Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Waiting

No one likes waiting. Whether it's waiting for those all important test results or waiting for the train, waiting evokes a cacophony of emotions - denial, apathy, frustration, anger, worry, panic, meltdown, and most likely results in an angry tweet or two complaining about South West trains.They say that the British love to queue. As someone who is arguably more British than Stephen Fry walking a corgi outside Buckingham Palace, I defy this accusation... we simply love to complain about queueing.

So, if the British don't even like to wait, what on earth do we do in a world where waiting is inevitable, especially if you're a Christian?

Christians wait. A lot. I'm not talking about saving sex until marriage or waiting for a husband to come and whisk you off your feet. God's people have always had to wait - whether that be waiting to enter the promised land, waiting for the Messiah to come, or waiting for Jesus to return.

Yup, we're still in the last camp.

Don't get me wrong - on the cross, Jesus said 'it is finished', meaning His work was, indeed, finished. If you have put your faith in Christ, you have a real relationship with God, and He has already declared you part of the family, and being one with Christ, you have taken on His innocence. This is something to be celebrated, enjoyed and lived to the full.

However, it would be naive to deny that we live in tension - whilst all the above is true, we still live in a world permeated by sin and its effects are evident wherever you look. We have yet to experience a time where there is 'no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away' (Rev. 21:4).

This waiting period can be frustrating.

I had to wait today. Honestly, I've been waiting for a while, but today it came to a head. Firstly and foremostly, if you don't already know, I love Jesus. He's phenomenal. I also love the people who I have to come alongside as part of my job, and I long for them them experience Jesus. I thought today was the 'light bulb moment' day, where they would encounter Jesus in a real and amazing way. It appears that it wasn't, and boy, was I frustrated. As I walked this evening, I had it out with God. I was frustrated, and through my tears, I told God how much I love these guys and how much I want them to know Him, how I don't want this for my glory but His, and how I trust His timing, but why, oh why isn't His timing now?

As I blinked away tears, I became aware of silhouetted trees against the backdrop of a gorgeous moon, and stars gleaming through the darkness.
I was overcome with awe at this clear reflection of God's majesty. He created those stars. He created me. He created these people I love, and He loves them far more than I do. I'd take a bullet for any of them without a second thought; He has already degraded himself on a cross for them, taking on their sin, guilt and punishment, and He's waiting for them to accept His invitation of a relationship with Him.

His patience is beautiful.


'
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.' (2 Peter 3:9) 

Now that is something worth waiting for. 


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Who You Are


Someone brought this video to my attention a couple of weeks ago, and as someone who laps up any book, article or talk about what it means to be child of God, I naturally revelled in the opportunity to engage once again with the issue of identity. Trying to look beyond the uncomfortably intense delivery, I was determined to get to grips with the truths and falsehoods within this spoken word presentation.

To my surprise, and probably yours if you know me well, if I add the prefix 'in Christ', I agree with most of this spoken word. I don't think that's because I've turned into a crazy egotist or become a massive heretic, although I'm willing to be shown the error of my ways, confess and repent if that is the case. The question is, how can I agree with most of these bold claims?

Many Christians adhere to what is fondly referred to as 'worm theology', but I have come to realise that one of the beautiful truths of the gospel is that although we were sinners, if we are in Christ, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) - we are no longer deemed sinners, but children of God. Yes, we still sin, but that doesn't define us. Our identity is secure in Him, 'for by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.' (Hebrews 10:14) As I have come to realise and embrace this truth, I have come to know more truly and fully the 'free[dom] from the law of sin and death' (Romans 8:2) that comes through Christ, and it is incredible.

What saddens me about this video is that it seems to be reacting against worm theology and as a result swings the pendulum too far the other way. Whilst in Christ I can agree with the majority of this presentation, I cannot adhere to the assertion that I
'deserve someone who would give up their life for [me]'. Part of the amazing nature of the gospel is that 'God demonstrate[d] his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.' (Romans 5:8) I didn't deserve or earn God's love and grace, yet he loved me so much that deemed me 'worth dying for'. Put that in your theological pipe and smoke it. Phenomenal.

