Dear Lord, I regret…nothing?

The interesting thing about coming to G&J in my 40s is the somewhat colourful history I shoved in front of the high-pressure gurney of grace. imgres-1.jpg

As I commented to the SAP, at least I am under no illusions as to what my son and daughter could get up to. His reply: “Well, perhaps. But if they grow up in a church’s youth ministry with great leaders around them, they might walk a different path.”

It was interesting observing my initial (prideful?) internal response. It was along the lines of: But all that messy and colourful history created someone I’m actually quite fond of. Taught me a lot about life, human relations and gave me the excellent fine motor skills to create a roll your own…umm..swiss cake. Cough…

I don’t intend to glamourise here. Certain sections of my teens and early 20s, but for the grace of God and my character wiring to be (relatively) responsible and in charge, could have caused me to a) screw up my exams b) get kicked out of school or c) be splattered across the road from choosing to ride pillion behind less than responsible fast motorcycle riders.

Was I hurting others? Not by chosen malice, but by sheer age and selfishness. Did I hurt myself? Yes (emotionally) and No, not much, (physically). Did I hurt God? Absolutely.

To hold him as Abba, as a Daddy who paces the floors when his daughter is out until all hours, who would seek to drag disrespectful young men away by the scruff of their neck..then yes, I hurt Him terribly. Each time I dragged on the battered motorcycle jacket to drink Red Stripe with Rastafarians, or used His gifts of caustic dry wit and irreverent humour to test out my attractiveness to the opposite gender, walking a dangerous, sexualised line between flirtation and verbal insult… then yes.

I would have seared Him. My name that He had written on His palm would have itched and burnt. Yet I didn’t comprehend why. It wasn’t because of thundering anger, fire and brimstone, ‘Thou Shalt NOT go out wearing THAT, Young Lady!’ retribution. But because of love.  “She knows not what she does, Dad,” is a line I imagine Jesus whispering regularly on my behalf.

So do I regret? Today I do make an excellent swiss roulade sponge, so perhaps not all. But do I repent? Yes. I reflect back with contrition. God whispered more for for me in my heart, singing a watermark onto my soul. So I regret every day I didn’t return home. Just like Prodigal, I am overjoyed that, despite my flaws – in fact, because of them – He continues to open His arms wide and welcome me in.

 

Hello, Bunny-Boiler Christian

I think if God and Jesus had a ‘restraining order, dodgy stalker’ list, I’d be on it.

No, I’ve not uncovered some seductive ancestor of mine who snuck around Nazareth with her bunny stew-pot as a result of being jilted for Mary Magdalene (if that well-known theologian Dan Brown is to be believed) – no. It’s just that the shift in my behaviour over the past 12-18 months could be classed as somewhat Glenn Close, ‘Fatal Attraction’esque if you look at it through a secular, modern-day (tongue firmly-in-cheek) lens: imgres

Girl meets new boy. Catches her eye. Suddenly she wants to know all about him, so reads every book she can find written about him and his Dad. Just to understand his family history and have something in common.

She discovers there’s a certain type of music he likes. So she starts listening to it too. A lot. She even ends up dancing and clapping along in front of him (so he knows that she likes the same things he does).

She begins to follow him. Works out his routine and figures out that he regularly goes to a certain place on a Sunday morning. She casually turns up there too, “Oh, fancy seeing you here!”

Gets to know a LOT of his friends. He can’t have a quiet bit of bread and wine with a few of his mates without her having a reason to sit down next to him.

She starts to talk about him in a really familiar way. Hangs off his every word. “Oh, Jayson said this. Jayson said that.” Takes every opportunity to be part of his family: “I’m going to have a coffee with Jayson’s Dad this afternoon.” Wrangles invites to family holidays: “Oooh, I’m so looking forward to this Christmas. Jayson and his Dad are having a special lunch and I’m going to go along.”

Plus she tries to call him virtually every spare moment she has. His phone is constantly pinging with SMS messages and gushy voicemail. “Hi, how are you? I’m just driving ten minutes in my car so thought I’d tell you that I’m thinking of you and I love what you wrote about sex and relationships in that middle book.”

