Monthly Archives: April 2013

Death of a Ragamuffin – A Tribute to Brennan Manning

No, not Bernard Manning! Brennan Manning. Not heard of him?

The contemplative, reflective.

Inspirational writer and speaker.

Recovering alcoholic.

Catholic priest, who challenged the self-righteousness of certain religious cultures.

Proponent of grace.

Author of The Ragamuffin Gospel which, together with Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace, has profoundly deepened my understanding of the Father’s affection for me.

And one of the writers who have supplied inspiration for my own literary attempts in these blogs.

His death passed most of the world by quietly and unobtrusively on 12th April 2013, just 4 days after the clamorous demise of Baroness Margaret Thatcher.

Thatcher left a huge legacy in the UK and beyond. Many would say that she has bequeathed permanent damage to communities, industry, public services and the economy; others might say she promoted entrepreneurship and freed the nation from the grip of the trade unions. Whatever the case, the news and media over the last few weeks have been awash with debate, eulogy and protest about her life, legacy, politics and funeral.

What is Brennan Manning’s legacy? I’m not sure how well known he is or how many have read his books, but those who have surely cannot have escaped being influenced by both his writings and his walk – drawn deeper into the Father’s heart of furious longing and affection for his children. Manning invited us to experience the true Christ – the one to whom ordinary people were and are irresistibly attracted – not the false, fault-finding, ‘religious’ figure that repels sinners with shame.

Manning promoted self-disclosure, encouraging us to remove our masks in the light of God’s acceptance:

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”

He exposed our false views of God – our tendency to assume that God is as harsh as we are towards ourselves:

“We unwittingly project onto God our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves… But we cannot assume that He feels about us the way we feel about ourselves — unless we love ourselves compassionately, intensely, and freely. ”

Manning signposted us to the true and living Christ, inviting us to centre our lives not on theology, religion or any false identity, but on Jesus himself, where true freedom is to be found:

“The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation. He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails. He is our life, the most real fact about us. He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.”

“Real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others. Above all, freedom from your opinions about yourself.”

Manning asserted the openness of grace, in that “if we maintain the open-mindedness of children, we challenge fixed ideas and established structures, including our own. We listen to people in other denominations and religions. We don’t find demons in those with whom we disagree. We don’t cozy up to people who mouth our jargon. If we are open, we rarely resort to either-or: either creation or evolution, liberty or law, sacred or secular, Beethoven or Madonna. We focus on both-and, fully aware that God’s truth cannot be imprisoned in a small definition. ”

One final – and probably the best known – statement from Manning (famed for being quoted on the double-platinum-selling album Jesus Freak by DC Talk):

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

The contrast between Thatcher’s and Manning’s death reminds me of a similar sequence of events in 1997. On 31st August that year, Princess Diana was tragically killed, sending shockwaves of tears and unprecedented outpourings of collective grief across the country.

Five days later, Mother Teresa also passed away. Her death made a brief mention on the evening news. No one seemed to notice, so embroiled was the nation in its bereavement of the fairytale Princess. Diana was goddess-like to many. Why such adulation?

Not only was she beautiful and compassionate – she was the People’s Princess: she was broken, vulnerable and dysfunctional, just like us. The papers weren’t short of stories about her bulimia and her boyfriends. Despite being royalty, ordinary people felt they could relate to Diana, as she in turn empathised with AIDS victims and others who’d been broken by disease and society.

Someone reflected on her life to me just recently, making the bold statement that “she didn’t have a bad bone in her body”, a claim which seems to epitomise the people’s idealistic – and idolatrous? – view of her.

The People’s Princess undoubtedly inspired many people and projected a public portrait of royalty and reality in graceful harmony.

Mother Teresa, on the other hand, served in relative obscurity in the slums of India, choosing the path of poverty and servitude, shunning the limelight, and bringing practical relief and spiritual care to thousands of people afflicted by leprosy, HIV and tuberculosis. She founded the Missionaries of Charity, which is now active in 133 countries, numbering over 4,500 sisters who vow to give “Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor”.

Perhaps it would be unfair to compare Diana and Teresa: two women dealt almost opposing hands in life, presented with very different opportunities but both using those opportunities to bring love and life and hope to people who needed those gifts the most.

