Saturday, January 02, 2010

Stirring the Gunpowder

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.” Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

I suppose that I am looking for a verse, a word of God to be my focus for the coming year. I am looking for a word to ingite my spirit. It seems the spiritual thing to do and lots of people I know swear by it, pat themselves on the back when they come to the end of the year because they lived by that word sucessfully.

In our ladies Bible study earlier in the week we came across this one. It sounds like a church minister’s favourite way to end a service.

I used to live about three miles away from a little village called Ashby St Ledgers. I am not quite sure that it qualifies as a village – there isn’t even a shop. There is a church, and there is a very old building next to the church. It might be wattle and daub and wonky wooden beams – it looks old. On the wall next to the big iron gate there used to be a plaque that informed the reader that Guy Fawkes and his fellow plotees met together in the house there to draw up their plans.

On my Christmas list was a book. It had nothing whatsoever to do with Ashby St Ledgers, Guy Fawkes or his gunpowder plot. It seems these days that many books rarely stand alone. They come in parts. I had picked up a book months back and it was the first in a trilogy. Written by Bernard Cornwell, the Grail Quest series, the books are set in the 1300s when France and Britain were at war. Sieges use big wooden contraptions to hurl stones at fortress walls and guns and gunpowder are making an entrance.

Our hero, Thomas, is stuck in a tower with the local French aristocracy bombarding him. The guns can only fire three or four times a day, but they are nibbling away at the tower. Stick with me, there is a point to all of this.

The author writes in detail about the guns and the gunpowder – I tend to skim the technical bits. He mentioned the need to stir the gunpowder before it could be used. In those days, and maybe in these days too, gunpowder was made up of saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal. Left in the barrels the the saltpetre sank to the bottom the barrel, much like currants and sultanas sink to the bottom of a cake mixture if it’s too wet. So, they stir it all up.

Immediately the concept of stirring up the gunpowder ingited (clever play on words there) my spirit. It reminded me of Paul’s encouragment to Timothy to stir the gifts within him. God have erquipped each of us with gifts to use in the building of His Kingdom, to demonstrate his glory to all of creation.

Without the stirring the gunpowder will still blow up, but the reaction will not be so dynamic. All the different elements have a part to play in creating a big bang, but they have to be evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

If I knew more about Chemistry and what was reacting with what I could probably come up with a better analogy – but it seems to me that the word of God, mixed with faith, mixed with the direction of the Spirit, mixed with obedience – all of these things stirred together have go to be explosive! The trouble is that perhaps we don’t do enough mixing and stirring and things sink to the bottom of our life barrels that shouldn’t. The more likely scenrio is that we choose not to stir the mixture because once ingited we think we have too little control over what happens next. We don’t need to be in control – we just need to be obedient.

Let’s get the mixture right and do a bit of stirring this year – aim the gun, touch the fuse, see the explosion and cheer loudly when the strongholds come tumbling down!

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