Anyone else have the ‘Psycho’ theme tune in their head right now? If your son started hanging out with some girl who behaved like that, you’d be hiding the pet rabbit and changing the alarm code, right?

Then, to add a twist, she’s just as head over heels with his Dad as she is with him….and to really make it a bit odd, he chooses to be falsely imprisoned on her behalf, takes the blame for the mess she’s been making and accepts a death penalty because he loves her so much – all with his Dad’s blessing.

Weird right? I mean, you really couldn’t make it up. Yet, in this Days Of Our Lives story of passion, love, lies, lust and betrayal…

…They all lived happily ever after.

Disclaimer: Anyone who sends comments saying this is eerily reminiscent of some full-on, evangelistic, bible-thumpers may I say: cool your jets. You have probably met a religious nutter, rather than someone who’s head over heels with the Jesus fella. 

After Paris, Lord, please give me one more day.

There is a lyric sung by City Harmonic: “Praise the Lord, when you’re on top of the world.” Then the next verse: “Praise the Lord, with the world on your shoulders…when it seems too hard.”

Photo: Mike Baird / Twitter
Photo: Mike Baird / Twitter

It’s easy to be joyful and gracious and filled with gratitude towards God when life is going well. But in the middle of long, dark tracts of hardship, it’s easy to forget to praise Him.

Today, as I stood in church, my head filled with images of terrorist attacks in Paris, we sang another song of worship. It reminded me that despite my being world wearied, light has overcome the darkness already. Jesus, with his love of sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, the weary, the down-trodden and the broken, is restored. He sits at the Father’s right hand. He overcame death – and this world I live in, the one that tears at me and bewilders me one day, whilst making me smile and exclaim the next, is but a veil.

When Jesus overcame death for me and asked if I would know who he was, he didn’t promise me an easy this life. But he does promise a joy-filled next one. While the war of light over darkness has been won in the heavens, there’s a mopping up process here below. Where darkness still creeps in.

Paris mourned in darkness. And the rest of the world lit up in solidarity. Jesus is on the throne, and while Paris, and Lebanon, and Kenya and more in this world breaks his heart and mine, I’m thankful he’s not swooping down treading ‘the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty’ yet.

Because it gives me another day. To praise him and ‘walk the talk’ that Jesus is more than religion. That I can try each new day to be more like him. To invite someone to church who is feeling challenged by life and have them accept because, “well, Phil, you’re not one of those shiny, stereotypical Christians so maybe I will.” And when they come they learn love, support, hope and redemption and everything that is a million miles from the scary Christian stereotypes they hold.

So, after Paris, even as my heart breaks and I want to whisper, “Come Lord Jesus, come” for Revelation’s warrior Prince, instead I pray for one more day. And another. And another. Because there is still work to be done. People who I want to see in eternity with me. Who carry heavy burdens. How do I get to share the news of Jesus’ lighter yoke if he swoops in tomorrow as my warrior Lord?

Why my testimony was wrong and God (of course) was right

It’s coming up to a year since I stood on stage in church and gave testimony. I’m sorry to say I got it totally, utterly wrong. are_you_fracking_kidding_me_womens_light_t_tshirt-r4c6d415942264f528b99590b00d604ba_8nhmp_324

The SAP may well be reaching for his holy intervention kit right now. After all, being chased by the hound of heaven, bibles falling off shelves, songs shoving you awake at 3am, rounded off by a hilarious phone call to a smart-alec pastor are quite the testimony.

Don’t get me wrong. Every word I spoke on the stage was the truth. Now, a year on, I’m recognising I wasn’t truthful enough.

You see, the holy spirit download that accompanies embracing G&J is something I equate to the equivalent of soul fracking. It’s possibly a lot more gentle than its geological equivalent, however I have been known to mutter “fracking hell” as certain soul seams are tapped.

What I didn’t utter on stage during testimony was how Jesus had made me look at my shame around being unloveable. There are some life chapters you don’t read aloud. And, really? Soooo boring. Built a bridge and got over it in my 20s. So God stopped me in my tracks when the excavating holy spirit pressed gently on that carefully hidden soul seam a few weeks back.

“Oh c’mon, really?” I blustered. “That was one threrapied a while back. You’re surely not trying to tell me I’m still missing the point on that one are You, God?”

