Fellowship Number 4, June 2003
Cross alk Tell me, One more time! Elaine Duffy
Inside this issue: Tell the old, old story!
“No man is an Ireland” ?
What do you know about H2O
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Was it “I”
A black cloud “What’s wrong with me?” That’s a question I asked myself over ten years of suffering from severe mood swings. They began when I was facing a huge amount of pressure and stress in my early twenties. My mind would just ‘shutdown.’ I was unable to function normally or make simple everyday decisions. I would suddenly be seized with fear and panic, not understanding what was happening to me. After some days, the black cloud of dullness and fear would lift. I would feel normal again, having a lot of energy and enthusiasm. As a teacher, I could even prepare enough classes to cover the times when I knew I would go ‘down.’ On occasions, I would go very high, without realising that I was becoming irrational. It was an emotional roller-coaster every few weeks, for my husband and I. We sometimes look back and laugh at some of the things I got up to then. Help Yet many people didn’t understand, or know how to help. It felt very isolated. At the start, I thought that my medication didn’t help much. But over the years, it has helped increasingly, being changed to suit my circumstances. Now, I hardly notice any ups and downs at all, provided I don’t take on too much and I get enough sleep. Doubt I struggled enormously with my
Christian faith when I was down. I sometimes doubted if God really loved me, or even existed at all! I would long to be reminded of the basics of my faith. So, my husband and friends assured me of God’s great love, that he himself had dealt with my burden of sin and guilt through Jesus’ suffering on the cross. These were the times when people helped a lot - talking things through with me, praying for me, and reminding me of the teaching and promises in the Bible. When I was up, our roles were often reversed. Praise There’s a hymn that sums up what I desperately needed to hear whenever I plummeted;
Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story. Tell me the old, old story of Jesus and his love. Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in – that wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin. Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon: the early dew of morning has passed away at noon. I am truly thankful for all the things God has used to bring me through this dark period of my life. The knowledge of his faithfulness strengthens my faith.
“No man is an Ireland” ? Richard J. Daley, former Chicago Mayor, meant to quote poet John Donne who famously wrote; “No man is an island,” but instead said “No man is an Ireland.” It’s true that we cannot live without contact with others. Relationships are the basis of family, friends, church, communities, business and society. They can either break us, through isolation or exile, or strengthen us through support, friendship and love. People need people Brian Keenan found that his hostage years were bearable through his friendship with fellow-captive John McCarthy “I remember every moment of our time alone, my time with John and with those other captives. And I remember how we first met, our relationship, the kind of needs I had of John and he of me. And how we sought always to give and take, thinking always of each other.”1
“We are more likely to die of social isolation than smoking!”
Yet we often take our everyday relationships for granted. We can be lonely or isolated among family, friends, or at work, not just when we’re alone. The effects of bad relationships are striking. “Research repeatedly shows that people in stable long-term relationships have better mental health, experience less stress, and can expect to live longer.”2 In fact, we are more likely to die from social isolation than smoking!3 Barriers to relationships Technology and the pace of life frequently works against building relationships. Text messages, email, Internet chat rooms, allow efficient communication, but without personal contact. Children increasingly play computer games, instead of with other children. We feel part of society when we have kept up to date with the latest TV soaps, instead of having spent time with others. Even when we do meet, our relationships may not be as positive as we imagine. We can easily treat people in positions of responsibility (e.g. salespeople, civil service, etc.) as representatives of a system, but not as individuals too. And while cohabitation is popular, it often
turns out to be a temporary relationship, compared to marriage.4 At work, too, we can be treated as ‘human resources,’ instead of people. Investing in people Investing in relationships can transform our lives, but often needs to be a longterm investment. Sometimes, we can simply do things differently, but we can also create opportunities – family mealtimes, restrict TV or computer games, keep Sunday special, phone instead of texting or emailing etc. And marriage works best when we put more into it than we try to get out of it. Radical relationships Jesus’ teaching on relationships is radical. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, as the ‘Good Samaritan’ did.5 And to prevent the build up of disappointment and hurt, forgiveness is the key. Not just forgiving your friends, but your enemies too.6 A restored relationship with God is most important. But, for it to be possible, the sin barrier that continually comes between us and him must be dealt with. Jesus has overcome that barrier for us on the cross. If anyone puts their faith in him, they are forgiven.7 With the Holy Spirit changing their lives for the better, they will be able to enjoy a faithful, true and meaningful relationship with God. This is also the best basis on which to build better relationships with others. Enjoy… Where there is no enjoyment, a relationship becomes merely functional. How are our relationships with others, and especially with God? 1
