Has anyone else had this happen in their garden? This foxglove hasn't quite made it!
The sketch is a bit of fun I couldn't resist doing!
Many years ago during the last century, my sister and I would look forward to the highlight of the week after school on a Friday evening - our very favourite T.V. programme -'Crackerjack.' 'CRACKERJACK!' we would shout with the school children on the screen. The best part of the show was the Q&A game. Half a dozen junior children standing on podiums, still in their school clothes, boys in shorts, girls in dresses - this was the early 1960's, black and white T.V. as well! A right answer won a small prize, a wrong answer won a cabbage - a seemingly very large one! All of it had to be held in some way. It was a bit of a juggling game for the children as the items mounted up and somehow they still had to remain balanced on the podium! One dropped cabbage meant the end of the game for that child. The winner was the one who managed to hold it all together and answer the questions. That child would get the opportunity of a toy from a large box, but - the best bit - everyone won a coveted Propelling Pencil! Wow!!
My mind returned to 'Crackerjack' very recently as we went through a particularly busy time - I'm sure I dropped more 'cabbages' than I should have done! There seemed so many things to prepare and do that at the end of this period my brain felt full to exploding of all the experiences. A useful phrase was coined by a friend - 'I need to unpack my head,' but how??
OK - I could go and grab a spade and dig a big hole in the garden. Perhaps that's a bit drastic. Go for a long walk or run - or what about a particularly gruelling workout in the gym? Scripture talks about even this! The apostle Paul was training a young church leader, Timothy and wrote this to him (about AD 64):
'Exercise daily in God - no spiritual flabbiness please! Workouts in the gym are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both for today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. That's why we've thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We're banking on the living God, Saviour of all men and women...' (1 Timothy 4:7-10 The Message)
So what does 'exercise daily in God' mean?
By the time Paul wrote those words to Timothy, Paul had completed three arduous missionary journeys around the Mediterranean, taking about twelve years - starting a church at each stopping place, building a team to run it, then moving on. He was by now in his late middle years, so the advice he gave Timothy were forged from hard experiences. In one of his letters he gave a picture of what he had endured:
'People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly.....in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating;....when we're telling the truth and when God is showing His power; ...terrifically alive, though rumoured to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts yet enriching many, having nothing, having it all.' (2 Corinthians 6:4-10 The Message).
If this was a small snapshot of his life, then 'unpacking his head' was clearly very important! The best way he found to do that was to 'exercise daily in God.' One of the ways he did that was through Prayer. We get glimpses of the way he prayed in his letters. They're littered with spontaneous, heart-felt prayers: 'I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, ' he wrote to the Ephesian church while he was under house arrest. After a long theological discussion, Paul wrote, 'O the depth of the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of God!...For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory for ever!Amen!' to the Roman church.
He prayed constantly for the fledgling churches and told them so to encourage them, giving thanks for them, even when they seemed to be pulling apart. 'I always thank God for you,' Paul wrote to the squabbling Corinthian church 'because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus.' (1 Corinthians 1:4 N.I.V)
Reading these prayers, you get the impression they come from the depths of his being - there's nothing flippant or half-hearted about them, even though his circumstances were often extremely difficult. 'Pray continually,' he told the Thessalonian church. Through prayer he was able to remain focused on what he was about - following Jesus and completing the task at hand. 'Imitate me' he wrote to the Corinthians,'as I imitate Christ.' (1 Corinthians 11:1 N.I.V)
Paul was saying, 'This is foundational. This has helped me through all my trials and difficulties. It will do the same for you.'
Even for us - right now in the twenty-first century. So why not give it a go?