Friday, April 13, 2012

A Sister’s Example

I was very impressed when my sister told me that she had written a letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron. Writing strongly worded letters is often on the to-do list but never gets done. A verbal diatribe directed at the TV or at the husband is usually as far as it goes.

She was writing about the aid money given to some countries that probably don’t need our help and are possibly richer than we are right now – they are certainly not as debt ridden. I think I have fallen into a “presumption hole”. I suppose that teaching a course on poverty issues I have done a lot of research on the subject of developed and developing nations, who has money and who doesn’t. The trouble is I am beginning to think that no one is really telling the truth. Information, whether it comes from a newspaper or a website is often skewed or biased in some way. Statistics are flung at me from every angle and we all know that 55% of statistics are made up.

I didn’t launch into an opposing view from my sister or point out that poor in this country is nothing like poor in a developing country. I didn’t play around with terms like relative and absolute poverty or point out who has a welfare system and who doesn’t, and who can claim benefits and who can’t. I was impressed that she had become sufficiently concerned to write to the Prime Minister.

I was impressed that her letter merited a reply. The letter she received wasn’t from David Cameron. He had passed it on to someone perhaps a little bit more informed than he was. He tried to explain why it was necessary to give money to Somalia. I didn’t like the letter. I didn’t like his reasoning at all. It wasn’t about helping the Somalis. Any aid given was given for selfish motives – for “our interests” in the region. He wrote about terrorist threats and seemed to imply that giving money to Somalia would mean that in some way we were protected from terrorists, much like the owner of a small corner shop in a really rough end of town might pay protection money so the baddies wouldn’t raid the till or trash the shelves.

It was a very condescending letter. It showed too little respect for the person who wrote to them – my sister. It was a written version of a pat on the head and a “There, there, dear…we know what we are doing and we really don’t have the time to explain it in terms you could understand.”

She showed me the letter sh had sent – the pre-sent version in her journal.

As much as I was impressed by the letter and the heart response that had caused it to be written – I was uber-impressed with the journal itself. It was a diary with a double page for each day. Each page, for each day, was written neatly and in detail. Where she had run out of space, she wrote along the bottom, or the edges. There was no wasted space – and no empty day.

I didn’t read the entries, except for the letter but I caught glimpses of Bible verses written out. There was her own commentary on the verse and anecdotes that the verse brought to mind.

The journal spoke to me of discipline and of time spent in the Bible, with God, listening to Him. It put me to shame. I can congratulate myself, sometimes, on a vibrant relationship with God – but I am undisciplined. I have note books everywhere, and I do a lot of thinking about things – but my written record of my encounters with God are, at best, patchy. I write volumes when I am happy and inspired. I write nothing when life is a difficult climb. Not so my sister – every day, mountain top or mire pit, is recorded.

It’s not legalistic. It’s not done simply so she can say that she did it and it’s out of the way. It’s about a relationship with the living God and how she invites him in to her everyday life.

I went back to my hotel later than evening and determined to follow her example. I am still following…

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