Month: October 2010

But now we’re going to win

Roald Dahl lived a life which was, in many ways, simply fascinating. He’s known as a children’s author of course, but he also wrote many short stories for adults, many of which drew on his experience as a world war two RAF pilot. I’ve recently been reading through The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl and found the following passage. The character whose thoughts we see is a pilot about to enter a dogfight.

I don’t want to die. Oh God, I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die today anyway. And it isn’t the pain. Really it isn’t the pain. I don’t mind having my leg mashed or my arm burnt off; I swear to you that I don’t mind that. But I don’t want to die. Four years ago I didn’t mind. I remember distinctly not minding about it four years ago. I didn’t mind about it three years ago either. It was all fine and exciting; it always is when it looks as though you may be going to lose, as it did then. It is always fine to fight when you are going to lose everything anyway, and that was how it was four years ago. But now we’re going to win. It is so different when you are going to win. If I die now I lose fifty years of life, and I don’t want to lose that. I’ll lose anything except that because that would be all the things I want to do and all the things I want to see; all the things like going on sleeping with Joey. Like going home sometimes. Like walking through a wood. Like pouring out a drink from a bottle. Like looking forward to week ends and like being alive every hour every day every year for fifty years. If I die now I will miss all that, and I will miss everything else. I will miss the things that I don’t know about. I think those are really the things I am frightened of missing. I think the reason I do not want to die is because of the things I hope will happen. Yes, that’s right. I’m sure that’s right.

It struck me that this is an opposite attitude to death to that which Christians tend to have. The character doesn’t fear pain, but does fear death. He wants to live so that he can enjoy the benefits of winning the war he has fought in. He is afraid of missing the things he doesn’t know about.

What joy the Christian can have! There may be fear of pain, but none of death. Living may be a tough war, but after death there is guaranteed enjoyment of the benefits of Christ’s victory. We can have confidence we will not miss out on anything good. Best of all, this won’t change in three or four years when victory seems more or less certain, for the victory is already won. The fight is over, the victor declared, and the enemy publicly humiliated.

Now, as has been the case for all eternity, we’re going to win.

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A midnight message

I shouldn’t have been up at midnight. I needed to be up at 6:30 in the morning to have any chance of reading the Bible and praying before going out. And it was cold weather – the worst type to get up in. There’s a word for this kind of stupidity – sin.

But as I was up, it made sense to check facebook. What else can you do at midnight? Even I didn’t want to start on some new time consuming activity, I was simply frittering away the minutes. Which turn into the hours, the days, the lifetime.

Earlier in the evening I’d had a skype call with one of my best friends. We’d discussed a lot of things, and told each other what we would like prayer for. We’re Christian brothers, would you expect anything else? I’d asked him to pray that I’d be able to meet up with some more people, that I would be able to take some of what I’m learning and encourage others with it individually. We ended the skype call so I could hit the sack, but I didn’t. I sinned.

God saw that sin, and it made Him angry, like every sin does. But God didn’t see that sin, and He has no anger left for me anyway.

God is always loving. It’s just who He is. And He loved me. Me, the sinner, on facebook at midnight. Yes, God loved me.

So He gave me someone to meet. He answered the prayer I suspect my friend had prayed. Someone wanted to meet up to talk about something – was I free later in the week? I checked my calendar. There was one day I could meet him. The day after tomorrow. I’d see facebook once tomorrow. I replied, and later we met. But what if I’d been in bed?

If I hadn’t been on facebook I wouldn’t have seen the message until the next day. We couldn’t have arranged a meeting for the same week. Well, we could, but not as easily. Was it right to be up that midnight?

No. Of course not. How could it be? I died to sin, and dead men don’t carry on in old habits. Yet God loved me. He answered prayer. He answered prayer in such a way that He turned my sin, my hideous, destructive sin, to good. I meant it for evil, yet God meant it for good. It’s a small example, but doesn’t it show the way God so often works? Isn’t it a tiny detail that adorns the masterpiece that is the gospel? Doesn’t it show God’s goodness to a sinner? That is grace. And that is worth living life for in every way.

Including in going to bed.

A friend is…

A friend is a push when you have stopped, a word when you are lonely, a guide when you are searching, a smile when you are sad and a song when you are glad; a friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, Praying

I came across this quote earlier and it made me think about our culture of having many facebook friends. How many friends do I have who match this description? More importantly, to how many people am I this sort of friend? Therein lies the challenge.

If you were wondering about the connection to praying, the quote came in the context of God (and specifically Jesus) being our friend.