However, it always seemed a little strange and iniquitous that Mother Teresa’s death attracted so little attention after directly giving so much to so many and, indirectly, inspiring millions (like me) who had never met her, while a whole nation wept inconsolably at the passing of a Princess whose practical contribution to society had been comparatively small.

As I reflected on this back in 1997, it occurred to me that Mother Teresa would have wanted it this way. She would not have craved public clamour over her passing. For her death to have been overshadowed by Diana’s was perhaps the perfect end to her unostentatious life.

I’m sure Brennan Manning, also, would not have longed for fervent public fuss over his death. But then again, like many of us, he may have secretly desired outward recognition of his achievements, and if that were the case, he would have been honest about that weakness.

He knew that the beauty of grace gave him the freedom to be that candid about his inner heart, with his head held high in the joyous dignity of his Abba’s “extravagant, furious love”.

I recommend Brennan Manning’s books, including:

  • The Ragamuffin Gospel
  • All Is Grace (his memoir)

And I pray that each of us would dive ever deeper into the scandalous love of the Father, discovering the liberation of grace-led authenticity, attracting those around us to the genuine, irresistible Christ.

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My Life’s Soundtrack – Part Two


Bruce is oblivious to the road signs flashing in front of his eyes, as he careers distractedly down the highway, pleading desperately with God for a sign, a signal, guidance, a miracle, anything…

He crashes the car. Of course he blames it on God. Eventually, though, Bruce (Jim Carrey) kneels on the highway in surrender to God, and in so doing is hit by a truck and killed! As you do…

God (played by the magnificent Morgan Freeman) sees the bigger picture and uses all Bruce’s circumstances for the greater good. Bruce is defibrillated back to life – to start living again with a new purpose.

But how did Bruce fail to see the signs?

And does God speak to people who are angry with him? Or even to atheists?

Does God believe in people who don’t believe in him?!

Could it be that there are non-religious, non-faith people everywhere, missing signs that God is giving them?

And how does the film Bruce Almighty manage to address so many profound questions so brilliantly???!

Back in 1985, Easy Lover by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins was in the charts:

She’s the kind of girl you dream of
Dream of keeping hold of
You’d better forget it
You’ll never get it
She will play around and leave you
Leave you and deceive you
Better forget it
Oh you’ll regret it

She’s an easy lover
She’ll get a hold on you believe it
Like no other
Before you know it you’ll be on your knees
She’s an easy lover
She’ll take your heart but you won’t feel it
She’s like no other
And I’m just trying to make you see

I had a job at the time at Martin’s which, for a newsagent, sold all sorts of strange things, like chart records, and Easy Lover was played a lot. I was never a fan of Phil Collins or this record, but as I heard it, the song caught my attention.

I’d been swept up in a whirlwind romance with a girl called Sue. It was a mutual falling-in-love. We were both a bit lost, although I more so. Both of us were looking for adventure.

I was looking for more than adventure – I needed to escape. I was now 19, had left school 18 months earlier, with my A-levels flunked, and was living with my Dad after my parents’ divorce.

My Dad and I didn’t get on. My job at Martin’s, as far as I was concerned, was a dead-end. My friends had gone to university or moved away. I had nothing to live for, aim for, strive for, and still had this unfulfilled yearning to escape (see My Life’s Soundtrack – Part One). It was all I could see myself doing.

Then along came Sue. She was living in France on a 1-year placement as part of her degree in French and philosophy. I’d met her while I was visiting my sister who was also in France for her degree.

A short while after this, Sue came over to England to see me and we were going to camp together somewhere for the weekend. But within 24 hours we’d concocted a mad plan to ‘elope’ to America. We worked out what we’d need to do: withdraw the few hundred quid my parents had saved in a building society account for me since I was little and had just recently released into my name; pick up my passport, rucksack and other bits & bobs from home; hitch-hike up to London to obtain visas from the American Embassy; then hitch to Gatwick to catch the cheapest single flight to New York.

To be honest, it started as a joke, a hypothetical strategy: what would we need to do if we eloped to America?

But, with nothing to lose (at least in my case), we impetuously started acting out the reckless plan, and within 3 or 4 days of meeting back up in England, we were sitting on a plane to the USA. Astounded at our own audacity, we laughingly asked each other, “What the **** are we doing?!” It was a wild, impulsive, romantic adventure.

