Thursday, January 21, 2010

Crumple Zones and Crashes

The niece of a good friend of mine was badly hurt in this car accident just after Christmas in South Africa.  We are praying for her now as she passes through serious surgery and a prologed period of recovery from this dreadful ordeal.  The photo of the wreck was sent to me as an example of how bad such a thing can be, and how amazing it is that people sometimes survive such devastating impact.  I was interested in this picture, as it came to me just days after I had received something very similar from a pastor in the UK concerning a colleague working as a missionary in Spain who had also just survived a devastating head-on collision in that country.  Clearly, from his photo too, shown below, the escape was remarkable, even to the point of being nigh on miraculous.

In both sets of photographs it was clear to me that in these dreadful front-on crashes people had survived who should not have done by the mercy of God.  Along with that acknowledgement of Divine grace, I could see in the shots that both vehicles had collapsed in front of the passenger compartment, and in one case behind it too.  This was no accident either.  Car designers had planned it that way by the provision of 'crumple zones' - areas of the car's construction that will respond to huge impact by complete destruction, absorbing forces that would otherwise have been focussed on the driver and passengers.

Clever things, these crumple zones.  And they set me thinking.  There are certain factors that can be built into our lives to act in a similar way.  Tears, for instance, are created to be shed.  When they are, they bring release to those of us who have been through devastating crashes - and I don't mean just road traffic accidents!  Bible verses learnt when everything is dandy, and the sun is shining bright, will be there to come to the fore in crisis.  Lessons learnt in the school of prayer, even the disciplines of a healthy prayer life, may also suffer in a disaster but they will have already worked their magic, and could be life-savers.

There are more.  Forgiveness, good relationships with those closest to us, church friends, may all in their turn come up trumps in a crash.  So, thank God for crumple zones and Divine passenger compartments!

Drive safely!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Bleakness Engaged

This is not a view of our road this week - this was last February.  The contrast between then and now is stark.  Then the snow came thick and fast, and stayed - itself an unusual phenomenon in the Channel Islands.  Now, we have been talking snow all week, but not doing snow, and there is all the difference in the world between talking something and doing it!  I remember that I am like that too!  I talk trust - and then doubt.  I predict a great eternity - and then don't want to get there too soon!  I announce that Jesus is Lord of all my life - and then take back the broken bits to myself that I feel only I can fix. In a nutshell I am all forecasts and no gritter!  Talking up deep drifts and skating on thin ice.

You know bleakness has a life of its own.  It feeds on fear and does a lot of its work in the dark.  We talk joy when in company, and shiver with doubt and worry under the covers.  I'll be honest with you - my forecast is not good.  I saw the surgeon three days before Christmas in London (yes it was snowing!) and he described my options as 'dire'.  Major surgery to remove much of my insides permanently - or carry on facing the threat of acute attacks of potentially deadly pancreatitis every month.  As a start he wants to put me back on 'total pancreatic rest' with enteral feeding for 4 to 6 weeks in the early part of the year.  This means that one of my major sources of comfort is also going to be stripped away from me - food and drink!  It also threatens to put a great barrier between my wife and I because we share so much over a cup of tea or the food table.

But listen - the forecast is not always right, is it?  Sometimes they get it wrong, and make things sound bleaker than they are - just like this week in Guernsey.  And hey, even if the worst does come I still have choices between fear and hope, lies and God's truth, moaning or worshipping, despair or trust in God's Word.

So, things may not be as bleak as they seem, and even if they are, God's gritters are great, and His purposes still stand true.  He loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.  Get shovelling!