Lights, Camera, Action

So, the good ideas club was in full swing in the Chief Petty Officers mess on HMS Beaver … it was just after Live Aid, back in the mid-80s, and someone decided they would follow it up with ‘Run the World’ … where everyone would be encouraged to run for charity. We were in the Persian gulf on Armilla patrol, and we thought that it would be a great idea to join in. Have guys running everywhere on the ship at the same time, all around the upperdeck, bridge wings, flight deck … film it and send it to the BBC. Then I stupidly said ‘Why not start with someone running at the top of the main mast?’ – up and down the 6ft diameter radar platform. Good idea … NOT. We would start filming from the helicopter, focused on this bloke running on the radar platform, then pan out to see the ships company running everywhere. So that’s what we did. The resultant film was a masterpiece, started off on me, we all had to run for about 30 mins to ensure they got enough footage. So I ran up and down this 6ft platform ducking under the radar aerial every two steps for half an hour – the cameraman focused on me for 10 seconds, then panned down and I was never seen again. But I kept running. Life can be like that, especially with the Christian faith. Things never get noticed, acts of kindness, things you do for others, prayers that you say that others don’t realise you are saying, but actually that’s what God wants us to be like … he doesn’t want us to stand around spouting off about how good we are or what we have done. Jesus said this ‘Here’s what I want you to do …. find a quiet secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God and you will sense His presence’. I thought that the camera would be on me, so I kept running. It wasn’t, but I kept going – to be honest if I had known I was not in shot I would have stopped running and admired the view from the top of the mast (and probably shouted abuse at the rest of the guys running around below me!). God wants us to keep going with our prayers, with doing good stuff, living a life style that he wants us to even though we KNOW that the camera is not on us.

Lets take an example that is very real to a lot of people these days … pornography. I know that loads of guys (and girls) watch it, but years ago when you had to go to a shop, or watch it on a video it was very difficult to keep it a secret … but now with the internet its so easy to watch hard core stuff on your own. In secret. No-one knows, and I know of loads of Christians who have a problem with watching porn. But no-one knows. The camera is not on them. The wife doesn’t know, the vicar doesn’t know, it can be completely secret. In those quiet places though, that’s where God is. In the secluded places, on our own. Lets put it a different way, a couple of years ago I bought a new car, well a new old one. A 1985 2.8 I Ford Capri. In white. Paid a good price for it. Runs well, looks good. Then I had to send it for its MOT. I took it to my mechanic who restores and race tunes old Escorts for some of the top rally drivers in the UK, so he knows his Fords. He rang me and said that it was a very good example, sound car. It was not like many he sees that look good, but underneath are all rust and filler. Rust buckets. I was chuffed with that. There is nothing secret about it, nothing rusting away under the paint job. That I think is what God wants from us … as a Christian I believe that God has taken all that stuff away and forgiven me for it, BUT and here’s the thing, I’m still a bloke, with all the challenges and temptations of life pulling me in every direction. My Capri is still made of metal and can rust unless I keep on top of it. Like when I was running on the stupidly small radar platform … I didn’t know the camera was off me – so I kept going, but if I’d known …. Have a think about what you do in secret … is it stuff that you are not proud of? Watch porn maybe? Visit Gambling sites? Secret drinking? Why not ask God to sort that out, He will forgive you and then you can start to have no hidden stuff except those times when you are talking with God …. And those times are just between you and God and much better than watching porn, gambling, drinking etc etc.

Which reminds me of when I was in a POs mess where porn always seemed to be on the video (yes, video .. before DVDs!) in the mess. I often had to be up in the middle of the night to fix stuff (I was the ‘command system maintainer’ and it was not THAT reliable) … they never realised that somehow their porn films ended up getting erased in the Video Cassette Recorder when I had been called out over night … what’s done in secret …. Cheers all!