Learning through Life

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Hampshire, United Kingdom
I love how our day-to-day life can teach us lessons to help us understand our past, challenge our today, and inspire our future. We can learn through experiences, situations, conversations, songs, books, nature ... the list is endless! Live with eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear and a heart ready to be touched.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The one with the slippers

Earlier on in the week I fell up my own stairs! 

If I said I tripped on a toy that had been left on one of the steps, or that I had been in a hurry to get to the phone, my fall up the stairs would be a little understandable.  But, it would also be a lie.

You see, I wasn't in a hurry, and the stairs were free from clutter.  I simply tripped over my own feet.  Or, to be more precise, my own slipper!  And what makes the fall even more embarrassing, is the fact that it has happened before, several times in fact.

Obviously, the fault lies with the slippers.  They are just over a year old now, and have become worn and stretched.  They no longer fit my feet well, and therefore have a tendency to fall off my feet as I lift them to ascend the stairs.  Yes, the slippers are to blame!

However,  I am all too aware of the saying 'a good workman never blames their tools' and wonder whether I therefore need to accept a little of the blame myself?  Can I really lay the blame on my slippers when it is I who choose to wear them?  I know they have stretched and no longer fit my feet.
 
I need to throw them out and buy a new pair.  Simple.  But, I like my old slippers.  They are really soft, warm and comfortable; they are like old friends to my feet!

The slipper incident reminded of several stressful shopping trips with my eldest son.  Although his old trainers had become too small for his growing feet, he found it very difficult to replace them.  Each new pair that he tried on was met with 'they are not as comfy as my old ones!'  With growing frustration, I tried to convince him that new trainers were needed, and although they may feel different, and perhaps a little uncomfortable at first, they would soon wear in and fit perfectly.  Thankfully, after much persuasion, a day or two of slight discomfort, and maybe even the need of a plaster, the new pair of trainers are liked, comfortable, and a good fit.  In no time at all, the old trainers are forgotten about and the new ones take their place.

I wonder how many times we hold on to things in our lives, that really need to be thrown out and replaced?   Yes, we may miss the old, and the new may be uncomfortable for a while, but eventually we will realise we have a better fit. 

Although I have focused on footwear, the challenge of replacing old with new is relevant in many areas of life.  Your 'slippers' may be something entirely different.  What do you have in your life that is no longer a perfect fit? 

Can I encourage you to consider trading in the old for a new?  Yes, it may be difficult to let go, especially if you have held on to the old for a long time, but if God has something new for you to take, you can be sure that it will become a perfect fit.  It may be a little uncomfortable at first; it may even feel awkward and possibly a little scary -  But as we let go of the old and trust God in the new we will slowly but surely recognise that God has a plan, and he knows what is best for us.  Just as a parent provides a child with new shoes to accommodate their growth, God will provide new roles, challenges and ministries to allow us to continue to develop into all that He has created us to be and do. 

What is God challenging you to replace today?  At the moment it may be comfortable and easy - but holding on to the old will not encourage healthy development.  God has something new.  Are you prepared for a little discomfort whilst you 'wear in' the new, in order to allow God to shape and develop you further? 

Don't stay in shoes you have outgrown.   Go on a shopping trip, enjoy the experience, and see what your new shoes will bring :) 

Monday, 24 January 2011

The one with the confession

I have a confession to make.

There have been several times in the past when I have turned up to a particular event or activity without wearing the correct equipment or clothing.

You may think, big deal, hasn't this happened to us all once or twice in the past?  Yes, I am sure this is the case.

My son, for example, encountered his first detention at senior school after turning up to his P.E. lesson without his trainers. (Personally, I think the fact that he was then made to wear pink trainers throughout the duration of his lesson, was punishment enough, without having to administer a detention as well!).

I can also remember an uncomfortable atmosphere during my time at Moorlands Bible College, when several students arrived at a particular lecture without their Bible.  Thank goodness for the Bible App on my iphone! Phew!

Unfortunately, our memory sometimes lets us down, and we forget things.  Fact.

So, why the confession at the beginning of this blog?

I neglected to mention an important detail;  I actually 'forgot' on purpose!

Yes, in the past I have attended sporting events without my trainers.  I have arrived at a Karate lesson without my belt.   I can even recall turning up to my trumpet lesson without my trumpet! 