God smiled. “I know you’re capable. I know you’re confident. I know you’ve done the therapy sessions, and I also know you’re yawning at Me right now in some strange protectionist denial because you did it your way so fiercely and so well. But just stop. Because until you really look and accept that scar – and I know it it is there, dear heart, despite how much you yawn, roll your eyes, and bluster about therapy and moving on – but until you accept and sit with it, there’s always going to be the tiniest bit of you that you try to hide from Me.”

And then do you know what He said?

“Don’t you know, Phil, how much it hurts Me when even the tiniest, faintest scarred part of you refuses to accept just how much I love you?”

Which is what stopped me in my tracks. I forget I have the ability to wound God. He’s God, after all. How can a mere mortal like me wound Him? Yet he hurts like a parent over us. He bears our wounds and feels our pain. He wants all of us, even the scar-tissued, unloveable bits we paper over. It’s a demanding, honest, confronting all or nothing kind of love. Which I thought I grasped 12 months ago as I gave testimony. And yet, day after day, He reveals there is never any way I can rely on my own, limited, human understanding of it.

Fracking amazing.

What did I do to deserve this, God?

Almost a year ago I sat amongst a group of Christian women, some of whom I would describe as UHT (long, longer Christian life), others just as green and newish as I. We had gathered together over a few weeks to watch the Christianity Explored series, which is essentially an introduction to Jesus, the gospel and grace 101. Whilst I27f82b712677284206c5645e19d68067 originally chose to attend in order to offer my journalist-head some proof, the reality was sitting upon me uncomfortably.

We had reached the point of the crucifixion, Jesus’ exhale “it is finished”,  the temple curtain ripping, of blood, tears and a humiliating public death full of mockery and rivers of spit. The leader of the group asked how it made us feel, Jesus dying on the cross for us. 

I was uncomfortable as hell with the idea. I sat there under no illusions of any sort of self-worthiness. I didn’t feel worthy of someone dying for me, for goodness sake. Die for someone else who deserves it, Jesus, but not me.

I’ve spoken to addicts who, full of shame and self-loathing, were literally delighted in Jesus’ generosity. Feeling broken and unloveable, the unconditional love poured out on them by God – His giving His only son – gave them a sense of worth and esteem that quite literally replaced the need to fill up their inner emptiness with alcohol.

I was less delighted. I recall leaving that evening, driving away and having to pull over due to the tears blinding my vision. They weren’t tears of relief. They were hot, angry, bewildered and irritated. “I didn’t ask You to do this,” I recall firing furiously at the sky. “Now what am I supposed to do with it?”

I suspect, back in the early days, if the SAP was asked for one adjective to describe my coming to Jesus, he would use the word “confronted”. Not because of who Jesus was, but because of what I was and what I didn’t do. For me, Jesus’ gift of love was confronting and uncomfortable.

Love was something I had reason to be cautious of. In my history, love was something I’d learnt to control before it lashed in and tore. My personal thunder road was littered with relationships that, as soon as the magic ‘I love you’ was uttered, I’d exit, rarely gracefully, most often messily, leaving confused suitors behind. Sometimes it descended into restraining orders and, in one memorable case, a young man used a car key to gouge my initials into his hand whilst threatening suicide on a climbing weekend in Snowden. Through it all, I’d wonder at what madness gripped them. I seriously wasn’t worth that much emotional pain. Mata Hari I am not. 

So my experience of love was rarely patient and kind; it was bitter, blackmailing, unforgiving and a wasteland of harsh words. I lived in a hedgehog ball, seeking love and redemption on one hand whilst rolling myself up on another. In my darkest relationship moments, I hurt before I was hurt first.

So Jesus dying for me pressed uncomfortably. Not least because, by the time I’d decided to figure this God and Jesus business out, I was 100% certain I’d therapied all those wounds. Yet there I was again, ridiculously confronted by being loved so much that God would give His son to die for me. Poised to run from the ultimate ‘I love you’ because, oh my God, it’s me. Don’t you know the mess that I make, God? Did you not see what I did to that poor, bewildered man-child on Snowdon? And then there was….  and what about…. and.. I am not a good bet, God. It’s a miracle (and lots of great therapy) I made it to the altar and 20 years with Big T.

