September 2013

Dear Friends,

I live with a football fan. Phil is a great supporter of Bolton Wanderers.
This is not the best time to be a supporter of “the Trotters”.
A few seasons ago they were in the Premiership (for non footy fans like me, that means the best league to be in). For one heady week about 8 years ago they were at the top of the Premiership (it was the first game of the season. It didn’t last).
They are now in the Championship (second best league).
For a second season.
There was a hope that they would do well last season and go back up to the Premiership.
The way they are playing so far this season it may well be that they will head down to the First Division (third best. Despite the name)
It is all a bit grim.

Phil maybe downcast and disheartened but he remains a faithful fan.
He remembers times past when Bolton were struggling.
He remembers times past when they did well.
And he is determined to stick with them no matter what.
Even when it is really quite hard to do so.

I think that it is the sign of a true fan. Someone who remains loyal to their club, even when things are going badly, rather than someone who is only prepared to sing when they are winning.
When Phil puts his head in his hands at the end of a match report and mutters something unrepeatable under his breath, he doesn’t take a pair of scissors to his Bolton Wanderers shirt. Or his Bolton Wanderers scarf. Or his Bolton Wanderers hat. He just trusts that eventually, things will improve once more.
(Although it would be nice if that were sooner rather than later...)

Watching him reminds me of the demands of being a Christian. When life is grand and you are feeling well and loved, it can be easy to sing praise to God. It can be harder to stay faithful during testing times, when everything seems to be going wrong and life is so unfair.
I don’t think that God puts bad times in our way to put us to the test, but rather there are times of difficulty which can cause us to doubt and wonder – and can lead us to embracing faith or walking away.

God will always be there for us.
God is always working for good in our lives.
In faith we can trust in him.
And know that his love is there for us, in every season of our lives.
And that we can be faith-full.

It reminds me of a song that probably isn’t one that you will hear on the terraces, written by George Matheson:

O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe, That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way, I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray, That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead, And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.