Look behind you!

I did a concert recently in the beautiful Buckinghamshire village of Wendover. Along with Pat on keys and Dan on percussion I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, but I couldn’t help thinking of the time a few years back when I visited with a BBC film crew to present and sing in the first of a series of programmes for their advent series. Though the programmes went out live from different churches around the country, certain links and sections were recorded ahead of time in whatever region we were in.

Being the first morning, I well remember standing in my smart new black duffle coat late in November at the crossroads of the high street looking into the camera announcing my scripted words: “Welcome to the beautiful town of Wendover. To many it might look a quiet, leafy, Home Counties location, but I can assure you that it’s actually bursting with life, as you will see in this programme”.

The camera crew burst into laughter. Thinking I might have pulled an unusual facial expression or that I might be just plain useless at this new job, I enquired why on earth should that statement be so funny? I wasn’t prepared for the answer. A funeral hearse turned the corner and drove past in full shot behind me as I proclaimed from the script that Wendover was ‘bursting with life’. Yes, I could see the funny side, and I believe the outtake was kept for posterity and shown along with other ‘clips’ at the in-house BBC Christmas party.

Funny though this story is, maybe it does serve as a metaphor of how we, as mere mortals, only assess a situation from the vantage point that we happen to be facing. I reckon that God is a lot more at work than we actually give him credit for. We process and summarise our thinking based on what’s in front of us, and even though sometimes others around us are seeing a wider picture we often fail to grasp the complete story.

Soon my 3 year old granddaughter will be old enough to be inducted into the tradition of a children’s Christmas pantomime. The familiar cry of “It’s behind you” from the audience to the unsuspecting actor is an age-old routine that even I can remember as a kid. I’m sure she will be absorbed by it. The reason is simple, sometimes we can’t see for ourselves what’s really going on.

 Sure, there are occasions where God hides himself, as the scriptures proclaim. A prominent spiritual writer once wrote “God might hide himself behind the sofa for a while, but he generally makes sure he coughs loudly enough to give us plenty of clues that he’s still very much around”. Could it be that there’s more ‘God activity’ happening around you than you can currently see?