Thought for the week 2nd October – Lessons from the garage forecourt

As I write this, I am possessed with the smugness that comes from having a full tank of petrol in the midst of a fuel crisis. Just a couple of hours ago, that is not at all how I was feeling…

There is nothing like a panic about shortages to show us truths about ourselves. On Friday (tank full), I lamented the short-sightedness of those queuing at the pumps when the crisis was all media-hype which would surely be over in the space of a few days. On Sunday (tank not full) I was taking furtive glimpses at filling stations as I went past them, so I could surreptitiously fill up. I still had over half a tank, didn’t really need the petrol, but I wasn’t wearing my dog collar and frankly my greed was more important than others need. Lesson 1; living in the Kingdom of God is not easy. And lesson 2; I am a hypocrite (see previous Thought for the Week).

Today, I learnt lesson 3, via Thought for the Day on Radio 4. The speaker, another vicar, confessed to exactly the same reactions as mine. But she turned to the Bible, to Jesus’s teaching on anxiety. Famously he told his listeners to think of the lilies of the field, which neither toil nor so, but which God still cares for. He told his followers not to be anxious about what the day would bring, because God cares for them. Significantly, he did not tell them they would not run out of petrol, or indeed more serious things would not happen. And the peasant-labourers to who he was speaking did really have far more pressing things to worry about than a full tank of petrol. But Jesus was telling them to live in the present. The future is always unpredictable and belief in God is no protection against harm. But his message is that we can afford to live in the present because whatever happens in the future cannot cut us off from God and his love.

 

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