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.

Resolutions for a new year

It’s coming up to a new year, and as is traditional millions of people will no doubt make resolutions for the coming year. The nation will decide to give up smoking, go on a diet, and make use of their gym memberships. Until half-way through January, at which point it will all seem like rather too much effort. Prices of gym equipment will, as usual, be lowest during February as realistic people get rid of their purchases from a more optimistic moment.

I’ve always been a cynic with regards to new years resolutions. People seem to enter into them with either a ludicrous optimism, genuinely thinking that making a resolution at the start of a new year will enable them to do something they’ve been failing to do for months; or they make a resolution with the expectation of failing. A nominal resolution, I suppose you could say, for there is no actual resolve behind such ideas.

But this is what a resolution is. Having resolve. And this seems to me to be incredibly appropriate for each and every Christian. If we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling are we not to have resolve? Not with an optimism which ignores our past failures, and certainly not with an expectation of failing to keep the resolution, but with faith in God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Christians should resolve to work out our salvation in the knowledge that God is at work in us.

So with this in mind, I have (for probably the first time since my mother forbade me from resolving not to go to school) decided to commit to some new years resolutions. Actually, only one. I could list any number of ways in which I wish to change to enable me to serve God more, but such a broad focus would defeat the objective. Instead it seems better to focus on one area in which I wish to make particular progress over the coming months. That’s a piece of advice which comes in at number 5 in this list of ten tips for keeping new years resolutions.

The list also recommends sharing one’s resolution, so I will. I resolve to get into a habit of going to bed around 11pm.

Some people may wonder why this is the resolution I chose after talking about God. Wouldn’t it be better to resolve to spend more time praying, or reading the Bible, or telling people about Jesus’ death? Maybe. But I chose this resolution very deliberately. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I typically go to bed in the early hours of the morning, and consequentially struggle to get out of bed in time for the next day. The knock-on effects of a bedtime are huge. Someone said that the battle for tomorrow is fought tonight, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. Going to bed late usually causes me to get up late, be grumpy, have a less productive day, cut out spending time with God to try and get some work done, waste the evening out of frustration, then go to bed late again. Thinking that an early bed time will fix all these problems would be another example of the simple optimism I was scathing about earlier, but I see it as a step in the right direction.

And it’s a direction which goes against nature. I’m not an early person. To adapt to a later day (i.e. getting up and going to bed later) is easy – simply stay up late, be tired, and sleep in. The reverse is harder, because going to bed early doesn’t help, as your body isn’t yet ready for sleep. Going to bed early and getting up early will (experience has taught me) reduce the amount of sleep I have. But (I hope!) only for a short time. Once in the routine of getting up early and working throughout the day, I hope an early bedtime will be more reasonable. We’ll see.

A brilliant birthday benefaction

Today is (just about still) my 20th birthday. I got home from church in the evening and found Lee had kindly put a lot of effort into celebrating my birthday – he’d removed my bed and computer! The various computer components were scattered around the house in a variety of predictable locations. I was genuinely touched by the effort put in, which I very much appreciated. I have high expectations for my 21st…

Technically Peter removed the bed, as I found out later. He tried to remake it in the bath, but it was too big.

I imagine some of you are probably hoping for photos. I’m afraid I forgot to photograph the bed-in-a-bath (not sure how I managed that!) but there are a few photos for the interested on facebook (no facebook account needed).