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Married men are probably quaking with fear right now. They may have read the title and decided not to read the rest, and I wouldn’t blame them. The list is often waiting for me on the dining table when I get downstairs, and on it a veritable banquet of chores to be completed. It wouldn’t be so bad if the list had not been set up at my own insistence. Since we have been married I have either worked shifts or jobs that enabled me to be based at home. Now Anna thought that while at home I would obviously spot if the washing up needed doing and do it, but of course being a man my vision is finely tuned to ignore such trivialities as stacked up plates, leaky roofs, dirty washing and so on. This caused a few ‘discussions’ when I had the bright idea of a list being left so that I could know what jobs I was expected to complete.

Don’t get me wrong the list works, I do the jobs (mostly) and get a perverse satisfaction from crossing achieved tasks off the list. It’s just sometimes a little bit of me resents the list. The list leads to an ultimately more peaceful existence for me, it gives me satisfaction, and I know when I obey it things will be better. But sometimes my rebellious self thinks ‘Stuff you, stupid list, why are there so many jobs on you today, and what’s this? An extra job that has never appeared on you before? No no no no no. This cannot be right. Best just to ignore you altogether.’ You get the picture.

Sometimes I see a Bible and it elicits the same type of response. It reminds me of how I should be living, it reminds me that I should be reading it and spending time praying rather than in front of any type of LCD screen. If I’m honest it fills me with guilt as I realise that I am not good enough, that I do not take it seriously enough, and so often it is left where it is, taken out only to remind others that I do actually own a Bible.

But the funny thing about guilt is that if you let it, it can be fertile ground for hope. The Bible, when viewed from non resentful eyes, is full of hope, it’s full of failure made good by God. When the Bible reminds me of how much I mess things up, I can take hope because it’s in that moment that I am ready to be used by Jesus: not when I’m puffed up, not when I am sure I can achieve by my own merit, but when I am surrounded by and reminded of the failures of the better men and women who have gone before me. Next time I see the Bible I’m going to try and open it up.

Even if it’s just for five minutes.

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