So, this week I’ll be giving the children’s moment at church, on one of my least favourite Bible passages:
I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Luke 12 49-53, NIV
I don’t imagine I’m alone in finding this passage difficult. Unsurprisingly, the junior church planning book we use, uses a different part of the lectionary this week. Junior church will be about superheroes. But that’s another story.
I think I’ve worked out a way of getting one possible interpretation of this passage across, with the help of a photo’ of me and my grandmother, some strategically placed stooges in the congregation, and C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian.
When Lucy and her siblings arrive back in Narnia at the start of this book, Lucy sees Aslan, showing them the way, but her siblings aren’t so sure, and they all follow a different route instead – into trouble. When Lucy later finds Aslan, and explains that the others didn’t believe her, He asks her,
And why would that stop you from coming to me?
Sometimes we have to make choices that risk short-term unrest or separation from friends, or family. One of my previous readings of that bit in Prince Caspian (which is possibly my most favouritest scene in the whole of the Narnia series) was also about the importance of *me* following Christ regardless of what others are doing.
I was reminded of this again when I was swimming at the weekend. I, for some reason, had the pool to myself for the best part of an hour. The lifeguards switch places every twenty minutes. Two of them, two of them, separately, offered to lend me a float, towards the start of their shift. And, oh, how self-conscious I felt swimming for the rest of that time. I know I don’t swim normally – I have much more strength on my left side, so my body rolls sideways in the water, and I find it very difficult to swim in a straight line (impossible with my eyes below the surface of the water, owing to deficiencies in my proprioception of my right side)- but I do *swim*. And having a float would correct the roll (as the life guards presumably, correctly deduced) but would also obliterate one point of swimming in the first place – to get my right arm actually doing some useful exercise.
And I so don’t like being watched. I want to be able to swim like everyone else – use all of my limbs equally, without having to give one limb at a time on my right side undivided and full attention, to persuade it into action. But then the above scene from Prince Caspian reminds me that I should be focusing on my swimming, on getting from one side of the pool to the other, not thinking on other people’s symmetry.
I am getting stronger. I did 30 lengths yesterday, in the time I previously managed 25. I’m swimming my way, and that’s….OK. God will help me with running (OK, swimming) the race that is set before me, not others. He wants me to be me, not to be them. And He set the race, after all.