Puppet on a String

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Sandie Shaw       (Photo credit: BBC)

“Puppet on a String”, sung by Sandie Shaw, was the winning song of the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna. It was released 50 years ago this month, and won the event for the United Kingdom. In fact it had the second widest margin of victory in the history of the contest, gaining 47 votes to Ireland’s 22. In May this year, Lucie Jones will be representing the UK in Kiev, singing “Never Give Up on You.”

I once saw a picture of a puppet on a string. It had a pair of scissors in its hand, and had cut off all but one of its strings. Its head was up, but its body lay in a lifeless heap on the floor. In its longing for freedom and independence, the puppet had cut the very threads which gave it life and purpose.

In our longing for independence, we too can be like that puppet. Our Twenty-First Century lives are often stressful and burdensome, and we long for a way of escape, but instead we cut our links to our Creator and turn our backs on the One who gives us life. So often we forget we are spiritual beings, and we need that contact with God, who is waiting to lift us, encourage us and empower us ready to face the world again.

It was only a few days ago that I heard someone describe us as glove puppets. Like a string puppet, a glove puppet has great potential, but only when filled by its creator’s hand. God is not only someone we can confide in, who listens when no one else will, but He also loves us deeply and longs to fill us with His Spirit. We are at our best when we are in relationship with Him. He doesn’t promise an easy life – life in this world can be tough – but He promises to be there for us, to strengthen and encourage us and help us through.

It takes courage to try something new, but why not take this opportunity to turn your life around and discover a new way of living by asking Jesus to fill you with His life and allow Him to pull your strings? Risky, challenging maybe? But worth it!

OK Jesus, I’m new to all this. I don’t even know if you exist, but if you’re real, please reveal yourself to me, turn my life around and fill me, be that life within and help me to follow you.

 

A Tale of Two Citizens

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Do people judge you by your appearance or do you ever do the same to others? I have to admit I find myself doing so when I have nothing else to go on, but there is a better way. Talk to the person, get to know them; it’s likely you’ll find depths of character that no amount of looking could ever discover. Maybe you’ll make a new friend?

Appearances can be deceptive. Let me tell you about two people, real people who we may judge differently at first glance. My first story is about a vicar.

In the 1980’s a prison chaplain was encouraged when he found out that one of the prisoners in his jail had become a follower of Jesus. This young man’s life was transformed. He became a new person, eventually finishing his sentence and starting a new life in another part of the country. A few weeks later, the prison chaplain received a phone call about the young man. It was from a vicar, who explained that the ex-prisoner had started to attend his church, “but,” the vicar said, “he’s a bit odd!”

“What do you mean odd?” asked the chaplain.

“He talks as though he knows God personally!” was the reply.

“Well that’s probably because he does,” said the chaplain. Immediately the vicar’s phone went down! His unbelief had found him out. Here was a man representing God to his community and vice versa, yet who didn’t have that relationship of love and trust with the God he was trying to serve.

My second story is about a lady, whom I met recently in the high street. As I talked to this middle-aged lady, dressed as she was in an old, baggy track suit, she confided that she was an ex-prostitute; which probably explained the stares I got as I walked along beside her. Her life had become one of hardship and fear, yet there was something that gave her hope. She told me that she’d been reading the Bible, and had discovered that Jesus showed compassion and forgiveness to a prostitute he met while a dinner guest at someone’s home. This lady wanted to know that same Jesus for herself.

You don’t have to be religious to know your Creator; you don’t have to have lived a perfect life; you don’t have to have it all together. There is hope for every one of us. Our Creator doesn’t guarantee an easy life, but He offers love, peace, forgiveness and new life to everyone who will turn and follow Him.

As Jesus said:

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (CEB)