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A human being’s reflection at the end of 2020

Allow me to offer my thoughts, just as they are, at this stage in the year. I’ve been reflecting deeply over the past few months, and in the interests of brevity (and yours and my own attention span), here’s a snapshot.

I’m an ardent fan of Sting. Not just his music, but I enjoy his perspective on things. His worldview is a wonderful resource for me, personally.

One of the songs that has spoken to me recently is Dead Man’s Rope. (Have a listen to it when you have a quite moment.) It spoke to me all those years ago when it first came out, and recently I’ve found myself listening again to the songs of Sacred Love.

But it’s Dead Man’s Rope‘s lyrics which speak to me, because I’ve been that guy. Probably for 20 years.

As the song lyric says:

“Did you ever wonder what you’d been carrying since the world was black?
You see yourself in a looking glass with a tombstone on your back”

Sting, ‘Dead Man’s Rope

Somewhere in the midst of this year, I stopped walking and the shadows fell. But in the midst of that, something has quietly happened inside of me.

Ask my wife. I start my day before the first sparrow farts. Before the sun rises. Before alarm clocks down the street go off. I start it quietly, sitting by the window and lamp to read, to listen, and to pray.

We were first human beings, before we were human doings.

I remember listening to a podcast about the Sabbath. Interesting insight is that in the Bible when God created man, Adam’s first full day in the garden – day number 7 – was the Father’s Sabbath. His Creator had a clear diary.

Allow me some poetic licence. In my mind’s eye, I picture that morning, when Adam woke up. I imagine he smelled freshly-pressed coffee, and I imagine God cooking breakfast. Pancakes and bacon. And the Creator tells Adam that He took the day off work, so they can have the day together.

I wonder if Adam woke up on his first day ready to do some stuff? I mean, here he is – freshly made by God with the kiss of life – and he’s got some gardening to do. Tasks ahead of him. Things that need to get done.

Our own mindsets work like this. We wind our way through the week towards the weekend at a frenetic pace, and then collapse in a heap. Then hopefully we get rested enough to do it all over again.

But God’s design is different: we work FROM a day of rest, not TOWARDS it. We work FROM pleasure, not FOR pleasure.

Before Jesus did anything, he was baptised and a voice from heaven echoes: this is my son, in whom I am well pleased. He hadn’t done anything yet – no miracles, no signs or wonders. And the Father says he’s already pleased.

It’s fascinating to think this way and reflect on the world around us. Rather than earning things, and clamouring up and over some fictitious ladder to say “I did it! I conquered the world!”… we realise once we’re there that everything in creation echoes dependency: we need air, we need food, we need sleep.

We are constantly after performance. Every sector lives this way. Religious, secular, government and private. Everyone is running to out-perform the guy or girl next to them, or just out-perform themselves. I see it the world over. A vacation to stop and just be is really hard for most folks: because the thinking is if we don’t perform, we don’t get anything. That’s the paradigm.

And as this year (and all it should have taught us) draws to a close, I look around and see that we’re back on the treadmill of getting nowhere.

I’m after something different in this season.

My grandmother Daphne gave me and Tam this little nativity scene, early on in to our marriage. It’s set up in our lounge, on top of the piano.

I’m looking at this Christmas scene, and I’m really considering that baby in the manger.

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