Sunday, September 24, 2006

War Zone

We have been in a warzone today! It all started when we got a letter from the local miltary cadet force to say that the headland where we live - Fort Le Marchant - had been selected to be the assault ground for the cadets' final infantry test. The 'battle' would be complete with blank ammunition, smoke grenades, thunderflashes and 'battle sounds' provided by a local stage props company. We were even told the time when the battle would start and end, and offered a vantage point if we wanted to watch it in safety.

The ensuing blast of noise, shouting, rifle fire and melee of bangs and whistles lasted for half and hour. 'The enemy' were dressed up in tea towel headgear so no guesses as to whom they were supposed to represent. There were lots of screams and yells, and the sound of gunfire and the pungent whiff of smoke spread over quite a large area.

I wish life's battles were as easily choreographed. If we got a letter saying that 'the enemy of your soul will be attacking you next Sunday at 1.30pm' wouldn't that be a helpful bit of warning? Then we could quickly put on the armour of God and bunker down. Or - if we knew that his attack would only last for half-an-hour? Now that would be a luxury (speaking as someone who has battled life-threatening illness and crippling pain for 10 years!). But we are granted no such luxury in the Christian warfare to which we are called. And then - blank ammunition - all noise and no pain, I could sign up for that to be used against me.

What are assured of is final victory. Even more certain than the demise of the towel-heads at Fort Le Marchant today is the ultimate downfall and defeat of the prince of darkness. We are in the army of a victorious king, who has already triumphed over sin and one day will eradicate pain, sickness and death. 'O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Afraid? Moi?

'Be afraid; be very afraid!' said the cover of the book I had just picked up to browse in the bookshop. As if that would sell it to me! I've got enough struggles with fear without paying 7.99 to be scared even more.

Having waited several days following our recent medical trip to London for some results it appears that they have found a blockage in my pancreatic duct that requires urgent removal. So I am facing a readmission into hospital for several days in the near future and a surgical procedure which in my case has a 1 in 3 chance of causing life-threatening side effects. (At least - that's doctor speak for 'don't blame us if it all goes belly up!) I spent last night reliving my terrible weeks in Intensive Care on a previous occasion I had the same procedure.

Then - God spoke to me. He did so this morning from the ancient book of Isaiah. These words were written hundreds of years ago but they were just what I needed to hear. 'So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.' (Isaiah 41:10).

Now that's the kind of book I want to read.