Starting in the wrong place.

I used to be crafty. I won prices at the Hightown show for my cards and cross stitch so I’m not a novice. However I hadn’t done any for a while but decided that since, during self-isolation, I had time, I would start again.

It was the third piece of work that made me ask if the instructions were right. I read and reread them but, yes, they really did say what I had thought they said. But it seemed wrong to me; it started in the wrong place.

Every piece of work I have done in the past starts with the cross stitches or the patterns used in “blackwork” to make the picture, with the outlines being putting in last. But this pattern told me to do the outlines first. It went against everything I’ve thought, been taught and done in the past and so I decided to ignore the instructions!

I got in a bit of a mess and although I finished it I had to go back and fill in some extra bits to cover areas where my counting had gone slightly wrong. I’ve just started a new piece of work and have read the instructions carefully – and am doing as they say; but maybe that’s because they agree with what I’ve done in the past.

As a young adult I took a friend to a Christian charismatic celebration. She was terrified. I’d started in the wrong place. I should have talked to her about my faith first. A while later I took my cousin to the evening service of the Pentecostal church I was attending at the time. The pastor stood up and gave a lively, pulpit bashing sermon about hell. I started in the wrong place with my cousin too.

Where would the right place to start talking to people about Jesus be? I don’t mean at home or in the market place or church. I mean where in the story of Jesus, where in the story of my faith?

It was quite a while afterwards that I first heard a speaker talking about starting where the person is at or being a friend first and living out my faith with them. Maybe the man who stands in Liverpool centre shouting at passers-by to repent makes a few people think, but I suspect most people mock him; he’s not in relationship with any of those who hear him and he has no idea where people are in their lives at the time they pass by.

While on beach missions in the 1980’s I found it really difficult to start a conversation with a stranger who was listening; until I heard and saw how my mother did it. She would ask a simple question “What do you think of that?” It’s such an easy way in. She used the same question at the end of a Sunday service to people who were new and usually got into conversation with them.

The friend I took to the charismatic celebration did, after a while in an Anglican church, give her life to Christ. My cousin would never come to church again!


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