The day has been fine - not too stressful at any point and with definite Good Things happening (my lovely Katy feeling fabulous in a Buzz Lightyear costume complete with helmet and wings at nursery, Elizabeth gone up a group at school for reading, afternoon spent drinking coffee with friends) but I'm feeling low and as the day has gone on I'm sinking.
I thought I'd put that on it's own to get your attention, Lord. This isn't just another moany, gripey, whingy post in a long list of them. No. Because I am determined to do this differently.
I am going to worship you anyway, despite not feeling great, despite not being able to go to my lovely singing group tonight as I can't sing without coughing (I know, I tried hooting away to a CD in the car earlier, of which more shortly) and I am feeling so cold that I need a hot bath and a warm wheaty and some paracetamol.
I just couldn't stop myself, could I? That whinge sort of sneaked in there. Sorry.
Earlier on I flicked over to the CD in the car as the song on the radio was 'Whiter Shade of Pale', which I have always hated. I don't know why I felt moved to tell you my dubious motivation for switching to a worship CD, but I guess you already knew, didn't you? It wasn't from any great desire to worship at that moment; I'd have turned it over even if it had been 'The Wheels on the Bus' on CD. Actually, maybe not. It's a close thing, 'Whiter Shade of Pale' or 'The Wheels on the Bus'... but I digress.
Anyway, the next song was 'Abba, Father'.
'Abba Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone. May my will for ever be Evermore Your own. Never let my heart grow cold, Never let me go. Abba Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone'.Dave Bilbrough 1977, Kingsway/Thankyou music
I remember this song from so long ago. It's from my early days in Church when I was 16 and 17 when life seemed so much more complex but actually was infinitely simpler... and this is a simple song.
God, my Daddy, make me more like you. Keep me from ambivalence about whether I please you or not. Keep me focused on you.
Recently I've felt as if life is either an up or a down - I've been wondering to what extent things that go wrong in my life are down to (ahem) The Enemy - and I've been longing for the moments that only come every so often when I see something or hear something that opens my eyes wide and I get a glimpse of you in all your glory.
There's all that middle ground, though; the less-than-highs and more-than-lows and the times when life is just humdrum. That's when I need to praise you when I don't feel all full of the Spirit. I need to because you told me you want me to. In 'The Purpose Driven Life' Rick Warren tells us that worship from a place of not feeling like worship is profound worship indeed.
So I sat in the car and thought about it and I sang along with 'Abba Father'. And coughed a lot, and examined my troublesome tonsils in the rear view mirror (I was at a red light at that point, I hasten to add, not hurtling along at 40mph) and I realised two things:
One: You are my Heavenly Father and you are there whether I 'feel' you or not.
Two: I won't be going to the wonderful acapella group tonight as I feel too ill and wouldn't be able to sing anyway. (There I go again. Feeling sorry for myself).
I'll try again.
Two: When I feel as if there's not much to be thankful for, I need to give thanks for the wonderful things that you have done.
I want to make you happy, God. I want to get to your throne one day and have you say, 'I noticed all those times when you were full of praise when you didn't feel like it and that was good; that pleased me'.
I'm a fair weather friend and a foul weather friend, I think. When the going is great, and I am surrounded by you - when the sun is sparkling on the water and I can see both ends of the rainbow, when my little girls delight me, when music stirs me, when you make yourself known during prayer - I am there with my arms in the air. And when everything's awful and I'm in bits and I can't think where to turn or what to do - when it's dark at 5pm and the wind is howling and the children are fighting and I'm so, so tired, then I am there, pulling at you and asking you for help.
I want to be a faithful friend. I want to hold onto your Name because I am your child and That Is What I Do, not because I feel as if I've received something, or because I want something. I want you to be in my mind all day because that is where I allow you to live, not because I'm emotionally aware of you, or I'm clinging onto you because I perceive my ship to be sinking.
'Abba Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone. May my will for ever be Evermore Your own. Never let my heart grow cold, Never let me go. Abba Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone.'
I wondered the other day why you speak to me often in songs, Lord. I thought about it and then imagined you saying with a smile, 'Well, you've not yet really learned to listen to me but you do know how to put a record on'. I guess you can speak to us in a million different ways.
I want to be your child, Lord. I want people to look at me, listen to me, and see and hear you. When this is all over I don't want to get to Heaven on a technicality; I want to be some use to you now.
At the back of my mind I know I might be asking something scary, and it does scare me.
A question on my Spiritual MOT is, 'What's the scariest thing that God could ask you to do?' and to be honest being asked by you to do anything is scary. But I don't have any option because you made me, you know what I'm for, and that's the only thing that matters. Being who you want me to be.
'Abba, Father, let me beYours and yours alone.'So I will praise you, Lord. I will lift up your Name because you loved me enough to send your Son to die for me, so that I could live; so that I could sit here with you and tell you that I love you.
I will praise you when my tonsils hurt and when they don't. When I walk home from singing with your Spirit fresh in my heart and a smile on my face, and when I can't go singing and I'm sad that I have to miss it, and that little frown line is etched deeply between my eyes.
I will remember the precious things that you told me in the light even when it's dark, because I know that they're true.
So the other guy has no power here. I won't lose sight of you even when I can't see you clearly. I know you've told me that you're there, and that's enough.
I believe you. You'll never let me go.