I had a bad tumble last night – the same day as Elizabeth took delivery of our new tumble drier at Ebenezer! At least I was not hung out to dry. During my next Street Pastor shift in Hilton, just as the night was finishing, we returned to base through a play area to engage with some noisy teenagers.
The entrance had a series of steps made out of concrete slabs. My eye was on the youngsters as I strode up the steps. The street light behind me cast my shadow on to the steps so that I did not see that there was a large piece missing from the edge of the concrete slab. So my foot stepped into the hole and, losing my balance, I took a tumble. I tried to turn to the side to land on the grass, but my right rear iliac crest (the big bone of the pelvis) caught the edge of a concrete slab and took the force of the fall. I lay for a few seconds to determine if I had broken anything, fearing that I had hit my right kidney, but as the initial pain settled, I realised it was okay.
By this time the teenagers had joined my four Street Pastor companions and were shouting supportive words of encouragement: “Get up, mister, you’re okay.” The wish was the father of the thought. Thankfully, I was okay but badly bashed. It is a strong bone which took the impact, for which I was thankful to God.
Then I became more concerned about the evident trauma and bruising developing on my right ring finger – one of my typing fingers – horror! no typing? It will take six weeks for the hip bruising to settle completely – this is the time it takes for most things to completely repair. This is one of the wonders of God’s creation that our bodies self-repair – and thankfully I can still type this with my ten fingers. Most of the healing will be accomplished in three or four weeks so that it will be more or less back to normal by then, but it will still be sore to pressure for a few more weeks. I hope it will not interfere with my putting election posters with Scripture texts on lampposts. The local council election campaigns are in full swing.
A few months ago I tripped on a kerb in the darkness while putting out the wheelie bin, and I landed heavily on my left chest – it was the same story of 4-6 weeks of localised tenderness.
In our compensation culture, some people would sue the Council for damages. It is true that there is evident culpability somewhere – who chipped away the step like that? why has it not been fixed before now? etc. Street Pastors will put in a report to the Council for it to be repaired.
Instead, we spent the time discussing the Lord’s providence which allowed such a thing to happen. Bad providences are one of the modern reasons for agnosticism and atheism. I noted that “pride comes before a fall” Pro 16:18. We had a discussion on self-examination and how to interpret the Lord’s providence. Almost back at base, I stepped off the kerb to let a man with his dog pass, and I almost twisted my ankle slipping off the kerb. I am not as fit as I used to be, but I think the lesson is that we take too much for granted. It is a while since I directly contacted my Prayer Partners about our Street Pastor work and so I will email them a link to this blog.
However, it was a good night. I met at least three atheists. The first one was a middle-aged woman who pretended that she was a physicist interested in astrophysics. I pointed out that there are no scientists who speak more like theologians than astrophysicists – who speak of infinity, eternity, creation out of nothing (matter and antimatter), time and space. When I pointed out that the superinflation of the Big Bang theory involved the invention or creation of super-natural laws of physics, it became apparent that she knew nothing of any worth about the subject – it was all bluff. So I asked her why she had concluded that “physics explained everything to her”. She couldn’t explain her own beliefs. We parted on good terms, and she is evidently rebelling against the dogmatism of her Roman Catholic upbringing. She had read about all the major religions but no longer believed in heaven – however, if there was a heaven she thought that one got there by “being good”. This begs the question what is “being good”? Her view was earning your way to heaven – no-one had explained grace to her. It was a privilege to do so for the first time.
The next two atheists were much younger – in fact, they were young teenagers. Rather like Yuri Gagarin who exclaimed when he went into space that he could not see God, these youngsters had not learned that an atheistic position can only be reached by examining all the evidence. The older lad’s opening shot was that he could not believe anyone who listened to a bush that talked. Knowing that he was referring to the burning bush, I agreed with him (it was not the bush which talked) and I asked him where he got this idea. He was forced to admit that he had never read the story in the Bible (“I don’t have to”) and he was, of course, quoting other people. So he went on the offensive: “Why did God create bad people?” Answer: He didn’t. He created man upright Ecc 7:29, but they have made themselves bad. “Why do good people die?” chipped in the younger atheist. “Because God is taking them somewhere better,” I responded. After some more barter, with body language saying it all, our older atheist rallied with: “What I don’t understand is ….So why…?” I suggested that the reason he does not understand is because he will not read the Bible Lk 16:31.
There was a good crowd of youngsters listening to the exchange, and when I asked who wanted to read about the Gospel I was relieved of a few Gospels and a booklet about the existence of God – as well as a few lollipops, which seems to have become our trademark in the housing estates, just as flip-flops assume the same role in the town centre.
Let us pray that these young minds will open up to the reception of the Gospel of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.