James’s Blog: In Gratitude for Dianne Tyson.

James’s Blog:  In Gratitude for Dianne Tyson.

I didn’t ever meet Dianne, but that didn’t matter.  She didn’t even reach sixty, but that didn’t matter either.  A lot of things about Dianne didn’t seem to matter.  The fact that she was plagued with crippling health problems and constant pain – that didn’t matter either.  She had a lot to bitter about, but she didn’t let those things matter.

She spoke openly about her suffering, but she was a fine example of someone who didn’t let herself be defined by the things that had happened to her, but instead redefined those things in the light of who God had made her to be.  She was physically inactive, but spiritually active.  Not just spiritually active, I suppose, but spiritually vibrant; spiritually contagious even.  For those of you who don’t know, she prayed faithfully for me and many others on a regular basis, and those prayers did matter.  When Dianne phoned you and said, “I was praying for you yesterday and I felt like God was saying…”, well, you’d better have listened.  She was the sort of person that caused Satan to break out into a cold sweat.  That may sound a touch melodramatic, but I have experienced first hand how God used her to thwart the enemy’s little schemes, and I know I’m not the only one.

Of course, like all men and women cut from that beautiful cloth, she would be nonplussed and embarrassed to read such things written about herself, but that’s all part of the deal, isn’t it?  Brokenness and humility are both the things that God uses, and the things that prevent us from getting carried away by our usefulness.

I didn’t ever meet Dianne, but I will miss her and part of me wishes she was still here.  We are poorer without her and there’s a lot of work still to be done, but she’s earned her rest.

One day I’ll thank her face to face, because – one day – we’ll have that first meeting.

James’s Blog: What if it’s Already Happened?

James’s Blog:  What if it’s Already Happened?

Easter is a topsy-turvey time.  Everything is back-to-front.  Suffering brings salvation, death brings life; the established order of things is turned on its head.  Yet we spend so much of our time and energy trying to make things work in a world where we believe that death is stronger than life and that despair is greater than hope.

How much of our well-being do we invest in worry?  How often does the thing that we fear never actually happen?  What about the times when we worry about something we think has happened, only to find out that it didn’t happen after all.  How tiring it is to live in a world where God is a footnote rather than the title.

In the last chapter of Luke we read about two of Jesus’ followers.  They’re taking a long stroll, discussing the events of the past few days and the rumours of resurrection.  Suddenly, they’re joined by a stranger.  He’s not really a stranger, but they don’t recognise him because they hadn’t quite joined the topsy-turvey revolution yet.  They tell this stranger their story of disappointment.  “Jesus has been crucified,” they say, “but we had hoped that he would be one to redeem Israel.”

The two travellers were living under the burden of false disappointment.  They thought that their hope was an illusion, when it turned out that it was reality – a reality that was  standing right in front of them.

This is the way to live back-to-front in our world, the way to get some of the Easter thinking into our heads.  Instead of worrying about things that might never happen, start thinking about all the things that you hope for, and ask yourself if maybe some of them have already happened.