This morning began with tears. It was my own fault. I shouldn’t expect to preach a sermon on ‘Being Honest with God’ and not expect to be challenged to ‘be honest with God’.
It is my day off and I’d hoped for a lie in… I woke at 6, (feeling sick as I have woken every morning for about the last three weeks). Still at least I’d slept… so I headed for coffee and “prayer”. Hmm… I’m glad you weren’t listening, there was a fair amount of swearing, not a few tears and several tissues worth of snot. Not a pretty sight and NOT a great start to the day. The gist of my complaint? ‘I’m fed up, God! I’m fed up of being in pain. I’m really, really, really bored with my injured left ankle and completely and utterly irritated with my aching teeth’. It was the realisation at dawn that the only ‘cure’ I’ve found so far (Ibubrofen) is probably the cause of the nausea, that was the final straw, tipping me over into my own personal pity party.
(Warning:the next paragraph contains ‘boring medical details’: I’ll try and make it entertaining but you are welcome to skip it, it just puts into context what I really want to say)
I fell over 7 weeks ago and sprained my ankle badly. This has totally trashed my training routine and the jury is still out as to whether I can do the events I’d like to do in Sept and October both of which I’ve been really looking forward to. It IS healing and it IS a miracle that our bodies heal themselves but, call me petulant, I’d kind of hoped for some divine intervention instead of hard graft, boring exercises, compression bandages and expensive physio. At the other end of my body, my teeth still hurt. I believe I’ve moaned about this in a previous blog so I won’t say much more except to say that in the last week I have had the 4th specialist examine me and declare ‘You have wonderfully healthy teeth, perfect gums and good all round oral hygiene’ Well, whoopy doo, that’s great, now tell me why they HURT??? This specialist even ran an electric current through each tooth in turn, instructing me to ‘tell her when I could feel it’. I didn’t need to. I believe I lifted slightly off the chair each time. She had said it wouldn’t hurt. She LIED! Anyway the end result of that diverting exploration was that ‘yes, your teeth are all alive’. Jolly good.
So the gist of my prayers can be summed up by Psalm 13 which I had read on Sunday eve as part of a sermon on Being Honest with God – the Psalms of Lament. Recently I have read a book called The Papa Prayer by Larry Crabb. About 20 years ago a Larry Crabb book called Inside Out changed me deeply, from the inside out even. It’s a very honest book about how life is disappointing and how most of our needs will not be met this side of heaven anyway (not terribly cheery but very insightful). Anyway, Larry Crabb has moved on. His previous books were all out of the school of conservative, evangelical theology so basically not a lot about intimacy with God but this book Papa Prayer is all about how you can in fact draw very close to God (even in an emotionally tangible way!) so long as you get honest about where you are. As a book, it repeats itself terribly and I got very irritated by just how surprised he was by his discovery (hasn’t ever read the mystics?) but what comes over is his real, personal delight in finally feeling closer to God (he is in his sixties now).
His best illustration was about the Red Dot. You know when you arrive in a strange city you always look round for one of those big maps that shows you the locality and what are you looking for? The Red Dot that says ‘You are Here’. If you don’t find the red dot the map is as good as useless to you, you can’t move on until you know where you are (and possibly even how you got there). This is a great analogy for prayer and his PAPA prayer acronym is basically just a system for helping us present ourselves to God exactly as we are: angry, distressed, confused, hurt, fearful, etc etc. Ever since the Garden of Eden we have been good at hiding from God but if we can’t come honestly to God then there is little point coming at all.
So that was what I did. When I’d done moaning it was still only 6:25 am so what to do now? Well I guess I should read my Bible. Mmmm. My passage for the day Luke 12 was a rather bracing ‘stop moaning and just get on with it’ type of comfort. Not quite the kind of response I’d hoped for.
Anyway, long story short, that’s what I did do: stopped moaning and just got on with it. Said ‘S*d it’ to my leg and went out for a run. Felt okay after one mile so carried on and ran two. Got home and had breakfast and thought ‘let’s go ride a bike’ so I did. Felt so good I went 18 miles with Amy Macdonald in my ears and the sun on my face. Cracking, it was, just cracking.
Okay so my teeth still hurt, but my leg’s not too bad at all. I did plunge it into a bucket of ice water on return just in case but actually I think it’s feeling (dare I say it?) better than it was first thing this morning.
Sometimes the ‘everyday miracles’ are the best 🙂