Day Four In a Puzzling Place


the slough of despondency

Day four found us in the Slough of Despondency… the what????  I had loved this book so far because as I read it I only changed very few words as we went along.  The title for this one had me from the start… the what of how to explain that.  Okay, that’s the title boys lets read on and see if we can make it make sense!

Pliable is accompanying us, but as we begin to head towards the gate we discover ourselves in the slough… we begin to sink and can’t find our way out (great time for acting this bit out, with some squelching and some slurping and some sploooshing) Pliable discovers he isn’t that pliable because he is stuck, just like us, stuck in the mud.  The further we walk, the deeper we go, our toes, our ankles, our feet and through to our knees.  Are we ever going to get out?

Well Pliable does but decides this is not a good idea, if its this tough already he’s out of there.  So he gets out and leaves, back to the kingdom.  Little Pilgrim is despondent (see, I can use that word in context too and it does describe that emotion so well).  No way forward, no way back, just feeling like we are sinking deeper and deeper.

Living in a swamp area with ‘roads’ made of mud we could understand the physcial aspect of this part of the journey easily.  I will not quickly forget the day my foot got stuck in the mud road, as I pulled it out my flipflop broke and there I was, in the middle of the road, in many ways free but still affected by my moment in the mud.  My freedom had come at a cost and now I was faced with a new problem, a flipflopless foot (okay that word probably didn’t exist!) and the next step was still in the mire.  So I took it, the filthy mud road squelching between my bright pink nailed toes, the cold goo sticking to my foot, and on I walked.  One foot flipflopped one foot free.  The dripping traitor of the other flip flop in my hand!  The rest of the road was walked hobbling over the sharp stones, embarrassed, amused, aggravated but moving towards my house, the goal in sight.

Its easy to give up as we get that sinking feeling, for my boys to think of the times they’ve chosen to give up as soon as they have to put some effort in.  To stop where we are because the only way forward means more mess before we find another kind of freedom.  Financial, dreams, hopes, health, job, school…. whatever, we’ve all been there and probably will be again. 

Do you know the best thing though, I made it home, how great that fresh clean water felt as I watched that filthy mire filled mud wash away.  I don’t know I learnt my lesson, its part of life here, there will be more mud and more flimsy flip flops…. but I won’t give up this pilgrimage.  I hope the boys remember it might be easier to run backwards, but it feels way better to be closer to the gate and heading towards your dreams and destination.

Giving Up Technology…

Today Act #22 is about giving up technology, get off facebook, switch off the screens, unplug the computer (does anyone still have a computer), leave your phone behind.  

I know because facebook told me.   I opened my emails to read more and to read the ‘devotional/thought’ with today’s Act.  Okay, failed.  I wasn’t the only one to notice the irony of this.

I know a few friends who have given up facebook for Lent.  Who fast twitter or snapchat.  And yes I know I can waste a whole load of my time on any of my little social network things – instagram, pintrest, email and facebook and a coffee and I’m ready for the day!  But it also kind of gets on my nerves, in fact this focus on ‘bad’ in technology doesn’t just kind of get on my nerves, it REALLY gets on my nerves.

You see, living overseas I am connected to people all over the world.  I share their lives and they share my life through facebook, or a photo.  It was awesome to see photos of my aunt and uncle from Australia who I haven’t seen for over ten years on their holidays.  I was able to send an encouraging letter to my old pastor, who I haven’t seen for 18 years through email.  I chatted to a friend in Africa this morning and we laughed and encouraged and shared life with each other.  I had an email from a friend who needed prayer.  I read a blog from a friend who is facing a challenging time and could cry with her as I shared in her emotions.  I sent out facebook reminders to a group of youthworkers we are working with to remind them about training next week.  I also sat down with my family, talked, shared breakfast and laughed together.

Yesterday I met a guy who I heard on a podcast about a year ago.  He was sharing in a meeting about a vision his wife had that matched perfectly something God had showed me.  He asked me to facebook her and so I did and was able to share the encouragement of her prayer and vision and for her to know how perfect it was.  She is someone I have never met, very well may never meet.  I have ‘bonded’ with her over facebook.  I have been inconvienienced by my friends through social media and technology, seriously has no one ever messaged you and asked you to do something?  In fact many of my relationships are held together, deepened, strengthened by technology.

IT IS NOT SUCH AN EVIL!  Oh I must fast facebook because it takes too much of my time, no it’s my choice how much time it takes, I just need to learn to be more self disciplined.  Before facebook it was too much tv, before tv it was probably embroidery or something….  there has always been things that take our focus, take our time.  That is life.  A balance. 

I will not fast facebook or technology because I THINK IT IS WONDERFUL!  It is INCREDIBLE, AMAZING and i am sooooooo grateful for all the people who are my ‘friends’ real and cyber world, who link with me and share my life and if you are reading this you are one of them!!! 

Move on, catch up and don’t be so culturally closed that you don’t see this incredible tool for the world to communicate and stay connected.  Not all of us have the option to nip to Starbucks to share a latte, but next time I’m in your country, inbox me or SMS me and I’ll be sure to meet you for a drink.