Friday, January 14, 2011

Mirrored Resolutions

"If if you're gonna prove to them that you're world class bobsledders, then you'd better look like world class bobsledders!"
Coach Irv Blitzer - Cool Runnings

We are more than a few days into our mutual voyage of discovery that is 2011. The shores of the past year are now just a line on the horizon... and as I look forward to the times to come, I find myself reflecting on a few resolutions I have made (yes I eventually came up with a few).

I took a long hard look in the mirror and came to the conclusion that whatever I am... I need to straighten a few things out. There are areas of my life where I don't take myself seriously enough; there are also other areas where the reverse is true - the charge could be made that I take myself far too seriously.

At work, in the past... I have normally just worn a smart shirt and pair of trousers. I have been content to be seen as a cog in the machine and to allow people (if they have so wished), to project that image onto me. I had an epiphany (now that's good ecclesiastical timing), and decided to raise my game somewhat. I dashed out in the week and got my self a couple of washable suits... and from now on I'm going to wear a full suit to work. I hope the message is clear.  After several casual inquiries as to whether or not I had a job interview and the odd humorous remark, it should be becoming apparent that the suits are here to stay.

I am not making a statement about my working conditions... I am making a statement about myself. I am saying that from this moment on... in the sight of others.... I am treating myself with self respect.  This is not about vanity and as much as it is about making a point to others... it's about making a point to myself. Nobody suggested I should do this, nobody pressured me or suggested it would benefit me to do this. I felt in my heart it was the right thing to do... and have gone with it. In the Isaac Asimov book Bi-Centennial Man, the (then) robot protagonist - Andrew, begins his pursuit of individual freedom from a place of servitude...and does so by choosing to wear clothes.

I quoted the film "Cool Runnings" for a very good reason... in order to be accepted as athletes, the Jamaican bobsled team couldn't take to the tracks wearing civvies... they needed to look the part. Yet, near the climax of the film they understand something of equal importance: looking the part and being equal in appearance is merely the start of the journey... it is not the end of the journey. They try emulating their rivals warm up routines... but this ends in embarrassment and only furthers the ridicule they receive from the other teams. The truth they realised is that looking the part and stepping up to the plate does not mean that you close the door on who you are as a person. They take to the track one more time and warm up using a routine that reflects their own culture.  Their efforts are rewarded when they race down the track and set a blistering time.

The biblical David was exactly the same. When he faced off against Goliath, he rejected all efforts to kit him out in regular (and ill fitting) armour. Instead he marched out with a sling and five smooth stones... and the armour of knowing his life and his destiny were in the hands of his God.

And as we know the story so well... the rest as they say, is history.

The Goliaths of our  day are not always so literal... nor are they always an external adversary. Low self esteem, doubt, fear... all of these could easily be classed as Goliaths. However, you don't need me to tell you who or what your Goliaths are... if like me you take a good look in the mirror or meditate in prayer... they reveal themselves for what they are sooner or later.

All you need to know about your giants and your demons... is that you have to knock them on their backsides. Sooner or later... if you are going to get to the good stuff or the meaningful things in life, you have to go up to the big nasty man on the bridge... and knock him flying into the water.

You can pace up and down the river bank for hours, days, months or years. You can turn back and settle for less than what you are... but there will always be a nagging feeling... something gnawing at you within, urging you to go back and be who you are supposed to be.... and explore the possibilities of who and what you can become.

But the trouble with demons and giants is that they aren't known  for their respect of human beings. If you go up against them in your own strength... sooner or later you are going to find an opponent that is too hard to beat. You ride to war... but not to victory.

In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn faces similar peril. For all of his years he had been wandering in the wilderness, fighting evil in the guise of a ranger. However, when the things that he cherishes the most are threatened, he finds his assets are wanting.

It is at this point that Elrond offers him a potential solution. If Aragorn assumes the mantle of king, he can overcome the mountain in his way... but only Elrond holds the secret to unlocking that destiny... Anduril, flame of the West.

Similarly we can go up against our mountains, giants, demons, dragons... whatever you want to call them... but we need the One who can unlock the way for us to do that. There is one human name that these beings do respect.


Like Aragorn, we need the authority of a king in our life's journey. If we invite Jesus Christ into our lives... we gain that authority. For as Paul writes:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, and gave himself for me.
Galatians 5:20

King David knew only too well how much providence and blessing could flow from the hands of God in the face of adversity. If you read Psalm 18, he talks of having the power to advance a troop, scale a wall, bend bronze, subdue nations and make strongholds fall.

I don't know about you... but when I look at some of the challenges and promises that rise up along the road ahead, it's very reassuring to know the God of Heaven and Earth offers to walk with me.

Peace be the Journey (Cool Runnings).

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