The Greatest Showman

So, I am hoping you have seen the screen EPIC that is The Greatest Showman, and if you haven’t, um…what are you waiting for?? GO, like right now, I think it’s on at 8.30!!

I am probably not the first to say but this film has a banging (hope that word isn’t too cringe?) soundtrack, oh my goodness it is powerful!

I also doubt that I am the first to say the track This is me is an ANTHEM!!

Just have a read of these words…

I am not a stranger to the dark

Hide away, they say

‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts

I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars

Run away, they say

No one’ll love you as you are

But I won’t let them break me down to dust

I know that there’s a place for us

For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out

I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me

Another round of bullets hits my skin

Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in

We are bursting through the barricades

And reaching for the sun

(We are warriors)

Yeah, that’s what we’ve become

Um..WOW! Like, mega wow!

Those words surely don’t just resonate with me but they must resonate with every single person who has EVER been told that they don’t matter, that they are insignificant, that they have no worth, that they are too damaged, or too broken. Isn’t that all of us? At some point I’m sure it has been.

Because we all have those things that we hide away in the dark, the parts of us we are ashamed to bring into the light. But the overriding message of this film (for me at least) is that we should run into the light with our scars and bruises and they should be celebrated, because truly it is those things that make us beautiful!

I love that the song acknowledges that yes, the character is brave but she is also bruised, and while the words may be fired at her she won’t allow the shame of them to sink in or to take root! She recognised that she brings her bravery along but she is also marked by the scars and bruises that life has given her along the way, DESPITE this she is triumphant, it’s not one without the other, it is all things together. She may as well sing from the rooftops for all to hear, that these are the very things that make up who she is.

The bruises, the scars, the wounds.

ALL the baggage that she carries from her past, the humiliation and the repulsion she has faced. They don’t have to be the thing that stops her but they can be the driving force in her victory.

She will no longer hide in the shadows but that she will ‘burst through the barricades’, that is some deep inner strength. And strength like that can only come from knowing that someone will fight for you.

For her that is the rest of the ‘curiosities’ but for us it is God the Father. He is our great defender, protector and provider.

When people bruise us or we are battered by life God is there, right by our side. He is there when we feel that we just can’t keep going, when we are to tired to keep pushing on, he is the thing that we can hold onto, he is our anchor, our rod and our strength.

I know I have said this before but I think it is worth saying again, how often do we let our past define who we get to be today an tomorrow? We all have hurts and wounds we carry, words that have been spoken over us that have taken root, parts of us we are ashamed of, BUT, if we will let him, those are the things that God can work with! Don’t let the things you hide in the darkness remain there, that is where the enemy gets the victory over us. He tells us that if we dare to bring them to the light that people will reject us, the will disown us and even worse, (sharp intake of breath!)

they will judge us!!!

But here is the winning line or the grand finale if you will(sticking with the film theme here!) if we can dare to bring those things into the light then they can have great power and can give so much glory and honour to God. The testimony of our own brokenness and restoration through God love, grace and mercy is the thing that will allow us to come alongside others and might very well just be the key in unlocking their isolation and darkness and allow them to walk or run into freedom.

What greater thing can there be that that?

Look out ’cause here WE come!

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I’m actually meant to read my Bible??

I know what your probably thinking, she grew up in a Christian home, went to Church every week, she’s a Vicar’s wife, she must have lost count of the number of times she’s read the Bible.

Wanna know the truth??

I don’t think I’ve ever read the whole Bible…like EVER!!

I’m probably quite like you in that I have good intentions

I’ll read it from start to finish

(That didn’t last long)

I’ll read this novelised version

(That didn’t last long)

I’ll get fancy detailed Bible notes with extra reading

(That didn’t last long)

Oo I know, I’ll bullet journal my way through the Bible

(That didn’t last long)

I always manage to get so far with reading the Bible and then something’s happens, I miss a day, then two days, then a week and then…yeah, I’ve already given up!

So when I heard from IBRA (International Bible Reading Association) about their Fresh from the Word campaign I figured I’d join in, what do I have to lose? I might actually read some more of my Bible!

All they asked of me was to use their Bible reading notes for a week and then blog about it, so here I am, I week later tapping away!

And I like these notes, you know why? Because they are short, to the point and simple. A short Bible passage followed by a thought about the passage followed by a prayer and then a further thought or a challenge. And some of them have been a real challenge!

For me God has highlighted the fact that I judge others all too quickly

Oo, did you see that? I’m no way near as bad as they are, did you see what they did?!

‘We call people monsters if they commit horribly violent crimes…and the people who want to lynch them or who demand their execution’

Um…ouch! How many times do we put ourselves as judge in the place of God? I do it all the time, I read some horrendous news piece and demand someone be punished. These notes have reminded me again that I have my part to play and God has him. Just like passages from this first week have included people’s ‘Here I am send me’.