All in all, you need to separate the wheat from the chaff in this spoken word, but that's the case for everything you read or hear.

But this isn't really about the video. This is about you and God, and how you exist in relationship to Him. Do you know Him? Do you know who you are in relationship to Him?

I urge you not to look for articles, books, talks or spoken word presentations to answer these questions, but look to Christ himself, and let His incredible truth speak into your life. I've not got it sorted at all, but by God's grace, over the last couple of years especially, He has revealed to me some amazing new truths about the gospel that have transformed my life. And that is good news - too good not to share!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A New Name

Bethinking.

Beth in King. Be thinking. Beth inking.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Infinite importance?

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” (C.S. Lewis)


'Infinite importance'. Enormous, immeasurable, supreme, total.

Then why do I often act as though the gospel is moderately important, justifying my lack of commitment with the feeble excuse that 'it's just one of those days'?

If the gospel message is so amazing, so free, life-transforming, why isn't his love proclaimed every time I open my lips?

If I am one with Christ, why doesn't my every action reflect His love and humility?

If the one with whom I have entered into a relationship is the Creator of the world, and the Saviour of mankind, why isn't listening to his Word always an immense privilege, and talking to Him the highlight of my day?

These questions could go on infinitely. And they could create an infinite abyss into which I could sink deeper and deeper as I focus on my own propensity to fail. But that would be an infinity of darkness and anguish, things from which I have been set free!

So instead of dwelling on an infinity of doubt and inadequacy, I chose to focus on the One who is infinitely certain and certainly infinite. Instead of dwelling on my failure, I chose to look to His victory.

Because that is what Christianity is about - not my inadequacy, but His glory, which is of infinite importance.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Return of the King


Ladies and gentlemen, I have once again arisen from the sleepy realm of the real world, and wandered into the beautiful blogosphere. Another friend has started a blog, and it reminded me that although I have had several ideas for blog posts throughout the year, the work load in final year is ridiculous, and diminishes any glimmer of creative flair, thus no posts have appeared. I have always articulated myself best in writing, and I would hate to lose this ability as I step into the real world, therefore I intend to blog.

I have a couple of posts I could use today, but they seem a bit too deep and philosophical for a returning post, and indeed for such a wonderfully lazy day, so instead I will leave you with one of the most beautiful piano pieces I have ever heard. Please enjoy  responsibly.


Thursday, 2 June 2011

A day in the life of an English student

Actually, I lied. I’m describing two days.

Day One

Day one represents two days in a five day week: non-contact days. These are the days in which English students fill the English student stereotype – ‘all you do is read’. One of my lecturers said that the reason we are doing an English degree is because ‘we are the kind of people who have stayed up late reading a book’, implying that we are riveted by the narration, plot, characterisation, form, or whatever floats our literary boats. Bob, you could not be more correct.

Non-contact days are brilliant in one way – you can do the majority of your work in bed, and for me, tea and pyjamas all day are mandatory. The down side is that you usually need to complete copious amounts of primary reading, let alone secondary, for the following day, which is near-on impossible. Other than reading, these days are used for essays and delighting in Google books and JSTOR simply because we cannot be bothered to de-pyjama ourselves and trek to the library for resources.

Day Two

Day two represents the remaining three days in our five day week. Having made the effort to get out of bed to attend a 9am lecture, and drunk the necessary caffeine to stay awake, one generally listens to an interesting lecture, which tells you some, but not nearly enough, information on the novel, play or poem you are studying that day.

It is important for me to mention here that the English lecturers are absolute legends. A particular favourite of mine is Ruth Kennedy, who teaches Medieval Drama. Her lectures comprise of a slideshow of pictures that are almost completely unrelated to the subject area (to give you a taste, we’ve had road-kill, Homer Simpson, Babar, a Rastafarian Last Supper, and ‘God getting a parking fine’), between which she gives little pearls of wisdom regarding the play or poem we are studying. Her seminars are lively, with lots of acting and interaction encouraged. She once prided me on my ability to form a good sentence, attributing such a skill to having read Enid Blyton as a child. Ruth is a very much a ‘marmite-lecturer’, you either love or hate her for her little quirks. For me, she’s definitely in the love category. This is almost entirely unrelated to the fact that I achieved a first in her course.