We planned to spend a few years travelling the States (in the end we were there just 6 months, hitch-hiking, getting stoned, weaving our way through some crazy adventures. The early return was precipitated by Sue’s decision to return to university to finish her degree – a decision which I encouraged).

On our way to Gatwick, we’d stopped at a friend’s place and told him what we were doing. We told no one else: my Dad, my Mum, my other friends, Martin’s, no one. Once again I was reported by my Dad to the police as a missing person.

Just days earlier I had been working in Martin’s, bored witless, being subjected to some dire chart records, and yet somehow bothered by that song Easy Lover.

I wasn’t religious, I wasn’t even superstitious, and I certainly wasn’t in any way spiritual. I was a diehard atheist, an immature, messed-up, selfish 19-year-old, with no life philosophy other than ‘sex & drugs & rock ‘n’ roll’, and ‘I’ll try anything once, except heroin’!

So why did this song bother me?

No you’ll never change her, so leave it, leave it
Get out quick cos seeing is believing
It’s the only way
You’ll ever know

Easy lover
She’ll get a hold on you believe it
Like no other
Before you know it you’ll be on your knees
She’s an easy lover
She’ll take your heart but you won’t feel it
She’s like no other
And I’m just trying to make you see

You’re the one that wants to hold her
Hold her and control her
You’d better forget it
You’ll never get it
For she’ll say there’s no other
Till she finds another
Better forget it
Oh you’ll regret it

Somewhere deep inside (I didn’t really, consciously, register it) the song seemed to be a warning about this relationship.

In hindsight, if something – or God – was warning me about what I was getting myself into, I certainly wasn’t ready to hear it. But if it was God warning me, he was of course right!

One year later, 6 months after returning to the UK from America, in the Spring of 1986, the inevitable break-up occurred, involving Sue’s unfaithfulness, me being threatened with a gun by the new boyfriend, followed by being physically thrown out of his house on to the ground outside by him and his mate.

Sue had been my infatuation, my world. Now my world came crashing down around me, leaving me bereft, bereaved and humiliated.

Does God speak to atheists? Had God been speaking to me through that song? And if he was, would he have expected that immature atheist teenager to listen and respond?

I’ll let you decide the answers to those questions.

But like in Bruce Almighty, although there was no way at that time I could have heeded any sort of warning from anybody, it seems an ‘unseen hand’ was behind the whole chain of events – from meeting Sue, to embarking on those wild times in the States, to being cast aside and crushed like refuse – bringing everything together in a bigger plan to a greater conclusion.

You may interpret events differently, but I look back and see how the One I’d never believed in oversaw and utilised all those circumstances, to bring me eventually (not till October 1987) to the ultimate Healer, and to the start of a whole new adventure – one of following Jesus.

Being able to look back and understand the way he worked in my life throughout those times, I’m grateful now for everything that happened. Because the end result has been the most amazing thing ever!

Without my pride being broken in 1986, I would perhaps never have been able to start to search for meaning and truth. Maybe my mind would never have been opened to spiritual things, and I’d never have found this incredible new life.

My story of love found, love betrayed and lost, is by no means unusual.

I’m also not the only one who’s found the ultimate antidote!

The Father is a love divine, a faithful friend, a firm foundation, to millions. His love heals the pain of our rejections and betrayals, and gives us capacity to forgive and to give, as we share in the love and power of the crucified, death-conquering, persecutor-forgiving Saviour’s love.

Years later this love led me to Janine, whose unswerving, devoted love has been a source of immense healing. God’s love is demonstrated through human beings. This love, this Saviour, has been and still is the most solid foundation for our relationship.

His love led me from chaotic, selfish relationships, to successful, steadfast, happy marriage.

Have you read – or missed – any signs lately?

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Let’s Face the Music and Dance (MLS 6)

(My Life’s Soundtrack – Part 6)

Fast-forward with me from my last post Spread Your Wings (from my teenage years), to Spring 2011, to happier times, for the most recent part of My Life’s Soundtrack.

A few years ago there was an Allied Dunbar advert on telly, featuring Nat King Cole’s Let’s Face the Music and Dance (written by Irving Berlin). This post is as much about the advert as the song. If you don’t remember the ad – and even if you do – I recommend watching it:

If you haven’t clicked on the link above, the ad shows a middle-aged dad confronting his two teenage daughters after discovering a pregnancy test in the family bathroom. “Whose is that?! What do you think you’re playing at? I thought we told you to be careful!” His challenge is met by protests of innocence from the girls.

