My story and the Mogwai’s story

80¬īs Cinema

Those who remember the golden years of the 1980’s world of cinema will bring to mind the tasteful and timeless hairdos, the seamless and realistic CGI and the startlingly lifelike animatronics.¬† And if, as you may, you sense a slight lack of sincerity in my praise of 80’s cinematography, let me appease you with a single word:

Gizmo.

OK, so the animatronic star of the film “Gremlins” may have had eyeballs that looked like cheap marbles and fur that looked like it had been inherited from a B-list teddy bear, but he was, for all that, inescapably cute. That, at least, is the view that Dominic (7) formed when he discovered Gizmo (as you may recall, one of a race known as “Mogwai”)

Gizmo became his yardstick of adorability, and he began asking, day after day: “Am I as cute for you as a¬†Mogwai?”

“Yes,” I reassured him “you are even cuter.”

Comparisons

For a time, this response satisfied him.  Eventually, however, there came a day when the conversation became much more analytical.

GizmoDominic: “Daddy, am I as cute for you as a¬†Mogwai?”

Me: “Yes Dominic, you are even cuter.”

Dominic: “Oh.¬† How many times cuter?”

Me: “Um…a thousand times cuter!”

Dominic: “Oh.¬† And how many times cuter than a Mogwai is Oliver?”

Suddenly something which had been a search for reassurance of my unrelenting love for him had become a competition for reassurance at the expense of his brother.

Whose story?

There’s a throwaway line in one of C. S. Lewis’ books (“The Horse and his Boy”) which I’ve always found arresting. As with so many stories, we reach the part where all the loose ends that have puzzled the main character are brought together into an explanation that makes sense. Eager to get as much information as she can, she asks for an explanation of what happened to her friend too, and is given the response:

“Child, I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

I doubt I am alone in sometimes wanting to compare myself with other people. On my more honest days, I might admit that I’d like reassurance of how much more my heavenly father approves of me than he does of them. That’s what happens when I try to reassure myself that my theology is right and theirs is wrong. ¬†And that’s what happens when I berate myself that others seem to do so much more for God than I do.

But in reality, his unrelenting love for me is enough. That is my story.

When other people tell their stories, it can – and should be immensely encouraging. ¬†If I’m to be doing any better than comparing myself to a Mogwai, I need to allow myself to be encouraged by others’ stories without letting that interfere with the fact that God’s story with me is one of incomparable and uncomparing love. ¬†That is enough.

© Text 2014 Paul Brownnutt

Creative Commons License

Being God’s Toddler by Paul Brownnutt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Today’s post was brought to you by Luke 18:9-14

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Waves and shadows (Paradoxology) – Don’t be afraid…because it’s scary

Contradiction

When I wrote “Waves and Shadows” I made two starkly opposing points. In Part 1 I suggested that God aims to get us standing on our own two feet. ¬†In Part 2 I suggested that God calls us to depend on him and on those he has put around us.

Having seemingly contradicted myself, I wanted to bring the two together here. Of course, at one level each of the messages helps avoid taking the other to extremes. Our call to live in a state of interdependence is not a call to retreat into a cosy enclave. Our call to get out and do God’s work is not a call to self-sufficiency. But there’s another unifying factor…

 

Christmas concerts

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It’s a time of year that parents and teachers know well. This week our household will see no fewer than five Christmas plays and concerts. Fragments of songs are being merrily sung and scraped on the violin. Costumes are being prepared and tinsel cut up for stars and angels. ¬†Ah yes, angels…

As folk attend schools and churches over the coming weeks, they will hear the cute little angels echoing three words that many of us have heard so often that we will simply ignore them. Three words that echo the words of the angels two thousand years ago. And three words that reverberate through thousands more years of God’s relationship with people:

Do Not Fear

 

Bombshells

“Do not fear” is one of the most repeated phrases in the bible. Why? Of course, it might be because God likes us to have a constant warm, fuzzy, glowing feeling. But the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. With Mary, with the shepherds and with scores of others, God tells us not to fear just when he’s about to drop a bombshell. ¬†He tells us not to fear precisely when it’s about to get terrifying.

Shepherds, do not fear: I want you to abandon your posts.

Mary, do not fear: I want you to risk social disgrace, your marriage and your future.

And throughout the history of his people the message keeps repeating – Do not fear: defy your family. Do not fear: take on occupying forces. Do not fear, do not fear, do not fear…

And the only reason not to fear is that God has told us not to.

 

Safety

Society sells us a dream of safety. We, God’s Toddlers have largely bought into it. We believe the life worth fighting for is one where we’re safe, secure and risk free. God’s way is different. God’s way isn’t safe. By any normal measure it’s scary. Those who have read¬†The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe may remember Mr Beaver:

Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘course he’s not safe. But he’s good

So, to go back to the question of what standing on our own two feet and depending on others have in common, I’d suggest it’s that they’re both terrifying. For most of us, standing back on our own two feet after we’ve allowed God to pick us up is a terrifying prospect. It’s not safe. ¬†For most of us, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and depend on other people and on God is a terrifying prospect. It’s not safe.

God calls us to both with the reminder “Do not fear”. And to any number of daunting prospects, with the reminder “Do not fear”. ¬†Not because what lies ahead isn’t scary, but because it is, and he’s there regardless.

 

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Angel photo (Original version) © Gardner Campbell  

© Text 2013 Paul Brownnutt

Creative Commons License

Being God’s Toddler¬†by¬†Paul Brownnutt¬†is licensed under a¬†Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Today’s post is brought to you by all of the above Bible verses