One of my favourite authors is the Christian writer Adrian Plass. He seems to know how to make me laugh and cry in equal measure. One moment I’m rolling with laughed and then I’m struck by the message of grace that always underlies his work. Adrian was a Christian for many years before he suffered a mental break down – he abandoned church, drank too much and fell into depression. Slowly God brought him back and healed him, and now he is a constant outflow for God’s grace.
But I’d like to share with you something he once wrote:
Imagine the scene: a decision-making meeting in heaven about twelve years ago. Around the table an angelic committee is studying files, each of which has the words ADRAIN PLASS embossed on its front cover.
‘No’, says one angel, shaking his head as he leafs through the file, ‘not much here, I’m afraid. He’s cracked up and useless. Doesn’t go to church any more, he’s left his job – how someone can do that with three kids depending on him …’
‘Look at this.’ Another heavenly being takes up the dismal story. ‘Getting drunk most nights and disappearing for hours on end. I don’t know how his poor wife put up with it. He seems to enjoy letting himself sink into a moral swamp.’
‘Have you read what he’s saying to people about the Church?’ A third angel holds up his open file and taps the page with his finger. ‘So scathing and destructive. It’s hard enough keeping that outfit going as it is, without this kind of negative talk.’
‘So,’ says yet another committee member, shutting his file with a bang, ‘what we have here is a drunken, critical, irresponsible, spiritually bankrupt, morally deficient no-hoper. An ideal case for dumping. Am I right?’
A murmur of agreement passes round the table as, one by one, the angels close their files and sit back in their chairs. Only one member of the committee has not yet expressed an opinion. God, who has been listening silently at the head of the table, gazes thoughtfully into the distance, and speaks for the first time.
‘I think,’he says quietly, ‘we’ll give him an international writing and speaking ministry …’
I love that story because it always reminds me that God can, and does, use anyone. God’s kingdom works not with the power of the world, but with the poor and vulnerable. To quote Paul:
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are.
1 Cor 1:26-28
So often in the world, and, unfortunately, in the church too, we see people fighting to be the strong ones, the powerful ones, when God tells us that it is when we are weak then we are strong (2 Cor 12:10). It is when we fall into God and rely on him that we are truly strong. God can work in all those who realise they are weak … maybe even me.
God bless you all,