“John, I think we’re the ones who should have been careful”, explains his wife tenderly.

John turns to the camera in a moment of Morecambe-esque surprise, breaking into song:

There may be trouble ahead
But while there’s music and moonlight and love and romance
Let’s face the music and dance

And the whole advert transforms into a musical comedy, reminiscent of Morecambe & Wise on several levels, and yet simultaneously somehow touching…

I remember, at the time the ad was on telly, thinking: “This is one of the GREATEST adverts EVER!” Both funny and moving. Little did I know how a few years later I would SO relate to this scenario!

We don’t have teenage daughters, but we do have two older children. In April 2011, when we discovered Janine was expecting Hannah, our boys were 13 and 9. When we ventured out into married life some 14 years earlier, we both thought 3 kids would be good, but after having Jono then Greg, we put off and put off and put off, till we thought, “No, no more. Our two boys are enough.”

Now here we were, in our 40s, with our older boys, having ‘done’ the baby years and happily left them behind. Been there, done that, got the bags under the eyes… Now suddenly expecting another little addition to the family! Truth is, we’d semi-jokingly toyed with the idea of another baby in recent times, so this wasn’t a complete surprise!

Anyway, here we were, and the first thing I thought of, when we first realised our situation, was this advert! Watching it now fills my eyes with tears of emotion, while at the same time making me laugh. Mixed emotions at the advert – and mixed emotions at our initial realisation that we were expecting Hannah.

I’m glad that the greatest of comedians

Can bring me to the verge of despair,

And that a quadriplegic

Who paints with his teeth

And taps out prose

One letter at a time

Can remind me

Of the richness of comedy.

(From Gerard Kelly’s poem Glad)

Children are of course a blessing. Always.

Children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127), i.e. although we make our plans to have – or avoid having – a baby, it’s ultimately God who gives the gift of a child. Things don’t always go to plan.

Some say children are ‘on loan’ to us parents.

Hannah is certainly a blessing. In lots of ways. Of course, just being herself as part of our family, is a blessing in its own right. A family sharing its lives together is how it’s meant to be. Perhaps not the only way, but an important, tried and tested way for people to learn from each other, to grow together, to become secure, stable people. To demonstrate love to each other, to enjoy each other’s company, reflecting the communal heart of the triune God.

That’s not always how it works out, but that’s my prayer for our 3 children, in spite of us parents’ faults and weaknesses.

But also, the softening effect Hannah’s had on our boys has been tremendous. Hannah’s been good for them. Jono and Greg dote on their little sister, exercising great patience and compassion, when she pulls their hair or wrecks whatever they were doing. And I think they’re better with each other as a result as well.

We have every reason to dance. We love all our 3 children. They bring us joy. Let’s face the music and dance.

Hannah was meant to be. In God’s eyes, she was always meant to be. Despite our (Janine’s and my) delaying her arrival, she was always meant to be. Can we delay God’s purposes? I think so.

More than one person has said to me, “Now your family is complete”. Did they mean that a family is only complete with 3 children? Probably not – they probably meant that in our case this is how we were meant to be. And they were right.

Of course, at the same time as the joy and blessing of an anticipated new arrival…having done and left behind the baby years, the idea of facing the sleepless nights again, the endless nappy changes again, the continual chase to move dangers and ornaments out of a growing toddler’s reach again…was daunting, to say the least. There will be challenges, perhaps even trouble, ahead. Mixed emotions.

What can you do but dance? What can you do but laugh and rejoice? And go with the flow. This is something God has done. This is something – someone – good that God has given!

Hannah has brought enormous joy and laughter into this family.

Children, of course, are the best dancers. Unhindered by inhibition. We’ve had some lovely times in our kitchen, when we’ve put on some music, and I’ve danced with Hannah. She stomps her feet and bends her knees – naturally, instinctively, always smiling. We’ve faced the music and danced together.

No wonder Jesus calls us to be like little children.

In true dance there’s a letting go, a reckless abandon, a cry of “freedom!”, and emergence of the true self.

