When I was a teenager it was all about playing football, having a career and precious little else mattered, then I came to know and fall in love with Alison.
When we got married all I wanted was to live in our little house in Plane street, but then what Alison calls my wandering instinct clicked in and I wanted to move.
Even as a young Minister I went into college full of certainties about my faith and how it should be expressed and then on leaving college I encountered `the real world` and realised I would have to fully explain my views to people who didn`t agree with them. But more………..I`d have to learn to listen to their views and try to understand them and even if I still didn`t agree I`d have to find a way of working with them.
I rejoiced in fairly decent health, but now my hearing has dipped considerably and I`m having to face the prospect of increased hearing difficulties as I get older.
I think about the words of the David Bowie song, “Changes” http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/davidbowie/changes.html and especially the line “Time may change me……..”
In other words all the certainties that I had in years gone by have either been challenged or have moved on. If they`ve been challenged I`ve had to learn to reassess and in some cases re-discover fresh certainties. If they`ve been moved on it’s because of a greater understanding of context, situation and above all else, love.
You see, the one certainty I still have is that somehow, in some way and for some reason God still loves me and in Jesus showed that love. All my theological posturing, my ideological assumptions and my youthful rebelliousness have been challenged, confronted, and in some ways confused, BUT God still remains the one I follow. Jesus is STILL my Lord and Saviour. Yes, my understanding may have changed but the relationship is still there and as strong as ever.
And that’s what relationship does……………….it encourages us to listen and learn from the other; it encourages us to change to please the other; it allows for mistakes and for development. I worry about those folk, Christians and non`Christians, who take up entrenched, immovable positions and hang on to them without dialogue and without a desire to see if perhaps God is telling them something different.
I`m reminded of the old joke about a man sitting on the roof of his house because of rising floods. He prays to God “Lord, I know you can perform a miracle and save me; send a miracle now.” After a while a boat comes along and its occupants shout “swim to us” but the man remains where he is “God will save me.” A while later a helicopter comes along and offers to winch him up, but the man shouts back “its ok, God will save me.”
Sadly the flood waters continue to rise and the man is drowned. When he get to the pearly gates he says to God “I`m really disappointed in you; I`ve believed in you, followed you and done all you asked of me and yet you couldn`t send a miracle to help me in my time of trouble.” God, patiently, replies “I sent a boat and a helicopter. How much more of a miracle did you want ?”
The trouble is that those who think that by clinging on to what they first learnt in life (either spiritually or otherwise) will mean they are right in everything, miss out on the God-given miracle of development and on the excitement of always learning something knew about God, about Jesus and about the world we`re called to live in.
I thank God that I`ve matured (and there’s more maturing to be done yet, believe me) and I pray that I will always have the expectation of more to be learnt and experienced.