An Elizabeth Barrett Browning Quote

“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.” What a beautiful quote.

As I thought about it, I challenged myself. Can I say that about God? “I love You not only for who You are, but for who I am when I’m with You?” If I love God and put Him first, I ought to be able to. The truth is that I often magnify my shortcomings when I’m with God in private, and when I’m with Him in a church-setting, the effort of having to mix with so many people at once is probably on my mind more than intimacy with God, but I decided this challenge would lead to a much happier life, so would you like to join me?

Let’s be filled with gratitude for the time we spend with God. Let’s smile when we hear Him speak into our hearts. Let’s want to bless Him and be always on the look-out for ways to praise Him. Let’s savour moments with Him and remember them for years to come, writing down important things He says and going back to reread them. Let’s truly say to God: “I love You not only for who You are, but for who I am when I am with You.”

Today’s Thoughts

The dimly-lit room was full, standing-room only.  I was numb to the anger I would feel several minutes later, when we said our goodbyes to the vicar.  I tried to suppress it by telling some joke, but the church had brought her in to conduct this service; why hadn’t she done a better job?  “We commend to You Your servant …”  It was just as if she had changed the name on a prewritten script.  For all I knew, the silence could be full of unanswered questions:  “But he wasn’t His servant.  How does God feel about someone who wants the benefits of believing in Him, but hasn’t served Him all their life?”  I wanted her to acknowledge these and offer some hope – to mention the thief on the cross – the one who came to Jesus in his last moments and Jesus comforted him with the words, ‘Today you will be with Me in paradise’, but there was no mention of him.  I don’t recall any comfort being given, or any passage from the Bible for us to think over afterwards.


As the service drew to a close, we all listened.  The song was familiar, my sadness fresh.  It seemed wrong somehow that the only thing which moved me, which captured for me the life of this man we were supposedly remembering, was a popular song.  The words seemed so appropriate to one of his daughters especially.


“Every generation blames the one before,

“And all of their frustrations come beating on your door” reminds me of her.


“I wasn’t there that morning, when my father passed away;

“I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say.”  Probably more than one person in the room could have gone along with that.


“I think I caught his spirit, later that same year;

“I’m sure I heard his echo in my baby’s new-born tears.”  Just days after his death he became a great granddad, and within the year he’d be a granddad again.  I don’t know whether his granddaughter has any of his features, but he’s not forgotten, and today always brings thoughts of a very special uncle.

31 Days of Song: “Heart of Worship” and a Letter to Brian May

Dear Brian


It’s a very long time since I’ve written a letter to you, but I write because I was struggling all yesterday afternoon.  You see, 28 October is a very special day for me.  One of the reasons it’s special is that in 1998 I came to Birmingham, sat listening to you and your band in the first-ever sound-check I’d been to, and then met you backstage.  I wanted to tell all my readers about this wonderful day – how Mum had phoned the Queen Fan Club to ask for a happy-birthday message from you to me on tape, and they said:  “Would you like to meet him instead?”  Silly question, so a few weeks before my birthday, the big day came.


When we arrived, you and the band were running late (does that always happen in rock music?) so we sat in a café for a bit, but I was in no state to eat anything.  You were my hero and your songs had been part of my life for so many years.  Finally it was time to go back through the stage-door and wait for the sound-check.  I felt as though I could jump up and down, nod my head and wave my arms around all at once; I think it might have caused some concern if I had.


The sound-check got underway and I strained my ears to listen as you talked to the band, only to hear a voice next to me shout:  “I wish I’d brought a packet of crisps!  I’m hungry.”


There were quite a crowd to meet you that night – Mum and me, competition-winners, previous competition-winners, even Anita Dobson’s friend’s grandson and his guest!  The eight of us wouldn’t fit in your dressing-room, so you threw the male band-members out of theirs to give us more space.  Before putting the spotlight on yourself, you took the time to ask us all why we’d come.  You offered to sign as many autographs as we liked, and let us ask you questions.  Of course I couldn’t think of any, but I was just happy to listen.  Someone asked what your song “Wilderness” was about, and you sat deep in thought.  I’m not sure you really knew the answer.


Some of us gave you presents to open.  I knew from one of my Queen videos that your favourite drink was Guinness, so I bought you two bottles, and one of Boots’ tacky Christmas gifts they were selling that year – a plastic Guinness glass full of chocolates, but you seemed to like it.  Then we all talked to you individually as you signed our autographs.  About eighteen months before, when the Queen Fan Club held their convention, I’d had my photo taken holding your red special guitar and you’d signed that for me.  I had also talked to you on a radio phone-in just for a minute or so, so as you sat facing me that night (with no shoes on I found out later), you said:  “I’m glad we got to meet at last.”  You were glad to meet me?  I couldn’t help thinking you were the star, and you had got it the wrong way round.  You gave me two hugs:  One was a head-on-your-shoulder-type hug, and you told me I was very sweet.


The reason for my struggle is that I couldn’t think of one of your songs to include in today’s post.  Now, as a Christian, so many have lyrics that contradict my beliefs.  I mean, “Another World” is a lovely song, but I don’t believe we throw the dice and they set the path for our lives.  So many of your songs are like that – ok except for the odd line or two, but try not to let that upset you, because are songs really all-important?  For you, there must have been countless days like 28 October 1998, and countless people you’ve shown great kindness to.  Your impact is what really matters.  If you’ll offer more than a song to God and to others, that’s the most precious treasure of all.


I think it’s unlikely you’ll read this blog, but I’ve written the letter anyway.  Thank you for so many great memories, and I’m praying for you.