Look­ing for easy an­swers

The Tatura Guardian - - News - — Brian Spencer, Min­is­ter, Tatura Unit­ing Church

When life throws up dif­fi­cult prob­lems, too of­ten we seek easy an­swers in­stead of be­liev­ing in our­selves, our com­mu­nity and God’s grace.

Each morn­ing I start the day do­ing a cryp­tic cross­word.

It’s a daily chal­lenge and di­ver­sion from all the busy­ness of the rest of my day.

I get up early, make a cof­fee and find some­where quiet to do the cross­word.

These days it’s an app on my phone, but for many years it was The Age cryp­tic cross­word. The Age had a sta­ble of cross­word set­ters and each cross­word had the ini­tials of the set­ter be­low it.

Some set­ters were harder than oth­ers. I grew to hate DA, who seemed to de­light in set­ting near im­pos­si­ble cross­words. DA, David As­tle, has gone on to be some­thing of a me­dia per­son­al­ity about words and puz­zles.

Cryp­tic cross­words are of­ten seen as very dif­fi­cult— es­pe­cially when you first start with this type of brain teaser.

On first read­ing, the clues can seem to be com­plete gib­ber­ish.

How­ever, cryp­tic cross­words ac­tu­ally con­form to a set of rules and they can be solved. Here’s what I’ve learned from do­ing cryp­tic cross­words.

Firstly, the an­swer is right there in front of you. It’s en­coded and some­times al­most im­pos­si­ble to dis­cern, but it is there.

Se­condly, and most im­por­tantly, don’t cheat. Don’t look up the an­swer. You need to per­se­vere, trust your­self and avoid seek­ing easy an­swers. This is hard­est to do when the an­swers are read­ily avail­able, in the back of the book or on­line.

Clues that were im­pos­si­ble in the morn­ing, some­how fall into place in the af­ter­noon, or even days later. There is great sat­is­fac­tion in solv­ing them your­self. You learn noth­ing from seek­ing easy an­swers.

There is a well-known story told in the Gospel of Mark about Je­sus and his dis­ci­ples cross­ing a lake in a boat.

Je­sus isn’t a sailor, but a num­ber of his dis­ci­ples are. He’s tired, so puts his head down on a cush­ion and goes to sleep.

The boat en­coun­ters a storm and is in dan­ger of sink­ing. But rather than trust in their own skill and col­lec­tive abil­ity to weather the storm, the dis­ci­ples panic and wake Je­sus, ac­cus­ing him of not car­ing.

Char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, Je­sus calms the storm with a word, but then re­bukes the dis­ci­ples for their lack of faith.

Was it their lack of faith in God or their lack of faith in them­selves? Maybe both.

Je­sus was their easy an­swer. The chal­lenge is hard, it ap­pears over­whelm­ing. Do we trust in our skills and our team­work or do we take the easy so­lu­tion — ‘‘Je­sus please make it stop’’?

It’s hard to be­lieve in our abil­ity to en­dure life storms. We hear the voice of self-doubt, that voice in your head that says, ‘‘You can’t do it. You’re go­ing to fail.’’

When self-doubt gets loose, it de­vours our con­fi­dence, strips logic and rea­son from our mind, and steals hap­pi­ness from our heart.

In re­turn, it leaves us with only fear and in­se­cu­rity. We too pray to Je­sus to make it stop to give us the easy an­swer to our trou­bles.

Some­times we do find healing. Some­times the storm is set at peace. But of­ten the true an­swer is that we are stronger than we think. We are more re­source­ful, more re­silient, more con­nected to oth­ers, more able to learn and to grow than we dare to be­lieve.

Some­times it is enough to know that Je­sus is with us in the boat and trusts his life to us.

This is the gospel and it’s good news.

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