I have been reminded that without this simple statement, here I am, send me, we could be leaving ‘potential heroes to stay in isolation and darkness’.

Now I’ll admit there have been a couple of days where I have sped through the reading but there have also been days when I have taken my time with them, to really place myself into the setting, to almost see these people around me, to watch Samuel as he is called by God. And when you do that, you notice the detail. Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Hello?? That is one holy place to be laying your head down!

And I have been challenged too. So many times if I have been given a Biblical word from someone I have been quick to brush it off

Oh that’s nice but really that was meant for so and so way back when…

When truthfully, and this hit me hard,

‘Jesus is simply taking the whole of God’s message in scripture seriously, responsibly – and personally. Jesus never forgets it applies to himself: the call to trust, to suffer, to serve, to resist temptation and to confront fear, but above all else to listen and to say yes to God. It’s all about him. And therefore it’s all about us.’

Let me say that again

It’s all about him. And therefore it’s all about us!

‘The invitation is personal. It’s there in writing. And it’s serious.’

I don’t get to just brush Biblical truth off my shoulder like it’s a piece of fluff.

These notes have also reminded me that I don’t have to have it all sorted and together to be used by God. Because we think that don’t we.

If only I get get this sorted out (my daily Bible reading) then I will be a “better Christian” and then God will use me

It’s not like that, that is one big fat lie!! God will use us as we are, however we are, wherever we are, as long as we are willing! We just have to stop believing that the things we hide about ourselves are the things that stop God using us. God will use me despite my low self esteem and my constant comparison with others. He will use you despite your depression, addictions, perfectionism, striving. Whatever it may be for you, God still wants to use you. We (the Church) are God’s great plan to bring humanity back to him, he hasn’t got a plan B! So either we accept the truth written in the Bible and raise our hand

Here I am send me

Or we say

Well God, I’d love to help you out, just let me sort x, y and z and then I’m all yours. By the way, x, y and z will probably take my whole life time so I wouldn’t hang around if I were you!

For me, this week of daily Bible readings (which I hope to continue) has been about reminding myself of my simple YES to God. A yes as a step of faith, a yes to trust him and for him to guide me.

One of my biggest yeses this past year has been this blog. To speak out and to not know where the words will fall but to speak them out. And there have been times these works have come from deeply personal places, from pain and doubt and that is costly but it is more costly not to!

My part = speak and obey, God’s part = all the rest!

So, what are my tips for actually reading your Bible?

  • Find notes you get on with – Fresh from the Word has been great for me
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself, so what if you miss a day (or two) just pick it back up, don’t bother trying to catch up what you’ve missed – you never will!
  • Slow down, these notes only had a few verses to read so take your time, let the words sink in
  • Find a time that works for you, but do try to plan it in, if you don’t you just won’t do it, it’s a bit like exercise!

So get into your Bible this year, maybe for the first time and meet with God on the pages!

2018…not the greatest start to the year

So 2018 didn’t exactly get off to the greatest of beginnings.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a great New Year’s Eve spent with a fab family from Church. We played silly games, ate great food, drank and watched the fireworks. New Year’s Day started great, we had 30 people from Church round for bacon butties (a great way to start the year I must say!).

And then…

About 4.30 I go out to call the dog in from the garden. She is our great escape artist and loves to go into our neighbours garden so I’m out there for a while before she comes back.

I come back in (with dog in toe) to see I have had 6 missed calls from my sister. Now my family are not massive callers, we are a family of texters. So I of course text her back.

hey there, was out looking for the dog, what can I do for you?

She rings straight back, I pick up.

Um…there no easy way to say this but mum has had a heart attack.

…silence…brain tries to process what she has just said…tears…

I’m sorry, what? Mum has had a heart attack? Our mum? A heart attack??

Yes, she’s had a heart attack and is on her way to hospital

…silence…tears…brain struggling to process…I can’t breath properly…

Sorry, can you say that again? Our mum has had a heart attack and is on her way to hospital?

Yes, they took her to Cheltenham hospital and she’s been transferred from there straight to Bristol

…struggling to breath…tears…thoughts everywhere…

Is she ok? Is dad ok? Why has this happened? Is she going to have another one? Is she going to die? Do I need to come up right now? Will I get there in time? WHAT IS HAPPENING???!!

Dad is with her, don’t come up right now, I will keep you updated, breath and tell Carl

I put the phone down and sit in stunned silence trying to get hold of my thoughts and my breathing.

I’m in shock!

I have another beautiful quote from my current book (if you haven’t read My Grandmother seems her regards and apologises by Fredrik Backman then do!)

