Friday, June 23, 2006

An Amnesty for Owen Hargreaves

Now is this post about football, my psychology or is it about faith? You decide.

Like many England football fans, I have for some time wondered why on Earth Sven has continually selected and utilised the midfielder Owen Hargreaves. He always seems to be brought on in place of more popular players who have been perceived as stronger... and I think this is where his problem has been.

I changed my opinion of him on Tuesday. I think he was helped by getting a start, instead of being substituted on for someone more established.

On a night where England were frightening in defence, Hargreaves stood out as one of the consistently better players.

More importantly I've now realised that in no way can I criticise him... for I'd be a hypocrite were I to continue doing so.

Like Hargreaves, time and time again, the people around me show so little faith in me. Most of them assign me tasks that don't reflect my gifting , my nature, my personality or my capabilities. I plug away at what I'm asked to do in the hope that people will recognise my value as a person.

When it comes down to the crunch... most people don't have a clue what to do with me and don't understand me... but those closest to me (probably numerically no more than the England Team itself), defend me... and my Manager (God) continually backs me up no matter what other people... even many Christians may say about my person.

The persecution of Hargreaves has for now abated... but give it two games and people will return to their scornful ways. I will not. I know how he feels. It's hard to be booed by your own supporters.

It's hard for me to speak and know that the only time men and women will listen to me is if the wind is blowing - when God uses divine intervention to get a message across through me. They make prejudicial assumptions about me, they treat me as less than equal and don't respect or value my opinions... either by just not listening to them and sweeping them under the carpet... or worse by ridiculing them.

What I would give to walk shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters without them thinking of as just making up the numbers. What I would give for them to acknowledge me as an equal... instead I often feel they behave like the Greek gods of myth, treating me as a mortal beneath them and dabbling in my destiny at their own discretion. Whatever their motivation - good or bad, it's not their right to do this. One of the Proverbs says:

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

It's about the sovereignty of God. We make our choices for our own lives, but God has the ultimate say in where they lead us. Now, if we cannot even determine where our own spiritual travels will take us... what right do any of us have to interfere in another believer's journey?

I know I'm coming across as quite negative here, and a lot of that is due to an air of oppression that exists at this time, but I wanted to express just how fed up I get sometimes of the one way traffic... I have to vent it sometimes.

I keep thinking of a line the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling:

"If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too"
... and I keep thinking that this is something I have to do every day. In the past I only trusted God... not even myself. As I have grown in confidence, I have learned to accept that I can trust myself too... so long as I keep pace with God. However, this is something that is yet to translate to other people... they still see the buffoon. The worst of those people who are blinded are the ones who claim that they can see.

Sometimes I do wonder if it's my lot in life to only be listened to at divine intersections. After all it's the message that is important and not the messenger... but I can't accept this, I don't see why I can't be embraced by other Christians. I admit I've desired distance in the past... but it is a painful irony now, that having learned from my past... I am now kept at arms length by the people who should be one with me.

Maybe I am the Lone Ranger after all.

Anyway whatever the case may be, you won't find me pouring unfair criticism on Owen Hargreaves... I know the road he walks... and I wouldn't wish it on anyone else.

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