In the film Billy Elliott, Billy tries to explain what it feels like when he’s dancing:

Once I get going, then I forget everything. And I sort of disappear. Like I feel a change in me whole body. Like there’s fire in me body. I’m just there, flying. Like a bird. Like electricity.

Wow, wouldn’t it be great to dance like that? Better still, to live like that!

Snoopy blissfully declared: “To dance is to live and to live is to dance” (Peanuts).

Dance may represent a wild, unbridled (but not blind) trust in God. Trust that he will give us all the grace we need in the years to come, as he has done till now.

Jesus announced to his followers that they would be able to ‘trample on snakes and scorpions’ (Luke 10). I’m sure he meant that they would have authority to defeat evil spirits and evil in general. But please indulge me while I stretch the meaning a little…

Suppose we lived as he meant us to, with reckless joy and child-like trust. Suppose we ‘danced’ through life? We would trample on troubles, stamp out stresses, dance over disaster…

To live is to dance.

Let's face the music

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Spread your wings (MLS 1)

(My Life’s Soundtrack – Part One)

Ever had moments in your life when a particular song has powerfully and poignantly reflected your life experience at that time?

Music, like storylines on TV or in books, has a way of vicariously expressing our emotions and experiences in a way that transcends our own ability, providing a kind of therapeutic benefit or affirmation of what we’re going through.

The first record I ever bought was Spread Your Wings, one of Queen’s less famous singles – only reaching No.34 in the charts – but a superb, moving song all the same, finishing with a wonderful, plaintive guitar solo (and the fabulous, fast & furious Sheer Heart Attack on the B-side).

I recommend the official Queen video for the song:

At the tender age of 12, with precious little money for records, and music so much dearer in real terms back then in 1978, my first venture into purchasing records was to buy ex-chart singles at reduced prices from our local record shop. Spread Your Wings was the first of these.

Sammy was low
Just watching the show
Over and over again
Knew it was time
He’d made up his mind
To leave his dead life behind

For years, the lyrics seemed to confirm a sense of my life being futile, and my longing to leave it all behind. I didn’t consider suicide – except once, a couple of years later: neither an expression of depression nor a cry for help, but a cold, calculated plan to end it all simply because life was meaningless and why bother to go through all the hassle of a life fraught with challenges and difficulties? That was how I saw things. My suicide plan was thwarted by hearing that a girl I fancied also fancied me! A temporary reason for living, at least. Would I have really gone through with the plan otherwise? I don’t know – I suspect not – I don’t think I’d have had the bottle. And what I really wanted was to escape.

Spread your wings and fly away
Fly away far away
Spread your little wings and fly away
Fly away far away

The words of this chorus echoed my longing to simply escape – to travel. Escape from the rat race, responsibilities, worries, and to just ‘bum around the world’ with my only few possessions on my back.

Why such disillusioned thoughts and feelings at such a young age? Teenage angst? Disenchantment with the Thatcherite society in the grip of recession and high unemployment? I’m not sure how aware I was of the country’s socio-economic climate at the time, although I did grow to hate England and wanted to be anywhere and everywhere else, and I’m sure adolescent changes also played a part.

But other factors in my life were far more significant.

No doubt the constant acrimony in my family scarred me heavily. I’ve heard it said that boys tend to be more deeply affected by divorce than girls. However true this theory is (and it probably was, in the case of me and my sister), my parents ‘stayed together for the sake of the kids’ for many years, unwittingly inflicting avoidable damage on the two of us till they finally separated and divorced about the time I left school, well after the damage had been done.

Years of bitterness and stress in the family home meant that home was not ‘home’. It was not where I wanted to be. I grew into a very insecure and immature young man with poor social skills and low motivation. Generally messed-up.

He spends his evenings alone in his hotel room
Keeping his thoughts to himself he’d be leaving soon
Wishing he was miles and miles away
Nothing in this world nothing would make him stay

At the same time, I baulked at the ‘rat race’ (a term used more in those days than now, probably), as I witnessed the apparent pointlessness of modern life’s treadmill and the unhappiness of materialism, at least in my own close-at-hand, family experience. In my late teens, The Specials put it across well for me:

Working for the rat race
You know you’re wasting your time
Working for the rat race
You’re no friend of mine

Education and exams held no appeal and by the time I reached sixth-form, which offered some of the freedom I’d longed for, I’d virtually given up bothering and I flunked my A-levels.

