Have you ever watched those tennis matches where one player is hopelessly outmatched by the other? During those breaks in the match between games, they sit with the towel over their heads as the commentators dissect each point and ask questions about commitment to winning or assess the man or woman’s fitness levels.
Yes, I watched the Andy Murray game against Nadal. Yes, he lost and it was not his finest hour – there was no taking it to the wire. It appeared that Andy had lost no credibility in the commentators’ eyes – it was only six months since surgery on his back; it was only the second time he had got to the semis in the French Open; Clay clearly wasn’t his preferred playing surface; Nadal was playing out of his skin.
I was Andy Murray last night! All week at work I have felt outplayed. I had been slapped sideways on so many occasions. A low point occurred Wednesday afternoon – something precious and mostly irreplaceable – a work of art of the written kind – was cut adrift into cyber space. Don’t tell me that I should back things up! I thought I had backed it up on more than one device only to discover I had only a first draft, not a nearly finished product. It was a towel on the head moment.
Things just hadn’t gone as planned and I was aware that things will get more hectic rather than more settled. If I wasn’t coping in a time of relative rest, I was certainly not going to cope in a time of busy-ness.
I scrolled through the list of nervous breakdown signs and none of them applied. I wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or robbed in some way.
As if, He commented, I could be that close, when I had the Almighty on my side. If only He knew, I thought sourly, that sometimes it is precisely because He is on my side that I feel close to the edge. I had spent some of my week explaining to groups of young people some of the tough things Jesus said – like “turn the other cheek”. It’s just on the possible side impossible to make it almost impossible!
So, yes, slapped sideways described my week well.
I settled down to spread the week’s mess on the floor of God’s throne room ready for an autopsy. No unsuccessful strategies, however, were pulled from the week, weighed and measured and scrutinised.
I found myself reading Ephesians 3:16 “I pray (that’s Paul speaking) that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being,”
My inner man had taken a pounding and strengthening seemed like a good idea.
I went on to read the account of Jesus being tempted in Luke 4. There were things that Jesus knew to be true. He knew himself to be the Son of God because God had said it out loud during his baptism. Yet the enemy was poking holes and goading Him by saying “If You were…You would do this or that..”
It is a sad day when out enemy knows more about what God’s word says than we do.
Jesus didn’t debate the issue. He knew God’s word – what it said and what it didn’t say. If the word of God is like a two edged sword – the enemy has his own self-forged warped version. The sword that Jesus wields is the true sword.
God reminded me that His word was deeply rooted inside me. More than that – I knew the Author of the Word. The trials of the week were not about poking holes into my boat and watching me sink. The fact that there were no holes, and I didn’t sink, was proof that my boat was strong and seaworthy.
Today was another morning of being slapped sideways – in a good sense.
I enjoyed a morning of creative writing. It was a small gathering at the Breathe Chapel of writers. Writing was a big part of it, as was sharing what we had written.
The first swipe came as a lady read out a poem about a broken chandelier. At first read through I was just not getting it. Then, I don’t know what happened. Suddenly the broken chandelier took on a whole new identity. Memories of years of fertility treatment and miscarriages came back with all of the emotions I felt at the time. Asking why, not understanding, not being able to function afterwards. My whole picture of “family” was shattered like a broken chandelier. It couldn’t be fixed. Poetry is about touching the emotions – and her poem certainly touched me. It ended with picking up a broken piece of glass and handing over to God and seeing the rainbow of light glinting off the fragment. It described so well what I did to be able to move on.
The second swipe, which was really the first swipe seeing as it came first, happened when another lady talked about the poetry of “Melanie Kerr” not realising she was sitting next to me. She had been to an open-mic evening at the Sunset Café. She had picked up one of my books and shared a couple of the poems from it. She must have sat down to read more of the poems and liked them. “Liked them” is perhaps too mild a reaction. We will pass on the superlatives – my head won’t fit through the door. She really liked them. I love my book and it never fails to amaze me that I wrote the poems. I really like them too. It was nice to feel appreciated.
When God encourages a person he does it BIG TIME.