Yesterday in our study together, a friend and I encountered a verse in Malachi 3:16 – “Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard.” We were generally talking about how little people talk about things – and if they do talk it is always after the event, when things have been resolved rather than during the event. We are happy to share with others our masterpieces – the finished product – but rarely allow people to see the work in progress.
Joe is not really a great talker. He will talk volumes about things that interest him, but he rarely talks about personal issues. He assures me that it is a West of Scotland mindset! The idea of writing a blog or keeping a journal horrifies him!
There are times when he is more inclined to share heart – usually in the really late hours of the night. I grunt my responses in a hope that he might catch on that I am half asleep – but more often than not, the Holy Spirit will poke me awake, warning me that Joe is about to reveal something that matters to him!
He was talking about guilt. He often remembers and event in church a number of years ago. Joe had invited a friend from work to come along to the meeting. One of the leaders was given a word of knowledge to share about someone in the room. It turned out to be about Joe’s work companion. It was something straight from God, that the leader had absolutely no way of knowing in the natural and touched this person’s life. Talking about it afterwards round the lunch table with friends, we all confessed to moments of anxiety that something about our lives was about to be revealed. Each of us has brought to mind recent failures and falls in our faith that we really didn’t want advertised! All of us, that is, apart from Joe. He knew where the spotlight was about to be shone. Someone had laughingly commented that he must have a really clear conscience, but Joe was more convinced that his conscience must be seared! Some people in the room were real “spiritual giants” and yet they had all looked to their own lives and he hadn’t. I am never quite sure just how worried he is about the state of his conscience.
I think that it is a part of Joe’s catholic upbringing to feel guilty. Needlessly so for the most part! He talked last night about his mum. He shared a wonderful picture of one of his visits to her in the nursing home. He had arrived at a meal time and rather than come back in half an hour, Joe was given the last of feeding his mother. Everything she eats now is liquidised and resembles baby food. She is not always cooperative and it was a battle to get her to eat anything. Suddenly Joe saw things the other way around. Once upon a time it had been his mother pushing the food into his mouth and him pushing the spoon away. He was doing for her exactly what she had done for him all those years ago! She battled through his tantrums because she loved him and wanted the best for him. She met his uncooperative ways with patience. Now he was in that position – not with a child of his own, but with her – loving her and demonstrating such patience. Such tenderness, such love. That to my mind is when we discover who we really are and what we are made of.