Have you seen that TV panel game with comedians called ‘8 out of 10 cats’? I think it’s trying to be ‘Mock the Week’ meets ‘Have I Got News For You’, but I just wish someone would tell me what it is that 8 out of 10 cats do/prefer! Cream instead of milk? Catnip or fish? Lying around in the sun? Anyway, we’ve watched it a couple of times and they have a round where the contestants have to guess what the top 3 topics of public interest have been during the past week – Posh & Becks, the Royal Wedding, phone hacking – whatever is grabbing the headlines and getting people talking.
So on that note, and coming a lot nearer home to the ongoing Dyer saga, I think we have definitely discovered what the Number 1 topic for this week is – ie the Mail on Sunday article. Yesterday I had the most hits on my blog since starting 11 months ago: I don’t know how many of those are interested members of the public and how many are the responses of widespread friends drawn in by a national newspaper story, but believe me, I really don’t want to get carried away with my own publicity – good, bad or indifferent!
No, the first subject in this game has been well and truly covered and dissected to the point of boredom by now and it’s high time for me to move on to the other two. I need to leave Sam and Martin to continue the alternative medicine debate and look to myself… because as one perceptive friend asked me this morning, in an email that got straight to the point… ‘through all of this, how is your heart towards Jesus? because whilst there is a whole load going on that would legitimately distract, consume, occupy and all manner of other stuff, the fact remains that 50 years ago, and in 50 years time, none of this will be “present”, but your heart will enable you to be led somewhere, and in the Hebrews 12 context, will hopefully bring you into a harvest of peace and righteousness’.
I know well that ‘the Hebrews 12 context’ is about pressing on through hardships, knowing that God is using these difficulties to discipline us as children are disciplined by their father – for their good. I know this passage makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is the example in this, in setting His face to pass through suffering and instead of becoming bitter and hard-hearted at the hardship He faced, concentrating on the end result of joy and life. Therefore if God allows us to pass through the fire, through misunderstanding, criticism, pain, it is because He is training and strengthening us for sonship – and for that harvest of peace and righteousness at the end. He loves us enough not to let us off the hook – He wants to make us like His Firstborn Son! It makes sense, but it IS painful at the time… and that’s why Tim asked me the question.
How is my heart toward Jesus? How is yours? It is the one eternal question that really matters – as Tim’s sweet message says, the right inner attitude of humility and grace enables us to be led… into fullness, into the reaping of what has been sown. Rob Bell’s book ‘Love Wins’ underlines this idea – that we start to prepare for our eternal future now by the way we respond and behave, creating heaven or hell around us by our choices. Whatever the theological arguments around the existence of a real place called hell, Bell has got a point about the power we all have to create and affect our own environment with our words and actions; surely as the tag line from Gladiator declares, ‘What we do in life echoes in eternity’.
Maybe I have caught just a glimpse of negative choices and hard hearts in some of the cruel comments left on the web article by hurting and vindictive people. But I certainly can’t let my wounds breed anger and point the finger at another… I know my own heart and reactions too well. I must remain soft-hearted – all the more because my declared intention in this blog is ‘Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks’ so whatever I am carrying I will reproduce here. As Jesus also said, ‘it is the things that come out of a man (his words) that make him unclean’, not what goes in (food) (Mark 7v15). The Lord’s brother James later pulls no punches in reminding us that the tongue is a fire that can corrupt a whole person and that no-one can tame (James 4v6,8): I’ll bet that father of the chuch was a disciplinarian!
So – as another wise friend Pete has advised, I move on from the headline story of this week, making sure I have extended forgiveness to those who have hurt me and submitted everything back to the Judge of all: my heart is at peace and my tongue will cease its arguing. ‘This far has the Lord helped us’ and the truth is, my heart toward Jesus is full of gratitude and awe at all He is doing in this crazy situation we are in, working everything for our good, as He promises, whether we understand how or not.