Friday, 28 October 2011

A Passion for Friendship..... and Spinsterishness.

Written for YLCF "A Peek into your Passion with a Purpose" Carnival. (

I do think "passion" and "passionate" are strange words. They are words I never use in real life. Perhaps it is English reserve and under-statedness- a wish to not exaggerate an interest or a reflection of a more sanguine personality. So I won't be using the word over much. I am "passionate" about different things; good books, old books, chalet school books, Radio 4, old fashioned General Practice (read The Citadel by A.J. Cronin), good films, costume dramas, primary care research, teaching. I know that I ought to be more "passionate" (oh- one more time) about following Jesus, studying my Bible and serving him. But these good things and interests, that I have mentioned are not separate from following Him, but all woven in and precious gifts from a loving Father, because all of our lives, the mundane and the fascinating is "in Christ" if we are "in Him".

However- to get to the point - what is my "passion"? There is a back story....

Five years ago I moved into my current accommodation which is a two bedroom flat in a block of flats. Upstairs from me, lived an Algerian lady married to a Scottish man with there two girls. They are Muslims. Gradually over the next two years I became friends with Fatiha, babysat Leena and Noor, started the Matilda club. In the month of Ramadan, three years ago now, she introduced me to her friends; Khadija, another Khadija, Reem, Cheharazed, Faiza, Aida, Wouroud. I read books, thinking about my friendship with these ladies (who are mostly from North Africa) and how I might be a better friend. And I share my life. We talk, and laugh, drink mint tea, and I have tryed sporadically to learn Arabic.

The other aspect of this, that I have pondered, is there is one particular thing in my situation that allows and affords time for friendships. I am single. Something that can seem invigorating, full of opportunities to be devoted to God and full of interests and time to pursue them. I appreciate the "spinsterishness" of Jane Austen and Miss Potter. I admire single missionaries ladies with all my heart.

The other side of this is, of course, that I also long to get married and have a family of my own. And sometimes (especially this past weekend when over-tired and recovering from illness) this can weigh so heavy that it can blot out the good things and blessings of singleness.

So this thought has begun to crystallise in my mind these past months that time is short and precious. I need to enjoy God and the life he has given me. Right now. I pray for a godly husband almost daily but I must also must remember to pray, that I will not waste any of the blessings God has given me.

I read a new Christian book on the topic of singleness this past summer. Carolyn Leutwiler (aspiring Opera singer and administrative coordinator for Children's Ministries at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City) has written a book published in 2008 called Singleness Redefined: Living Life to the Fullest. This is an excellent book, but one quotation within it struck me particularly.

"Sometimes life is very hard to understand and I don't believe we are meant to understand all of it or there would be no call for faith....[But] seize every moment you have and use every gift you have to love God and love your family, neighbours and friends while you can. There is no guarantee of tomorrow. Yet it is so easy to let the little,urgent yet petty details of our lives take over. We are lulled into a false sense of security that everyone and everything will be there tomorrow...Once I heard it said that life is what happens while we are making other plans. Please don't let the really important people, priorities and relationships wait in your life. Enjoy every beautiful moment that God blesses you with and praise him for it."
(letter from Phyllis Golden) page 125 Singleness Redefined:Living Life to the Fullest by Carolyn Leutwiler (2008).

Much treasure is found in "enjoying God and worshipping him forever" whether in spinsterish circumstances or not. God is full of surprising blessings and blessed surprises. May we thank him for them all.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Do the next thing and the best next thing too.

From an old English parsonage down by the sea,
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the doors, the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration, “Do the next thing.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
Trust that with Jesus; do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
Do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings; do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing;
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

author unknown, quoted by Elisabeth Elliot

Thank you Gretchen for this (found at but as well I was pondering the most important "next things". And that in fact "few things are needed" and these can be found at rest, (cup of tea, quiet spot) at Jesus' feet (bible, notebook and pen) listening to what he has to say.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke ch 10 vs 38-42