When God ruins your plans


Up early this morning.  Not out of choice but to look after granddaughter Neve, now 10 weeks old, to give Jennie a few hours of uninterrupted sleep before returning to Bedford later this morning.

So here I am rocking granddaughter #8 asleep in her car seat with my foot as I type on my laptop – who said men couldn’t multitask (well, two things at once)?

I have often wondered in what kind of the conditions the Bible, especially the New Testament, was written.

We easily assume that the apostle Paul, to mention the main contributor, is sitting in his study overlooking the Mediterranean composing elegant and beautifully-crafted epistles with no grandchildren in sight.  It’s just the occasional reference to chains, soldiers and imminent death which disturbs this notion.

In fact, one of the exercises of New Testament scholarship is to try and work out from which particular prison did Paul dictate certain of his letters, each to a church in crisis. (I typed that sentence with just one hand, the other holding Neve’s dummy)

In fact, one of the great Christian classics originates from a prison, from Bedford as it happens.    John Bunyan had been indicted for preaching without a licence.  Finding himself under intense pressure to conform, he wrote Pilgrims Progress (pause to find the dummy) to encourage his fellow non-conformists to keep going despite every assault and temptation.

The problem with being in prison (to name just one) is that it put pay to all your plans and – like babies – ruin your routine.   You can sometimes hear Paul’s frustration on being bottled up in yet another Roman gaol when he wants to be where the action is.

But the very fact that he had no alternative but to send a letter means these remarkable documents are now available to us in the pages of scripture.  No one set out to write the New Testament – it just happened under the directing of the Holy Spirit.  Just note how He did it.

I personally find it very difficult when my routines are disrupted – we all like to be in control.  I need my days to be neatly segmented, I think more than most people.  However, the good news is that it is God who is in control – but not the way I would prefer.  Once you can grasp that, then living our lives assumes a totally new meaning.

For once John Lennon is right (I actually just wrote “John Lennon is write” – that’s granddaughters for you): “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  And if you have surrendered you life to God, then bring it on!