Thursday, 30 January 2014

Don't pick your scab.

Don't pick your scab. 

Some of the best advice that I was given when growing up. If you pick your scab it won't heal very well, it will bleed again, it will get infected. I once was running home from a friends house wearing my ballet shoes (I never did ballet - I've never been dainty enough or had the coordination - but I had ballet shoes) and I fell over. I seem to remember I was carrying roller skates. Why I was wearing ballet shoes with roller skates anyway I have no idea and am surprised I didn't fall over earlier. Anyway, I fell over and my knee did that thing - it bled everywhere. I got an amazing scab. 

A little while later (days? weeks?) I was at a Girls Brigade party and the scab that I had evidently been picking was knocked off in a game. My knee started to bleed again and as a result I have now on my right knee a white mark where it never had chance to heal properly. 

Don't pick your scab. 

As we journey through life we pick up wounds - some of them heal completely, some of them scab over. The trouble is that the ones that simply scab over get picked at at random intervals and they begin to bleed again. They stop us in our tracks as we realise that once again we need to clean up the mess and put a plaster on and wait for them to scab over again trying to get to the point where we stop picking so they heal completely - so that the scar is all that remains. 

Don't pick your scab.

I've noticed in being part of a church community that people have their favourite scabs to pick at - it starts with the choice of biscuit, the choice of hymns, the way things are done, the steps we are taking forward, our particular view of theology, our deep held beliefs that we are reluctant to challenge, our theological bugbear...... some of these things needed to be removed completely, some simply healed over, some actually left to flourish - but the problem we have is that we keep picking at them because it feels familiar and quite nice to pick a scab and make it bleed again so we don't have to look forward to the next hill we need to run up (or down) to get to the next place that God is taking us. 

Don't pick your scab.

I've been involved a lot in discussions about the future lately - as part of the wider Baptist family, as a Methodist circuit, as a college, as a church and as just me and one thing that has struck me is that however big the decisions that we are making we all have those scabs that at the right moment we pick at, make bleed and stop us in our tracks. 

I've decided in the last few months that I'm going to stop picking at mine. I'm also going to try and stop other people trying to pick at mine too (although that is a little bit harder). If less people picked at their own and others scabs the journey would become so much less messy (or different kind of messy) and we might actually get somewhere. 

Don't pick your scab. Just stop it..... stop.... it.....  

"I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back."              Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG)

Monday, 13 January 2014

Keeping the riff raff out....

I got the box set of Gavin and Stacey for Christmas and have watched it all this weekend (there is something quite exciting about watching a series from start to finish in a very short period of time). As well as realising that there were episodes I hadn't actually seen (my suspicions were correct - I got to the series late and have only watched it when I have spotted a repeat) it also got me thinking.... 

In the episode where Nessa has gone into labour and Smithy rushes from Essex to Wales to be there for the birth, when he gets to the bridge him and Gav realise they are 10p short for the toll.... much arguing with the woman on the barrier goes on, and eventually Smithy gets out, lifts the barrier and they drive off. 

That barrier represents the distance between Gavin and Stacey - the difficulty in being together when they come from different places and have a different way of life. Gavin loves his home in Essex and Stacey loves her home in Wales. The barrier is symbolic of their differences, yet as these stories go, love conquers all and the barriers are overcome. 

Barriers are placed to keep people out or sometimes keep people in...! They are a way of life, making us pay money, keeping the riff raff out, perhaps protecting us from harm. 

As well as the physical barriers we also set up our own barriers to protect us from harm, to keep the riff raff out, to stop potential problems from happening. When we are feeling particularly vulnerable we put up barriers that don't need to be there. It means we don't have to encounter those things that we find difficult. It helps us to avoid a situation but doesn't help us deal with a situation. 

Some of us live in our own little fortresses. We cut off contact from those situations we find difficult, where to face things head on it will shake our very foundations. We cling to what we know - to structures and ways of doing stuff - so hard that we create barriers that won't let anyone else in. 

The trouble is, where we don't let anyone else in, or we create our own bubble of security, we miss the beauty of life. We miss the chance to interact with new people and ideas. We miss loving and getting to know the people who could make a great difference in our life. We put up our fortress and exclude and hurt those who we do not let in, those who we leave out in the cold. 

Psalm 62:6 says, 'Truly he [God] is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken'.

When we create our own little fortresses of exclusion, keeping us and the ones we care about most 'safe', and keeping the riff raff out, we forget that God is our fortress. We don't need to create strong barriers, but need to acknowledge that God is the one that is the strongest fortress. Human made barriers prevent and stop, God's fortress enables us to move forward in his strength, which is stronger than any foundation that we might build in our own little fortresses. God's fortress is enabling and life changing, we need no other.