Acts 27 : 27 – 30
On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found the water was one hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight…
Paul’s trip was shorter than ours but just as traumatic. We’ve been in this boat for weeks and weeks, holding on to a dream of warm sand and solid ground under our feet. Very tempting to settle for the first shore in sight. We are a bit wary, though. Longing for dry land after an eternity of uncharted seas is one thing, the risky business of edging through shallow waters as we head for shore is something else.
Like millions of other people Bridget and I have tried very hard to be good as this horrible virus has confined and frightened and confused us. We would love to move from the deep to the shallows now. It would be wonderful to land. At the same time, we really do not want to make any silly mistakes. None of us do, but we are no longer in the same boat. There are as many wildly varying experiences as there are men, women and children. The thing most of us have in common is the hope of arriving at a place that is right for us, whatever that turns out to mean.
Shallow waters are very attractive. You can swim in them. You can use them to enjoy not being in a stupid boat. They can take you home. It is also true that hidden rocks can be deceptive and destructive. Tides can treacherously pull us in the wrong direction.
So there it is. Bridget and I crave destination, but if we manage to navigate our way to the first shore in sight we might explore the beach, we might even think about settling down, but we are definitely going to make sure our little boat is tied up and ready for use in case the journey needs to continue.
These are the sorts of things we shall be talking about every Friday. Join us for lots of laughs, a smattering of comments and stories from our wonderful listeners, and thoughts and reflections that will, as usual, range from deep to extraordinarily shallow.
Adrian & Bridget
A DAILY DOSE OF PONDERING IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC
Listen in to Adrian & Bridget speaking each day from their home in the north of England
This summer Bridget and I will have been married for fifty years - we can hardly believe it either! We have been trying to follow Christ for even longer than that in our own rather oddly shaped fashion, facing a few crises on the way and now finding ourselves with all of you in the middle of a world pandemic.
As young Christians we were given ‘My Utmost For his Highest’, a book of Bible readings by a man called Oswald Chambers. We did try to read it. For a while we pretended that we understood what he was on about, but we gave up in the end. It might as well have been in Swahili. I hope I didn’t get too vocal about this because as the years went by I discovered that my impoverished experience and insight was slowly beginning to catch up with his wisdom. Bridget and I deeply appreciate a meditation by Chambers in which he makes the following startling suggestion:
God is not working toward a particular end — His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see Him walking on the sea, no shore, no success, no goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see him.
In other words, the safest and most useful place for believers to find themselves as they journey in their little boats is one where, however fine or inclement the weather, there is no shore in sight, and no promise or likelihood of success as the world (and a considerable portion of the modern Church) would understand the concept.
A global virus does rather sharpen the point of this particular issue, to say the least. It certainly does for us, and I expect for many of you. We are journeying in very choppy waters. Over the next few weeks we are going to have a go at regularly offering you our thoughts and fears and reflections and a few laughs, as we measure our acceptance of an idea that, to many, might look like a massive negative disguised as an essential positive. Whatever else, we will commit to telling the truth about what’s happening to us. We would love you to listen in.
After all, to mangle the metaphor, wherever we find ourselves, however far apart, we are in the same boat.
Adrian and Bridget
FIND THEM ALL ON OUR YouTube CHANNEL
‘In the year 2000 I wrote the first of my books that I was brave enough to call a novel. ‘Ghosts’ later became ‘Silver Birches’ and has now been made into a full length feature film simply entitled BIRCHES’…. Adrian
BIRCHES DVD : A poignant story of love, loss and finding faith again. David loses his wife Jessica to a sudden, totally unexpected illness while the couple are in their thirties. A much sought-after Christian speaker, he is used to comforting and inspiring people, but now he no longer has any answers and isolates himself in his grief. Then he is invited by an old friend for a weekend reunion with members of his teenage church youth club, with whom he has been out of contact for years. David refuses until he hears that a last gift from Jessica is waiting for him if he goes. What follows is an intense and emotional weekend. David discovers that he is not the only one struggling with ghosts from the past, and together they face their past and look for ways to bring hope into the future.
DVD: RRP £12 £11
DISCUSSION GUIDE: This group study guide, written by Adrian and Bridget Plass, explores the wider themes portrayed in BIRCHES and is designed to enable people to safely discuss issues arising from the story. Accompanied by relevant clips included free in your DVD package, each of the fifteen sections include a Bible passage, comments on issues arising from characters and situations occurring in the film, a handful of questions to stimulate discussion, and in some cases, quotations or poems that are relevant . These notes could form the basis of study for home groups and of course might also be used by individuals keen to explore themes in greater depth.
