. . . and it's already been quite a day!
Somehow, my birthday has gotten shoved into the annual Superbowl gathering - which I really don't mind, as I enjoy football - but it can leave the actual day a bit empty, when the celebrations are already in the past tense.
Today has already been quite a day for me though. We started with the usual: coffee with the king (he added cinnamon - which he knows I love - as a special treat), and at some point the impression of Psalm 112 fixed itself firmly enough in my mind that I felt confident that that was what we should read together this morning.
Fine. Because other than that, we were about to take on the martyrs in the book of Hebrews [the second half of the chapter on faith, chapter 11. . . .] and I really didn't have the heart for that on this festive day.
Anyway - Psalm 112 was about the good stuff that follows from being on good terms with God. The two ideas that really stuck with me as 'for me' today were: "trust" and "you won't be afraid of bad news".
Very well then!
The first thing I saw when I checked email (beyond several birthday wishes emails) was an email from Magda. "First comments", it was entitled. I clicked to open it before I could work myself up into being afraid of bad news. Magda reports that the internal examiner told her that both he and the external examiner thought my thesis "very good." She wanted to pass that information along so that my viva preparations would be a bit more "light-hearted". . . .
So now I'm worried that once I get in there, they'll realize that I don't really know a thing and that this dissertation (which I have yet to re-read) was somehow achieved as if by dictation and that everything I wrote escaped my mind the minute it was put down on paper!
No - not really. But I have not been preparing the way I know I must, and this good news - although really good news - is not going to ease me out of preparations, it should actually make me work even harder. Now all I have to do is figure out where we are again on the countdown. That'll strike terror into my heart, eh?
Oh no, that's right: I will fear no bad news.
Isn't it strange not to be working out of fear? That doesn't mean I won't ever get bad news, it means I won't fear it. . . . Yet I realize now that fear has served as a major motivator in my life. What shall be the replacement, do you think? And isn't it funny how many of us work off of fear throughout our lives, and yet how often have I heard people claim to be turned off from God, because they're offended by talk of fear of hell. . . . or by a "religion" that supposedly tries to use fear as a motivator.
But is not fear almost the universal motivator? Think of our advertisements. What do they prey on, if not fear? Fear of death. Fear of hunger. Fear of growing old, getting wrinkles, losing one's attractiveness, being alone, smelling, having split ends or gray hair, being constipated, getting sick, having high blood pressure, low self esteem, losing erections, having a tree fall on one's house or car, getting audited - I mean, you name it! Even the Superbowl commercials yesterday can be traced back to fear. Bridgestone's screaming squirrel, and the tires that allay the fear of death and squashing a lovely furry critter. Budweiser's Dalmatian training the Clydesdale and overcoming a fear of failure. The laundry detergent (was it 'Tide'?) that presented itself as saving us from rejection and shame by silencing the "talking stain." Doritos' attacking giant rat. . . .
Fear and "protection". Start counting the number of products or services or companies that claim to "protect" us. At the same time, consider just what it is they would be "protecting" us from. . . . I've been amazed at the sheer protection racket going on.
Anyway - just to get back here: it's my birthday, and I'm a very happy prophet today. I trust God and I fear no bad news. I think I'll go to the greenwood and have a walkabout. At some point, I'll recalculate the countdown number - not because I'm afraid - but so that I can recalculate the work that needs to be done, and allocate the days properly.
I do hope that there's some champagne in my near future!
Many happy returns to all of you.