But back to the Queen song:

Since he was small
Had no luck at all
Nothing came easy to him
Now it was time
He’d made up his mind
‘This could be my last chance’

Some things came easy to me, others seemed really hard. I was assessed as having a high IQ at an early age, and excelled at some subjects, but was also labelled ‘naughty’ at an even younger age. With what we know now, I’m pretty certain I had Dyspraxia – known as Clumsy Child Syndrome years ago, and today often used interchangeably with Development Coordination Disorder.

Signs in my case (mostly ‘grown out of’ now) were general clumsiness, poor fine motor skills – particularly affecting handwriting (my work colleagues would probably say this is one aspect I’ve yet to ‘grow out of’!), inconsistency over which hand I’d write with (not the same as being ambidextrous), and – the one that instigated the ‘naughty’ label from teachers (and today could be mistaken for ADHD in some children) – restlessness. Classroom disruption was, perhaps understandably, construed as deliberate naughtiness.

And of course, as children, we start to believe our labels.

From this combination of childhood experiences emerged a pattern of disruptive, disturbed and difficult behaviour throughout my early years and teens.

My first opportunity to run away came when I’d been caught shoplifting for the umpteenth time. The shop owners were going to tell my parents, and I couldn’t face the shame again. I was now 16, in my first year of a comprehensive sixth-form.

Before this, I’d spent 2 years at a public school, from which I was suspended for a time after selling goods I’d stolen to fellow pupils. I’d received a Junior Criminal Record for this, bringing shame to my father – a lawyer working for the magistrates’ courts. And I was shamed in front of the whole school as someone who’d been awarded a place there on a scholarship and was expected to be one of their higher achieving pupils.

(Fortunately, the discipline of this school, combined with my own abilities, was sufficient to scrape me through enough O-levels for my entry into nursing years later).

Now here I was, unable to face my parents again. The perfect reason to run away.

Now it was time
He’d made up his mind
‘This could be my last chance’

I started to hitch-hike from the small Sussex town where I’d been caught, to London, with no possessions and just a few coins in my pocket. It was getting dark, and hitch-hiking became impossible. I sneaked into a private garden and tried to sleep in a greenhouse. It was a cold night, I had no warm coat, let alone a sleeping-bag, and I froze. Sleep eluded, and I resumed hitch-hiking about 4am, and although still dark, I got a lift and made it to London early morning.

I didn’t know my way round London. I felt hopelessly lost, hungry and tired. I stole a pint of milk off a doorstep and bought a cold meat pie. Before long I’d formed a better plan – head for Brighton, which I knew relatively well, and sleep on the streets there. But pick up a few things from home on the way.

I managed to hitch home. Luckily for me, no one was there and I started to gather a few things into a bag. Now of course, the previous evening my parents had reported me missing to the police and were worried. While I was there at the house that afternoon, the police arrived, hoping to ask my parents some more questions, but instead found me there!

Suffice to say that my escape this time round from home, the rat-race and everything, was short-lived, at a mere 24 hours. The next one is another story, another blog…….

But here’s a wonderful thing:

Some 5 years later, in 1987, when I made that first stumbling prayer to God while travelling, and Jesus began to transform and heal me, one of the very first changes that happened immediately in my heart was a real sense that God was calling me back to England: to come ‘home’, to use the intelligence, energy, good health (and now salvation!) that I’d been given to help others – not only practically, but spiritually too. That sense of vocation has never left me to this day, and is the basis for the work that I do now, more than 25 years later, and also the reason for writing this blog.

The restlessness, the dissatisfaction, the need to be on the move, disappeared immediately. Even now, when people speak of wanting to visit this country or that country, to travel more, I have no huge hankering, and wonder what the fuss is all about. I’m OK where I am.

Here’s another wonderful thing:

In the good book, God is described with maternal as well as paternal qualities, and is sometimes likened to an eagle or hen longing to cover her chicks with her wings to protect and nurture them (e.g. Psalm 91:4 and Luke 13:34). He ‘spreads his wings’ over us, covering us with his love, and enables us to ‘fly’, free from the spiritual, psychological and emotional chains that once held us back. That’s been my incredible experience.

How amazing is the grace of God.

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