Nor did Jesus die cleanly in a way my head and heart could sanitise. It was the equivalent, in my view, of a public beating, dismembering, stuffing the body parts into a suitcase, throwing it into the nearest river, capturing it on video and sharing it on social media to millions of views. This wasn’t gouged initials in a love heart on the back of someone’s hand and frayed climbing rope. It was more, much more – because there were no strings attached.

God gave His son for me before I was born. As God whispered eternity on my heart and sang over me in my mother’s womb, it was already finished. I didn’t have to do anything but trust that this ridiculous, radical, crazy love was for me, all of me. That it would never hurt, wound or blackmail. That it was the most perfect love I could never imagine, yet in a way had always been looking for.

What did I do to deserve this, God? Absolutely nothing. And that’s the miracle.

C’mon, is being saved from sin and getting glorious eternal life so bad?

A few short months after my Liptoning, a UHT Christian (someone who has been a Christian for a long, longer life than I) warned me that the honeymoon period would wear off.

If you’ve read my earlier blogs, you’ll know how taken aback I was by all the joy that kept bubbling up as I cautiously got to know God and Jesus. The feeling of anticipation I would awake with daily in my stomach. It was like a split personality disorder. My before Christ (BC) secular self would lie there wondering, “ooh, what’s planned today that I’m so excited about?” Then my AC side would go, “Yay, I get to spend more time getting to know G&J.” images At which point my BC split personality would roll her eyes at such happy clappiness and attempt to batten all this joyful oddness down. Which was like shoving Disney’s Genie back in the lamp. No way G&J were getting crammed back into a small lamp. Let your light shine and all that…

So I was surprised to be warned that this feeling of delight would fade. Was that the reason why I wasn’t meeting more Christians with the same joy bubbling over? Did it wear off? Would this astounding ‘zing’ feeling disappear overnight and leave me acting like Marvin from The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy?

Just lately I have been noticing a dourness on the edge of my faith. The technicolour was greying. Was this the macular degeneration of joy I’d been warned about? I tried to pinpoint why and realised I had spent an unusual amount of time with some seriously serious Christians. On missions. Saving souls. Which is indeed serious stuff. But each ‘Thank God’, each faithful gratitude expressed for a miracle, didn’t rumble with the joy. It rumbled with important seriousness. And so I, almost unconsciously, packed away my joy in order to be more grave and ‘Godly’.

I ended the honeymoon. Not God. He was still waiting for me to come back to the beach, drink Pina Coladas and walk in the rain. Return to the crazy teenage ‘somersaulting stomach’ love that marked the start of all this, no matter how embarrassing I found it at the time.  I missed it. Missed Him.

A few months back I read Francis Chan’s Crazy Love.  As Chan puts it: ‘The God of the universe — the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and e-minor — loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss.’

Chan writes the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts — it’s falling in love with God. ‘Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.’

It’s true. I fell head over heels, I wanted to hang out with the object of my affection all the time. I was Madonna ‘True Blue’ giggly and ‘Crazy For You’ all at the same time. And while plenty of people talk about the honeymoon part of a marriage ending as you grow as a couple, I really don’t think God and Jesus want us to grow with them into joyless matrimony.

Look at what He did. Everlasting, eternal love. Radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love.

And there it is. I think the joy gets lost because too often Christians get caught up in the self-sacrificial nature of what God did for us in Jesus. I mean, that’s a serious gift, right? So, mistakenly, we confuse sacrifice that is the willing, loving, giving of our hearts to God with the sacrifice that is serious, enduring loss. But Jesus died so we may have life. It’s not loss, it’s gain.

It’s a gift to be taken seriously, yes, but no need to be all serious about it. I don’t think God measures the level of our love for Him by how seriously we behave in regards to what He gifted us. Whenever a Christian nods seriously and says, “You know, Jesus died for you,” I think the response ought to be a grinning “I know! How amazing and astounding is that? AND he resurrected. Fantastic!” Stop getting stuck and serious around the death bit, and focus on the three days after.