Only one person collapses with a heart attack…but two hearts are broken, and the house is never quite the same again

My mum had a heart attack, but there is also my dad, my sister and two brothers and her 8 grandchildren. That is a lot of hearts hurting.

And in all of that I have lost my trust in God and placed it in myself and I didn’t even notice it happen.

God, I should be there…I need to do this or that…I’m not there…I need to speak to her…I need to tell her this…

And God whispered back

I’m there.

Yes God, but I’m not and I should be.

I know Lindsay, but I’m there, I’m with her, I’m with them.

Yes, but, what if…

I know, I know! But I am with her, I am with her!

How quickly does that happen to us?

Something unexpected happens and we get knocked sideways, we completely lose our footing and stumble. We retreat from those who love us and want to support us, we shut down emotionally as a way of self protection and we go it alone!

In that moment I did that to Carl and to God. I barricaded myself in, protected myself from being vulnerable and they both stood outside of my impenetrable fortress and gently knocked.

Please let us in, let us be with you in this, let us sit with you

But it’s so hard isn’t it, to admit that we are hurting and to reach out and accept love from others, especially God.

But like any parent, God sees our pain and suffering and he just wants to be with us in it. That’s not to say that by letting God in all our pain will magic away (he’s not a magician!!) but he will stay with us in the midst of the mess, and he will hold us. While we thrash about and scream, he holds us.

In that phone call my hand slipped from God’s pretty quickly, I relied on myself rather than trusting that whatever the outcome may have been that he was still with me, with my mum and my dad and my siblings and our children. He had us all right in the palm of his hands.

And like any loving parent God has been gentle with me, he has t pointed out my mistakes but as I have looked back at the past week he has shown me that in it all he was there. When I wasn’t there he was. And now I’m not there he is still there. And he is with me too, as the reality sinks in he is still walking me through it.

What a good Father we have.

Don’t be foolish…

Nowhere does it say that just because we follow Christ that somehow we get an easy ride in life.

Sorry to disappoint you!

I will admit that what I know about God, life, the universe and even myself is far outweighed by what God knows about all of it (even the me part). I’d like to put it around 1% but I think God may chuckle at that (if he does chuckle…just thinking about that for a moment) and he may put it somewhere closer to 0.0000000000000000000000000000000001% of what he knows – and even that is probably a stretch!

There are so many things I just plain don’t understand, and here’s the kicker I’M NOT MEANT TO!! Doesn’t that just stink? We’re not meant to have all the answers and to have it all figured out. So why do we try to so hard?

I read this beautiful scene in my book last night

I mean, you know, do you believe in God? asks Elsa.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe in God, answers the woman.

Because you wonder why God didn’t stop the tsunami?

Because I wonder why there are tsunamis at all.

There is so much pain and suffering in the world and I can’t answer the ‘why’.

Why is there depression, sickness, violence, terrorism, poverty, family breakdown, organ failure, dementia, children starving and dying, divorce, abuse, cancer?

Why is it that Adam and Eve screwed up and the whole of humanity suffers because of that one choice? I don’t know!!

There is a picture, in the chasm of the inter web somewhere (I can’t find it) of God standing in front of a man who has his back to God. God is catching all these things that are being thrown at the man but a few get past and one hits the man. He turns to God in anger and is all like “what the heck God, that hit me” and God is like “that did but look at all the stuff I stopped from hitting you”. I used to really like this image but on my run in the rain this morning I realised this isn’t God at all, because for something to hit us like that would imply he has taken his eye off the ball for a moment or been distracted or couldn’t physically catch one more thing and I doubt that a God who doesn’t even miss the fall of a leaf would be capable of that.

We have Premier Praise one in our house all the time and this morning I heard Matt Redman singing

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes

But that’s not always true of us now is it?It’s easy to sing when life is going well but how quickly do we turn on God instead of too him when things take a turn for the worse, when suffering come.Because like I said, we are never promised an easy ride in life. That’s not the goal here. The aim isn’t to get to Heaven with the least scratches and scrapes in life “phew that life on earth wasn’t so bad, I don’t know what people were moaning about” the aim is to trust God, that even in the mess and pain of this lifetime that there will be a day of restoration, when all of those things will come to and end, that we will be healed and truly made whole.In the past, when pain and suffering have come I’ve pointed the finger of blame and accusation at God. But I am not the judge here, I am not God and I don’t have to have all the answers. God is God and I have to remember that. I have my part to play in life and God has his part (and I’d rather not have that responsibility so I’ll leave that job to him). All God asks of me, ALL HE ASKS!, is for me to trust him, whatever I’m faced with, whatever storm or trial may come.My question to me and to you is, Do we?