Revd Jackie

Rev. Jackie Bullen

Little Voice

As I write this I am aware that many people will be looking forward to the F A Cup final on May 18th. For others, it will be a good day to plan to go shopping. Maybe you will be watching less TV than usual and instead doing more gardening, reading or taking part in any other hobby you can think of other than watching TV! One of the big talking points in football in recent years has been the introduction of the “Video Assistant Referee”, or VAR, whereby the on-field referee is able to review incidents in order to ensure that they make the correct decision. In theory this is supposed to make the game fairer and cut down on the number of controversial refereeing mistakes (although I suspect fans will only agree with VAR when it goes their side’s way...). I do wonder, however, how referees feel about this new system. Being a referee in any sport at the top level must be an incredibly difficult, highly pressured position. Your every decision is scrutinised by millions of fans around the world, your every mistake will be dissected by commentators, written about in newspapers, repeated on television, and spread across social media.

Now, however, they not only have that pressure but they also have a little voice in their ear saying “actually you got that wrong”, or “you missed something there”, or “I think you should check that again”. It can’t be an easy thing to deal with.

That said, I think that many of us live our lives with that persistent little voice in our ear pointing out our mistakes, our flaws, our failures. It’s very easy for us to let that voice dictate how we feel about our lives, or about ourselves. But, it is important for us to remember that, just because the voice is there, that doesn’t mean that we have to listen to it.

The Apostle Paul, one of the great figures in the Bible, grew up striving to be the absolute best at everything he did and yet still struggled with those feelings of inadequacy. It was only when he realised that God knows we will never be perfect that he was able to be himself. “If anyone thinks they have reason to put confidence in themselves, I have more”, he wrote in one letter, and yet “whatever advantages I thought I had, I now count them as worthless compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus”.

A little later in that same letter Paul went on to offer his advice on how to change our mind-set from one that is driven by the little voice pointing out all our mistakes, to one that acknowledges that we all make mistakes but that God loves us and we can be forgiven. He suggests that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about these things.”

Rather than focussing on our flaws and failings or dwelling on our mistakes, we are encouraged to focus on what is good and, Paul says, “God’s peace will be with you”.