God’s crazy love can make us all amazing and astounding too, remember, because He gifted a bit of Him into us when He did it. You simply have to accept the amount of love poured out on you, the gift of heaven promised you, and, oh my God, please enjoy it. Smile with it, shine with it, dance in the rain with it and drink Pina Coladas.

It’s a great thing, falling in love every day.

Footnote: a big thank you to Tim MacBride over at Coffee With The King who has just started a great series about Luke 7 34-50 on precisely this. There are no Godincidences that his blog appeared in my feed just as I was pondering faith, joy and honeymoons.

I do not always choose love

If you don’t think God has a sense of humour, look at the platypus. Or me. Wired for million miles an hour brain processing. With a scant gift for patience. “Keep up,” I mutter under my breath to those I love the most. godslove

Seriously, husband Big T deserves a medal. In the ups and downs of life, quite often the ‘best’ of me is given out to clients, co-workers and colleagues. My scratchy, irritated self kicks the cat at home.

Big T has a handy trick. He takes the word ‘Love’ out of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 and replaces it with his name. Try it.

Phil is patient, Phil is kind. Phil does not envy, she does not boast, is not proud. Phil does not dishonour others, she is not self-seeking, Phil is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. Phil does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Phil always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Frankly, some days I find this exercise so confronting I’m literally hanging onto Jesus like a life-raft and swigging down his grace like, well, like an irish alcoholic locked in the Guinness factory overnight.

Does anyone else have this cycle? When I am not patient, I find I am not kind. When impatient, I move quicker to anger. Quite often I struggle to rejoice in the truth because, boy, the truth of me on my impatient days is not pretty. There are days when I do not protect, but instead attack.

Impatient perhaps, but Jesus reminds me I am the patient. The work in progress. The blank canvas of surrender. He did it first. He trusted, hoped and persevered so I can have a relationship with God.

So, because of Jesus and the cross, I too can trust, hope and persevere. I can choose love, accept grace, start afresh each day. Replace ‘love’ with my name in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8  and cautiously smile because, as Jeremiah 31:3 reminds me, I have been blessed with an everlasting love.

But if you ever bump into Big T? Buy him a Guinness.

God’s Yellow Post-It Notes

The joy of Christianity was probably my least-expected discovery. Perhaps it is the freedom that accompanies the realisation that you are absolutely, totally loved and there is nothing you can do to change it. No matter how many times you trip up. There isn’t any kind of ledger to tot up. No need to pressure yourself over good deeds minus bad ones that leave you with some net score. Just remember you are precious, you are loved, you are not alone. The grace of Jesus and the Gospel in a nutshell. Blank yellow sticky note block isolated on white background

Then something else crept in along the edges that left the joy behind.

Awe. At the size and enormity of God’s love and grace. It is the awe that regularly fells me. The shock and awe WOW moments that explode and side swipe my heart. Knee buckling, falling down awe. THAT I never expected.

Take my messy past weeks. God and I were having a few issues. Religion and I were having a few issues. The right to bake cake. In the midst of all this religious overwhelm I forgot two important things:

God. Worship. I was desperately trying to get my exploding head around it all, forgetting that I’d never manage that because, well, religion has a jumbled mess of flawed humanity at the centre of it.

I was using a lot of my messy Psalmesque, vodka cruising style slanging laments at God. Stomping ungraciously, asking, “What are You doing? Where are You?”

I have become used to some fairly explicit answers from God but in the week after Easter, as I dived into work before planning a family trip away, I felt more like solitary echoes coming back to me. My God-frequency was on the fritz.  It wasn’t pretty. A series of 3am wake-ups, vivid dreams, and jumbles of blog post ideas and questions flying around my head. The SAP has commented that watching God and I is often like watching a cage fight. He isn’t far wrong.

I often pray that God will pick a really noticeable voice like Manuel from Fawlty Towers so I’m sure to know it is Him. Yet there is a pattern to how God communicates to me. First a insistent pressing into my head. Then a more relentless shoving. That I managed to ignore twice in three weeks because I was so busy being busy and letting my head explode over cake gate.

I recognise that shoving insistence. At one point I actually said aloud, “Yes, I know, I’ll get to it.” And didn’t. Yet, lovingly, God served me the elegant solution I’d been too busy to get to for seven days before. I apologised…..

