Friday, February 13, 2009


Today (Thursday) I came across a valuable lesson of God in appreciating things from a different perspective – through re-evaluations.

My dear friend Steve Wood is a Liverpool fan. You will be aware that I too support Liverpool, but this brother really does worship Liverpool Football Club. I am but an amateur in comparison to what this brother does. I got to catch up with him for the first time in a fair few weeks. He gave his refreshingly optimistic opinion that Liverpool are still up for winning the league. His rationale was fair – apparently if you look at the run-ins to the end of the last three seasons Liverpool have done better than Manchester United. Indeed over the calendar year 2008 Liverpool accumulated more points than Manchester United and where they let themselves down was in having such a shocking middle of the season that by the end we were just too far away. Now we are still within touching distance of the Red Devils and are yet to play them at Old Trafford and so if we were to follow the pattern of the last few years then winning the top trophy is not beyond us.

Now that’s Steve’s view of which he is certain and that is what makes me love the guy – that sense of certainty. I remain to be convinced myself and as I’ve shared elsewhere I am of the opinion that the trophy won’t be leaving the cabinet room of the Theatre of Dreams.

Having said that I’m still not convinced that Stoke City will stay in the Premier League but I have heard two decent comments which have suggested that with their decent home form and the fact that they have played the tough sides they have a great run-in that could see them stay up. So the ideal situation for all parties concerned is for the Reds to clinch the top trophy and for Stoke City to somehow miraculously stay up.

I am putting it on record that if Tony Pulis manages to keep the side in the Premier League he should get Manager of the Year. Don’t get me wrong, I think Stoke City play the ugliest football in the top division and would find it fitting that they return to the Championship from an aesthetic perspective. I appreciate the fact, however, that for the sake of regeneration in the city and general morale it is in the best interests of all for the club to stay in the Premier League. There again I was reminded then of other views of looking at thins that can better inform the way that I look at things.

Then the conversation with my dear friend Steve touched on the achievement of David Beckham in equalling Bobby Moore’s outfield record caps for England. I am not a Beckham fan and feel he’s overrated to the extent that I felt it was an indictment on English football that the brother has got so many caps. Steve and then another top bloke Steve Bailey chipped in to suggest that actually Beckham could only make it if there was something there. It is true that he is a hard worker and I conceded that there is something for marketing people to put their hat on and there is good reason why he has played for Manchester United, Real Madrid and now AC Milan arguably the three biggest teams in Europe (although I’m sure Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich would want a say in that).

Although I maintained my difference of opinion it did make me think. At the end of the day it’s not Beckham’s fault that he’s come about in this time in history. He has created a lot of seminal moments in English football history over the last ten years. It is not Beckham’s fault that no other English right-sided midfielder has been able to make a case to be in the side. It is not Beckham’s fault that no other England player over those 10 years has impacted football with his style of play like Beckham. The brother has worked hard and got his results. It’s like the Madonna factor – it’s not natural talent, flair or gifting, it is about making the most of what you have and putting it to good effect to the appeal of those who look on. I cannot begrudge a brother that.

On further contemplation and reflection I do not begrudge him that. I congratulate him on his significant achievement – good for him. So what that proved was that the measure by which we assess things and people has to be carefully considered because it maybe a case that for this season and in this time particular players rise to the top. It does not have to mean they are the best in the world or the best ever, but credit where it’s due. That again allowed me to be careful how I perceive things.

The final episode that reinforced this was a training session in which I participated this evening. It was looking at mental health and engaged in wits definition, its mentors and where it has grown. That required quite a number of difficult terms and potentially long-winded explanations. Thankfully people engaged with the session to prevent it becoming too tedious.

Yet I have to confess that I found the session somewhat boring and mundane – there was something about the presentation material that was not engaging and the content itself, although highly informative, was just dull and far too wordy. (Yeah, you read that right, Mr. Wordsmith who was born with a dictionary in his mouth and a thesaurus in his ear found something with too many words.) Usually such an experience would leave me rather cheesed off at a waste of an evening.

As I walked home, though, reflecting on it I heard God point out that walking with Him is not about doing everything that’s glitz and glamour and razzmatazz. God is not only found in the exciting and the thrilling. Just because it’s loud and bouncy does not mean it is straight from above. It is in the mundane and routine that God can speak and as followers of Him we need to look for Him there. Even in that which appears mundane and boring I must look for God’s presence there and rejoice in it so that I can see life in something that on the face of things appears lifeless.

God was at the training session – there was a lot that I was not aware of like an accurate definition of schizophrenia. It also highlighted how relative the issue of mental health is and how based it is on political and social trends. It also highlighted the anthropocentric nature of mentoring and the mental health care situation which promotes a level of relativism that is subtle but dangerous when left unchecked bringing to the fore again some of the reservations I have about the modern trend towards the therapeutic as the answer for all ills. It then challenges me to find the godly alternative – indeed the original way designed by the Heavenly Father by which we can find and relish wholeness in body, mind and spirit and how communally we can express that through the community of grace.

All of which re-emphasises again how important it is to see things from a different perspective so that we can get the depth and richness from something that we would have missed out on had we left it to our own stuck-up, prejudicial ways. Thank God for the light. Thank God for hard-working men. Thank God for shining even to make the boring and mundane the source of the profound by His Presence.

For His Name's Sake

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