There’s a saying; When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
But for some of us, when we’re squeezed emotionally and physically, what actually pours out of us is bitterness and anger.
But not for my dad. Last year he was diagnosed with a not-much-fun condition. Among other things, this annoying irritant of an illness has affected his speech, which isn’t particularly great if you’re a preacher (as my dad is).
So, for the past two weeks my dad’s been on a very intense speech therapy course which, according to his therapist, has a 98% success rate. Not many people stick the course out – he has to go to hospital four times a week and practice intensively in-between. That’s hard work for someone in good health. For my dad, that’s like trying to balance an apple on his head, while wading through treacle in wellies.
Yesterday was a big day. As part of therapy, Dad was asked to write a short speech on something which was important to him…so he did what he always does and prepared a short sermon.
Stood in a room with two therapists, dad delivered his sermonette. The message was (believe it or not) about the disgraced entertainer Jimmy Saville.
Before the truth came out, Jimmy was known for his ‘good works’, all he did for charity. He said once in an interview that he believed in a heavenly scale. He believed that at the end of your life, if the good deeds outweighed the bad, God would let you into heaven. Only later did we realise just how much bad he was actually doing. There are not enough charitable works in the world to compensate for that.
The truth is, there is no ‘heavenly scale’. You cannot earn your way into heaven. The only way you can get there is through the free gift of Jesus, through the substionary atonement that God offers. It is this gift which changes us and makes us ‘good enough’.
And that’s how it continued. At the end, one of the therapists said, ‘I’ve never heard anything like that before.’ And the other had tears in her eyes.
My dad has always been a preacher – it’s in his blood. An annoying illness slows everything down, but even on ‘treacle days’, when he feels rotten and exhausted, he’s still making lemonade.