Thursday, 22 June 2017

On going to see The Shack

I went to see The Shack on Monday.

Now if by this point, you're starting to bristle....
and want to talk to me about it's theological soundness....
stop reading now.

Because in the nicest possible way,
I don't really care.
(In love....)

After starting to emerge from the worst depressive episode I've ever experienced,
in 23 years of the illness,
and finally getting the courage to write again,
I've decided to give you my thoughts.
To 'speak of what I know' (John Gowans)
I offer you nothing more than that.

So, back to The Shack.
I read it back in 2008.
I read it as it is published,
as a work of fiction.

It spoke to my heart and my soul.
The idea that God:
comes to us exactly how we need him in that moment
is one I can run with.

The film did the same.
Challenged me.
Inspired me.
Met me deep within.

There were times when I needed to suspend belief,
but that's what cinema is for isn't it?

There were moments of deep sadness,
as the story unfolded and God reminded me that He is right here.

In the thick of everything with me.

Loving me

Knowing me

Holding me

Then loving me some more.
Apparently He's 'especially fond of me,'

And there were times when I wanted to throw something at the screen.
Not just because of the cheesiness of the film at the beginning,
but also the narrator at the end saying,
'Mack lives most days with a sense of pure joy....'

So yes, I would say if you like cinema,
go and see The Shack.
It's not a deep theological offering,
but for me it has deep spiritual moments in it.
I asked God to speak through it
and He did.

How He did.

I left the cinema with
'My heart strangely warmed.'

In my experience,
particularly over the last 10 months,
God uses all kinds of people,
to help us come closer to Him.

If I can hear God through Frozen,
and Apollo 13
then you bet I can experience His presence very close
while watching The Shack.

Maybe you will too.
I hope so.

I'm praying his presence and power in your life,
right now.

Monday, 3 April 2017

On approaching Easter

I went to church last night.
It was the first time since mid-February.
Depression hit last September and hasn't lifted significantly since then.
After months of trying to manage it;
To work my way through it;
To pretend it wasn't really that bad;
I was signed off with clinical depression.

This blog post isn't to gain sympathy.
More, it's to be real about an illness I have had for most of my life.
It's not an easy thing to live with.
I have to constantly remind myself I'm not weak, but sick.

Lots of people don't understand.
I answer the same questions over and over about what I'm doing to help myself.
I try and smile as I answer, while inside I'm crying.
Imagine the injustice of being ill and people leaving you feeling it's somehow your fault?
You'd be better if only you would....

So my friends
This is me raising my head above the parapet and saying

Yes I have a chronic illness.
No, nothing seems to help at times.
Yes I'm on medication and in therapy.
I walk,
practice mindfulness, 
look for things to be grateful for,
watch what I eat
and rest.
No, at the moment it doesn't make any tangible difference.

But I'm hanging in there.
People with this illness are often very good at that.
I'm hopeful for better days.
I wake every morning in the sure and certain hope that Resurrection Day is on the horizon.
Maybe not today.
Maybe not tomorrow.
But soon.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

On walking Daisy into 2017

We walked in the opposite direction today, Daisy and I,
We set out on a longer walk than usual and chose a different path.

Beside the canal,
over some bridges,
through a few fields.

Having a bit of puff left,
we decided to go round the lake we often venture round,
but as we're wild things who can't be tamed
we went round the other way.
I know!

It was fun for a while
Darting robins
Trees from a different angle
Views of the lake we hadn't seen before.

I loved it.
Not so much.

She seemed happy enough for a while;
but didn't seem to recognise her favourite places,
or her usual watering holes.

Her piece-de-resistance though, happened at the car park.
At precisely the moment when she was supposed to wait while I put her lead on,
she thought it would be really funny to run off.
As soon as I got close she darted in another direction.

Every time.
For 45 minutes.
Well when I say funny......

This time of year we're bombarded with advice about changing our lives.
New Year, New You !!!! (exclamation marks not mine)

But what if the old you;
the one who works hard,
makes the best of circumstances,
cries some more,
sometimes eats too much,
loves well, even though it hurts,
shows up even when they'd rather not;

The you of yesteryear
That you, was already pretty darned fine.

Not perfect by a long-shot,
but still here,
still showing up to do the business of life day after long day.

We celebrated Epiphany last Friday.
The visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus.
They were warned in a dream to go home 'another way,'
And I'm one of the legions who have preached sermons on those two words.

But this year?
This year I've decided harder, faster, stronger is not for me.
Different isn't always desirable.
Change is a challenge I don't aspire to.

Believe me I'm as surprised as you.
As the seed thoughts for this post started this morning,
I was going to suggest that gentle changes can be a good thing.
But after the debacle with Daisy, I've changed my mind.

This year I shall mainly be taking one step at a time.
I'll be busy forgetting what is behind me,
and not so much 'straining toward' but 'leaning into' what is ahead.

I'll be keeping my eyes fixed.
I'll be claiming the promises of the Father.
Join me?

'My child, I love you,
and as long as you're seeking my face,
You'll walk in the power of my daily, sufficient grace.'
(Laura Story)