to walk on because He is enough. He seems to look in my eyes with the most real love in the universe, calls me His child and offers his hand once more for the next bit of the journey.

It turns out that there was a lot to say, but there isn’t much to do, be actioned or put into place, just some breathing, walking, sleeping and remembering that Someone else is redeeming, restoring, working through and enabling. My 5 point plan will never work, waking up and asking what He is doing might just. Being reminded by and reminding the people around me in this being-transformed-daily-together-body might. One more step, one more step.

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Honesty

There are things I think we need to speak about, the times when everything is dark and when unbelief seems to be the only thing we can do or experience. There are times when everything seems futile and bare. There are times when I cannot get out of bed without a long argument with myself on the need to do so and there are times when I think I have nothing to offer anyone. I have a feeling that I am not alone in these times. I have a feeling that some of these times come to all of us at one point or other in our lives.

These times hurt my pride, because they are reminders that I cannot do much in this world, I am broken and messed up. My mind is twisted and distorts things, I need someone else. I need someone to come into this mess.

These are times when the curtains come down, when every event in the future seems like too much effort, and every event in the past seems like a waste of time, fruitless and futile. These times are the times I lose my perspective, lose any connection to reality and what makes up reality.

Today has been one such time, a time when I couldn’t do or think anything without tiredness and twisted things going on. It’s times like these that I’m glad for friends on MSN and texts who remind me of the truth, and who know the same struggles. In times like these I worry that I am a freak for thinking this way about life, but it turns out I’m not (unless my mates are too). Hey, there’s a whole Bible book dedicated to this stuff.

The reality is that we struggle, we struggle to believe, to have faith, to not believe the lies, to obey our Dad, to walk in Holy and Blameless ways that we were called to. There are times when we are wilful in our sin, hard in our hearts and trample on grace. There are times when the truth escapes us.

The thing is, Jesus is still real, still holding onto me, still patiently loving me, still here, still praying for me, still willing me on, still walking me hand in hand to the Father to be loved, still wanting the best for me, still prodding me, still challenging and disturbing me, still being Him. And there is nothing that can stop that love, nothing that can separate us from that love, nothing at all. And the brilliant thing is that all that is true even though my brain is kicking in right now and asking the “really?” questions. Phew.

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Really. Look. Do you think she needs professional help?

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Having MSN conversations with friends about how free we are to fail and how brilliant it is that Jesus expects nothing more, and has dealt with our sin and failures once and for all of the times we do them. A brilliant fact which reminds me of my old boss, who asked in his job interview whether the church he was going to work for was a place where he could fail. I guess we all need to be free to fail and to expect it from each other, because the reality is, we will fail. We are stupid sinners, but that’s all God ever expected us to be. We expect to produce great things, never let anyone down and not hurt others, ourselves or God. He knows the Truth and wants us to learn it too. So that we can be honest with each other, quick to say sorry, quick to forgive, quick to display the same mercy that we have been shown, and quick to get into the redeeming and restoring business that our Dad is SO good at.

Community together will always be this process of hurt, repentance and reconciliation with grace being involved every step along the way. We need to expect less from each other and more of the depths of grace and mercy that the cross has bought us. This world desperately needs these kind of deep overwhelmingly loving relationships. We need the cross to seep into every area of our lives with each other. We need to listen to God the Father, Son and Spirit teaching us how to love one another well, to see them do it perfectly and abundantly, bringing glory to each other, loving each other and delighting in each other. We have so much to express of our amazing God’s character in our relationships with each other.

Lets get on with it and be free to fail, free to come back again and again to the old rugged cross, and by his grace, power and energy, put to death the clinging rubbish that drags us down. The Spirit is at work within us, our failure is never the end of the story. We get on up, bloody and bruised from the fight, breathing hard and we take a deep breath in. The Spirit is at work with us, the Father will never let us go and Jesus is NOT ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. We walk on. We walk on.

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Top ways to stifle the boredom and drown out the fuzzy noise in the brain:

1. Go drumming. Bang it out of your brain.
2. Sit on a freshers stall and work out what your team would be if they were sweets.
3. Write to them to tell them their sweet category.
4. Invent new permutations of “paper, scissors, stone” with your Relay Worker- wavy fingers for fire (which burns paper), river like motions with your hands for water (rusts scissors, soaks up paper and kills fire), act out a bucket in the air (contains water and so defeats it) and then act a pushing motion with your hands (pushes the bucket over and kills the water again). You have to understand, we were on the freshers stall for 5 hours.
5. Eat nothing but cake and drink nothing but tea.
6. Make models out of blue tac and text a picture to a friend for comment. Jess made a particularly good desert island with a ship on the horizon. This was Steph’s comment: “You have created a visual comment on the spiritual status of many of your students. There is a powerful juxtaposition between this stark reality and the rescuing ship of the gospel. Moving. Very moving.”
7. Sit in a cafe on campus writing gibberish into a notebook whilst waiting for a student.
8. Drum some more.
9. Have MSN conversations about how to rule the world, where to escape to and dream of deserted islands and compulsory days of eating cake and dancing. (separate days of course, to combine the two would be madness, sheer madness.)
10. Other…. (please fill in as appropriate)

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