I am a long-time monolingual home-bird who loves God and my family. Since 2010 I have lived mostly away from England, become sort of bilingual and generally much less useful, but am learning a lot and still love God.
Why no photo?
I live in a part of the world where there is no historical church and where the small numbers of locals are often persecuted for following Jesus. As a family we were called by God and sent out by our church to be salt and light in a very different culture than Brighton and Hove. We are making work for ourselves here, schooling our children, praying, loving our neighbours, sharing good news where we have opportunities, and caring for other workers.
One Friday I was straightening up the frashes (long bench type sofas with lots of cushions – see picture above) in the morning and as I picked up a cushion I saw tens of small white maggots crawling up the wall. The more I looked, the more I found. Hundreds and hundreds of them. They were in the mattresses, in the pillows, on the wood bases, on the wall, behind the bookshelves – they were everywhere and they were making my skin crawl.
There and then my day changed. I took advice from a local friend and her advice was clear – you have to throw ALL of the sheep wool stuffing out because you can never get rid of the bugs by washing or with chemicals. You have to start again.
All day long I had the opportunity to reflect on sin and its consequences. All day long as I took off all the covers, washed every one of them, hung them out in the sun to dry and, one by one, picked off the bugs that had resisted the washing process, emptied the sheep wool from them and took them to the bin outside on the street, treated the bases with insecticide and boiling water, and washed down the walls and floor in the room.
And all day long and into the evening I was thinking of my sin.
My sin is like those maggots. There doesn’t need to be much, and it doesn’t need to be big, but it is so, so ugly. It spreads under the surface and out of sight until everything is infected. What is more, a few weeks before, I had taken a little wool from some over-stuffed pillows in that room and put them in other pillows elsewhere in the house to make some new pillows from what I already had. Now, when I looked, those were infested too. The problem was growing bigger.
Until that morning, when the maggots revealed their presence, my frashes had looked beautiful, clean, and in perfect order. We sat on them and slept on them and no one would have said anything was wrong. The outside looked ok but the inside was rotten.
My life can be like that. On the outside everything looks in order, clean, well dressed, respectable, polite, no major sins obvious, but inside it can be a different story. Even one little sin grows and spreads until it cannot stay under the surface any more but comes out for all to see. First in little ways and then more and more, until everything it touches is infected. No matter how much I clean and treat the problem myself it will never go away. As my friend told me so firmly, I needed to throw it all away and start over again. My effort alone can never ever make it right.
We did throw all the wool away. We did buy new mattresses. We did make a fresh start.
That Friday was Good Friday of last year.
I have never had such a meaningful Good Friday experience.