I almost didn’t go. Imagine the scene - the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 and the three hundred men debating which inspired writings made it into the Bible and which didn’t. Think about that on a much smaller scale. We are not talking about the Bible this time, but my second book of poetry. Working out which poems would make it on to the page and which wouldn’t has been a challenge. I’m still not quite there – the urge to tweak is strong. So, yes, saving the document, my precious manuscript, switching off the laptop and walking away – I almost didn’t make it! Even then, over my fish and chip supper I was still scrolling through the poem list in my head.
It surprised to me to discover that my friend and I share a very similar trait. It appears we are both nervous speakers – except that we are also very confident speakers too. In some situations we are shy people. Out of our comfort zones we need to take the deep breath and launch out. Our comfort zones aren’t the same. I am comfortable speaking to large groups of people but not so easy with the one to one conversations. My friend is the opposite – she does the one to one stuff brilliantly, but faced with the large group she is out of her comfort zone.
She talked about Joseph – the one with the technicolour dream coat. She chose not to read his story from start to finish, but picked out his curveball moments. Being thrown into a pit, and then sold into slavery by his brothers. Then to be accused of having an affair with the boss’ wife was not good either. Meeting his brothers later on when they came to Egypt for grain he chose not to take revenge testify to God’s plan for his life. God never approves of the evil that people do, but He works His own plans through it. Everything that Joseph went through was a part of God’s plan to make him into the man He could use, to put him in the place where he could best be used and in contact with the people he could have the most influence over.
I didn’t have a notebook so I couldn’t take notes – a shock to the system, a writer without a notebook! In one of the creative Bible communication course sessions the man leading the course scorned taking notes. He said that it was the responsibility of the speaker to make his word so memorable that taking notes should almost be an insult! I am not sure I agree with him on note taking. I take notes not because the speaker isn’t memorable but because weeks, months or perhaps years later I want to remind myself of the word. Whatever – I didn’t take notes.
One of the points made was about not allowing the curveball experiences to make us bitter or hard hearted. It is all too easy to build walls and tell yourself that you will not let them hurt you a second time – staying soft hearted is a challenge. We might never take revenge in any physical way, but thinking of the numerous ways we could cause harm to someone hardens our heart. We talk about learning through the experience but there is a right thing to learn and wrong thing. Letting God teach us the right thing is important.
She also talked about how easy it is to draw close to God in the difficult times. We have no solutions to the problem so we fall back on God. It is the times when all is going well when we are prone to let things slide. We think we don’t need God so much.
My friend talked about her more recent curveballs. Her son was diagnosed with Crohn's disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive system. He was admitted to hospital for treatment. She stayed with him for the two weeks sharing the same room. Theirs was not the ideal mother and son relationship, strained at times. The two weeks spent together brought about a new relationship.
She talked about the different people she met in the hospital – other mothers with sick sons, doctors who were praying for her and her family, those who had watched love ones die. God had put my friend in that place at that time to touch people with her words and her prayers. The curveball that the enemy would have liked to use for evil, God put it to good use.
When we are dealing with life’s curveballs there is always the opportunity for a wonderful witness to the power of God in our lives. So many conversations ready to happen, prayers ready to be launched, lives waiting for a touch or blessing. Too often we surrender the curveballs to the enemy and allow him use them to badmouth God or other people. Let’s wrest them from enemy hands and let God use them for His glory.