Living the Dream

Ten years ago I had a dream.  I was in my 20s then.  Maybe you’ll think it was a stupid dream; so yes, you can laugh and yes, you can tell me I should have known better, but here goes:  My dream was to be a chaplain to the Formula One drivers – to travel with them, and organise a short worship-service they could come to really early on Sunday mornings before all the busyness of race-day started.


I didn’t talk about it to family or friends.  I guess I knew they wouldn’t take me seriously, but I did write it in a letter once.  I’d just got in-touch with an organisation called Christians in Motorsport, and I’d had a couple of phone-conversations with the guy behind it, so I wrote and told him what I wanted to do with my life.  Predictably, he replied that a woman being chaplain to male F1 drivers was out of the question, but we kept in-touch.  Eventually the organisation voted in someone else as chairman, and I decided to step back from it.  So, end of story?


Let me tell you what happened today.  A certain driver didn’t have a great qualifying.  People have said in race-commentaries that he’s had problems in his personal life, and he sounded very dejected after the session today.  I felt I really wanted to send him my favourite Bible-verse (Jeremiah 29:11) about the plans God has to give us hope and a future.  Lots of celebrities are on Twitter now, so I was able to write just a couple of sentences, telling him God had good plans for his life.


Then it dawned on me that I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing ten years ago.  I wasn’t getting paid for it; I wasn’t travelling the world or talking with drivers face-to-face as I’d imagined, but I was encouraging one of them to think about God in his situation.


So, it wasn’t a stupid dream:  The way I wanted to live it out might have been stupid and totally impractical, but God had it all in-hand.  How was I to know that in 2013, social media would make it so easy to interact with people who before would have been out of my reach?


Are there any dreams you’ve had that you thought would never happen?  What if you’re wrong?

A-Z: Unique

This time next week the A-Z challenge will be over.  Are you joining in?  How have you got on with it?


When I first started watching Formula One, it was commentated by Murray Walker.  He was such a passionate commentator I’m sure he could have converted me to any sport, but Murray Walker and mistakes sort of go hand-in-hand.  In fairness, it’s not always easy to tell which driver is which when they’re shooting past at a hundred miles an hour.


Sometimes he’d say something, and you could almost hear the cogs going round as he spotted the blip and tried to correct himself.  For anyone who doesn’t know, there are two cars per team in a Formula One race, and so he came out with one of my favourites:


“This McLaren car is absolutely unique!  Except for the one in front of it, which is identical.”


At church on Sunday, our pastor talked about radios; about tuning in to God, hearing His signal, and how sometimes it can be drowned by the noise/the static of life.  I want to tell you about a time God challenged me to get some of the ‘Static’ out of my life.

It was 2005 and I had gone on holiday with my parents.  We were going to spend half the week doing things together, and they would spend the other half doing more of their coastal path walking while I relaxed in the cottage with some books and my laptop.  It was the most wonderful cottage I’ve ever stayed in.  The bedrooms had doors leading to the patio, and just over the wall was the coastal path, and then the sea.  Hearing the power of those waves really gave me a sense of the awesomeness of God.

On Sunday, they set off in the car and I was left to do church as best you can on your own.  I sang along with some CDs and then took one of the books I’d brought out onto the patio.  I hardly remember anything about the book, except that it quoted some verses from the Bible I’d never noticed before – 1 John 2:15-17:  “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” …  As I read, God pinpointed something and I just knew:  I loved Formula One too much.  I had wondered whether I was getting too obsessed with it, but had pushed this thought away and never done anything about it, but that day I knew I had to.  So when the Grand Prix came on at lunchtime, I wasn’t watching, and I didn’t watch for quite a few years after that.

God is a God of joy, but when something gets in the way of your relationship with Him, it needs dealing with.  The Bible clearly says the fruit of the Holy Spirit is patience.  I was fairly patient … but if I was getting a lift home from church and they were chattering and the Grand Prix was starting, that patience would go out the window.  Inside, in the heart where it matters, I would be wanting to get in front of the TV – now.  I even enjoyed watching the races more than being at church, and when you can put a race that lasts 2 hours maximum above that special time in the week of focusing on God, there’s something wrong.

It was a struggle at first to be at home and keep the TV off, but it really did me good.  I remember once having an idea for a song, sitting down with my Bible and writing it.  I don’t have a TV anymore, but I do have the radio, and in about 2011 I started listening again to the races.  You can be sure I prayed hard before doing this.  I heard of a pastor called David Wilkerson who gave up television.  When after a while he went back to it, he felt God say he wouldn’t experience the fullness of what God wanted to give him if he had a TV.  It was obviously still a no-go area for him, but I didn’t feel God say that to me about Formula One.  I really enjoyed the Australian Grand Prix last weekend.  The first race of the season is always a bit special, but I don’t feel compelled to hear every interview and not miss a moment.  I like that I can enjoy it and yet it’s in perspective, but I really want it to stay that way.

So here’s a challenge:  Not so much for the readers of this blog who don’t know me, but more for family and friends.  If you see Formula One, or anything, becoming ‘Static’ (getting between me and my God), please tell me.  Because He means a lot to me, and when I’m encouraged to draw aside and be with God, I want to be free to drop everything and do that.

When you Want to Listen

Well, I was going to get up at 6 for the qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, but woke up half an hour late.  That was ok, as there had been heavy rain and the start was delayed, so didn’t really miss anything.  They split it into 3 parts and the first part was exciting, then more rain; more delay.  Then they say:  “We’ll switch to 5 Live Sports Extra.”  I’ve managed this in the past, but this morning, could I find the ‘Listen live’ link on the website?

I went back to 5 Live, hoping I’d at least find out there who was on pole, and 5 Live wasn’t working either.  So, deleted my browsing history and got it going again, but still no success with Sports Extra.  I finally typed “Listen” “5 Live Sports Extra” into my search engine and found another site that got me directly to it.  Part 2 of the qualifying hadn’t yet started; phew!  Again, didn’t miss anything.  Then they say:  “Q2 and Q3 will take place at 11 o’clock Sunday morning” (that’s midnight in the UK, and the race is 6 hours later)!

I don’t mind F1 changing the time of the qualifying; drivers’ safety is very important, but I do wish the BBC would make their sites easier to use for people with screen-readers, and wouldn’t cram them full of so much information.  If you’re blind and have speech software on your computer, do you find the BBC website difficult, or is it just me?  On the flip side, I have been enjoying some of the comments about the session on Twitter.