Grains of Sand

Grains of Sand is a rebrand. I originally called this blog The Jog. That has run its course. The blog was The Jog but now it’s just¬†Grains of Sand. Why?

  1. Grains ain’t heavy and take themselves lightly
  2. I like my questions blowing’ in the wind
  3. I like the sound of sand sifting in the sea
  4. There are too many to count
  5. Jesus did all his best writing in sand

There’s rocks and then there is sand. Or is it the other way round? Time managers insist on getting to the rocks first but that suggests we don’t have to make time for the grains of sand. I get concerned that the blogosphere will be taken over by experts with their weighty opinions. Am I wrong in thinking that posts are getting longer and look more like journal articles? It’s as if they’re uttering the last word. I’m wanting space for the first words of consciousness and wonder.

They’re too many count. Nobody in their right mind would ever dream of counting grains of sand (although it might be a better way of getting sleep than counting sheep). In the Bible grains of sand stand for plenty. They stand for the extent of his love and the extent of his amazing grace. When we say “how much?”, we hear “so much, you can’t even begin to count”. His love and his mercy is measured in grains of sand.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139:17f)

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven and said “… I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” (Genesis 12:17)

The sins I have committed against you
are more in number than the sands of the sea. (Manasseh 1:9)

Jesus did his best writing in the sand. I say that because there’s no evidence that he did any writing other than the writing he did in the sand (John 8:1-12). In this passage Jesus subverts the judgments of his community.His opponents framed a woman – they said “caught in adultery”. They want Jesus to confirm the judgement that she should be stoned to death but Jesus refuses. He writes in the sand. He says the first stone should be cast by the one without sin – at which her (and his) accusers put their stones down and leave. Jesus, as the one without sin, should have been the one to cast the first stone. Instead he says, “I don’t condemn you”.

We don’t know what Jesus wrote in the sand. Instead we read into his writing his merciful love and his despair at those who don’t realise the damage they are doing when they judge others. There is one ¬†fanciful suggestion (Derrett) that what Jesus did write was two verses from scripture. He was sitting down when he wrote – the theory is he would have been able to reach as far as being able to write only 16 Hebrew characters, which might have been:

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong… do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.”(Exodus 23:2)¬†and
“Have nothing to do with a false charge.” (Exodus 23:7)

We just don’t know what he wrote. But if the suggestion is true, or if he wrote something similar, it is clear that it was the malice of the chargers that bothered Jesus, not the alleged wrong of the woman. I would say that this is beautiful writing, calligraphy that spares the ones the world accuses (rightly or wrongly) – writing for salvation.

That is the way to write, with the grain of that sand. So Grains of Sand it is. Just a few grains, a tiny part of a large harvest. Just grains, secreted and buried in the blogosphere. It’s not for me to know what happens next. Thanks for reading and thanks to all fellow sifters.

Love and knowledge embrace one another

Sam Wells suggests that it is very hard to believe “that if someone truly knows you, they will truly understand and love you.”

That is because of the sense of shame that we feel.

Sam Wells is reflecting on Psalm 139 which begins with the words “You have searched me and known me.” He points out that we make knowing and loving enemies of one another. God, on the other hand unites them.

The separation of knowing and loving is an everyday experience for us. Lovers of Coronation Street are seeing that played out through the interplay between Phelan, Gary and Owen. Phelan “knows” Gary was prepared to leave him for dead, and uses that knowledge vindictively for his profit.

Jesus also knew that people were prepared to leave him for dead, but his knowledge is full of love, just as his love is full of knowledge. That love showed itself in Jesus’ absolute passion to forgive those responsible for his suffering.

With us, knowing and loving are separate, and there’s always the fear that if someone really knew us, they’d have a power over us that they could use to hurt us, or that they’d see through us and cease to love us. But God’s knowing is different. God’s knowing and loving are indistinguishable. There’s never a moment when God knows but doesn’t love, or loves but doesn’t know. That is the gospel we can hardly begin to imagine. God wholly knows because God wholly loves; and God wholly loves even though God wholly knows.

from Learning to Dream Again p24