Although this 'forgetting on purpose' wasn't a regular event in my life, it did happen.  If I really felt that participating in an activity or event would result in failure, discomfort or embarrassment, then I would weigh this up against the consequence of not having the correct gear with me.

Of course, this was all in the past.  No longer would I turn up to something with the excuse of a forgotten item.  Or so I thought, until recently.

You see, I have realised that there have been times, when I have turned up to a battle without the correct gear on.  I turn up, look keen, but cannot go out to fight due to my incomplete armour.  Maybe I can make tea for the soldiers instead?  Much easier and safer.

But - the Bible tell us to:

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)

We are told to put on the FULL armour of God.  Not some of it.  Not most of it.  But all of it.  As Christians, we have a battle to take part in.  God provides everything we need to go out into battle, but I wonder if, like me, there have been times you have 'forgotten' to put on your Belt of Truth, or misplaced your Shield of Faith, in order to prevent you having to go out and fight?

We might feel too tired, too afraid, or too weak to go into battle.  That is just it!  We are!  That is why God has provided the armour for us.  He wants us to fight.  He is with us.  He knows we can do it. - and not only survive - but win!


Let's open our kit bag, check it's complete, and put it ALL on.  God will not let us fail.

Are you ready to fight against the strategies of the devil?

Charge!!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The one with 'Guess Who?'



What do Bill, Robert, Anne, David, Susan, Anita and Eric all have in common? 

They are all characters in the original game of Guess Who? (by Hasbro)

I haven't played this game in a long time, but I still remember it well.  In the original game (sadly it has changed quite a bit) you and your gaming partner each have a board in front of you, with a number of characters tiles flipped up.  You both pick a random card, and this becomes the character your opponent will try to guess, to win the game.  Guesses are narrowed down by asking 'yes' or 'no' questions such as:

Are they wearing a hat?
Do they have black hair?
Are they smiling?

Is this bringing back memories?

Over the last few days I have been reflecting on this game quite a bit.  Why?  Let me share with you ...

On Sunday I heard a sermon on Psalm 119:105: 'Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.'

Thanks to an old Amy Grant song I know this verse well, and could even sing it to you!


Can you see the connection between this verse and Guess Who?  No, I am not surprised, I do have a tendency to find obscure connections in things!  Allow me to carry on ...

The preacher drew attention to the two different forms of illumination in the verse: the lamp and the light.  Two different lights, each with its own purpose.  The lamp lights up the area directly around the Psalmist (the author), whilst the beam of the light shines ahead and lights up the path to be traveled.  

Applying this to our lives,  the preacher suggested that unless we have a full understanding of ourselves, we cannot hope to see what is ahead for us.  In other words, we need to see ourselves in the correct light (the lamp) before we can effectively see our future (the light to our path).

As I have recently felt that the path ahead is surrounded by fog, I found this particularly interesting and pertinent to my current situation.  Is it possible that I cannot see my path clearly because I have an incorrect, or distorted view of who I really am?

Can you see where the Guess Who? game comes in now?

In a quiet moment of reflection following the sermon, I began to see that the view I have of myself is largely influenced by past experiences.  Words spoken to me in the past, and the reactions of other people, still impact my understanding of who I am.  My guess is that I am not alone here.  Past hurts, perceptions and experiences can become deeply embedded in our character, and can prove very difficult to let go of.

It is as if we are many different 'faces' on a Guess Who?  board.  Although they are all the same person, they represent different characteristics and understandings we have of ourselves.

'I am not very clever'
'I am not attractive'
'I cannot achieve ...'
'I am a loser'
'I am not a likeable person'


You get the point.

BUT - we do not need to let these incorrect understandings control our lives.  Our past may impact our present, but it does not determine our future.

We do not need to keep believing we are worthless.  We should not accept the cruel words that have been spoken over us.  We must not listen to the lies of the world.  
 
We need to have a good and honest look at our board, and ask ourselves, 'is this really true?'  We need to ask God to help us see ourselves as he sees us and listen to the Truth of his Word.  We need to listen to the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.  

It is time to reevaluate, to switch on the lamp, and see ourselves as we really are:

'We are loved'
'We are fearfully and wonderfully made'
'We are known by the true and living God'
'We are not a waste of space'
'We can make a difference'

So, let's get out our personal Guess Who? boards and start flipping down the tiles with incorrect 'faces' on, and be left with an accurate understanding of who we really are.


Ready for a game?  I am.
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