The Shed (27-04-2021)
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:5-6)
“When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18)
He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ (Act 1:7-8)
The weather this April has been rather unusual. We don’t seem to have had the April showers that we would have expected, instead we have had some beautiful sunny days, some very cold nights and some quite hard frosts. The beautiful days have meant that it has been perfect weather for painting outdoors and in particular painting sheds. My mum has two sheds in her back garden, one is her potting shed, which has been in much use lately, and the other is her special shed, a place of retreat, of rest, prayer and contemplation, where she is to be found on even the coldest of days. Her special shed has been in need of a bit of fresh paint on the outside of the building for quite some time now. So last week I started painting the shed; when I’ve finished it will be a lovely shade of forget-me-not blue.
The shed is positioned at the bottom corner of the garden, from the house two sides of the shed can be clearly seen, while the other two sides are hidden from view. I started last Wednesday painting one of the sides that can be clearly seen, then on Thursday I moved round the back of the shed and painted one of the sides that can’t be seen unless you make a real effort to go and look. While painting the back of the shed, squeezed as I was between the shed and the back fence, I wondered if it was at all necessary to paint the back or could I get away with just painting the bits that are seen? Of course the purpose of painting the shed is not just so that it looks nice, the paint serves a purpose to protect the wood and extend the life of the shed, so painting round the back is absolutely as necessary as the sides that are in full view. All sides of the shed need to be painted so that the shed is protected fully.
In our Christian lives there are things that we do that are clearly seen by those around us, going to church, attending bible studies, witnessing and taking part in activities, but there are also things that we do that are not seen by others such as prayer, personal bible study and times of private worship be that inside a building or outside. We need all these different activities in order for us to grow as Christians. We need to do both the activities that are seen and the also the activities that are not seen, neither type is more important than the other, but both are necessary. Jesus told his disciples that they were to be witnesses in all places across the earth, a very outward activity, but he also made time to be with his Father on his own away from everyone, a very private activity. Just like the shed needs its paint on all its walls, so we need to be both visible and private in our lives with God.
Prayer (by Albert Osborn) (Mission Praise 410)
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
all His wondrous compassion and purity;
O Thou Spirit divine,
all my nature refine.
till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.