….and less than two weeks later the same thing happened again. God pressed. I told Him I’d get to it. He shoved. I told Him I’d get to it. And once again He delivered a loving, elegant, caring solution – despite my short-sightedness and willingness to ignore Him for the week prior.

Hindsight is wonderful. So I humbly apologised because, whilst I was diving headlong on my merry way, stressing how I was going to do something, God quietly delivered me the solution. I could have saved myself a week of overwhelm had I listened the first time. So that’s why I get awed. Because in His position I’d be throwing me around the cage-fighting enclosure, thoroughly impatient with my inability to get with the program. But, similarly with Jacob (Genesis 32:22-32), He happily lets me wrestle and waits patiently for me to get it.

I don’t call any of this miraculous. For me, miracles are the roll up your mat and walk variety. These are love notes. Like the yellow post its I sometimes hide in my children’s lunch boxes to remind them that I love them, miss them and please can they eat all the cucumber and raw carrot sticks before the cookies.

“Be as impatient, stubborn and hard-headed as you like, Phil,” God smiles. “I love you and will wait for you to understand. And if you keep missing the point, then I will still gift you the solution, despite your ignoring Me, despite the angst and pressure I see you putting on yourself, despite how I wish you wouldn’t. I gift this to you because I love you. Draw closer.”

And the final yellow post-it note, that shoved into my head as I finished this blog post? This is what it says:

Phil, the only opponent in this cage fight is you.

Love,

God.

I’m done, Easter’s cancelled

I know I’ve only been a Christian for about a minute, but today I reached an important faith decision. I’m cancelling Easter. Throw as many choccie eggs (fair trade, please) at me as you like, but I’m done. SNF04CRUNCHA682_773694a

Before you think the smart-alec pastor (SAP) has fallen down rather horrendously on his job, I do understand Easter has immense significance in the Christian calendar. That’s the problem. I’m beginning to doubt whether I can do Easter, year in, year out, without, well, breaking a few eggs.

It started because I was trying to be a ‘good’ Christian (rather than the less compassionate one who drops F-bombs and has to stop herself from telling people to swallow concrete and harden up).

I had decided to download a Bible study app about Easter. I’d been plagued by a nagging notion to seek stillness, not unlike the days prior to my Lipton-ing and, given it was Easter a year ago that started me off on this Christian journey, I quietly chose to do some gentle honouring of the event.

I do love a good Bible app. It’s like G&J for the time-poor. Not only does it give me the choice of putting the Bible books in alphabetical order for quick-find brilliance (imagine my shame over a backyard lunch one day when a UHT Christian recited all the books in order), it comes with a built-in narrator! The New international Version (NIV) chap sounds a bit like Garrison Keller (his inflection when he says Jesus makes me grin each time) while the bloke who does the King James Version (KJV) sounds like Anthony Hopkins crossed with Richard Burton. Incredibly Shakespearean, darling.

So there I was, driving to my early work appointment, with Garrison Keller narrating the Easter Reading plan. John 13-21, Luke 22-24, Mark 14-16 and Matthew 26-28. Let me tell you, it was awful (not the narrator, the content).

I was fine with Easter before I became a Christian. But now? As I listened, and re-listened to Easter narrative from each gospel, my heart tore. We (humans) beat an innocent man, spat on him, humiliated him, taunted him, gave him an unfair trial and killed him brutally: crucifixion is death by suffocation, loss of body fluids and multiple organ failure. Not only was I in sorrow due to the enormity of what Jesus sacrificed, I was struck afresh by how little humanity has learnt since.

Listening to those 14 chapters in close proximity, the similarities jumped out. I found myself wishing that something would change. That, somehow, there would be a different ending. That Jesus’ prophecy about Peter disowning him three times before morning would alter. That Pilate, asking the crowd did they want Jesus or Barrabus, would throw up his hands in disgust and say, “Don’t you get it yet? The dude who performed all the miracles is the one you want, not the red-neck who started the riot.”