Brian Keenan, An Evil Cradling (London: Random House, 1993) p292 2 M. Schluter & D. J. Lee, The R option – Building Relationships as a better Way of Life (The Relationships Foundation, 2003) p109 3 (Mortality rate is 2.0 to 1.6) J. House et al., Social Relationships and Health (Science, 29/7/88) 4 (Only 7% last more than ten years, the rest either having broken up or turned into marriage.) R. Berthoud & J. Gershuny, Seven Years in the Lives of British Families (Policy Press, 2000), p39. 5 Luke 10v25-37, 6 Matthew 6v43-44, 7 Hebrews 10v8
What do you know about H2O? You might be tempted to think that a transparent, tasteless and odourless liquid would be of little value and yet water, without question, is one of the most essential ingredients for life. Man can live for weeks without food but only days without water.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1v1 (NIV)
“Nature is but a name for an effect, whose cause is God.” William Cowper
Wet, Wet, Wet! Despite its apparent simplicity it has many unique and amazing properties. It can dissolve more substances than any other liquid and as a result plays an essential role in many complex chemical reactions including those within the human body, which itself consists of 70% water. Water Works! When water is heated it absorbs an unusually large amount of heat. This means that if the same volume of water, iron and brick were to be heated to the same temperature the water would contain about five times as much heat energy. This fact, together with its ability to flow through pipes, enables us to use it to transport heat throughout our home within our central heating system and to cool the engine of our car. Water is also able to efficiently conduct heat so enabling large amounts of heat to be transmitted through large bodies of water. If it were not for these 2 properties Ireland, at almost the same latitude as Moscow, would be much colder during the winter. This is because the Gulf Stream, which sweeps across the Atlantic to Ireland from the warmer region around the West Indies, could neither absorb heat nor store it. Indeed the oceans of the world help regulate the earth's temperature preventing the differences between poles and equator, winter and summer being even greater than they are. Cold as ice When water freezes it exhibits yet another
amazing property - it expands, unlike most other liquids which shrink. This causes ice to float on its surface rather than sink to the bottom, so helping to insulate the water underneath. If this did not happen lakes and seas in many places throughout the world would freeze from the bottom up eventually causing all life within them to die. Frozen or fried? We are also very fortunate that the earth is positioned precisely where it is within the solar system and that its orbit is almost a perfect circle. If it were just a little closer to the sun water could only exist as vapour and not as liquid. If it were just a little further from the sun all water would freeze, in either case making the earth a barren waste like other planets. The fact that scientists are so worried about the effect of global warming of just one or two degrees shows how ideal the present position and temperature of the earth is. What a God! How fortunate we are that a loving God has placed us on a planet perfectly designed and positioned for life. If you would like to reflect further on the marvels of creation and the matchless splendour of water land and sky, let us lend you a copy of the (65 min) video entitled 'The wonder of god's Creation'.
Colin Glen Christian John & Elaine Duffy or Ken & Olive Allen c/o 42A Cloona Park Upper Dunmurry Lane
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Was it “I” Lee Donnan
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“Quote… Unquote” “I still haven’t
found what I’m looking for.” Well once again, Bono I come running back, “On and on, does (Joshua Tree album) anybody know what we my soul is refreshed, are living for ?” and I’m back on track. Freddie Mercury For a while I’ve been dry, (The show must go on) just lost and confused, “The mass of men lead and the grace of God, lives of quiet desperation.” I feel I’ve abused. Henry David Thoreau I had lost direction, ambition and fire, from my Christian walk I had begun to tire. “I expect to win my Just caught up in problems, battle against cancer, but no worry and stress, matter how it goes, I’m at feeling so insignificant, peace with God. I can’t lose.” “We also rejoice in our my life just a mess. sufferings, because we Steve McQueen know that suffering And then it hit me, produces perseverance; like a rock from the sky, perseverance, character; just how often I use, and character, hope.” that selfish word I. Apostle Paul Was it I who preached love (Romans 5v3-4) “You have formed us to a nation of men? for yourself, and our hearts to be rejected again and again. are restless till they find Was it I who was whipped rest in you.” and then nailed to a tree? Augustine for a world steeped in sin (of Hippo, Africa) “Come to me all you and too blind to see. who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Oh we think we know suffering, Jesus pain and despair (Matthew 11:28) Against the sacrifice of God, our lives don’t compare. “But those who hope in the LORD For God gave his Son, will renew their strength. They and his heart did grieve, will soar on wings like eagles; so a pardon from sin, they will run and not grow we would receive. weary, they will walk and not be So I return humble faint.” with the vision to see, Isaiah (Isaiah 40v31) that its all about Jesus and not about me.