Lectures and seminars are the main methods of teaching, and although not all the lessons are quite as exciting as Ruth’s, for the most part they are enjoyable and intellectually stimulating, urging you to go to the library to research the topics you’re interested in.

Ah. ‘The library’. There are two libraries at Royal Holloway. By ‘the library’ I mean Founders library. For those of you who don’t know, Founders library is in the main, old castle building of the university. This library is beautifully Hogwarts-esque. It is cosy, with leather-topped wooden desks with lamps, and the smell of old books surrounding you as you study. All the literature books are located here, and I know it like the back of my hand.

However, I have been taking a theory module this year. Being the conscientious student that I am, I looked up an extra theory book. To my dismay, the library catalogue told me that this book was in Bedford library. I literally shivered, perspiration beginning to form on my brow.

I loathe Bedford.

Despite the fact that it’s so evidently inferior to Founders, Bedford tries to be better. It is clinically white all over, with the downstairs non-silent zone being ridiculously loud, and the upstairs silent zone being painfully quiet. There’s a mini-cafe area which sells over-priced pretentious food like quail’s egg bagels. There are never any seats free, particularly around deadline and exam times. None of the plug-sockets work, and the books use a completely different numerical system to Founders. The only plus side is that you always bump into someone you know, generally Jonny Tizzard. As I say, I loathe Bedford, and cannot understand why it is so popular.

Needless to say, I couldn’t find the book I needed, and made a hasty escape.

After such traumatic experiences, wedges in Crosslands (delicious, and affordable) are necessary, before trekking home, almost being knocked off your feet by Judith Hawley (another legendary English teacher who does an amazing pigeon impression and allows ‘cough breaks’ in the middle of her lectures) who is leaving via the back gate on her old fashioned push-bike with bell.

I love my life.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Hometown Glory

Listening to my ‘Tunes’ playlist on Grooveshark (I’ve switched over from Spotify because they are greedy jerks), the fresh, edgy tones of Adele’s voice begin to delight my ears, and I soon clock that the song is ‘Hometown Glory’. Essentially, this song talks about how much Adele loves her home town, and how living there has shaped her life and experiences.

Pretty deep stuff.

So, I began to think about my hometown: Hayes, West London. My favourite thing about Hayes (or more accurately, ’ayes) is probably the smell of coffee from the Nestlé factory. Genuinely.

To be frank, Hayes is a hole. One of the famous inhabitants of Hayes was literary genius George Orwell, who was a teacher in a school located opposite my home church. He apparently hated his time in Hayes calling it ‘one of the most godforsaken places I have ever struck.’ Hmm. A little harsh, but I totally get where he’s coming from.

However, in every cloud, there is a silver lining, and in my cloud that is Hayes, the silver lining is the city of London.

London is so often under-appreciated by those who live there, myself included. I take for granted the landmarks which people travel all over the world to see, the amazing cultural diversity, and the incredible history that permeates each street and alleyway.

Lack of appreciation aside, I love London. Whether it’s exploring the markets in Covent Garden, shopping on Oxford Street, tucked in a corner of Gowar Street Waterstones, strolling along the Southbank, picnicking in one of the many parks, watching a play or simply having a coffee with a friend, I love it. It has inspired my love for art and literature, as well as satifying my social requirements. It is exciting, it is vibrant, it is home.

The reason I’ve just gone on a crazy London-loving ramble, is because Adele isn’t talking about her Home TOWN at all. She’s talking about her Home CITY (if you don’t believe me, check out the line: ‘I love it in the city...’ Damning evidence.)

I’m not going to hate on Adele for this apparent mistake, because, frankly, she can call the song whatever she likes; she’s an artist, she can do that. Also, she wrote it in ten minutes. And she loves London. Maximum respect.

To sum up – love Grooveshark, love London, love Adele. There is a lot of love here today.