Monday, 23 November 2009
I have to admit to being a little nervous tonight...perhaps it was something to do with the fact that when I texted Claire to ask her if there would be food tonight, she texted back and joked that I was to be the after dinner speaker! That was when the nerves set in!
I’d better introduce myself...My name is Jane Flynn, most of you know my mum- Daphne. I have four children, Molly, who is now 13, Hattie, who is 12, Sam who’s 10 and Joe who’s 8. 13, 12, 10 and 8 - as you can see they were born in fairly swift succession. When Joe was born, Molly was 5 and had just started in reception. I was walking up to school every morning at nine to drop Molly off and then continuing a little further down the road to Hattie’s playgroup, before dashing home again to tidy up and feed the baby before walking up to school again at lunch time to fetch Hattie and then home again for an hour of nappies and strong coffee, before I had to drag the convoy out again to fetch Molly. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Molly was learning to ride a bike with stabilisers and absolutely had to practice on the way to school!
I am being light hearted, but this really was not a good time for me. Every time I stepped out of the door, I pasted a smile on my face, and every time I stepped back inside, the smile would invariably crumble. All my friends thought I was some kind of supermum...but I knew different. I felt as though at some point, possibly as far back as my teenage years, I had slipped and fallen into a deep dark hole and I did not know how to get out.
What was wrong with me? If someone had asked me when I was twenty, what I wanted to have out of life, I would have replied... “Several beautiful children, a husband whom I loved and who loved me, a nice house and a good job.” Well apart from the job, which I’d had to put on hold, I had it all. All those things that I had wanted from my life, I had and yet there was a constant dark cloud hanging over my head. That dark cloud was depression. Where was God for me in all this?
Well that’s really what I want to tell you about. I want to tell you about how God did help me through it all. About how my depression was lifted and about the importance of friendship – the need to walk alongside each other, to look beyond our friend’s pasted smiles and above all else... to listen to one another.
I went to church. Every week I sat in my pew with my smile masking the darkness I was experiencing and I sang the songs and said the prayers. But gradually certain people began to approach me... these people seemed to see beyond the smile, some of them even seemed to want to hear how I really was! They wanted to listen to me! I had been hiding in a deep hole for such a long time and all of a sudden people were beginning to reach out to me, to reach down into the hole. The problem was, every time I peered out over the edge I would withdraw back into it. It wasn’t a nice place, my hole, but I knew it and it felt safer than the outside world. A part of me did not want to be dragged out – the same part of me that told me that I was not worth rescuing.
However certain people seemed to think otherwise. Finally one person made it her mission to show me that I was loved and valued by God. Whilst others had reached down into my hole, she climbed right in there into the mud and the dirt with me. She asked me how I was, and when I replied that I was fine, she asked me how I really was. She listened. We prayed. She told me I was loved. She held my hand and gradually together, over the course of many months, we reached the rim of the hole and I peered out. This time I did not shrink back in because God had plans for me and I knew it. I knew I was loved. I knew I was valuable.
God had been holding onto me all the years of my life. Through all the dark times and through all the times when I was pulling away from him, he held on. He loved me. But it took another human being coming alongside me, bringing God to me when I most needed it, to bring me to the place where I could turn back to Him.
What I want to ask you tonight is this: Is there anyone in your life, who needs you to bring God to them now? The people who need our friendship are the people we meet every day. Is there anyone who always answers ‘fine’ when asked how they are, but who needs to be asked how they really are. What do true friends really gain from true friendship?
I’ll leave that thought with you.
Friday, 6 November 2009
The word Shalom is commonly understood around the world to mean Peace. Throughout Israel it is used as a greeting when people meet and as a farewell when they part. Peace, however is only a small part of the full meaning of the Hebrew word.
Strong's Concordance states that the word shalom encompasses a lot more: A word study in the New King James version for SHALOM says: Completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.
So when a Jewish person pronounces Shalom over another they are wishing all of these things upon that person. A blessing indeed!
In Matthew 5 21-26, Jesus is saying that when anyone's relationship with another is anything less than a relationship of Shalom then they must do something to restore the Shalom- the perfectness, completeness, wholeness, peace- to the relationship.