It was like listening to a car-crash. Groundhog Day of the worst order. No matter that I knew it unfolded the way it did to fulfil scriptural prophecies from the Old Testament and the Psalms, from the dividing of Jesus’ clothes to the piercing of his side, to resurrection: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” – I still hoped I would hear a plot change. Some new twist that would redeem humanity’s inhumanity to another.

Worse, when I shared with the SAP about how harrowing I found it, he answered he finds it the same. Still. After all these SAPing years. Which means I’ve got some sorrow-filled Easters ahead of me. So that’s why I want to cancel it. Or at least bury myself behind the cushions until the worst bit is over.

Of course, I know I can’t really. Whilst the Easter narrative leaves me hollow over how flawed humanity is, it does offer the promise of something more joyful. Yet paid for so awfully – “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28) – in such circumstances.

Yet the cliff-hanger of the Easter story is not Jesus. It’s me. And every other flawed, imperfect human and what we might choose to learn from Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection: This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12)

Dear God, can Hugh narrate The Bible app, please?
Dear God, can Hugh narrate The Bible app, please?

Christian Girls Are Easy

The SAP had another chai-spluttering moment when he read that headline. Yet it is his fault, given he alerted me to a problem that appears to be invading church youth across Australia, possibly even the world. No-one seems to be getting any. And by ‘any’ I mean courting. Courting is apparently dead in the church. Caught between friendship with fellow female young Christians and wrestling with what’s written about scriptural purity, it appears there are scores of young Christian men frozen by indecision.

This is not good! It’s hard enough getting people along to church in this reaching, secular world. If all our young Christians end up so frozen by purity that they can’t even ask each other out for a coffee/cake/gentle get to know you, what chance have they got of ever getting together, tying the knot, and bringing lots of young baby Christians into the world?

I am reminded of the World War Posters – Christianity Needs You!Your+Church+needs+you

As readers will know, I’ve been longer secular than Christian. You really don’t want to know the full story of how my husband and I met. Suffice to say it had something to do with me getting my name on a plaque on a pub in Bathurst that required me to drink 100 pints of Guinness. Big T was brave enough to stand out from the easy-on-the-eye, yet conversationally challenged local stock and station agent with whom I had been attempting a dialogue. Big T plonked a diet coke down in front of me and the rest is history. I did still get my name on the plaque, though.

What I rarely share is that God has His hand on our relationship from the start. You see, as Big T walked into the pub, my housemate, who knew him already, pointed him out. It sounds like a cliche but I looked across the pub and it was like the molecules in the room shifted. A literal judder of the air. And no, I hadn’t had that many pints of Guinness! I hadn’t even made eye-to-eye contact with the man, but the impact was palpable. Then clear as a bell in my head: “That is an incredibly significant person in your life.”

I attempted to quickly converse with the conversationally-challenged local stock and station agent because I was freaking out! I was an enlightened, double-degree holding, career-minded woman whose predecessors had won her the vote. What was all this sappy, our eyes didn’t even meet across a crowded room and I was getting the shivers, business?

But God found a way. May have taken a while for me to cotton on (sorry God) but He found a way.

Based on the above, the lesson is that God really doesn’t need any help in bringing a spouse into your life. So get over worrying about that bit.

Yes, marriage is serious. But coffee does not equal marriage. It does not mean, “and with this latte/double shot/soy/skim cappucinno, I thee wed.” But you do need to at least make the effort to try out a few beans (am I using a really bad metaphor here, given everyone may now turn their minds to grinding?) to see if you blend!

You’ve got Christianity in common. Which I why I used the headline. Do you know how hard it is in the secular world to meet someone, fall in love, stumble through the ‘rules of dating’ (Lord, save me from the rules of should I call him after 3 days or will I look too desperate?), get married, have kids and then stay together when the reality sets in that the chemistry they unleashed during dating simply isn’t enough? There is such a thing as peaking too early.

Fewer people today think of marriage as a Christian institution. Oddly, it has become something to tick off the to do list. “I must get married before I’m 30..35..40..etc.” say many women. So, guys, listen to me when I write this: Christian girls ARE easy, because, if you are Christian too, you will already understand what’s in her heart.

Jesus is in her heart, right? So start with that.

There is so much I could blog on about: purity pledges being one. And I will. But, in the famous words of Napoleon: not tonight, Josephine. I have a headache.