Tag Archives: courage

66: Timidity

66 Gill blue tit

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

Timidity is a difficult subject for me. I seem to have a great gifting for it. I can timid with the best of them. I know how to avert my eyes, melt into the background, stare at the floor as if it held all the secrets of the known universe, and generally disappear from view. I am happiest when no-one notices me, and I can just get on quietly with my own thoughts. I prefer to sit at the back of church like a good Anglican on those rare occasions I’m well enough to go, and I don’t have the nerve to do or say very much in public. As an introvert with an energy-stealing chronic illness, small talk and chitchat exhaust and upset me, and even conversations with dear friends and family wears me out.

And yet, there is a courage deep within that means I am, despite these social failings, unafraid to fall deeper and deeper into God, able to stand the necessity for deceasing and letting bits of ego crash to the ground, and to speak my mind, and even God’s mind when he grants me the honour of a prophecy or a piece of wisdom. I have the courage to not care very much what people think of me, and I know I would die for my Lord. Just as long as he doesn’t ask me to read the lesson at Christmas.

So perhaps there are different kinds of timidity, just as there are different kinds of courage. It is early summer here in the UK and the birds are fledging. They have to somehow find the courage to leave the nest for the first time. It is the beginning of an exciting adventure, and yet also terrifying. They have to launch themselves into the air, with no idea what will happen. And the nest is so warm, cosy and familiar, why should they leave it? Something compels them. They are growing too big and there is a world out there to explore. Yes it contains acres of sky, beautiful trees, birdseed, puddles and berries, and yes, also cats and weasels.

I’m feeling a lot like one of those chicks at the moment. Used to being ensconced in my small house, hermitted by my illness and need for quiet, I am starting to find my life of prayer and creativity is being noticed. I have a book out soon, and a few pieces of my art are going into a local exhibition in July. Part of me feels like I’m being pushed out of the nest, part of me feels like I should be aiming at the sky and jumping. It feels scary and uncomfortable and yet, inevitable at the same time.

When we are sat in the nesting box, half in, half out, perhaps that is a good time to remember that God will give us the strength we need, and that, like Joshua about to cross into the Promised Land, we are encouraged to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1, verses 6 and 7) where there is a need to move forward. God will honour the weak places where we have a natural timidity and help us with them, and he will certainly take care of us physically, if we only ask. But there is a point where we understand that we must jump into flight, however far down that ground looks.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo by Gill Fuller, used with permission.

 

43: Trouble

43 matei  mf

Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7 NIV

Trouble sometimes takes a while to brew, we can almost feel it gradually rising, like the opposite of a flower coming into bloom. We steel ourselves perhaps, and try to prepare and protect ourselves. But there are other times when it comes upon us very suddenly, like a thief in the night, with no warning. We are hit whilst we are vulnerable, unprepared and shocked.

Bereavements, losses, betrayals, these can all be either long awaited, or horribly sudden. I am struck that these ways resemble the two biblical views of time: Kairos and chronos. Chronos is the seasonal, temporal, cyclical way of time, and Kairos is the sudden happening, the miracle “chance” meeting or opportunity. The flip side is that misfortune seems to work the same way, either building to a horrible nadir instead of a climax, or wrecking our lives in moments.

And whilst this is one of the incredibly positive and helpful comments made by another one of Job’s “friends”, Eliphaz, (seriously, you don’t want these guys anywhere near you when you are suffering), trouble is indeed pretty inevitable in this life. Chronos trouble we can kid ourselves about. We can believe we are getting prepared for a loved one to die, or a house to get repossessed, a business to fail or a child’s marriage to disintegrate, but in reality, when that wall crumbles, so shall we. Grief comes in so many shapes and sizes and I don’t care what the self-help guides and flow charts tell you, none of it is predictable. The only sure thing is, it’s going to hurt, and then some. And the Kairos pain, that feels like one of Wile E. Coyote’s anvils falling out of the sky? Yep, that’s going to hurt too. And both the trouble and the pain are pretty much inescapable.

So what do we do? Can we wall ourselves up against life, against the world? Well, we can try, but we’ll most likely end up trapped by our own fear and crippled by our own defence system. Really the best thing to do is to pray, and to live. Frankly, during some parts of life, getting through a day and still being able to breathe in and out at the end of it is a heroic and major achievement. But won’t God help us? Yes of course, and his companionship and his total understanding of suffering, grief and broken-heartedness will be invaluable. But whilst some problems can be avoided by asking for the Lord’s protection and grace, most of the time he will go through the trouble and the pain with us, not guide us around it. Because trouble and pain are crucial to the meaning of life we were talking about yesterday. If they weren’t, we’d be in heaven already. We learn to live with the cracks in our hearts and the holes in our memories and the pains in our bodies, and the loss in our souls. These are the deep dark places where hope springs eternal, and where grace creates a garden of beauty against a background of pain. This is where truth lives and angels abound.

 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from morguefile.com

166: Barbed Wire

166 barbed wire pippalou mf

Hostile needling presence, pieces of fleece trailing in the breeze, caught on your claws, like piked heads to warn those straying from the flock. Borders with spikes to grab at intruders, a pointed rebuff. Your thorns are coarse and unyielding, steel roses will not grow between them, only a knotted, twisted metal yarn, thickening the guarded plot.

Is this door closed to us, then, even though both sides seem the same? Miles of dusty nothing separated by an unmanned, unmanning fence. Shall we seek the gate, the way, the five barred gate and return to the fold, or climb, undeterred, ragged-trousered daring, tumbling head-first, talons enmeshed in foolish flesh, sheep-like stupidity undaunted, till we lay bleeding and breathless, panting on the desert floor, looking back to where we came from and wondering at the greenness of the grass?

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com

 

144: Waterfall

144 waterfall 2

The curtain calls, and I long to push through to the other side, out of the cavern and into the light beyond. But endless years hold me here and the fear of getting soaked prevails. Veils of cascading current, collected teardrops fallen from clouds of burden, here released into flow that intrigues my fiercely beating heart. Could I really come forth and join in the droplet dance? Is there a place for a human form amongst the pearls that leap joyfully from on high? May I stand, then, drenched in downfall and saturated by silver light?

Then I will dare, I will risk the chill and the wetting, I will rend the perfection of the membrane and be born again. I will stand and lift my head, open-mouthed to the flow and laugh with outstretched arms inside rampant rivulets of grace.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015