DVD: RRP £7.99 £6
WHEN BOUGHT TOGETHER £15
AND A POSSIBILTY FOR YOUR CHURCH... Bridget and I road-tested the exercise of combining the film and discussion guide during a three-day period at Scargill House last year and have rarely experienced an event more enjoyable and productive. If you do decide to have a shot at this, we would really love to know how you get on. It is possible that Bridget and I would be able to lead such an event if groups or churches were interested, and, of course, if Zoom allows. Do let us know if this is something that might work for you. Whatever you decide, we hope and pray that new and richly fertile ground will be broken for you by this and other initiatives over the coming months.
Warm regards, Adrian
As you can imagine, all our speaking and teaching events are cancelled for the foreseeable future. This means that the books we would have had available for sale to people at those venues are here in our house and won’t go anywhere until quite a lot later this year.
One of the true joys of touring is meeting people, signing their books and having a chat. We can’t quite do that at the moment, but here’s our bright idea.
For a limited time we would like to offer books for sale at a reduced price to anyone who would like signed copies sent in the post. Below are the titles and prices of the books we have at present. Just contact us through the website, letting us know the titles of the book or books you would like, your address and the name of the person to whom you would like the book dedicated. We will add the cost of postage and packing and let you know the total. Then, if you are happy to go ahead we’ll send them along and invoice you through Paypal. Here’s the list:
Paperbacks: RRP £8-£11 All £7 ( + postage and packing)
BACON SANDWICHES AND SALVATION (HUMOUR)
BLIND SPOTS IN THE BIBLE (THE DIFFICULT BITS)
THE UNLOCKING (BIBLE NOTES ON THE SUBJECT OF FEAR)
SACRED DIARY – ADRIAN PLASS AND THE CHURCH WEEKEND (HUMOUR)
SILENCES AND NONSENSES (POETRY)
WAR OF THE WORLDS (ALL SORTS OF THINGS)
LOOKING GOOD – BEING BAD (HUMOUR, MY FAVOURITE BOOK OF MY BOOKS)
STRESS FAMILY ROBINSON – THE BIRTHDAY PARTY (NOVEL)
Hardbacks: RRP £13-16.99 . Now £10 (+postage and packing)
THE SHADOW DOCTOR (NOVEL)
SHADOW DOCTOR – THE PAST AWAITS (NOVEL, THE STORY CONTINUES)
NUMBERS OF DEAD IN THE UK HAVE RISEN TO MORE THAN 20000
Today all metaphors of hope are neatly folded,
Tucked away for safety in a drawer,
Soon we will retrieve our silver linings,
Hope as we have always hoped before.
Today all metaphors of pain and loss,
Collapse into their cold component parts.
One survives, a wash of death and colour,
Twenty thousand autumn leaves in springtime,
Break our hearts.
There is no structure, church or any other organisation, even one whose members have rescued us, that is consistent or strong enough to hold us as we would like to be held, or to reassure the child in us, as that child would love to be reassured. It can take a lifetime to discover this. Hopefully, there are shortcuts.
Similarly, there are no human heroes who are heroic enough to protect us or to make us feel that we will safely survive the collapse of scaffolding that is inevitable when we understand and accept the truth of the previous point.
There comes a time when nothing is left but a crucial encounter on the shore of a lake, actual or metaphorical, between our bewildered selves, and the only one who will ever be able to tell us accurately, directly and lovingly who and what we are, and what is expected of us. We will sit there, having put to one side all our weaknesses and inadequacies, as well as our talents and strengths and the support of others, however valuable those surrendered weapons might turn out to be once they are surrendered, and he will ask us only one question. It will sound simple, but he might ask it three times, just to make sure we are really listening and understanding.
‘Do you love me?’
If our answer is ‘No’, or ‘I’m not sure’, or ‘I would really like to,’ he will probably be very helpful.
If our answer is ‘Yes’, and we are telling the truth, our lives will no longer be our own. He will give us our orders, and from that moment, if we choose to be obedient, we will be as eternally, totally safe, and as scarily, continually at risk in this troubled world, as it is possible to be. Clearly, this is not a choice to be taken lightly. The challenging, and perhaps reassuring fact is that it can only be driven and informed by love and obedience.
Heavenly father, the scaffolding of my faith seems to be collapsing around me.
The person that I find inside does not impress me.
Has it all gone? Have you gone? What am I to do?
The advice from many is that you still love me, and that I must continue to have faith even when everything is falling apart.
Heavenly Father, advice is not the same as relationship.
I cannot pretend that love fills me when it simply does not.
I don’t want to rely on scaffolding any more.
I want you.
I want my life with you to be close and warm and genuine.
I’m reaching out to you now. Meet me in my fear and brokenness.
I need the real you now in a way that I never really understood before.
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for Jesus.
“Adrian Plass’s perceptive insights into the Christian life have made me laugh on many occasions.”– Nicky Gumbel
Vicar of HTB, Alpha Course Presenter.